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step towards new Constitution - Enactment by Parliament - Bill Watch
March 25, 2013
of Parliament Adjourned until Tuesday 7th May
Step towards New Constitution – Enactment by Parliament
Now that ZEC
a YES vote
in the Referendum, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs, Hon Eric Matinenga, now has the responsibility to ensure
- the Referendum
result is gazetted in the Government Gazette and published in
national and local newspapers. [This has not been done yet, but
a Gazette extraordinary is expected tomorrow.]
- the draft
constitution is prepared in the form of a Bill
- the Constitution
of Zimbabwe Bill is gazetted. [The Minister has said the Bill
will be gazetted by 29th March, the beginning of the Easter holiday
52 of the current Constitution
a constitutional Bill cannot be introduced into Parliament
– i.e., have its first reading in either House – until
at least 30 days after it has been published in the Government Gazette.
If the Bill is indeed gazetted by 29th March, the essential thirty-day
waiting period will end by 30th April, which is a Tuesday [Parliament
usually sits on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons]. Parliament
is due to resume on Tuesday 7th May, but could be recalled earlier
to sit on Tuesday 30th April.
will be the person introducing the Bill in Parliament. The Bill,
according to section 52 of the current constitution, must be passed
by at least two-thirds of the total membership of both the House
of Assembly and the Senate, sitting separately. The Minister has
said he does not anticipate Parliament needing more than a week
to complete its passage of the Bill, as all parties represented
in Parliament have already endorsed the draft Constitution. [Note:
being a constitutional bill, it is not subject to clearance by the
Parliamentary Legal Committee and, as a product of a Select Committee
of Parliament, it is highly unlikely that the Bill will go for consideration
to Portfolio Committees.]
Role After the Constitution Bill is Passed
Most of the
new Constitution will only come into force after the harmonised
elections, when the person elected President in the next election
is sworn into office. But according to the transitional Schedule
in the new Constitution [Sixth Schedule paragraph 3], certain important
provisions will come into force immediately on the day on which
the new Constitution is gazetted as an Act. What comes into force
on this “publication day” includes the provisions about
the election of members of Parliament, the Chapter about metropolitan
and provincial councils and local authorities, the whole of the
Declaration of Rights and the provisions about the Constitutional
This means that
as soon as the new Constitution has been passed, it will be necessary
for the Government to bring Bills to Parliament to make essential
consequential amendments to other laws, which should also become
effective on “publication day”. Most important will
Bill for the Electoral Act [Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs
Patrick Chinamasa is the Minister responsible for electoral matters,
and he has already appointed a special committee to work on an Electoral
Bill for the Urban
Councils Act and Rural District Councils Act before elections,
and a Bill to set up the new-style metropolitan and provincial
councils, which will be coming into existence with the new Constitution.
- Bills to
remedy at least the most obvious inconsistencies between existing
laws and the new Declaration of Rights, given that it will be
coming into force immediately. [Minister Chinamasa has not so
far mentioned this as a priority, but it should not be sidelined.]
- Rules of
the Constitutional Court must be enacted, either in a separate
Constitutional Court Bill or under the Supreme Court Act, to give
effect to the court’s constitutional jurisdiction.
Parliament Endorse Swearing-In of New Commission Chairpersons?
In a lunchtime
ceremony at State House on 15th March President Mugabe swore in:
Rita Makarau as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
- Mr Jacob
Mudenda as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
Under the Constitution,
both appointments required prior consultation with the Judicial
Service Commission [JSC] and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing
Rules and Orders [CSRO]. Both bodies had been asked for the views
on the nominees, and the Judicial Service Commission met and responded
promptly soon after the nominations were made public on 18th and
19th February. But there has been no meeting of the 25-member CSRO.
It remains to be seen what explanation is given or if anyone raises
objections or challenges the appointments in court.
Governor Again Lays Down Rules for NGOs
More than 45
NGOs operating in Masvingo Province were summoned to a meeting at
the Provincial Governor’s office on 1st March. Representatives
attending were subjected to a roll call and questioned about their
work plans and partners. They were instructed to work with government
departments and the security sector in all their projects, and to
avoid election-related activities. Provincial governors in fact
have no legal power to regulate and control NGOs. Under the Private
Voluntary Organisations [PVO] Act this falls under the Minister
of Labour and Social Welfare. This time last year the same Provincial
of 29 NGOs in Masvingo province was disowned in a Parliamentary
statement by the Minister [statement available from email@example.com]
of Finance Bills have already been cleared by the Parliamentary
Legal Committee and now await the resumption of sittings by Parliament
in May. All are ready for the Second Reading stage, when the Minister
will explain the purpose of the Bills and MPs can debate them in
principle. These Bills [available from firstname.lastname@example.org] are:
in the pipeline
No other Bills
have been sent to the Government Printer for printing and gazetting
before being introduced into Parliament.
of Finance has said that his Ministry and the Reserve Bank [RBZ]
have agreed on a draft Debt Assumption Bill under which the Government
will take over the RBZ’s US$1.1 billion debt, which will be
housed in a “special purpose vehicle.” He plans to take
the Bill to Cabinet soon [not available from Veritas].
now offer the Electoral Regulations updated to include the latest
amendment made by SI 26A/2013 dated 13th March laying down ZEC accreditation
fees for election and Referendum observers. [Available from email@example.com]
13th to 22nd March
are not available from Veritas]
on Referendum Day SI 33/2013 declaring 16th March 2013 a public
holiday was gazetted during the afternoon of 15th March. A note
in the SI explained that the purpose of the public holiday was to
enable every employee to vote in the Referendum. [Employers would
have appreciated greater warning of this declaration.]
SIs 34 and 35/2013
add to the growing list of mining locations enjoying long-term suspensions
of duty for certain imports. SI 36/2013 grants more general suspensions.
SI 31/2013, gazetted late on 8th March, increased the duty on petrol
and diesel from 9th March until the end of 2013.
registration fees SI 32/2013, dated 15th March, sets out new fees
[registration, processing, issue and renewal of practice certificates]
payable to the Social Workers Council under the Social Workers Act.
licence fees SI 33A/2013 fixes licence fees for procurers, producers
and wholesale and retail suppliers of petroleum fuels, biofuels
[ethanol] and liquid petroleum gas [LPG]. The SI was made under
the Energy Regulatory Authority Act by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory
Authority Act, with the approval of the Minister of Energy and Power
by-laws SI 37/2013 fixes rents and various other charges applicable
to incorporated areas under the Kadoma Municipal Council.
from ZEC were published in a Government Gazette Extraordinary on
13th March, in compliance with the law. GN 133/20113 gave public
notice of the printing of 12 million ballot papers for the Referendum
by Fidelity Printers and their distribution amongst the country’s
ten provinces. GN 134/2013 gave details of all the 9456 polling
stations set up for the Referendum.
Mines and Minerals:
Applications for Exclusive Prospecting Orders GNs 151-199/2013,
taking up most of a Government Gazette Extraordinary dated 22nd
March, notify applications to the Mining Affairs Board for exclusive
prospecting orders. Each notice describes the area concerned, the
name of the applicant, and the minerals intended to be prospected.
Objections to the granting of the applications must be lodged not
later than 19th April.
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