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Private Member's Bills nullified: Parliament adjourned until 4 June - Bill Watch 17/2013
Veritas
May 30, 2013

House of Assembly and Senate adjourned until Tuesday 4th June

Supreme Court Nullifies Private Member’s Urban Councils Amendment Bill

In a judgment dated 20th May the Supreme Court unanimously declared that the introduction of the Urban Councils Amendment Bill was null and void. [Judgment available from veritas@mango.zw] [See details of case in Court Watch]

Effect on other MDC-T Private Member’s Bills

This ruling adversely affects both the other Private Member’s Bills that have been initiated by MDC-T Chief Whip Innocent Gonese: the Bill to repeal section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and the POSA Amendment Bill. Both must now be dropped.

Three Adverse Reports from Parliamentary Legal Committee

Adverse reports on three statutory instruments were tabled in the Senate on 21st May [available from veritas@mango.zw]:

  • Zimbabwe Youth Council Regulations [SI 4/2013] [The PLC’s unsurprising conclusion is that the regulations are ultra vires the parent Act in a number of important respects.]
  • Mangwe Rural District Council (Sand Extraction) By-laws [SI 25/2013] [The PLC finds the by-laws to be unconstitutional because they contain a provision stating that a person convicted of a breach of the by-laws is liable to a penalty stipulated by the rural district council rather than a penalty decided by the court – an interference with judicial independence inconsistent with section 18 of the Declaration of Rights.]
  • Mining (General) (Amendment) Regulations [SI 29/2013] [Last year the PLC reported adversely on the SI that this SI replaced. Its adverse report on the present SI is based on two findings: that it is ultra vires, because the Minister of Mines and Mining Development has gone beyond the regulation-making powers conferred on him by the Mines and Minerals Act; and that it is also unconstitutional because “it contains matters that are more appropriate for parliamentary enactment” and are therefore in violation of Standing Order 201(1), “which was duly made in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.]

Comment: Will the Government take more notice of the adverse report on SI 29 than it did of the adverse report on its predecessor?

In Parliament Last Week

Both Houses sat on 21st and 22nd May only. While Parliamentarians had a relatively relaxed week, attention was focused elsewhere – on the signing and gazetting on 22nd May of the Act for the new Constitution [see Constitution Watch 29/2013 of 22nd May].

House of Assembly

Bills - No Bills were dealt with.

Motions

On 21st May, after two brief contributions to the debate, the House approved the vote of thanks to the President for his speech opening the Session.

Mobile voter registration exercise

The House then continued debating Hon Chikwinya’s motion on the just-ended voter registration exercise – which called for a repeat exercise, this time with proper notice to the public and adequate funding, of the just-ended mobile voter registration exercise. ZANU-PF Chief Whip Joram Gumbo said the motion was “meaningful” and supported by all sides of the House. In winding up the debate Hon Chikwinya read into the record, and commended to his colleagues, the resolution passed earlier in the day by a meeting of civil society organisations which stressed the need for a new and far more efficient voter registration exercise [resolution available from veritas@mango.zw]. The House approved the motion without opposition. [Note: A new countrywide registration exercise at ward level is due to start on 3rd June, as required by paragraph 6 of the Sixth Schedule to the new Constitution, a provision that is already in operation – although the problem of funding does not seem to have been resolved.]

Question Time [Wednesday 22nd May]

Questions without Notice

During the hour allotted, Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara and a few Ministers fielded questions on Government policies. Topics raised included:

  • Voter registration DPM Mutambara waxed eloquent on voter registration, maintaining that we are going to have a bona fide voters roll if two principles are upheld: (1) “if you were on the voter’s roll in the year 2008 and you are not dead, you must be afforded the opportunity to vote if you want to do so; (2) “if you want to register and you are an eligible voter in our country, we must allow you the opportunity to register and vote. Now, I am speaking of the young people who are coming up, who are now eighteen and above. They were not on the voter’s roll in 2008 because they were below 18. I am also now talking about the so called aliens who have been empowered by the new Constitution. These people must be expeditiously and painlessly enabled to become voters. If we uphold those two principles, we are going to have a bona fide voter’s roll”.
  • Science education in schools The Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Dzinotyiwei, told the House that Government policy on science education calls for scientific-related curriculum content, including development of ICT skills, to be at least 30% in primary schools and at least 60% in secondary schools.
  • Use of GMO crops in Zimbabwe Minister Dzinotyiwei, while acknowledging the strength of the scientific case for GMO crops and the need for Zimbabwe to move with the times, explained that reservations of other interested sectors was preventing the adoption of pro-GMO policies.

Written questions with notice came next. Only two of the twenty-seven questions on the Order paper were dealt with before the House adjourned. The Minister of Water Resources Development and Management reported on the condition of the washed-away wall of Shagari Dam in Gokwe district. The Minister of Labour and Social Services explained procedures for accessing assistance from the Disabled Persons Fund and for duty-free importation of special equipment for disabled persons.

Senate

Bills In the absence of the Minister of Finance, the two Bills received from the House of Assembly [Securities Amendment Bill and Microfinance Bill] were not dealt with.

International Agreement Approved - On 22nd May, at the request of the Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs the Senate approved the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks in terms of section 111B of the current Constitution. The other three international agreements approved by the House of Assembly the previous week have not yet been laid before the Senate.

Motions and Question Time - There were no motions for discussion. Question Time did not take place, because the Senate did not sit on Thursday. In any event, there was only one question listed, a much deferred one for the Minister of Mines and Mining Development about perilous conditions prevailing at Benson Mine, Mudzi district.

Coming up in Parliament Next Week

House of Assembly

Bills

Government Bills

The Income Tax Bill [available from veritas@mango.zw], is due to come up again on 4th June, for continuation of the Second Reading debate following Finance Minister Biti’s Second Reading speech on 7th May. No other Government Bills are listed. In preparation for the debate, the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion is holding public hearings on the Bill round the country from 28th to 31st May [see Bill Watch – Committee Series 12/2013 of 27th May]. The committee’s report will be presented by its chairperson during the debate.

Private Member’s Bill Hon Gonese’s motion for leave to bring in his Bill to repeal section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act is item 11 on the Order Paper but it view of the Supreme Court judgement [see above] will have to be dropped. [Note this Bill has delayed for one reason or another for over three years and these tactics have paid off for the opponents of the reforms recommended in the Bill]

Motions

Adjourned debates on a large number of motions await completion [see Bill Watch 13/2013 of 14th May for a summary]

Question Time on Wednesday 25 written questions, most carried forward, await responses from Ministers. Two of the newer questions highlighted in Bill Watch 16/2013 of 20th May are still on the list: one for the Minister of Mines and Mining Development about the value of the Government’s interest in diamond mines in Marange, and related details; and the other for the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment on the criteria used to select beneficiaries of the indigenisation programme and a list of all beneficiaries.

Senate

Bills

The only Bills on the Order Paper are the two Bills passed by the House of Assembly two weeks ago: the Microfinance Bill and the Securities Amendment Bill. The Senate awaits the Minister of Finance’s Second Reading speeches on both these Bills.

International agreement for approval

The Minister of Energy and Power Development seeks the Senate’s approval of the Statute of the International Renewable Energy Agency [IRENA], in terms of section 111B of the Constitution. This Statute has already been approved by the House of Assembly.

Adverse reports from Parliamentary Legal Committee

The three adverse PLC reports [see above] are due to be considered by the Senate. The PLC chairman, Hon Mushonga, will present the reports. If, after discussion, Senators vote to adopt the adverse report/s, these SIs will either have to be amended to accommodate the PLC’s objections – or, if that is not done, will have to be repealed by the President – unless within 21 sitting days after the Senate’s adoption of the adverse reports the House of Assembly resolves that the SIs should not be repealed.

Government Gazette dated 24th May 2013

Statutory Instruments

Control of firewood, timber and forest produce

SI 70/2012 retrospectively – and very belatedly – changes the effective date of the important main regulations [SI 116/2012] from 2nd July 2012 to 2nd June 2013. There are other minor amendments to the main regulations. For a note on SI 116/2012 see Bill Watch 28/2012 of 29th June 2012.

Local authority by-laws

SI 73/2013 – Harare Hawkers By-laws

SI 71/2013 – Victoria Falls Licensed Premises By-laws

Medicines and Allied Substances Control

SI 72/2013 enacts changes to the First Schedule to the main regulations of 1991 which lists fees payable to the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Authority.

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