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Last week in Parliament: Senate only sitting this week - Bill Watch 53/2013
Veritas
October 21, 2013

The Senate will sit this week

The National Assembly will sit again on 5th November

No Bills

The situation is as it was for Bill Watch 52 - no Bills are on the agenda in either House, and no Bills have been sent to the Government Printer to be printed for presentation in Parliament.

National Assembly vacancy: Constitutional Court to hear Kereke challenge 23rd October

Sitting in chambers on 16th October the Chief Justice ordered an urgent hearing for Dr Kereke’s application to nullify the Speaker’s declaration of a vacancy in his National Assembly seat in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution. The case has been set down for hearing in the Constitutional Court on Wednesday 23rd October. [For the basis of Dr Kereke’s claim that Zanu-PF was not entitled to invoke the section against him, see Bill Watch 52/3013 of 15th October.]

The 2014 Budget - Pre-Budget Seminar at Victoria Falls

The run-up to the 2014 Budget will start for MPs with their customary Pre-Budget Seminar, from Thursday 31st October to Sunday 3rd November. The seminar will take place at the Elephant Hills complex at Victoria Falls.

Standing Rules and Orders Committee and other Parliamentary Committees

With its full membership at last in place following unopposed nominations to fill the eight backbencher seats, the Standing Rules and Orders Committee [SROC] had its first meeting on Thursday morning, 17th October. That afternoon the presiding officers in both Houses announced that the SROC had appointed the Public Accounts Committee, National Assembly Portfolio Committees and Senate Thematic Committees. [Veritas will shortly make members’ names available]

African Parliament and SADC Parliamentary Forum

Pan-African Parliament - On 16th October the following five members were declared elected unopposed as the Zimbabwe delegation to the Pan-African Parliament: Hon Chen Chimutengwende, Hon Joram Gumbo, Hon Mupfumire [all of Zanu-PF], Hon Mashakada [MDC-T] and Hon Chief Charumbira.

SADC Parliamentary Forum - Also on 16th October the following five members were declared elected unopposed as Parliament’s representatives to the SADC Parliamentary Forum:

  • Hon. Senator T. Mohadi,
  • Hon Dr. S. Mukanduri, Hon.
  • Senator. M. Mutsvangwa [all of Zanu-PF];
  • Hon. I. Gonese [MDC-T] and
  • Hon. J. Toffa [MDC].

Capacity Building Workshops for Women MPs

The Women in Politics Support Group [WIPSU] has organised two capacity building workshops for women MPs. The workshop for the first group is from 19th to 21st October at Montclair Hotel in Nyanga.

Coming up in Parliament this eek

Senate

Motions

Debates already started will continue on the motion on the President’s speech at the opening of Parliament and the take note motion on the report of the Zimbabwean delegation to the 62nd Session of the Executive Commission of the African Parliamentary Union [APU] held in Cote d’Ivoire last month.

Question Time [Thursday]

All ten written questions on the Order Paper have been carried forward from either 10th or 17th October because the Ministers concerned were not then available [see Bill Watches 51 and 52/2013 of 8th and 15th October]. Senator Mumvuri has tabled several questions recently, on the following topics:

  • Incentives for civil servants stationed in rural areas - asking the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare whether Government has any plans for such incentives
  • Air Zimbabwe - to ask the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development for an update about the airline’s current viability and when it will serve international destinations such as Beijing and London.
  • Primary education period of learning - to ask the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to explain how the primary school period of learning transitional phase is going to be changed from the current 7 years to 9 years.

In Parliament last week

Both Houses sat on all three sitting days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the National Assembly putting in longer than usual hours.

Senate

Motions

  • Debate continued on the motions on the President’s speech and the report on the APU meeting in Cote d’Ivoire.

Question Time [Thursday]

  • Are Chinese miners not entitled to harm environment? - When asked by Chief Chisunga whether Chinese miners enjoyed special rights to mine along the Mazoe River without considering environmental concerns, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development said Government had learned with utter dismay about what had happened along the Mazowe River. Nobody should mine on a river. “It does not matter who they are.” All investors, no matter where from, had to abide by the country’s laws”.
  • ZISCO Steel/ESSAR situation - The Minister of Industry and Commerce said he hoped remaining issues would be ironed out by the end of the year.
  • Beneficiation of minerals, especially platinum, gold and diamonds - The Minister of Mines and Mining Development said the new Minerals Development Policy would be presented to Cabinet soon and would form the basis of a new Mines and Minerals Act that would incorporate provisions for value addition and beneficiation.
  • Role of NGOs - In his answer to a written question from Senator Mumvuri, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare distinguished between NGOs/private voluntary organisations that have to register under the Private Voluntary Organisations [PVO] Act because of the nature of their activities, and trusts which do not perform such activities and do not come under the PVO Act. On NGOs/PVOs the Minister said they are expected to carry out their activities in a way that supports national policies and recognises Government priorities and if they engage in partisan politics “will be liable for deregistration.” [Full answer available in soft copy from Veritas]
  • Chiefs to be customary marriage officers - The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs mentioned his Ministry is working on a Bill to make chiefs customary marriage officers and oblige chiefs and headmen to keep a record of existing and future unregistered customary marriages.

National Assembly

Motions

MDC-T motion on 2013 Elections disallowed by Speaker

On Wednesday 16th October Hon Zvidzai attempted to give notice of his new motion calling for the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to “conduct an inquiry into the conduct of the 31st July, 2013 harmonised elections, to ensure that future elections are fully compliant with all laws and regulations of Zimbabwe, and fully meet regional and international standards”. The Speaker stopped him, and on Thursday the Speaker disallowed the motion as “unacceptable in its current formulation”. He ruled that the motion was unconstitutional [because it sought debate on and a Parliamentary inquiry into a matter on which the Constitutional Court had made a final decision: the validity and credibility of the 31st July elections] and also in breach of the sub judice rule in Standing Order 62 because there are 31 election petitions pending before the Electoral Court. [Full ruling available from Veritas in soft copy.]

Food shortages

Hon S.S. Nkomo of MDC-T moved this motion, starting a debate in which all agreed there was a huge problem, but opinions differed on its cause: with Hon Nkomo mentioning the land reform programme and Zanu-PF speakers blaming illegal sanctions and withholding of funds by the previous, MDC-T, Finance Minister.

Need for a Cancer Levy

This motion, by Hon Khupe of MDC-T, drew support from all who contributed to debate, with the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care going further and suggesting a National Health Insurance scheme.

Lifting of sanctions

This motion, proposed by Zanu-PF’s Hon Hlongwane, sparked vigorous debate and disagreement between Government and Opposition speakers on the existence, legality and reasons for sanctions/restrictive measures. A noisy confrontation only ended when the Speaker terminated proceedings at 7 pm in accordance with Standing Orders.

Power outages

This motion was proposed by Hon Maridadi and seconded by Hon Chimanikire, both of MDC-T.

Question Time [Wednesday]

There were no questions without notice, and only two questions with notice were answered:

  • Amount of grain imported from neighbouring countries - The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation & Irrigation Development said Government had so far imported 14 000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia of a 150 000 tonne commitment, with payment on a cash upfront basis. The private sector was also importing maize.
  • Amending Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act - The Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs acknowledged the importance of the question, as the Act immediately impacts on constitutional freedoms. The Ministry was working on amendments, but they would have to go through the Cabinet Committee on Legislation before being brought to the House, so he could not say when they would be ready.

Government Gazette

Acts of 2013

Electricity Amendment Act [Act 5/2013] - this Act was gazetted on 18th October and came into operation immediately. The Act obliges the Government, through the Minister of Energy and Power Development, to restructure ZESA, specifically by unbundling the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company into two separate companies responsible for transmission and distribution of electricity respectively. The six-month deadline for achieving this is 18th April 2014. [Act available in soft copy on Veritas website or by e-mail - see addresses at end]

New Income Tax Act - this is the only Act of the last Parliament still to be assented to by the President before gazetting. The printing of the final text of this lengthy Act is now nearing completion.

Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act - the revised version of this important Act is still not generally available. The Law Reviser initially announced it would be available for purchase from the Government Printer 4th October, but it has still not been released in adequate numbers.

Statutory Instruments [SIs]

Mandatory ethanol/unleaded petrol blending - SI 147A, gazetted on 16th October, sets out the timetable for mandatory blending of anhydrous ethanol with unleaded petrol, and the relevant technical specifications. Commencement dates for blending are 23rd October for ethanol blend grade E10; 30th November for grade E15; 31st March 2014 for grade E20. The Minister is empowered to grant exemptions from blending “in exceptional circumstances for special use”.

Boundary changes - Makoni Rural District Council and Rusape Town Council Presidential proclamations published in SIs 148 and 149/2013 alter the wards of both councils with immediate effect. Maps showing the changes can be inspected at the offices of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the councils.

Collective bargaining agreement for Banking Industry - SI 150/2013 contains [1] wages and allowances for the period 1st July 2010 to 31st December 2011 in full and final settlement of a dispute pending in the Labour Court; [2] the basis for future salary inflation-related salary reviews.

General Notices [GNs]

Parliamentary vacancy - GN 502/2013 notifies the Mashonaland West party-list vacancy in the Senate [see above].

Legal practitioners professional examinations - GNs 504 and 505/2013 announce the examination fees payable and the dates for the Council of Legal Education’s examinations for would-be legal practitioners. The examinations run from 11th to 22nd November. GN 505 allows candidates up to 30th October to notify their intention to sit the examinations to the Council’s Secretary, at 7th Floor, East Wing, Century House East, Nelson Mandela Avenue, Harare.

Government financial statement GN 506/2013 gives notice of the publication in this weeks Gazette of the consolidated statement of Government’s financial performance for the month July 2013.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

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