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Prosecutor-General sworn in: Parliament sits this week - Bill Watch 57/2013
Veritas
November 19, 2013

Both Houses will Sit on Tuesday 19th November

Swearing-in of Prosecutor-General

The former Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana, was formally sworn-in as Prosecutor-General by the President on 13th November. Mr Tomana automatically became the Prosecutor-General on 22nd August when the new Constitution came fully into force [Constitution, Sixth Schedule, paragraph 19]. That being so, he did not have to go through the elaborate appointment procedure that would otherwise have applied. [Note: Section 259(3) of the Constitution provides that the Prosecutor-General must be appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission after the Commission has advertised the position, called for nominations, conducted public interviews of candidates, and submitted a list of three nominees ,one of whom the President must appoint. This is the same procedure that now applies to the appointment of a High Court judge under section 160 of the Constitution].

Mr Tomana’s term of office as Prosecutor-General is six years, i.e. until 21st August 2019 [Constitution, section 259(5)].

Attorney-General’s post vacant - The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs confirmed after the ceremony that Mr Tomana is no longer the Attorney-General, and said that the search for a new Attorney-General is under way but will not be hurried. The Attorney-General must be a legal practitioner qualified to be appointed as a High Court judge, but apart from that the appointment is entirely in the President’s discretion and the new Attorney-General will hold office at the President’s pleasure [Constitution, sections 114 and 115].

Office-Bearers of Women’s Parliamentary Caucus

On November the Speaker informed the National Assembly that the Women’s Caucus had elected office bearers as follows:

  • Chairperson: Hon Senator Monica Mutsvangwa [ZANU-PF]
  • Deputy Chairperson: Hon Paurina Mpariwa [MDC-T]
  • Secretary: Hon Melody Dziva [ZANU-PF]
  • Treasurer: Hon Senator Shuvai Mahofa [ZANU-PF]
  • Committee members: Hon Sarah Mahoka [ZANU-PF]
  • Hon Senator Annah Shiri [Disabled Persons Representative]

About the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus

The Zimbabwe Women's Parliamentary Caucus was launched in October 2001, with the assistance of Association of Western European Parliamentarians for Africa [AWEPA], in response to a SADC Parliamentary Forum initiative. The objective was for women parliamentarians to rise above party politics and address issues of common concern as women. Membership, management and operations of the Caucus are governed by a Constitution. For a prescribed fee, membership is open to all Zimbabwean Women Members of Parliament and, as Associate Members, former woman members of the Parliament of Zimbabwe. Associate members have no role in the management of the Caucus and cannot vote.

Coming Up In Parliament This Week

The last sitting of the Senate was on Thursday 24th October. The National Assembly last sat on 7th November.

Senate

Motions

There are three items on the Order Paper for 19th November, starting with the ongoing debate on the President’s 17th September speech opening Parliament, and followed by two new motions:

  • Carnage on the roads - This motion calls on government (i) to put in place a strict regulatory framework that would prohibit the presence on our highways of heavy trucks between certain times of the day and (ii) to resuscitate the railway system as a way of addressing the carnage problem [proposer: Senator Siphiwe Ncube of MDC-T].
  • Cancer policy - This motion recommends a clear Government policy document on awareness, counselling, screening for and treatment of cancer, and charges for cancer patients [proposer: Senator Timveous of MDC-T].

On Wednesday 20th November debate is due to resume on MDC-T Senator Marava’s motion on the need for harmonisation of existing legislation with the new Constitution. Debate began on 8th October but was interrupted at the request of the Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to allow him time to report back to Senators on steps being taken by the Ministry to deal with this urgent problem.

Question Time [Thursday 21st November]

There are 17 questions on the Order Paper, 10 of them put down by Senator Alice Chimbudzi of Mashonaland, including queries on:

  • whether Mount Darwin qualifies for municipal status
  • anti-malaria spraying in mosquito-infested areas such as Mount Darwin
  • school feeding programmes and measures against food shortages generally
  • provision for allocation of land to former farm-workers.

National Assembly

Motions

There are 13 motions on the Order Paper for Tuesday 19th November, 8 of them already under debate [President’s speech, ZESA power cuts, sanctions etc. – all referred to in previous Bill Watches] and 5, high on the Order Paper, still waiting to be moved by the proposers:

  • Hwange Colliery Company – the motion calls for Government as majority shareholder to ensure relief for unpaid workers [proposer: Hon B Tshuma of MDC-T]
  • Alignment of laws with new Constitution – the motion calls for urgent steps to be taken by the Executive [proposer: Hon Gonese of MDC-T]
  • Venue of Parliament – the motion includes a call to consider moving the seat of Parliament to Bulawayo [proposer: Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga]
  • Illegal land development – the motion expresses dismay about swindling of desperate home-seekers by illegal land developers and unregistered cooperatives, and calls for action against them and settlement plans that are sustainable and pro-poor
  • Duty-free vehicles for public servants – the motion calls on the Minister of Finance to implement immediately the issuing of duty-free certificates for public servants to import vehicles for personal use.

Question Time [Wednesday 20th November]

There are 16 questions on the Order Paper, most of them deferred from 6th November.

  • Chiefs Questions for the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement ask about vehicles and homesteads for chiefs, and Government policy on allocation of farms to chiefs.
  • Presidential Scholarship Fund - A question for the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs asks for the Fund’s annual budget, why it is administered outside the Education Ministry, and the beneficiaries by province since its inception.
  • Kurera/Ukundla Youth Fund - A question for the Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment asks how much money has been disbursed by the Fund and who are its beneficiaries.

Update on Bills

Biological and Toxin Weapons Crimes Bill - The page proofs of this Bill have been returned to the Attorney-General’s Office for checking. [No summary can be provided until the Bill is gazetted, but the Bill’s title gives some indication of its content. ]

Update on Acts

Income Tax Act On Friday 8th November Parliament sent the Bill to the President’s Office for the President’s assent and signature. Under section 131 of the new Constitution, when the Bill is presented to the President, he must, within 21 days, either:

  • assent to it and sign it and have it published in the Government Gazette “without delay”; or
  • refer it back to Parliament for reconsideration.

President Mugabe must, therefore, make up his mind on the Bill by not later than Monday 30th November.

Electricity Amendment Act - There has still been no official public confirmation of the withdrawal of this Act although there was a press report that the Clerk of Parliament had said the Act was not validly assented to and signed by the President.

Government Gazette of 15th November

Statutory Instruments [SIs]

Collective bargaining agreement - Construction Industry SI 158/2013 notifies an agreement regrading some workers and adjusting the principal agreement’s provision for long service awards.

Customs duty suspension SI 157/2013 provides for a suspension of duty until 24th November 2014 on power equipment, critical spares and transformer components imported by four ZESA companies.

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