Bill Watch 52/2013 of 15th October [Both Houses of Parliament Sitting this Week]

BILL WATCH 52/2013

[15th October 2013]

Both Houses Will Sit This Week

No Bills

There are no Bills listed on the Order Paper of either House.

Coming up in the National Assembly This Week

Motions  Debate will continue on the motions on the President’s speech, the attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Kenya and the deterioration Zimbabwe’s health sector.

There are also several new motions on the Order Paper:

Need for an urgent non-partisan drought and starvation mitigation programme  This motion, proposed by Hon S.S. Nkomo, seconded by Hon Mpariwa both of MDC-T, calls for a Parliamentary inquiry into the current food shortage and the implementation of a mitigation programme.

Power cuts  This motion calls for the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy to conduct an inquiry into the power sector, having regard to power cuts, ZESA’s incapacity to deal timeously with faults, the increasing gap between demand for and supply of power, lack of investment in and the flight of qualified and experienced personnel from the sector.  It is proposed by MDC-T’s Hon Maridadi.

Cancer treatment  Another MDC-T motion, by Hon Khupe and Hon Labode, calls for the introduction of a cancer levy and the establish of district cancer treatment units.

Sanctions  Hon Hlongwane of ZANU-PF has tabled a motion calling on the EU, Australia, New Zealand and the USA to lift all forms of sanctions and for the submission of the adopted motion to the European Parliament, US Congress, Australian and New Zealand Parliaments and the House of Commons.

Written Question Time [Wednesday]  Six Ministers face questions in the National Assembly’s first Written Question Time [name of MP asking is given in brackets]:

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing – on partisan hiring of workers and issue of residential stands by local authorities [Hon Chinotimba, ZANU-PF]

Tourism and Hospitality Industry – what progress has been made by the Ministerial Task Force mandated to investigate the invasion of the Save Conservancy? [Hon Gonese, MDC-T]

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare – why are Registrar-General Mudede and Civil Service Commission chairperson Nzuwah still employed by the State after reaching retirement age? [Hon D. Sibanda, MDC-T]

Transport and Infrastructural Development – about the inordinate delay in completing the linking of the Harare International Airport Road with the Enterprise Road and the premature transfer of municipal land to the contractor before completion of the project [Hon Gonese, MDC-T]

Agriculture, Mechanisation & Irrigation Development – how many tons of grain has Zimbabwe imported from Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and other neighbouring countries this year? [Hon Gonese, MDC-T]

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – when will the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act be amended to ensure that defendants in criminal cases enjoy the rights to which they are entitled under sections 50 and 70 of the new Constitution? [Hon Maridadi, MDC-T].  [Note: Veritas explained the urgent need for such amendment in Constitution Watch 35/2013 of 23rd September.]

Coming up in the Senate This Week

Motions   There are only two motions on the Order Paper for this week:

The ongoing motion on the President’s speech

African Parliamentary Union (APU)  A new motion, to be moved by Senator Mathuthu, asks the Senate to take note of the report-back by Zimbabwean parliamentary delegates to the 62nd Session of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union (APU) held in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire from 28th to 29th September.

Note:  Debate on Senator Marava’s motion on aligning existing laws with the new Constitution will not resume until 20th November – see below for last week’s developments on this motion.

Question time [Thursday]  Six of ZANU-PF Senator Alice Chimbudzi’s seven questions have been carried forward unanswered from last week.  It is to be hoped that last week’s protest by the President of the Senate [see below] results in the Ministers attending and responding; they are the Ministers of Labour and Social Welfare, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Home Affairs, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Environment Water and Climate, and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

There are two new questions from Senator Mohadi of ZANU-PF for the following Ministers:

Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing – on the construction of schools in resettlement areas and the completion of Government houses in Beitbridge that were started some years ago

Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation & Irrigation Development – when will loans for livestock production be available?

In Parliament Last Week

Senate

Senators sat on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 2.30 pm and ending at 4.01 pm, 3.06 pm and 3;.59 pm respectively.  Attendance was good, considering that 7 Senators were absent with leave.

Motions

Aligning existing legislation with the new Constitution’s  In a comprehensive speech on Tuesday Senator Marava introduced his motion on this subject.  On Wednesday Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Fortune Chasi told Senators the Ministry was alive to this complex issue and giving it urgent attention.  He requested that debate be adjourned until the Ministry could present a comprehensive report.  After initial reluctance Senator Marava agreed, and debate was adjourned until 20th November.

President’s speech   In a maiden speech Hon Mashavakure, one of the two Senators representing people with disabilities, emphasised the need to engage disabled people in government policies and programmes, including the Indigenization and Empowerment Programme. He reminded Senators that the new Constitution recognises the special needs of disabled people and called for existing laws to be aligned to give effect to this constitutional theme.

Question Time [Thursday]  Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mnangagwa and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Ziyambi were kept on their feet during the hour allotted to questions without notice.  Hon Mnangagwa dealt with the status of chiefs’ courts as part of the country’s judiciary, the need for proper premises to be provided for such courts and problems with mandatory 9-year sentences for stock theft.  Hon Ziyambiresponded on a variety of topics ranging from decentralising the issuing of passports to accommodation for police officers, upkeep of Heroes Acres around the country, and police assistance to chiefs’ courts.

Written question with notice – child sexual abuse  Only Minister Mnangagwa was present, meaning that only one of the seven questions put down by Senator Chimbudzi was answered.  The Minister gave an informative response to her question about Government measures to protect child victims of sexual abuse.

Senate President protests at non-attendance of Ministers facing questions  President of the Senate Ednah Madzongwe commented on the fact that no Ministers were present to deal with Senator Chimbudzi’s other questions.  She appealed to Hon Mnangagwa, as Leader of Government Business in Parliament, to encourage fellow Cabinet Ministers to take Question Time seriously because it is part of their duties.  She suggested the provision of written answers to questions with notice.

National Assembly

The National Assembly did not meet at all last week.

Parliamentary Committees

Announcements by the Speaker are awaited.  The Standing Rules and Orders Committee [SROC] is still not fully constituted – there are eight elected positions still to be filled.  [see Bill Watch 51/2013 of 8th October].  The other Parliamentary committees will then be set up by the SROC

Vacancy in the National Assembly

On the 3rd of October the Speaker of the House of Assembly made a statement that he had been informed on 30th of September by ZANU-PF that Dr Kereke “who was a member of that party at the time of his election, had ceased to be a member and no longer represents the interests of that party in Parliament”.  In terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution, which states that a seat falls vacant “if the member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it”[underlining by Veritas]. 

Dr Kereke has since lodged an application in the Constitutional Court challenging the Speaker’s declaration that his Bikita West seat fell vacant on 30th September.  He contends that section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution does not apply to him, pointing out that ZANU-PF’s letter to the Speaker said he ceased to be a member of ZANU-PF on 10th July.  That, he says, was before the general elections of 31st July in which he was elected to Parliament, so he was not a party member when elected and therefore should not lose his seat under section 129(1)(k).

Government Gazette

Only one statutory instrument was gazetted on 11th October.

SI 147  Road tolls:  a brief amendment to the Road Tolls (National Trunk Road Network) Regulations, designed to make the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration [ZINARA] solely responsible in law for the collection of road tolls, in place of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority [ZIMRA].  The changeover took effect from the 1st October and the statutory instrument is backdated to that date, in a belated attempt to align the law to the position on the ground from 1st October.

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