Parly had its hands full in 2018 

Source: Parly had its hands full in 2018 | The Herald 29 DEC, 2018

Parly had its hands full in 2018

Farirai Machivenyika
THE year 2018 will be remembered for ushering in the Second Republic following the election of President Mnangagwa as the country’s second leader after he won the July 30 presidential election. The ruling Zanu-PF retained its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

A number of young parliamentarians were elected into august House with former swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry being appointed a non-constituency legislator and Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.

In September the President outlined the legislative agenda in his inaugural State of the Nation Address during the official opening of the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.

The agenda is dominated by Bills meant to improve Zimbabwe’s investment climate in line with Government’s vision of attaining a middle income economy by 2030.

Some of the Bills deal directly with economic issues that the President presented to the joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate include the Companies and Other Entities Bill.

It will overhaul the Companies Act.

Other Bills include the Regional Town and Country Planning Amendment Bill, which seeks to reduce the time and procedures for processing construction permits.

The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency Bill seeks to consolidate various pieces of legislation on investment, which are presently spread under various Acts.

The Bill will also provide for the establishment of a one-stop investment centre, the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency.

The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill that was passed in the last session of the Eighth Parliament will be re-tabled to address some inadequacies and provide for online registration of mining rights and title.

The Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act and the Immigration Act will also be amended. The other Bills that will be tabled include the Gold Trade Bill and the Precious Stones Trade Bill. The Bills seek to curb leakage of precious minerals.

Also to be tabled is the Consumer Protection Bill, which aims to protect consumers from unfair trade practices and abuse by suppliers of sub-standard goods.

The Education Bill will also be brought before Parliament to provide for free basic education and abolishment of corporal punishment.

Government also indicated plans to bring two constitutional amendments to provide for the extension of the women’s quota system that is set to expire in 2023 and to remove the provision allowing parliamentarians to sit in metropolitan councils.

In his address President Mnangagwa urged parliamentarians to go an extra mile in ensuring that they fulfil the laid out legislative agenda.

However, not many of the Bills that were set out by the President have been brought before Parliament for consideration with Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, recently saying a committee had been set up to expedite the process of promulgation of the laws.

In what could be a record, the National Assembly also sat into the early hours of the day on December 20 when it was debating the 2019 Budget. The debate was dominated by the MPs’ demands for luxury vehicles, diplomatic passports and gym facilities.

President Mnangagwa also laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden that will be part of the new capital Government wants to construct to decongest Harare.

The building is being constructed through a $98 million donation by the Chinese government. In the committees, the Mines and Energy committee was the most active.

It carried out inquiries into the operation of Hwange Colliery, which is facing numerous challenges some of which have been blamed on corrupt practices and mismanagement by the company’s executives.

The company has since been placed under administration to turn around its fortunes.

Advocate Mudenda also hosted a number of diplomats as part of Government’s re-engagement efforts with a number of countries also expressing interest in having bilateral relations between their parliaments and Zimbabwe’s Parliament.

The Speaker said Parliament would consider strengthening disciplinary measures against parliamentarians who misbehave in the House.

MDC-Alliance MPs have on numerous occasions exhibited rowdy behaviour including walking out on President Mnangagwa when he addressed Parliament.

Parliament will resume sitting on January 29.