BY VENERANDA LANGA
PARLIAMENT resumes sitting today after a two-month COVID-19-induced break which came about after five legislators tested positive to the virus.
Yesterday, Parliament kickstarted its compulsory COVID-19 tests for MPs and staff as it prepared for resumption of sittings today.
Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, recently announced that there will be compulsory testing of MPs and staff before resumption of sittings, adding that Parliament was also working towards going virtual in order to minimise COVID-19 infections.
The coronavirus has severely affected the sittings of both National Assembly and Senate, with civic society organisations raising concern that there were several laws that needed to be crafted, while others were at different stages of being crafted, but had been disrupted by the long break.
Last week, only a handful of MPs from Harare attended the National Assembly sitting, which lasted for less than 20 minutes.
Some of the important committee sittings that were ongoing before Parliament abruptly adjourned due to the COVID-19 threat included an investigation on the Zesa Holdings forensic audit by the Public Accounts Committee.
The Health Parliamentary Portfolio Committee was also seized with oral evidence on COVID-19 issues, with other parliamentary committees also gathering oral evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on different sectors of the economy.
Senate adjourned while it was in the process of passing the Marriages Bill, which has been very topical in the country as it covers issues of property rights, women and child rights, among several other issues.
In the National Assembly, some of the important laws that were derailed by COVID-19 included the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Bill, the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill, and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill, among others.
Legal think-tank, Veritas recently observed that: “The backlog shows that the Executive and Parliament have not been industrious when it comes to amending or crafting laws; and partly due to the COVID-19 scare.”
The Second Session of the Ninth Parliament is expected to end soon with very little progress in terms of crafting laws.