Bill Watch 51/2013 of 8th October [Senate to Sit on 8th October, National Assembly on 15th]

BILL WATCH 51/2013

[8th October 2013]

Both Houses Sat Last Week

The Senate Will Sit This Week

The National Assembly Will Sit Again on Tuesday 15th October

Coming Up in the Senate This Week

Motions   There are two motions on the Order Paper:

Harmonising legislation with the new Constitution  The first item on the Order Paper for Tuesday is a new motion proposed by MDC-T’s Senator Marava, seconded by Senator Makore.  It notes the failure so far to align existing legislation with the new Constitution and the current absence of Bills to do so, expresses concern over the likelihood that there will be commissions and omissions by the Executive in breach of the Constitution, and finally calls for “the expeditious harmonisation of existing legislation with the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the implementation of the constitutional provisions, particularly those that seek to uplift the status of women.”

The ongoing motion on the President’s speech is the only other motion listed.  Debate will continue this week.

Question time [Thursday]   Senator Alice Chimbudzi of Mashonaland Central has put down seven written questions for various Ministers:

Labour and Social Welfare – for an explanation of the roles of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) / Civic Organisations in Zimbabwe

Media, Information and Broadcasting Services – what measures are in place to control private radio stations which are damaging the image of the country?

Home Affairs – what are Government’s plans to relocate Mkumbura Immigration Offices so that they are not swept away by the meandering Mkumbura River?

Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development – what are the Government’s plans to surface roads in rural areas?

Environment Water and Climate – whether there are plans to re-introduce Gully Reclamation Programmes in order to prevent land degradation?

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing – how does Government intend to deal with solid waste in cities and towns?

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – what measures has Government put in place to protect children who are victims to sexual abuse?

In the National Assembly Last Week

Attendance continued good, hovering just below 85% of membership, or 230 out 270.

The Speaker on etiquette and decorum in the House  On 3rd October the Speaker warned members of the National Assembly that he would strictly enforce Standing Order 81 which states that disrespect for the chair and interrupting the orderly conduct of business amounts to contempt of Parliament.  He referred in particular to an incident in which MDC-T members had risen to their feet when the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Khupe, entered the chamber and Hon Khupe had assumed her seat without bowing to the chair.  The Speaker reminded legislators that in accordance with Standing Orders and convention members rise to their feet only when the presiding officer or the Head of State enters or leaves the chamber.

Member’s Bar  The Speaker also announced that the Members’ Bar will serve only soft drinks during sittings of the House.

Members removed from the Chamber  Hon Cross was escorted from the chamber by order of the Deputy Speaker after being observed reading a novel during debate.  Hon Hlongwane was ordered out by the Speaker for entertaining a mobile phone call in the chamber.

Motions  Debate continued on Dr Labode’s motion on the health sector and the motion of thanks for the President’s speech at the opening of Parliament.

New motion on Nairobi Shopping Mall terrorist attack  Hon Gorden Moyo introduced a motion to condemn the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and to express condolences to the families of the victims and solidarity with the people of Kenya.  There were contributions from other MPs, and debate is set to continue.

Question Time [Wednesday]   No written questions with notice had been tabled, but there were enough Ministers present to allow backbenchers to use up the hour set aside for questions without notice.

Several questions were directed at the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, who said the forthcoming Bill to replace and Mines and Minerals Act would address the tension between agricultural and mining activities, and that the Geological Survey Department needs to be strengthened to undertake exploration to verify the quantum of minerals in Zimbabwe.

The Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, asked about worker discontent at ZBC, said the ministry would do everything possible to ensure harmony between employees and management.

In the Senate Last Week

Senators sat for two days.  Attendance was 70%, just below 60 out of a possible 78.  Tuesday’s sitting lasted only 40 minutes, from prayers at 2.30 pm until the Senate rose at 3.10 pm.  Wednesday’s sitting was even shorter, finishing at 3.06 pm, at which point the Senate adjourned until 8th October.

The only motion debated was the one on the President’s speech.

Standing Rules and Orders Committee [SROC]

This committee has now begun to take shape.  In announcements made on 2nd October the Speaker and the Deputy President of the Senate brought members up to date on appointments to the committee made by the President and the opposition [MDC-T].  As the following list shows, further members have to be appointed or elected in terms of section 151 of the Constitution to bring the Committee up to full strength.

Ex officio members [automatically members by virtue of their holding of other offices]

Speaker: Hon Jacob Mudenda

President of the Senate: Hon Ednah Madzongwe

Deputy Speaker: Hon Mabel Chinomona

Deputy President of the Senate: Hon Chen Chimutengwende

Minister responsible for  finance: Hon Patrick Chinamasa

Leader of Government Business in Parliament: Hon Emerson Mnangagwa

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament: Hon Thokozani Khupe

Chief Whips of the political parties represented in the National Assembly:

ZANU-PF – Hon Joram Gumbo

MDC-T – Hon Innocent Gonese

Chief Whips of the political parties represented in the Senate:

ZANU-PF – Hon Kembo Mohadi

MDC-T – Hon Sithembile Mlotshwa

President of the National Council of Chiefs:  Hon Chief Charumbira

Appointed members

Two Ministers appointed to the Committee by the President

Hon. Dr. Sekeramayi, Minister of Defence

Hon. Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development

One Senate backbencher appointed as a member by the President of the Senate

Still to be appointed

One National Assembly backbencher appointed as a member by the Speaker

Still to be appointed

Elected members

Four Senate backbenchers elected by the Senate

Still to be elected

Four National Assembly backbenchers elected by the National Assembly

Still to be elected

Parliamentary Legal Committee and Other Committees

The setting-up of other Parliamentary committees depends upon the SROC being fully constituted [see Bill Watch 48/2013 of 1st October].

Vacancy in the National Assembly

The first vacancy has occurred in the National Assembly.  On 3rd October the Speaker announced that the seat for Bikita West fell vacant on 30th September in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution, following his receipt of official notification from ZANU-PF that Dr Munyaradzi Kereke had ceased to be a member of the party.  This vacancy will have to be filled by a by-election.  In terms of section 39(1) of the Electoral Act the President must gazette the nomination and polling dates within 14 days of receiving notice of the vacancy from the Speaker.

Note: Dr Kereke was expelled from ZANU-PF after standing for election against the party’s official candidate for the Bikita West constituency.

Reminder:  There are two vacancies in the Senate [see Bill Watch 44/2013 of 6th September, which explains how both these party-list Senate seats must be filled by party nominees in accordance with section 39 of the Electoral Act.]