The Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is holding public hearings from Monday to Friday this week, in Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare and Harare, respectively. [See Bill Watch Committees Series 27/2015 of 24th July for venues and times.]
Mwenezi East and Mudzi West By-Elections
Mwenezi East On 20th July the nomination court declared the only candidate, ZANU-PF’S Joshua Moyo, elected unopposed, but only with effect from 19th September, which is the date on which polling would have taken place had he been opposed. This delayed effect is what section 46(17)(b) of the Electoral Act dictates. So Mr Moyo cannot be sworn in until 19th September at the earliest.
Mudzi West Polling in this by-election took place on 24th July, resulting in a comfortable win for the ZANU-PF candidate Magna Mudyiwa, who received 9 837 votes against the 107 of her NCA opponent. As her election was with immediate effect, she could be sworn in this week.
In the National Assembly Last Week
Bills [available from the addresses at the end of this bulletin]
Bills under consideration by Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] The General Laws Amendment Bill remained under consideration by the PLC:
There was activity in the National Assembly, however, on other Bills:
Public Debt Management Bill
On Tuesday 21st July the National Assembly adopted the amended Bill, after receiving the Parliamentary Legal Committee’s non-adverse report on the amendments made during the Committee Stage on 7th July [see Bill Watch 25/2015]. The Bill was given its Third Reading immediately and transmitted to the Senate.
Zimbabwe Gender Commission Bill
On Wednesday 22nd July the Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development requested that the Bill be recommitted, in other words, that the Committee Stage [ostensibly completed on 16th July] be re-opened. The National Assembly approved the request, so the Bill is now back on the Order Paper for correction of defects in the procedure followed on 16th July; also back on the Order Paper are the Minister’s proposed amendments to the Bill.
Joint Ventures Bill
On 22nd July a non-adverse PLC report on the Bill was announced. The next day the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon Chinamasa, delivered his speech explaining the Bill, followed by Hon Mukanduri, standing in for the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development, who presented the committee’s report on the Bill. The report, while unanimously supporting the Bill, recommended that a number of changes be made before its adoption by Parliament, including: harmonisation with the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) Act, which gives the ZIA a role in relation to joint ventures also; addition of explicit provision on how the indigenisation and empowerment policy will apply to joint venture agreements; the composition of the Joint Ventures Committee; the use of eminent persons and expert consultants to ensure expeditious consideration of proposals; addition of provision for monitoring and evaluation in the interests of transparency and accountability.
Several MPs then contributed to the debate, including members of the committee who said the report just presented did not fully represent the committee’s deliberations. The Minister said that before responding he would need time to consider the report and the points made during the debate. The debate was then adjourned.
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill
On 22nd July a non-adverse PLC report on the Bill was announced. On 23rd July Vice-President Mnangagwa delivered a speech explaining the Bill in some detail. An MP who congratulated the Minister for what he described as the Bill’s “outlawing of capital punishment” was unfortunately not corrected. [Comment: The Bill does not abolish capital punishment; in fact, together with the General Laws Amendment Bill, it will reintroduce capital punishment for murder committed in aggravating circumstances, as pointed out in Constitution Watch 10/2015.] Proceedings on the Bill were then adjourned to allow the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to conduct its public hearings on the Bill [scheduled for this week – see above] and report back to the National Assembly in due course.
Child rights Last session’s lapsed motion on Child Rights was restored to the Order Paper. It calls for Ministries to resolve the problems faced by children, in particular the need for synchronising the issuance of identity documents at all health centres at the time of birth.
There was further debate on the motion calling for harmonisation of the mining and land and agricultural laws and the motion advocating people-centred development policies and improvement of conditions for foreign direct investment.
On 22nd July the report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on the Forbes Border Post was presented. The detailed report is critical of the present state of affairs, which it says allows corruption, smuggling, people trafficking, and illegal entry into Zimbabwe to flourish, and recommends swift remedial measures.
Question Time An extended Question Time kept Ministers present busy. Topics covered included: the withholding of exam results for non-payment of school fees [not Government policy, said the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education]; the Government’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision on termination of employment by giving notice; when radio reception in south-eastern and south-western areas would be possible [by March 2016 at the latest]; and major developments towards achieving ZimAsset targets [detailed response by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development].
Coming up in Parliament This Week
Bills under consideration by PLC
The National Assembly is waiting for PLC reports on:
• Zimbabwe Gender Commission Bill [for PLC report on the Committee Stage amendments].
Zimbabwe Gender Commission Bill Following last week’s recommittal of the Bill [see above] the Committee Stage will be resumed for approval of the amendments to the Bill.
Joint Ventures Bill The National Assembly awaits the Minister of Finance and Economic Development’s reaction to the Portfolio Committee report and MPs’ contributions made last week.
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill Although on the Order Paper for continuation of the Second Reading debate, this Bill is unlikely to be discussed this week because it is still with the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs [see above].
Portfolio Committee Reports Two reports are listed for presentation to the National Assembly:
• Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s state of preparedness to hold elections
• 15% VAT on hotel accommodation for foreign tourists
Appointment of Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga will propose a congratulatory message to the President for appointing a Minister to this Ministry. [Note: Hon Chikwinya’s appointment on 6th July filled a vacancy that had existed for seven months.]
(1) Industrialisation, (2) Capital formation and investment (3) Transfer pricing and externalisation of money and capital Hon Hlongwane is listed to present motions on all these subjects.
Question Time [Wednesday] 37 written questions await Ministers. More could be added before Wednesday.
Public Debt Management Bill The Senate is due to start considering this Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly, with amendments, and transmitted to the Senate on 21st July.
National Railways of Zimbabwe Senator B. Sibanda is due to present a motion calling on Government to take remedial measures to meet the challenges at NRZ and ensure timeous payment of employees’ dues.
Indebtedness Debate will continue on Senator Khumalo’s motion calling for measures to save thousands of indebted companies and individuals whose property is likely to auctioned.
Question Time [Thursday] Nine questions for Ministers are listed, including one asking the Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees to state the Ministry’s programme for improving the welfare of war collaborators. More questions could be added before Wednesday.
Collective bargaining agreement on wages and allowances in Printing, Packaging and Newspaper Industry [SI 78/2015].
National Parks fees SI 79/2015 sets out the new Parks and Wild Life Management Authority (Tariff of Fees) By-laws.
Commission of Inquiry into Pensions and Insurance Benefits Conversion Process SI 80/2015 appoints a Commission of Inquiry headed by retired High Court George Smith and sets out its wide-ranging terms of reference, which include but are not limited to establishing the factors, causes and reasons for the loss of value of pensions as of 31st March 2009.