How Far Has the Legislative Agenda Progressed? Bill Watch 19 / 2019

Source: 11 April 2019Democracy, Legislation

The Legislative Agenda for Parliament’s 2018/2019 Session

How Far Has it Progressed?

This bulletin assesses progress made to date by the Government and Parliament towards fulfilling the Government’s Legislative Agenda which was presented to Parliament by President Mnangagwa on 13th September 2018 – the day on which the President officially opened the first session of the present (Ninth) Parliament.

Size of the Legislative Agenda and progress to date

Thirty Bills were listed on the Legislative Agenda [for details see Bill Watch 26/2018 of 24th September 2018]. During the first six and a half months of the session, not one of them has been finally passed and sent to the President for his assent and gazetting as law. But Parliament has made some progress on four of them:

  • Companies and Other Business Entities Bill
  • Consumer Protection Bill
  • Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill
  • Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Bill.

How much time is left?

Parliament is presently in recess. Nearly eight months of the session will have passed when the next series of Parliamentary sittings begins on 7th May. Those sittings will effectively end on Thursday 1st August 2019 – the last working day of the session

Agenda Bills that have Not Yet Reached Parliament

Please note that Veritas cannot supply copies of any of the Bills without links as none of them have been gazetted.

Twenty-six agenda Bills have still to be considered by Parliament. In listing these Bills below we have divided them into three groups:

A. Bills ready to be sent to Parliament [final drafts already approved by Cabinet]

B. Bills being drafted by the Attorney-General’s Office [principles approved by Cabinet, enabling the responsible Ministry to instruct the Attorney-General’s Office to begin drafting]

C. Other Bills [principles not approved by Cabinet or present status unknown to Veritas at this stage]

A. Final drafts approved by Cabinet for sending to Parliament

As far as we know, no finally approved agenda Bills are on their way to Parliament from Ministers.

B. Nine agenda Bills approved in principle by Cabinet for drafting

[Dates indicate date of Cabinet approval paving the way for the responsible Ministry to instruct drafters in Attorney-General’s Office to begin drafting]
  • Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [26th February ]
  • Cyber Protection, Data Protection and Electronic Transactions Bill [a combination of at least two Legislative Agenda items] [18th December 2018]
  • Freedom of Information Bill [19th February]
  • Immigration Amendment Bill [5th February 2019]
  • Labour Amendment Bill [26th March]
  • Protection of Personal Information Bill [19th February] [Data Protection]
  • Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Bill [20th November 2018]
  • Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill [12th February]

We are unable to say how close any these Bills are to completion of drafting and Cabinet approval.

Note: Veritas applauds the Office of the President and Cabinet and the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services for releasing to the public their regular post-Cabinet Meeting “Decisions Matrix”. This matrix outlines decisions taken by Cabinet, including decisions approving the principles and, later, the final drafts of Bills – a welcome step towards greater transparency in the pre-Parliamentary stages of the legislative process. We have relied on information thus provided in compiling this bulletin.

C. Other agenda Bills

  • Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill
  • Child Justice Bill
  • Constitutional Court Bill
  • Cooperative Societies Amendment Bill
  • Coroners Bill
  • Customary Law and Local Courts Amendment Bill
  • Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill
  • Forest Amendment Bill
  • Gold Trade Bill
  • High Court Amendment Bill
  • Institute of Education Research, Innovation and Development Bill
  • Mandatory Sentencing for Rape and Sexual Offences Bill
  • Marriage Bill
  • Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill
  • Precious Stones Trade Bill
  • Public Finance Management Amendment Bill
  • Regional, Town and Country Planning Amendment Bill
  • Rural District Councils Bill
  • Traditional Leaders Amendment Bill
  • Prospects for Completion of Legislative Agenda: NIL

Veritas sees no chance of the Legislative Agenda being completed by the end of the present session. The agenda has turned out to have been far too ambitious. Another factor is that Cabinet has also found it politic to approve the drafting of several non-agenda Bills.

Completion of Bills already with Parliament could be achieved before the end of May or soon thereafter.

If Parliament is expected to aim at passing additional Bills before the end of the session:

  • Ministers need to send more Bills to Parliament soon;
  • To enable that to happen, Cabinet must ensure that the final drafts of Bills submitted for approval are promptly considered and, if satisfactory, approved;
  • The Attorney-General’s Office and Ministries need to speed up the flow of final drafts to Cabinet.

Parliament Not to Blame for Slow Progress

The Speaker made an important point when, early in the session, he said that it was up to the Government to ensure that the Bills on the Legislative Agenda were sent to Parliament in good time. Perhaps in jest, he gave Ministers an ultimatum of sorts to deliver their Bills by the end of October last year – see Bill Watch 33/2018. Despite the Speaker’s remarks the Executive has not given Parliament a reasonable chance of fulfilling the Agenda’s demands.

Non-Agenda Bills in Parliament, Ready for Gazetting, or Being Drafted

In Parliament

Ready for Gazetting

Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill [MOPO]. MOPO will not be available until it is gazetted.

Being Drafted by Attorney-General’s Office

Since the beginning of the year Cabinet has also approved the principles of the following seven non-agenda Bills [dates of Cabinet approval in brackets]:

  • Electricity Amendment Bill [5th February].
  • Manpower Planning and Development Amendment Bill [26th February]
  • Police Amendment Bill [12th February]
  • Prisons Bill [5th March]
  • Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [14th March]
  • Public (Civil) Service Amendment Bill [3rd April]
  • Securities and Exchange Amendment Bill [3rd April]

Source: Veritas