Both Houses are Sitting This Week
Update on Last Week’s Progress on Bills in the National Assembly
Committee Stage amendments made and PLC reports on amendments awaited
The Second Reading stages of the Companies and Other Business Entities Bill and Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill were completed on Tuesday 14th May, with both Bills being approved to move on to Committee Stage. Progress to Committee Stage was delayed by the presentation of the Ministerial Statement on the State of the Economy in Zimbabwe and MPs’ follow-up requests for clarification on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Although the Minister of Finance and Economic Development wound up his response just before 5 pm on Thursday, MPs were apparently in no mood to move on to the Bills – attention was immediately drawn to the lack of a quorum, and this forced an adjournment until the following day. 150 MPs were in attendance on Friday morning and both Bills were dealt with as follows:
Companies and Other Business Entities Bill
Amendments were proposed by both the Minister and Hon Mataranyika, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. All the Minister’s amendments were approved; Hon Mataranyika withdrew his amendments to clauses 2, 136 and 277, but his amendments to other clauses were accepted by the Minister and duly approved. Clause 60 [“Derivative actions”] was replaced by two clauses [“Direct actions by a member” and “Derivative actions by a member on the entity’s behalf”], necessitating numbering changes to subsequent clauses. Clause 61 [now 62] was replaced by a new clause on the same subject [“Court remedies in deadlock, fraud, oppression and other situations: piercing the corporate veil”]. A new clause was inserted to deal with “Obligations to maintain and file beneficial ownership information”, bolstering the existing clause 71 on “Prohibition of concealment of beneficial ownership”.
The Bill was then referred back to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for its report on the constitutionality of the amendments.
The wording of the amendments will be available on the Veritas website shortly.
Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill
This Bill, too, was amended during its Committee Stage, mainly to reduce the Government representation on the Forum from 14 to 7 – the same as the 7 allocated to Organised Labour and the 7 allocated to Organised Business.
The Bill was then referred back to the PLC for its report on the constitutionality of the amendments.
The wording of the amendments is available on the Veritas website shortly.
Bills That Could Come Up This Week in the National Assembly
There are currently seven Bills on Parliament’s Status of Bills list. All of them are mentioned below.
Bills awaiting PLC reports on Committee Stage Amendments
The PLC is scheduled to hold a special meeting this afternoon to consider the amendments [see above] made last Friday to the:
- Companies and Other Business Entities Bill and
- Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill.
If the PLC agrees on non-adverse reports, they could be tabled in the National Assembly this afternoon. And if that happens, the remaining stages of both Bills could also be taken this afternoon and both could be sent to the Senate. The Senate could, therefore, start work on both Bills this week.
Bills for Second Reading
The first three items on the National Assembly’s Order Paper for this afternoon are:
Other Bills awaiting PLC reports
The following two Bills are also under consideration by the PLC, having had their First Readings on 9th May. They are on the PLC’s agenda for its regular meeting on Wednesday:
Other Business Coming Up in the National Assembly
There are several new motions listed high on the Order Paper: take note motions on the Speaker’s Report on his Bilateral Report to the Shura Advisory Council in Doha, Qatar, and on the Report of the Delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting on the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration held in December 2018 in Rabat, Morocco; a motion urging provision of reasonable pension and other benefits for war veterans, war collaborators and ex-detainees; a motion calling for decentralisation of collection of vehicle licence fees and road user charges from ZINARA to local authorities; and one on the need for an incentive regime for the productive sector aimed at promoting value addition, innovation, fusion of technologies and adaptation to the prevailing economic environment.
Question Time is scheduled for Wednesday as usual. 66 written questions with notice remain on the Order Paper from last week.
Bills and Other Business in the Senate
There are no Bills on the Senate’s Order Paper at present. That could well change in the course of the next two days, as pointed out above. Senators would, therefore, be well advised to start preparing for consideration of the Companies and Other Business Entities Bill and the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill.
PLC Adverse Report on Command Agriculture Regulations [SI 247/2018]
This is item 1 on the Order Paper for today, the Senate’s first sitting after its adjournment on 9th May Senators still await a response to the PLC’s adverse report from the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement before deciding whether or not these regulations are inconsistent with the Constitution to the extent that certain provisions criminalise breaches of contract, as argued by the PLC.
In the absence of Government business, i.e., Bills, Senators have the opportunity to conclude adjourned debates on five motions. There are no new motions listed.
Question Time is scheduled for Thursday as usual. Senators will be expecting much improved attendance from Ministers and Deputy Ministers. There are 11 questions with notice listed on the Order Paper.