Both the Senate and the National Assembly will continue sitting this week, the third week of the current series of sittings. And, in a departure from the Sitting Calendar, both Houses will sit again next week to deal with the Supplementary Budget [see next paragraph] and, possibly, to complete work on current Bills [see below, in paragraphs headed In Parliament Last Week and Yesterday and This Week in Parliament].
Supplementary Budget to be Presented Thursday 1st August
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development will tomorrow present his Supplementary Budget Statement for 2019 in the National Assembly. The Order Paper lists this item as a notice of motion by the Minister seeking leave to make further provision for the revenues and public funds of Zimbabwe and to make provision for ancillary and incidental matters [Constitution, section 303(3)].
The Supplementary Budget exercise will involve presentation of the Supplementary Budget Statement, Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure [“Blue Book”], an Appropriation Bill to give effect to the Estimates, and a Finance (No 2) Bill to give effect to tax measures such as changes to the income tax bands already mentioned by the Minister.
NSSA Forensic Audit Report to be Tabled on 1st August
Yesterday, Tuesday 30th July, the Speaker assured MPs that the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare would table this report at the start of proceedings on Thursday 1st August. He was responding to a motion for contempt of Parliament charges to be brought against the Minister for her failure to comply with the Speaker’s earlier ruling on the subject.
In the National Assembly Last Week and Yesterday
An Adverse Report on this Bill by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] was announced on 24th July. It identified eleven clauses of the Bill as unconstitutional [see Bill Watch 39/2019]. Yesterday, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs asked for consideration of the Adverse Report by the National Assembly to be suspended to allow time for discussion of the Government’s proposed amendments to the Bill, conceding to the PLC’s views. This may mean that the Adverse Report will be withdrawn if the PLC agrees that the Minister’s amendments cure all the unconstitutional aspects of the Bill.
The Committee Stage was completed on 25th July, with the adoption of some, but not all, of the amendments proposed on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education by its chairperson, Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga. The amended Bill was then referred back to the PLC for its report on the constitutionality of the amendments. A consolidated version of the Bill as amended is being printed for consideration by the PLC when it meets tomorrow morning, Thursday 1st August.
This Bill did not come up last week, but yesterday, 30th July, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs wound up the Second Reading by saying that the amendments proposed by the Portfolio Committee, plus one proposed by the Government, would appear on the Order Paper for consideration during the Committee Stage.
Bills under consideration by the PLC
At close of business yesterday, 30th July, the PLC had three Bills under consideration: Education Amendment Bill; Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill; Coroner’s Office Bill.
Bills awaiting presentation
On 24th July the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs put forward a motion to allow gazetted Bills to be introduced into the National Assembly before the expiry of fourteen days from gazetting, which would have allowed immediate introduction of the Marriages Bill, gazetted only a few days before. After protests from Opposition MPs he withdrew the motion, protesting that all he had wanted to achieve was something for Parliament to do, not to sidestep other procedural requirements such as public consultations.
Adoption of Public Accounts Committee Report on Non-Compliance Issues in Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
Yesterday, 30th July, MPs finished contributing to the debate on the PAC’s damning report on the Ministry’s failure to comply with numerous important obligations laid on it under the Constitution, the Public Finance Management and the Public Debt Management Act. Hon Biti, the PAC chairperson, then wound up the debate, and the House adopted the report.
In the National Assembly for the Rest of This Week
Tomorrow’s scheduled tabling of the NSSA Forensic Audit Report and presentation of the Supplementary Budget have already been dealt with at the beginning of this bulletin.
The Supplementary Budget will add considerably to the burden of work to be completed before the end of the current Parliamentary session. It seems appropriate to mention, therefore, that Standing Orders permit sittings of Parliament on Friday mornings.
The Order Paper for today, 31st July, has several pages of amendments proposed by the Portfolio Committee and one proposed by the Minister, to be considered during the Committee Stage. But, unless the House decides otherwise, Question Time and Private Members’ business have priority on Wednesday afternoons, so progress today is unlikely.
If the PLC is able to report on the Committee Stage amendments promptly, this Bill could soon be on its way to the Senate, which has had no Government business since 21st June.
Government Gazettes 23rd to 26th July
Gazette Extraordinary of 23rd July No. 59
Publication of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill
GN 1168A/2019 by the Clerk of Parliament announced the gazetting of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, 2019 (H.B. 9, 2019).
Gazette Extraordinary of 24th July No. 60
Zaka East By-election dates announced
SI 151A/2019 was Presidential Proclamation 5/2019 fixing Friday 9th August as the date for the sitting of the nomination court at Masvingo Provincial Magistrates Court and Saturday 21st September as polling day, should a poll become necessary. The vacancy arose from the death of the sitting MP, Hon Katson Gumbwanda of ZANU-PF, on 25th June, so polling day will fall within the ninety-day period allowed by the Constitution.
Regular Gazette of Friday 26th July No. 61
Collective bargaining agreement: Security Industry
SI 152/2019 specifies wages and allowances for the period 1st March to 31st August 2019.
Collective bargaining agreements – Agricultural Industry
Minimum wages with effect from 1st May 2019 are specified for various industry sectors: tea and coffee sector [SI 153/2019]; sugarcane sector [SI 154/2019]; agro sector [SI 155/2019]; Kapenta sector [SI 156].
Collective bargaining agreement – Ferro-Alloy Industry
SI 157 specifies wage increases for the period 1st January to 31st December 2019.
Local authority by-laws
- SI 158/2019 is the Norton Town Council (Pre-paid Parking Disc) By-laws.
- SI 159 is the Gokwe Town Council (Anti-litter and Refuse Removal) By-laws.