Forest Bill and Cyber Bill for Senate – Bill Watch 52/2021

Both Houses Will Continue Sitting This Week

Both the National Assembly and the Senate sat last week, from Tuesday 20th to Thursday 22nd July and our Bill Watch 51/2021 of 21st July covered what was achieved on Tuesday 20th July. This bulletin will indicate what progress was made during the remaining two days of last week (National Assembly first, Senate next) and list the business on the agenda of both Houses for this week.

In the National Assembly Last Week – 21st and 22nd July

Two Bills passed and sent to Senate on Wednesday 21st July

Having the previous day received non-adverse reports from the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] on its amendments to the following Bills, the House adopted the amended Bills, gave the Bills their Third Readings and sent them to the Senate for consideration

Four Bills given their First Readings on Wednesday 21st July

The following four Bills were presented by the Ministers concerned, formally given their First Readings and referred to the PLC:

The House cannot proceed to the Second Reading stage of any Bill until the PLC has submitted its report on its opinion on the Bill’s consistency with the Constitution.

Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs delivered a brief Second Reading speech on this Bill on Thursday 22nd July. He said the Bill was required, not only to comply with section 210 of the Constitution, but because it was the right and moral thing to do. On the content of the Bill, he urged MPs to study the full explanatory memorandum printed with the Bill. He also explained that he would be moving amendments to the Bill in response to representations received by him. Veritas’s summary of and comments on the Bill are available on our website as are the amendments we suggest should be made to it.

Papers tabled

ZIMDEF (Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund) Final Forensic Investigation Report

On Wednesday 21st July the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development tabled the above report, comprising several volumes, including an Executive Summary, a Detailed Report on two volumes, and volumes on Annexures. There was no discussion; that will require a motion or a report from the Public Accounts Committee.

Proposed Standard Scale of Fines for House’s approval

On Wednesday 21st July the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs tabled his draft proposed statutory instrument for a new Standard Scale of Fines, which needs the prior approval of both Houses of Parliament before he can gazette it as law under section 280 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. On Thursday 22nd July the House voted to approve the proposed SI, overriding the protests of Opposition MPs Hon Mushoriwa and Hon Gonese that approval would be premature, given that the proposed SI had only been tabled the day before and the absence of input about the proposal from the Portfolio Committees on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Budget, Finance and Economic Development. The draft SI still has to be approved by the Senate before it can be gazetted. [Note: the draft as approved by Parliament should not be altered before gazetting.]

Note: The Minister’s previous gazetting of a new Standard Scale of Fines in January, by SI 25/2021, came unstuck because it was gazetted without Parliament’s prior approval – and was duly found to be ultra vires and invalid by vote of the National Assembly following an adverse report by the PLC. See Bill Watch 3/2021 of 28th January pointing out the statutory instrument’s invalidity and Bill Watch 12/2021 of 3rd March for the PLC’s adverse report and the National Assembly’s vote endorsing that report.

Comment: The Minister’s insistence on an urgent vote being taken only one day after he tabled his motion seems unduly harsh. Why, when it has been obvious since late January that SI 25 was hopelessly invalid, has it taken him over five months to correct his Ministry’s previous error with SI 25? Does he regard Parliament’s prior approval as a mere formality in which MPs are obliged to rubber-stamp his proposals without commenting on the proposed fines? Did MPs attending the week’s sittings virtually have an adequate opportunity to familiarise themselves with the text of the proposed SI, given the difficulties that MPs have, according to Hansard, been experiencing with the virtual platform?

Motion presented: Petition against coal exploration operations in Dinde area

On Thursday 22nd July Hon Musarurwa moved a motion for the House to take note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Climate and Tourism on the Petition by the Dinde Community of Matabeleland North complaining about lack of consultation with them before Government permission had been given for coal exploration operations in their area. The Committee had investigated the complaint and found that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report had been prepared by an approved consultant who had technically complied with the Environmental Management Act’s requirement for consultation with the local community; the EIA had been approved by the Environmental Management Agency before permission had been given by Government, not for mining operations, but for exploration under appropriate restrictions. The community had clearly not understood that approval had not been given for actual mining operations. The Committee recommended that the Act should be urgently amended to prescribe how consultations with local communities should be conducted to ensure that the communities understood the implications of what was being proposed and their rights.

Comment: As the Government has said Zimbabwe is suffering from climate change, it seems odd, while most of the rest of the world is moving away from coal, that permission for exploration has been given. In the interest of transparency Parliament should be told the name of the company and its beneficial owners.

Motion adopted: Committee Report on promotion of traditional & complementary medicines

Hon Masango Chinhamo wound up the debate on the motion and thanked MPs for the high level of contributions and Vice-President Chiwenga for his comprehensive and informative response. After the House adopted the motion, the Temporary Speaker, in answer to a point of order from Hon Ndebele asking what action would be taken on the report, said that it was entirely up to the Executive whether or not to act on the report’s recommendations.

Debate on the President’s speech at the opening of the Session

This long-running debate was resumed on Thursday 22nd July, with three Ministers – Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development and Transport and Infrastructural Development – replying to points made by MPs during the debate. [MPs had some time ago drawn the Speaker’s attention to Ministers’ failure so far to respond to the debate and the Speaker had urged the Leader of Government Business to take note of this complaint and require Ministers to do their duty.]

In the Senate Last Week – 21st and 22nd July

Bills

Once again, there was no progress on the Marriages Bill. But the two Bills passed by the National Assembly on 21st July were noted as having been received on 22nd July:

Question Time (Thursday)

SADC involvement in combating the Mozambique terrorist situation Asked about what contribution Zimbabwe would be making to SADC’s support to Mozambique, the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs said Zimbabwe is renowned in the region for its Air Force and guerrilla warfare and would be making its contribution in various forms – “technical, training forces, air force and other such things”. She assured Senators that once Zimbabwe was ready to commit itself, she would be coming to Parliament on behalf of the President for its approval for the proposed engagement.

Coming up This Week in the National Assembly

2021 Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review Statement on Thursday

The presentation of this Statement by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on Thursday 29th July is the big event of the Parliamentary week. Cabinet approved the Statement at its meeting on Tuesday 20th July.

Bills

Bills are listed as follows on the Order Paper for Tuesday 27th July:

The PLC is unlikely to be ready to report this week on the other four Bills referred to it only last week after their First Readings [for list please see above].

Motions

Annual report of NPRC The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has a motion on the Order Paper asking the House to take note of the 2020 Annual Report of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission [NPRC].

Motion in reply to the President’s speech opening the Session The positioning of this item high on the Order Paper suggests that more Ministers have been lined up to respond to points raised by MPs in the long-running debate on this motion.

Motion on the Annual Report of the Liaison and Co-ordination Committee on the Second Session The governing party’s Chief Whip, Hon Togarepi will present this report, seconded by Hon Mpariwa.

Portfolio Committee report on Mining Accidents Hon Mkaratigwa will ask the House to take note of the Report of the Mines and Mining Development Portfolio Committee on its Fact-Finding Visits to Areas Affected by Mining Accidents.

New public holiday to honour women Hon Madiwa’s motion calls on the Government to follow the example of other countries by declaring a specific day – presumably in terms of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act – to celebrate women’s achievements in the liberation and development of Zimbabwe.

New Parliamentary Caucus for persons with disabilities Hon Josiah Sithole’s motion calls for the establishment of a Parliamentary Caucus to deal directly with issues affecting persons with disabilities.

Coming up This Week in the Senate

Bills

There are now three Bills on the Senate’s Order paper, the first two on the list having been received from the National Assembly on the 22nd July :

Note: The above links are to the original versions of the two Bills, not to the Bills as greatly amended by the National Assembly, but Senators should be given fair copies of the Bills as amended by the National Assembly to enable them to appreciate exactly what they are being asked to approve.

Marriages Bill

For continuation of the Committee Stage, which came to an abrupt halt on the 21st April when Senator Chiefs strongly objected to the Minister’s proposed amendment to clause 16 and called for extra-Parliamentary negotiations between the Minister and chiefs over lobola and other points in the Bill of concern to traditional leaders; see Bill Watch 47/2021 of 6th July for more details on this apparent impasse.

Motions

Two motions await presentation by the movers;

Committee Report on Progress in Flood-affected areas and on construction of COVID-19 Treatment, Quarantine and Isolation Facilities Senator Parirenyatwa’s motion invites the Senate to take note of this joint report of the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security and the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

Strengthening the Health Delivery System Senator Chimbudzi’s motion calls upon Government to partner with the private sector in a concerted bid to strengthen the health delivery system; to allocate adequate resources for procurement of medical supplies and ambulances for health service delivery; and to consider subsidising kidney dialysis and providing decent accommodation to doctors.

Source: Veritas

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