Coming Up in Parliament this Week: Bill Watch 71/2021

Both Houses of Parliament are Sitting this Week

In this bulletin we outline, first, Parliamentary activities from the 19th October to 4th November and, at the end, what business is likely to come up in both Houses during this week’s sittings.

Sittings from 19th to 21st October

No legislative business was tackled in either House during these sittings, which were the first working sittings of the Fourth Session of this Parliament. Instead, in both Houses the emphasis was on:

  • Announcements about arrangements for the 2022 Pre-Budget Seminar from 22nd to 26th October at the Elephant Hills resort at the Victoria Falls;
  • Speeches on the customary motions of loyalty to Zimbabwe and thanks for the President’s State of the Nation Address, including the Government’s Legislative Agenda for Fourth Session, delivered virtually to the joint sitting of the Houses on 7th October, as outlined in Bill Watch 69/2021 
  • Questions without notice.

 

A Ten-Day Break for the Pre-Budget Seminar and the ZANU-PF National People’s Conference

At the end of the sittings on 21st October both Houses adjourned until Tuesday 2nd November. This allowed:

  • Members of Parliament and Ministers and Parliamentary officials time to travel to and from and attend the pre-2022 Budget Seminar from 22nd to 26th October, with the first and last dates reserved for travelling and three days devoted to the seminar;
  • Members of Parliament and Ministers who are also members of ZANU PF a chance to participate in the ZANU PF National People’s Conference starting a day or two later and ending on Saturday 30th October.

 

Sittings Last Week [2nd to 4th November]

National Assembly

Bills

Health Service Amendment Bill introduced

On Tuesday 2nd November Acting President Chiwenga, in his capacity as Minister of Health and Child Welfare, introduced this Bill. The Bill was duly given its formal First Reading and referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for its report on the consistency of the Bill with the Constitution. The Bill is available on the Veritas website , as is the Health Service Act, the “principal Act” referred to in the Bill.

Note: Vice-President Chiwenga acted as President during the absence of President Mnangagwa at the COP26 Conference in the United Kingdom.

Lapsed Bills from Third Session restored to Order Paper

Also on 2nd November The House approved a motion by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for the restoration to its Order Paper, at the point reached in the Third Session, of all five Bills that lapsed when that session ended on 6th October, as follows:

Bills undergoing Second Reading debate

Bill awaiting initial PLC report after First Reading

Public Finance Management Amendment Bill
In the event, however, the week’s sittings ended without any further progress on these Bills, perhaps because few Ministers were available.

International Loan Agreement approved [US$ 35.7 million]: Smallholder Agriculture Cluster Project

On Thursday 4th November the House spent much time discussing this loan agreement presented for its approval by the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon Chiduwo. The lender is the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the interest-free loan is for the Smallholder Agriculture Cluster Project (SACP). The agreement was concluded on 7 May 2021; although it is interest-free, there is a 1.5% annual service fee. Repayments will commence after a grace period of 10 years and be over a period of 30 years. The loan’s purpose is to finance poor smallholder farmers in value chains selected through stakeholder business planning and competitive matching grant mechanism and will be implemented in five out of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North. Many MPs contributed to a favourable debate, which ended with approval of the loan.

Portfolio Committee Report on the Case of the Elusive US$28.2 million distributed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) for Wheat Imports

Also on 4th November Hon Wadyajena, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement presented this report on the committee’s long-running investigation, which started in 2019. The report begins by referring to the campaign of cyber-bullying, intimidation, mudslinging and smearing in local print, digital and broadcast media to which Hon Wadyajena and members of the committee were subjected by some organisations and individuals whose dealings were the subject of their investigation. It also details the lack of cooperation and obstruction that hampered the committee’s work. The recommendations in the report, which claims that it “exposes well organized syndicates that bleed the economy of our country”, include that the use of the money disbursed to the GMAZ be investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission [ZACC], the police and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and that the GMAZ chairperson be charged for contempt of Parliament for lying to the committee.

Senate

Lapsed Bills from Third Session restored to Order Paper

On 2nd November Senators approved a motion by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for the restoration to the Senate’s Order Paper, at the point reached in the Third Session, of both Bills that lapsed when that session ended on 6th October, as follows:

Marriages Bill The Committee Stage of this 54-clause Bill has for months now been stalled on clause 16. The sticking-point is the dissatisfaction of most Senators – particularly Senator Chiefs – over the Bill’s treatment of lobola as a non-essential part of a customary marriage. The last time the Senate discussed it, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs expressed impatience with the failure of Senator Chiefs to be clear about how they wished the Bill to be changed. He even suggested that he might invoke the National Assembly’s power to proceed without the Senate’s participation; see Bill Watch 67/2021 of 6th October for more detail.

Note: The Bill under consideration by the Senate – i.e., the Bill incorporating the amendments made by the National Assembly – is available on our website [link]. The Order Paper includes the unchanged amendments proposed by the Minister to clause 16 (Solemnisation of customary law marriages), 17 (Unregistered customary law unions) and 42 (Civil partnerships, clause 41 in the original Bill]

Neither Bill, however, was brought up for consideration before the end of the week’s sittings.

Motions

Motion of thanks for the President’s SONA of 7th October Senators continued contributing to this ongoing debate throughout the week

On 3rd and 4th November the following new motions were moved and debates on them begun but not concluded:

  • Condolence motion for the late Senator Rejoice Timire Hon Khupe moved the motion. The late Senator was one of the two Senators representing persons with disabilities.
  • Need for legislation upholding the rights and welfare of infants accompanying incarcerated mothers in prisons Hon Chirongoma moved his comprehensive motion calling for review of policy and legislation regarding this problem, which affects babies born in prison and infant children up to two years of age. He presented a carefully prepared speech covering the international law and constitutional aspects and said that the only satisfactory child-friendly facility was in Chikurubi Prison, although there are other prisons which house children accompanying their imprisoned mothers. Several Senators contributed to the debate.
  • Adequate funding for country’s road network Senator Mabika moved a motion mentioning the current disrepair of the Chipinge>Mount Selinda>Espungabera Border Post road in the context of the Border Post providing the shortest route to the port of Beira, and calling for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to provide adequate funding for the country’s road network [presumably including this particular road].
  • Need for enactment of laws providing deterrent sentences for those convicted of crimes damaging the environment Senator Chirongoma presented his motion in a wide-ranging speech that appeared to concentrate on mining activity as responsible for much of the land degradation and pollution and siltation of rivers and other water bodies. He pointed out that “Zimbabwe boasts regionally and internationally of a robust legal and policy framework governing environmental management but lacks frantically in implementation and enforcement”.

 

 

Coming up in the Senate This Week

Bills

Four Bills are due for continuation of their Second Reading debates:

 

Note: Although the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link].was gazetted on 5th November, it is not expected to be presented this week or next [Standing Order 142(1) requires gazetting to be 14 days before presentation].

Motions

  • Portfolio Committee Report: GMAZ US$28.2 million for import of wheat The debate on this report, which was presented on 5th November [see above], is scheduled to continue.
  • Motion on President’s SONA This debate is also due to continue.

Coming up in the Senate This Week

Bills

There are two familiar entries at the head of the Order Paper, both of which date from the previous session and were restored to the Order Paper last week [see above]

  • Marriages Bill – please note that this hyperlink is to the Bill as amended by the National Assembly and transmitted to the Senate.
  • Pension and Provident Funds Bill – Senators are waiting for the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to start the Second Reading stage of this Bill with his introductory speech.

Motions There are no new motions listed for presentation, so debates are likely to continue on the same items that were discussed last week.

Source: Veritas

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