PVO Amendment Bill in National Assembly This Week: Portfolio Committee Presents Report on Bill and, MPs Start Second Reading Debate and Will Continue Next Week
Yesterday, Wednesday 11th May, after the usual Wednesday Question Time, the National Assembly approved a motion by the ZANU PF Chief Whip, Hon Togarepi, that the House depart from the Order Paper by skipping items 1 to 27 and dealing with item 28 – the resumption of the Second Reading stage of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill. This had the effect of giving the Bill priority over the skipped items, which included Bills carried over from the previous session in September last year.
Reminder: The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs delivered the Second Reading speech on 12th April, as noted in Bill Watch 17/2022 . After his speech proceedings on the Bill were adjourned pending the presentation of the relevant portfolio committee’s report on the Bill and the public hearings on it.
Portfolio Committee’s Report on Bill on 11th May
Yesterday the report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare was ready and was presented b Hon E. Ncube. The report is available on the Veritas website. It is relatively brief, accepts the Government’s reasons for wanting the Bill and enthusiastically supports the Bill’s passing into law, and records the changes to it requested by the public at the public hearings. It criticises civil society organisations for organising a campaign to oppose the Bill at the public hearings. Its concluding paragraph “exhorts” the Ministry, in conjunction with other Government departments, once the Bill becomes law, to expeditiously implement provisions of the Bill; it also encourages stakeholders at all levels “to abide by the law at all times in order to promote harmony, unity and the development of Zimbabwe”.
Contributions to Second Debate by MPs on 11th May
The Deputy Speaker then threw the debate open to MPs, at least 12 of whom had indicated they wished to speak. Hon Mushoriwa began with a speech strongly opposing the Bill and said he believed the crafting of the Bill was wrongly done and done with a wrong motive. Hon Togarepi responded with a speech supporting the Bill, saying that objectionable provisions could be changed during the Committee Stage [he did not indicate what these changes were]. He insisted the Bill was necessary to stop those NGOs who come into Zimbabwe as social partners promising support for development and humanitarian assistance, but really to meddle in the politics of our people. He admitted that Zimbabwe has challenges and, ”like any other developing country, needs the support of non-governmental organisations – but we do not want them in our politics’.
Other MPs also spoke, but not all of those wanting to do so had made their contributions by 6.55 pm, when the House adjourned to Thursday 12th May in accordance with Standing Orders. Readers who wish to read the contributions made on 11th May in full can download them from the Veritas website.
Bill Not Dealt With on 12th May
The Bill was not dealt with on Thursday 12th May. Instead, it was deferred – on a motion by Hon Togarepi – to allow MPs to continue debating the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Utilisation of Public Resources and, later, hear and then discuss at length the Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on The State of the Economy, Rising Prices, Currency Volatility and Actions that Government is Taking to Stabilise the Situation. This took the rest of the sitting, which only ended at 6.54 pm, when the House adjourned until next week. [Both the PAC Report and the Ministerial statement will be on the Veritas website later today.]
The continuation of the Second Reading debate on the Bill is now on the Order Paper for Tuesday 17th May, as item 6. Item 1 is the continuation of the Committee Stage of the Pension and Provident Fund Amendment Bill – and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development told the House yesterday that he will be ready to resume the Committee Stage then.