Bills progress in summary

Parliamentary legal committee (PLC) non-adverse reports on two Bills

on Tuesday 2nd April.

The speaker announced receipt of non-adverse reports by the PLC on the following two Bills that the PLC had had under consideration since their first readings on 7th March:

·        Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Children and Young Persons) Bill [link];

·        Administration of Estates Amendment Bill [link].

In terms of the National Assembly’s Standing Orders this cleared the way for the start of the Second Reading debates on both Bills later in the week.  The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, however, did not bring either Bill up on the following two days.

No PLC Report on PVO Bill

No report was announced on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link].  The PLC has also been considering this Bill since its First Reading on the 7th March.  This is a revised Bill from the last Parliament, which was returned to Parliament by the President with reservations.  It then lapsed and has now been presented as a new Bill.  Veritas has identified several inconsistencies between the Bill and the Constitution; see Bill Watches 5/2024 [linkand 6/2024 [link].  Veritas has also challenged the Government’s claim that the Bill is justified by the recommendations of the Financial Action Taskforce [FATF], an international organisation combating the financing of terrorism through non-profit organisations; we have demonstrated that the Bill goes far beyond the FATF recommendations; see Bill Watch 9/2024 [link].

Death Penalty Abolition Bill [link]

MPs were not called on to give further consideration to the PLC’s adverse report on this Bill.

PLC Non-Adverse Report on Certain SIs of February 2024

On 3rd April the Speaker announced receipt of a non-adverse report on all statutory instruments published during February 2024, with the following exceptions: SIs 17, 18, 23 and 24.  This means that SIs 11 to 16, 19 to 22 and 25 to 30 of 2024 have passed this particular hurdle of constitutional compliance.  [All these SI’s are on the Veritas website.]

As for the exceptions, they are all local authority by-laws, two each from Mwenezi Rural District Council and Gwanda Town Council.  Veritas surmises that the PLC is hesitant to clear these by-laws because of the their inclusion of patently ultra vires penalty provisions that provide for “a fine specified by council” or similar words to that effect.  In other words, an adverse report can be expected unless the councils agree to amend the by-laws.

Other Business in the National Assembly Last Week 

Apart from the Speaker’s announcement of the re-election of Chief Charumbira as President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and further announcements about four petitions that had been accepted as admissible and referred to appropriate Portfolio Committees, the usual Question Time took up the whole sitting on Wednesday 3rd April until the adjournment at 5.35 pm.

Petitions accepted and referred to Portfolio Committees (PCs)

1)   NSSA Pensioners Advocacy Zimbabwe: requesting Parliament to recommend upward review of meagre pensions to NSSA pensioners – referred to PC on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

2)   Coalition for Market and Liberal Solutions: requesting Parliament to enact legislation protecting property rights in line with the Constitution – referred to PC on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

3)   Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG): beseeching Parliament to ensure that unsafe mining practices taking place at Premier Estate are stopped to preserve the environment – referred to PCs on Mines and Mining Development and Environment, Climate on Tourism.

4)   Takudzwa Manyere of Ezekiel Guti University: to make the Constitutional Court the highest court in Zimbabwe by extending its jurisdiction and amending that of the Supreme Court – referred to PC on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. 

Continuing debates on motions already moved:

(1) Protection of Investors’ Deposits in Banks and other Financial Institutions

Debate continued without concluding on Tuesday 2nd April.  MPs generally supported the motion which had been moved by Hon Jere.  The debate, therefore, would be incomplete without a response by the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion.

(2) 2023 Annual Report of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission

Debate continued without concluding on Thursday 4th April.  Hon Gladys Hlatywayo of CCC managed to convey that she thought little of the report and the NPRC in spite of many “points of order” interruptions from MPs of the governing party.

(3) Enactment of a law providing security of tenure to all land, including communal land

Debate continued without concluding on Thursday 4th April.  Hon Solani Moyo of CCC from Matabeleland South enthusiastically supported title deeds for Communal Land holders.  Hons Matangira and Malinganiso, however were equally adamantly against title deeds.

New take-note motion on JSC Annual Report for 2023

The Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Mazungunye, had time before the adjournment at the end of the week’s sittings to move the brief motion for the House to take note of the Annual Report of the Judicial Service Com-mission (JSC) for the year 2023.   At 4.28 pm the House then adjourned for the weekend until Tuesday 9th April.

In the Senate Last Week

No Bills were on Senate’s Order Paper  

Senators were still waiting for Bills to be passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to the Senate. 

Continuing debates on motions already moved 

On Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd April Senators continued their discussions of existing motions. 

On the plight of widows Senator Teresa Kabondo mentioned traditional culture’s pressure on a widow to marry the deceased’s brother as an example of a bad custom that must be abolished.  On the need for legislation for functionality of the provincial tier of government Senator Gotora of ZANU PF provided a useful history of past attempts to formulate such Bills for presentation to Parliament and suggested the appointment of a special Commission to do the drafting; this is another debate which requires an urgent explanatory response from Government.

In Parliament Next Week

A.  Bills on the National Assembly Order Paper

Start of Second Reading stages for two Bill?   Following on from our earlier paragraph above headed Progress on Bills Last Week, two Bills are ready for the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to start their Second Reading stages by delivering his Second Reading speeches:

·        Administration of Estates Amendment Bill [link];

·        Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Children and Young Persons) Bill [link].

These Bills are items 5 and 6 on the Order  Paper, coming after the four international treaties below.

Death Penalty Abolition Bill [link]  

Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link]   The House is waiting for the initial report of the PLC on the constitutionality of the Bill.

B.  International Agreements for Approval by both Houses

Not having been dealt with last week when they first appeared, the same four international treaties appear on the Order Papers of both Houses for Tuesday 9th April under motions for resolutions of approval of their ratification in terms of section 327(2)(a) of the Constitution.  The motions are by the Minister of  Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, whose officials were due to “unpack” the treaties for the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare today:  

International Convention on the Protection of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families

This convention came into force on 1st July 2003. 

Then there are three Protocols to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights [link].  None of the protocols are yet in force because to date not one has been ratified by a sufficient number of member States of the African Union [15 out of 55].  The protocols are as follows:

Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa

Adopted January 2016.  Ratifications to date 12, including several SADC countries.

Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa

Adopted January 2018.  Ratifications to date 12, including several SADC countries.

Protocol on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security

Adopted February 2022.   Ratifications to date 0.

C.  New Motions

Both the National Assembly and the Senate are expected to start debating the 2023 Annual Report of the JSC, the take-note motion for which was presented in the National Assembly last Thursday. 

Hon Mhuri’s motion for using the Zimbabwe Geospatial and Space Agency for a National Cadastre System covering both mining locations and land tenure is also awaiting presentation in the National Assembly.   

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