Bill Watch: Human Rights Commission Act gazetted


BILL WATCH 47/2012

[13th October 2012]

Both Houses of Parliament Met on Tuesday 9th October and Have Adjourned until 15th November

No Date Yet for Official Opening of Next Parliamentary Session

Correction of Error

In Bill Watch 46/2012 of 9th October the item on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s invitation to organisations wishing to provide voter education gave an incorrect telephone number for making enquiries of the Commission.  The correct number is Harare 770340.  Veritas apologises.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act Gazetted

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act was gazetted on Friday 12th October as Act No 2/2012.   It came into force immediately.  [Act available from [email protected]]

Although members of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission [ZHRC] were sworn in on 31st March 2010, the Commission has been waiting for the promulgation of this Act to enable it to become operational.  Members have however been able to prepare for their duties by paying familiarisation visits to similar national human right institutions in other countries in the interim.  Now, however, they should be able to get down to work, which includes hearing complaints of human rights violations – both current and those since 13th February 2009.  Their work will also include something not specifically mentioned in the ZHRC Act or the Constitution – a pivotal role in the implementation measures against politically-motivated violence and intimidation in the context of the coming general elections.  This is provided for in the new Part XVIIIB of the Electoral Act, as enacted in the Electoral Amendment Act gazetted on 28th September 2012.  [Electoral Amendment Act available from [email protected]]

Facilitators in Harare

Members of the South African facilitation team arrived in Harare on 9th October to check on progress in the constitution-making process and on the Roadmap to Elections.  They were able to see that preparations for the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference were more or less on track.  But MDC’s Prof Ncube told them on 9th October that elections could not be held in March 2013 – ZANU-PF’s latest idea – because reforms had not been put in place.  And their visit also saw the unnecessarily physical police arrest of MDC-T Minister of Energy and Power Development Elton Mangoma on 10th October on allegations of undermining the President in a speech at a party function in Bindura in May.  The Minister denies using the words attributed to him; he was held at the police station for 3 hours and only released after making a warned and cautioned statement.  The next day MDC-T leader Mr Tsvangirai met the team and told them the political environment was being poisoned by ZANU-PF violence and intimidation and partial police action against MDC-T in stopping rallies and making arrests.

Annual Budget Preparations

2013 Budget to be presented 15th November   The Minister of Finance has given formal written notice under Parliamentary Standing Orders that he will present the 2013 National Budget Statement on Thursday 15th November.  His Pre-Budget Strategy Paper has been issued [available from [email protected] as a 2 MB pdf document].

Victoria Falls Pre-Budget Seminar  On 9th October the presiding officers in both Houses of Parliament announced the Pre-Budget Seminar for Parliamentarians, which will run from Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th November at Elephant Hills, Victoria Falls.  The seminar’s purpose is to enhance the contribution of members of Parliament to the process of budget formulation and prioritisation.

Other Budget preparations  Without waiting for the next session to be officially opened, Parliament’s Budget programme will start with public hearings by the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion all round the country from Monday 15th to Friday 19th October [details in separate Bill Watch Parliamentary Committee Series bulletin], with a hearing in Harare later.

After the Budget presentation  The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion, Hon Zhanda, has warned that Parliament will not be prepared to rubber-stamp the Budget without proper consideration – Ministers will have to defend their Budget allocations.  And after presentation of the Budget on 15th November the committee will require two weeks to study it.  This clashes with the Minister’s programme for the Budget to be debated and passed by both Houses by the end of November.  [Note: the original Parliamentary calendar for 2012 envisaged no sittings at all in December, but the calendar is flexible and has already been departed from several times.]

In Parliament Last Week

Both Houses sat for only one day – 9th October

House of Assembly

Death of Hon Mudenge

Members observed a minute’s silence in memory of the late MP for Masvingo North and Minister of Higher Education and Technology, Hon Stan Mudenge, who died on 24th September.

Bills

Securities Bill   The Securities Bill was presented on behalf of the Minister of Finance by the Minister of Energy and Power Development and was given its first reading.  It was then referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for its report on the Bill’s constitutionality.

National Incomes and Pricing Commission Bill – this item was not taken.  The Minister of Industry and Commerce has not yet delivered his second reading speech.

Motion on following up Government assurances to Parliament 

Hon Sululu, MDC-T MP for Silobela, presented his motion on the need for a follow-up mechanism on Ministerial assurances to Parliament.  Hon Eddie Cross, MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South seconded.  After a two-hour debate that included contributions by both MDC-T and ZANU-PF MPs, the House adopted a resolution calling on committees:

  • to follow up resolutions, including resolutions adopting portfolio committee reports, and Government undertakings given on the floor of the House
  • to propose the imposition of sanctions [not specified during the debate] by the House on any Minister who fails to respond to committee reports.

Contributors deplored Ministers’ failure to implement committee recommendations and assurances given to the House and its committees, complaining that the Government does not take the House sufficiently seriously.  Hon Cross suggested that MPs should consider refusing to approve the forthcoming Budget if the Minister of Finance does not take on board input from the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development.  There were calls for the revival of the former Committee on Government Assurances which functioned until 2005.

Senate

Death of Senator Rimbi  Senators observed a minute’s silence in honour of the late Senator Josiah Rimbi, MDC-T elected Senator for Chipinge.

The Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore [a protocol within the framework of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation] was approved without debate. Such protocols have to be approved by Parliament [section 111B of the Constitution] and as this one has already been approved by the House of Assembly, the Government can now ratify it.

PLC adverse reports on statutory instruments  The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs brought Senators up to date on developments over the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] adverse reports on a large number of statutory instruments dealing with charging of fees and penalties by local authorities.  He read out the joint statement agreed between himself and the PLC in terms of which the statutory instruments will be amended to take into account the PLC’s concerns.  PLC chairperson Shepherd Mushonga then withdrew the adverse reports.  Another outcome of the agreement reached is that municipal uniformed employees will be gazetted as “prescribed officers” authorised to invite and receive deposit fines under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

The only PLC item left for discussion is the adverse report on the Minister of Defence’s SI 61/2012 restricting access to Army’s boarding school by declaring it to be a cantonment.  The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs has advised the Minister of Defence to repeal the SI.

Status of Bills as at 12th October 2012

Private Member’s Bills held up pending Supreme Court decision

Public Order and Security Amendment Bill

Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill

Urban Councils Amendment Bill

[See Bill Watch 20 and 21 of 15th May 2012 for background]

Bill awaiting Second Reading

National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill

Bill being considered by Parliamentary Legal Committee

Securities Amendment Bill [referred to PLC after its first reading on 9th October]

Bills gazetted and ready for presentation in Parliament

Microfinance Bill [gazetted on 31st August] [not yet available]

Bills being printed  None.

Government Gazette of 12th October

Acts  The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act was gazetted on 12th October

Bills  No Bills were gazetted

Statutory Instruments [copies not available]

State procurement  SI 160/2012 contains a new schedule of administration fees and penalties applied by the State Procurement Board.   SI 159/2012 lists new monetary thresholds for implementation of various tender procedures, plus updated lists of public enterprises and local authorities bound by the Procurement Act and regulations.

Rural district councils  SI 158/2012 contains standard-form by-laws regulating land use and conservation for communal and resettlement land in the Nkayi RDC area.  SI 157/2012 is a proclamation transferring two pieces of land between wards of the Manyame RDC area.

General Notices [copies not available]

Competition and Tariff Commission  Three notices contain information about Commission decisions: GN 465/2012 sets out the order the Commission proposes to issue to stop restrictive trade practices by CIMAS medical aid society affecting haemodialysis treatment, and calls for representations from interested persons or parties.  GN 466 and 467/2012 announce that the Commission is about to investigate allegations of restrictive trade practices against CIMAS re use of laboratory services, and against Innscor  Africa Ltd re use of its position in the basic commodities market to restrict competitors and potential entrants.

 

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

 



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