3 Bills dormant in Parliament

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Three Bills impacting on human rights and electoral issues in Zimbabwe are stagnated in Parliament and await reintroduction when the House resumes on February 28.

The Public Order and Security Amendment Bill, the Electoral Amendment Bill and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Amendment Bill, lapsed after President Robert Mugabe opened the Fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament in September last year
But, according to Parliament Standing Rules and Orders, Bills that have lapsed can be reintroduced.

“Any public Bill which lapses by reason of a prorogation before it has been agreed to by the House of Assembly and the Senate may be proceeded with in the next ensuing session at the stage it had reached in the preceding session if a dissolution has not taken place between such two sessions,” reads standing order 131.

“The Bill may be proceeded with by a resolution of the House restoring it on the Order Paper, and shall be proceeded with at the commencement of the particular stage which it had reached during the preceding session.”

Posa, which was introduced as a private members’ Bill by MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese had passed through the House of Assembly and had reached Second Reading stage at Senate when it was blocked by Zanu PF senators.

Zanu PF senators argued Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa had said it was not relevant to discuss it in Parliament as it was a Global Political Agreement outstanding issue.

Chinamasa also brought the Electoral Amendment Bill before the House of Assembly, which sought to deal with discrepancies in the voters’ roll as well as provide public access to it, which in the past was difficult to access.

The old voters’ roll is reportedly in a shambles as it contains names of deceased people and children.

The Electoral Amendment Bill seeks to address issues of proof of residence which have been affecting lodgers as they found it difficult to provide such documents.

The Human Rights Commission Bill, also introduced in the House of Assembly by Chinamasa, lapsed at Second Reading Stage in the House of Assembly.
It seeks to operationalise the Human Rights Commission.

The MDC-T warned the Bill had clauses that could hinder the full independence of the Commission.

Both the Electoral Amendment Bill and the Human Rights Commission Bill attracted violent clashes during public hearings to get views on what should be included in these pieces of legislation.