JUSTICE, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs deputy minister Fortune Chasi has revealed that Parliament was no longer mandated to invite President Robert Mugabe to officially open its sessions as the constitutional provision had been scrapped off.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
Chasi told NewsDay recently that: “Under the previous constitution there was a provision for the President to officially open sessions of Parliament.This provision now does not exist under the current Constitution, but we recognise the opening of Parliament by the President as a very important convention that is desirable to continue under our democracy.
“In terms of Section 146 of the Constitution, Parliament can determine the time and duration of its sittings, other than its first sittings and periods of recess, but not beyond 180 days.”
Chasi said allowing Mugabe to officially open Parliament gave MPs an opportunity to be briefed on legislative programmes for government for the ensuing year.
“We are not seeking an amendment to the Constitution. We have known that this practice of official opening of Parliament does give an opportunity to MPs and the President to communicate and plan on the legislative agenda of the House,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mugabe will next Tuesday set the legislative agenda for the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe.
During the First Session of the Eighth Parliament, nine Bills were passed into law which included the Electoral Amendment Act, the National Prosecuting Authority Act, the Sovereign Wealth Fund Zimbabwe Act, the Financial Adjustment Act, the Finance Act 2014, the Appropriation Act 2014, the Finance Act No 2 Act, and the Appropriation Supplementary Act 2014.
About 22 Bills which were tabled by Mugabe when he officially opened the Eighth Session of Parliament are yet to become law.
Each Parliament session has a five-year lifespan.