Several inconsistencies between PVOs Bill and the Constitution

Veritas has identified several inconsistencies between the Bill and the Constitution.

BOTH Houses of Parliament sat two weeks ago from April 2 to 4.  Both Houses sat again last week from April 9 to 11.

Progress on Bills last week

PLC non-adverse reports on two Bills

On April 2, the Speaker of the National Assembly announced receipt of non-adverse reports by the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) on the following two Bills that the PLC had under consideration since their first readings on March 7:

  • Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Children and Young Persons) Bill;
  • Administration of Estates Amendment Bill.

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 PVOs Bill

No report was announced on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.

 The PLC has also been considering this Bill since its first reading on March 7.

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.

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).

Death Penalty Abolition Bill

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 April 3, the Speaker announced receipt of a non-adverse report on all statutory instruments (SI) 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.

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 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 Fortune Charumbira as president of the Pan-African Parliament 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 April 3 until the adjournment at 5:35pm.

Petitions accepted and referred to Portfolio Committees

1)   National Social Security Authority (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: beseeching Parliament to ensure that unsafe mining practices taking place at Premier Estate are stopped to preserve the environment — referred to portfolio committees 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 Portfolio Committees 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 April 2.  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 (NPRC)

Debate continued without concluding on April 4.  Gladys Hlatywayo of CCC said 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 April 4.

Solani Moyo of CCC from Matabeleland South supported title deeds for communal land holders.  Hon 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 Commission  for the year 2023.

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 April 2 and 3, 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 the 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.

Related Topics