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adverse report on Youth Council Regs; AG's Office Amendment Bill
– Bill Watch 7/2013
February 19, 2013
are sitting this Week
Youth Council (General) Regulations [SI 4/2013]: Update
Legal Committee [PLC] adverse report - The Committee has agreed
on an adverse report on SI 4/2013. It will be presented to the Senate
this week. The adverse report does not itself invalidate the regulations,
but if it is approved by the Senate, the House of Assembly then
has up to twenty-one days in which to reverse the Senate’s
decision – otherwise President is under a constitutional obligation
to revoke the SI.
of Parliament to accept or reject the adverse report depends on
voting in the Houses – this decision does not have the same
status as a court ruling that the SI is or is not unconstitutional
or ultra vires and invalid. Only a court can deliver a legally binding
decision on that question. If Parliament does not accept its own
Legal Committee’s opinion, there is nothing to stop a challenge
to the regulations in the High Court.
General’s Office Amendment Bill
General’s Office Act, although passed by Parliament and
gazetted in early 2011, has never been brought into operation, because
concerns were raised about some of its provisions. This Bill aims
to address those concerns and will, if passed into law, enable the
Act to be brought into force at last.
The Bill was
gazetted on 8th February [available from firstname.lastname@example.org].
Under Parliamentary Standing Orders it cannot be formally introduced
in either House until two weeks after gazetting [the first opportunity
would be 26th February]. The explanatory memorandum accompanying
the Bill says that its purpose is “to amend the Attorney General’s
Office Act in such a manner that the Attorney-General is enabled
to uphold the independence of his or her office in the discharge
of his or her constitutional mandate under section 76 of the Constitution”.
Section 76 of the Constitution states the Attorney General’s
powers as the nation’s chief prosecutor and vests them in
the Attorney-General “to the exclusion of any other person
The Bill proposes
changes in the composition of the Attorney General’s Office
Board as follows:
- The Attorney-General
will be the chairperson of the Board. Under the current provision
the Attorney-General is merely an ordinary member and the chairperson
is a legal practitioner from outside the Office.
- All Deputy
Attorneys General will be ex officio members of the Board. Under
the current provision they are not on the Board. This change would
give members of the Office greater representation on the Board.
There are three Deputy Attorneys General at the moment.
The only other
change is the insertion of a statement that the powers of the Minister
of Justice and Legal Affairs to give general policy directions to
the Board must be exercised “subject to the provisions of
section 76 of the Constitution”. This is in fact an unnecessary
change – as the Constitution is the supreme law, the Minister’s
powers must be exercised subject to section 76 whether or not the
Act says so in as many words.
is strange that after such a long wait the Bill is coming up at
this stage. The draft Constitution may be enacted into law before
mid-year. If it is, it will necessitate not only major changes to
the Attorney-General’s Office, but also setting up of separate
National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] headed by an independent Prosecutor-General,
to take over the Attorney-General‘s prosecuting functions.
The NPA will require an Act of its own – the draft Constitution
explicitly lays this down.
Bills [all available
- Income Tax
Bill - This Ministry of Finance Bill had its First Reading on
12th February and was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee
[PLC] for its report on the Bill’s constitutionality. The
Second Reading stage cannot start until the PLC report is received.
Bill - The Speaker announced that the Parliamentary Legal Committee
[PLC] had returned a non-adverse report on the Bill, which can
proceed to its Second Reading.
Amendment Bill - The House approved a motion by the Minister
of Finance restoring this Bill to the Order Paper at the stage
reached when it lapsed at the end of the last Session. This means
the PLC can complete its consideration of the Bill.
on motions concerning:
importance of certain prisons - Hon Kanzama introduced his motion
calling for the renaming and declaration as national monuments
of Hwahwa, Sikhombela and Gonakudzingwa Prisons.
care institutions - The Portfolio Committee on Public Service
Labour, and Social Welfare’s report on The Status of Residential
Care Institutions in Zimbabwe was presented [report available
- Questions included several for the Minister of Finance on funding
for the Referendum and the UNWTO conference, and others for the
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on mining policies
and revenues, and the Minister of Education on examination results
and education problems. Detailed responses were given.
Bills - There
were no Bills on the Order Paper. So far this year no Bills have
been passed in the House of Assembly and transmitted to the Senate
for its consideration.
There were further
contributions to the debates on the Vice-President Nkomo condolence
motion and the motion to thank the President for his speech opening
Motion on the
death penalty approved - Senator Marava’s motion calling for
Government action to move towards abolition of the death penalty
was debated on both Tuesday and Wednesday. All contributors to the
debate were opposed to the death penalty and many stressed that
capital punishment was introduced by the colonists and had no place
in traditional culture. Senator Chief Charumbira and Senator Mohadi,
while not speaking in favour of the death penalty, reminded Senators
that they had only a few days before enthusiastically accepted the
draft constitution, which expressly permits it. At the end of the
debate the motion was passed by 16 votes to 15. [Note: The clause
in the draft constitution merely permits the law to provide for
the death penalty in limited circumstances; it certainly would not
prohibit Parliament from passing an Act to abolish the death penalty.]
Up in Parliament This Week
Bill - Item 1 on the Order Paper for 19th February is the Minister
of Finance’s speech explaining this Bill at the commencement
of the Second Reading stage.
two other Bills are under consideration by the PLC.
Motions - Debate
on motions carried over from last week is due to continue. New motions
near the top of the Order Paper for 19th February include presentations
of portfolio committee reports on the Asiagate Scandal, Local Authorities,
and the ESSAR deal.
The ten questions
listed for Ministerial reply on 20th February include questions
- the Chisumbanje
- the War
Victims Pension Fund
are still no Bills for the Senate to work on.
Motion to revive
Amendment Bill - First item on the Order Paper for Tuesday 19th
February is Hon Gonese’s motion asking Senators to restore
the POSA Amendment Bill to the Order Paper – this is a lapsed
motion from the last Session and from the Session before. The Bill
but has been stalled in the Senate ever since it was passed by the
House of Assembly in December 2010 [see Bill
Watch 4/2013 of 5th February]. Note: Another option for Mr Gonese
is to ask the House of Assembly to send the Bill straight to the
President for signature, in terms of Constitutional provision Schedule
4 para 3, as the Senate has taken too long to deal with it.
Debate is also
due to continue on motions carried over from last week: the vote
of thanks to the President, and the Vice-President Nkomo condolence
Time on Thursday
is listed, for the Minister of Mines and Mining Development: it
seeks information on haphazard illegal mining activities at Benson
Mine in Mudzi district.
Gazettes of 12th and 15th February
date proclamation - SI 19/2013 set 16th March as the date for
on the draft constitution
of unleaded petrol and ethanol - SI 17/2013 requires mandatory blending
of unleaded petrol imported by pipeline or rail. [NOT available
agreement: Tourism Industry - SI 18/2013 sets wages and allowances
for this industry, effective 1st October 2012. [NOT available from
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