Parly goes on 3-week break

HARARE - A tumultuous sitting of both houses of Parliament concludes this afternoon, when MPs will meet for one final question period before leaving town for a one-month recess.

Earlier, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda and Senate president Edna Madzongwe were all out putting a final spin on the whirl of legislative activity and partisan gamesmanship that defined the 4th Session of the 8th Parliament of President Robert Mugabe’s majority government.

At the end of this week’s sittings today, both Houses are due to start a three-week break lasting for the rest of April.

According to the 2017 sitting calendar, sittings will resume on Tuesday, May 2.

Mudenda rattled off a long list of bills set to be passed by the Zanu PF majority in Parliament.

The Estate Administrators Amendment Bill was presented by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, with its first reading on Tuesday.

The National Competitiveness Commission Bill sailed through the Committee Stage on Tuesday. 

No proposed amendments are shown on the Order Paper.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) was seized with the Movable Property Security Interests Bill and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill which recently underwent public hearings.

The Senate was considering the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Bill which was passed by the National Assembly with amendments last week.

Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa started proceedings by delivering a speech explaining the bill.

The Senate was also considering the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC)’s adverse report on the amendments made to the Land Commission Bill.

Mudzi South Zanu PF MP Jonathan Samkange, who is also the PLC chairperson, explained the adverse report to the Senate on Tuesday.

Time allocation was used in the Senate to ram the rest of the government’s agenda through before the recess.

The Senate passed the ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill which seeks to conclude an agreement for the purposes of regulating matters relating to the legal capacity and privileges and immunities of one of Africa’s leading insurance firms, ZEP–Re, to be recognised and granted in line with the provisions of Article 40 of the agreement establishing the company.

The bill was approved without amendment on March 28 but has not yet received presidential assent.

During the Committee Stage on the Land Commission Bill on March 29, the Senate approved all Senator Chief Mtshane’s amendments.

The Bill was then referred to the PLC for its report on the constitutionality of the amendments.

On March 30, the presiding officer announced that the PLC had returned an adverse report, which would be considered at the next sitting, possibly after the recess.

The recess comes ahead of the Mwenezi East by-election due this Saturday.

The Nomination Court which sat at the Masvingo Magistrates’ Court on February 17 accepted four candidates for the by-election: Joosby Omar of the ruling Zanu PF, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti — a one-time holder of the seat until his ouster from Zanu PF, Welcome Masuku of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) as well as Turner Mhango of the Free Zimbabwe Congress.

The National Assembly constituency seat fell vacant due to the death of the incumbent Zanu PF MP Joshua Moyo on December 22 last year.

In line with amendments to the Electoral Act that would allow the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to warn election candidates, election agents or parties implicated in acts of political violence and to set up special courts to try such cases, general notice GN 154A/2017 issued on March 27 gazetted the designation by the Judicial Service Commission of three magistrates to try cases of politically motivated violence and intimidation in Masvingo province before, during and after the by-election. 

Section 133J requires the police and the prosecutor-general to ensure quick and competent investigation, processing and prosecution of such cases.

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