President puts Parliament to task

24 Nov, 2022 - 00:11 0 Views
President puts Parliament to task President Mnangagwa gives his State of the Nation Address yesterday.

The Herald

Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday presented 16 Bills for debate during the official opening of the Fifth Session of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe that seek to finalise alignment of statute law with the Constitution with others focusing on new economic needs of the country.

Parliament will also have to dispose of some outstanding Bills from the last session that were at different stages in both the National Assembly and Senate which procedurally have to be restored at the stage they had reached.

Delivering the legislative agenda at the new Parliament building in Mount Hampden during a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate, President Mnangagwa expressed optimism that the legislative business will be executed expeditiously.

He said this was so, given that the Attorney-General’s Office responsible for drafting and legal advice now had greater autonomy from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

“The Office of the Attorney-General has since been hived off from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. This should see this office fully discharging its mandate more efficiently and effectively,” President Mnangagwa said.

Some of the business includes amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (General) (Amendment) Regulations, 2018 which, among other provisions, will require all procuring agencies to establish the market value of goods for ease of evaluation of quotations.

There will also be a Bill that will amend various pieces of legislation to give effect to the Agriculture Food Systems and Transformation Strategy.

The principal legislations to be amended are the Plant Breeders Act; the Animal Health Act; the Water Act, the ZINWA Act, the Land Commission Act, and the Bees Act.

Equally, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, the Agricultural Resources Conservation Bill, and the Agricultural Education Bill will enhance the attainment of food and nutrition security. In addition, the Sugar Act is being reviewed in order to classify sugarcane as a strategic crop.

President Mnangagwa said the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, which many had been anxiously waiting for, now awaits gazetting, meaning farming and mining activities will be accorded due recognition in the resolution of disputes.

The Bill will also strengthen environmental protection.

Consistent with the desire towards alignment of the Devolution and Decentralisation Programme of the Second Republic, there will be amendments to the Provincial Councils and Administration Act, the Rural District Council’s Act, and the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.

The Disaster Risk Management Bill will promote the involvement of all citizens in effective disaster preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery measures.

Government, said President Mnangagwa, shall be seeking Parliamentary ratification of various Memoranda of Understanding regarding partnerships to promote ICT infrastructure and skills development.

“Through the Electronic Transactions and Electronic Commerce Bill, Government seeks to establish a legal framework that facilitates fair, accessible, responsible and sustainable online transacting, including the recognition of digital signatures,” he said.

Other Bills include the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) (Amendment) Bill, 2022; the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistle Blowers) Bill, 2022; the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2022; the Witness Protection Bill; the Zimbabwe Human Rights (Amendment) Bill; and the Legal Aid (Amendment).

“The Electoral (Amendment) Bill, which spells out new provisions for holding the 2023 Harmonised Elections, should be speedily concluded,” President Mnangagwa said.

Outstanding Bills from the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament that ought to be expedited include the Child Justice Bill, the Judicial Laws (Amendment) Bill, and the Prisons and Correctional Service (Amendment) Bill.

Several legislators have hailed the legislative agenda by the President saying it spurred them to work hard to expedite passage of the Bills.

“What he has presented are real facts and issues. Parliament is loaded in terms of the legislative agenda. It has to deliver. There are a number of Bills that were not completed. 

“The President was quite eloquent on that, he commanded that we have to finish those outstanding Bills as well as new ones he presented,” said Cde William Mutomba, the Buhera North Member of Parliament (Zanu-PF.)

Buhera Central MP Cde Mathew Nyashanu said the containment of Covid-19 should mean that legislators should pull up their socks.

“We are coming from a situation where Parliament has been opening and closing because of Covid-19. The Covid-19 situation has improved and we expect all Committees to be very active,” said Cde Nyashanu who is also Budget and Finance committee chairperson.

Leader of the opposition in Parliament, Senator Douglas Mwonzora, said: “Regarding the Bills we are going to see the quality of those Bills, as opposition we are going to make sure that we force the Government to bring Bills in good time.”

Midlands Senator, Maybe Mbowa (Zanu PF), said they were encouraged by the Bills that had been spelt out by the President.

“We are happy with what the Government has done and what the President has done. We are going to support the SONA and the legislative agenda that has been spelt out,” she said.

Matabeleland South Senator, Tambudzani Mohadi (Zanu PF), echoed the same sentiments.

“The President’s speech was good. It focused on what our Parliament must do. It seems our Parliament has a lot of work. We have got some Bills that need us particularly those to do with children’s rights, there is a need to ensure that children are protected,” said Senator Mohadi.

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