By Michael Gwarisa
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Tuesday, September 12, opened the Fifth Session of Parliament amidst pomp and jubilation coupled by military drills and numerous displays.
Some of the main the themes of the Presidentila address included alignment of laws with the Constitution. He implored Parliamentarians to place emphasis on passing Bills to align 30 existing Acts which, according to his address were the only Acts still remaining to be aligned to the Constitution.
A number of bills featured on the legislative programme with bills totalling 26 appearing on the agenda. Not mentioned on the agenda however was the Public Health Bill despite it appearing on the agenda during the previous session.
Some of the bills which were mentioned on the agenda include the Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill which has already been passed during the last session and was gazetted as an Act [link] in June.
This leaves twenty-five Bills on the agenda for this session.Six of these Bills have already reached Parliament, in some cases a long time ago: These include
- Insolvency Bill [link] – to update Zimbabwe’s outdated insolvency law in line with best practice internationally
- Estate Administrators Amendment Bill [link]
- Shop Licences Amendment Bill [link] – part of the ease-of-doing-business reforms
- Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill [link] – to bolster the fight against corruption and other corporate governance ills afflicting Zimbabwe’s public entities/parastatals/statutory bodies
- Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [link] – an extremely long and complex Bill which has been several years in the making and has featured in Presidential wish-lists even in the previous Parliament [2008-2013]
- Mineral Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill [link] – a Bill dating back to the Third Session that was not restored to the Order Paper during the Fourth Session after doubts about it had been expressed by the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy.
The Public Health Bill has been thrown back and forth since commencement of its crafting process back in 2010 during the Minister Madzorera era.
Four of these six Bills were at various stages on their path through the National Assembly when the previous session ended, at which point they lapsed or were superseded.
With the approval of a National Assembly resolution, however, they can all be restored to the Order Paper and proceedings on them resumed at the stage they had previously reached.
The remaining two Bills in this category the Insolvency Bill and the Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill – have been gazetted but not yet introduced in the National Assembly.