President Emmerson Mnangagwa has challenged Parliament to speed up outstanding bills including the Electoral Amendment to prepare for elections and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act meant to criminalise conduct deemed to hurtful to the country’s interests.
The Cabinet this week approved the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill that seeks to stop acts that undermine the country’s national interests and dignity while the Electoral Amendment Bill was gazetted last week.
Speaking during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and official opening of the Fifth Session of the 9th Parliament at the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden yesterday, Members of Parliament must work to ensure completion of the outstanding bills.
“The session comes ahead of the 2023 harmonised general elections. Parliament is, therefore, expected to accelerate the completion of the matters on the legislative agenda in line with the expectations of the electorate,” Mnangagwa said.
The law to criminalise actions deemed hurtful to national interest has been frowned upon by mainly opposition parties but has been supported by the ruling Zanu PF party that holds a healthy majority in the National Assembly.
“The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) (Amendment) Bill, 2022; the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of WhistleBlowers) Bill, 2022; the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2022; the Witness Protection Bill; the Zimbabwe Human Rights (Amendment) Bill; and the Legal Aid (Amendment) Bill must all be tabled during this session,” he said.
“The Electoral (Amendment) Bill, which spells out new provisions for holding the 2023 Harmonised Elections, should be speedily concluded.”
Mnangagwa also said several outstanding Bills from the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament including the Child Justice Bill, the Judicial Laws (Amendment) Bill, and the Prisons and Correctional Service (Amendment) Bill should be expedited.
Mnangagwa also revealed that the government was seized with efforts to expand the energy mix as the economy is growing at a faster pace than power supply.
It comes at a time the country is currently experiencing crippling power cuts with some businesses and households going for more than 12 hours without electricity.
The power utility ZESA is generating about 1 000 megawatts against a national demand at peak period of about 1 850MW.
Several bills are at various stages in Parliament, including the Insurance Bill, which seeks to replace the Insurance Act to address regulatory gaps and weaknesses and the Labour Amendment Bill.
Recently, Cabinet approved the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (Compliance, Monitoring and Evaluation) Regulations, 2022 as well as the
Amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (General) (Amendment) Regulations,2018 which, among other provisions, which will require all procuring agencies to establish the market value of goods for ease of evaluation of quotations.
The amendments to the Plant Breeders Act, the Animal Health Act, the Water Act, the ZINWA Act, the Land Commission Act, and the Bees Act will be tabled in Parliament.
Other bills to be tabled in Parliament are the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, the Agricultural Resources Conservation Bill and the Agricultural Education Bill to 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.
Also, the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill now awaits gazetting.
Added Mnangagwa: “The Fifth Session must speedily consider legislation towards alignment of the devolution and decentralisation programme of the Second Republic, through amendments of the Provincial Councils and Administration Act, the Rural District Council’s Act, as well as the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.”
Government will also be seeking Parliamentary ratification of various Memorandum of Understanding regarding partnerships to promote ICT infrastructure and skills development.
“Through the Electronic Transactions and Electronic Commerce Bill, the Government seeks to establish a legal framework that facilitates fair, accessible, responsible and sustainable online transacting, including the recognition of digital signatures,” Mnangagwa said.