In a major setback for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s reform thrust, seven bills lapsed before they were passed into law in the previous session of Parliament, putting pressure on the Executive to up its game in the current Parliament.
Some of the lapsed bills, such as the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency Bill, Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill, and the Freedom of Information Bill were at the cornerstone of the government’s reforms as it seeks to shed the bad image associated with the previous government.
The other bills that lapsed included the Coroner’s Office Bill, Education Amendment Bill, Marriages Bill, and Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill. The Executive is responsible for getting Bills to Parliament.
President Mnangagwa set a legislative agenda of 30 bills when the first session of the ninth Parliament opened in September last year and ended in September 2019. Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said that the Executive was sleeping on duty hence many of the bills that were introduced were not debated and passed.
“The problem is that the Executive is not fully carrying out its duty, and we also blame the leader of government business for failing to work with the Executive to make sure that the bills are passed in Parliament,” Madhuku said. “This has been happening in the past as many bills are not being debated despite being introduced in Parliament.”
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said he would make sure that all the Bills tabled in Parliament were debated and passed before the end of the current session.
In September, the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda gave ministers an ultimatum on the presentation of bills.
“We are going to wait for you for a month and if no bill that has been tabled by His Excellency is coming from a Ministry, please know that we shall summon you to Parliament and ask you why you are not complying with the legislative agenda that was presented to Parliament by His Excellency,” the Speaker told an induction seminar of ministers and deputy ministers.
While opening the current session of Parliament last month, President Mnangagwa criticised Parliament’s low output of bills during the last session saying the situation “cannot be allowed to continue”.
“I challenge honourable members in their individual and collective capacities to play their part in speeding up our parliamentary processes,” the President said.
According to Mudenda, it is up to ministers to ensure that bills on the government’s legislative agenda are sent to Parliament. Long delays in producing bills and absenteeism by ministers contribute to a low legislative output. In the second session, 26 bills were listed by the President in the government legislative agenda. Of these, 13 were from the first session and have been brought back for the second session.
The bills are: the High Court Amendment Bill, Public Finance Management Amendment Bill, Gold Trade Amendment Bill, Precious Stones Trade Amendment Bill, Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, Freedom of Information Bill (already gazetted), Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill (already gazetted), Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill, and Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill
The other bills are: the Data Protection and Electronic Transactions Bill, Child Justice Bill, Mandatory Sentencing for Rape and Sexual Offences Bill, and Immigration Bill.