AG’s Office Bill only new proposed law

THE Attorney-General (AG)’s Office Bill is the only new proposed law, among the 24 which President Robert Mugabe in July said will be tabled in the third session of the seventh parliament, ready for debate when the House resumes sitting on Tuesday.

Austin Zvoma, the clerk of parliament, on Wednesday told the Zimbabwe Independent that apart from the AG’s Office Bill, the House would also continue to debate the Public Order and Security Act Amendment Bill.

Parliament resumes sitting after a three-month recess to accommodate the countrywide Constitutional Select Committee (Copac)’s outreach programme.

“There will be continuation of the debate on the Posa Amendment Bill which will go for second reading and the Attorney-General’s Office Bill that will be read for the first time,” said Zvoma.

“We are still to finalise the sitting schedule for this quarter. It is important to note that during the quarter, the Houses (Senate and House of Assembly) will also consider the national budget that will be presented by the Minister of Finance before year-end.”

The AG’s Office Bill was gazetted on September 10 and its objective is to reconstitute the office as a service outside the Public Service and to establish a board to administer it.

The board will fix the conditions of service for the members of the office with the exception of the Attorney-General and Deputy Attorney-General, whose conditions of service are fixed under the constitution.

The Posa Amendment Bill, which was read for the first time in the last session, was introduced by MDC-T MP for Mutare Central Innocent Gonese as a private member’s Bill.

Gonese will steer the Bill through the second reading stage after debate was adjourned during the last session.
The amendment is aimed at ensuring that public gatherings are regulated in a manner that will allow Zimbabweans to fully exercise their fundamental right to express themselves through peaceful assembly and association.  The Bill will also clarify some of the existing provisions in the current Act.

The Bill redefines a “public meeting” in a manner that makes it clear that meetings of organisations such as political parties and trade unions will not normally fall within the Act’s provisions, and that political parties may hold meetings in venues that are not open to the public and in public places that are indoors, among others.

Currently conveners of public meetings are required to notify the officer commanding the police district of the venue, time and speakers at such a meeting at least seven days before the meeting. The police officer can, however, refuse to sanction the meeting.

Opposition political parties and civil society organisations complain that their meetings have on several occasions been banned or disrupted by police while they allege no Zanu PF meetings had been subjected to the same treatment.

Other  Bills are also expected to be read for the first time after which they will be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee  to ensure that they do not contravene the Constitution.

 

Paidamoyo Muzulu