Speaker’s ruling on Local Government Bill

10 Jul, 2016 - 03:07 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

The Local Government Laws Amendment Bill has attracted serious debate since its gazetting on May 9 this year. Below is a ruling, a fortnight ago, by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, on the validity of a Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) report on the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill.

Hon (Honourable Innocent) Gonese (MDC-T) raised a point of order alleging that the meeting of the Parliamentary Legal Committee which decided on the Non-Adverse (in line with the Constitution) Report on the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill (H.B. 1A, 2016) was unprocedural and the Speaker ruled as follows:

That the critical point was that, the Chair had ruled that consultations were to be made with the Administration of Parliament, which consultations were made and the raison d’etre of those consultations were that the PLC met on three occasions to consider the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill, [H.B. 1, 2016], and its notice of amendments.

The Bill was first considered by the PLC on June 9, after notice had been sent to all the members of the PLC, a day before the committee met, all the five members of the PLC attended this meeting.

A number of concerns were raised that led to the members seeking clarification from the Ministry, resolving that a meeting be held the following Monday, June 13, 2016.

At the meeting held on June 13, 2016; the Committee was fully constituted and the Minister responsible for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Hon Saviour Kasukuwere, attended in the company of Mr Nelson Dias, the Deputy Attorney-General, Legislative Drafting Division and three officers from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the Drafting Department of the Attorney General’s Office.

During this meeting, the committee expressed its concern to which the Hon Minister aided by those accompanying him responded, resulting in an agreement being reached by the meeting.

The meeting agreed that if the Minister was to produce a notice of amendments addressing the two concerns, that is, the appointment of the tribunal and the appeal process that they believed the Hon Minister did not adequately answer, they would issue a non-adverse report certificate.

The last meeting that considered the Bill and its notice of amendments was held on Thursday, June 23, 2016 after notice had been given before.

The three members attended the meeting which was sufficient to constitute a quorum.

The committee resolved that the notice of amendments met the requirements that were made by the committee in its previous meeting.

It must be noted, however, that prior to the meeting, two notices of amendments had been received.

The first one barely addressed the matter of appeals relating to the decisions of the tribunal to be established.

Accordingly, the Minister was notified and he submitted a notice of amendments addressing all the matters raised.

That having been done, and also the PLC, inspite of the notices of absence by Hon Gonese and Hon (Jessie) Majome (MDC-T), the three members who attended constituted a majority in terms of Section 23(3) of the Standing Orders.

It was on the basis of that meeting that a non-adverse report was written.

Also, there is nowhere in the Standing Orders that a PLC should constitute all the five members for them to arrive at a decision.

I think Standing Order 32(3) is quite clear on that.

What happened in terms of consultation with the Minister was done in terms of Section 152 (4) of the Constitution.

The Minister complied with all the concerns that the PLC had indicated.

In that regard, therefore, the non-adverse report was correctly before this House.

The Speaker ruled that the Non-Adverse Report was issued in accordance with the Standing Rules and procedures.

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