PVO Bill Debate: All eyes on Mudenda ruling

PVO Bill Debate: All eyes on Mudenda ruling
PVO Bill Debate: All eyes on Mudenda ruling

PVO Bill Debate: All eyes on Mudenda ruling

Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda becomes the centre of focus this week as he is expected to rule on a matter in which Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators complained that they were denied an opportunity to debate the amendments made to the PVO Amendment Bill.

The Bill sailed through the Committee Stage with no debate from legislators and has since been referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee to check whether the Bill is not contravening the country’s constitution.

However, CCC legislator Edwin Mushoriwa (Dzivarasekwa) is on record telling the Speaker that he was denied the opportunity to add his views while attending the meeting via a virtual platform.

‘’Thank you Mr.  Speaker Sir.  Yesterday during the course of business of the House, on the Order Paper there was an item to do with PVOs Amendment Bill.

‘’During the debate on the PVOs Bill, during the Committee Stage, Hon. Members who were on virtual wanted to contribute to the debate and the Chairperson of the Committee under the instruction of the Leader of the House made it impossible for anybody who was on virtual to debate.

‘’We tried to raise our hands on several occasions; it is on record in the Hansard. Mr. Speaker Sir, what I am saying is evidenced in the Hansard and also the video recording of Parliamentary business.

‘’It is actually there where the Leader of the House including the Chairperson of the Committee was denying me and other Members a chance to speak. 

‘’The PVOs Amendment Bill had a number of amendments and there was a heated debate during the Second Reading. For the Honourable Chair of the Committee to deny me the right to contribute and then quickly sail through that Bill without any debate, I think it is a clear violation of my right as a Member of Parliament and also the democratic process of this country,’’ he said

Parliament of Zimbabwe adopted a hybrid sitting system, where a few legislators will be in the house while others will join via zoom.

Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda promised to go through the Hansard before making his ruling.

Mutare Central legislator Innocent Gonese also complained about how the Bill moved from the Second Reading Stage to the Committee Stage.

He said members should have been put on notice for the Committee Stage so that they could adequately prepare.

‘’This is a Bill Mr. Speaker Sir, which required Members to be put on notice because a Committee Stage of a Bill is the most important stage of a Bill.

‘’It is against that spirit of the intention of the Standing Orders which allows Honourable Members to digest the response of the Honourable Minister.

‘’That is the reason why in our Standing Orders, there are two provisions, one which says that no two stages of a Bill may be made on the same day and this one which says on a date to be appointed. This is to allow Hon. Members time to study any proposed amendments. That is my submission Mr. Speaker Sir,’’ he said.

Various CCC legislators are hoping that the Bill will be brought back so that they can have an opportunity to add their views or dispute some of the amendments.

Civic Society Organisations are also putting their hopes on the Speaker of the National Assembly to make a favourable ruling.

They also hope that the Parliamentary Legal Committee will also flag out some of the sections which are not constitutional.

Should the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda rule that the Committee stage be taken again, it will still be difficult for opposition legislators to change it due to a number of issues.

Zanu PF currently has enough numbers to pass the Bill, since it is not a constitutional bill that would require a two-thirds majority of the whole house.

On previous bills such as the Constitutional Amendment Bill, no Zanu PF legislator voted against their political party and legislators from MDC Alliance also voted together with Zanu PF on the Bill and it is not yet clear if they will support this current Bill as well.

PVO Bill Debate: All eyes on Mudenda ruling