Two Bills take centre stage as Parly resumes sitting

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Parliament resumes sitting tomorrow and the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill (MOPA) and the Education Amendment Bill are some of the legal instruments set to take centre stage in the House.

The Standing Rules and Orders Committee, chaired by Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda, is also expected to meet today to finalise candidates to be shortlisted for interviews to take up posts as commissioners for the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.

MOPA was gazetted recently and seeks to repeal the Public Order and Security Act while the Education Amendment Bill will amend the Education Act.

Parliament is set to debate these Bills and many others together with other motions when it resumes sitting after a one-month long recess.

The gazetting of MOPA a fortnight ago, is consistent with Government commitment to open up democratic space and align laws with the Constitution.

The Bill provides mechanisms for maintenance of peace and order during demonstrations or any public gatherings among other provisions.

According to the memorandum of the Bill, it provides that the police officer in command of each police district shall be the regulating authority for that district.

Clause 5 provides for the appointment of conveners and authorised officers in the case of processions and public demonstrations and matters incidental thereto.

“It also provides for the regulating authority to authorise suitably qualified and experienced police officers to represent the regulating authority at consultations or negotiations as contemplated in Section 8 and to perform such other functions as are conferred or imposed upon an authorised officer.”

Under Clause 6, the Bill provides for the appointment of a person to be responsible for the arrangements for a public meeting for an organisation and for that person to give notice in terms of Section 7 and to act on behalf of that organisation at any consultations or negotiations as contemplated in Section 8 or in connection with any other procedure contemplated in the Act at which his or her presence is required.

Parliament is also set to debate the Education Amendment Bill which seeks to amend the principal Act by providing for free basic education and ensures that pupils are not excluded from school on the basis of either failure to pay fees or pregnancy.

The Bill, stipulates that children’s rights to education should not be affected by the imposition of onerous terms and conditions such as his or her nationality, race, colour, tribe, place of birth, ethnic or social origin.

The Bill also provides for free adult education.

“Every child of school-going age shall be entitled to be enrolled at the primary or secondary school, as the case may be, nearest to the place where he or she is ordinarily resident, unless such primary or secondary school is fully enrolled.

“Where the primary or secondary school at which a child of school-going age has sought enrolment in terms of subsection (2) is unable to enrol the child because the school is fully enrolled, the head of that school shall forthwith issue to the child a certificate certifying that fact.”

Work on the Protection of Personal Information Bill, Media and Information Commission Bill, and the Freedom of Information Bill — expected to repeal aippa — is underway and will soon be gazetted.

There will also be an omnibus Constitutional Amendment Bill aimed at addressing several constitutional issues whose gap had been identified since the promulgation of the supreme law in 2013

Some of the recommendations will ultimately result in constitutional amendments that will be housed under an omnibus Bill.