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Committee Operations Manual

Parliament of Zimbabwe prepared the Guide to Committee Operations with technical assistance of the State University of New York Zimbabwe (SUNY/Zimbabwe), USAID's Institutional Strengthening of Zimbabwe Parliament Project.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Parliament of Zimbabwe prepared the Guide to Committee Operations with technical assistance of the State University of New York Zimbabwe (SUNY/Zimbabwe), USAID's Institutional Strengthening of Zimbabwe Parliament Project.

Special thanks go to the Liaison and Coordination Committee (LCC), Members of Parliament and staff from the Committees and Research Department of Parliament and all those who contributed in the text, technical corrections, editing and proof reading of the drafts.

Comments on the document are most welcome.

Harare, Zimbabwe

2004

 

FOREWORD

The purpose of the Committee Operations Guidelines is to document policies and procedures to guide the operations of committees and the secretariat. This will ensure that the work of portfolio committees is conducted in a systematic and formal manner, with a view to strengthening their legislative and oversight roles.

The Committee Operations Guidelines is the result of dedicated input from the Committee Section, which established a technical sub-committee to come up with a draft document, with assistance from our technical partners, the State University of New York (SUNY) in Zimbabwe, with funding from the USAID project, Institutional Strengthening of the Zimbabwean Parliament (1999 - present).

Specific objectives of the Guide include the following:

1. To provide a guide on committee operations to current and new staff in Parliament;

2. To ensure higher quality advice and support to committee operations;

3. To familiarize committee members and all members of parliament (MPs) generally with agreed-upon policies and procedures as well as more effective oversight and supervision of the committee system; and

4. To acknowledge, in the process, some of the best practices and brilliant results from parliament's new portfolio committee system; they should be held up as a model for others to emulate.

The intention is for the secretariat and Members of Parliament to view these guidelines as a dynamic document and to subject it to periodic review and revision. This is in light of the fact that rules are not intended to remain static and that Parliament's legislative and oversight functions necessitate regular reviewing of procedures.

It is important to point out that this document is not intended to replace the Standing Rules and Orders. The Rules provide more general guidelines, leaving open for interpretation the handling of many other matters. This document will complement the Rules as a guide to their implementation.

Separate guidelines have already been developed (2003-2004) to improve the effectiveness of committees in their functions. These include the Public Hearings Guidelines and the Legislative Analysis Guidelines. The Guide to Committee Operations makes reference to these guidelines.

This document benefits from more than three years of accumulated experience and expertise across portfolio committees that has been reviewed, learned from, and documented.

The technical sub-committee working under the guidance of the Deputy Clerk and the Chair of the Liaison and Coordination Committee will constantly review experiences across portfolio committees and make recommendations to the Liaison and Coordination Committee for consideration. A special meeting of the Liaison and Coordination Committee will be held to discuss suggested revisions and to help guide the overall process and set in place a process for periodic review and revision.

CHAPTER 1: THE COMMITTEE SYSTEM

1.1 Introduction

A new committee system was established in the 5th Parliament of Zimbabwe following the recommendations of the Parliamentary Reform Committee (PRC) in 1998/99. Parliament has through Section 57(1) of the Constitution

• The power to make Standing Orders to enable the passing of bills, and

• The appointment, membership and functions of a Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. Through this Committee various portfolio committees and other special committees of Parliament are established and constituted.

Committees are small groups of Members of Parliament (MPs) who are assigned to either temporarily or on a permanent basis to examine matters more closely than could the full House. They are therefore an extension of the House.

1.2 Committees Department Section

Staff of the Committee and Research Department supports portfolio committees. The Clerk of Parliament is the head of all committee clerks and is assisted by the Deputy Clerk and Assistant Clerk. Each Committee Clerk should service one portfolio committee. Committee Clerks

• Provide procedural advice to portfolio committees;

• Make all administrative arrangements for meetings, public hearings, and visits;

• Prepare briefing material for the committee;

• Liaise with line Ministries and civil society organisations;

• Write minutes of meetings;

• Ensure that committee documents are properly filed in each member's file; and

• Draft committee reports and other papers with the assistance of researchers or outside consultants hired by the committee.

Researchers are attached to each portfolio committee. Currently, each researcher is attached to two portfolio committees and attends meetings as and when required. They prepare background papers on behalf of the committees, and also provide research services to committees and members. Researchers also assist committee clerks in writing committee reports. In addition they also work closely with consultants hired by committees thus acquiring the much-needed experience to better assist committees.

1.3 Committees and their Terms of Reference

1.3.1 Types of Committees

There are four types of committees in the Parliament of Zimbabwe: Standing, Portfolio, Housekeeping, and Ad Hoc.

a. Standing Committees

These are permanent committees established by the Constitution and the Standing Orders to perform specific functions. These are:

• The Parliamentary Legal Committee, which examines the constitutionality of all bills and Statutory instruments, and

• The Standing Rules and Orders Committee, which is the policy making body in Parliament.

i. Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC)

Section 40(A) of the Constitution creates the Parliamentary Legal Committee and provides that the Committee shall consist of not less than 3 members who are not Cabinet Ministers, and who will be legally qualified1.

Functions

The PLC examines the constitutionality of every bill, draft bill, statutory instrument, draft statutory instrument, amendment to a bill, or amendment to a statutory instrument, or any other.2

Standing Order (SO) 162(1) provides that the PLC should also ensure that no statutory instrument should make the rights and liberties of persons unduly dependent upon administrative decisions, which are not subject to review by a judicial tribunal; nor change an Act of Parliament without it being tabled in Parliament.

The PLC can call for the correction of any error or omission in any statutory instrument or bill, and must

• Ensure that no bill derogates the exercise of legislative power;

• Review existing laws in liaison with the Law Development Commission in reviewing the existing laws.

Details of how the PLC conducts its business are provided in Chapter 4.

 

1 Currently, the committee has two legally qualified persons and one non-legally qualified. A person is legally qualified for this purpose if she or he:

a). Has been a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court; or

b). Is and has been for not less than five years, whether continuously or not, qualified to practice as a legal practitioner in Zimbabwe; or

c). Has been a magistrate in Zimbabwe for not less than five years; or possesses such legal qualifications and has such experience as the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders considers suitable and appropriate for his appointment to the Parliamentary Legal Committee. 2 Section 40(B) of the Constitution.

ii. Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC)

 

SO 13 (1) provides for the establishment of a Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) which is mandated to consider and decide all such matters concerning Parliament as it deems fit.

Membership

 

The SROC is made up of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and members nominated by the Speaker and other members who are elected by the House by secret ballot. The number of elected members should be greater than the number of those nominated by the Speaker. The election of members to this committee is based on political and gender composition of the House.

Functions

 

The SROC determines the number of and also nominates the members who serve on select committees appointed by the House or in terms of the Standing Orders unless otherwise ordered at the time of appointment of a select committee. SO 149 (1). It further appoints chair of select committees upon the recommendations of the Chief Whips of the parties represented in Parliament.

b. Portfolio Committees

 

Appointment of Portfolio Committees

Currently, portfolio committees are established by the House in terms of SO 153 (1) and each committee is named after the government department or ministry that it shadows. There are twelve Portfolio committees in Parliament, namely:

1 Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee

2 Mines, Energy, Environment, and Tourism Committee

3 Transport, and Communications Committee

4 Foreign Affairs, Industry, and International Trade Committee

5 Lands, Agriculture, Water Development, Rural Resources, and Resettlement Committee

6 Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Committee

7 Health and Child Welfare Committee

8 Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Committee

9 Education Sports and Culture Committee

10 Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee

11 Youth, Gender and Employment Creation Committee

12 Defence and Home Affairs Committee

Membership

Membership of the committees is determined by the SROC, taking into consideration the expressed interests, experience and expertise of the members and the political and gender composition of the House. On average each portfolio committee comprises of 12 members including the chairperson.

Functions

 

SO 154 provide that a portfolio committee, shall

• Monitor, investigate, enquire into and make recommendations relating to any aspect of the legislative program, budget, rationalization, policy formulation, or any other matter it may consider relevant of the government department falling within the category of affairs assigned to it, or may for that purpose propose, consult and liase with such department.

• Scrutinise all bills or statutory instruments or other matters referred to it by the House (automatically or by motion/resolution )

• Discuss appropriation or money bill or any related aspects referred to it by the House

Powers

SO 159 stipulates that for the purposes of exercising their powers select committees shall have the power

• To summon any person to give evidence before it or to produce documents before it;

• To receive representations from interested persons;

• To decide whether to permit oral evidence or written submissions to be given or presented before it on behalf of any interested person; and

• To determine the nature of its proceedings, including evidence it adduces, etc.

Portfolio committees can hold public meetings and also call and examine witnesses in accordance with the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act. Strangers may be allowed to attend meetings but proceedings of the committee cannot be published until they are tabled in the House. (Select Committee Rule 16, 17 (1))

 

Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

The PAC is also a select committee established according to SO 155.

Functions

• Examines the financial affairs and accounts of Government Departments and state owned enterprises;

• Examines all reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General; and

• Inquires into and reports to the House on any issues which it deems fit, which is referred to it by a resolution of the House, and which is referred to it by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

 

Membership

 

The PAC is constituted like any other portfolio committee. However in addition to MPs, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and officials from the Comptroller and Auditor General are co-opted as ex-officio members of the committee.

Liaison and Coordination Committee (LCC)

 

This is a committee of chairpersons and is established in terms of SO 156 at the beginning of every session of Parliament.

Functions

 

The LCC

• Coordinates and liaises on scheduling of all committee business;

• Liaises with the Speaker on attendance by members of conferences, workshops, seminars, etc;

• Liaises with the Speaker and Standing Rules and Orders Committee; • Produces annual reports on all committee business and activities, etc.; and

• Coordinates the work/programs of portfolio committees.

 

Membership

 

In addition to committee chairpersons being members of the committee, the Government Chief Whip and the Opposition Chief Whip and their deputies are also members of the LCC. The women's caucus is also represented in the LCC. The chairperson of the committee is elected from among the members.

c. Housekeeping Committees

i. Internal Arrangements Committee

 

The committee is established at the commencement of every session and the Standing Rules and Orders Committee nominates its members. The Deputy Speaker is the exofficio chair of the committee. The committee makes recommendations to the Speaker on matters concerning the facilities and amenities of the members.

ii. Business of the House Committee

The committee is established in terms of SO 154. It is comprised of the Speaker (Chair), the Deputy Speaker, Government Chief Whip and Opposition Chief Whips, Leader of the Government Business, and Leader of the Opposition. The Government and Opposition Deputy Chief Whips are alternate member of the Government and Opposition Chief whips.

 

Function

Its role is to organise sessions and sittings as well as management and conduct of the daily business of the House.

iii. The Library Committee

Rule 158 (10) provides for the establishment of this committee to see into the policy, conduct and management of the Library of Parliament.

d. Ad Hoc Committees

An ad hoc committee is a committee that is set up to investigate and report on a specific issue e.g. in cases of reported gross misconduct on the part of Ministry or parastatal officials. This happens after a motion to constitute the committee is debated and adopted in the House. An ad hoc committee exists only during the investigation and debate of the issue for which it was set up and ceases to exist after presenting its report to the House .

CHAPTER 2: PROCEDURES RELATING TO COMMITTEE MEETINGS

2.1 Pre-Meeting Stage

2.1.1 Notification of Members

A day prior to the next meeting of the committee, the clerk prepares and delivers to each member a written notice of the day and time for the next meeting. Select Committee Rule (SCR) No. 21. This applies when the House is sitting.

In preparation for a committee meeting, before notifying members of the date, time and venue, the committee clerk shall first contact the chair to establish a date and time.

• The committee clerk will then write telegrams to reach the members at least two days before the meeting (when House is adjourned).

• The committee clerk should write a notice on the order paper two days before the meeting (when House is sitting).

• Send reminder cards 24 hours before the meeting (when House is sitting).

• Phone members 24 hours before the meeting to confirm attendance.

It should, however, be noted that most meetings are scheduled on a regular basis. The date, time and venue of the next meeting are usually decided on before the end of every meeting of the committee.

2.1.2 Booking the Venue

When booking the venue inside Parliament, the committee clerk fills in a booking slip and takes it to main desk and confirms whether the venue is available. Information on other requirements such as teas, for the meeting is also included on the booking slip [1] . Once the venue is available book necessary equipment e.g. recorders, Hansard reporter.

2.1.3 Chair's Briefing

Thirty minutes before the meeting is scheduled to start, the committee clerk should be in the committee room to check whether the room is in a suitable condition for business to proceed. Fifteen minutes before the meeting, the committee clerk should brief the chair on the committee business for the day and results of follow up on committee activities from the previous meetings.

Clerks must also make sure they have the necessary documents in his or her file, and the members' files of issues the committee is dealing with and finally, the clerk is required to brief the chair on matters that are likely to arise.

 

2.2 During the Meeting

The committee clerk has several specific tasks:

• Marks MPs present as they come into the room.

• Checks whether any apologies have been received and record them.

• Makes a list of departmental officials present, as well as any other persons who may have come to brief the committee for the benefit of the chairperson and for minuting purposes.

• Takes note of the members of the public who may be present during the meeting.

• Writes down all minutes of the proceedings.

• Observes proceedings and advises accordingly.

• Gives accurate advice on procedural issues whenever it is needed.

The researcher takes the committee through background papers and briefs the committee on information requested by the committee in its previous meeting(s).

2.2.1 Quorum

The committee clerk ensures that there is a quorum for the commencement of the meeting. If a quorum is not present within fifteen minutes of the appointed hour the clerk attending the committee shall report the circumstances to the Clerk of Parliament who shall in consultation with the chair of the committee convene a meeting at a later time on that day or for some future day.

Three members shall form a quorum of a committee consisting of not more that seven members and five members shall form a quorum of a committee consisting of more than seven members. SCR No. 7 (1) In cases where there is no quorum the chairperson is empowered by SCR 7 (3) to suspend business until a quorum is present or adjourn the committee to some future date. However, for purposes of taking oral evidence or calling for written evidence (papers), two other members plus the chairperson shall, if they so desire, be regarded as a quorum only for these purposes.

2.2.3 Absence of the Chairperson

If a quorum is present and the committee clerk informs the committee that the chairperson is absent, the committee is empowered to elect one of its members to act for that day only or for such period during the absence of the chairperson as the committee may determine. In the event that the chair leaves before the end of the meeting, Select Committee Rules also allow for the election of an acting chair. SCR 8 (4)

2.2.2 Consideration of Minutes

The committee clerk should ensure that the minutes of the previous meeting are considered and adopted by the committee. The chairperson signs the minutes of proceedings once members are satisfied that they are a correct record of what transpired in the previous meeting. (SCR No. 5(1). A correction to the minutes, if proposed at the commencement of the next meeting may be made with the agreement of the committee or upon a motion. SCR 5 (2)

2.2.4 Date and Business of Next Meeting

If three members including the chairperson are present, the day and hour of the next meeting of the committee may be appointed at the time of adjournment. In addition the committee should spell out future business before adjournment so that the Committee Clerk can prepare the agenda for the next meeting. SCR 7(2)

2.3 Post Meeting

At the conclusion of any meeting of a portfolio committee, the committee clerk collects members' files and keeps them in a safe place. However upon a decision by the committee, members can take exhibit files home. The clerk must now submit to the Accounts Department for transmission to the Speaker a return [2] showing the following:

• The day of the meeting and the hour at which the Committee met and adjourned;

• The name and time of arrival of any member of the committee who attended a meeting of the committee after the commencement of its business;

• The name and time of departure of any member of the committee who left a meeting of the committee and did not return before the meeting was adjourned or concluded its business;

• The name(s) of member(s) who were absent without/ with leave; and • Prejudice to Parliament SCR No. 4(1).

Finally, the clerk should brief the Assistant Clerk of what transpired in the meeting and what the committee intends to do in its next meeting.

2.3.1 Minutes of Proceedings

Forty-eight hours after the meeting, minutes of the proceedings must be ready for filing. The minutes shall include

• The name of the committee and the day and hour of meeting,

• The names of members present

• Every motion made or amendment proposed; together with the name of the mover,

• The names of members voting in any division distinguishing on which side of the question they respectively vote,

• All orders and resolutions of the committee,

• All documents or things submitted to the committee,

• The names and professions or occupations of witnesses examined,

• The day and hour to which the committee is adjourned,

• The names of members submitting draft reports, and

• Such further matters as the committee may direct. SCR No. 3.

In addition to preparing minutes, the committee clerk should make follow up on committee business in preparation for the next meeting. This may include writing invitation letters to stakeholders requested to attend the next meeting, gathering papers or documents from government departments as well as liasing with the Clerk of Parliament where necessary. Any documents received should be photocopied and put in each member's exhibit file. A copy of the minutes should be forwarded to the Assistant Clerk.

2.3.2 Filing

The Committee Clerk should keep two files for members; file for minutes and exhibit file. In addition the committee clerk must also keep a separate correspondence file. Information in files must be kept in both electronic and hard copy format.

2.4 Attendance of the Public, Media and Stakeholders

Members of the public, the media and interested parties (stakeholders) are free to attend any committee meetings except deliberative meetings.

CHAPTER 3: COMMITTEE ENQUIRIES

3.1 Introduction

The business of portfolio committees involves not only legislative scrutiny but also executive oversight. SO 154 provides that portfolio committees shall deal not only with legislation (bills, statutory instruments) but shall also "monitor, investigate, enquire into and make recommendations relating to any aspect of the legislative programme, budget rationalisation, policy formulation…". This is in the spirit of ensuring accountability and transparency in public policy formulation and implementation.

Portfolio committees should be both reactive and proactive in carrying out executive and legislative oversight functions. They should be reactive by tackling issues/ problems that do arise from time to time, which are not anticipated or could be a result of a complaint by members of the public or could be an issue referred to the committee by the House as stated in S.O. 154 or an issue arising from media reports. Proactiveness requires committees to initiate an inquiry, for instance, with regard to the implementation of legislation and therefore suggest recommendations for improvement.

3.2 Methods of Enquiry

Parliamentary committees use various methods when carrying out an inquiry. The method used depends on the nature of the issue being investigated. Some of the methods are:

• Public hearings

• Field visits or study tours

• Evidence gathering through written and oral submissions

• Commissioned research

3.2.1 Public Hearings [3]

Public hearings are open committee meetings that are aimed at obtaining input from businesses, civil society organizations (CSOs), public officials and the general public about proposed or existing policies, bills, regulations and other issues or changes that would significantly affect the public if introduced. It is important for a Parliamentary committee to conduct public hearings so that the committee can capture public views and recommendations on matters, which require broader understanding. Also it gives parliamentarians an opportunity to obtain public opinion and receive information that the portfolio committee did not have before.

a. Pre-Public Hearing

For committees to undertake public hearings, the majority of members must agree on the objectives, venues and duration of the hearing. Committee members must be clear on the background to the issue to be discussed. The Researcher should prepare a background paper and explain it to the committee members. The presentation shall be made a week prior to the public hearing.

Once a decision to hold a public hearing has been made the committee clerk should

• Notify the Clerk of Parliament about the hearing;

• Request the Department of Public Relations to place an advert in the media;

• Notify the Hansard Department, for transcribing the evidence on the day of the hearing; and

• Alert doorkeepers to receive and direct visitors to the venue of the public hearing.

 

b. During the Hearing

 

On the day of the hearing the Chairperson and the Committee Clerk should ensure that the following steps be followed:

• The meeting starts at the stipulated time and that both the secretariat and the committee members should have done all the preparatory work and be ready to start the meeting on time.

• The chairperson of the committee should set the tone through an opening statement that defines the objectives of the committee in holding the hearing. He/she shall also inform the participants that while making their presentations they enjoy Parliamentary privileges and immunities that are applicable to Members of Parliament. This means that the participants are immune to prosecution for whatever they say or information they submit to the committee. The chairperson shall also indicate the ground rules for the hearing including how much time each presenter has.

• Since these meetings largely reflect public opinion upon an issue, participants shall not be sworn.

• Time should be allocated to each presenter. On average, five minutes should be allocated to each presenter and the Committee Clerk should keep track of time as well as guide the chair of the committee on this.

• The committee must give all participants an opportunity to be heard if time allows. Those who are unable to present should submit written submissions to the committee, through the Clerk of Parliament.

• Members are allowed to use any of the three official languages of Zimbabwe: English, Shona, and Ndebele. However, English shall be the language of record.

c. Post-Public Hearing

After the meeting, the Chairperson, with the help of the Committee Clerk, should draft thank you letters to key invited stakeholders informing them how their contributions will be processed. The committee shall also meet soon after the public hearing to deliberate on views expressed during the hearing and review the hearing process, analysing the problems met, successes and the lessons learnt and agree on the pertinent issues to include in the draft report.

3.2.2 Evidence Gathering

a. Oral Evidence

Standing Order No. 159 provides committees with extensive powers to call for persons, papers and records. Most evidence is obtained voluntarily from individuals and groups wishing to influence decision-making. All evidence is heard in public unless the committee by resolution otherwise determine. Proper procedures must be followed in order to comply with Standing Orders and confer the protection afforded witnesses by the Privileges Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act (Cap 2:08). [4]

Standing Order No.159 (b) states that the committee may summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, except the Head of State. Under the Privileges Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act if any witness refuses to answer any lawful question during his or her examination, he/she shall be deemed guilty of contempt of Parliament. A committee can compel a witness to appear and answer questions on public matters (matters funded by public money) by way of summons.

The chairperson of a committee should take great care to ensure that all questions put to witnesses are relevant to the committee's inquiry and that the information sought by those questions is necessary for the purpose of the inquiry. Also, where the evidence is given that reflects adversely on a person the committee should provide reasonable opportunity for that person to respond in writing or appear before the committee as soon as possible. The witness should be given access to the evidence he/she gave to the committee. Certain ground rules need to be observed during oral evidence and these are as follows:

• All witnesses appearing before a committee are required to take oath or affirmation before they give oral evidence.

• During the process of oral evidence, the Chairperson should ensure that Members do not deliberate in the presence of the witness. If the committee wishes to deliberate on a point arising from the presentation by the witness then the witness should be excused. (SCR 12)

• Members are required to pose relevant questions to the witness. Any member of the Committee is allowed to raise an objection to a question directed to the witness if the question is deemed to be irrelevant. (SCR 12)

• If the witness, in his/her oral evidence submits information that implicates a member of the committee, the Committee should suspend its inquiry forthwith and report to the House accordingly.

• All persons appearing before the Committee are required to abide by the rules as spelt out by the Chair.

• Oral evidence given to the Committee may be recorded and transcribed on the resolution of the committee.

• Oral evidence given to the Committee is kept confidential until such time that the Committee has reported its findings to the House.

b. Written Submissions

Instead of persons or organisations appearing before a committee to give oral evidence or express their opinions in public hearings, a committee may require such persons or organisations to present to the committee written submissions. Written submissions give an opportunity to those who may not have had the opportunity to appear before the committee to give oral evidence. They also offer those who would have given oral evidence to the committee an opportunity to expand their views and lines of argument, substantiating their claims. The committee would also benefit from such submissions, as they tend to be more focused and well researched.

All written submissions should be sent either by post, fax, and e-mail or hand delivery to the committee clerk for the attention of the committee. Upon receipt of such submissions the committee clerk shall file them and bring them to the attention of the committee chairperson. The committee chairperson shall bring the submissions to the attention of the committee and the committee shall then deliberate upon such submissions. During the deliberations the committee shall reserve the right to accept in part or as whole or reject completely any of the presentations made. The committee, in their deliberations of the written submissions, shall be assisted by the committee clerk and/or researcher, in summarising the submissions bringing to the attention of the committee key recommendations and lines of argument that would not have been captured elsewhere.

3.2.3 Field Visits/Study Tours

From time to time portfolio committees may require undertaking field visits or study tours around the country in exercising their oversight role of the executive. The visits are mainly meant to observe what progress is being made on the ground on specific projects or programmes. It can also be used to gather information on a piece of legislation or policy that the executive may be coming up with. In the latter case the field visit then takes the form of a public hearing and the procedure for such visits should then follow the guidelines outlined earlier on public hearings.

Standing Order No. 152 states that a portfolio committee would need the approval of the Speaker of Parliament for it to travel beyond the precincts of Parliament. On the application for travel the Chairperson of a committee shall state the reasons for and the nature of the proposed travel. As such there is need for committees to arrange their study visit well ahead of time to allow the Speaker and the administration adequate time to plan and avail the resources for such. It is important for such visits, if they are foreseeable, to be put on the committee's work plan for the session.

Committees are an extension of Parliament, and members of portfolio committees are therefore encouraged and reminded to conduct themselves in a manner that befits the dignity and decorum of the House.

3.2.4 Commissioned Research

Issues do arise where Committees do not possess technical expertise to deal with those issues as required of them. It is in such situations whereby Committees may out-source the work to external researchers or experts as they are normally referred to. Committees give these experts terms of reference, scope of work and time frame within which to produce a draft report. The expert is expected to present her findings to the Committee within a given time frame. It is upon this draft report that the Committee drafts its own report to be tabled in the House. For more details pertaining to the process of engaging experts see Chapter 7.

3.3 Outcome of Enquiries

More often than not, Committee enquiries result in reports, which are tabled in the House. These reports highlight the subject of enquiry, Committee's observations and recommendations to government. More details on Committee reports are given in Chapter 6.

CHAPTER 4: PROCEDURES RELATING TO LEGISLATIVE SCRUTINY

 

4.1 Introduction of Bills

 

Before any bill can be introduced in the House it is a requirement that it be published in the Government Gazette. At least fourteen days must elapse between the date of publication in the Gazette and the date of introduction in the House (SO 102(1)). This is meant to afford members of the public, sectoral stakeholders and the relevant committees of Parliament adequate time within which to consider the bill and make meaningful contributions with respect thereto. Reforms have also seen the introduction of Parliamentary Liaison Officers in ministries. These can advise portfolio committees of the Executive's legislative programme so that committees can start considering bills even before gazetting.

Bills must be introduced after notice of motion to do so has been moved. Leave to bring in a bill should ordinarily be granted (S.O 102(2)). The practice is that a bill together with its explanatory memorandum, is published in the Gazette before the bill is introduced in Parliament.

Upon publication in the Gazette, a bill stands referred to the relevant portfolio committee (S.O 103).

Bills may be preceded by the publication of white papers seeking to elicit input from stakeholders. Parliamentary reforms recommended the use of white papers.

Portfolio committees provide a forum through which interested parties can make their contribution to the legislative process.

4.2 Types of Bills

 

Bills are classified into two main groups -- public and private bills. This classification mainly relates to the source of the legislation and the interests the legislation seeks to address. While public bills relate to matters of public policy and are introduced by Members of Parliament, private bills on the other hand are those bills that are for the particular interest or benefit of any person(s) whether corporate or otherwise, that is promoted by the interested parties themselves.

4.2.1 Public Bills

Public bills relate to matters of public interest and are introduced in Parliament by Members of Parliament.

4.2.2 Private Bills

A private bill is promoted by a person or body of persons, whether corporate or not, for the particular interest or benefit of that person or body of persons. Costs arising from the enactment of such bills are borne by the promoters of the bills. Procedure relating to these bills is to be found in the Private Bill Procedure Act (Chapter 2:07) and the Public Bodies Private Bill Procedure Act (Chapter 27:12). A private Act normally indicates that it is indeed a private Act. The following are examples:

• Harare City Building (Private) Act (Chapter 29:07)

• Chartered Secretaries (Private) Act (Chapter 27:03)

• Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers (Private) Act (Chapter 27:16)

4.2.3 Hybrid Bills

Where a public bill affects certain private interests, or where a private bill has a scope so wide that it affects public policy, the bill is treated as a hybrid bill. Standing Order 129 provides:

"If a public bill affects private interests in such a way that, if it were a private bill, it would, under the Standing Orders governing private bills, require preliminary notices before its introduction, it is subject partially to the Standing Orders which govern private bills, and is called a 'hybrid bill.'"

4.2.4 Government Bills

Members of the Executive, that is, Government Ministers, introduce these. The practice is that a Minister usually introduces bills that fall under her or his portfolio.

4.2.5 Private Members Bills

These are introduced by Members of Parliament who are not in Government.

4.2.6 Money Bills

A money bill is one that is certified as such by the Speaker of Parliament. It deals with national taxation, public money or loans or the management of public loans and debt.

4.3 Stages of Bills

In general terms, public bills pass through five main stages before they become law. These are:

• First reading

• Second reading

• Committee stage

• Report stage

• Third reading

It should be noted that "not more than one stage of a bill shall be taken at the same sitting without the leave of the House" (see Standing Order 105). This is meant to ensure that bills are not rushed through the House without proper consideration. Minimum intervals between stages ought to be observed as each bill passes through the House. The various stages will now be dealt with in turn.

4.3.1 Introduction and First Reading

The practice is that the Minister within whose portfolio the matter falls presents the bill for a first reading. Sometimes, however, the Leader of Government Business, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, steers bills through the House even though they may not emanate from his/her ministry. Usually a Notice of intention to introduce a bill precedes the bill's introduction in Parliament. This alerts the media and interest groups, as well as the general public, of the intentions of the Executive with respect to legislation. The first reading gives notice of the provisions of the proposed legislation. The long title of the bill is read, and a motion for the first reading is immediately moved. In general at this stage no opposition to the first reading takes place. An order is made for the bill to be printed; that is to have House copies printed and availed. After the first reading the bill is referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC), which has twenty-six (26) days within which to consider the bill and report thereon to Parliament, before the second reading. If the report of the PLC is adverse, the report has to be debated and disposed of first before the bill can proceed to the next stage. If the report of the PLC is non-adverse the bill proceeds to the second reading stage.

4.3.2 Second Reading

At this stage, the general principles of the bill are considered. The reasons behind the proposed legislation are laid out. Debate takes place on the general principles of the proposed legislation. Reports of portfolio committees are presented during the second reading stage of a bill.

In opposing a bill, it is permissible in terms of S.O 107(a) to move that the word "now" be omitted and replaced by the words "upon this day six months" when a motion for the second reading has been moved. Should such a motion succeed its effect would be to deny the bill a second reading in the current session. In such event the bill would have to be restored on the order paper in a subsequent session.

4.3.3 Committee Stage

After the second reading, the bill stands committed to the committee of the whole House (Standing Order 109); in other words, it progresses to the committee stage. At this stage Parliament is referred to as the Committee of the Whole House. All Members of Parliament are involved in the consideration of a bill. A bill is at this stage examined clause by clause. Amendments may be made as the deliberations continue (see Standing Order 113). If suggested amendments are taken on board, the bill is referred back to the PLC, which will again consider the bill as amended. After the report of the PLC, the bill proceeds to the next stage.

The Deputy Speaker, who is also the Chairperson of Committees, now chairs proceedings. A Committee of the Whole House can consider only those matters referred to it. When a bill has been referred to the Committee of the Whole House, the whole bill is the subject of that committee's deliberations. At the end of such deliberations, the Speaker is recalled and resumes his/her seat. The Chairperson of Committees reports to the Speaker on the deliberations and the resolutions of the Committee of the Whole House.

During this stage, Members have an opportunity to question the relevance of certain amendments or to raise general issues relating to proposed amendments. When the clauses of a bill have been considered and amendments disposed of the question is put with respect to each clause whether the clause as amended stand as part of the bill.

Amendments may be tabled at any time after the second reading. Proposed amendments to bills must be relevant to the subject matter of the bill and to its clauses; they must not be in conflict with a previous decision of the House taken at that stage; and must not go beyond the scope of the bill.

On completion of the committee stage, the chair reports the bill to the House with or without amendment, and reports that the House be resumed. When the House so resumes the Chairperson leaves the chair.

4.3.4 Report Stage

At the close of the committee stage, the next stage is the report stage. Progress made and amendments made to a bill at the committee stage are reported to the House. The bill is reprinted with amendments made to it before it is referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee (S.O 118(1)). Thereafter, the bill goes up for its third reading.

4.3.5 Third Reading

The third reading stage of a bill is confined to the formal moving of the motion "that this bill be now read for the third time" and the putting of the question thereon (see S.O 123). After the third reading of a bill, no further questions thereon may be put and the bill will be deemed to have been passed by Parliament (S.O 124). The third reading stage is usually a formality. It serves as a confirmation that Parliament has passed a bill that was under consideration. After this stage, the bill is referred to the President for his assent.

4.4 Role of Portfolio Committees in Legislative Scrutiny

 

Portfolio committees are named after the government departments or ministries they shadow. The Standing Orders provide that there shall be as many such committees to be designated according to the existing government portfolios (S.O 153(1)). The mandates of the committees are:

• To examine government expenditure

• To examine government administration

• To examine government policy

• To examine other matters falling within their purview or referred to them by Parliament

In executing their mandate as outlined above, portfolio committees consider and deal with bills; the allocation of resources; monitor and partake in the legislative programme as well as policy issues and other matters of concern to them. Each portfolio committee has a committee clerk assigned to it. The committee clerk's role includes providing administrative services to the committee (that is, organising meetings and taking minutes at those meetings) as well as guiding the portfolio committees in terms of the rules set down as outlined in the Standing Rules and Orders. Further, committee clerks can also assist their committees understand legislation by assisting them with analytical skills in the legislative scrutiny process. The role of researchers in this phase is also important as they can produce vital wellresearched documents useful in the analysis of proposed legislation. Every committee has a researcher assigned to it for this purpose.

Portfolio committees are also entitled to review existing legislation. In so doing it is suggested that they should seek the views of the public and stakeholders before presenting their reports to Parliament. Committees are expected to be familiar with legislative analysis techniques that enable them to determine whether a proposed piece of legislation is good or bad. They should also do a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed legislation.

As a result of the parliamentary reforms, portfolio committees are now expected to engage in pre-legislative scrutiny. Before a bill is formally gazetted, the relevant portfolio committee can properly engage the Executive to get copies thereof so that it can start analysing the proposed bill. It can also at this stage engage stakeholders, for instance through public hearings. The role of the committee clerk and/or the researcher is prominent in these processes as he or she is part of the committee's secretariat. It is, for instance, the role of the committee clerk to advise his/her committee of the publication of a bill relevant to his/her committee, and to make copies of the bill available to the committee. It is also the duty of the committee clerk to capture the deliberations of the committee while it scrutinises a bill and to compile its report on the bill, together with any proposed amendments thereto. The committee will adopt with or without amendments a report compiled by a clerk on the scrutiny of a bill.

Standing Order 103:

Once a bill has been published in the Gazette, it stands referred to the relevant portfolio committee (S.O 103(1)). However, should a bill be published at a time when committees are yet to be constituted, it is submitted that the time limit can only start operating from the time that committees are formally constituted. Committees may start lobbying or gathering stakeholder views with a view to influencing the quality of the final product of the legislative process.

The committee is obliged to consider the bill and submit a report based on its deliberations on the bill. In coming up with its report the committee is entitled to seek external input into the legislative process. This input may be in the form of submissions by officers in the relevant government ministries or stakeholders, or by experts on the subject under review (S.O 103(2)).

Portfolio committees may submit amendments to bills under consideration. They may also suggest changes to existing legislation.

A portfolio committee's report shall be tabled within fourteen (14) business days of the publication of the bill (S.O 103(5)).

4.5 Role of Parliamentary Legal Committee

The Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) is provided for under Section 40A of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Section 40A(1) provides that "the PLC shall be composed of Members of Parliament who are not members of the Cabinet or Ministers of Government. It shall comprise of members, being not less than three, the majority of whom shall be legally qualified. Section 40B of the Constitution provides as follows as regards the functions of the PLC:

The Parliamentary Legal Committee shall examine

• Every bill, other than a constitutional bill, which has been introduced into Parliament;

• Every bill, other than a constitutional bill, which is amended after its examination by the committee, before the bill is given its final reading in Parliament;

• Every draft bill transmitted by a Minister to the Clerk to Parliament for reference to the Committee;

• Every statutory instrument published in the Gazette; and

• Every draft statutory instrument transmitted by the authority empowered to make it to the Clerk to Parliament for reference to the Committee, and shall report to Parliament or the Minister or authority, as the case may be, whether in its opinion any provision of the bill, draft bill, statutory instrument or draft statutory instrument would, if enacted, be or, as the case may be, is in contravention of the Declaration of Rights or any other provision of the Constitution."

The mandate of the PLC is specific; it determines the constitutionality of proposed legislation and reports accordingly to Parliament. Unlike other committees of Parliament, its area of focus is limited to issues of constitutionality of legislation or proposed legislation. Its primary role is to scrutinize legislation, both primary and subsidiary, to determine whether it is consistent with the constitution. In its scrutiny duties the PLC also determines

• Whether or not the legislation contains matter that should be more properly the subject of a parliamentary enactment;

• Whether or not the legislation does not subject individual liberties to administrative decisions which are not subject to judicial review; and

• Whether or not the legislation does not change an Act of Parliament without changes being tabled in Parliament.

The exercise of legislative power is vested in Parliament. Legislation cannot delegate this authority without the consent and approval of Parliament. It is the responsibility of the PLC to ensure that subsidiary legislation (statutory instruments and by-laws) does not delegate or usurp the exercise of Parliament's functions.

If the PLC, after consideration of a proposed legal instrument, reaches the conclusion that the instrument would, if enacted, be or is inconsistent with and therefore in contravention of the Bill of Rights or any other provision of the Constitution, it issues an Adverse Report to that effect. This is a report to Parliament and is laid before the House. The Committee's minutes of meetings are also submitted to Parliament. Parliament may accept or reject the PLC's report.

Should the House accept the opinion of the PLC, the bill or statutory instrument concerned will not proceed to the next stage with the offending clause. However, if the House rejects the report of the PLC, the bill will proceed to the next stage as is, while in the case of a statutory instrument, it will continue to apply.

4.5.1 Statutory Instruments

Statutory Instruments constitute the bulk of legislation created by local authorities and government departments and ministries, and are sometimes referred to as subsidiary or delegated legislation. They are required to comply with the enabling legislation. The PLC only examines these with a view to determining whether they comply with enabling legislation and the Constitution.

Portfolio committees are entitled to examine subsidiary legislation. As with bills, they may consider such issues as the implications of a statutory instrument and the policy behind it (S.O 154(a)).

4.5.2 Counsel to Parliament

 

The office of Counsel to Parliament is an important office in the institution of Parliament. For a person to qualify to hold this post, she or he must hold an acceptable legal qualification, and must be a registered legal practitioner. Counsel to Parliament's mandate includes being the chief legal advisor to the institution of Parliament and being the secretary to the PLC. As concerns the former responsibility, counsel gives legal advice on all matters that may arise on an as needed basis. This includes commercial contracts, labour relations and international law, among other subjects.

With respect to the legislative process, Counsel plays an advisory role in relation to the portfolio and other committees, as well as the PLC where he doubles up as the committee secretary. The office of Counsel should get copies of the Government Gazette and keep abreast of any bills, Acts and statutory instruments that may be published. In order that the officer keeps track of the legislative process, he or she must attend when the House is in session. This assists in tracking the progress of bills so that the PLC is kept advised of time limits in respect of bills and statutory instruments referred to it. As secretary to the PLC the incumbent is responsible for calling for and organising meetings of the PLC. Counsel to Parliament attends all meetings of the PLC. She/he compiles the minutes of PLC meetings as well as its reports.

When the PLC issues an adverse report against a bill or statutory instrument, Counsel ensures that the report of the committee is transmitted to the office of the Speaker through the office of the Clerk of Parliament. The report must at all times be accompanied by a copy of the minutes of the meeting that resolved to issue an adverse report. When the PLC resolves to issue a non-adverse report, the office of Counsel prepares the relevant Certificate. This simply indicates that the PLC, after considering the bill or statutory instrument, arrived at the opinion that the provisions of the bill or statutory instrument if enacted would not violate the Declaration of Rights or any other provision of the Constitution. Counsel may also be tasked to assist the PLC with legal research on constitutional matters, or to organise meetings with members of the executive.

The PLC may advise the sponsors of a bill or statutory instrument on the constitutionality thereof. Should an offending provision be amended so as to comply with the Constitution, the PLC can withdraw an adverse report.

 

CHAPTER 5: THE BUDGET PROCESS

5.1 Introduction

Prior to the adoption of the 1998 Parliamentary reform recommendations, Parliament dealt with the budget in an ad hoc fashion. The budget was crafted and passed before Parliament without meaningful involvement of civil society organisations, and the public. Thus there was little or no disaggregation of the national budget that reflects sectoral priorities. In the spirit of reforms Parliament initially established an ad hoc Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee and later introduced the reengineered budget process. This was after a realisation that Parliament could not influence in a meaningful way the outcomes of the budget.

5.2 The Re-engineered Budget Process

The re-engineered budget process (as endorsed by the LCC) is divided into three phases; pre-budget, post budget and monitoring phase. The process calls for more open, participative and transparent budget making process. It ensures the involvement of the public and civil society organisations and Parliament through the portfolio committees in budget formulation and implementation at an earlier stage when bids are being crafted. The process is categorised in three phases,

5.2.1 Phase 1: Pre Budget

Portfolio committees consider Ministries draft bids or sector priorities around March or April and hold public hearings, receive written submissions and make recommendations.

Once the bids are finalised, the Ministry shares the bids with the portfolio committees before they are submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. The Ministry of Finance, and Economic Development considers the proposals and submissions from Ministries.

5.2.2 Phase 2: Post Budget

 

This phase takes place after the Minister of Finance and Economic Development announces the budget in the House.

Portfolio committees analyse the respective votes of Ministries they shadow and present their report. They also hold consultations with civil society organisations, the public and the line Ministries to review the proposed budget figures.

A summary of the report is then prepared and submitted to the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee, who compiles a composite report on the macroeconomic framework of the budget and portfolio committee consultations. This committee also prepares a set of amendments to the Finance Bill which are presented in the House during the committee stage

Portfolio committees prepare their own report for presentation during general debate.

5.2.3 Phase 3: Monitoring Implementation

Portfolio committees monitor government spending on a quarterly basis by requesting for quarterly budget reports from Ministries. The quarterly reports are prepared using the Quarterly Budget Analysis Guidelines [5] , which provide indicators that portfolio committees can use to assess public expenditures and the achievements of specific public policy objectives. Monitoring budget performance by portfolio committees requires that Ministries submit quarterly reports to the relevant portfolio committee.

Time frames for submission of quarterly reports are: First quarter, April. Second quarter, July. Third quarter, October. Portfolio committees analyse the quarterly budget reports and then Ministry officials are invited to discuss the quarterly reports. The portfolio committee compile reports on the budget performance of the ministries they shadow (on a quarterly basis), which are presented to the House, and they can also embark on field visits to ascertain progress on the ground.

Monitoring of the budget performance should feed into the subsequent year's budget bids.

5.3 Role of Committee Clerks and Researchers

The re-engineered budget process is made possible by the valuable efforts of committee clerks and researchers. The committee clerks should

• Facilitate the holding of meetings by making the necessary arrangements,

• Preparing timetable for scrutinising the budget,

• Write or communicate with Ministry officials (through the Parliamentary Liaison Officers) and stakeholders, informing/ inviting them to attend the pre, post and monitoring phases of the budget indicating the venue, date, time and objective(s) of the meetings,

• Keep all correspondence with Ministry officials and stakeholders,

• Make available copies of the blue book to the committee, stakeholders and the consultant assisting the committee, • Draft committee reports,

• Write thank you or complimentary letters to all participants to the processes, and

• Inform all participants of the outcome of the process by sending a copy of the report to the participants.

The researcher should ensure that all background information is made available to the committee. In addition, the researcher should work closely with the consultant assisting the committee.

5.4 The Budget Process In the House

5.4.1 General Debate

After completing consultations and producing reports, members debate the budget statement focusing on the macroeconomic issues and budget assumptions on revenue and expenditure. General debate usually involves the chairperson of the Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee presenting the composite report, and other members contributing to debate soon after the presentation of the composite report.

5.4.2 Debate in the Committee of Supply

After the general debate, the House goes into the Committee of Supply where debate is specific and confined to vote allocations.

Portfolio committee chairpersons lead debate of their respective line ministries votes by possibly proposing recommendations and suggesting movement of funds from one line item to the other.

Parliament cannot change the total budget ceiling since this is a function of the Executive. When all votes have been approved by the Committee of Supply, the Appropriation Bill, which authorises government to incur expenditure is passed by Parliament.

 

CHAPTER 6: COMMITTEE REPORTS

6.1 Introduction

This chapter looks at procedures that relate to the consideration and adoption of reports by portfolio committees, right up to the tabling of those reports in the House.

A committee report is a culmination of an enquiry by a portfolio committee into matters that fall under its jurisdiction, as provided for in S.O. No. 154. This could be an enquiry into policy implementation, legislation or budget expenditure by the ministry or ministries, which the portfolio committee shadows. After enquiries, committees are required to report their findings to the House for consideration.

6.2 Adoption of Committee Reports

After all deliberations by the committee on oral evidence received have been concluded, and a consensus has been reached regarding the fundamental principles to be captured in the report, the chair prepares a draft report. Suffice it to say that the committee clerk plays a significant role in the preparation of the said report under the direction of the Chair. In the case where the committee used the services of a consultant, the consultant prepares a draft report with the assistance of a committee clerk under the direction of the committee. Draft reports prepared by consultants usually deal with technical issues requiring someone with expertise on the issue.

For ordinary committee reports, if the chair is not in agreement with the opinion of the majority of the members of the committee, some other member of the committee may prepare the report, as provided for by Select Committee Rule No. 23. The said draft report shall be presented to the committee for consideration and adoption. Any other draft report, which any other member of the committee may have prepared and may wish to have it submitted for consideration, may be brought up. If more than one draft report is submitted, that must be recorded in the minutes of proceedings and a motion shall then be moved that the committee should consider one of the reports. The draft report, which is chosen, shall then be considered paragraph by paragraph by the committee. Amendments may be proposed to each paragraph.

A committee may, during the consideration of a draft report, amend any part thereof or any paragraph which has previously been agreed to and may at any time thereafter during the proceedings of a committee on the report, rescind any resolution made in connection with that.

However, if during the consideration of a draft report, it is resolved that there is need for further evidence before the committee could proceed with the consideration then such consideration of the draft report may be suspended until further evidence is received.

After the committee has finalized the consideration of a draft report, the chair shall propose the question as follows,

"I put the question that the Report, or the Report as amended, be the Report of the Committee to the House."

Members may object and if that happens, another report may have to be brought up, considered and agreed to by the Committee.

If the question is decided in the affirmative a member of the committee has to propose that the "Chairperson do bring up the said Report in the House" and move that "This House takes note" of whatever report of the committee.

A committee may resolve to table an interim report before it has actually concluded its investigation if it is felt that the evidence gathered so far needs to be brought to the urgent attention of the House.

6.3 Presentation of Committee Reports in the House

Before the chair of a portfolio committee can present the committee's report in the House, a notice of motion has to be given. A draft motion is submitted to the Clerk of Parliament for approval. The committee clerk concerned should liaise with Papers Office (Journals Office) for the drafting of the motion. It is incumbent upon the committee clerk to submit to Papers Office signed minutes of proceedings and minutes of evidence, as these are part of the report to be tabled in the House. It is, therefore, unprocedural for a chair to table a committee report without the accompanying minutes because should somebody raise procedural matters pertaining to the report, Parliament can easily refer to the minutes.

A portfolio committee report can be considered by the House only upon a motion, "that this House takes note of the Report of the Committee…". Hence, portfolio committee reports are "take note motions" and therefore they are not for adoption by the House. However, after debate on the report has been exhausted, the minister under whose portfolio matters raised in the committee's report fall has to reply within ten sitting days, as provided for in S.O. 160. So, it is incumbent upon the chairperson /committee clerk to ensure that this procedure is adhered to. If the Minister does not respond, the portfolio committee has powers to call the Minister to explain.

A report on a bill does not require prior notice in order for it to be presented in the House. It is part of the general debate on the bill at the seconding reading stage. After the minister responsible for the bill has finished explaining the principles of the bill to the House, the chairperson or any other member designated by the committee may present the committee's report on the bill. The subject matter of the report should be confined to the principles of the bill or the policy behind the bill.

If the committee wishes to propose amendments to the bill, the chair can move those amendments at the committee stage of the bill in the House. However, the proposed amendments have to be submitted to Papers Office before the Committee Stage of the bill so that they can appear on the Order Paper as required in terms of S.O. 114.

6.4 Structure of Committee Reports

A standard portfolio committee report usually takes the format outlined below [6] . However, there are no hard and fast rules but for the sake of consistency it is advisable that the Department adopt one format.

 

i) Introduction

The introduction serves to state the subject matter of the committee's enquiry. It also gives a brief background to the problem, which gave rise to the need for an enquiry.

The other important aspect of the introduction is a set of guidelines to the enquiry, otherwise normally referred to as "Terms of Reference". It is important to state the terms of reference to the enquiry from the onset of the report because it helps to keep the committee focused on the subject matter of the enquiry. ii) Proceedings

This section states the method used by the committee in its enquiry. In simple terms, it can be referred to as the methodology section. Portfolio committees can use any one of the following methods or a combination of all of them:

• Public Hearings

• Field Visits or Study Tours

• Evidence gathering through written and oral submissions iii) Findings of the Committee

This section of the report contains the results of the enquiry or the findings of the committee's enquiry. These findings are based on empirical evidence or facts as established by the committee in the process of its enquiry. Great effort should be made to present the committee's findings in a logical and coherent manner. A distinction should be clearly made between the committee's findings and its opinions. Opinions should never be presented as the findings of the committee because this has the risk of damaging the credibility of the committee's findings and its reputation, should somebody comes up with hard facts. Hence, chairs and committee clerks should always guard against this temptation.

iv) Recommendations

After stating its findings in the report, the committee has, as of necessity, proffer recommendations for the improvement of the situation. Recommendations flow naturally from the committee's findings and are thus specific to the identified problem. Hence they are action-oriented. Recommendations state what action should be taken by the executive in order to rectify the situation. Portfolio committees are, therefore, encouraged to avoid making general recommendations, which do not address the crux of the matter, worse still recommendations, that are completely divorced from the findings of the committee. v) Conclusion

This final section is a reinforcement of what the committee sees as the best way forward vis-à-vis its findings. It should be a concise and bold statement, which leaves a lasting impression on the readers or audience. Great care should be taken to avoid introducing new information at this stage of the report.

CHAPTER 7: TECHNICAL AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

7.1 Introduction

The Parliamentary reform recommendations of 1998/1999 sought to strengthen the role of Parliament vis-à-vis the Executive. The Parliamentary Reform Committee (PRC) identified capacity constraints in both the staff and members of Parliament and found out that Members have limited knowledge of the issues under scrutiny, and that specialist advice in key areas such as finance and law is often needed.

In order to address the lack of capacity, Parliament engages consultants in addition to utilising the services of researchers from the Research Department to provide advice on technical issues. Portfolio committees, through the secretariat follows laid down procedures as outlined below.

7.2 Technical Assistance

 

Procedures

 

1. The initial step involves the portfolio committees identifying the issue to be tackled, which is usually contained in the work plan.

2. After identifying the issue to be tackled, the committee should make a decision whether to use the services of the researcher attached to the committee or engage an outside consultant or use both.

3. In either case, the committee should spell out the researcher's or consultant's terms of reference in writing.

4. In the event that the portfolio committee decides to use an outside consultant, it should propose suitable persons who can best do the task. Each portfolio committee should have a database or list of consultants in the respective sector from which they can select consultants.

5. After listing suitable persons, the committee will then decide on the best person capable to carry out the task.

6. The committee clerk should then contact the consultant to find out if he/she is available.

7. A letter of request for financial assistance (in cases where Parliament cannot meet the cost) is then drafted by the portfolio committee clerk and sent through the Clerk of Parliament to the possible sponsor/donor.

8. The donor should respond to the Clerk of Parliament indicating whether or not the funds will be committed to contracting the consultant. If the answer is in the affirmative the donor will contract the consultant.

9. This process requires adequate time for planning, two to three weeks, before the services of the consultant can be utilised.

10. The committee clerk should supervise the consultant making sure that the task is completed as specified on the terms of reference.

7.3 Financial Assistance

Portfolio committees receive administrative support from the Clerk of Parliament on all issues that come before them. This also includes advice on seeking financial assistance outside the institution of Parliament. A letter of request for financial assistance should state the following:

• Objectives of the committee

• Justification for engaging an external consultant

• Terms of reference of the consultant

• Name of the consultant

• Expected outcome

A decision to engage a consultant should be done on time to allow for approval by the Clerk of Parliament and changes if any to the letter of request that the Clerk of Parliament may propose. There should also be adequate time for the sending of the letter to the possible donor who should be given time to consider the request and make a decision.

Once the donor has made a decision and communication is received by Parliament, the committee clerk should go ahead to contact the consultant or send him or her the Scope of Work [7] , which basically should contain the following:

• Identification of Task

• Background/ Introduction

• Terms of Reference (TOR)

• Qualifications

• Schedule and Logistics

• Estimated Level of Effort

• Deliverables

• Reporting Requirements

The committee clerk should clarify any administrative issues that the consultant may seek to know. However, issues related to the contract are dealt with by the donor who may require the Scope of Work in order to determine remuneration.

Upon completion of work, the committee clerk should certify that the work has been done satisfactorily as specified in the Scope of Work. This will facilitate payment by the donor.

7.4 Other Assistance

In some cases, civil society organisations (CSOs) may lobby portfolio committees by requesting for meetings, workshops or seminars outside Parliament. The procedure for handling such cases is as follows:

• The civil society organisation should write to the portfolio committee through the Clerk of Parliament.

• Upon receiving the letter, the Clerk of Parliament will forward it to the portfolio committee.

• The portfolio committee will deliberate on the request and decide whether or not to accept the request.

• Regardless of the decision made by the portfolio committee, the committee clerk will write to the civil society organisation informing them of the decision through the Clerk of Parliament.

CHAPTER 8: COMMITTEE WORK PLANNING

8.1 Purpose/Objectives

Committees should engage actively in regular work planning exercises in order to guide the work of the committee, to provide a basis upon which the committee can evaluate its performance, and to assist the committee in compiling its budget for the implementation of activities.

8.2 Process

Portfolio committees usually compile sessional work plans at the beginning of every session. The process is as follows:

• The first meeting of the committee usually involves committee members making contributions or identifying areas/issues to be included in the work plan.

• Committees can also liase with Ministry officials, through the Parliamentary Liaison Officers, especially when it comes to legislative programs. Ministries provide information on bills that are expected to come before Parliament. This information can also be obtained from the Presidential speech on the official opening of Parliament.

• Apart from liasing with Ministry officials, committees also consult with key civic society organisations in order to solicit information on issues they feel should be tackled by the committee during the session. It is up to the committee to select and prioritise on issues to ultimately include in the work plan.

• Upon consensus some committees task the chairperson and the committee clerk to come up with a draft work plan, which is then brought before the committee for discussion in its next meeting. This is usually meant to give guidance to the committee and provide the basis for discussion.

• Above all, portfolio committees should consider carefully Parliament's sitting calendar as well as an indication of when and how many meetings the committees are likely to have.

The purpose of liasing with Ministry officials, key civil society organisations and discussing draft work plans is to ensure an all inclusive work plan that will try to address issues of public importance thus enhancing the representative role of Parliament.

8.3 Format and Contents of Work Plan

The following are the proposed format and contents of portfolio committee work plans [8] .

1. State the Purpose of Work Plan . A one paragraph statement helping portfolio committee members appreciate and remember why they have a work plan, outlining how it is to be used and how it should not be used to guide their deliberations during this session. For example, it will serve as a guide in setting agenda for meetings and laying out future activities but not as a prescriptive blueprint. It will contain some measurable and attainable objectives that will serve to help specify how the committee uses its time and resources. This statement is NOT the same as the purpose and objectives for the committee. It focuses only on how the work plan is to be used.

2. Describe the Work Planning Process. A two or three paragraph statement outlining the process that the portfolio committee will use or used to formulate the work plan and some key principles that they agree to adhere to in its formulation (i.e., inclusiveness on the part of all committee members, built on consensus, informed and assisted by appropriate expertise from within and outside Parliament, etc.). There should also be a provision for changing and amending the work plan with a process identified that everyone agrees with should the need to make changes arise.

3. Identify the Key Result Areas (KRAs). KRAs refer to general areas of outcomes or outputs which portfolio committees are responsible. These are also known as key work outputs. These are worded using as few terms as possible with no verbs (i.e., these are about results, not action) and no direction or measurement (e.g., words such as "good"). These simply describe the areas for which the portfolio committees are responsible for results. Portfolio committees usually have two KRAs, which are, Legislative Oversight and Executive Oversight.

Identifying KRAs helps portfolio committees clarify their roles, set goals and objectives, prioritise their activities and therefore improve their time/work management, and finally, come up with strategies to work on the KRAs.

4. State the Objectives . Add a clear discussion of what the committee wishes to accomplish and be measured against when it comes to self-evaluation and assessment of accomplishments at the end of the session. Each committee must select its own objectives and describe how these objectives relate to the Parliamentary Reform recommendations and the mandate provided for committees under the Standing Orders. This provides legitimacy and ties the operational planning to the overall strategic vision of Parliament. Indicate those measures or indices that will be used to determine if the objectives specified have been met.

5. Describe How Objectives are to be Achieved . Identify and describe the options available to the committee for achieving agreed upon objectives, which ones should be emphasized and for what reasons, and what will need to be done to enable the portfolio committee to implement or carry out the selected options. This will provide an outline of the program for the committee over the course of the session and should be divided into discrete activities or programs for ease of discussion, management, and resource allocation. Make sure that the portfolio committee has a comprehensive list of the avenues available to them as to how they may choose to conduct their business so that they match these tools, techniques and approaches to the objectives that they seek to achieve.

6. Specify Key Dates and Necessary Resources . To carry out the program as specified in #5 above, discuss how the program will be handled by the committee and indicate key dates and resources necessary to implement the committees plans. Build this schedule around Parliament's sitting calendar and key political and social events (holidays and elections) over the course of the year. Also indicate responsibility on the part of the chair, clerks, researchers, other committee members, and other departments within Parliament in order to prepare for and carry out these tasks. Identify where outside resources might be needed and specify as far as possible what exactly will be required of development partners, interest groups, government, and civil society.

7. Address Monitoring and Evaluation . Decide how the indicators for determining achievement of objectives are to be used and by whom in order to monitor progress.

8.4 Review of Work Plan

Most portfolio committees prepare work plans that cover the whole session whilst others prepare work plans that span half of the session. Therefore the review of the work plan may be carried out mid way through the planning period. This however varies from one portfolio committee to another. Each portfolio committee may come up with frequent reviews depending on the activities and time frame within which these should be accomplished.

8.5 Sessional Reports

At the end of any given parliamentary session, portfolio committees cease to exist or are dissolved. Members of the portfolio committees may move a motion to defer the outstanding issues to the next session. It will be up to the new portfolio committee reconstituted in the next session to adopt the work of the previous portfolio committee. Therefore, some activities on the work plan in a given session may or may never be completed depending on the resolutions made by the new and previous portfolio committee.

Nevertheless, portfolio committees through their committee clerks prepare sessional reports at the end of the session. These reports capture the following elements:

• Attendance of members

• Meetings held; successful and no quorum

• Prejudice to Parliament due to no quorum meetings

• Public hearings held

• Enquiries

• Reports produced and tabled

• Extent to which testimony was used

• Interaction with front bench

• Bills and statutory instruments reviewed and amendments proposed

• Extent of influence on legislation or policy

• Extent of growth in knowledge among members

• Press conferences

• Whether or not work plan objectives were achieved

This gives an indication of what was accomplished during the work planning period. These reports are tabled in the House and therefore made public.

ANNEXURES

Annexure 1: Booking Slip for Hansard Reporter

 

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

REPORTER SERVICES

TO HANSARD DATE …………………...

Please provide Reporters the following:

COMMITTEE …………………………………………………………………………

DATE …………………………………………………………………………………..

VENUE …………………………………………………………………………………

TIME …………………………………………………………………………………

REQUEST MADE …………………………………………………………………….

Please note that the Committee will receive oral evidence from the following:

…………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………

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………………………………………………………………………………………….

Annexure 2: Booking Slip for Committee Venues

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

COMMITTEE MEETINGS

TO MAIN DESK DATE :…………………

COMMITTEE:………………………………………………………………………….

VENUE:………………………………………………………………………………...

DATE:…………………………………………………………………………………..

TIME:…………………………………………………………………………………...

TEA AT:………………………….. TEA……………………….COFFEE……………

WATER AT:……………………………………………………………………………

SECRETARY TO THE COMMITTEE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annexure 3: Attendance Register/Return Form

The Secretary to Parliament

I certify that the under mentioned members attended the Select Committee on…………………………. on (date)…………………………………………………..

The committee met at……………hours and adjourned at…………………….hours. Duration of meeting……………….

Name (in

alphabetical order )

Attended at

Left at

Total absence

Remarks

         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         

Absent without leave Absent with leave

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

………………

Executive Officer Secretary to the Committee

 

 

 

Annexure 4: Quarterly Budget Analysis Guidelines

Purpose of the Guidelines

The guidelines

1.Assist portfolio committees to raise pertinent issues pertaining to the management and use of public funds, thereby effectively playing their oversight role.

2.Assist government ministries and departments to understand what exactly is required of them when they are asked to submit quarterly reports to parliament.

3.Help committees focus on the issues at the heart of public finance management and accountability.

4.Help committees make informed input into the preparation of government bids for the next budget.

5.Enable interest groups and the public in general to observe the management and use of public funds and comment thereupon.

 

General Aims

There are two primary aims of the quarterly review:

• To examine how Ministries are implementing the programmes for which they were allocated funds;

• To provide early warning of possible requests for supplementary budgets later in the year and be able to participate in analysis of such requests and to lead debate in the House. A number of subsidiary aims arise. These include

• Explanations for any deviations from the intended programmes;

• Suggestions of ways in which Parliament may assist Ministries in overcoming obstacles to successful implementation of their programmes.

With this in mind, the ideal starting point for the quarterly review is the information on the programmes, priorities and intentions of Ministries gathered by Committees in their review of the previous year's Budget. These should be in the reports tabled by portfolio committees in the House. However, it may be necessary to do further work in this regard.

Although these guidelines provide for a structured response, Committees should provide additional information requirements that it feels are pertinent.

Structure of Reports

1) Brief Overview of Intended Programmes and Targets

a) Ministry Budget Objectives: what were the Ministry's qualitative objectives in the Budget?

b) Ministry Budget Allocation: what was the Ministry's allocation for the coming year? This should provide a brief summary of the heads of expenditure.

c) Was there any discussion in the Budget review of problems that the Ministry foresaw arising from its allocation? Were these addressed in the final budget as approved by Parliament?

2) Performance in the First Quarter

a) Review of Qualitative Performance

9 What plans and programmes were in place for the first quarter?

9 To what extent were these achieved? (This should cover both positive and negative departures).

b) Review of Expenditures

9 What were the quarterly expenditure targets? How did these relate to the annual Vote allocation?

9 How did actual expenditure measure against targets in the first quarter? In particular:

o What was the total amount spent?

o Are there outstanding expenditure commitments from this quarter that will have to be met in the future?

o What was the pattern of expenditure between the major line items, particularly:

¾ Expenditure on wages and salaries;

¾ Recurrent non-wage expenditures

¾ Capital expenditure

9 How have levies, fees and other cost recovery measures performed against target?

3) Evaluation and Explanation of Performance

Reports should include an evaluation of the Ministry's performance in the year to date. While Ministries' explanations of performance are likely to be correct, it is important that Committees evaluate these explanations independently. Issues that should be addressed include:

9 What explanations does the Ministry have for any targets that were not met?

9 What is the likely impact on the country of the failure to meet targets?

9 If the obstacles to performance are within the Ministry's competence to overcome, what actions has it taken to overcome them? Spell out plans to ensure that targets are consistently met.

9 If the obstacles were beyond the Ministries' control, such as delayed release of funds by the Treasury, inflation and foreign currency shortages, what suggestions does it have for how they might be reduced in the future? In particular, are there actions Parliament might take to assist in overcoming them?

4) Outlook and general issues

9 What are Ministries' views of the out-turn in o The next quarter? o The remainder of the Budget period?

o Impact of Public Finance Management System on accountability in your ministry

9 Does the Ministry foresee requiring a supplementary budgetary allocation in this budget period?

The report to the Committee should be no more than 10 pages in length, but can include appendices that contain additional detail, justification and analysis to support the information provided.

Annexure 5: Format of Front Cover of Committee Report

Parliament of Zimbabwe

_____________________

SECOND REPORT

_____________________

 

OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LANDS AGRICULTURE WATER

DEVELOPMENT RURAL RESOURCES AND RESETTLEMENT ON THE

AVAILABILITY OF AGRICULTURAL INPUTS

THIRD SESSION - FIFTH PARLIAMENT

Presented to Parliament on Wednesday 21 May 2003

 

 

 

 

 

[S.C. 15 - 2003]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annexure 6: Scope of Work Guidelines

The first, second and third sessions of the Fifth Parliament has seen portfolio committees exercising legislative and oversight roles. With the able technical assistance of SUNY/Zimbabwe, Parliament managed to kick start the oversight role by engaging the executive in mainly analysing the budget as well as other government policies and pieces of legislation. In carrying out this role, portfolio committees engaged the services of experts/ consultants with specialized skills to assist them in effectively scrutinizing and monitoring the Budget Bill. In the second and third session three quarters of the portfolio committees engaged consultants to assist them in scrutinizing the Budget Bill. This trend has been further experienced especially in the third session when a number of committee scrutinized bills or proposed amendments to existing Acts.

It is in light of this dispensation that Parliament has been found wanting when engaging experts or consultants. In order to ensure sustainability committee clerks/researchers should draft Scope of Work guidelines based on the input from the portfolio committees. The scope of work if properly constructed will ensure that portfolio committees get value for money from consultants/experts. However, a good Scope of Work is not a sufficient condition for ensuring best use of experts. Other issues such as the identification/ selection of an expert, the committee's ability to make use the expert, committee's clarity of what needs to be done and how the committee monitors and supervises the consultant will also matter.

Purpose

These Scope of Work Guidelines are aimed at assisting Parliament to develop capacity in drafting scope of works for consultants. The Scope of Work Guidelines will work as a set of guidelines to the critical elements of a consultancy that committees should pay attention to when preparing to engage consultants. It should be noted that Portfolio committees might have specific tasks/ needs, some of which may not be captured in these guidelines. Therefore these guidelines should act as a checklist or reference only.

A. Identification of Task

This is a preliminary step, which should not be included in the scope of work for the consultant. The committee should identify what it exactly wants the consultant to do and how this forms part of the committee's work plan. This should be discussed by the committee in detail; the committee should be very clear as to what they want to do:

• A review of a specific piece of legislation (bill, statutory instrument) or government policy

• Analyse the budget bill and its implications

• Scrutinize government programs

Apart from being clear as to what the committee wants to do and what the final product should be, there should be an indication of the preferred start and completion dates for the assignment.

B. Background/Introduction

This section provides a brief description of the history of the committee, what it is tasked to do as stated in the Standing Rules of Parliament. It should clearly outline the basis (context) for carrying out the assignment or task and mention any technical partners involved in assisting the committee fulfil the task.

In this section the committee should also specify the need for and purpose of the assignment, what service, information and or product is needed, why is it needed and who will use it.

C. Terms of Reference (TOR)

The TOR will detail the specific tasks or activities that the consultant is expected to do. In some cases it may be necessary to list the activity and the estimated level of effort for that activity. An example of information that may be contained in the tasks for committee seeking input from civic society organizations, interest groups and the public in analysing a bill through public hearings may be as follows:

1. Prepare a brief background paper

2. Provide advise on public hearing

3. Formulate Follow-On Questions

4. Synthesise Evidence received from civic society, interest group and the public

5. Prepare a draft outline report

6. Review of draft committee report

7. Consultation resulting from House debate

 

D. Qualifications

The committee should decide consultant qualifications depending on the issue to be looked at.

Therefore there is need to

• Identify the skills and qualifications desired of the consultant or expert, such as o Areas of technical expertise o Country or regional expertise

o Education and prior experience if necessary

E. Schedule and Logistics

The committee should agree on the timeline that includes the task's beginning, duration, and completion dates. In doing this, everyone must consider the sitting calendar of the committees and the House; holidays, or other events should also be considered.

The committee should be specific in describing the kind of logistical support that the committee members or committee secretariat shall provide to the consultant. Some assignments may involve the following:

• Liaison with civic society organizations or interest groups and the public

• Office space, computer or any other items necessary for the completion of the task • Discussion meetings between consultant and committee chair/committee members

F. Estimated Level of Effort

The estimated level of effort gives an indication of the amount of effort the consultant or expert will put in towards the completion of the task. Based on the terms of reference, the committee should have a rough indication of the level of effort, which could be expressed in number of hours or days. The definition of working days should also be clear i.e., working 8 hours a day. There should be feedback from the consultant on whether the level of effort is sufficient for him/her to complete the assignment.

G. Deliverables

These emanate from what is included in the terms of reference. Therefore, you should describe the outcome, process, or product required. For example:

• Background paper

• Synthesis of evidence or submissions

• Questions formulated to guide the committee

• Briefing or presentation

• Draft report

• Invoice

• Invoice certification

The committee should clarify at what point during the time line each of the deliverables is expected by the committee. It should be clear as to whether the committee requires both electronic and hard copies of the deliverable, and number of copies required.

H. Reporting Requirements

 

The committee should specify reporting structures for the consultant. The consultant may report for administrative and financial purposes to the committee chair, committee clerk, or technical partner/ Parliament.

Annexure 7: Tabular Format of Work Plan

Below is an example of a tabular format of a committee work plan. The example serves to clarify what should be included under each heading.

ACTIVITY

OBJECTIVES

PROCESS

INDICATORS

TIME FRAME

RESOURCES

KRA

1. Legislative

Oversight

a. Review of

existing

legislation

i.To assess effectiveness of the Act. ii.Suggest possible

amendments

a. Hold a

public hearing inviting the public, and

interest groups

i.Proposed amendments

ii. Consensus iii. Debate in the

House and adoption of amendments

Jan-Feb

i. Consultant ii.Financial resources to hire consultant iii. Stationary

iv. Office space

b. Review of bills

         

c.Scrutinising statutory

instruments

         


[1] See Annexures 1 and 2, for a copy of the Booking Slip for Hansard reporters and Booking Slip for Venue respectively.

[2] See Annexure 3 for a Copy of the Return.

[3] See Public Hearings Guidelines document, Parliament of Zimbabwe/SUNY, 2003.

[4] This means that the participants are immune to prosecution for whatever they say or information they submit to the committee.

[5] See Annexure 4 for the detailed Quarterly Budget Analysis Guidelines.

[6] See Annexure 5 for a format of the front cover of committee reports.

[7] See Scope of Work Guidelines in Annexure 6.

[8] For a tabular format, please see Annexure 7.

Last modified on Thursday, 31 October 2013 11:31