COMMITTEES OF PARLIAMENT
Committees of Parliament undertake specialised functions which the Houses, may not be able to undertake and execute during plenary sessions. Executive oversight is one of the key functions of Committees of Parliament. It involves the review and monitoring of government policies, programmes and activities as well as the national budget. It takes a variety of forms and utilises various techniques, with Committee enquiries being the most prominent.
TYPES OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES
House-keeping Committees generally are concerned with the smooth run of the administration of Parliament. The main House-keeping Committees are:
Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (CSRO)
Section 151 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) Act, 2013 provides for the appointment of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (CSRO) which is the policy making body of Parliament. It is mandated to consider such matters concerning Parliament, as it deems necessary, including, among others,
Supervising the Administration of Parliament
formulating Standing Orders;
appointing Members to serve on Committees,
appointing Committee Chairpersons
determining conditions of service of staff and Members of Parliament.
recommending to the President appointments to various independent Commissions.
The CSRO is made up of the Speaker of the National Assembly (Chairperson), President of Senate (Deputy Chairperson), Deputy Speaker, Deputy President of the Senate, Minister of Finance and two other Ministers appointed by the President, Leader of Government business in each House of Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition in each House, Chief Whips of all parties represented in Parliament, the President of the Council of Chiefs, eight members elected by Parliament, four from each House and two members of which one is appointed by the Speaker of the National Assembly and the other one by the President of the Senate. The Members are appointed for the duration of a Parliamentary term. Membership of the CSRO reflects the gender and political composition of the combined Houses of Parliament.
Business of the House Committee
Each House has its own Business of the House Committee. This Committee among other functions is responsible for the management of the day to day business of the House and determines the Sitting Calendar. For the purposes of coordinating sessions and sittings, the two Committees may hold joint meetings.
Liaisons and Coordination Committee
The Committee coordinates the scheduling of Committee Business. It also coordinates and liaises with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate on attendance of Members at conferences and other activities. In addition, the Committee is responsible for the production of annual reports on the business of Committees.
Examples of Investigative Committees include Portfolio Committees, Thematic Committees, the Public Accounts Committee and Ad hoc Committees which may be appointed from time to time.
These are Committees designated according to government portfolios to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of government departments and other matters falling under their jurisdiction as Parliament may by resolution determine. Most of the work of Parliament is carried out by, and generated in Portfolio Committees, which are expected to table at least one report per Session in the National Assembly covering their activities. They also perform a pre-audit function. Currently, the National Assembly has 19 Portfolio Committees as follows:
- Budget, Finance and Economic Development
- Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services
- Energy and Power Development
- Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry
- Foreign Affairs and International Trade
- Health and Child Care
- Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development
- Industry and Commerce
- Information and Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services
- Information, Media and Broadcasting Services
- Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
- Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement
- Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
- Mines and Mining Development
- Primary and Secondary Education
- Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare
- Transport and Infrastructural Development
- Women Affairs, Community, SME’s Development
- Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation
These were introduced during the Seventh Parliament for the Senate. They were conceived with the re-introduction of a bicameral Parliament with the view of eradicating duplication of efforts between Committees of both Houses. Thematic Committees are mandated to examine Government policies that fall under or relate to the designated theme or themes, or any other matters falling under their jurisdiction as the Committee on Standing Orders may determine. The Thematic Committees are as follows:
- Gender and Development
- Indigenisation and Empowerment
- Human Rights
- Peace and Security
- HIV and AIDS
- Sustainable Development Goals
Public Accounts Committee
This is a post audit Committee of the National Assembly. It is mandated to examine the financial affairs and accounts of Government Departments, state-owned institutions and local authorities. It examines all reports tabled by the Auditor General in Parliament.
Parliamentary Legal Committee
This is a Committee appointed in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as well as Standing Orders. The Committee is mandated to examine the constitutionality of every Bill, other than a Constitutional Bill, draft Bill, Statutory Instrument and amendment to a Statutory Instrument. It also ensures that no Statutory Instrument makes rights and liberties of persons unduly dependent upon administrative decisions, which are not subject to review by judicial tribunal nor change an Act of Parliament.
3.0 Ad hoc Committees
These are appointed to investigate and report on specific issues and they cease to exist once they have reported to the House. An example of such Committee is the Privileges Committee. Recently, we had an Ad Hoc Committee on The Analysis of the 2022 Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Preliminary Report on the Delimitation Exercise