BILL WATCH 22-2016

BILL WATCH 22/2016

[16th May 2016]

Both Houses of Parliament Will Continue Sitting This Week

Banking Amendment Act Gazetted and In Operation

The Banking Amendment Act was gazetted as Act 12 of 2015 on Friday 13th May.  It came into operation the same day, 13th May 2016.  The Act makes far-reaching amendments to the Banking Act, making it necessary to spell out how the new provisions will apply to existing financial institutions, their shareholders and directors.  That spelling out is to be found in section 45 of the Act, which is headed Transitional provisions and savings; the “fixed date” referred to several times in this section is the 13th May 2016.  Time-limits for compliance are set.

Other Acts amended  The new Act also affects other Acts apart from the Banking Act.  It amends the following—

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act

Deposit Protection Corporation Act

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Act passed last year

Act repealed

The Act also repeals the Troubled Financial Institutions (Resolution).  As its provisions have been largely incorporated into the Banking Act by the latest amendments, it is regarded as no longer necessary.

Local Government Laws Amendment Bill Gazetted

The Local Government Laws Amendment Bill was gazetted on Monday 9th May.  As the explanatory memorandum accompanying the Bill explains, the Bill’s sole purpose is to align certain provisions of the Rural District Councils Act and the Urban Councils Act with section 278(2) and (3) of the Constitution – provisions which regulate the removal from office of mayors, rural district council chairpersons and urban and rural district councillors. 

The effect of the constitutional provisions is that these office-bearers may be removed from office only by an independent tribunal provided for by Act of Parliament.  The current Acts do not provide for removal by an independent tribunal.  They provide for suspension and removal by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing – an inconsistency with the Constitution which was discussed in Constitution Watch 7/2016 of 11th May [Suspension of Mayor of Harare – Constitutional?] and has led to High Court battles between the Minister and Mayor Kombayi and councillors of Gweru, and Mayor Manyenyeni of Harare. 

In the Gweru case the High Court ruled that the Urban Councils Act’s provision was unconstitutional and void as to both suspension and removal from office.  In the Harare case a different High Court judge agreed there was no valid provision for removal from office, but upheld the validity of the 45-day suspension, adding that it would fall away at the end of the 45 days [i.e. on 5th June]. [Judgment in Manyenyeni v Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing available – follow this link or email a request to veritas@mango.zw]

The Bill is the Government's response to this situation.  It provides for suspension by the Minister; investigation of whether there is sufficient evidence for the issue of removal from office to be referred to an independent tribunal; and the setting of up of an ad hoc tribunal where the Minister sees fit after an investigation to pursue the issue of removal.  The device adopted to ensure independence of a tribunal is to involve the Judicial Service Commission in the appointment process while still allowing the Minister a substantial role.

Other provisions of RDC Act and UC Act not affected   Other provisions of the two Acts also require alignment with the Constitution [see Constitution Watch 9/2014 of September 2014].  The Bill does not touch on them at all.  Another Bill – or other Bills – will be required to complete these alignments. 

Mazowe North By-Election Ordered

Statutory Instrument 48A/2016, gazetted on 11th May, is the Presidential proclamation calling the by-election to fill the vacant National Assembly constituency seat for the Mazowe North constituency.  Details are as follows—

Nomination day:  Friday 27th May

Polling day:  Saturday 23rd July. 

This is the only current vacant seat in Parliament.

In Parliament Last Week

New Members Sworn In

Senate  Tabeth Murwira, new ZANU-PF party-list Senator for Mashonaland East province, was sworn in on 10th May

National Assembly  Patrick Dutiro, new ZANU-PF MP for Guruve South by-election, was sworn in on 10th May.

In the National Assembly

Another quorum problem

Proceedings on 10th May were terminated prematurely at 4.28 pm for lack of the 70-member quorum. [only 52 MPs were present at the final count].

Bills

Withdrawal of National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill  The Bill was withdrawn by Minister of State in Vice-President Mphoko’s office, Hon Tabitha Kanengoni, in response to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] adverse report on the Bill.  She said “The reasons are that after receiving an Adverse Report on the Bill, the Ministry has decided to consider those issues that were raised and then we will resubmit the Bill at a later date.”  [See full discussion in Commissions Watch 5/2016 of 11th May].

Special Economic Zones Bill  The Minister of Finance and Economic Development responded to the Second Reading debate on 11th May.  He rejected objections to the Bill’s provision excluding the operation of the Labour Act and the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, but said that he wished to introduce certain other amendments.  During the Committee Stage on 12th May he introduced certain amendments, accepted a couple from MPs and agreed to drop a badly-worded amendment to the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe Act that would have reduced the size of the IDBZ board of directors.  The Bill was referred back to the PLC for its consideration of the amendments made during the Committee Stage.

Public Finance Management Amendment Bill  The Bill received an unopposed Second Reading on 11th May and went through its remaining stages on 12th May before being transmitted to the Senate without amendment.

Motions

Uncompleted debates  The Speaker called on movers of motions to ensure early winding-up of debates, promising that Parliament’s administration would arrange for responses from Ministers who had not yet responded to motions.

Disharmony and Policy Inconsistency within the Executive  On 10th May Hon Maridadi moved his motion, seconded by Hon Majome. 

Report of Parliamentary Delegation on Bilateral Visit to Parliament of Kuwait (25th to 29th April)  The presentation of this report was fast-tracked into the sitting of 12th May without prior notice.  The report narrates how the visit of a Parliamentary delegation to the Kuwaiti Parliament, for an exchange of best practices between the two Parliaments, expanded, by chance, into a headline-grabbing mission to rescue and return to Zimbabwe 32 distressed Zimbabwean women who had fallen victim to a human trafficking syndicate operating between the two countries.  The report therefore covers, with recommendations, not only the official aspects of the visit, but also the rescue of the distressed women – and the welfare of Zimbabwe’s ambassador and embassy staff in Kuwait, a sorry tale of resources insufficient to pay staff and keep the Embassy functioning properly. 

Question Time duly took place on 11th May.

In the Senate

University Bills passed

On 12th May the Senate passed both the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill and the Gwanda State University Bill without amendments.  Next, the Bills will be sent to the President for his assent and gazetting as law.

Motions  Two motions were introduced—

Devolution of power to provinces in accordance with Constitution – a call for implementation of constitutional provisions for devolution to the provinces.

Zambezi Water Project – a call for Government to resuscitate the Zambezi Water Project by regular budget allocations, to seek partners both internal and external, and to explore the BOT [build, operate, transfer] option.

Question Time duly took place on 12th May.

Coming up In Parliament This Week

In the National Assembly

Bills

Special Economic Zones Bill  The PLC report on last week’s Committee Stage amendments [see above] is awaited.  If, as expected, it is a non-adverse report, the Bill could go through its remaining stages and be transmitted to the Senate this week.

Bills awaiting start of Second Reading Stage

Two Bills have reached this stage—

Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill

Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill

Both Bills are the subject of portfolio committee joint public hearings being conducted all this week.  This may hold up further progress until the reports of the portfolio committees are ready for presentation.

Motions  Of the many motions listed on the Order Paper, the following await initial presentation—

Praise for the President and the Security Services, to be moved by Hon Shamu seconded by Hon Zindi.

Call for Government to subsidise the cost of blood for blood transfusions and encourage blood donations, to be moved by Hon Nduna [ZANU-PF] and Hon Labode [MDC-T].

Question Time [18th May]  63 written questions are listed for reply by Ministers or Deputy Ministers.

In the Senate

Bills  The Public Finance Management Amendment Bill will come up during week, having been passed on 12th May by the National Assembly [see above]

Motions  No new motions await initial presentation, so adjourned debates on motions already presented will be the order of the day.  Heading the list is Senator Ncube’s motion falling for implementation of devolution under the Constitution.

Question Time [19th May]  There are 14 questions listed for Ministers.

Government Gazettes 9th to 13th May

Statutory Instruments

Guruve North By-election dates  SI 48A/2016 of 11th May is noted earlier in this bulletin.

Supreme Court Fees – SI 49/2016 of 13th May fixes new fees, effective 13th May, regarding taxation of bills of costs [new item 7 of the Schedule of Fees set out in SI 152/2009] and making copies of documents [a reduction to 20 cents per page for photocopies and duplicated or printed copies].

General Notices

Gazetting of Local Government Laws Amendment Bill – GN 80/2016 of 9th May.

Compulsory acquisition of agricultural land – GN 84/2016 [in a Gazette Extraordinary all to itself on 13th April] notifies the acquisition of four farms in terms of section 72 of the Constitution.

Gazetting of Banking Amendment Act – GN 75/2016 notifies the gazetting of this Act [see note on Act at beginning of bulletin].

 

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