BILL WATCH 46/2016
[7th October 2016]
President Mugabe Opens Fourth Parliamentary Session and Announces Government’s Legislative Agenda
Parliament Will Meet Again on Tuesday 11th October
Yesterday, Thursday 6th October, President Mugabe presided over the official opening of the Fourth Session of the present Parliament.
The President’s speech outlined the Government’s legislative agenda for the new session. It also mentioned international agreements, including loan agreements, that would be brought to Parliament for its approval prior to ratification or accession on behalf of Zimbabwe. [The full text of the President’s speech is available via this link to the Veritas website].
The session will, as is customary, last for approximately twelve months. This is an important fact, because it means the legislative agenda is to some extent a wish-list or forecast. This explains why many of the Bills mentioned in the legislative agenda are not immediately available, and may only become available well into 2017.
After the conclusion of the opening ceremony both Houses of Parliament met briefly before adjourning until Tuesday 11th October.
The Government’s Legislative Agenda
In what follows, the Bills outlined by the President have been grouped under appropriate headings, corresponding roughly to how the President dealt with them. Where a Bills has already been gazetted and is available on the Veritas website, that is stated and a link to the website is provided. The other Bills on the list are not available because they have not been gazetted; Veritas cannot supply them.
Alignment of laws to the Constitution
The President described the alignment process as still being “work-in-progress”—
Constitutional Court Bill
Rural District Councils Bill
Traditional Leaders Bill
Comment: Strikingly, there was no mention of (1) a Bill to replace or amend the Urban Councils Act, (2) a Bill to operationalize Metropolitan and Provincial Councils or (3) Bills to replace or amend the Public Order and Security Act [POSA], the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA] and the Broadcasting Services Act.
Ease of Doing Business
The President referred to a “battery of initiatives to address prevailing economic challenges”, for instance the Ease of Doing Business Reforms to improve the local business environment and stimulate investment inflows. Bills to be brought to Parliament are—
Bill for a new Companies Act [“which will significantly reduce registration delays and facilitate the smooth operation of new businesses”]
Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill [already gazetted and available via this link]
Zimbabwe Investment Authority Amendment Bill [“to provide legal underpinning to the One-Stop-Shop Investment Centre”]
Movable Property Security Interest Bill [“to increase access to credit for the majority of our emerging entrepreneurs. A Collateral Registry will be established to facilitate the use of movable property, including cars, livestock and furniture, as collateral for loans.”]
The President also mentioned that he had returned the Special Economic Zones Bill to Parliament for consideration of amendments to the labour law provisions that were “designed to protect workers in the Special Economic Zones”].
Financial Sector – Adoption of International Best Practices
Insurance Amendment Bill
Pension and Provident Funds Amendment Bill
Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill
Microfinance Amendment Bill [to incorporate registration of deposit-taking microfinance banks]
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [already gazetted and available via this link]
Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill [already gazetted and available via this link] [Comment: In fact, this Bill was introduced last session and has already been cleared by the Parliamentary Legal Committee, but will have lapsed at the of the session. All that is needed is for it to be restored to the Order Paper for continuation of the Second Reading Stage. ]
National Competitiveness Commission Bill [already gazetted and available via this link] [a Bill to replace the National Incomes and Pricing Commission with a new Commission that will “co-ordinate the crafting and implementation of measures to improve the competitiveness of local companies”]
Infrastructure for Zimbabwe as Regional Transport Hub
Civil Aviation Authority Re-organization Bill [to “facilitate establishment of joint ventures in the development of airports infrastructure in the country”]
Regional, Town and Country Planning Bill [To ensure that the provision of “amenities infrastructure” will be underpinned by sound planning, only qualified practitioners will be allowed to approve building and settlement plans. Environmental protection will be mandatory for all new settlements.]
Reform of State Enterprises
Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill
Public Sector Procurement Amendment Bill [the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Bill is already being prepared for gazetting by the Government Printer]
Occupational Safety and Health Bill [which will “a tripartite Occupational Safety Council”]
Labour Amendment Bill [to “harmonise the country’s labour laws with the Constitution and relevant international conventions”]
Health and Child Care
Children’s Amendment Bill [to accord “greater protection to our young citizens”]
Public Health Bill
Medical Aid Societies Bill [to establish a regulatory authority for medical aid societies]
Industrialisation and Modernisation and Manpower Development
Referring to the launch of the Government’s 2016-2026 STEM Policy Strategy and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the President mentioned the following—
Manpower Development Amendment Bill
that the enabling statutes of “all higher and tertiary education institutions will be reviewed to ensure greater focus on their core mandates”.
Economic Empowerment and Youth Development
Zimbabwe Youth Council Bill [to provide a “legal framework for youth development activities”]
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Amendment Bill [to bring the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act “into consonance with the enunciated policy position” – by which the President meant the policy position enunciated by him in his Clarification Statement regarding the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Policy issued on 11th April 2016. Yesterday’s statement confirms the similar announcement of proposed amendments made by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review Statement of 8th September.] [President Mugabe’s Clarification Statement of 11th April 2016 is available via this link to the Veritas website. So is the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review Statement, via this link.]
The President expressed his “fervent hope” that this session will deal with the following Bills—
Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill
Electronic Transactions and Electronic Commerce Bill
Data Protection Bill.
Justice – Miscellaneous
Coroner’s Office Bill [to pave the way “for the setting up of the Coroner’s Office responsible for medico-legal investigations”]
Current Bills Not Mentioned in the President’s Speech
The President did not refer to the following Bills that have already been gazetted. They will obviously go ahead in the new session—
Land Commission Bill [[already gazetted and available via this link] [Comment: In fact, this Bill was introduced last session but has not yet been cleared by the Parliamentary Legal Committee; it, too, may need to be restored to the Order Paper]
Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [already gazetted and available via this link]
International Agreements for Parliament’s Approval
Under this head the President mentioned that Government would be bringing the following items to Parliament for approval in terms of section 327 of the Constitution—
the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
the Nagoya Protocol on Genetic Resources, both of which will be brought to Parliament for its approval prior to ratification and accession on behalf of Zimbabwe
international loans for the Rehabilitation and Dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, which the President described as “this supremely important national project”.
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