BILL WATCH 5-2017

BILL WATCH 5/2017

[21st February 2017]

Parliament is Sitting Again This Week

VAT on Basic Commodities Revoked: SI 20/2017 Repealed and Replaced

On Thursday 16th February, and with immediate effect on and from that date [but not retrospectively], the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, by SI 26A/2017 [available here]—

- repealed the much-criticised SI 20/2017 [which was in effect as law from 1st to 15th February and which applied 15% VAT to beef, chicken, fish, rice, potatoes, margarine and mahewu, causing a public outcry]

- made related changes to the lists of goods exempt from VAT [First Schedule to the main VAT (General) Regulations] and the lists of goods that are zero-rated for VAT purposes [Second Schedule to the main regulations].

In newspapers on the same day the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development published a Press Statement [available here] summarising the effect of the new SI 26A as follows: 

With effect from Thursday 16th February traders should no longer charge VAT on the following items:

beef; chicken; fish; rice; potatoes• margarine; mahewu.

Consumers should not be made to pay VAT on beef, chicken, fish, rice, potatoes, margarine and mahewu, effective from Thursday 16th

Note:  Further information on SI 26A will follow in a later bulletin. 

ADDENDUM [22nd February]

As it was not possible to send this e-bulletin out yesterday 21st February, this note gives a brief update—

In Parliament Yesterday

The National Assembly heard a Ministerial Statement on the Social Dialogue Discussions between Government, Business and Labour, and the Tripartite National Forum.  Debate on the National Competitiveness Commission Bill was postponed.

The Senate completed debate on the Land Commission Bill.  Senators called for Chiefs to be appointed as Commissioners; Senator Chief Charumbira said chiefs would be putting forward appropriate amendments during the Committee Stage; these are available here.  The Minister’s lengthy reply to the debate stressed the limits of the Commission’s role:  it would not be responsible for land redistribution, and would have an oversight and advisory role only. 

Coming up in the National Assembly This Week

Bills

Bills appear in the following order on the Order Paper, but will not necessarily be dealt with in the same order—

National Competitiveness Commission Bill link [for continuation of Second Reading debate and Minister’s response]   Last week MPs seriously questioned whether this Commission would serve any useful purpose.  [Minister of Industry and Commerce]

Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Bill link [for Committee Stage]  Although this is the stage at which both the Minister and MPs can put forward to provisions considered unsatisfactory or faulty, no amendments are listed for consideration.  [Minister of Finance and Economic Development]

ZEP-Re (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill link [for continuation of Second Reading debate and Minister’s response]   [Minister of Finance and Economic Development]

Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [for Minister’s Second Reading speech] and

Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill [also for Minister’s Second Reading speech] [see note below]

Note:  Both the above Bills come from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Vice-President Mnangagwa is responsible for presenting the Second Reading speeches.  Public hearings on the Bills announced previously have been posted to 20th to 24th March to allow the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to consider and conduct hearings on the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill.  This means that the Second Reading debates cannot be completed until after those public hearings and presentation of the Portfolio Committee’s reports on them.  So these Bills are unlikely to be finalised until April at the earliest.

Bills under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee

Movable Property Security Interests Bill linkThe Second Reading debate on this Bill cannot start until the Parliamentary Legal Committee has submitted its report to the National Assembly.

Motions

There are seven motions seeking restoration to the Order Paper of motions from the last Parliamentary Session which lapsed at the end of that Session without having been favoured with Ministerial replies to points made in debate.  Restoration to the Order Paper will enable/oblige Ministers to redeem themselves by responding to MPs concerns.  All but one of the seven motions refer to Portfolio Committee reports from the last Session.  The seventh calls for Mandatory Stiff Sentencing for Rape and Other Gender-Based Violence Crimes.

Also listed are motions asking the House to take note, or adopt, five more recent Portfolio Committee reports.

Coming up in the Senate This Week

Bill

Land Commission Bill [for continuation of Second Reading debate]  This Bill was amended during its passage through the National Assembly, so Senators are considering an amended version that has been specially printed for their benefit.  An annotated version of the original Bill showing the amendments made by the National Assembly is available here on the Veritas website. 

Motions

Electoral reform High on the Order Paper is Senator Timveos’ motion calling on the Government to expeditiously align the Electoral Act’s provisions on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] with the Constitution, encouraging ZEC to implement the biometric voters roll an on the Government to create an electoral environment that complies with Article 17 of the African Union Charter on free and fair elections. Note: The full name of this Charter is the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and it is available here on the Veritas website.  Zimbabwe is not a party to the Charter; it is one of eight African countries that have not even signed the Charter, let alone ratified it.

Domestication of SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage Debate is due to continue on Senator Mohadi’s motion, introduced last week.

Encouragement of large families [minimum 8 children] Much further down the Order Paper is continuation of the debate, started last week, on this motion commending massive family growth as one way to attract effective investors to Zimbabwe.

First Acts of 2017 Due Soon

Three Bills recently passed by Parliament are being prepared for submission to the President for his assent and subsequent gazetting as law.  The three Bills concerned are—

- Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Bill [passed without amendment]

- Appropriation (2017) Bill [passed with several changes to individual Ministry votes agreed to by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development]

- Finance Bill [passed without amendment].

Government Gazettes 16th and 17th February 2017

Statutory Instruments

Repeal of VAT on meat and other basic goods  SI 26A/2017 is noted at the beginning of this bulletin.

Chegutu rents and service charges  SI 27/2017 of 17th February specifies new rents, levies, refusal removal, water and sewerage charges for properties administered by the Chegutu Municipal Council [by replacing the Second Schedule to the council’s Incorporated Area By-laws]. 

General Notices

Resettlement land under authority of chiefs: Makoni District  GN 124/2017 is a declaration by the Minister of Rural, Development Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage in terms of section 29 of the Traditional Leaders Act.  It alters the boundaries of the areas of resettlement land placed under the authority of the following chiefs: Chief Makoni, Chief Tandi, Chief Chipunza, Chief Chiduku and Chief Chikore. 

 

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