BILL WATCH 8/2017
[14th March 2017]
Both Houses of Parliament are Sitting This Week
Only the Senate sat last week. The National Assembly had a week’s break. Both Houses will sit again from today, Tuesday 14th March, and probably until the end of the month.
Three Bills Sent to President for Assent
As required by section 131(5)(b) of the Constitution, the Speaker of the National Assembly has given notice in the Government Gazette announcing that the following Bills have been transmitted to the President for his assent and signature [date transmitted to President listed in brackets below] —
Finance Bill [2nd March]
Appropriation (2017) Bill [2nd March]
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [7th March] [this is the Bond Notes Bill]
Although all three Bills are considered urgent, not one has yet been gazetted as an Act. Although the President has been out of the country a great deal, this should not excuse delays. There has, after all, been an Acting President, with full power under the Constitution to assent to and sign Bills and have them gazetted as Acts. As the Finance Bill has several provisions backdating tax changes to 1st January, the delay in those provisions becoming law could cause legal problems.
Senate Vacancy Filled
Caroline Tsitsi Mugabe is the new ZANU-PF Senator for Mashonaland West, with effect from 6th March 2017. Her appointment in terms of section 39 of the Electoral Act was officially notified by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in General Notice [GN] 138A/2017, gazetted on that date. Ms Mugabe was nominated by the ruling party to fill the vacancy brought about by the death of Senator Virginia Muchenje on 28th October 2016.
Trade Marks Regulations
Both Houses of Parliament have recently passed resolutions approving the draft Trade Marks (Madrid Protocol) Regulations [link] by adopting resolutions moved by Vice-President Mnangagwa in his capacity as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – the National Assembly on 2nd March, the Senate on 7th March. The Ministry can now be expected to gazette the regulations as law in a statutory instrument. Trade mark practitioners and their clients may, however, wish to consider whether the procedure followed satisfied the requirements of section 97B of the Trade Marks Act.
Trade Marks Act Last year’s General Laws Amendment Act [link] incorporated the Madrid Protocol [see below] into Zimbabwean law by a enacting a new section 97B for the Trade Marks Act. But, before the Protocol can become fully operational in Zimbabwe, the Minister of Justice has to gazette complementary regulations in a statutory instrument. And this has to be done in compliance with an unusual preliminary procedure [spelled out in section 97B] which required that the Minister had to lay the draft statutory instrument before the National Assembly and could only subsequently gazette the regulations as law “if the National Assembly makes no resolution against the publication of the statutory instrument within the next seven sitting days” after the laying before the House. If, as MPs were informed, the draft was laid before the National Assembly on 13th February, seven sitting days had already passed by 2nd March, making positive approval by the National Assembly, strictly speaking, unnecessary. And laying before and approval by the Senate was unnecessary anyway.
What is the Madrid Protocol? The Madrid Protocol [link] is an international agreement to which Zimbabwe became party on 11th March 2015 following the lodging of its instrument of accession three months earlier. Its full formal title is the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the lnternational Registration of Marks, adopted at Madrid on June 21, 1989. What the Protocol does is to simplify the procedure for a trade mark registered in one country party to the Madrid Protocol country to be legally effective in other countries party to the Protocol [there are 98 of them] without cumbersome and costly separate registration proceedings in every country. Participation in the Madrid Protocol system is regarded as encouraging foreign investment and improving the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe.
In the Senate Last Week - 7th to 9th March
Land Commission Bill This was the only Bill on the Senate’s Order Paper, listed for its Committee Stage and consideration of amendments put forward by Senator Chiefs. But the Bill was not considered at all, so was carried forward at the end of the week.
SADC Model Laws on Child Marriage On 7th March there was lengthy debate on this motion, including a Ministerial response from Vice-President Mnangagwa, who assured Senators that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was crafting a Marriages Bill that would take care of many of their concerns.
Thematic Committee Report on Children’s Homes The Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare delivered the Ministry’s comprehensive response to the report and to Senators’ contributions to the debate on it.
Ministerial Statement on SI 64/2017 On 9th March the Minister of Industry and Commerce gave the Senate an upbeat statement on the effect of the controversial SI 64 on economic performance [link to full text].
Parliamentary Workshops this Week
New School Curriculum The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education invited all MPs to attend a workshop on the new curriculum to be held at the Harare International Conference Centre on Monday morning.
Code of Conduct for MPs Tomorrow morning, Wednesday 15th March, MPs are expected to attend a workshop to consider (1) the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament and the Declaration of Assets form annexed thereto, and (2) the Privileges and Powers of Parliament Act, which was amended by last year’s General Laws Amendment Act.
Note – Veritas is making efforts to source the above documents for our website.
Coming up in the National Assembly
The National Assembly will take up where it left off when it adjourned on Thursday 2nd March.
National Competitiveness Commission Bill. The House still awaits the Minister of Commerce and Industry’s reply to the Second Reading debate. When the Bill was last debated on 16th February, the need for it was seriously questioned, not only by Opposition MPs but also by the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce. Opposition MPs demanded that the Bill be withdrawn.
Procurement and Disposal of Assets Bill The House is waiting for the Parliamentary Legal Committee to report back on the amendments made during the Committee Stage on 2nd March [see Bill Watch 7/2017 of 8th March [link]. It is expected to be passed and go to the Senate this week..
ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill The Bill received its Second Reading on 2nd March. The Committee Stage is now due. . Note ZEP-RE
Two Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Bills are listed for commencement of the Second Reading stage – the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill and the Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill. As Vice-President Mnangagwa is away representing Zimbabwe before the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva progress is unlikely. In any event, both Bills are the subject of public hearings to be conducted next week and will have to wait until the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is able to present its report on the Bill and the outcome of the public hearings.
Report on service delivery by local authorities The Order Paper lists the 2016 Portfolio Committee report which lapsed at the of the last Session before completion of debate. It was recently restored to the Order Paper. The responsible Minister will be expected to respond to the report and the ensuing debate.
Note: There are also motions listed for the restoration to the Order Paper of other lapsed items needing Ministerial responses to Portfolio Committee reports.
There were 47 questions awaiting Ministerial answers when the House last sat. More may have been lodged by the time Wednesday’s Question Time comes up. It is hoped that Ministers will continue to make efforts to be present in Parliament to answer this backlog of questions.
Coming up in the Senate
Land Commission Bill This is the only Bill listed, and still awaits its Committee Stage. It was passed with several amendments by the National Assembly on 26th January and has already had its Second Reading in the Senate. A copy of the Bill annotated to show those amendments is available [link]. As they said they would during the Second Reading debate, Senator Chiefs will be putting forward further amendments during the Committee Stage to give chiefs a greater part in the work of the Commission; these new amendments are available [link].
Motion on stray domestic animals A new motion to be proposed by Senator Mawire calls on local authorities and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to enforce laws to protect stray animals and safeguard the lives of people, and to provide proper facilities for safe custody of such animals and to prosecute their owners.
Adjourned debates on motions already presented are due to continue – including those on reform of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the National Schools Pledge, political violence and the call for large families.
15 Questions with Notice are listed for Thursday’s Question Time.
Government Gazettes 6th and 10th March 2017
No statutory instruments were gazetted.
Appointment of Senator GN 138A/2017 of 6th March is noted above.
Bills sent to President GNs 144, 145 and 146 are noted above.
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