BILL WATCH 15-2017

BILL WATCH 15/2017

[3rd May 2017]

Both Houses Resumed Sitting Yesterday, Tuesday 2nd May

Of Particular Public Interest

Ministerial statement on the Private Voluntary Organisations [PVO] Act on the need to strengthen “licensing and registration requirements of Non-Profit Organisations”  [See more below under Ministerial statements]

Notice of compulsory acquisition of agricultural land. [See more below under General Notices.]

Significant Bills – the Constitution Amendment, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Land Commission.

Parliamentary Business Yesterday

Parliament’s Easter break ended yesterday, Tuesday 2nd May, with both Houses resuming their sittings.  MPs in both the Senate and the National Assembly were faced with Order Papers [Agendas] headed by Bills.  As it turned out, however, the Bills were not dealt with, but they may come up today or tomorrow, subject to the prior claims of Question Time and Private Members’ Business [Wednesday in the National Assembly, Thursday in the Senate].

National Assembly  The new MP for Mwenezi East, Hon Omar Joosbi [ZANU-PF], was sworn in and took his seat.  Most of the rest of afternoon was taken up by presentation and debate on an important new report – the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy’s Report on Consolidation of Diamond Mining Companies, which is available on the Veritas website [link].  Among other far-reaching recommendations, the report recommends the prompt removal from office of the Permanent Secretary for Mines and Mining Development.

Senate  The Senate sat for just over an hour, during which there were short contributions to the debate on the motion calling for large families and rather longer contributions to the continuing debate on the Gender and Development Thematic Committee’s Report on Child Marriage.

Coming up in the National Assembly

Bills

Two very important Bills are listed for Second Reading stage, in the following order—

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [link] [see Veritas analysis here]

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill [link] [A critical commentary on the Bill is available on the Veritas website [link], as is our submission that the Bill is not necessary, and certainly not urgent [link].]

At Second Reading stage, proceedings start with introductory speeches from the Vice-President concerned explaining the principles of the Bill – the need for the Bill and how its provisions will meet that need.  Vice-President Mphoko is responsible for the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill, Vice-President Mnangagwa for the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill.  There will then be contributions from the relevant portfolio committee chairpersons presenting the committees reports on the Bills, including the views of the public as expressed during the public hearings on the Bills and in written submissions sent to Parliament.  After that MPs will make their own contributions.  [The committee reports will be posted on Veritas website when available.]

Bills awaiting PLC reports on Committee Stage amendments

Committee Stage amendments to the three Bills listed below are under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC].   As the PLC is not due to meet until the morning of Thursday 4th May, further progress on these Bills is not expected until Thursday afternoon at the earliest.  If the PLC returns non-adverse reports on the amendments, the final stages of the Bills can be polished off quickly and the Bills transmitted to the Senate.  The Bills are—

Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [referred to PLC on 11th April] [Bill available here, amendments here]

Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill [referred to PLC on 12th April] [Bill available here; amendments here]

Movable Property Security Interests Bill  [referred to PLC on 12th April] [Bill available here, amendments here].

Bill awaiting first report by PLC

Estate Administrators Amendment Bill  [referred to PLC on 4th April after its introduction] [Bill available here]

Coming up in the Senate

Bills

Two Bills await further attention—

Land Commission Bill [stalled by PLC adverse report]  This Bill is still delayed while the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] negotiates with the Senator Chiefs over amendments put forward by Senator Chief Mtshane and approved by the Senate on 29th March.  The PLC rejected the amendments in an adverse report maintaining that the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of the Land Commission to agricultural land [which by definition excludes communal land] and the jurisdiction of traditional leaders to communal land.  Senator Chiefs say that is wrong.  They point out that the Constitution also allows Acts of Parliament to confer additional functions on traditional leaders, and also that the Traditional Leaders Act does precisely that by allowing chiefs to be given jurisdiction over resettlement land [which by definition is agricultural land

[Available on the Veritas website – a document [link] containing the PLC adverse report, Hon Samukange’s explanation of the report in the Senate on 4th April and an extract from Senator Chief Charumbira’s contribution indicating why Senator Chiefs believe the PLC erred.  Also the text of the Bill [link], annotated to show the amendments made by the National Assembly before the Bill was transmitted to the Senate.]

National Competitiveness Commission Bill [link]  This was received from the National Assembly on 4th April.  Senators are waiting for the Second Reading speech from the Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Bills Gazetted but not on the Order Paper

There are three such Bills.  They do not appear on current Order Papers, either because they have not been introduced or have not been restored to the Order Paper after lapsing at the end of the previous Parliamentary session.  All are available on the Veritas website.

Insolvency Bill – This  massive Bill [156 A4 pages] was gazetted very recently, on 14th April [link]

Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [link] – this Bill, years in the making, was gazetted on 12th August 2016.  Although the Bill has not yet been introduced into Parliament by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, public hearings into the Bill were held in September 2016 and highly critical comments on it by the chairperson of the Mines and Energy portfolio committee have recently been reported in the press.  [Note: Standing Orders oblige portfolio committees to start considering Bills as soon as they are gazetted, even before they are formally introduced and receive their First Reading.]

Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill [link] –another Bill from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development that has been around for a long time.  This Bill is not on Parliament’s current Status of Bills list, even though it was the subject of public hearings by the portfolio committee in May 2016.  The Bill featured on Order Papers in the previous Parliamentary session and lapsed at its end, but the Minister has not asked the House to restore it to the Order Paper for the current session.

Ministerial  Statements by Minister of  Finance and Economic Development

There were three such statements in the National Assembly during April, on the following subjects all are available on the Veritas website—

Current Cash Shortages [6th April] [link]

Issuance of Treasury Bills and Bonds [11th April] [link]

Bi-Annual Report of the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money-Laundering Unit [12th April] [The Ministerial statement is available here and the full text of the Unit’s report is here].  Note:  Both documents foreshadow coming amendments to the—

Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money-Laundering Act, which may impact on legal practitioners and accountants, among other professionals dealing with financial transactions

Private Voluntary Organisations Act – the Minister spoke of the need to strengthen “licensing and registration requirements of Non-Profit Organisations, which … are registered under the Private Voluntary Organisations Act … to facilitate monitoring of the sector so as to deal with terrorism financing vulnerabilities. There is also need for amendment of the law to allow beneficiary information to be obtained as well as introduce proportionate, dissuasive and effective sanctions against Non-Profit Organisations found to be aligned to any terrorist activity”.   

Two Bills Passed but not yet Gazetted as Acts

ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill [link] Parliament sent the Bill to the President on 21st April [notified by the Speaker in GN 268/2017 of 28th April]. 

Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Bill [link].  This received its final reading in the Senate on 4th April.  The Bill as amended by the National Assembly will go to the President for assent.

Government Gazettes 25th and 28th April 2017

Statutory Instruments

Customs duty suspension for ammonia gas imported by Sable Chemicals  Published in a Government Gazette Extraordinary dated 25th April was SI 54/2017 providing for a suspension of duty on stated quantities of ammonia gas imported in the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 cropping seasons.  The suspension is with effect from 14th February 2017 and until 31st December 2018. 

No statutory instruments were published in the regular Friday gazette of 28th April. 

General Notices

Registered supplies of goods/services/goods and services under Procurement Regulations  GNs 173 to 266/2017 [not available from Veritas] emanate from the State Procurement Board and give public notice of suppliers registered in various categories.  The registrations have effect for the period 28th April 2017 to 27th April 2018.

Compulsory acquisition of agricultural land  GN 269/2017 notifies the expropriation in terms of section 72(2) of the Constitution, with effect from 28th April, of a piece of agricultural land in in the South Eastern lowveld registered in the name of Mutirikwi Sugar Co Ltd.  The expropriation is said to be “for a public purpose” [the public purpose is not specified, which makes the expropriation legally unsound).

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