BILL WATCH 36-2017

BILL WATCH  36/2017

[5th October 2017]

Update on Statutory Instruments Gazetted during September

This bulletin outlines all statutory instruments gazetted during September.  Unless stated otherwise, they all came into operation on the gazetted dates given below.

Four noteworthy instruments were made by the President:

·        SIs 110 and 117, of 13th and 15th September, respectively, in terms of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, which Veritas firmly believes is inconsistent with the Constitution

·        SI 102 of 8th September setting up a commission of inquiry, in terms of the Commission of Inquiry Act, into sales of urban State land over the past 12 years, naming the commission chairperson and members, and specifying their terms of reference.  The Act empowers the President to set up commissions of inquiry into any matter in which any inquiry would, in his opinion, be for the public welfare.

·        SI 109 of 8th September ordering an entirely fresh registration of voters in terms of powers conferred on the President by 36A of the Electoral Act.

[see further below under respective dates].

Friday 29th September

Customs duty suspensions  SI 123/2017 grants a three-year suspension of duty on capital goods imported for development of three specified mining claims – Breckridge Investment, Treasure Baby, and Huian Yu Mining.  SI 124/2017 provides for a six-month suspension of duty on fertilised poultry eggs for hatching imported by six approved importers Irvine’s, Supa Chicks, Chinyika Chicks, Dr Henn, Zim Avian and All Avian.

Thursday 28th September

Exchange Control Amendment Regulations  SI 122A/2017 [link] amends the principal regulations [SI 109/1996].  The threefold effect of the new SI was summed up by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in his Ministerial Statement to the National Assembly [link] on the day the SI was gazetted, as follows:

·        It “will empower the Police to arrest anyone trading in currency without a licence”. 

·        It “will allow the Police to seize the cash found on a possessor of currency suspected of dealing in currency.  This seized currency will be deposited at the Central Bank pending prosecution so that the cash will be held as an exhibit.” 

·        It provides for “freezing of funds of a corresponding value in a financial institution where such proceeds are the subject of a suspected case of dealing in currency.” 

Friday 22nd September

Open General Import Licence Amendment  SI 122/2017 [link] is so defective in so many respects that it lacks the clarity that is essential for a valid law.  In Veritas’ opinion a court, if asked to do so, would, be certain to set the SI aside as null and void. 

Collective bargaining agreement   SI 118/2017 regulates the payment of the statutory levy for the National Employment Council for the Air Transport Industry, backdated to 1st June 2013.

Marondera Rural District Council by-laws  SIs 119-121/2017 enact by-laws for food hygiene [SI 119], dog licensing and control [SI 120] and refuse removal [SI 121].

Friday 15th September

Amendment of Electoral Act under Presidential Powers Act  SI 117/2017 has already been fully analysed in Election Watch 11/2017 of 16th September [link], in which Veritas’ view on the unconstitutionality of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act [PPTMA] is set out.  Unless the SI is repealed or replaced sooner, the important amendments it makes to the Electoral Act will fall away at midnight on 14th February 2018.  An Electoral Amendment Bill to confirm the amendments was gazetted on 18th September, and is being treated as urgent by Parliament; the Bill has been outlined  in Election Watch 13/2017 of 23rd September [link]

Rusape Town Council – health registration of premises  SI 112/2017 enacts general health standards for premises to be complied with by all “service providers” specified in the by-laws [the list of services affected is a very long one], plus additional specific health standards to be complied with by premises used for abattoirs, beauty parlours, educational institutions, flea markets, funeral parlours, liquor premises, health and medical institutions and workshops.  A service provider must not commence business without a compliance certificate from the council’s Director of Health Services. 

Customs duty  SIs 111/2017 extends the textile manufacturers rebate to an additional company.  SI 113/2017 deals with measures to guard against tampering with containers and road vehicles conveying goods through Zimbabwe [sealing by electronic and magnetic means, for instance].  SI 114/2017 adds to requirements for clearing agents, and makes amendments relating to the tourists rebate.  SI 116/2017 grants two mining companies, Golden Reef Mining and Maggie Mac Mine, 3-year suspensions of duty on goods imported for development of specified mining locations.

Departure fee for air travellers  SI 115/2017 doubles these departure fees – to US$10 per person on domestic flights, and to $30 per person on international flights [the fees go to the Aviation Infrastructure Development Fund].

Wednesday 13th September

State Liabilities Act protection applied to assets of Chitungwiza Municipality  In SI 110/2017 [link] the President enacted regulations under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to extend the application of the State Liabilities Act to the assets of the municipality, which had already been the subject of court orders for attachment and sale of its property in satisfaction of judgment debts; the SI is backdated in an effort to neutralise those court orders.  The Government has previously used this device to shield some statutory bodies and Premier Service Medical Aid Society from creditors.  A High Court decision in the case Mangwiro v Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in March 2017 [link], ruled that the State Liabilities Act’s provision exempting State property from attachment and sale in execution is unconstitutional and therefore void.  This ruling has not yet been confirmed by the Constitutional Court – but it gives critics of the Government’s position on this issue another ground for complaint, in addition to the point that the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act is unconstitutional.

Friday 8th September

Collective bargaining agreements   SI 101/2017 specifies rates of pay and rates of service increments for the year 2017 for the mining industry.  SI 104/2017 specifies subsistence and travelling allowances and wages for the furniture manufacturing industry.

Commission of Inquiry into Sale of Urban State Land since 2005  SI 102/2017 is the Presidential proclamation establishing a commission of inquiry chaired by Mr Justice Uchena, a Supreme Court judge [link].

Official opening of 5th Session of 8th Parliament  SI 103/2017 is the Presidential proclamation summoning Parliament to meet for the special business of the opening of the final session of this Parliament before the general election due in 2018.

Gokwe Town Council by-laws   SI 105/2017 enacts a comprehensive set of hawkers and street vendors by-laws.

Collective Investment Schemes  SI 107/2017 repeals and replaces the previous rules setting fees for the registration of collective investment schemes, licensing of scheme managers, and miscellaneous fees.  SI 108/2017 makes related amendments to the rules for Professional Collective Investment Schemes. 

New registration of voters   SI 109/2017 is a Presidential proclamation in terms of section 36A of the Electoral Act ordering a new registration of voters, which means that all persons previously registered need to re-register if they wish to appear on the new voters rolls.  The SI has already been detailed in Election Watch 10/2017 of 8th September [link].

Friday 1st September

Older Persons Act – date of commencement  SI 100/2017 fixes 1st September 2017 as the date of commencement of the Older Persons Act [link].  The Act was passed in 2012.  The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is the responsible Ministry.

Medicines and allied substances control: application and renewal fees   SI 98/2017 fixes fees of $20 and $15 for licensed premises run by a local authority nurse.  The fee for a Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product is reduced from $150 to $80.

Medicines and allied substances control: export of medicines  SI 99/2017 reduces the application fee for a permit to export medicines from $50 to $40.  

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