BILL WATCH 14/2019
[13th March 2019]
The National Assembly is Sitting This Week
The Senate is in Recess until 26th March
Zimbabwe Ratifies Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty [CTBT]
On 13th February Zimbabwe ratified this treaty, which was signed on its behalf in 1999. On 14th February a national seminar on CTBT took place in Harare.
Although it was concluded in 1996, the CTBT is not yet in force, because several of the 44 states possessing nuclear weapons technology have not yet ratified it: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the USA. And India, North Korea and Pakistan, all nuclear states, have not even signed the CTBT. Zimbabwe’s ratification, therefore, does not directly bring the treaty’s coming into force any closer.
At the Harare seminar the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade portrayed Zimbabwe’s ratification of the treaty as a step towards making Africa a nuclear-free zone and called for signature and ratification by the 7 African states who are not yet members of the CTBT: Comores, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia.
Yesterday in the National Assembly
Bills undergoing Second Reading Stage
Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill [link] The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare started the Second Reading Stage of this Bill with outlining why the Bill is considered necessary by Government and how the Bill will achieve its objectives. Public hearings have already been held by the Portfolio Committee on Labour and Social Welfare, so the next step will be the presentation of this report.
Companies and Other Business Entities Bill [link] There was no progress on this Bill. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has already delivered his Second Reading speech, and House is waiting for the report on the public hearings held by the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Adverse PLC reports on Statutory Instruments
The PLC chairperson, Hon Samukange, withdrew his motions for adoption of these reports. The Senate is already considering identical motions, making it unnecessary for the National Assembly to do so.
ZHRC Annual Report for 2017 Debate on the motion to take note of this report continued. There were angry exchanges between members of the two main parties as MPs attempted, with varying degrees of success, to extend the debate to a discussion of responsibility for specific post-2017 events such as the mid-January disturbances.
Note: The Senate has already started debating an assessment of the same ZHRC Annual Report that has been prepared by its Thematic Committee on Human Rights. That debate is expected to continue when the Senate resumes towards the end of the month.
Coming up in the National Assembly Today and Tomorrow
This afternoon private member’s business takes precedence. So Government business, apart from presentation of Bills, is likely to be delayed until tomorrow.
Bills ready for presentation
As the Order Paper for today, 13th March, shows that the responsible Ministers have given the required written notice to Parliament, the following Bills are expected to be presented:
· Consumer Protection Bill [link]
· Microfinance Amendment Bill [link]
· Education Amendment Bill [link] .
When presented, the Bills will receive their First Reading and be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for reports on their consistency with the Constitution. The commencement of their Second Reading stages will depend on the receipt of the PLC’s reports.
Public hearings on the Consumer Protection Bill have already been conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce.
Question Time is scheduled for this afternoon, 13th March. The first hour is reserved for Questions without Notice [on general questions relating to Government policy] and the second hour for Written Questions with Notice [questions that require Ministers to furnish specific information they cannot be expected to have at their finger-tips – there are 120 such questions awaiting replies].
If the House is willing to continue sitting after the conclusion of Question Time, new private member’s motions are listed, raising issues concerning:
· Welfare of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle
· Collection of vehicle licence fees by local authorities instead of ZINARA [and presumably use of the proceeds by the local authorities to maintain their own roads]
· National Policy on Persons Living with Disability.
International Agreements for Approval
Motion for Approval of Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area
The Minister of Justice of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has moved that the House approve this agreement. The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on 21st March, 2018. President Mnangagwa signed for Zimbabwe. The agreement will come into force once 22 member states have ratified it. To date 15 states have ratified including South Africa, Namibia, Eswatini (former Swaziland), Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Congo Republic, Djibouti, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Uganda and Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) Four other countries have received parliamentary approval for ratification – Sierra Leone, Senegal, Togo, and Egypt. So Zimbabwe’s ratification, if approved by Parliament, could be the one that brings the agreement into force. The debate is due to continue.
Government Gazette 8th March
Income tax – Exemptions
SI 47 and 48/2019 gives effect to exemptions from income tax and from non-resident’s tax on fees for the benefit of Konoike Construction Company Limited and its expatriate staff. Note – these exemptions are for a Japanese Government-funded project.
Labour – collective bargaining agreements
SI 49/2019 – contains the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures for Leather, Leather Goods, Footwear, etc Manufacturing Industries.
SI 53/2019 – Agricultural Industry. This SI sets out transport, accommodation, fuel and lights allowances with effect from 1st January for all sub-sectors of the industry.
VAT – Exemption for administration fees charged by Procurement Regulatory Authority
SI 50/2019 - This SI amends adds these fees to the long list of goods and services not liable for payment of VAT, as set out in the First Schedule to the VAT (General) Regulations, 2003.
Local authority by-laws – Chipinge Town Council
SI 51/2019 enacts Food Hygiene By-laws made by the council with the approval of the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
Customs and Excise – rebate of duty on motor vehicles imported by specified serving public servants
SI 52/2019 spells out the details of this rebate in a new section 144(U) inserted in the Customs and Excise (General) Regulations. The limited right to a rebate is for “serving Senior Public Servant employed in the Civil Service and Service Commissions”, a phrase which lacks precision. There is also provision for a rebate with a ceiling of $10 000 for any other public servant, but its grant is at the discretion of the Secretary for Finance and Economic Development.