BILL WATCH 2/2012
[29th January 2012]
Both Houses are adjourned until Tuesday 28th February 2012
AU Convention on Democracy, Elections and Governance
to Come into Force without Zimbabwe
The AU Convention on Democracy, Elections and Governance will come into force, for states which are party to it, on 15th February 2012, following the deposit of Cameroon’s instrument of ratification. The Convention was adopted by the AU Heads of State and Government on 30th January 2007 and has now been signed by 38 out of 54 African states, but ratified by only 15; so there are only 15 “States parties”. Zimbabwe has neither signed and ratified, nor acceded to the Convention. Only 3 out of 15 SADC states are parties to the Convention: Lesotho, South Africa and Zambia. It seems contradictory that Zimbabwe says it has a strong commitment to the AU, but has not signed this convention. With elections being talked about there is good reason to lobby MPs to press for Zimbabwe to accede to it. [Electronic version of Convention available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
Assembly Resolution on Clerk Overruled by High Court
On 20th January Justice Bere granted Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma an urgent interim order suspending implementation of the MDC-T resolution against him passed by the House of Assembly on 15th December after ZANU-PF members walked out [see Bill Watch 56/2011 of 16th December]. The resolution called for the appointment of committee to hear Mr Zvoma’s representations before reporting back to the House on an appropriate penalty for the acts of misconduct cited in the resolution. The judge pointed to the failure by the movers of the motion to adhere to the principles of natural justice before treating Mr Zvoma’s guilt as established. Being interim only, the court order freezes further action against Mr Zvoma pending the determination of his main application for clarification of the legal position.
Sitting Allowances for Parliamentarians
Since Parliament adjourned in mid-December members of the House of Assembly and Senators have been paid a lump sum of $15 000 each towards the amounts owed to them for sitting allowances not paid since the commencement of the present Parliament in 2008. Some legislators have complained that the one-size-fits-all amount is unfair – over-generous to those who seldom attend Parliament and less than what is owing to those who attend diligently. They point out that the agreement reached between the legislators and the government late last year was that the allowance arrears would be paid at the rate of $75 per sitting. The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs has explained the $15 000 was merely a working figure, and that shortfalls would be made up and overpayments recovered once Parliament had confirmed the entitlement of each individual legislator. [Comment: A point not so far given publicity is that the legal basis for payment of any amounts is shaky. Under the Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Benefits Act members of Parliament are entitled only to those allowances specified in regulations made by the President under the Act. The current regulations specify now meaningless amounts in old Zimbabwe dollars: SI 401A/1999 as last amended by SIs 148 and 216/2003. The regulations need to be updated in order to put the payment of Parliamentary salaries and allowances on a proper legal footing.]
Expiry of Terms of Office of Security Force Chiefs
With the expiry of the current statutory terms of office of the Commissioner-General of Police and the Defence Force and Army commanders imminent, both MDC-T and MDC have, correctly, reiterated that under Article 20.1.3(p) of the GPA the President needs the consent of the Prime Minister before exercising the power given to him by the Defence Act and the Police Act to extend these appointments for up to one year. Previous extensions have been granted without such consent.
18th AU Summit: 23rd to 30th January 2012: Addis Ababa
Meetings at ambassadorial level [the Permanent Representatives Committee] on 23rd and 24th January and at Ministerial level [the Executive Council] on 26th and 27th January, led up to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 29th and 30th January. The theme for the Summit is "Boosting Intra-African Trade. The Zimbabwe situation is not a formal agenda item.
New AU Chair: A new AU chairperson for the year has been elected – Benin’s President Yayi.
AU Commission Elections The Commission is the secretariat of the AU, with a chairperson and deputy chairperson, and eight each commissioners, each heading a department of the secretariat. The term of office of the current members of the Commission ends this month. Before the Summit end the Heads of State and Government will be to elect a new Commission chairperson and deputy chairperson to replace outgoing office-holders Jean Ping of Gabon and Erastus Mwencha of Kenya, both of whom are candidates for re-election. There is one other candidate for the chairperson of the Commission: that is Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa, currently Minister of Home Affairs and ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs. The eight other members of the Commission will also be chosen today, by the Ministers of the Executive Council. Two Zimbabweans are standing for election: Ms Hesphina Rukato, for Commissioner of Political Affairs; Ms Rudo Mabel Chitiga, for Commissioner for Social Affairs.
Peace and Security Council: 10 members of the council will be elected by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government to assume office on 1st April. Zimbabwe’s 3-year term of office on the council ends on 31st March 2013.
Status of Bills as at 23rd January 2012
[Electronic versions of these Bills available from email@example.com]
Bills passed by Parliament awaiting Presidential assent/gazetting as Acts
Small Enterprises Development Corporation [SEDCO] Amendment Bill [sent to President’s Office by Parliament on 30th September 2011]
Deposit Protection Corporation Bill [sent to President’s Office by Parliament on 8th December 2011]
[Note: Section 51(2) of the Constitution says that when a Bill is presented to the President for assent he must either assent or withhold his assent within 21 days; if assent is withheld the Bill must be sent back to Parliament. The 4-month delay in movement on the SEDCO Amendment Bill needs to be officially explained.]
Bill awaiting Second Reading in the House of Assembly
National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill
Bills gazetted and awaiting presentation
Older Persons Bill [gazetted 9th September]
Urban Councils Amendment Bill [NEW electronic version now available containing the Bill as gazetted by Parliament on 16th December]
Lapsed Bills from previous session awaiting restoration to the Order Paper
Public Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill [Private Member’s Bill]
Electoral Amendment Bill
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill.
[Please note electronic copies of these are not available]
Local commercial radio broadcasting licences – application deadline: GN 14/2012 is a reminder that the deadline for applications to reach the Broadcasting Authority is Tuesday 31st January. 13 licences are on offer, one for each of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Bindura, Gwanda, Marondera, Lupane, Plumtree, Kariba, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge.
Air travellers – another departure fee: SI 7/2012 imposes a new “Aviation Infrastructure Development Fund fee” payable by passengers departing from aerodromes, whether on a domestic flight [$5] or an international flight [$15]. Airlines must levy the fee on all tickets issued on and after 1st February 2012.
Norton Town Council Market and Trading By-laws: SIs 8 and 9/2012 enact new by-laws. The trading by-laws require 80 different types of businesses to hold annual trading permits, the permit fee being $40.
Importation of second-hand underclothing: In Bill Watch 1/2012 of 2nd January SI 150/2011 was said to “ban” the importation of this type of article, repeating the official explanatory note in the SI itself. In fact, as the Minister of Finance has since pointed out, the SI, which was gazetted by the Minister of Industry and Commerce, did not impose a total ban. But the practical effect is similar: second-hand underclothing cannot now be imported under the Open General Import Licence; each importation instead requires an import licence issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. And the Minister of Finance’s SI 159/2011 increased the customs duty on worn clothing.
Collective bargaining agreements have been gazetted: on the 6th January for the communications and allied services industry [SI 1/2012], on 13th January for the agricultural industry [SIs 2 and 3/2012], and on 20th January for welfare and educational institutions [SI 6/2012].
Pension and provident funds registration: SI 4/2012 adjusts monetary amounts in section 3 of the principal regulations [SI 323/1991] which deals with applications for the registration of funds.
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