BILL WATCH 20/2020 - Government Gazettes Update: Part 2 – 26 March to 24 April

BILL WATCH 20/2020

[24th April 2020]

Government Gazettes Update: Part 2 – 26 March – 24 April

This bulletin lists, and briefly outlines the content of, Statutory Instruments [SIs] published in Government Gazettes, from  26th March to 24rd April 2020.   Those that have been commented on more fully will have links to the relevant Bill Watches.

Gazettes Extraordinary 26, 27, 28 & 29 of 27th to 29th March

26th March

SI 80/2020 [link] – Banking (Money Transmission, Mobile Banking and Mobile Interoperability) Regulations

This SI lays down additional requirements to be complied with by money transmission providers and mobile banking providers, including the need to be licensed by the Reserve Bank [RBZ], obligatory periodical reporting to RBZ, read-only real-time access to payment systems for RBZ, and provision of data protection and cyber security.  The RBZ is given the power to direct providers to take steps to connect to a national payment switch system that interfaces with POS, ATM and mobile payment systems, and e-commerce portals and regional and international platforms.  Defaulters will be subject to a range of civil penalties imposable by RBZ.

SI 81/2020 [link] – Minimum Wages specified for all workers except domestic and agricultural employees

This SI, effective from 26th March, specifies a minimum monthly wage of $2 549, 72 for all employees other than domestic and agricultural employees.  National Employment Councils may grant exemptions, but only on the basis that the establishment or employer provides non-monetary benefits to its employees, "which benefits may not for the purpose of the exemption constitute more than half of the minimum wage otherwise payable in money".  

Domestic and agricultural employees  The SI states that "alternative provision will be made" for domestic and agricultural employees.  That has not happened to date of writing this bulletin.

27th March – Further COVID-19 measures

SI 82/2020 [link] – Defence Forces to assist in enforcement of measures – Amendment No. 1 of the COVID-19 regulations in SI 77 [link]

This SI (1) amends the definition of ”enforcement officer”, thereby allowing Defence Force personnel to assist in enforcing COVID-19 measures but only under the guidance of a health officer, and (2) authorises the Minister of Health and Child Care, by gazetted order, to reduce to two the number of persons constituting a "gathering" for the purposes of the principal regulations.  See also Bill Watches 15 [link] and 16 [link].

SI 83/2020 [link] – National Lockdown Order

An order by the Minister of Health and Child Care imposing a 21-day National Lockdown from 30th March to 19th April, the rules to be followed, exemptions for "essential services", prohibition of gatherings of more than two persons in a public place, border post closures, hoarding of medical supplies needed to combat COVID-19  and food.  Section 14 is an unusual "extra" warning [although not a binding provision] that publication of false reporting about COVID-19 and the enforcement of measures against it may attract prosecution under section 31 of the Criminal Law Code.  See also Bill Watches 14 [link] 15 [link] and16 [link].

29th March

SI 84/2020 [link] – National Lockdown Order Amendment No. 1

This SI amends the National Lockdown Order [SI 83] to (1) add items to the definition of "essential services" [public or licensed broadcasting services, criminal courts and subject to Practice Directions by the Chief Justice [see Practice Directions 1/2020 [link] and 2/2020 [link]] civil courts and their support staff; and (2) permit, subject to stated conditions, hospital visits and the formation of queues by motorists waiting to obtain fuel. 

SI 85/2020 [link] – Payment for goods and services in foreign currency [free funds]

This amendment of SI 212/2019 partially relaxes the general rule requiring payment for goods and services to be made in Zimbabwe dollars.  It allows those with foreign currency classified as "free funds" to use those funds to pay for goods and services [prices in Zimbabwe dollars to be adjusted according to the official current exchange rate].  Payment may be made in cash, electronically through a foreign currency account [FCA] or through any electronic payment platform.  

Gazettes Extraordinary in 1st to 24th April

3rd April

SI 86/2020 [link] – National Lockdown Order Amendment No. 2

This SI adds paragraphs (n) to (u) to the list of essential services listed in SI 83, for example the manufacture and distribution of medical supplies to combat COVID-19, funeral services, Ethiopian Airways flights in and out, farming and related support services, and the operations of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.  17 [link]

4th April

SI 87/2020 [link] – Changes to excise duty on fuel

Further changes, effective from 5th April, to the excise duty on petrol, kerosene and diesel.

14th April

SI 88/2020 [link] – Rebate of customs duty on goods imported to fight COVID-19

These regulations list the essential goods qualifying for the grant of this rebate by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise.

SI 89/2020 [link] – Rebate of customs duty for Air Zimbabwe

This SI extends the rebate on engine spares and components for the year 2019 to the end of next year, 2021.

17th April

SI 90/2020 [link] – control of exports of COVID-19 pharmaceuticals and PPE

A notice adding 38 items to the First Schedule to the Open General Export Licence [SI 766/1974].  The effect is that all exports from Zimbabwe of any of the 38 items will require export permits issued by the Ministry of Health and Child Care through the Medicines Control Authority [MCAZ].  See also SI 93/2020 below.

SI 91/2020 [link] – Amendments to regulations controlling Pension Funds

This the 25th amendment to the principal Pension and Provident Funds Regulations, SI 323/1991 [which prompts the comment that it is time for the enactment of a consolidation of those old regulations].  The present SI introduces new qualifications for pension fund administrators, with presently registered administrators allowed one year to bring themselves into line if necessary;  new provisions for refusal or cancellation of registration by the Commissioner of Insurance and Pension and Provident Funds appealable to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development;  obligations of fund administrators regarding financial statements and periodical returns;  and the replacement of the existing provision laying down civil penalties for non-compliance with the regulations.  A replacement First Schedule to the principal regulations sets out new forms for the purposes of the Pension and Provident Funds Act and the regulations.

19th April (Sunday)

SI 92/2020 [link]  – Mandatory Standards for COVID-19 PPE and disinfectants [link]

This SI lists quality standards for equipment such as face-masks, gowns and disinfectants by reference to recognised international standard publications.  Strictly speaking, in spite of the obviously urgent need to penalise peddling of fake or substandard products, the SI should have stated in which offices the complete standard documents can be inspected by interested persons.  Section 22 of the Interpretation Act requires this where SIs resort to prescribing requirements merely by reference to a standard publication.  See also Bill Watch 17 [link].

SI 93/2020 [link] – National Lockdown Order Amendment No. 3 [extension to 3rd May]

This SI by the Minister of Minister of Health and Child Care extends the lockdown to Sunday 3rd May, as announced by the President in a broadcast to the nation on the afternoon of Sunday 19th April.  3rd May is two days before Parliament is due to reassemble and the scheduled start of the Second School Term.  The SI also: (1) adds journalists, newspaper vendors and other employees of communication services to the list of essential services; (2) provides for relaxation, subject to strict conditions, of controls on of ports of entry and exit to allow flights of aircraft engaged in essential services and entry and exit of goods vehicles engaged in essential services.  Finally, the export of medical supplies for combating COVID-19 must be authorised by a certificate from the Minister of Health and Child Care that the supplies are in excess of Zimbabwe's needs.  See also Bill Watch 17 [link], and SI 90/2020 above requiring export licences for exports of such goods.

21st April (Tuesday)

SI 94/2020 [link] – National Lockdown Order Amendment No. 4

Veritas has prepared a consolidated version [link] of the National Lockdown Order incorporating all amendments to date, including the amendments made by this SI

Section 4 is the main provision.  It adds a new Part IIIA to the principal Order headed Phased Relaxation of National Lockdown.  The new Part spells out the strict conditions under which manufacturers and miners [and their employees], and designated tobacco auction floors [and their employees and tobacco buyers and sellers], may now resume functioning during the extended National Lockdown.  It gives effect to measures mentioned by the President in his 19th April broadcast announcing the extension of the National Lockdown to 3rd May, but not covered in SI 93/2020 of the same date extending the lockdown.  See also Bill Watch 17/2020 [link][Comment: The new section 11C added to SI 83/2020 – the principal Lockdown Order – makes resumption of work for mine workers dependent on screening and testing for COVID-19 disease if an enforcement officer so directs. Screening and testing of all approximately 40 000 workers in the mining industry may take a long time at the rate Zimbabwe is testing so far] Section 2 of the SI – although it refers to correcting errors in SI 83, it in fact corrects errors in the preamble to SI 93/2020 above.

Section 3 makes it clear that “cross-border goods vehicles” engaged in essential services may enter or exit Zimbabwe through ports of entry and exit as long as they comply with the rules laid down in section 8 of the principal National Lockdown Order.

24th April

SI 95/2020 [link] – New Schedule of Fees for Mining (General) Regulations

A replacement Second Schedule for the above regulations, setting out fees that need to be prescribed for the purposes of the Mines and Minerals Act and many other fees that will be charged by the Ministry for various services rendered.

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