Bill Watch 40-2023 - The Legislative Agenda for the Tenth Parliament

BILL WATCH 40/2023

[14th October 2023]

The Legislative Agenda for the Tenth Parliament

The President outlined the government’s legislative agenda in his State of the Nation Address on the 3rd October 2023 at the ceremonial opening of the Tenth Parliament of Zimbabwe.   The agenda is set out below:

Bills left Uncompleted by the Ninth Parliament

The President began by specifically naming the following five Bills from the Ninth Parliament as still needing to be passed:

·        Mines and Minerals Bill;

·        Public Finance Management Amendment Bill;

·        Medical Services Amendment Bill;

·        Insurance Bill;

·        Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.

These five Bills all lapsed in terms of section 147 of the Constitution when the Ninth Parliament was dissolved just before polling day in the general election.   The section reads: “On the dissolution of Parliament, all proceedings pending at the time are terminated, and every Bill, motion, petition and other business lapses.” [as explained in Bill Watches 35/2023 [link] and 36/2023 [link], the Bills cannot be revived at the stage where the Ninth Parliament left them;  if the Government wants to proceed with them the responsible Ministers will have to begin afresh by introducing them in again in Parliament].  

Note that there were four other lapsed Bills [see Bill Watch 35/2023 [link], not mentioned by the President in the legislative agenda – probably an oversight.  These Bills, like the ones mentioned earlier, will have to be presented afresh.  The Bills are: 

·        Police Amendment Bill*

·        Child Justice Bill*

·        Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) Amendment Bill

·        Financial Adjustments Bill**.

* Parliament had actually passed these Bills but they were not sent to the President for assent and signature before the dissolution of the Ninth Parliament. 

** The Minister of Finance still has to account for the unbudgeted expenditure covered by this Bill.

New Bills for the Tenth Parliament

The President then turned to new legislative business.  We propose to deal with the Bills in the order followed by the President:

Obsolete Acts to be repealed

Repeal of Laws (General) Amendment Bill   This will repeal four obsolete Acts:

·        Frederick Clayton Trust Act;

·        Service of Documents (Telegraph) Act;

·        Settled Estates Leasing Act;

·        War Marriages Validation Act.

The reasons for regarding the above Acts as obsolete are set out in paragraph 4 of the Post-Cabinet Briefing of 26th September 2023 [link], which records the Cabinet's approval of the principles of the above Bill.

Bills being prepared for gazetting and introduction

These two Bills have already been sent to Parliament for gazetting and the Bill proofs are being checked in the Attorney-General's Office:

  • Persons with Disabilities Bill [Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare]
  • Administration of Estates Amendment Bill [Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs].

Justice and legal affairs

  • Legal Practitioners Amendment Billthis will streamline the registration process for foreign legal practitioners.
  • Inheritance and Succession Laws (General Amendment) Bill – this will align inheritance and succession laws to the Constitution and international best practice.

Climate change, environment and wild life

  • Climate Change Bill seeking to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and facilitate low carbon development technologies and to strengthen appropriate institutions and funding mechanisms.

Acts to be reviewed [presumably amended or replaced with a new Act] in order to help the country adapt to climate change and become more resilient:

·        Water Act;

·        Zimbabwe National Water Authority Act;

·        Plant Breeders Rights Act.

  • Parks and Wild Life Amendment Bill – to amend the Parks and Wild Life Act.  A Human-Wild Life Conflict Relief Fund will be set up to offer monetary benefits to victims of human-wildlife conflict in communities.

Exploitation of natural resources by industrialisation

The aim of the following Bills, the President said, was to exploit the country’s natural resources fully and encourage industrialisation:

·        Competition Amendment Bill;

·        Economic Empowerment Bill;

·        Standards Bill;

·        Sugar Production Control Amendment Bill; and

·        Technical Regulations Bill.

ICT and postal and telecommunications services

  • Electronic Transactions and Electronic Commerce Bill - this Bill, the President said, will establish a framework for fair, accessible, responsible and sustainable online transactions.
  • Postal and Telecommunications Amendment Bill – the President called for this "long-outstanding Bill" to be concluded.

The built environment

  • Zimbabwe Construction Contractors Council Bill – this Bill seeks to establish an authority to regulate the built environment.
  • The President also said the following Acts were to be aligned [though he did not specify what they were to be aligned to]:
  • Housing Standards Control Act

·        Housing and Building Act.

Health sector

  • Medical Aid Societies Regulatory Authority Bill
  • National Health Insurance Bill – for the establishment of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

He said the following Acts would be brought before Parliament [presumably in the form of amending Bills]

·        Health Professions Act;

·        Family Planning Council Act

·        Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act..

Public service, labour and social welfare

The responsible Ministry is expected to bring the following Bills to Parliament (again the President gave no indication of the content of these Bills):

·        National Productivity Institute Bill

·        Human Resources Practitioners Bill

·        Pensions Amendment Bill ;

·        Occupational Safety and Health Amendment Bill.

Youth development and empowerment

  • National Youth Bill – to provide mechanisms to bring youths into social, economic and political spaces, as well as to maintain vocational training centres as hubs for local community development.  The President placed this Bill in the context of growing concern about the increase in drug and substance abuse, especially among youths, and measures to combat it.

Women and micro, small and medium enterprises

The President said women play a critical role in nation building and their contribution to economic growth should never be overlooked, and viable micro, small and medium enterprises have a far-reaching impact on Zimbabwe’s economy as a whole.  In the light of this:

  • Small and Medium Enterprises Act – this will be “reviewed”; and a new Bill introduced;
  • Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies Bill – this will regulate Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies.

Media

To open up the airwaves further, the President said the following Bills should finalised and passed:

·        Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill ; and

·        Zimbabwe Media Commission Amendment Bill. 

Sport

Saying that sport is integral to job creation as well as the promotion of healthy lifestyles, the President listed two Bills that would be brought before Parliament:

  • Sport, Leisure and Recreation Bill – to create an enabling environment for sport and recreation delivery; and 
  • Sports Integrity Bill – to provide a regulated and fair sporting environment.

He said the Lotteries and Gaming Act would also be amended to align it with the Constitution [though he did not explain how] and to incorporate corporate governance measures, as provided for in the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act.

Veterans of the liberation struggle, national heroes, and war victims

  • Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act this will be amended to include Botswana as one of the countries that had transit camps during Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle.  “Non-Combatant Cadre” will be redefined to acknowledge those who played a part in the Struggle, under this category.
  • National Heroes Act this will be amended to redefine categories of heroes, namely: National Hero; Liberation War Hero; and Liberation Hero.
  • War Victims Compensation Amendment Bill – this will enact recommendations from the Chidyausiku Commission of Inquiry Report of 1998.

International law and relations

  • Radiation Protection Amendment Bill – radiation safety will be strengthened through this Bill.
  • Biological Warfare Bill ­– this Bill will criminalise the use of such weapons by giving effect to the Convention on Biological Warfare. 

Home Affairs

  • Trafficking in Persons Amendment Bill – to give effect to the National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons.
  • Other Bills to amend the following eight Acts – though the President gave no indication of their content:

Immigration Act

Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act

National Archives of Zimbabwe Act

Private Investigators and Security Guards (Control) Act

Official Secrets Act

Unlawful Organisations Act

Censorship and Entertainments Control Act

Births and Deaths Registration Act.

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