BILL WATCH 5/2012 [18th February 2012]
Both Houses are adjourned until Tuesday 28th February 2012
Portfolio Committees at work
ZESA problems The Minister of Energy and Power Development told the portfolio committee on Mines and Energy that ZESA owed its creditors $800 million, some of which was for power imports from neighbouring countries. On the other hand, its customers – including some Cabinet Ministers and officials from his own Ministry – owed ZESA $400 million in unpaid bills. The Minister assured the committee that the recent Government directive to disconnect defaulting customers would be applied across the board, regardless of a debtor’s identity or official position. A proposal by a private investor to set up a 600MW thermal power project was being evaluated; and bids to expand Hwange and Kariba power stations would be adjudicated by June.
Government land policy The portfolio committee on Agriculture, Water, Lands and Resettlement heard from the Permanent Secretary for Lands and Rural Resettlement. She said the Ministry, other Ministries, the Attorney-General’s Office and the Bankers’ Association were still working on the question of “bankable” 99-year leases capable of being used by farmers as collateral for obtaining loans. 1300 farmers had been recommended for such leases. On the land audit she said farm registers had been prepared and preliminary work done, but the Ministry of Finance had failed to fund the audit. On resettled farmers entering into partnerships with investors, she said partnerships are allowed as long as farmers retain overall control of their land, but that partnership agreements must be verified by the Ministry.
Resettlement in conservancies The Permanent Secretary for Lands and Rural Resettlement explained to the portfolio committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism that resettlement responsibilities were shared among three Ministries: Local Government [responsible for AI farmers], Lands and Rural Resettlement [responsible for A2 farmers] and Environment and Natural Resources Management [responsible for conservancies]. Her Ministry had transferred responsibility for seven conservancies to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management. Persons already resettled in conservancies would be assisted to adapt their land use to conform with the Wild Life Based Land Reform Policy, which had been adopted in 2007.
Constituency Development Funds
The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs has announced that his Ministry has referred to the Anti-Corruption Commission the cases of some Parliamentarians who have so far failed to account to the Ministry for funds received under the Constituency Development Fund scheme in the financial year 2010. Funds were disbursed to Parliamentarians on the basis that their use for the benefit of communities in their constituencies would be accounted for to the Ministry; the deadlines for reporting expired some months ago.
More on the Recent AU Summit
The full official text of the resolution, decisions and declarations of the recent African Union Summit in Addis Ababa is now available [available from [email protected] – please note this is a 235 kb pdf document]. The only resolution passed concerned the African Diaspora: “to recognize the African Diaspora as a substantive entity contributing to the economic and social development of the Continent, and to invite its representatives as observers to sessions of the Assembly of the African Union”. The numerous decisions taken included the establishment of:
• the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption in Arusha, Tanzania
• an African Institute of International Law, also in Arusha, Tanzania.
Update on Attorney-General’s Office Act
At their 8th February meeting the principals agreed that the Attorney-General’s Office Act “must be immediately operationalised”. This Act was gazetted on the 10th June 2011, but will not come into force until the President gazettes a statutory instrument fixing its date of commencement. It provides for the separation of the Attorney-General’s Office from the Public Service, for the office to be managed and administered by an independent Board, which will be responsible for engaging, promoting and discharging staff, fixing salaries and conditions of service, and managing the funds of the office independently of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. The Act does not, however, affect the exercise by the Attorney-General of the advisory and prosecutorial functions conferred on him by section 76 of the Constitution.
[Comment: There have been two weekly Government Gazettes published since the principals met – but still no statutory instrument to bring the Act into force. The documents necessary for Presidential approval of the statutory instrument have to be prepared by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, which is the Ministry responsible for the administration of the Act. The Ministry has now had over seven months since the Act was gazetted in which to make the necessary administrative arrangements for appointing the members of the Attorney-General’s Office Board and the handover of responsibilities and functions from the Ministry to the Board.]
“Banning” of NGOs
The provincial governor of Masvingo Province announced last week that he had prohibited 29 non-governmental organisations from continuing to operate in the province until they complied with an earlier directive that they should submit their certificates of registration to the provincial administrator together with memorandums of understanding signed by the “respective” local authorities [presumably the local authorities within whose areas the NGOs are conducting their operations]. The provincial governor was reported to have told a meeting of the NGOs that “the environment has to be cleared” before national elections can be held.
Can a provincial governor prevent NGOs from operating within a province?
The functions of provincial governors, as set out in section 10 of the Provincial Councils and Administration Act are:
• to chair provincial councils.
• to foster and promote the development activities of Ministries and organs of central government, through “a process of consultation, suggestion and advice”.
• to co-ordinate the preparation of development plans and to promote their implementation by other Ministries, authorities, agencies and persons.
• to perform functions that may be conferred on them by other laws.
There is nothing there to suggest that a provincial governor can prohibit NGOs from operating within his province.
Private Voluntary Organisations Act
NGOs which conduct welfare activities have to be registered under this Act. The body responsible for registering them, and for cancelling or amending their registration, is the Private Voluntary Organisations Board. Provincial governors cannot do so, and they are not represented on the Board. There is nothing in the Act, or in General Notice 99 of 2007 which sets out the procedure for registration, that requires NGOs to get permission from a provincial governor before they can be registered, nor is there any provision requiring their activities to be approved by a provincial governor. They do not have to submit their certificates of registration to a provincial administrator, and once they have been registered under the Act they do not have to negotiate “memorandums of understanding” with local authorities in order to carry on their activities.
Directive and prohibition invalid
The “directive” which the provincial governor of Masvingo Province issued to NGOs, therefore, had no basis in law. His subsequent prohibition on their activities was also illegal.
Status of Bills as at 17th February 2012
[no changes since Bill Watch 2/2012 of 29th January]
[Electronic versions of these Bills available from [email protected]]
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]
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 [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.
Statutory Instruments and Government Gazette
[Please note that electronic versions are not available from Veritas]
Collective bargaining agreements have been gazetted for the following sectors: welfare and educational institutions [SI 14/2012]; clothing industry [SI 16/2012]; Harare municipal undertaking [SIs 17 and 18/2012]; commercial sectors [SI 20/2012].
Customs duties SI 12/2012 imposes a 25% surtax on a long list of imported foodstuffs and household goods, but excludes goods entered in terms of the trade agreements with Malawi, Namibia and Botswana. SI 13/2012 makes related changes to the customs tariff. SI 19/2012 provides for a rebate on importation of a wide range of goods for the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
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