Bill Watch 41/2014 of 29th October

Parliament has Adjourned until Tuesday 25th November

President Sets Legislative Agenda at Opening of Second Session

On Tuesday, 28th October 2014, President Mugabe opened the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe.

At the beginning of his speech the President summed up the legislative work lying ahead of Parliament during the coming session [full text of speech available from the addresses given at the end of this bulletin.]. He said Parliament would be required to place “great emphasis” on

• the alignment of laws to the Constitution and

• the reviewing of existing and enacting of new legislation that lends support to the attainment of the goals of socio-economic development in general, and to those of ZIM ASSET in particular.

Fourteen Bills were named as Bills that the Government would present to Parliament during the session

No Bills Named for Constitutional Alignment

Although the President said Parliament must emphasise the alignment of laws to the Constitution, it is noteworthy and cause for concern that not one of the fourteen Government Bills listed will contribute to the alignment of laws to the Constitution. There is no mention, for instance, of the General Laws Amendment Bill, in spite of the fact that it was officially announced some weeks ago that this Bill, designed to make numerous minor alignments, had been approved by Cabinet and would soon be sent to Parliament. There are many other Bills needed [Veritas has in previous Constitution Watch Bulletins outlined the urgent ones], both to make substantive changes to align existing laws and to underpin new constitutional institutions, e.g. the new National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, provided for in the Constitution. Interestingly, a Bill to implement the Constitution’s provision for a Land Commission was mentioned in the President’s legislative agenda at the opening of the First Session, but was not mentioned this time.

The Fourteen Bills Named by the President

The Bill are grouped in the order followed by the President in his speech. [The notes in italics adapt the words of the President in explaining the need for the Bills.]

Some of the Bills listed in the President’s speech are Bills that were included in the legislative agenda for the First Session but not brought to Parliament before the end of that session [these Bills are marked with an asterisk* in the list below].

Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Bills

Income Tax Bill

The President said it is hoped that the new Income Tax Bill will be enacted during the session. He did not say whether he was referring to a completely new Bill or to the Bill passed in June 2013 that he refused to sign and sent back to the National Assembly in December for consideration of his reservations.

  • Insurance Amendment Bill
  • Pension and Provident Funds Amendment Bill

These two Bills will address deficiencies in the current legislation and align the law with international best practice.

Debt Management Bill

A Bill to provide a framework for addressing the National Debt problem.

  • Joint Venture Bill

A Bill to facilitate the implementation of the joint venture infrastructural projects envisaged under ZIM ASSET. The President related this to global trends pointing to the growing involvement of the private sector in the provision of public infrastructure and services. Last year this was listed as the Public-Private Partnership Bill.

Procurement Amendment Bill

A Bill to render the public procurement process more efficient, transparent and in consonance with other policy initiatives and developments on the technological front.

Stimulation of Development and Foreign Direct Investment

Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill

A Bill to render the Tripartite Negotiating Forum more effective accountable and responsive to the development needs of the nation.

[Note: This Bill was mentioned in a paragraph also referring to the planned introduction of Special Economic Zones [SEZs] as a vehicle to stimulate foreign direct investment, technology transfer and employment generation, and to the fact that labour laws are being reviewed in a bid to improve business and investment conditions. Although the President did not say in as many words that this would require Bills to establish SEZs and amend the Labour Act, it is likely that such Bills would in fact be necessary. Last year a Labour Laws Harmonisation Bill was mentioned.]

Information Communication Technology

Cybercrime Bill

Data Protection Bill

Electronic Transactions Bill

These three Bills were mentioned in the context of the vital importance of information communication technology as a source of economic competitiveness. The Bills will provide legal underpinning to the revised National ICT Policy to be launched soon.

Health service delivery

  • Public Health Bill

This Bill seeks to promote quality health service delivery.

University education

  • Gwanda State University Bill

Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill

Bills to fulfil the Government’s policy to establish a State university in every province.

National Defence University Bill

A Bill to transform the National Defence College into a university that will provide higher education and training in national policy and strategy formulation for senior military and civilian leaders under the discipline of national defence and security.

Next Meeting of Parliament Set for 25th November

After the President had delivered his opening speech in the chamber of the National Assembly, both the National Assembly and the Senate met for a few minutes before adjourning until Tuesday 25th November. No other business was conducted in either House.

Pre-Budget Seminar at Victoria Falls Next week, from Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th November, there will be a Pre-Budget Seminar for all Parliamentarians at Elephant Hills Resort Hotel in Victoria Falls. In urging attendance the Speaker explained the purpose of the Seminar as being to enhance the contribution by Members of Parliament to the process of budget formulation and prioritisation ahead of the presentation of the 2015 National Budget and the passage by Parliament of the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill for the 2015 financial year.

Sitting Calendar This was released by Parliament earlier in the year [and posted on Veritas website]. But it has not been followed for some time, and the adjournment to 25th November again does not follow the calendar, which had scheduled sittings of both Houses for three weeks in November. Parliament’s Joint Business of the Houses Committee will be meeting shortly to decide on the sitting programme from 25th November onwards.

Bills Carried Over from First Session

The following three Bills were presented late in the First Session, and were still under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee when the session ended

• Gender Commission of Zimbabwe Bill

• Public Accountants and Auditors Amendment Bill

• Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Bill.

Also still on the National Assembly Order Paper at the end of the First Session was the Income Tax Bill, which was passed by the Seventh Parliament in June 2013 but returned to this Parliament for reconsideration of the President’s reservations about its content. There has been no movement on this item since it was first listed on 20th December 2013 [see above for the Presidents cryptic reference to “new Income Tax Bill” in his list of Bills for the Second Session].

Finally, there is one Bill that was gazetted recently, but too late to be presented to Parliament before the end of the First Session

• Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology Bill.

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