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Amendment Bill sails through
February 17, 2006
Amendment Bill that seeks to provide for the charging of school
fees and levies based on the Consumer Price Index as published by
the Central Statistical Office (CSO) has sailed through the House
of Assembly with major amendments.
The Bill was passed on
Wednesday and now awaits transmission to Senate for further scrutiny.
One of the major amendments
related to the reduction of the penalty for unilaterally increasing
school fees or levies from 12 months imprisonment to six months
or a fine equivalent to the excess amount charged or both. Some
of the adopted amendments were moved by Bulawayo North-East MP Professor
Welshman Ncube (MDC) who is also the chairperson of the Parliamentary
Legal Committee (PLC). These included amendments to clause 5 to
the effect that the provisions of the Bill shall not apply to fees
and levies existing on the day the proposed law comes into effect.
The adopted Bill has
a new consolidated text that replaces the original Bill that was
withdrawn by the House following an adverse report by the PLC on
the grounds that some of the contents of the draft were unconstitutional.
Under the new consolidated
Bill, every school authority should apply to the Secretary of Education,
Sport and Culture for approval before charging fees or levies.
The secretary is in turn,
obliged to approve the increase where such an increase does not
exceed the percentage increase in the cost of living from the beginning
to the end of the preceding term as indicated by the CPI published
by the CSO.
School authorities should
get approval of a majority of the parents at a meeting of the school
parents assembly attended by not less than 20 percent of the parents.
Any responsible authority
aggrieved by a decision of the secretary may appeal to the minister
who after due consideration may grant or refuse the appeal before
fixing the appropriate fee or levy.
Wednesday we erroneously published that the Bill had sailed
through. The inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted.
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