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  • Inclusive government - Index of articles

  • Mid-Term Policy Statement – Bill Watch 23/2009
    July 05, 2009

    The House of Assembly has adjourned until Tuesday 14th July, and the Senate until Tuesday 21st July

    Update on Constitutional Commissions Nominations
    The short-listing of candidates from among the large number of applicants has not been completed.

    Minister of Finance’s Mid-Term Policy Statement
    Minister Biti has said this will be presented to Parliament on 16th July. “This will be a report card basically explaining how we have done so far”. He also said that he will be making serious policy pronouncements aimed at boosting the country’s economy and reviewing taxes.

    Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill
    This Bill has a long history: following closely on the passage of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, it was actually tabled in Parliament in October 2007 as part of the ZANU-PF Government’s indigenisation and empowerment drive. But the Bill was not taken any further – it was not even debated – and it automatically fell away when Parliament was dissolved in January 2008 ahead of the harmonised elections. The Bill was in two parts – one providing for the indigenisation of the mining industry [including stipulating 51% “indigenous” ownership of mining companies], the other for the modernisation of the Mines and Minerals Act. It was listed for re-introduction as part of the ZANU-PF Government’s legislative programme for the current Parliamentary session in President Mugabe’s speech opening Parliament in August last year. At the moment the 2007 Bill is being considered by Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu for resuscitation with possible changes. A new draft would have to be approved by Cabinet before it can go any further. The Prime Minister has said that the 51% is too high and must be lowered to encourage foreign investment, raising hopes that any replacement Bill will be more investor-friendly.

    Legislative Agenda
    Most of the Legislative Agenda seems to consist of announcements in the press of impending Bills. Neither the Cabinet Office nor the Prime Minister’s Office has issued a statement on what Bills have been approved by Cabinet. The first step in drafting a Bill is to get a policy go-ahead from Cabinet, then the Bill is drafted by the relevant Ministry in conjunction with the drafting section of the Attorney Generals Office. The final draft of the Bill then has to go back to Cabinet for final approval. If it is approved, Cabinet authorises the responsible Minister to send it to Parliament. Parliament then has it gazetted. It must be gazetted two weeks before it is tabled in Parliament.

    Public Finance, Audit Office and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Bills – these three Ministry of Finance bills have been approved in principle by Cabinet and they are now with the Ministry and the legal drafters for preparation of the final drafts. The final drafts must go back to Cabinet for approval. Until finally through Cabinet and sent to Parliament the Bills cannot be said to be in the “Parliamentary pipeline”.

    Information Communication Technology Bill – Minister Nelson Chamisa said he will be seeking Cabinet’s policy approval for this Bill on the 14th July – which means that if approval is granted, the Bill still has to be drafted and go back to Cabinet for final approval. The Bill is intended to cover licensing and regulation of telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services and the facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions; it will involve the repeal of the Postal and Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Services Act.

    Bills to replace AIPPA – the Ministry of Information, Media and Publicity is working on two Bills to replace AIPPA – one to regulate access to information, the other to provide for “administrative” registration of media and journalists. But neither Bill has been taken to Cabinet yet.

    Other Bills listed in the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme [STERP], e.g., Bills amending POSA, the Criminal Law Code, Urban Councils Act, etc. would have to go through the same process and therefore it is unlikely that any of these Bills will be ready soon.

    Parliamentary Committee Meetings Open to Public
    [Note: although these meetings are listed as open to public attendance – if you wish to attend, it is advisable to clear attendance with Parliament beforehand by telephoning 700181and asking for the relevant committee clerk.]

    House of Assembly Portfolio Committees

    • Agriculture, Water, Lands and Resettlement – oral evidence from the Ministry of Finance [Monday 6th July at 10 am, Committee Room No. 1]
    • Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare – oral evidence from the Ministry of Finance [Monday 6th July at 2 pm, Committee Room No. 1]
    • Portfolio Committee on Education, Sports and Culture – oral evidence from the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture [Thursday 9th July at 10 am, Committee Room No. 4]
    • Public Accounts Committee – oral evidence from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban and Development and the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development [Monday 6th July at 10 am Committee Room No. 4]

    More Parliamentary News
    Select Committee on the New Constitution – is busy organising the First All Stakeholders Conference which will go ahead as scheduled from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th July at the Harare International Conference Centre. Invitations will be faxed or delivered to organisations and delegates on Monday 6th July.

    Senate thematic committees – no meetings scheduled
    Senator Roy Bennett – Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate Bennett has been remanded to 13th October despite his lawyer’s protests against the failure to bring the matter to trial four months after Mr Bennett’s arrest. Mr Bennett is still not sworn in as Deputy Minister.

    Overdue by-elections – no notices have been gazetted calling these by-elections [see Bill Watch Special of 17th May for details] and no explanation has been forthcoming from the government for its failure to comply with the law.

    Update on Inclusive Government
    Referral to SADC Summit – Unconfirmed reports say SADC will convene a meeting before the end of July to discuss the issues that remain outstanding in the Interparty Political Agreemen [IPA].

    The Prime Minister has endorsed his deputy Thokozane Khupe’s statement expressing MDC-T frustration with the slow pace of implementation of the IPA and the MDC-T Cabinet boycott, but said that MDC-T would not pull out of the inclusive government.

    President Mugabe gave the keynote address on “Food Security” at the 13th AU Summit which opened on Wednesday in Libya.

    SADC Report on IPA to the AU Summit – The AU Summit communiqué commended steps SADC had taken, welcomed progress made in the implementation of the IPA and appealed for the immediate lifting of sanctions and for provision of financial assistance to Zimbabwe by AU states and the wider international community. [AU Summit communiqué available on request.]

    International Monetary Fund [IMF] concluded, after their staff visited Zimbabwe, 22nd to 30th June, that there were signs of a “nascent economic recovery”, but although its staff will continue to provide policy advice and targeted technical assistance, “access to IMF financing would require donor financial support for arrears clearance to official creditors and a sustained track record of sound policies”. [Full text of statement available on request.]

    Re-engagement with the Commonwealth – this week there will be a roundtable discussion in Johannesburg, organised by the Commonwealth Committee on Zimbabwe, aimed at the mobilisation of humanitarian aid and paving the way for Zimbabwe’s possible re-admission into the 54-nation Commonwealth. [Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth in December 2003.]

    Provincial Councils for Bulawayo and Harare?
    It is reported that the Government is considering setting up provincial councils for the two metropolitan provinces of Bulawayo and Harare to promote development. These are the only provinces that do not already have provincial councils. The establishment of a provincial council is a matter for decision by the President and Cabinet jointly, not for the President alone. The legal mechanism for establishment is the publication of a proclamation in the Government Gazette in terms of the Provincial Councils and Administration Act. [Electronic version of Act available on request.] The functions of provincial councils are all development-related; they have few real powers – they cannot, for instance, make regulations or by-laws. A provincial council consists of the provincial governor [who chairs its meetings], the mayor/chairperson and one other member of every local authority council in the province, one chief nominated by the chiefs of the province, and three persons appointed by the President on the advice of Cabinet [one each to represent women and youth, and one appointed for skill and experience in the province’s political affairs] [PCA Act, section 14].

    Launch of Makoni Party
    Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni launched his Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn party on Wednesday morning in Harare, promising to bring what he called “real change” and a commitment to service rather that the politics of power and control. He called for national healing, restoration of civil liberties and economic and social viability. The launch was somewhat marred by his erstwhile colleagues in the movement who have recently taken him to court and who declared the launch null and void.

    Kimberley Process Team Visits Zimbabwe Diamond Fields
    At the end of its mission to Zimbabwe the Kimberley Process review team presented its provisional report, pointing out that lack of security had led to illegal digging and processing activities, recommending immediate demilitarisation of the Chiadzwa diamond field [“There cannot be effective security where diamonds are concerned with the involvement of the military”], stricter border controls to prevent diamond smuggling and better control from place of production to point of export. A final report will follow later. There were accusations in some press reports that there was an army “clean up” of the diamond fields before the inspection by the Kimberley Process team.

    Update on Legislation

    • Bills – no Bills being are being printed by the Government Printer for gazetting and presentation in Parliament.
    • Acts – the new Census and Statistics Act [Act 1/2007] came into operation on 1st July [date fixed by SI 101A/2009 gazetted on 1st July]. This Act was gazetted on 20th July 2007. It transforms the Central Statistical Office into the National Statistics Agency, a fully-fledged parastatal. It also provides for the formulation of professional standards and ethics to be adhered to by all organisations that produce statistics for public information. Regulations made under the old Act will continue in force.
    • Statutory Instruments – SI 103/2009 [amendment of Exchange Control (General) Order of 1996] increases to US$10 000 the amount of foreign currency that may be taken out of the country by travellers [up from US$ 1 000].

    Note: There is a statutory instrument expected on extending the suspension of customs duty on groceries and other basic commodities [the last SI to this effect expired on 30th June.] It is possible this SI was gazetted late on 3rd July or over the weekend..

    *Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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