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  • GPA principals meet - Bill Watch - 22/2010
    June 08, 2010

    The Senate will meet on Tuesday 15th June. The House of Assembly has adjourned until Wednesday 30th June.

    GPA principals meeting today

    The three GPA principal are all in Harare and will meet after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 8th June day to discuss the report produced by the GPA negotiators with the assistance of the President Zuma’s facilitation team. The report should have been finished by 31st March and was in fact ready for the principals on 6th April, since when it been awaiting the principals’ comments before being presented to President Zuma who in turn has to present it to President Guebuza of Mozambique, chairperson of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation. Despite visits by the South African facilitation team and a visit by a representative of President Kabila of the DRC, Chairperson of SADC, to Harare to expedite the report getting to the SADC Troika, the principals have found themselves unable to meet together before now because one or other of them was travelling outside the country.

    Parliamentary Update

    Constitutional Outreach: The official launch of the outreach to consult the people on what they want in the new Constitution will take place on the Wednesday 16th June. The outreach teams will be deployed to the provinces on Thursday 17th June. On the 18th and 19th at provincial centres the personnel will be accredited and undergo refresher training. On Sunday 20th the teams will move into the districts ready to start outreach consultative meetings on Monday 21st.

    Effect on Parliamentary Sittings: The Senate is still due to sit on the 15th June, but it will then adjourn for a period sufficient to permit Senators to play their part in the Outreach [the precise length of the adjournment is still to be decided]. The House of Assembly is due to sit two weeks later, on 30th June [it has to meet on that date] but it is probable that enough MPs to make a quorum will be recalled for the sitting and then it will adjourn for the duration of the Outreach.

    An inevitable effect of these adjournments will be to delay implementation of the Government’s legislative reform agenda, and even the enactment of the POSA Amendment Bill that is already before the House of Assembly. This delay will mean that it is unlikely that the POSA Amendment Bill will be passed by Parliament in the near future and that the GPA’s proposed legislative reform agenda will suffer further delays, it is now almost two years since the signing of the GPA, and other than some financial Acts the government has not brought any major reform legislation to Parliament. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday urged Zimbabwe to take more measures to restore confidence in its economy and warned that without reforms economic growth could slow significantly this year, undermining progress made so far.

    MP’s Death Changes Balance in House of Assembly: The death on 2nd June of Shepherd Madamombe, MDC-T member of the House of Assembly for Tafara-Mabvuku, means another change in party strengths in the House: MDC-T 95 [was 96]; ZANU-PF 96; MDC-M 7. The Senate strengths remain unchanged [see Bill Watch 2/2010 of 20th January]. There are now 11 vacant House constituency seats and 6 vacant Senate constituency seats, all to be filled by by-elections, but the GPA parties seem determined that by-elections will not be called, notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution and the Electoral Act are being defied.

    MDC-T MPs arrested: Police have arrested Ian Kay [MP for Marondera Central] on allegations of distributing expired medicines donated by well-wishers to clinics in his constituency. Eliah Jembere [MP for Epworth] and Pishai Muchauraya [MP for Makoni South] have also been arrested, accused of insulting President Mugabe while speaking at party rallies; meanwhile a Bindura magistrate yesterday threw out a similar charge against Senator Morgan Komichi, ruling that the facts alleged by the prosecutor did not constitute an offence.

    Ex-MP sues Ministers and Police: Abednico Bhebhe, who was MDC-M MP for Nkayi North until he lost his seat after being expelled from the party, has applied for a court order stopping the police from barring his proposed “campaign rally”. Mr Bhebhe intends to stand as a candidate when the by-election for the vacant seat is eventually called. The agreement under the GPA, for the three main parties not to stand against each other in by-elections, was for one year only, so it no longer holds. Mr Bhebhe could stand for another party or as an Independent.

    Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill

    This short Bill, gazetted on 14th May, could be introduced into the Senate when it resumes on the 15th June. [Bills can be introduced in either House.]. Its aims are to make the Minister responsible for the Prison Service [currently Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa] a member of the NSC and to clarify, by a slight change of wording, the position of the Minister responsible for National Security [currently Minister of State for State Security in the President’s Office Sydney Sekeramayi] as an NSC member.

    [Other Ministers on the NSC are those responsible for Finance, Defence and Police and one nominated by each of the three GPA parties, along with the Prime Minister, both Deputy Prime Ministers the President and both Vice-Presidents. Also NSC members are the Commander of the Defence Forces, the Commanders of the Army and Air Force, the Commissioner-General of Police, the Commissioner of Prisons, the Director-General of State Security, the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, and the Secretary to the Prime Minister.

    Failure of National Security Council to meet regularly

    Section 5 of the Zimbabwe National Security Council Act states that the NSC must meet at least meet at least once in every calendar month. As chairperson, the President, in consultation with the Prime Minister, directs when and where it will meet. Last year the NSC met only once although the Act came into force on the 4th March 2009 – having been rushed through Parliament as its enactment was a condition of the MDC-T entering the inclusive government. This year it was agreed that it would meet on the first Friday of each month but there have been only two meetings. The June meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday 9th June.

    BIPPA with South Africa not yet in force

    The Agreement between South Africa and Zimbabwe for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments [commonly referred to as BIPPA] was signed in Harare on 27th November 2009. In March it was approved by both Houses of Parliament, as required by section 111B of the Constitution and it was ratified by President Mugabe on 11th May. Legally, however, the BIPPA will only come into force 30 days after both countries have notified each other that they have fulfilled their “respective constitutional requirements for entry into force” [BIPPA, Article 12]. Zimbabwe has now fulfilled its constitutional requirements. The exchange of notifications has not yet taken place, so the BIPPA is not yet in force.

    Legislation Update

    Bills: The Criminal Law (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Amendment Bill, gazetted on 4th June, provides for a tougher response by law enforcement authorities and courts to the vandalism and theft of electricity, telecommunications, broadcasting, railway and water “infrastructure material”. It contains proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act; the Postal and Telecommunications Act; the Broadcasting Services Act; the Railways Act; the Electricity Act; and the Water Act, including:

    • adding the statutory offences concerned to the “serious economic crimes” for which, at the option of the Attorney-General, there can be no bail for 21 days after the date of first court appearance [amendments to Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Ninth Schedule]
    • lengthy mandatory prison terms where not already provided for by the relevant Act [but with a let-out where a court finds special circumstances – this is designed to keep the penalty provisions within constitutional limits]
    • as a measure to counteract theft and trafficking in stolen infrastructure material [e.g., cables, piping, etc, etc], requiring persons transporting any “infrastructure material” to first obtain a special police clearance certificate [or have appropriate customs clearance if in transit through Zimbabwe], and face stiff prison terms if unable to produce such clearance certificates on demand by police or authorised inspectors
    • provision for forfeiture of land or premises on which stolen infrastructure material is found if the owner knowingly concealed or stored the material there.

    Statutory Instruments: SI 100/2010 contains the Securities (Registration, Licensing and Corporate Governance) Regulations made under the Securities Act. The regulations cover the registration of securities exchanges [e.g. the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange]; the licensing of securities dealers [stockbrokers], investment advisers and managers, and others involved in the securities field; the operation of trust accounts by licensed persons and firms; the payment of levies to the Securities Commission by licensed dealers; guidelines for good corporate governance of firms, to be observed by registered securities exchanges and licensed persons.

    General Notices: The Government Gazette of 4th June contains fifty-seven General Notices listing suppliers approved by the State Procurement Board as suitable to undertake Government contracts.

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