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  • Opening of Parliament: Presidential Speech – Bill Watch 28/2010
    July 16, 2010

    The Third Session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe was officially opened on Tuesday 13th July 2010

    Both Houses have now adjourned until October

    The President performed the annual ceremonial opening of Parliament on Tuesday. Senators joined members of the House of Assembly in the chamber of the House to hear the President’s speech. Thereafter both Houses held brief separate sittings and adjourned until Wednesday for the presentation of the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review.

    Highlights of the President’s Speech

    As well as an outline of the new session’s legislative agenda [see below] highlights of the President’s speech included references to:

    • How important it is that the recently launched Outreach Programme of the Parliamentary Select Committee for the New Constitution ensures that we emerge with a Constitution which is “genuinely Zimbabwean in letter and spirit”
    • The “huge prospects” for the diamond sub-sector to emerge as a major driver of the country’s economic turnaround; the intended encouragement of local beneficiation of diamonds through mechanisms that will require producers to set aside 10 percent of their production for local cutting, polishing and jewellery manufacturing; and Government’s “resolve to sell our diamonds for the benefit of our country and her people” notwithstanding the use by those ill-disposed towards us of “absurd conditionalities and other dilatory tactics in a bid to block the sale of our diamonds”
    • An irrigation master plan, in terms of which two million hectares are projected to be put under irrigation over the coming 10 to 20 years
    • The need for effective development and application of communication technologies (ICTs) with the “overarching goal” being to turn Zimbabwe into “a knowledge-driven society and an ICT hub in the region”, consultations being under way on the legislative framework to underpin development of this sector
    • Government’s re-engagement with the international financial institutions over Zimbabwe’s debt, with a view to reaching some agreement so as to unlock new financing
    • The current focus on implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, notably the protocol’s call for equal gender representation in politics and other levels of decision-making.

    Government’s Legislative Intentions for Third Session

    In his opening speech President Mugabe announced a 24-Bill legislative agenda for the new Session.
    None of the Bills mentioned in the Presidents Speech is ready for Parliament now – not one of them has been gazetted. Two are currently being printed by the Government Printer for gazetting. Copies are not yet available.
    Bills at Printers

    Attorney General’s Office Bill [to take Law Officers out of the Public Service and provide for the functions and powers of the Attorney General’s Office Board]

    Energy Regulatory Authority Bill [to establish an Energy Regulatory Authority to regulate the energy supply industry]

    Bills Still Being Drafted

    Note: These Bills will only reach Parliament later in the session. After drafting has been completed, Cabinet approval of the final draft has to be obtained. Some of the Bills may only be dealt with well into 2011. Some may not make it at all, of the 15 Bills listed for the just-ended Second Session, only 3 were actually presented to Parliament and passed, and some were mentioned again in Tuesday’s speech.]

    • Electoral Amendment Bill [this will give effect to the electoral reforms negotiated by the GPA negotiators and approved by the three party principals]
    • Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Amendment Bill
    • Referendums Amendment Bill
    • Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill [to spell out the powers and functions of the Human Rights Commission, in elaboration of provision made in the Constitution]
    • International Agreements Bill [to rationalise the system of ratifying, publishing and domesticating international agreements]
    • Media Practitioners Bill [to repeal the part of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act that deals with registration of journalists and privacy issues]
    • Women’s Council Bill [to facilitate the establishment of a Women’s Council to co-ordinate implementation of women’s empowerment programmes in the country]
    • Trafficking in Persons Bill [to criminalise human trafficking in accordance with the Palermo Protocol to the Anti-Organised Crime Convention]
    • Income Tax Bill
    • Deposit Protection Bill [to transform the Deposit Protection Scheme presently enacted as a Statutory Instrument under the Banking Act, into an independent statutory entity]
    • Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [a hardy annual, also mentioned in the 2009 agenda; an earlier Bill was presented in 2007 but lapsed when the Sixth Parliament was dissolved] .
    • Zimbabwe Exploration Corporation Bill [which will provide for the establishment of a new parastatal through which Government will be more actively involved in mineral exploration and in a better position to determine the types and quantum of the country’s mineral resources]
    • National Incomes and Pricing Bill [to remove price controls in line with pronouncements made in the 2009 Budget Statement]
    • Zimbabwe Border Post Authority Bill [which will establish an authority to ease congestion at ports of entry]
    • Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill [which will separate the regulatory functions and airport operation functions of the Civil Aviation Authority]
    • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Bill [the 2009 agenda listed a Small and Medium Enterprises Bill]
    • Zimbabwe Examinations and Qualifications Authority Bill [also from the 2009 agenda]
    • School Examinations Council Amendment Bill
    • Indigenous Languages Bill [to provide for the preservation and promotion of indigenous languages]
    • Medical Aid Societies Bill [to provide for the registration and regulation of medical aid societies].
    • Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill [to incorporate into the Criminal Law Code suggestions made by members of the public]
    • Environmental Management Amendment Bill [to provide for more deterrent penalties against offenders, and to establish an Environmental Standards Enforcement Committee and Environmental Committees in urban local authorities]

    Other Bills

    Not included among the Bills to be presented this session was:

    • National ICT Bill [this was listed last year; all the President said about it in Tuesday's speech was that consultations are under way on the legislative framework needed to underpin development in the ICT sector. Nothing was said to suggest it may reach Parliament during this coming Session.]
    • Three other Bills will come up in the new session as they are already on Parliament’s agenda, although not mentioned by the President on Tuesday:
    • Public Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill [this Bill was part-way through its Second Reading stage in the House of Assembly when it lapsed at the end of the last Session; it has now been restored to the Order Paper by resolution of the House approved on Wednesday.]
    • Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill [already printed and gazetted]
    • Criminal Law (Protection of Power, Communications and Water Infrastructure) Bill [already printed and gazetted]
    • Minister Biti also announced in his Fiscal Policy Review that there will be two Bills prompted by the problems associated with the exploitation of the Chiadzwa/Marange diamonds:
    • Zimbabwe Diamond Development Corporation Amendment Bill [to accelerate Government's receipt of ZMDC’s income from diamond sales]
    • Diamond Bill [to ensure that all diamond mining will be conducted by and through the State]

    Bills that have disappeared?

    The following Bills were listed for presentation during the previous Session but were not presented – and were not mentioned by the President on Tuesday:

    • Railways Amendment Bill
    • National Youth Service Bill
    • Food Control Bill
    • Bacteriological Weapons Convention Bill

    BIPPAs to be taken to parliament for approval

    The President also announced that the Government is currently processing Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements with several countries. Agreements with Iran, India, Kuwait, Botswana, Singapore and the OPEC Fund would be brought to Parliament for approval during this Session. [Note: Parliamentary approval of every major international agreement is required by section 111B of the Constitution. The procedure is for both Houses to pass resolutions approving an agreement on the motion of the responsible Minister.]

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