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Budget consultations & legislation update - Bill Watch 38/2010
September 25, 2010

The House of Assembly has adjourned until 5th October, the Senate until 12th October

2011 Budget Preparations

At a press briefing on 31st August Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced that there would be early stakeholder consultative processes ahead the 2011 Budget. The Budget must be tabled in the House of Assembly during December or at the very latest by the end of January 2011 to comply with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act. The Minister promised a transparent and consultative approach to the making of the Budget, with participation by stakeholders and ordinary citizens. [Minister’s full statement available on request.] [Also on Ministry of Finance website

Ministries were told to consult their stakeholders and submit their Budget proposals to the Ministry of Finance by 1st October. Organisations and individuals are also welcome to submit representations via the Ministry’s website – As Parliamentary committees would also be consulted, the Minister also encouraged citizens to give input to their elected representatives to enable them to pass on the views of their constituents.

Parliamentary Update – Legislative Agenda

When the House of Assembly resumes on 5th October, its agenda will include:

Bill Already under Consideration by Parliament: Mr Gonese’s Private Member’s POSA Amendment Bill will continue its Second Reading during which the principles of the Bill will be debated.

Bills awaiting presentation in Parliament [Summaries of the first two Bills in Bill Watch 22 of 8th June]

These Bills are ready for their First Reading, after which they will be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for it to consider whether they are consistent with the Constitution. Only after the PLC has reported to the House can the Bills be taken further.

  • Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill
  • Criminal Law Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill
  • Energy Regulatory Authority Bill
  • Attorney-General’s Office Bill. This Bill was gazetted on 10th September. Its object is to constitute the Attorney-General’s Office as a service outside the Public Service; and to establish a Board to administer the Office. The Board will fix conditions of service for members of the Office – apart from the Attorney-General and the Deputy Attorneys-General, whose conditions are fixed under the Constitution. [An earlier version of this Bill was gazetted in April 2005 and introduced into the House of Assembly, but lapsed at the end of the 2005/2006 Parliamentary session.]

Three other Government Bills are being printed [see Legislation Update below]. Once printed, they will be gazetted; they cannot be presented until at least 14 days after gazetting.

Note: The Electoral Amendment Bill and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill have not yet been sent to the Government Printer for printing.

Other Parliamentary News

Speaker’s Election Challenged in Supreme Court: On Tuesday 21st September the Supreme Court heard Jonathan Moyo MP’s appeal against Justice Patel’s January ruling upholding the validity of Mr Lovemore Moyo’s election as Speaker of the House of Assembly in 2008. The question for decision is whether or not the election was conducted by secret ballot as required by Parliamentary Standing Orders. The evidence led in the High Court revealed that several members of the House, having marked their ballot papers in the privacy of the booth provided, displayed the marked papers to colleagues before depositing them in the ballot box. The court said it would give its decision at a later date. [Electronic version of Justice Patel’s judgment available.]

Parliamentary Legal Committee: The PLC has met during the present lengthy recess to consider the constitutionality of statutory instruments and has dealt with all statutory instruments gazetted up to the end of July. It will meet again next week to consider statutory instruments gazetted during August. There have been no Bills for the PLC to consider during the recess.

USAid Donates $500 000 Equipment to Parliament: On 22nd September in a ceremony at Parliament the Prime Minister formally accepted delivery of new audio and digital equipment donated to Parliament by USAid. The equipment will enhance Parliament’s ability to make official proceedings in both Houses and in six committee rooms accessible to the media and public, not just by means of Hansard and Parliament’s website but also by live broadcasts.

Legislation Update

Finance and Appropriation Acts Gazetted at Last

These were gazetted on Friday 17th September and came into force the day they were gazetted.

  • The Finance Act (Act No. 3/2010) gives effect to Finance Minister Biti’s mid-term taxation changes. As some of the taxation changes are stated to be with effect from 1st August, this Act should have been gazetted and brought into operation on or before 1st August – an Act has no legal force until gazetted. The Act was passed by Parliament on 16th July, so gazetting by 1st August was feasible. The delay in gazetting has caused some confusion in the business community. [Electronic version available.]
  • The Appropriation (2010) Amendment Act (Act No. 2/2010) gives effect to the amended Estimates of Expenditure for 2010. [Electronic version available.]

Dates of Commencement for two Acts of 2001:

Two Acts of 2001 were brought into force by statutory instruments on 10th September. The Acts are:

  • Intellectual Property Tribunal Act ([No. 5/2001) [brought into force by SI 152] This Act creates the Intellectual Property Tribunal, which will deal with appeals and applications under the Patents Act, Trademarks Act, Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act etc. It takes over from the old Patents Tribunal, which was abolished in 2001. It will be presided over by “Presidents”, appointed by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission; they must be qualified for appointment as High Court judges.
  • Trade Marks Amendment Act (No. 10/2001) [brought into force by SI 153] This Act strengthens the statutory civil remedies for infringement of registered trade marks, provides for the protection of “familiar” foreign trade marks and gives the 1993 Banjul Protocol on Marks the force of law in Zimbabwe [meaning that trade marks registered by the African Regional Industrial Property Organisation – ARIPO – in Harare will have the same effect as trade marks registered by Zimbabwe’s Registrar of Trade Marks]. It also empowers customs authorities to block the importation of goods bearing counterfeit trademarks if so requested by the holder of the genuine registered trademark.

New Bills being printed for presentation to Parliament [copies not yet available]:

  • Deposit Protection Corporation Bill: In his speech opening Parliament in mid-July the President said this Bill would transform the existing Deposit Protection Scheme, set up under the Banking Act, into an independent statutory entity. The object is to provide compensation for depositors if banking institutions fail.
  • General Laws Amendment Bill: The proper purpose of General Laws Amendment Bills is to make minor updating amendments to Acts of Parliament, but they are sometimes used to make important changes.
  • Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill

Statutory Instruments:

Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use) Regulations [SI 154/2010], gazetted on 17th September. These regulations will come into operation on 1st December 2010, replacing regulations of 1972 last updated in 1988. They lay down in great detail the minimum requirements with which motor vehicles must comply. New provisions of general interest to the ordinary motorist include:

  • two reflective breakdown triangles will have to be carried in every motor vehicle and placed in front of and behind the vehicle whenever it is stationary on a road;
  • a serviceable fire extinguisher will have to be carried in every motor vehicle.

[A question: Will suppliers of triangles and fire extinguishers complying with the specifications stipulated in the regulations have the capacity to supply, before 1st December, the needs of the many thousands of vehicle owners not previously obliged by law to carry such items?]

General Notices:

GN 245/2010 of 3rd September notified the appointment of members of the board of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority [ZIMRA] for a 3-year term of office starting on 27th August.

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