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Update on Parliament, newly gazetted Acts and SADC Tribunal - Bill Watch 20/2011
Veritas
May 23, 2011

The House of Assembly met on 17th May and adjourned to Tuesday 14th June

The Senate is adjourned until Tuesday 5th July

Parliamentary Update

Senate

The Senate did not sit last week. It last sat, briefly, on 10th May, when it adjourned to 5th July. Business awaiting attention includes the Public Order and Security Amendment Bill and the Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill, both for Second Reading.

House of Assembly

Adjournment to June: The House sat for less than ten minutes on 17th May without transacting any business. Proposing the adjournment of the House to Tuesday 14th June, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs said the majority of members were “involved elsewhere”, a reference to their presence being required in the ongoing Thematic Committees Stage of the constitution-making process.

Order Paper for 14th June: The House agenda for 14th June will be the same as the untouched agenda for last Tuesday, including the Second Readings of two Bills – the Deposit Protection Corporation Bill and the National Incomes and Pricing Amendment Bill. See Bill Watch 19/2011 of 12th May. The Human Rights Commission Bill, currently being printed, could come up for its First Reading later in the week if it is gazetted before the end of May. [Standing Orders require that a Bill be gazetted at least fourteen days before it is introduced.]

Committee Meetings: Regular ordinary meetings of House of Assembly portfolio committees and Senate thematic committees remained suspended this week. But the Thematic Committee on MDGs is holding public hearings on social protection programmes from 20th to 23rd May, travelling to four rural districts. [For details see Bill Watch Parliamentary Committee Series bulletin of 19th May.]

Committee Reports: At least three new committee reports will be ready for tabling when the House resumes.

Two Acts Gazetted

General Laws Amendment Act [No. 5/2011] [GLA Act] This was gazetted on Tuesday 17th May, coming into force immediately. [Electronic version available.]

17 Acts are amended, including the:

  • Reserve Bank Act, to stop sales in execution of Reserve Bank property seized on behalf of creditors who have obtained court judgments against the Bank for payment of debts [GLA Act, section 14]. This provision is backdated to 10th June 2010, which is the date on which SI 115/2010 enacted a similar provision under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures). Since that SI expired in mid-December 2010, creditors have had the last few months in which to take action against the Bank, and some have done so. The effect of the backdating on completed sales in execution remains to be seen.
  • Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, to substitute the word “business” for “company” in section 3(6) of the Act. This will empower the Minister responsible for indigenisation and empowerment to carry out “indigenisation and empowerment assessment ratings”, not just for companies, but for all “businesses” as defined in section 2 of the Act, i.e., companies, associations, syndicates and partnerships conducted for the acquisition of gain. [GLA Act, section 9.]
  • Parks and Wild Life Act, to provide for heavy mandatory prison sentences of 9 or 11 years for poaching of specially protected animals, particularly rhinoceros. [GLA Act, section 11.]

Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Act [No. 2/2011] This short Act was gazetted on Friday 20th May, coming into force immediately. It makes the Minister responsible for prisons [currently this is the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs] an ex officio member of the Zimbabwe National Security Council. [Electronic version available.]

SADC Summit Windhoek on 20th May

An Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government met in Windhoek on 20th May. The Summit did not discuss the situation in Zimbabwe because South African President Zuma, the SADC facilitator of the GPA, was not present – he was still involved in local government elections in South Africa. The Heads of State and Government will now have an opportunity to discuss Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Council and Summit in South Africa on 12th June.

SADC Tribunal

The Summit considered the report of the Committee of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General on the review of the Role, Responsibilities and Terms of Reference of the SADC Tribunal and decided as follows:

  • to mandate the Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General to initiate the process of amending the relevant SADC legal instruments and submit a progress report to the August 2011 Summit and a final report to the August 2012 Summit
  • not to reappoint members of the Tribunal whose term of office expired in August 2010 and not to replace members of the Tribunal whose term of office will expire on 31 October 2011
  • to “reiterate” the moratorium on the Tribunal receiving any new cases and hearing any cases until the SADC Protocol on the Tribunal has been reviewed and approved.

[Comment: While this decision on the Tribunal technically falls short of the “abolition” claimed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, its practical effect is much the same, because the Tribunal will not be able to function and will soon have no judges at all. The report by the Committee of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General has been not been made public, but a drastic reduction of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction is foreshadowed by the Summit’s decision and recent statements by Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa. It also seems inevitable that the Summit will not be taking steps to compel Zimbabwe to accept and act on the Tribunal’s decisions in the Campbell case and other cases on the land question. Withholding the report of the Committee of Ministers and AGs from public scrutiny is regrettable, given that the independent consultants hired by SADC to advise the Committee are reported as having rejected Zimbabwe’s contentions that the Tribunal was not legally established.]

Update on Acts and Bills

Acts Gazetted [see above] [Electronic versions available.]

  • Zimbabwe National Security Council Act (No. 2/2011)
  • General Laws Amendment Act (No. 5/2011)

[Note: Acts 1, 3 and 4/2011 have not been gazetted. They are in the pipeline; see below.]

Bills Passed and Awaiting Presidential Assent and/or Gazetting as Acts [Electronic versions available.]

Bills in Parliament [Electronic versions available.]

Senate

House of Assembly

Bills Gazetted and Awaiting Presentation in Parliament – None

Bills Being Printed for Presentation in Parliament [electronic versions not available – texts not yet released]

  • Human Rights Commission Bill [to be presented by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs]
  • Older Persons Bill [to be presented by the Minister of Labour and Social Services]

Bills Referred for Drafting after Approval in Principle by Cabinet

  • State Enterprises Restructuring Agency Bill
  • State Enterprises and Parastatals Management Bill
  • Zimbabwe Investment Authority Amendment Bill.

Statutory Instruments and General Notices

[Electronic versions NOT available.]

Gazette of 13th May

New Tariffs of Fees for Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of Court SIs 57 and 58/2011 enact new fees for services rendered to litigants by deputy sheriffs and messengers of court respectively.

NSSA Notices SI 59/2011 prescribes various matters under the National Social Security Authority [NSSA] Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme, including amounts of compensation and employers’ assessment rates for this year. SI 60/2011 deals with rates of contributions and benefits under the NSSA Pension and Other Benefits Scheme.

Public Health By-laws for Norton SI 56/2011 contains Norton Town Council by-laws covering sanitation, food premises, water pollution, keeping of horses and other animals, nuisances, and other public health concerns.

Gazette of 20th May

Radiation Protection SI 62/2011 contains the Safety and Security of Radiation Sources Regulations, made under the Radiation Protection Act. The regulations came into force on the date of gazetting, 20th May. They will be administered by the Radiation Protection Authority.

Government Financial Statements Also issued with this Gazette were the Accountant-General’s Consolidated Statements of Financial Performance for March 2011 and the first quarter of 2011. Gazetting of these statements is required by the Public Finance Management Act.

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