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SADC Summit resolutions; Parliament update - Bill Watch 39/2012
Veritas
August 20, 2012

Both Houses of Parliament have adjourned until Tuesday 4th September

SADC Summit Resolutions on Zimbabwe

President Zuma presented his report on the Zimbabwe situation to the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation when it met on the afternoon of Thursday 16th August. Although President Zuma had to return to South Africa the following day in the wake of the bloody confrontation between South African police and striking mineworkers, the Heads of State Summit, meeting on Friday and Saturday 17th and 18th, received his report through the Organ Troika and endorsed it. Although the official Organ Troika report is not made available, it was said to have recommended that Zimbabwe set up a Cabinet mechanism to implement facilitated GPA agreements. The end of Summit Communiqué included the following on Zimbabwe:

"Summit adopted the Report of the SADC Facilitator in Zimbabwe, H.E. Jacob Zuma, the President of the Republic of South Africa.

Summit noted the progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and urged the stakeholders to work together in particular, on the Constitution Making Process in Zimbabwe which is about to be concluded.

Summit urged signatories to the GPA to develop a Roadmap with timelines that are guided by the requirements of the process necessary for adoption of the constitution and the creation of conditions for free and fair elections to be held.

Summit resolved that if there are any difficulties with regard to the Constitution and implementation of agreements, the Facilitator should be called upon to engage with the parties and assist them resolve such issues, bearing in mind the timeframes and the necessity to hold free and fair elections.

Summit urged the parties to the GPA to continue the implementation of the GPA.

Summit noted the partial lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe and urged the European Union and the rest of the international community to lift all the sanctions unconditionally.

Summit commended H.E. President Zuma and his team for the progress made towards normalising the Zimbabwe situation."

Parliament Approves Chinese Loan Agreements at Last Sittings

When the members of the House of Assembly and the Senate assembled on Tuesday 7th August, it was to find that the "urgent business" for which they had been recalled from their adjournment [see Bill Watch 37/2012 of 6th August] was the approval of three Chinese loan agreements in terms of section 111B of the Constitution:

  • $150 million for the Victoria Falls Airport project
  • $141.3 million for the rehabilitation and upgrading of water and sewage infrastructure in Harare
  • $ 89.9 million for a medical equipment and supplies project.

Some members of both Houses protested at not having had enough time to study the loan agreements and at being expected to rubber-stamp agreements to fund projects already commenced in advance of funding. But all seemed satisfied with the Acting Finance Minister's reasons for approving what he described as cheap concessional loans for worthy projects, and the agreements were approved without opposition, by the House of Assembly on 7th August and the Senate the following day. Since then the Victoria Falls Airport loan agreement has attracted adverse comment because it has a provision for payment of interest and instalments out of a special escrow account into which Zimbabwe will pay all revenue received from the Harare and Victoria Falls airports.

Why approving the loans was "urgent business" Acting Minister of Finance Gorden Moyo explained to the House that if the agreements were not approved Zimbabwe stood to lose the funds. This was because "the Chinese Government will, in September, be sitting to evaluate all their programmes and projects worldwide and would withdraw funding for projects not already under implementation". On the Victoria Falls Airport project he stressed the need to complete it in time for United Nations Tourism Convention in August 2013.

Why were they not brought to Parliament earlier? Not answered was why the Ministry of Finance did not bring the agreements to Parliament before the Houses adjourned in late July in preparation for the end of the session. After all, the agreements were signed on 21st March and 5th April. Sitting days from April to July were not fully utilised, so there was plenty of Parliamentary time available that could have been devoted to dealing with these agreements properly. And that would have avoided the additional expense and inconvenience of the special recall.

Other Business

House of Assembly

Portfolio Committee Report on Operations of State Procurement Board

While waiting for the Acting Minister of Finance to arrive from a prolonged Cabinet meeting, the House heard Hon Madzimure's presentation of the report of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion on the operations of the State Procurement Board [SPB] and contributions to the debate on the report from members of the Committee. The report outlines shortcomings in the present system, including unnecessary delays caused by current procedures and the SPB's lack of capacity and expertise to evaluate large technical tenders. It recommends an urgent review of the State Procurement Act and its attendant regulations. [Copy of report available from veritas@mango.zw]

All other business on the Order Paper was left unfinished when the House adjourned until 4th September after approving the Chinese loans. This included the presentation of the Privileges Committee's report on the contempt of Parliament charges against SMM administrator Mr Arafas Gwaradzimba, which will now have to wait until the next session.

Senate

The sitting on 7th August was adjourned after a few minutes because no Ministers were available when Senators assembled at 2.30 pm. Senators did not take the opportunity to make progress on unfinished business still on the Order Paper, the most urgent being the accumulation of adverse reports on statutory instruments from the Parliamentary Legal Committee [see Bill Watch 37/2012 of 6th August]. It is hoped that these will be revived and dealt with in the next Session. Delaying on PLC reports which the Senate has done before is creating regrettable precedents which will erode Parliaments effectiveness and public confidence. In letting them slide they are in effect "rubber stamping" Ministry regulations.

On 8th August the entire sitting was devoted to the Chinese loan agreements. The Senate then adjourned until 4th September.

Securities Amendment Bill Gazetted

The Securities Amendment Bill was gazetted in the Government Gazette dated 10th August. The Bill provides for extensive amendments to the Securities Act of 2004, and related changes to the Collective Investment Schemes Act and the Asset Management Act. Its objective is to increase the effectiveness of the Securities Commission, to provide further protection for investors, and to respond to developments in the financial sector since the principal Act was passed in 2004. Changes include making the Commissioners non-executive, with executive powers vested in its CEO; requiring all securities exchanges [e.g. the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange] to be companies rather than mutual associations; establishing a single Investor Protection Fund; and bringing asset managers and collective investment scheme managers under the control of the Commission rather than, as at present, the Reserve Bank. The title of the principal Act will be changed to "Securities and Exchange Act" and the Commission's new name will be "Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe". [Bill available from veritas@mango.zw]

By-Elections Deadline Approaches

Friday 31st August is the deadline given by the Supreme Court for the gazetting of a Presidential proclamation calling the three Matabeleland by-elections in terms of by the Supreme Court's order of 12th July.

Status of Bills

[Bills available from veritas@mango.zw unless otherwise stated]

Passed Bills being prepared for Presidential assent before gazetting as Acts

Bill gazetted and awaiting presentation in Parliament

  • Securities Amendment Bill [Gazetted 10th August 2012. See above.]

Bill being printed for gazetting before presentation [not yet available]

  • Micro-Finance Bill

Bill approved by Cabinet, but not yet in the Parliamentary Pipeline

  • Income Tax Bill – mentioned by the Minister of Finance in his Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review [not yet available]

Government Gazette of 10th and 17th August

[copies not available]

Bill

  • Securities Amendment Bill gazetted 10th August [see above]

Statutory Instruments

Collective bargaining agreements 2012 remuneration packages for cigarette and tobacco manufacturing industry [SI 131/2012] and tobacco miscellaneous industry [SI 133/2012]; comprehensive new conditions of service for employees in grades 5 to 16 in the Harare Municipal Undertaking [SI 135/2012].

Local authority by-laws Bindura Municipality cycle by-laws [SI 132/2012] requiring licensing of all cycles kept in the council area, and replacing 1968 by-laws.

Radiation protection SI 134/2012 enacts a new schedule of licensing and registration fees for the Radiation Protection (Safety and Security of Radiation Sources) Regulations of 2011.

General Notices

Land acquisition - GN 338/2012 notifies Government's compulsory acquisition of pieces of land for urban development in Harare and Zvishavane.

Specifications under Prevention of Corruption Act By GN 339/2012 the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs declare Mabonde Agricultural Enterprises and two individuals to be specified persons under the Act and assign an investigator. [A specified cannot dispose of property, incur debts, operate bank accounts, etc without the investigator's approval.]

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