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of Assembly & Senate to meet 4th September - Bill Watch 41/2012
September 04, 2012
Houses resume sitting Tuesday 4th September
No Date Yet
for Ceremonial Opening of Next Parliamentary Session
Sittings to Resume on 4th September
There has still
been no announcement of a date for the official ceremonial opening
by the President of the next session of the present Parliament –
its fifth and final session. As a result both Houses will be sitting
again on Tuesday 4th September, which is the date to which they
adjourned in late July when starting their end-of-session break
for the August school holidays. This break was in fact briefly interrupted
by a special recall on 7th August to approve three Chinese loan
agreements [see Bill
Watch 39/2012 of 20th August]. It is normal practice to adjourn
to a particular date. When a new opening is expected, this date
is set well in advance in the expectation that a new session will
start before that date.
It had been
generally expected that by now the President would have proclaimed
the end of the fourth session and delivered his speech to Parliamentarians
opening the new session. That would have left members of the House
of Assembly and Senators taking the customary adjournment to
mull over the President's outline of the Government's
plans for the new session and then getting down to work in earnest
again on 18th September – the date earmarked on the 2012 Parliamentary
sitting calendar for the start of a series of sittings scheduled
to last until mid-October.
Will this week's
sittings be productive? It remains to be seen whether Parliamentarians
will be prepared to do something useful when they resume on 4th
September. Or will they, perhaps, just meet briefly and then adjourn
again to wait for the start of the new session, which cannot now
be long delayed? There is still unfinished business on the order
papers, particularly in the House of Assembly – and, as having
Parliament sitting is a costly exercise, it would be a pity to leave
this business untouched.
On the House
of Assembly Order Paper
Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill
item has been on the agenda since the beginning of the Session
without action from the Minister of Industry and Commerce.
- Private Member's
are two Private Member's Bills listed – the Urban
Councils Amendment Bill and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence
Amendement Bill [to repeal the now infamous section 121(3) of
the principal Act].
But proceedings on them are effectively suspended pending the
Supreme Court's decision on an application by ZANU-PF Minister
of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Ignatious Chombo
for a ruling that Private Member's Bills are inadmissible
during the lifetime of the GPA.
re Bills not yet on the Order Paper
Amendment Bill - This new Bill was gazetted more than two weeks
ago – on 10th August – it qualifies for its First
Reading. If that happens, it would be referred straight to the
Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] and would go no further pending
the PLC's report. [For summary of this Bill see Bill Watch
39/2012 of 20th August].
Bill - As this was only gazetted on 31st August, it does not qualify
for its First Reading this week.
of the Privileges Committee on SMM Administrator Gwaradzimba
is ready to be presented by the chairperson of the Privileges Committee
appointed to investigate a charge of contempt of Parliament said
to have been committed by Mr Gwaradzimba in a press interview about
his appearance before the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy.
reports awaiting presentation or further debate include: the Government's
Agreement with Essar Africa Holdings on New Zimbabwe Steel; ZESA
service delivery; Air Zimbabwe; deportations.
presentation include: resuscitation of a committee on government
assurances to monitor Government follow-up action on recommendations
by House committees; the need for public/private partnership arrangements
for running the mining town of Hwange; allegations of corruption
at the Reserve Bank.
Senate Order Paper
agenda lists 17 PLC adverse reports on statutory instruments. All
of these were presented and explained to Senators by the PLC chairperson
in July, before debate was adjourned for reaction from the Minister
of Justice and Legal Affairs. 16 of the 17 reports concern penalty
provisions in local authority by-laws, and since July discussions
between the Minister and the PLC have resulted in an agreement that
there will be appropriate changes made to the by-laws [see Bill
Watch 37/2012 of 6th August]. After that is done, the PLC will
withdraw the adverse reports. This agreement makes further debate
unnecessary, although Senators need to be formally updated on this
development. As for the seventeenth report, the Minister of Justice
and Legal Affairs has advised the Minister of Defence to repeal
SI 61/2012, which criminalises unauthorised entry into the premises
of an Army boarding school in Kadoma. But, the repealing SI has
not yet been gazetted.
though it looks formidable, is likely to be speedily dispatched.
It would be expected that Senators had other national and constituency
concerns to raise in a country which faces so many challenges.
New Mining Fees Still Not Repealed or Modified
The Senate adopted
the PLC adverse report on Statutory Instrument [SI] 11/2012 [the
controversial mining fees increases] on 28th March. But, the President
has still not gazetted the repeal of the SI although under the Constitution
this should have been done "forthwith" after the Senate's
adoption of the adverse report. Nor has the Minister of Mines and
Mining Development gazetted more reasonable fees despite statements
from both him and the Minister of Finance that fees would be reviewed.
of Finance's Microfinance Bill was gazetted on 31st August.
The Bill provides for the registration, supervision and regulation
of persons conducting microfinance business in Zimbabwe. The supervising
body will be the Reserve Bank, which must appoint one of its employees
as Registrar of Microfinanciers. Microfinance business is defined
to cover the providing of loans and other credit facilities by individuals,
financial institutions, companies and partnerships. Registration
will have to be renewed annually, and will not be granted to individuals
who are not "fit and proper persons" to carry on moneylending
business, or to institutions or companies that are not controlled
by fit and proper and suitably experienced persons. Appropriate
business plans will also be required.
The Bill also
makes amendments to the Banking Act and the Moneylending and Rates
of Interest Act. Registered banks will have to register their microfinance
divisions under the Bill. For moneylenders, registration by the
Registrar of Microfinanciers will replace the present licensing
under the old Moneylending and Rates of Interest Act – but
the anti-usury provisions of the latter Act [which was once called
the Usury Act] will be maintained in force.
[one new entry
unless otherwise stated]
awaiting Presidential assent and gazetting as Acts
and awaiting presentation in Parliament
Bill [gazetted on 31st August – see summary above] [not
Amendment Bill [gazetted on 10th August 2012]
of 31st August
Bill - Microfinance
Bill [see above]
agreement SI 140/2012 corrects an error in SI 138/2012 affecting
monthly levies payable to the Motor Industry National Employment
Council by workers and employers.
SI 141/2012 provides for a rebate of duty on the importation of
CO2 compliant coolers and HFC-free refrigeration equipment during
the period 31st August to 31st December 2012 only. The rebate is
restricted to importers approved by the Minister of Finance.
regulations SI 139/2012 sets out new fees payable for registration
of abnormal vehicles and permits for the use on Zimbabwe's
roads of abnormal size vehicles and carriage of abnormal loads.
exclusive prospecting orders GN 352/2012 notifies the withdrawal
with effect from 3rd August of 90 reservations against prospecting
and pegging under the Mines and Minerals Act. These withdrawals
follow the refusal of applications for exclusive prospecting orders
over the areas concerned.
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