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Income Tax Bill to be introduced; amendments to mining law held up - Bill Watch 6/2013
Veritas
February 11, 2013

Both Houses of Parliament Will Sit on Tuesday 12th February

Correction to Bill Watch 5/2013

In Bill Watch 5/2013 of 4th February, under the heading SADC: SA Facilitation Team Visit, there was a statement that South African facilitators had visited Harare on “29th February”. That should have been “29th January”. Veritas apologises for any confusion caused by this unfortunate proof-reading oversight.

Zimbabwe Youth Council (General) Regulations, 2013 [SI 4/2013]

In Bill Watch 5/2013 of 4th February we commented critically on these sweeping regulations made by the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, and suggested that they are ultra vires [i.e., go beyond the powers given to the Minister by the enabling Act] and are therefore invalid. The regulations apply to “all youth associations” engaging directly or indirectly in undefined “youth activities”. We now have soft copies of the regulations and the enabling Zimbabwe Youth Council Act.

Parliament Accepts Draft Constitution

On Wednesday 6th February both the House of Assembly and the Senate devoted the whole afternoon to debate on identical motions calling for the adoption of the COPAC Report on the constitution-making process and the noting of the draft constitution.

The House unanimously approved the motion that day after four hours of debate. Speakers from all parties applauded the successful conclusion of the constitution-making process.

The Senate debate concluded the next day on Thursday 7th, when Senators, too, unanimously approved the motion. Like MPs in the House of Assembly, speakers from all parties and Senator Chiefs supported the motion.

Next Step : the Referendum

After the adoption of the two motions in Parliament, the next formal step in the constitution-making process, as stipulated in the GPA, is putting the draft constitution to voters in a Referendum. Indications are that the Referendum will be in late March or early April, which gives time for COPAC to conduct is planned massive publicity campaign to ensure that all voters have the change to acquaint themselves with the content of the draft – and for parties and other organisations to campaign for or against a YES vote .

It is only if there is a YES vote in the Referendum that the Constitution will be brought back to Parliament in the form of a Bill to be passed into law. Its passage through Parliament must be completed before the 29th June, which is when the present Parliament comes to the end of its five-year life-span.

Other Parliamentary Proceedings Last Week

House of Assembly

Motions

  • Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill

Without debate or opposition the House agreed to restore to the Order Paper Mr Gonese’s lapsed motion seeking the leave of the House to introduce his Private Member’s Bill to repeal section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Only if the motion is approved by the House will Mr Gonese be able to table his Bill and have it read for the first time. It remains to be seen if opponents will try to stall progress on this Bill by asking the Speaker to extend to it his sub judice ruling on the Mr Matimba’s Private Member’s Urban Councils Amendment Bill to this Bill also. Although the case currently awaiting decision by the Supreme Court refers only to Mr Matimba’s Bill, the argument put to the court was that all Private Member’s Bills are prohibited by the terms of the GPA [see Bill Watch 2/2013 of 18th January].

  • Retention of revenue by Government departments - Debate commenced on this motion, which calls for an end to the practice whereby some departments – e.g. the Police and the Registrar-General’s Office – are permitted to retain revenue collected instead of remitting it to the Ministry of Finance for the benefit of the fiscus.
  • Sports and Recreation Commission - During debate on this motion, which calls for the dissolution of the Commission, some MPs suggested that there should be a separate Ministry for sport, rather than lumping sport together with education, arts and culture, as has been the President’s practice for many years.

Question Time - On Wednesday the House postponed members’ questions to allow for full debate on the motion on the COPAC report and draft constitution.

Senate

Motions

  • Condolence motion – late Vice-President Nkomo - Senator S.K. Moyo introduced this motion. Vice-President Nkomo died on 17th January.
  • Death penalty - Debate continued on the motion for eventual abolition of the death penalty.

Comment: If this motion is carried, and if a similar motion is adopted by the House of Assembly, it will be interesting to see what impact, if any, this may have on section 48 of the draft Constitution, which permits the death penalty to be provided for by Act of Parliament, but on a more restricted basis than at present and even then for men only. Might section 48 still be changed to prohibit the death penalty? Even if it remains unchanged, section 48 in its present form, because it is only permissive [i.e. allows for the death penalty, which is not the same as making it mandatory], would not be an obstacle to a future Act of Parliament abolishing the death penalty.

Coming Up in Parliament This Week

House of Assembly

Bills

  • Income Tax Bill - This Ministry of Finance Bill is listed for its First Reading on 12th February. After that it will be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for its report on the constitutionality of the Bill. The Bill cannot progress further until that report has been received.
  • Microfinance Bill - The PLC’s report on this Ministry of Finance Bill is awaited.

Motions - Debate will continue on the motions on [1] the vote of thanks to the President for his speech opening the [2] retention of public revenues by departments; and [3] the Sports and Recreation Commission.

Monument status for certain prisons - Hon Kanzama is due to introduce his motion calling for monument status to be accorded to Hwahwa, Sikhombula and Gonakudzingwa prisons as places in which leaders were detained during the struggle for independence.

Question Time

Nine written questions are listed for responses from various Ministers. The last session saw poor Ministerial attendance at Question Time, resulting in questions going unanswered for many months.

Senate

Bills -There are no Bills listed.

Motions Debate will continue on the motions listed: [1] the vote of thanks to the President for his speech opening the current Session; [2] the Nkomo condolence motion; and [3] the motion on the death penalty.

Amendments to Mining Law Held Up

When the President opened the current Parliamentary Session the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill was one of the Bills he mentioned as being on the Government’s legislative agenda. But the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has officially informed the Chamber of Mines that the Cabinet Committee on Legislation has since directed the Ministry to abandon its proposed Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill and instead come up with a Bill for a complete new Mines and Minerals Act. This will obviously take a long time, bearing in mind that the current Act is a complex piece of legislation with more than four hundred sections. There is no way a Bill of this complexity can possibly be ready for presentation to the current Parliament, so changes to the mining law will now, it seems, have to wait for the next Parliament.

Government Gazette 8th February

Bill

  • Attorney General’s Office Amendment Bill - This Bill aims to address certain concerns which have delayed the bringing into force of the Attorney-General’s Office Act ever since it was gazetted in early 2011 [both the Bill and the Act are available from veritas@mango.zw].

Statutory Instruments [SIs] [NOT available from Veritas]

Motor vehicles for chiefs - SI 14/2013, made by the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, amends the Traditional Leaders (Benefits and Conditions of Service) Regulations to provide for substantive chiefs to be provided with vehicles. This is essentially a loan scheme. The chiefs will have to pay for the vehicles – the exercise will be funded from the Chiefs’ Vehicle Revolving Fund, with the cost of a vehicle and interest being recovered from the chief concerned.

Customs duty rebate for clothing manufacturers - SI 15/2013 provides for a strictly-controlled rebate of duty on fabrics and other items for manufacturing clothing, valid for the year 2013 only. The beneficiaries are 12 named manufacturers.

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