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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 05 - 2013
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
May 06, 2013

Introduction

Parliament resumed its business yesterday after a two-month long break, with much anticipation for debate on the Constitution Bill. The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Advocate Eric Matinenga formally introduced the Bill in the House of Assembly and the first reading of the Bill was done. The Minister of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti gave his second reading speech on the Micro-Finance Bill (H.B. 2, 2012), Securities Amendment Bill (H.B. 1, 2012) and Income Tax Bill (H.B. 5, 2012) before the House adjourned to today.

House of Assembly

Introduction of the Constitution Bill

The introduction of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) was preceded by the suspension of Standing Orders related to the stages of bills in the House. This was to pave way for the “fast-tracking” of the Bill in the House. The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs then introduced the Bill in the House and immediately adjourned debate on the Bill to Wednesday 8 May 2013. This clearly did not go down well with ZANU PF leadership in the House who had come in full force anticipating that the Bill would be fast-tracked in both Houses of Parliament yesterday.

However, Hon. Matinenga said that timelines of the process on the Bill were agreed to on Monday by the COPAC Management in which all the 3 parties were represented. He said was mandated by the COPAC Management to introduce the Bill on Tuesday, with debate on the Bill coming the following day. Hence his argument carried the day and the second reading stage of the Bill was deferred to Wednesday 8 May 2013.

It is not so clear why Zanu-PF Members were frantically pushing for the fast-tracking of the Bill yesterday.

Second Reading Speech on Finance Bills by Minister of Finance

The Minister of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti gave his second reading speech on the Micro-Finance Bill (H.B. 2, 2012), Securities Amendment Bill (H.B. 1, 2012) and Income Tax Bill (H.B. 5, 2012) yesterday.

The Minister said the Micro-Finance Bill shall provide for the regulation and supervision framework for the Micro-Finance Sector including minimum requirements in respect of rules and regulations, licencing of the different classes of Micro-Financing institutions, credential supervision and institutional arrangements, roles of various stakeholders and a framework that promotes fairness and equity in the provision of micro-finance service. This will form the basis of the National Micro-Finance Policy of Zimbabwe.

On the Securities Amendment Bill, Hon. Biti said this was a very important amendment “consistent with international best practices and some of the lacunas and gaps” meant to deal with such issues particularly around issues of insider trading. He said there has been a lot of insider trading on the Stock Exchange.

Regarding the Income Tax Bill, the Minister said this was a very important piece of legislation which would fundamentally change the structure, the process, the substance and the output of the income tax in Zimbabwe.

However, the Bills could not proceed beyond the second reading stage as Hon. Eddie Cross objected to this arguing that the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion intended to conduct public hearings on the Bills. The Minister conceded to Hon. Cross’s requested. Thus the Micro-finance Bill and Securities Amendment Bill were deferred to 14 May 2013 whereas debate on the Income Tax Bill was deferred to 3 June 2013, to give the Portfolio Committee adequate time to consult the public on the Bills.

Senate Plenary

The Senate continued with debate on the motion in reply to the Presidential Speech and the condolence motion on the death of Vice President Hon. John Landa Nkomo.

Today’s Sitting

The anticipated major business in Parliament today is the debate on the Constitution Bill.

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