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Parliament passes Money Laundering Bill - Bill Watch 26/2013
Veritas
June 25, 2013

Countdown to Dissolution of Parliament

Both Houses met this afternoon [Tuesday]. This leaves only two scheduled sitting days before the automatic dissolution of Parliament at midnight on 28th June.

If the parties reach agreement on presenting further Bills, there can be an extra sitting day on Friday, and late night sittings, but only this week. There has been no evidence of Cabinet agreeing to new Bills before the dissolution of Parliament and the last regular Cabinet meeting was today.

If the Constitutional Court rules in the case brought before it that the Electoral Act Amendments made under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act are unconstitutional, it would be difficult to get an Electoral Amendment Bill through Parliament in time, and also constitutionally impossible to hold elections under the old, unamended, Electoral Act. [Reminder: The new Constitution says the Electoral Law must be amended by an Act of Parliament not in terms of another Act, i.e. the Presidential Powers Act.] There are other cases waiting in the Constitutional Court over the electoral amendments made under the Presidential Powers Act. If any ruling this week gave rise to a constitutional crisis, although the five-year term of this Seventh Parliament has to end at midnight on 28th June, there could be an argument for the President to declare a public emergency or a situation which may give rise to a public emergency. [Section 31J of previous constitution – this section is still in force]. In which case the life of Parliament could be extended. But this declaration would have to be done this week, before Parliament is dissolved, as the House of Assembly would have to approve the Presidents declaration and both Houses would have to pass resolutions extending Parliament by up to six months.

In Parliament Today 25th June

House of Assembly: The House passed both the Electricity Amendment Bill and the Income Tax Bill, the latter with amendments proposed by the Minister of Finance. Both Bills were transmitted to the Senate to be dealt with tomorrow.

Senate: The Senate rose after only five minutes without debating any of the items on the Order Paper.

Coming up in Parliament 26th June

No News on Pre-Election Reforms

In the Senate last Thursday, Minister Timba mentioned there would be a meeting between the GPA principals to thrash out compromises on reforms but the meeting did not take place. All the other meetings mooted to do this since the SADC directive from the Maputo Summit of 16th June were either inconclusive or did not take place according to schedule. The responsibility for this failure to has been the subject of accusations and counter-accusations from the GPA parties.

House of Assembly

Motions: There are still a number of uncompleted debates on a wide range of motions, ranging from “take note” motions on Portfolio Committee reports to backbenchers’ motions on such varied topics as the shortcomings of the Sports and Recreation Commission and the generally poor performance of Zimbabwean athletes in all sporting disciplines; the withholding from Treasury of revenue collected by Government ministries and departments; and the historical significance of certain prisons.

Senate

Bills - The Electricity Amendment Bill and the amended Income Tax Bill await passing by the Senate.

Adverse PLC reports on statutory instruments - The Senate still has to consider the Parliamentary Legal Committee’s adverse reports on three statutory instruments – the Youth Council regulations in SI 4/2013; the most recent tariff of mining fees in SI 29/2013; and the Mangwe sand extraction by-laws in SI 25/2013. The reports have gone undebated for some three weeks.

Other business - The Order Paper lists the part-heard debates on delegation reports on last month’s Conference in Bahrain of the Association of Senates, Shoora and Equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World, and two sessions of the ACP-EU Joint Parliament Assembly held in 2011.

In Parliament – Thursday 20th June

Both Houses pass Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Bill

After the announcement in the House of Assembly of a swiftly-provided non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee, this major Bill went through its Second Reading, Committee and Third Reading stages in both Houses in what must be a Zimbabwe record time. The House took just 50 minutes to approve its 105 clauses and two schedules before sending it to the Senate. The Senate then got through it in less than 30 minutes. Apart from the Ministerial presentations of the reasons for the Bill and for the haste involved, there was little discussion and what there was limited to brief expressions of support for the Bill and a protest against the way the Bill had been presented to Parliament at the eleventh hour [see below].

Why was the Bill so urgent?

Zimbabwe is one of the founding members of the Eastern and Southern African Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), which in turn is an associate member of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that sets international standards on money laundering and terrorism financing. The 20th June was a FATF deadline for member states to pass legislation to upgrade their on these matters. If Parliament did not pass the Bill, the Minister warned, Zimbabwe risked being blacklisted by FATF, which would make it very difficult for Zimbabwean financial institutions, businesses and even the State to make or receive international payments. Senator Chief Chitsunga, although supporting the Bill, lodged a justified protest against the delays within Government that had brought about this unseemly haste: “Our Government should do things timeously and not wait for the last minute so that we do not have guns pointed on our heads. We only have seen this Bill this afternoon. We did not have enough time to check what is contained in it. That will not make us good leaders. What is more important is that for the past two months, we did not have business in this Senate, yet this Bill was there. It should have been brought to this Senate in time rather than waiting for the last minute like this. Someone was sitting on it.”

What the Bill does: The Bill aligns our Anti-money Laundering and Combating of Financing of Terrorism (AML/CTF) legal and institutional framework with the FATF recommendations. It repeals and replaces the Serious Offences (Confiscation of Profits) Act, and amends the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act, the Criminal Matters (Mutual Assistance) Act, the Building Societies Act and the Asset Management Act.

House of Assembly

The House transacted no business apart from passing the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Bill. The Acting Speaker reported the receipt of a non-adverse report from the PLC on the Electricity Amendment Bill; this cleared the Bill for the Second Reading stage on 25th June.

Senate

While waiting for the Money Laundering Bill to come across from the House of Assembly, Senators put questions to Minister of State in the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration [“the Organ”] Sekai Holland and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jameson Timba.

National healing: Mrs Holland, asked what will happen to the national healing programme after the elections, explained that over the last four years the Organ had succeeded in getting the GPA principals to adopt a four-element “infrastructure for peace”, now being implemented:

  • National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which is part of the new Constitution and will deal with all transitional justice issues
  • Code of Conduct for Political Parties already signed by the GPA principals
  • History Project at Midlands State University which will be part of UNESCO’s Africa History Project
  • A degree programme in the MSU’s new department of Peace, Economics and Reconciliation.

The Organ had also recommended a separate Ministry responsible for National Healing, given the amount of work still to be done.

Election timing: Mr Timba was asked whether, as a result of last weekend’s SADC Summit in Maputo, the coming elections would interfere with the smooth running of the UN World Tourism Organisation Conference towards the end of August. He told Senators that, contrary to what had been agreed at the Summit, a Minister had unfortunately applied prematurely to the Constitutional Court for an election date adjustment before the GPA principals had reached a consensus position on the joint court application called for by the Summit; the principals had met on 19th June and would be meeting again on 21st June to settle this issue.

Death of Edward Chindori-Chininga MP

Edward Chindori-Chininga, Zanu-PF MP for Guruve South, Deputy Minister of Mines 1995-2000 and Minister of Mines 2000-2004, and in this Parliament, the knowledgeable, energetic and determined chairperson of the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee for Mines and Energy, died in a car accident on 21st June. He had only recently presented to the House two hard-hitting reports from his committee, one on diamond mining in Zimbabwe with special reference to the Marange Diamond Fields, the other on chrome mining.

Government Gazette

Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Bill

The Bill was gazetted in a Gazette Extraordinary on 19th June, the same day it was introduced in the House of Assembly. It was passed by both Houses on 20th June [see above].

Statutory Instruments

Regulation bulk water suppliers: SI 90/2013 amends the Water (Permits) regulations. This important SI, made by the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management in terms of the Water Act. It introduces a comprehensive regulatory scheme for bulk water suppliers, defined as “persons who sell water in bulk for any purpose exceeding 2 000 litres, and includes water bottling companies.” Suppliers will have to register with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority [ZINWA]. No foreign companies will be registered. Suppliers are prohibited from abstracting water from boreholes or wells in urban residential areas unless ZINWA approves. Abstraction outside urban areas must not result in unsustainable lowering of ground water levels, decreased yields or deterioration in groundwater quality. The regulations were obviously published later than planned, because they require existing suppliers to apply for registration by an impossible 31st May 2013; this mistake will have to be corrected by an amendment.

Collective bargaining agreements: SIs 93/2013 [Grain Marketing Board] and 94/2013 [mining industry].

New township in Mhondoro-Ngezi Communal Land: SI 91/2013 is the Communal Land (Excision of Land) Notice and SI 92/2013 is the Communal Land (Setting Aside of Land) (Turf Township) Notice. The 1672 hectares of land affected is now set aside for the purposes of establishing a township. Existing occupiers of land in the area have until the 31st December to depart. Rights of use or occupation of land in the township will be governed by regulations made by the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development in terms of section 10 of the Communal Land Act.

Customs duty: SI 95/2013 provides for the granting of rebates of duty to Zimbabwean food, soap and cosmetic manufacturers.

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