Both Houses of Parliament Have Been Recalled

via Both Houses of Parliament Have Been Recalled – The Zimbabwean 17.8.2015

The Labour Amendment Bill was gazetted late in the afternoon of Friday 14th August.

Parliament Recalled to Consider Labour Amendment Bill

The President has recalled both Houses of Parliament to deal with the Bill as a matter of urgency:  the National Assembly will meet on Tuesday 18th August, the Senate on 20th August.   Veritas will summarise the Bill in a separate Bill Watch bulletin that will follow as soon as possible.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Act Gazetted

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Act was gazetted as Act No. 2 of 2015 on Friday 7th August.  It came into force immediately, with effect from that date.

The long title to the Act states its purpose as being “to provide for the settlement of certain liabilities incurred by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe”.   The liabilities are the debts incurred by the Reserve Bank before the 31st December 2008 in the course of quasi-fiscal operations undertaken with Government approval.  The procedure laid down for settlement is that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, on behalf of the State, will assume responsibility for the discharge of the debts, but only to the extent that claims are validated and reconciled by his Ministry’s Debt Management Office, which is empowered to demand documentary proof to support the claims.  The Minister will fix the terms and conditions under which responsibility is assumed and settled; and there is specific provision for him to liquidate debts through the issuance of “government-backed debt instruments”.   The Schedule to the Act itemises the liabilities concerned as at 31st December 2013 [total over $1,4 billion]; five Annexures to the Schedule give a breakdown of the domestic creditors.

The Act also puts an end to legal proceedings, whether new or already commenced, against the Reserve Bank [or any banking institution that acted for it] in respect of any debt assumed by the Minister or any associated obligation or claim.

As the Minister said when bringing up the Bill for this Act in the National Assembly, the Government’s objective in assuming these debts is to clean up the Reserve Bank’s balance sheet in order to allow the Bank to resume its proper role in the financial sector.  Despite repeated Opposition efforts, the Minister refused to agree to an expansion of the Bill to identify the Reserve Bank’s debtors [beneficiaries of its quasi-fiscal operations] and to require that they repay their debts.

Banking Amendment Bill Gazetted

This Bill was gazetted on Friday 7th August as H.B. 6, 2015.  It is long [44 clauses, 50 pages] and there is an accompanying 10-page explanatory memorandum.

Objectives  The Bills objectives are summed up in the memorandum as being to:

  • improve the corporate governance of banking institutions
  • make banking institutions more responsive to customers’ needs and to encourage the resolution of banker/customer disputes
  • introduce greater transparency in the shareholding and operations of banking institutions
  • allow banking regulators to monitor and regulate bank holding companies
  • increase co-operation between different financial regulatory authorities.

Acts affected  To achieve these objectives, the Bill provides for the amendment of the following Acts:

  • Banking Act
  • Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act
  • Deposit Protection Corporation Act

and the repeal of the:

  • Troubled Financial Institutions (Resolution) Act.

New ZANU-PF Party-List MP for National Assembly

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] has gazetted General Notice 221/2015 declaring Kereniya Uta a party-list member of the National Assembly for Manicaland Province with effect from 3rd August.  She was nominated by ZANU-PF to fill the vacancy caused by the death of the late Annastazia Nyahwo.

Epworth By-Election: ZEC Voter Registration Exercise

ZEC is conducting a voter registration and voters’ roll inspection exercise for the Epworth constituency ahead of the by-election scheduled for 19th September.  This is an opportunity for new voters to register and for those who have already registered to check that their names and details are correctly recorded on the existing roll.  The exercise will end on 24th August.   Venues are as follows: ZEC Head Office, corner Jason Moyo Ave and Kaguvi St, Harare; ZEC Provincial Office, Cecil House, 95 Jason Moyo Ave, Harare; ZEC District Office, City of Harare Department of Housing, 2 Remembrance Drive.

In the National Assembly on 4th August

The National Assembly met on Tuesday 4th August, mainly to allow an early start for the debate on the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review Statement presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on 30th July [MPs had agreed to delay their August break for the purpose].  Some other business was also conducted.

Note: The Senate did not sit, having already adjourned for the whole of August at the end of its sitting on 30th July.

PLC Report on amended Joint Ventures Bill

The Speaker announced the receipt of the Parliamentary Legal Committee’s non-adverse report on the Joint Ventures Bill as amended during the Committee Stage.  The Bill can now go through its final stages when the National Assembly at any time.  Once given its Third Reading, it will be transmitted to the Senate.

Vote of thanks to the President

Hon Mlilo, new MP for Luveve, made his maiden speech.

Debate on Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review Statement 

Hon Chapfika, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development presented the committee’s reaction to the Minister’s statement.   The committee criticised several aspects of the statement, including: its lack of proposals for effective mechanisms to address the decline in the economic growth rate [the Minister had revised his December 2014 projection down from 3.2% to 1.5%]; the proposed 25% increase in import duty to protect local fertiliser manufacturers [the committee recommended dropping this entirely]; the grossly inadequate amount allocated to fund the 2015/2016 farming season; the silence on measures to revive manufacturing industry and address the challenges posed to industry by prohibitive utility charges; the failure to explain how the Government would achieve the proposed reduction of State employment costs from 80% to 40%.  MPs who spoke after Hon Chapfika all expressed concern at the failure to come up with solutions to the decline in the growth rate.  The proposed ban on the importation of second-hand clothing was condemned as certain to mean hardship for most Zimbabweans and unlikely to give effective support to the local clothing industry.  Like the Portfolio Committee, MPs lamented the inadequate sum allocated to agriculture.   Debate continued until 7 pm, at which point the Speaker adjourned proceedings until Tuesday 1st September.  MPs were provided with copies of the departmental draft of the Finance Bill, setting out the Minister’s proposed changes to taxation laws was made available to MPs [available from Veritas at the addresses given at the end of this bulletin]; this will be replaced by the final legal draft in due course.

Acts of 2015

Two Acts of 2015 have so far been gazetted as law:

No. Title Date gazetted Commencement
1 Public Accountants and Auditors Amendment Act, 2015 10th July 2015
[GN 204/215]
10th July 2015
2 Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Act, 2015 7th August 2015
[GN 224/2015]
7th August 2015

 

Status of Bills as at 14th August – Brief Overview

Bills passed by Parliament and awaiting gazetting

Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Bill [sent to President 21st July]

Public Debt Management Bill [awaiting sending to President]

Bills in Senate, having been passed by National Assembly

Zimbabwe Gender Commission Bill [awaiting Committee Stage]

Bills in National Assembly

Joint Ventures Bill [awaiting final stages, following PLC non-adverse report on Committee Stage amendments]

Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill [awaiting Portfolio Committee report before continuation of Second Reading debate]

General Laws Amendment Bill [non-adverse PLC report received 28th July, awaiting commencement of Second Reading stage]

Bill gazetted and awaiting presentation

Biological and Toxin Weapons Control Bill [gazetted 10th January 2014]

Banking Amendment Bill [gazetted 7th August 2015] [NEW]

Labour Amendment Bill [gazetted 14th Agust 2015] [NEW]

Government Gazette 7th to 14th August

Bills

Banking Amendment Bill, H.B. 6,2015 [7th August]

Labour Amendment Bill, H.B. , 2015 [14th August]

Statutory Instruments [all 7th August]

National Prosecuting Authority regulations  Two SIs were gazetted: the Code of Ethics applicable to the Prosecutor-General, other legal professionals and all persons acting as public prosecutors [SI 83/2015]; the General Conditions of Service Regulations [SI 85/2015].

Benefits for ex-Vice Presidents  SI 86/2015 sets out the services, facilities and allowances for former Vice-Presidents who  have served at least one full term of office.

Customs rebate for Reserve Bank and banks  SI 84/2015 provides for a rebate of duty on coins imported by the RBZ and commercial banks.

Collective bargaining agreement  SI 82/3015 deals with salaries, wages and allowances for the Harare Municipal Undertaking.

General Notices

ZEC by-election notices  Mbire and Marondera Central By-election candidates [GN 227/2015]; Mwenezi East new MP [GN 228/2015]; Mudzi West new MP [GN 233/3015].

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 1
  • comment-avatar

    The “Economic suicide” bill, no less. Madness stalks the land