President Robert Mugabe has tabled over 20 Bills that should be expedited during the Fourth Session of the 8th Parliament, majority of which are aimed at stimulating the economy and re-aligning with the new Constitution.
Officially opening the 4th Session of the 8th Parliament, President Mugabe said while the economy is faced with a number challenges, government is doing what it can, particularly through the ease of doing business in order to revive and grow the economy.
“Our economy still faces a number of challenges which include liquidity challenges, subdued foreign direct inflows, and limited fiscal space, compounded by low revenue collections arising from depressed production, rampant revenue leakages, as well as poor mineral commodity prices on the global market.
“As a consequence, the economy registered a gradual decline with estimated growth rate for 2016 now projected at 1.2 %,” he said.
He said government in the context of ZimAsset is implementing a number of initiatives under the ease of doing business reforms with the objective of stimulating investment inflows and improve business environment.
The pro-economy bills to be tabled include a new Companies Act which will significantly reduce registration delays and facilitate the smooth operation of new businesses. The Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill will be discussed as Government aims to foster adherence to good corporate governance by public sector entities.
President Robert Mugabe government will amend the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to bring it in line with a policy clarification he issued in April this year.
President Mugabe issued the policy intervention following a row played out in the media pitting Youth Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Patrick Zhuwao and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa over application of the law to the natural resources and financial sectors.
On issuing the clarification, President Mugabe acknowledged that the conflicting positions on the interpretation of the empowerment law created confusion among current and potential investors thereby undermining market confidence.
“It will be recalled that I issued a statement to clarify government’s position regarding the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Policy on 11th April, 2016. The relevant Act will thus be amended to bring into consonance with the enunciated policy position,” he said
The President said the Small Claims Court, the Commercial Court and the High Court are going to be merged into the Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and other Disputes) Bill 2016. Further to that, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Amendment Bill which will provide legal underpinning to the One Stop Shop Investment Centre will also be brought to Parliament during this Session.
Parliament will also expedite the Diaspora Policy Bill which the President said was already in place and required parliament to discuss. The policy seeks to stimulate remittances and inbound investment by Zimbabweans outside the country. Some amendments made to the Special Economic Zones Act after its passage in Parliament will also be tabled soon. The amendments relate to some labour law provisions designed to protect workers in the Zones.
“The legislation will boost the country’s capacity to attract world-class investment, employment creation, technology transfer and innovation in strategic areas of the country’s economy.”
According to the President, the current Session will also consider the Movable Property Security Interest Bill which seeks to increase access to credit for the majority of emerging entrepreneurs. A collateral registry will be established to facilitate the use of movable property including cars, livestock and furniture, as collateral for loans.
Other Bills include the Insolvency Bill, and amendments to the Insurance Act, the Pensions and Provident Funds Act and the Insurance and Pensions Commission Act. Amendments to the Microfinance Act will be discussed and this according to the President is a result of some Micro- Finance Institutions that were licenced as deposit taking MFI’s. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) during the last quarter of 2015 registered three deposit taking MFIs Getbucks Financial Services Ltd, African Century Leasing Company and Collarhedge Finance (Private) Ltd.
President Mugabe said with the thrust on pushing financial inclusion, the Bill should be closed in the current session since the MFI sector are the providers of funding mainly to the small to medium sector which now anchors the economy. Funds had been earmarked for the capitalization of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation.
The Mines and Minerals Amendment act spilled over from the prior session and Pres Mugabe said the Bill should be concluded as the mining sector is now key to economic development in the face of the current effects of the El Nino induced drought on the agriculture sector.
“The long awaited Mines and Mineral Amendment Bill will thus be tabled before Parliament. As a matter of fact, the growth of mining is anchored on intensive exploration of mineral deposits.
“To facilitate increased mineral exploration, the Minerals Exploration and marketing Corporation Bill which will integrate the current Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and the Mining Promotion Corporation will be brought before the current session,” he said.
In the energy sector, the President said prime focus is on boosting power generation capacity. Several projects including the Kariba South Expansion and Hwange are ongoing hence the ministry is crafting for presentation to Parliament the Renewable Energy Policy and an Independent Power Producers Framework which should enhance private sector investment in the energy sector.
He noted that the Kariba South Power Extension Project was now 60% complete with the first 150MW unit expected to be ready by December 2017. The Hwange Power Station is expected before the end of this year paving way for commencement of actual work in the first quarter of 2017. President Mugabe also added that works were underway to establish a natural gas powered electricity generating plant and three 100MW solar power plants.
“The Ministry is in the process of crafting for presentation to Parliament, the Renewable Energy Policy and an Independent Power Producers framework which should enhance private sector investment in the energy sector.”
The Public Sector Procurement Bill and the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, the Zimbabwe Youth Council Bill, the Electronic Transactions and Electronic Commerce Bill, a bill on the re-organisation of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and the Data Protection Bill will also be debated. He said the re-organisation of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe will facilitate the establishment of joint ventures in the developments of airport infrastructure in the country.
In terms of manufacturing, the President said the establishment of the National Competitiveness Commission will coordinate the crafting and implementation of measures to improve the competitiveness of the local companies.
According to the President, other Bills to be brought before Parliament include the Constitutional Court Bill, the Rural District Council Bill, Regional Town and Country Bill, the Traditional Leaders Bill, the Prisons Bill, and the Marriages Bill. The Coroner’s Office Bill which will pave way for the setting up of the Coroner’s Office responsible for medico-legal investigations will also be brought before Parliament. However, some Bills are a carryover from the previous session.
President Mugabe said the growing incidence of droughts in Zimbabwe presents a clarion call for the country to build capacity to effectively cope with disasters linked to climate change. He said while government has embarked on climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes, Parliament is expected to ratify the Paris Agreement which allows the country to benefit from programmes on climate change, The Nagoya Protocol on access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation will also be tabled for ratification and accession.
The Manpower Development Act will be amended and government is to launch the 2016-2026 STEM Policy Strategy to support Zimbabwe’s quest for industralisation and modernization within the framework of the African Union Agenda 2063.
Due to the increased usage of plastic money, President Mugabe said legislators should in the current session also prioritize the Cyber Crime Bill.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe said government is committed to improving the welfare of legislators hence construction of the parliament building in Mount Hampden has commenced under a Chinese grant.
Some of the Bills that sailed through the 3rd Session include the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill, the Joint Venture Bill and the Local Government Bill among others.