First Session Ninth Parliament: Parliamentary Round Up: Bulletin No. 14 – 2019

The National Assembly resumed its sitting yesterday. Speaker of National Assembly Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda announced that Parliament received a petition from the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) and Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) beseeching the institution to ensure that Government reviews teachers’ salaries according to the prevailing inflation and interbank market rates and that the teachers be paid US$200 in addition to their current RTGs dollar salaries. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

Concerned about the current electricity supply crisis, Hon Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga (MDC Bulawayo) requested Energy and Power Development Minister to issue a Ministerial statement on the current load shedding in the country.

In an unrelated matter, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi on behalf of the Minister of Industry and Commerce Hon. M. Ndlovu read the Zimbabwe Investment Development Bill [H. B. 2, 2019] for the second time. This Bill seeks to establish a single interface for investors.

The following are some of the clauses of the Bill in detail:

Clause 1 and 2 will set out the Short title of the Bill and define the terms.

Clause 3 and 4 establishes the Agency, gives it a corporate status and sets out the functions and powers of the Agency respectively. The primary function of the Agency is to facilitate entry and implementation of investment projects as well as to coordinate investment programmes and strategies.

Clause 5 establishes a one-stop shop investment centre which shall have representatives of entities that play a role in the licensing, establishment and operationalisation of investments. These entities include ZIMRA, EMA, RBZ, Companies Office, NSSA, ZERA, ZTA, SERA and specialised investment units and other relevant line ministries. It also provides for the secondment of officials from line ministries and statutory agencies to the Authority.

Clauses 6 to 8 establish the Board that shall controls the Agency, outlines composition and functions of the Board

Clause 9 provides for the appointment, functions and duties of the Chief Executive Officer and other staff of Agency.

Clause 10 enjoins investors to conform with local legislation.

Clause 11 specifies that investors are free to invest in any sector save for those that are reserved for locals. The reserved or threshold sectors are listed in the schedule referred to in this Clause.

Clauses 12 and 13 provide that foreign investors should be treated the same way as local investors. They also set out exceptions to the above rules.

Clause 14 permits investors to employ key personnel of their choice. The personnel can be foreigners.

Clause 15 enjoins the state to treat foreigners fairly and equitably.

Clause 16 guarantees that the property of investors should not be expropriated. Where it is expropriated for a public purpose, the expropriation should be done in accordance with the law in a non-discriminatory manner and a payment of effective compensation in a freely convertible currency.

Clause 17 provides all laws, regulations and policies that affect investors should be made public promptly.

Clause 18 provides for the free inward and outward transfer of funds and lays out circumstances where such transfers may be prevented or delayed; for example, in a bid to protect the creditors of an investor and in order to assist financial regulators or law enforcement agencies.

Clause 19 instructs investors to respect the country’s laws.

Clause 20 also directs the investors to desist from environmentally unfriendly practices, maintain independent accounts and ensure that services and products comply with national and international standards and to respect cultural heritage and custom.

Clause 21 provides that applications for investment licences shall be made to the Authority in the prescribed forms and provides for the time-frame of the processing of such application.

Clauses 22 and 23 provide that investment licences must have a fixed lifespan determined by the Board at the date of issue and renewal of the licence respectively.

Clause 24 enjoins the Authority to keep a register of all investment licences.

Clause 25 requires investors to inform the authority of any challenges in implementing a proposed project within 30 days of being aware of the challenges and to inform the Authority of change of any material information furnished to the Authority.

Clause 26 prohibits unauthorised transfer of a licence from one person to the other.

Clause 27 empowers the authority to do on-site inspections of investor’s premises as well as to access and copy documents when doing inspections. It also criminalises obstruction or frustration of inspectors.

Clause 28 empowers the authority to cancel or suspend licences where an investor obtained the same fraudulently; transfers the licence to another without approval by the authority; fails to implement approved activity within agreed timeframes; or breaches any condition imposed on the issue of a licence. The clause provides for the observance of the principles of natural justice when cancelling a licence.

Clause 29 empowers the Agency in consultation with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to offer incentives to investors.

Clauses 30 and 31 provide for the declaration of areas as Special Economic Zones and considerations taken into account when considering whether or not to give licences to investors who wish to operate in such zones respectively.

Clause 32 provides for a permit for a person who wants to develop an area as a Special Economic Zone.

Clause 33 provides for the continuation of the Joint Venture Unit established in terms of the Joint Venture Act [Chapter 22:22] but under a new name-Public Private Partnership Unit and lists its functions.

Clauses 34 and 35 outline procedures preliminary to conclusion of Public Private Partnerships and powers of the Agency respectively.

Clause 36 provides for the Public Private Partnership projects that may be undertaken by contracting authorities.

Clause 37 provides for resolution of disputes.

Clauses 38-42 deal with financing, financial reporting and auditing of books of the Agency and tabling of annual reports in Parliament respectively.

Clause 43 deals with preservation of official confidential information.

Clause 44 Exempts the Agency and its officers from liability for any loss or damage incurred by a person as a result of a bona fide exercise or performance of any function.

Clause 45 empowers the Minister to make regulations. Clause 46 empowers the Agency to employ former employees of the former statutory corporations as well as civil servants.

Clause 47 makes consequential amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act [Chapter 22:23], and repeals the following statutes – a) Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act [chapter 14:30]; b) Special Economic Zones Act [Chapter 14:34]; and c) Joint Venture Act [Chapter 22:22].

Clause 48 saves in force some things done under the repealed law and it will also provide for the transition from the current investment framework to the framework provided for under the Bill. In particular- a) proceedings which have already commenced when the Bill becomes law will be continued as if the repealed Acts had not been repealed, though the Agency will be able to apply specific provisions of the Bill to those proceedings; b) directions or orders given under the repealed Act will continue in force as if they had been made by the Agency under the Bill.

After outlining the contents of the new Bill, Minister Ziyambi moved a motion to adjourn the debate to allow the Portfolio Committee to table its report.

On a sad note, both opposition and the ruling party Legislators took turns to debate a motion on the passing away of Hon Vimbai Tsvangirai Java who was involved in an accident recently. Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus, Hon Goodluck Kwaramba thanked Parliamentarians for their contributions and for attending the funeral.

Meanwhile, the ZANU PF Deputy Chief Whip in the National Assembly Hon Obendingwa Mguni died last night. He has been suffering from diabetes. He was the MP for Mangwe, Matabeleland South province.

The House adjourned at Twenty-Three Minutes to Six o’clock p.m. and will meet this afternoon for the question and answer session.

Source: Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST)