Friday, June 30, 2017

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Rejects Bill
By Zvamaida Murwira

President Mugabe has rejected the ZEP-RE Bill (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) that seeks to provide some quasi-diplomatic privileges and immunities on a regional reinsurance company established by an agreement of the Preferential Trade Area member States, now referred to as Comesa.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces withheld his assent on the Bill, which sailed through Parliament two months ago.

President Mugabe rejected the Bill after he exercised Section 131 (6) of the Constitution, which confers him such right whenever he has reservations on a proposed law that would have been sent to him for assent by Parliament.

Parliament is now set to sit as a committee to consider the reservations and Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has since made the necessary amendments to accommodate President Mugabe's reservations.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, has since notified the House of the President's objection.

"His Excellency, the President, informed Parliament on June 2, 2017 that he had not assented to the ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Act No. 4 of 2017 owing to reservations pertaining to the last paragraph of the preamble on the top page of the Act," he said.

"The President noted that the sentence in question was not clear on what should be done and who was responsible for the stated enactment.

"Thus, in order to facilitate the reconsideration of the Bill, the Bill now stands recommitted to the committee of the whole House pursuant to Standing Order Number 121 (3) of the National Assembly."

The Bill has since been restored on the Order Paper of the National Assembly and would soon be reconsidered to accommodate President Mugabe's reservations.

A source close to the Bill indicated that President Mugabe rejected the Bill after noticing an error on the preamble that had the effect of creating wrong impression on the law making process.

According to the proposed amendment, a new preamble has since been made to address the concerns.

The revised Bill deleted the word "the company", which had been listed together with Parliament and President of Zimbabwe to make the Bill read as follows: "Now, therefore, be it enacted by the Parliament and President of Zimbabwe."

"The impression that had been created by the manner in which the Bill was initially drafted was that the "company" constituted the legislative machinery, yet it is Parliament and the President who are charged with that duty of lawmaking," said a source.

The Bill seeks to give legal effect to a regional reinsurance company by conferring it a quasi-diplomatic status as a creation of Comesa to enable it to open branches in the country.

In September last year President Mugabe rejected the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) after he cited section 56 of the Bill, which he said was not consistent with section 65 of the Constitution, as it sought to suspend operations of the labour laws in special economic zones.

Parliament addressed the concerns and the law was eventually operationalised by the President.

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