PRESENTATION BY THE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

08 Mar 2018
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PRESENTATION BY THE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL

ASSEMBLY HON. ADV. J. F. MUDENDA AT THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ANNUAL CONGRESS.

 

28-30 JUNE 2017

ELEPHANT HILLS RESORT HOTEL

VICTORIA FALLS

 

The Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. E.D. Mnangagwa;

 

The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Hon. Dr. M. Bimha;

 

The President of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Mr. D. Norupiri;

 

His Worship the Mayor of Victoria Falls, Councilor S. Mpofu;

 

The UNDP Country Director, Ms. V. Nyagah;

 

Invited Guests;

 

Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I feel greatly privileged to join you at this auspicious Annual Congress and Annual General Meeting of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce. This gathering comes at a time when there is sustained hope of better economic prospects buoyed by the agricultural sector wherein agriculture and related value chains drive economic rebound. Economies operate as a system moving in big cycles. However, what is common to the cyclical phases is the general feature where eventually there is a reversion to some normalcy in the economic trends. In this regard, this year’s theme “Consolidating the New Normal Economy through Policy Reforms” is instructive in that it recognises the need to embrace change, as change is the only constant in the organic evolution of all institutions. My presentation, “The role of the Legislature in the New Normal Economy” will enumerate the interventions which Parliament has instituted to propel our economy to greater heights. To put the discussion into a proper context, I shall begin by quoting Charles Darwin who observed in the Twentieth century that:

 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.

 

Adapting to change is one of the most effective ways of enhancing continuous development in any society, for, as you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal. This is the anchor of economic adventurism that creates the new normal economy. For this to happen, conscious efforts must be made in adopting and adapting to new influences on businesses. That calls for innovation and creativity in the arena of commerce, industry, government policy re-alignment and reformative parliamentary legislative processes.

 

Honourable Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I allude to this because as a country, we are in the twilight stages of consummating our economic blue print, the ZIMASSET (2013-2018) which envisaged an average annual growth rate of 7.3%. The Gross Domestic Product growth was expected to continue on an upward growth trajectory to 9.9% by 2018 and US$27 billion was required to fund ZIMASSET through domestic resources, foreign direct investment, diaspora remittances, joint ventures and external borrowings. Has ZNCC been making a microscopic analysis of these projections?  Has ZNCC been taking corrective measures to measure up to the challenges?   However, this appears to have proved elusive as the economy has experienced a negative multiplier effect since 2013 as evidenced by widening fiscal deficit, negative external position, declining diaspora remittances, acute liquidity challenges and a precarious investment position. This calls for a paradigm shift in the way we do business. This is where Parliament comes in as the supreme representative and legislative institution in Zimbabwe, let alone exercising oversight on the Executive policies and budgetary prudence on the Fiscus.

 

Honourable Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As enshrined in Section 117 (2) (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Parliament has a sacrosanct duty to “make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Zimbabwe”.  This constitutional provision places Parliament at the centre of making laws in a “New Normal Economy”. The Constitution gives Parliament the mandate to enact laws that strengthen initiatives meant to ease the doing of business in Zimbabwe. The question which may, therefore, arise is: Have we lived up to our mandate as outlined in the Constitution? This is a fundamentally pointed question which requires honesty reflection and humility. As an institution, we are not satisfied with the rate of legal reforms which must of necessity create a new normal economy. We have not lived up to the spirit and letter of the Constitution in so far as passing the Ease of Doing Business Bills is concerned. There is, therefore, an urgent need for Parliament to ameliorate this negative legislative process. What must be appreciated, however, is that Parliament does not generate Bills. The Cabinet Committee does and passes on the proposed Bills to Cabinet for approval and subsequent gazetting for the attention of Parliament. It is rare to have a private Member’s Bill because it is expensive to do so.

Honourable Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is of paramount importance to note that during the delivery of the State of the Nation Address on the 25th of August 2015, His Excellency, the President, Cde. R. G. Mugabe affirmed that:

“In line with the Rapid Results Approach Framework, we should see, before the 31st of December 2015, an urgent overhaul of the Companies Act and all pieces of allied legislation which have hitherto hindered the ease of doing business.  Instead, we expect a clear and robust legislative and regulatory framework to be urgently put in place in order to create a One Stop Investment Centre that streamlines processes and procedures.  This is now a very urgent and high priority matter for which those responsible will be held to account”.

More than two years down the line, it pains me to note that we have not recorded significant progress in respect to the urgent legislative issues raised by His Excellency, the President. I believe that together with the Ministers who have failed or neglected to bring these Bills to Parliament, we must be collectively and individually be “held responsible”  for not living up to the clarion call by His Excellency, President. A lethargic approach to legal reforms, one that is given credence by the slow pace of legal reforms, is not consistent with the need to act in the national interest as defined in section 19 of the Constitution. It is shameful that the bureaucracy has let down the visionary leadership of the State President, especially when that bureaucracy is chewing up 91% of the national Budget. This is statecraft criminality of the worst order. Cry beloved Zimbabwe!  Cry and cry more for a mindset change within our bureaucracy so that it awakens the virtue of the dignity of hardwork in our public service and the private sector. Nonetheless, Parliament had to engage the Office of the President and Cabinet. In that context and while delivering a presentation on the Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe to Members of Parliament in Bulawayo on 06 May 2016, the Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr. R. Ndhlukula, called upon Parliament to speedily pass the following Bills once tabled in Parliament.

 

    i.        Deeds Registry Bill;

   ii.        The Companies Bill;

 iii.        The Small Claims Bill;

 iv.        The Commercial Court Bill;

   v.        The High Court Bill;

 vi.        The Estate Administration Bill;

  1. The Insolvency Bill;
  2. Movable Property Security Interest Bill;

 ix.        The RBZ Amendment Bill;

   x.        The Special Economic Zone Bill;

 xi.        Shop Licencing Bill;

  1. Manpower Development Bill;
  2. NSSA Bill; 
  3. Regional Town and Country Planning Bill and
  4. Joint Ventures Bill

 

Honourable Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regrettably, it is with a deep sense of disappointment that I have to report that only seven of the critical Bills above were brought to and passed by Parliament. These are as follows:

 

 

    i.        Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act

   ii.        Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Act

 iii.        National Competitiveness Commission Act

 iv.        Deeds Registries Amendment Act

   v.        Movable Property Security Interests Act

 vi.        The Joint Ventures Act

  1. Special Economic Zone Act

Honourable Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Companies Amendment Bill and the Insolvency Bill, the key instruments to the Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe, are taking too long to, finalise. This is greatly undermining the pace of accelerating legal reforms on laws that have a strong bearing on the Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe. There has been no significant movement on the NSSA Amendment Bill, the Shop Licences Amendment Bill and the Manpower Development Amendment Bill, to name just a few. All these Bills are central to expediting the legislative concerns relating to the Ease of Doing Business.

 

Indeed, as Parliament, we have not been forceful enough in pursuing these. This is contrary to section 119(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states that:

 

“Parliament has the power to ensure that all the provisions of this Constitution are upheld and that the State and all institutions of government at every level act constitutionally and in the national interest”.

 

Section 119(3) further adds that:

 

“…all Institutions and agencies of the State and government at every level are accountable to Parliament”

 

As Parliament, we must urgently respond to the call by His Excellency, the President, by passing laws that address the business operating environment as this is the only way to guarantee sustainable development.  Parliament must enact laws that rectify the current regulatory environment which must address the prohibitive cost structures regarding productivity in commerce and industry.  One of the positive steps that has underpinned Parliament’s response in this regard is the establishment of a joint committee composed of the technical cabinet subcommittee on legislation which will partner a Parliamentary team led by the Clerk of Parliament with the compelling sense of urgency to accelerate the legislative process.  This is a welcome development which is totally supported by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

 

Studies undertaken by the WTO in 2011 showed that Zimbabwe imposed too many restrictions on its exporters, resulting in exports impediments, lack of cost competitiveness, numerous regulations/permits and their attendant levies, different and scattered offices for export documentation, long periods of processing permits and approvals leading to loss of customers and potential markets. Parliament must respond to these legislative and regulatory challenges swiftly.

 

Honourable Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Where we are found wanting as far as executing our legislative mandate is concerned, the citizens of this country must step in. Section 149(1) of the Constitution emphatically states that Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to petition Parliament to consider any matter within its authority, including the enactment, amendment or repeal of legislation”.

I now challenge you as ZNCC Congress and the business sector as a whole to come up with the draft Bills which must improve the Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe, no matter how crude those proposed Bills might look. Bring them to Parliament. We shall hand them over to that Joint Legislative Committee I have mentioned earlier on. We shall rope in the Law Society of Zimbabwe and the Faculties of Laws at the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University and Great Zimbabwe University to join the crusade of speeding up the crafting of laws which will create a more conducive environment of the Ease of Doing Business in Zimbabwe.

 

I THANK YOU.

 

 

 

 

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Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit making membership-based organisation that provides services designed to support its members in business development.  

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