Six Bills tabled in Zim Parliament

Acting Leader of the House, Emmerson Mnangagwa, presented the Petroleum, Judicial Services, Interception of Communications, Criminal Procedures and Evidence Amendment, Gazetted Land Consequential Provisions and Domestic Violence Bills.

All the Bills were referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for consideration.

The Petroleum Bill seeks to, among other things, establish a Petroleum Regulatory Authority that will regulate and license providers of petroleum products.

Main functions of the Authority, which will be controlled and managed by a board, will include ensuring the provision of sufficient petroleum products for domestic use, granting licences to persons in respect of retailing or production of such products as well as prescribing prices.

The Bill also seeks to provide for the establishment of a Fuel Stabilisation Fund and Levy to stabilise the price at which fuel is sold to consumers by paying out such bounties or subsidies for the local production of fuel.

Licensees would also be required to develop customer service and handling standards as well as follow fixed safety, health and environmental standards when carrying out business.

Through the Bill, the Authority will be empowered to require the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe to maintain prescribed minimum stocks of petroleum products as strategic reserves.

The Interception of Communications Bill seeks to establish a centre as well as provide for appointment of persons to that centre to monitor and intercept certain communications in the course of their transmission through telecommunication, postal or any other related service system.

Persons authorised to make applications for interception of communications include the Chief Intelligence Officer, Director-General of the President’s department on national security, the Police Commissioner and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Commissioner-General.

Telecommunication service providers will be required to install hardware and software facilities and devices to enable interception of communications and will be assisted and compensated for the assistance rendered.

The Gazetted Land (Consequential) Provisions) Bill seeks to provide a clearer definition of “agricultural land required for resettlement purposes” than is provided in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 17) Act of last year.

It also seeks to repeal the Rural Land Occupiers Act of 2001, whose provisions have become redundant, as they do not apply to State land.

Meanwhile, tabling of the Domestic Violence Bill will provide women’s groups with much cause for celebration as they have been advocating for its passage for a long time.

The Bill seeks to provide for protection and relief to victims of domestic violence in line with international and regional conventions that Zimbabwe is a signatory to.

These include the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the SADC heads of State and Governments addendum to the 1997 Declaration on Gender and Development on “The Development and Eradication of Violence Against Women and Children.

The heads of state resolved to adopt measures aimed at enacting laws making various forms of violence against women clearly defined crimes with appropriate penalties in order to prevent and eradicate the practice.

It is the purpose of the Bill to afford victims maximum protection from domestic violence that the law can provide and to introduce measures that seek to ensure that relevant organs of the State give full effect to the provisions of the Bill.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill seeks to amend the principal Act, the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the Legal Practitioners Act in certain major respects.

These include inserting definitions of “sexual offence” and “suitably qualified nurse” in the interpretation section of the Principal Act and repealing and replacing the existing bail provisions of the principal Act by other provisions that comprehensively codify and reform the existing law on the granting and withholding of bail by the courts.

The Judicial Services Bill seeks to remove all legal personnel in government from the Public Service Commission to the Judicial Services Commission as part of measures to improve their conditions of service and attract and retain qualified staff. ‘ New Ziana.

July 2006
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