Mugabe full speech at the official opening of Parliament

President Robert Mugabe today mapped the way forward for Zimbabwe for the coming year when he officially opened the fourth session of the eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe during which several laws meant to improve the country’s economy will be introduced or amended.

parliament

Mugabe said the economy is projected to grow by a paltry 1.2 percent this year but the International Monetary Fund has painted a bleaker picture projecting it to contract by -0.3 percent.

Below is Mugabe’s full speech:

HIS EXCELLENCY, THE PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE, being seated in the Chair, was pleased to address Parliament as follows:

Madame President of the Senate,
Mr. Speaker, Sir,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Comrades and Friends.

The Fourth Session of the 8th Parliament comes at a time when the process of realigning our laws to the Constitution is still work-in-progress. As such, several Bills will be brought for realignment by Parliament during this Session.

Bills to be brought before Parliament include the Constitutional Court Bill, the Rural District Council 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 this august House.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

The growing incidence of droughts in Zimbabwe presents a clarion call for all of us to build capacity to effectively cope with disasters related to climate change. Government has embarked on the implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes throughout the country. This Session of Parliament is thus 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.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

Our economy faces a number of challenges, which include the subdued aggregate demand, liquidity constraints, high interest rates, subdued foreign direct investment and limited fiscal space. This, too, is further 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 the estimated growth rate for 2016 now projected at 1.2 per cent.

Government, in the context of the ZIM ASSET, is implementing a battery of initiatives to address the prevailing economic challenges. For instance, it has embarked on the Ease of Doing Business Reforms with the objective of improving the local business environment that stimulates investment inflows. In line with this thrust, a new Companies Act, which will significantly reduce registration delays and facilitate the smooth operation of new businesses, will be tabled for consideration by Parliament during this Session.

The Small Claims Court, the Commercial Court and the High Court Bills are going to be merged into the Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and other Disputes) Bill 2016. Furthermore, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Amendment Bill, which will provide legal underpinning to the One Stop Shop Investment Centre, will also be brought to this House during this Session.

The Diaspora Policy, which provides incentives to stimulate remittances and inbound investment by Zimbabweans outside the country, is now in place. Some amendments have been made to the Special Economic Zones Act after its recent passage in Parliament. The amendments, which will soon be tabled herein, pertain to some labour law provisions designed to protect workers in the Special Economic 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.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

This Session of Parliament will also consider the Movable Property Security Interest Bill, which seeks to increase access to credit for the majority of our emerging entrepreneurs. A Collateral Registry will be established to facilitate the use of movable property, including cars, livestock and furniture, as collateral for loans.

The Insolvency Bill and amendments to the Insurance Act, the Pensions and Provident Funds Act, and the Insurance and Pensions Commission Act will be tabled in this Parliament, as Government moves to incorporate international best practices and to also protect policyholders and members of pension funds. In addition, the Microfinance Act will be amended to incorporate the registration of deposit taking Microfinance Banks, in view of the evolving role of such institutions in the provision of credit and the mobilisation of savings. Funds have already been earmarked for the capitalization of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

It is pleasing to note that gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refineries are on an upward trend. Aurex, the jewellery manufacturing firm owned by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, is now on a recovery path. Even though mining remains a leading source of export earnings for our economy, there is still need to maximize the sector’s earnings through encouraging local value addition and beneficiation as well as the effective exploitation of mineral claims.

The long awaited Mines and Minerals 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, therefore, 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 this Parliament.  Measures to plug mineral leakages outside the country and other underhand dealings that deny the country full enjoyment of rewards from its mineral endowment will be intensified.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

In the energy sector, the prime focus is on boosting local power generation capacity. To this end, I am pleased to note that the Kariba South Power Expansion Project is now about 60 per cent complete, with the first 150 MW unit expected to be ready by December 2017. The Hwange Power Station extension project is expected before the end of this year, thus paving way for commencement of the actual work in the first quarter of 2017.  For this reason, Government has come up with the Dema Diesel Power Generating Plant.  Work is also underway to establish a natural gas powered electricity generating plant and three 100 MW solar power generating plants. The Ministry is in the process of crafting, for presentation to Parliament, the Renewable Energy Policy and an Independent Power Producers (IPPs) Framework which should help to enhance private sector investment in the energy sector.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

Our manufacturing sector faces numerous challenges which militate against our capacity to compete in the regional and global market place. The challenges include dumping of cheap imports in our country, reliance on obsolete equipment, high cost of utilities and lack of access to cheaper lines of credit. The Bill for the establishment of the National Competitiveness Commission, which will coordinate the crafting and implementation of measures to improve the competitiveness of local companies, will be tabled in Parliament during this Session. The Bill will also repeal the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act, which has outlived its purpose.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

The realization of Zimbabwe’s immense potential to become a regional transport hub is steadily turning into a reality. The rehabilitation and dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, is expected to commence soon.  Parliament will hopefully expedite the necessary loan approvals and ratification processes for this supremely important national project to come to fruition. This Parliament will also consider a Bill on the proposed re-organisation of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. This will facilitate establishment of joint ventures in the development of airports infrastructure in the country.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

The provision of amenities infrastructure should always be underpinned by sound planning. This Parliament will, therefore, receive for its consideration, the Regional Town and Country Planning Bill, which, among other provisions, will require that only qualified practitioners approve buildings and settlement plans. Enactment of the legislation will lead to a reduction in timeframes for the processing of planning applications. Environmental protection, as well as the provision of work space for small and medium enterprises, will become mandatory for all new settlements.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

The reform of the state enterprises remains a critical lever in the country’s economic turnaround process. I note, with satisfaction, that ARDA is now on a firm recovery path, thanks to its joint venture partnership with some local private sector players.

Government recently approved a turnaround plan for the Cold Storage Company, as part of the programme to revive the country’s beef industry. The Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill which will foster adherence to good corporate governance by public sector entities, regulate remuneration packages for Boards and senior members, as well as enhance transparency in the financial affairs of public entities, will be tabled in this august House during this Session. This Parliament will also be expected to consider the Public Sector Procurement Amendment Bill, which seeks to improve efficiency in the public procurement system through the decentralization of the procurement function to Ministries, State enterprises, parastatals, and local authorities.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

Parliament will also consider the updated and harmonised Occupational Safety and Health Bill, which establishes a tripartite Occupational Safety Council. A new Labour Amendment Bill, which seeks to harmonize the country’s labour laws with the Constitution and relevant international conventions, will also be tabled in this august House.

Greater protection will be accorded to our young citizens through amendments to the Children’s Act. The Public Health Bill, which seeks to repeal the current Public Health Act, which was enacted in 1924, will be tabled before this Parliament. Additionally, the Medical Aid Societies Bill which provides for the establishment of a regulatory authority to govern Medical Aid Societies in Zimbabwe will be brought for consideration by this Parliament.

Government is to launch the 2016-2026 STEM Policy Strategy to support Zimbabwe’s quest for industrialisation and modernisation within the framework of the African Unions Agenda 2063. The Manpower Development Act will be amended, while the enabling statutes of all higher and tertiary education institutions will be reviewed to ensure greater focus on their core mandates.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

Government remains committed to youth development and economic empowerment. The Zimbabwe Youth Council Bill, which provides a legal framework for youth development activities, will therefore be brought to this House for debate. 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 it into consonance with the enunciated policy position.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

My Government is committed to the provision of a conducive working environment for the Legislature, in spite of the prevailing resource constraints. I am happy to inform this august House that, following approval of the designs for the New Parliament Building to be located in Mt Hampden, implementation of the project is now proceeding under a Chinese grant.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

Increasing reliance on the use of plastic money and other on-line applications, which characterizes the modern era, comes with the attendant rising risk of computer and cyber crimes. As a consequence of this lingering threat, Governments, the world over, are grappling with the threat of cyber crime.  As such, it is my fervent hope that this Fourth Session of Parliament will constructively and objectively debate the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill, the Electronic Transactions and Electronic Commerce Bill, and the Data Protection Bill, which will be tabled in this august House.

Madame President, Mr. Speaker, Sir,

In conclusion, I wish to remind you, Honourable Members of Parliament, of your sacrosanct duty to enact laws and build institutions that promote development, in an environment of peace.  You not only have the duty to enact laws but to also respect and adhere to them, and indeed to our Constitution, in word, deed and spirit.

I now take this opportunity to declare the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe duly open.

I thank you.

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