EDITORIAL COMMENT: Legislature has its work cut out

President Mugabe

President Mugabe

THE Third Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe has so much work to do judging by the legislative agenda set before the august House. In his address that was tabled in Parliament yesterday to mark the official opening of Parliament on Tuesday, President Mugabe highlighted key Bills that the Third Session is expected to process.

He announced a plethora of legislation to be brought before the House which he said were intended to stimulate both local and foreign direct investment inflows. The Bills feed into efforts Government is undertaking to improve the business environment in the country.

Among the legislation before the House are Bills that have a direct impact on the economic environment. The Bills of an economic nature include the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Amendment Bill, the State Procurement Amendment Bill, the Special Economic Zones Bill and the Mineral Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill.

The Zimbabwe Investment Authority Amendment Bill seeks to convert the authority into a One-Stop-Shop investment centre while the State Procurement Amendment Bill seeks to convert the board into a non-executive standards setting and compliance monitoring body while decentralising the procurement function to ministries, public enterprises and local authorities.

This is expected to improve efficiency in the public procurement system. The Banking Amendment Bill, which seeks to strengthen the banking regulatory system, will also be presented to Parliament.

To protect consumers from abuse, the Consumer Protection Bill will be presented to the House while a Bill will be tabled to establish the National Competitiveness Commission which will replace the National Incomes and Pricing Commission.

These Bills which touch at the core of the economic pulse will need to be passed as a matter of urgency.

The legislative agenda is part of a wider strategy to enhance the doing business environment in Zimbabwe. Investors have for a long time mentioned that some of the laws that exist now hamper or delay investment. Some of the pieces of legislation require modernisation.

Some of the pieces of legislation will be amended while others require a complete overhaul so that we remove obstacles in the economic development strategy. Government is at an advanced stage in cleaning the business operating environment and we expect Parliament to complement the move.

We, therefore, call upon our legislators to be alive to developments in the economic environment. While we acknowledge Parliament’s privileges and right to debate, we expect that when these Bills are tabled, bickering and heckling should be limited to the barest minimum if not eliminated altogether.

We expect maturity and respect for the electorate and call on the members of the august House to allow the processes to move forward to complement other efforts that are happening outside Parliament.

This is the time for loyal and true sons and daughters of the soil in the house to stand up and be counted. Senseless attempts to delay safe passage of such progressive legislation should be viewed contemptuously.

Parliament should be a vehicle to move the legislative agenda of the nation forward. Therefore it is incumbent upon the members to conduct themselves in an honourable manner.

We call on the members to support the legislative agenda which will help transform the business environment. The legislation before the house, if passed, will help in creating an investor friendly environment. An effective and friendly legislative environment promotes business growth.

We are pleased that President Mugabe embraced the efforts to improve the doing business environment. This shows absolute political will to address the current challenges the country is facing.

The Third Session of the Eighth Parliament should go in the annals of history as having transformed the doing business environment in Zimbabwe.

We need to ensure that our companies are free to do business, are capacitated and supported. For us to achieve the employment targets set out in the economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, we must have the support of Parliament.

The legislature is a critical part of the jigsaw puzzle. We are pleased that business has supported the improvement of the legislative system.

We are aware that consultations have taken place with the business community on the crafting of the legislation.

We, therefore, call on Parliament to be supportive of these initiatives to ensure that we improve the environment for business to thrive. When business thrives, more of our unemployed people get jobs and this improves livelihoods for all.

But for that to happen, all the arms should work together towards a common vision.