Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT will soon complete draft amendments to the Deeds Registries Act to remove sections which are deemed to be hindering the ease of doing business.
One of the areas identified as hindering business is the storage of records in paper format.
If the amendments sail through the Act will allow for electronic access to information and digital storage of records.
By amending the section, Government is creating a platform for stakeholders and the public to have easy access to the deeds database electronically.
Currently the Deeds Office has only two offices in Harare and Bulawayo and this is not convenient to business.
Again, stakeholders outside the country cannot access the database.
The proposed amendments to the Deeds Registries Act (Chapter 20:05) are currently under consideration by Cabinet.
This comes after a study by the World Bank on doing business in Zimbabwe showed that it currently takes about five procedures and 36 days to register property.
The decision to amend the Act was also informed by the need to address concerns raised by investors particularly on access to information relating to registration of property.
In line with Government’s current focus to improve the doing business environment a technical working group on construction permits and property registration was established to assess the legislative provisions of the Deeds Registries Act.
Following the assessment the committee proposed amendments to Sections 3, 5(w), 9, 55(2) of the Act.
The committee further proposed new provisions to the Act.
It is proposed that Section 3, which provides for the location of Registries as being in Harare and Bulawayo be amended to provide for electronic access to information upon the implementation of the computerisation of the Deeds Registry database.
The committee moved that Section 5(w) of the Act which provides for the maintenance of registers by the Registrar be amended to allow/permit digital/electronic storage of records thereby allowing the provision of online services.
Furthermore, the committee wants Section 9, which provides for the inspection of the public registers/records and making copies thereof be amended to include online inspection of records and registers and electronically generated copies.
Section 55(2) of the Deeds Registries Act will be amended to provide for only two original notarial deeds or bonds as there will be a centralised electronic database in the Deeds Registry.
The section provides for filing in the registry of three original notarial deeds and bonds for registration.
It is further proposed to amend Section 80(1) of the Act to permit the production of electronically generated documents in court proceedings.
The section currently provides for circumstances under which original documents kept in the Deeds Registry are produced in court.
The technical committee further recommended three new provisions to be incorporated in the Act.
It is proposed that a provision be incorporated into the Act making it mandatory that any special powers of attorney for the transfer of immovable property be notarised because of an increase in fraudulent transfers of immovable property based on fake special powers of attorney.
Cabinet is also considering a proposal to add a provision to stipulate the time within which documents for transfer of property must be conveyed and lodged for registration after the parties to the agreement of sale have signed.
It is further proposed that a provision be incorporated into the Act to include the date of sale in the recital clause of the deed to assist in the valuation of the property.