Zida Bill passage a milestone
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Parliament has passed the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) Bill which seeks to give impetus to the Government’s reforms being undertaken in promoting the ease of doing business.
This comes as the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill has been referred to Parliamentary Legal Committee for it to consider amendments made by the Senate.
The Zida Bill, which now awaits Presidential assent before coming into law, is set to attract the much needed foreign direct investment into the country and is modelled along successful stories in other countries like Rwanda and Botswana that are great examples of countries operating successful one stop investment centres in Africa.
The Bill is in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme which is underpinned by the call to undertake structural reform measures to mitigate the challenge and risks faced by the economy, in particular, the low investment in the country.
Last year, President Mnangagwa was charmed by the efficient governance systems in Rwanda when he visited Kigali and had to invite that country’s governance expert Ms Clare Akamanzi to share experiences with Cabinet Ministers, Politburo members, senior Government officials and members of the private sector.
Ms Akamanzi, who is the Rwandan Development Board (RDB) chief executive held several meetings aimed at sharing experiences on how that country has achieved efficiency.
The Zida Bill seeks to combines the mandates of three existing pieces of legislation that deal with investment, namely the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act, the Special Zones Act and the Joint Ventures Act into one.
The promulgation of the Bill is expected to mark an important milestone making Zimbabwe a middle-income country by 2030 as it is crucial to wealth creation, job creation and to individual and social empowerment.
The Zimbabwe Investment Authority, which is one of the legal instruments to be absorbed by Zida Bill was responsible for issuing licences to foreign and domestic investors and smoothing the way for the commencement of the licensees’ operations.
The Special Economic Zones Act establishes SEZs wherein investors primarily involved in the export trade enjoyed certain privileges, such as exemption from ordinary customs tariffs while the Joint Venture Act was concerned with the exploitation by foreign and domestic investors of State–owned resources, such as land, contracts for Government utilities in the power, transport and water resource field, and the like.
All three of these endeavours will now come under the domain of ZIDA, so that policy overlaps and turf wars in the important field of investment will be a thing of the past.
In his Second Reading speech, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi who steered the Bill in both the National Assembly and Senate singled out the One- Stop Investment Service Centre, where delegates from all Government agencies and ministries involved with investment in one way or another are gathered under one roof to assist potential investors with their queries, without having to pass them from pillar to post.
“The Bill also provides important statutory guarantees against discrimination between foreign and domestic investors, and pledges of fair treatment to all investors and against arbitrary expropriation and taxation. Holders of investment licences will be accorded certain privileges, such as priority in the consideration of any secondary licences or permits required to secure their investments,” said Minister Ziyambi.
He said important prospects are extended to investors whose countries have Bilateral Investment Treaties with Zimbabwe.
“In particular, such investors may, under certain conditions, have their disputes adjudicated in an international or bi-national forum.”
During debate on the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill, legislators said there was need to remove the Finance Intelligence Unit (FIU) from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on Budget and Finance chaired by Chikomba Central MP Cde Felex Mhona said the FIU which carried out investigation of illicit dealings, should not be housed under the central bank.