Pres­i­dent signs Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Bill

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Felex Share Harare Bureau

PRES­I­DENT Mu­gabe yes­ter­day fi­nally signed into law the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Bill in a move that is ex­pected to see the coun­try at­tract­ing for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment.

The spe­cial eco­nomic zones are also ex­pected to es­tab­lish an ap­pro­pri­ate reg­u­la­tory and pol­icy in­fra­struc­ture to en­able lo­cal and re­gional trade to flour­ish.

This comes as Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe yes­ter­day met some mem­bers of a visit­ing 20-mem­ber Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion at State House.

The del­e­ga­tion is in Zim­babwe to speed up the op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of the mega-deals agreed be­tween the Gov­ern­ments of China and Zim­babwe.

The del­e­ga­tion is headed by Mr Fan Heng­shan, deputy sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion (NDRC).

The NDRC is the eco­nomic plan­ning body of China.

Chief Sec­re­tary to the Pres­i­dent and Cabi­net Dr Misheck Sibanda, con­firmed the sign­ing of the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Bill af­ter Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe’s meet­ing with the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion.

“The del­e­ga­tion came in the wake of the work that we have al­ready done to speed up the op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of the agree­ments that were signed be­tween Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe and his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Xi Jin­ping last De­cem­ber.

“This is the first con­crete, prac­ti­cal way of trans­lat­ing what has hap­pened. In fact, co­in­ci­den­tally to­day the Pres­i­dent signed the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Act, which is go­ing to be the ba­sis of the op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of all the work we are do­ing.”

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe in Septem­ber re­ferred back to Par­lia­ment the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Bill af­ter ex­press­ing reser­va­tions on a clause that sought to sus­pend the Labour Act whose ef­fect would have ex­posed work­ers to ‘se­ri­ous’ abuse by em­ploy­ers.

In re­ject­ing the Bill, Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe cited Sec­tion 56 of the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Bill, which he said was not con­sis­tent with Sec­tion 65 of the Con­sti­tu­tion as it sought to sus­pend op­er­a­tions of the labour laws in spe­cial eco­nomic zones.

Sec­tion 56 of the Bill pro­vides as fol­lows: “The Labour Act Chap­ter 28:01 and the Indi­geni­sa­tion and Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment Act (Chap­ter 14:33) shall not ap­ply in re­la­tion to li­censed in­vestors op­er­at­ing in a spe­cial eco­nomic zone.”

Sec­tion 65 (1) of the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides that “ev­ery per­son has the right to fair and safe labour prac­tices and stan­dards and to be paid a fair and rea­son­able wage . . .(4) Ev­ery em­ployee is en­ti­tled to just, eq­ui­table and sat­is­fac­tory con­di­tions of work.”

The Bill later sailed through Par­lia­ment in­cor­po­rat­ing sug­ges­tions pro­posed by the Pres­i­dent.

Dr Sibanda said the spe­cial eco­nomic zones would be built in Harare, Bu­l­awayo and Vic­to­ria Falls.

“These are our col­leagues from the NDRC and they came with a high pow­ered del­e­ga­tion from Gansu prov­ince and a com­pany that is re­spon­si­ble for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the spe­cial eco­nomic zones,” he said.

“They are ex­pe­ri­enced, they have es­tab­lished very suc­cess­ful spe­cial eco­nomic zones to a point whereby they pro­pelled their econ­omy to a po­si­tion where they are now the sec­ond in the world af­ter the United States. It is a ba­sis of speed­ing the process of in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion. You give us time, start­ing next year you will be­gin to see lots of ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause of the com­ing of our friends.”

Dr Sibanda added: “We have been work­ing over the week­end with them. We went to Sun­way City, the com­pa­nies that are here have found their coun­ter­parts in Zim­babwe. So it will be a joint ven­ture, win-win sit­u­a­tion. It will not be a one-sided af­fair.”

Mr Fan said all the mega deals agreed be­tween Pres­i­dents Mu­gabe and Xi would come into fruition.

“Our visit as the NDRC del­e­ga­tion is very suc­cess­ful,” he said.

“We will im­ple­ment the im­por­tant con­sen­sus reached be­tween the lead­ers of the two coun­tries and also to deepen the co­op­er­a­tion in line with China’s One Belt One Road ini­tia­tive through in­ter­na­tional pro­tec­tion ca­pac­ity co­op­er­a­tion. We will also en­hance the de­vel­op­ment of Sun­way City and other Zim­babwe’s spe­cial eco­nomic zones.”

Among a plethora of agree­ments with China that cuts across en­ergy, agri­cul­ture and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, Gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied spe­cial eco­nomic zones as a def­i­nite pro­gramme of ac­tion.

These in­clude Sun­way City in Harare as well as one in Bu­l­awayo which en­tails con­struc­tion of an in­dus­trial eco­nomic zone cov­er­ing beef to leather in­dus­try, cotton to tex­tile in­dus­try, steel and foundry and the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe head­quar­ters.

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