THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill (NPRC) sailed through the National Assembly on Wednesday. This is probably one of the Bills that has taken long to be crafted – more than two years – after members of the public rejected it because of certain provisions that were deemed unfavourable.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Crafting of the NPRC Bill began in 2015, and after it failed to get approval from the people, it was removed from the National Assembly Order Paper in 2016 following an adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) that it was unconstitutional.
During public hearings, people had complained that the National Healing minister was conferred too much powers in the Bill.
Meanwhile, the PLC has issued an adverse report on the Shop Licences Amendment Bill, which provides for the amendment of the Shop Licences Act.
The Bill is part of the reforms aimed at facilitating ease of doing business and specifies the duties of a licensing authority.
PLC acting chairperson, Ziyambi Ziyambi said the Bill was deemed unconstitutional because clause 7 gives the minister powers to approve annual budgets of local authorities, which takes away their powers to govern themselves.
“The approval of annual budgets of local authorities by the minister violates section 276 of the Constitution, which gives local authorities the right to govern on their own initiatives and the power to make by-laws and regulations and the power to levy rates and taxes in order to raise their own revenue,” he said.
Ziyambi said the involvement of the Local Government minister in local authority business has reduced local authorities to appendages of central government.
“The minister’s power to approve local authorities’ budgets is inconsistent with the devolution principles set out in Chapter 14 of the Constitution. The devolution principles grant local authorities new powers and responsibilities in three dimensions, that is, political, administrative and fiscal. These dimensions give local governments discretional space and they should not be unconstitutionally limited.”
The PLC described the Bill in its current state as inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution, leading to serious shortcomings in the administration of local government.