PRESIDENT Mugabe has rejected the ZEP-Re (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill, which sought to pave the way for one of Africa’s leading insurance firms to extend its business into the country.
ZEP–Re, which is also known as the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) Reinsurance Company, operates within the common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region.
The firm, whose major shareholders include the PTA Bank and the African Development Bank, so far underwrites life and non-life reinsurance risks in Kenya, Tanzania, India, Uganda and Sudan.
It also promotes commerce in the regional trade bloc.
The ZEP-Re (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill sought to conclude an agreement for the purposes of regulating matters relating to the legal capacity and privileges and immunities of the ZEP–Re company to be recognised in Zimbabwe.
Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda on Wednesday announced in Parliament that the President had reservations on the Bill because it was not clear.
“His Excellency, the President, informed Parliament on the 2 June, 2017 that he had not assented to the ZEP-Re (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Act No. 4 of 2017 owing to reservations pertaining to the last paragraph of the preamble on the top page of the Act. The President noted that the sentence in question was not clear on what should be done and who was responsible for the stated enactment,” he said.
In terms of Section 131 (6) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe when a Bill is presented to the President for assent and signature, he must, within 21 days, either assent to it and sign it and then cause it to be published in the Gazette without delay.
If the President considers a Bill unconstitutional or has any other reservations about it, he refers it back to Parliament through the Clerk of Parliament, together with detailed written reasons.
Section 131 (7) further states that where a Bill has been referred back to Parliament in terms of the Constitution, the Speaker must, without delay, convene a sitting of the National Assembly, which must reconsider the Bill and fully accommodate the President’s reservations or pass the Bill, with or without amendments, by a two-thirds majority of the total membership of the National Assembly.
Adv Mudenda said for the Bill to be reconsidered, it has to be recommitted to the committee of the entire National Assembly in line with the standing order number 121 (3).
The ZEP–Re Zimbabwe regional office in Harare was granted authority to trade in Zimbabwe by the Insurance and Pensions Commission in 2012. ZEP–Re is also keen to obtain membership of the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Association of Reinsurance.
The agreement for the establishment of the ZEP–Re was first concluded on November 23, 1990, among member states of the then PTA, now Comesa, including Zimbabwe, which is a member.
ZEP-Re was created by an agreement of heads of State and Government of the Comesa on November 21, 1990 in Mbabane, Swaziland.
It seeks to provide insurance in Zimbabwe in areas of fire, engineering and bonds guarantees.
Zimbabwe’s short-term insurance market is estimated to be over $1,2 billion.