In pursuit of its constitutional mandate as provided in section 152(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Parliamentary Legal Committee met on the 22nd of August 2015 at 1115 hrs to consider the Shop Licences Bill [H.B. 10, 2016]. After deliberations the Committee resolved that an adverse report be issued in respect of clause 7 of the Bill amending section 13 of Shop Licences Act (CAP 14:17) and clause 8 of the Bill repealing section 14 of CAP 14:17. In compliance with Standing Order 32(3), all members of the Committee legally qualified as envisaged by section 152(2) of the Constitution unanimously agreed (present were Honourable Samukange, Chasi, Gonese and Ziyambi) the Bill contained provisions that, if enacted would violate the Constitution.
Clause 7 amends section 13(2) (c) of the principal Act which provides fixing of fees , to the effect that local authorities must incorporate every licensing fee into their annual budget and such budgets shall be approved by the Minister. 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 initiatives and the power to make by-laws, regulations and the power to levy rates and taxes in order to raise their own revenue. The involvement of the 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 devolution principles set out in Chapter 14 of the Constitution. The devolution principles grants local governments new powers and responsibilities in three dimensions: political, administrative, and fiscal. These dimensions give local government’s discretionary space and they should not be unconstitutionally limited. The practice proposed in the Bill is inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution leading to serious shortcomings in the administration of local government.