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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 01 OCTOBER 2020 VOL 46 NO 70
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 1st October, 2020
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
VACANCIES IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have one announcement Hon. Members. Today Thursday, 1st October, 2020, Parliament was notified by the Movement for Democratic Change, Tsvangirai Party (MDC-T) that the following Members of Parliament had ceased to be Members of the MDC T Party and therefore no longer represent the interest of the Party in Parliament with effect from 1st October, 2020. The first one is
- Hon. E. Murai, Highfield East Constituency;
- Hon. W. Chikombo, Glen Norah Constituency;
- Hon. E. Kureva, Epworth Constituency;
- Hon. D. Sibanda, PR Bulawayo Province;
- Hon. C. Matewu, Marondera Central Constituency;
- Hon. L. Karenyi-Kore, PR Manicaland Province;
- Hon. C. Chinanzvavana, PR Mashonaland West Province;
- Hon. S. Matsunga, Mufakose Constituency;
- Hon. P. D. Sibanda, Binga North Constituency; and
- Hon. U. Tarusenga, St Mary’s Constituency.
Section 129 (1k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that, “the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a Member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it;...”
Pursuant to the above, I do hereby inform the House that vacancies have arisen in the constituencies stated above by the operation of the law. The necessary administrative measures will be taken to inform His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the existence of the vacancies, in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act, as amended.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for those announcements. I hope the Hon. Members of Parliament will realise the only safe person in this House is me as an independent. The axe can fall on any of them - either side.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member can you withdraw that statement because you have nothing to do with it.
HON. T. MLISWA: I withdraw Mr. Speaker Sir.
Hon. T. Mliswa having stood to give notice of motion.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have listened very carefully to your motion. Unfortunately all Ministers cannot be all Ministers. So your motion is defective and therefore needs to be improved upon so that it is specific. I hope you get my observation.
HON. T. MLISWA: May you repeat your observation Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: When you say all Ministers who have not been present, they are unknown to this House. So in terms of our Hansard record, you cannot move a motion about unknown personalities. So that needs to be improved so that it is more specific.
HON. T. MLISWA: Sir with the consultations, I thought the terms of reference would then have those listed Ministers.
THE HON. SPEAKER: They are unknown in terms of that motion. So the motion cannot stand.
HON. T. MLISWA: I will therefore amend accordingly.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education has a Ministerial Statement which was requested by this august House. May I now call upon the Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Hon. Matema to give his Ministerial Statement.
REOPENING OF SCHOOLS FOR THE 2020 EXAMINATIONS
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MATEMA): Mr. Speaker Sir, as the nation is now aware Government made the decision to reopen schools for the 2020 examinations.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. I have been following you for a long time because I dream to be a Speaker one day. Were you not supposed to suspend the Orders of today?
THE HON. SPEAKER: No.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I have a point of order.
THE HON. SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
HON. MUSHORIWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, yesterday during the Question and Answer session when there were questions that had been posed to the Minister, the Chair made a ruling that the Hon. Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should actually be in attendance when the Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education was going to be presenting his Ministerial Statement. This is because there were questions that cut across and are best answered by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. That was the ruling by the Chair yesterday and I thought I should actually bring that to your attention.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I hope your tablet did record properly what I said. What I said; was the Hon. Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare will have to interface with the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education so that issues relating to employment are covered in the Ministerial Statement. That is what I said. Check your Hansard. I did not say that he must be here present – [HON. NDEBELE: It could have been nice anyway if he could be here.] - Hon. Ndebele, may you withdraw that statement.
HON. NDEBELE: I withdraw Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: May the Hon. Minister continue.
HON. MATHEMA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. As the nation is now aware, Government made the decision to re-open schools for the 2020 examination classes on 14th September, 2020 for schools writing Cambridge examinations and on 28th September, 2020 for schools writing Zimsec examinations. The decision was made following the expert assessment of the improving situation with respect to the national efforts to combat Covid 19. May I take this opportunity to thank His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde. E.D. Mnangagwa for leading the national efforts with foresight, courage and determination.
May I also commend Hon. Members for your contribution in the fight against this deadly pandemic as well as the education sector which has also made a significant contribution. We are all aware that almost all countries went into lockdown in various valiant efforts to eradicate the Coronavirus pandemic. Nations have gradually started to ease restrictions. It is true that no nation can remain in lockdown forever. While we are witnessing some improvement in COVID 19 pandemic situation in Zimbabwe, I would like to hasten to add that the situation of low risk does not mean no risk. We all need to maintain utmost vigilance in order to protect each other. We remain most conscious that we need to do everything possible as a nation to protect our leaders, teachers and school communities.
As you are no doubt aware Hon. Members, schools offering Cambridge and Zimsec examinations re-opened for the 2020 examination classes on 14th September, 2020 and 28th September, 2020 respectively. Prior to the re-opening, Government and the Ministry made sure that safe and secure an environment as possible was created in the schools. Among the measures undertaken include the following:
- The development and distribution of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), which clearly guide the school management, learners and school parents assemblies on the dos and don’ts with respect to efforts to combat the Coronavirus;
- The development and distribution of the Secretary’s Circular Number 10 of 2020 which articulates the SOPs, as well as key inputs and processes that must obtain at each school on a daily basis;
iii. Procurement by Government of Personal Protective Equipment for 8500 schools out of 9625 schools. Those supported are Government schools, council schools and not for profit mission schools;
- The setting up of social distance markers at each school covering all areas where learners gather;
- The training of all teachers before they can begin teaching and learning. This was done in collaboration with the Minister of Health and Child Care. Training was interrupted by the lockdown but it went through;
- The training of all learners on the first day at school so that they appreciate how they should conduct themselves in the new norm;
vii. The setting up at each school of temporary holding bays for learners who fall sick; and
viii. The deployment of information, education and communication materials on COVID 19 among others.
Mr. Speaker Sir, any school that has some essential PPEs outstanding was required to defer opening until all the essentials were in place. As you are also aware, the re-opening of schools is not a subject that has received 100% consensus, either here in Zimbabwe or globally but for any nation to wait for a perfect situation when the virus is completely eradicated may mean waiting forever. We are learning and we will establish the accurate figures when all learners return to school. Some of our learners have since fallen pregnant, while others have joined various economic activities during the period of the lockdown.
Studies have shown that the longer the learners stay out of school, the more the chances that a significant number will be lost to education. From a few experiences of the past two days, even among those who returned to school, a significant number have lost some of the education gains that they had achieved. Such regression has the danger of exacerbating should the learners continue to miss school for too long a period.
Attendance on the opening day for the schools offering Cambridge examinations was high for both teachers and learners. The situation for the re-opening of schools on Monday, 28th September, 2020 was characterised by a high turnout for learners and a low turnout for teachers. The situation improved slightly on the second day and we are hoping that teachers will return to work while any grievances that they may have get addressed through the right channels. We understand some teachers have cited incapacitation but a teacher cannot have received his or her salary and be unable to report to work even on the first day. Where will be the rationale for Government to continue paying an employee who is giving no service at all? I would like to urge teachers to reflect and ensure that we find each other. Currently, there are over 20 000 qualified teachers who are looking for work and hundreds of thousands of learners who are looking for teachers. Government may have no alternative other than to ensure that the learners are supported with teachers so that they are ready for examinations whose dates have now been determined, that is the first of December 2020 to the 26th January 2021.
In conclusion, I recognise that while education is a key foundation for the lives of our children, our first responsibility is to save life and we therefore, all need to work together to ensure that we protect our children, teachers and communities from this Coronavirus. I thank you.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Firstly, let me thank the Minister for responding to the request of a Ministerial Statement and I hope it gives us more time to engage on the subject matter.
Hon. Speaker, I hope I am allowed to express myself in this manner. I am disappointed in the Ministerial Statement on the basis that yesterday during Question Time and with your guidance, I had indicated to the Hon. Minister that teachers in our constituencies are not reporting for work. They have shared with us their various grievances which relate to labour matters and in particular incapacitation to report for work.
I seek clarification on the basis that the Hon. Minister’s Statement does not give the measure which the Ministry is doing to address labour matters raised by the teachers for them to go back to work. The Minister has alluded to the fact that the turnout of students was high but that of teachers was low. So what are they doing to make sure that students who are bound to sit for exams starting on one December are fully capacitated with learning material and teachers for them to be able to write exams?
The Hon. Minister highlighted in his Statement that procurement of COVID-19 material is a responsibility of Government. Certainly, there is no material for personal protective equipment towards COVID that has been supplied by Government. I would seek clarification by the Hon. Minister, where to be directed as Members of Parliament for us to go and verify where they have supplied such equipment.
The Ministerial Statement speaks to the training of teachers on how to manage pupils to the extent that it was a realisation by Government that the new phenomena arising from the exposure of COVID-19 required special skills which are not inherent in the teaching practice for them to manage the discipline of children. Therefore teachers were supposed to be trained. In his Statement the Hon. Minister alludes to the fact that this training was disturbed by COVID. So, it means by opening these schools with teachers not having been fully trained, we have exposed both teachers and learning pupils. What is it that the Ministry will do for them to equip the teachers and capacitate them on how to handle students’ discipline at schools?
The setting up of satellite camps at schools to hold students who would have fallen sick, my understanding of this is that if a child falls sick, they are isolated into a booth camp awaiting further treatment at a professional medical institution. I speak for Mbizo Constituency, there is no such school with even a basic tent. I would want the Minister to clarify how this provision is going to be rolled out in our constituencies. I speak so with the requisition from the Minister to say as Hon. Members are going back to their constituencies this weekend, go to this office and that office of Government and ascertain whether what the Ministry intends to do is happening in our constituency.
It is disheartening again, that the Minister speaks of 25 000 qualified teachers who are out of employment who are being held as standby unit to replace teachers who have gone on strike with regards to labour matters. We cannot capitalise on unemployment which we are supposed to provide to our qualified personnel whom we have invested in as a threat for existing teachers who have raised their issues within the confines of the labour law and the Public Services Act.
I would want to understand Hon. Speaker, the measures which are going to be taken by the Ministry to bring normalcy to the teaching fraternity as we prepare our students for examinations since us as parents have fully paid our schools fees. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I would like to seek clarity on three issues from the Minister on his Ministerial Statement. Firstly, I want to know the bone of contention that the teachers bring to the table. What is it that they seek to have from the Minister before they restore their labour?
The second issue relates to wages, in particular monitory incentives. As a country, we are hamstrung but we are endowed with ubiquitous amounts of land. Is it possible for the Minister, through the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, to engage the Minister of Agriculture after the downsizing of the land? This will enable us to try and ameliorate, have an antidote on the issue of wages that would be termed to be equitant with a view to augment, complement and also to make sure that we increase some incentives towards the teachers using the land as non-monitory incentives.
The third one, …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Before you go to the third one, you have created confusion in the second one. Are you suggesting that teachers should be given pieces of land or you are suggesting that some people be employed to create wealth from that land so that there is contribution to the fiscus. It is not clear.
HON. NDUNA: I seek that the land, in the downsizing process or after the downsizing, be given however small as a non-monitory incentive to the teachers so that they can from that land have their own subsistence over and above their salaries in orde to augment, complement and to also increase their net worth in terms of economic networth.
As you know, we have more than 60 minerals in this country, of which only ten have been exploited. It is my view Mr. Speaker Sir, as I request to have clarity on mineral in particular claims held for speculative purposes. I am alive to the fact that the Mines and Minerals Act is going to come to this House. Is it possible for the Minister to have a tete-a-tete so that as a non-monitory incentive, there is apportioning of those claims, however small, to teachers and to schools that they belong to so that they can be production on those claims that can also increase the pace and the networth of the teachers to also go towards Vision 2030, open up for middle income economy Mr. Speaker Sir. I rest my case.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I do not know how the Minister will answer but please can we put forward questions of clarification on the statement.
HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to seek clarity on one issue. The Minister in his Ministerial Statement indicated that the Ministry has deferred the opening of schools without required PPEs. How long is this going to take? Did you give them a timeframe?
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is since we already have pupils who are writing Cambridge and ZIMSEC examinations already attending school; have you tested those who have gone to school and if that has been done, what has been the effect because we have to do things scientifically. Do you have proof to say for those that have opened, we have tested them and this is the number that tested positive and this is the number that tested negative?
Regarding the conditions of service for the teachers, before the onset of the pandemic, teachers had complains and they wanted the Ministry to address the grievances. So, during the total lockdown, did the Minister take time to consider the plight of teachers? If so, what were the measures that he took? If there were any consultations, what were they saying?
On the schools that are not ready, we want to know if they provided every school with either funds or the PPEs for him to then say they are not ready. The other issue is the continuous threatening of teachers but by having a reserve unit, do you think this is going to help our children when they are about to write examinations? Is it prudent to engage new teachers? Does he really care about the welfare of our children? Those are my questions that I would want the Minister to answer. Thank you.
HON. GABBUZA: Thank you Hon. Chair for the Ministerial Statement. Mine is more to do with the practicability of what the Minister has said in view of the time. Mr. Speaker, we are in October and teachers have not gone to work. The examinations date has already been put that is end of November. So effectively, we have two months because if they are going to start writing the examinations on the 1st December, we cannot count December. How practical is it that if teachers do not go to work anytime soon as and when they start going to work, they will be able to complete the remaining parts of the syllabus, prepare the children in two months for examinations and make them right by 1st December? Is there no consideration of moving forward the examination date because everyday lost is eating into the children preparatory time?
We talk about reserve teachers. Is it practicable and practical to employ them, deploy them, get them to schools, prepare the kids and check on where the syllabus, schemes of work had ended within the next two months if assuming that they start going to work today? How, practical is this? The Minister having been a teacher, I really want to understand the thinking behind that.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me join my other colleagues in thanking the Minister for coming in to make the Ministerial Statement. Unlike my other colleagues, let me thank the Minister for a very candid and honest assessment of the situation that currently prevails in schools. I think it is from that candid and honest statement that now as a country we have decided that we will allow other students to write examinations, particularly those that are writing under Cambridge, the Minister has said to this House it went well with Cambridge. We know why it went well, because we are talking about kids that are coming from up market school; we are talking about kids that are coming from rich families and we are talking about kids that have been learning throughout. What is the implication of the decision that we have now made as a country to say in the same country, you are making a choice that other kids will proceed and write examinations in different circumstances to the local examination that we have, which is our ZIMSEC.
Are we not creating a situation where every parent now aspires for their child to write Cambridge? In other words, in one stroke of what we have done, we have completely destroyed the confidence and the trust in ZIMSEC. Perhaps you can explain how the decision that we have made now will impact on the local examination system.
The second one raised but just to buttress it, the issue of deferment of opening of those schools who do not necessarily have the PPEs or have water. One big example is those schools in your rural communities and Bulawayo as a city. We know that Bulawayo has a water crisis and most of the schools do not have water. What does that mean in terms of them writing the same examination on 5th December, 2020? My Hon. colleague who has just finished raised that question. If we are deferring for others and we are not changing when the examinations are going to take place, what does that mean?
Are we going to have different examinations for those that have not been deferred, that can write on 5th December a separate set of examination for those that have had deferment? Thirdly, the majority of schools, the Hon. Minister would agree with me, are in Mataabeleland South. We know that the Ministry had come up with the radio programme, which was the teaching programme. However, we know Matabeleland South has no connectivity, so kids did not access the radio programme because those in Matabeleland South have to use the South African system, trying to listen to the radio. Again what will happen, we are now going to say those that are in other provinces that could access radio programmes are lumped together with those that are not well connected. Again, it is the issue of how we are going to give the examination, given the fact that the kids had separate access to issues.
There is the issue of approval of school fees and this particularly relates to Trust Schools. Perhaps the Minster could explain the legal quandary that parents are facing. Given the fact that Trust Schools have a Board of Trustees and that is the Board that determines what happens in that school. They may have Parents Teachers Associations, but that SDC is subordinate to the Board of Trustees. Therefore, we are having situations which if the Trust determines how much is going to be paid, that is it. How does that operate with the provision that is in Education Act? How should they deal with? Again, the issue of schools fees, there are reports of kids that are being asked not to attend schools and therefore will not be able to write examination because they have not paid schools and levies. Others are required to pay those levies in US dollars.
Lastly, the issue around the teachers, the question has been raised but I would want to raise it again. Given that I am Chair to the Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, we met with Unions and the Unions are indicating that there has not been conversation between yourselves and the Unions. Where is the problem? Is there a challenge in organising a meeting where you merely have a conversation with people that are working in your Ministry, before you talk to the issue around the reserve. The fact that the kids have gone to school and like you admit Hon. Minister, the teachers are not there. What is happening with supervision of schools? Are we not going to have a lot of drag issues taking place; pregnancies that you are talking about because at the moment parents have taken kids to school, there are no teacher, there is no supervision, they have paid school fees but nothing is going on.
Finally, is there any way we can try and move the date for these examinations? If we have failed, that failure in phase one, should we even try to deal with the other phases that are coming? Should we not be saying to ourselves, let us put our energies in phase one and then see what we will do next year and see how we can deal with issues of the syllabi in the next year. I just think that we are biting too much with all the calculations that are associated with the current situation that we are dealing with. Thank you Minister through the Hon. Speaker.
HON. MARKAHAM: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I would like to thank the Minister for his presentation. I just want to start on a couple of practical issues. My first concern is that he mentioned on the PPEs….
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Markaham, when you appear, next you must be properly dressed in terms of our manner in the House.
HON. MARKAHAM; I understand Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Please apologise.
HON. MARKAHAM: I apologise. Mr. Speaker, on PPEs, there has been the matter of issuing of thermometers which is fundamental in taking of temperature in the schools, are they there? Also on the issue of books, most of the schools we have four/five kids sharing a book. This is not conducive to social distancing, which is of major worry. My final point which I would like to bring is the issue of school fees. Would the Minister clarify full school fees are paid despite the fact that in a lot of schools, the teachers are not yet attending and the term is not a full term? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you Hon. Speaker. I would like to thank the Hon. Members for the questions that have been put forward to me. Yes, Hon. Chikwinya, most teachers have not reported to work as we expected them and this question has been raised by most of the Hon. Members, which is something to do with the remuneration, that is why the teachers have decided not to come to work. The issues have to do with their salaries, their conditions and that responsibility belongs to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare but that does not mean that Government does not know that teachers indeed want salary increment and better working conditions. Both the Ministry of Public Service as well as Public Service Commission are aware of that. As Minister responsible for Primary and Secondary Education, I am aware that this is what teachers have requested for. Indeed, they are into Trade Unions; about 10 Teacher Trade Unions exist. I would not, Madam Speaker go into detail because the relevant Ministry is there. That issue is being handled by the relevant authorities, both the Ministry and Public Service Commission. They are handling that issue with the Trade Unions. Indeed, the National Joint Tripartite Meetings are taking place. So I would not want to go much into that, but as the Minister responsible for Primary and Secondary Education, I am aware that this is what teachers have requested for. Indeed, they have a right to go on strike because after all, they are into trade unions. We have around 10 teacher trade unions in Zimbabwe. So that issue, I would not want to go into detail because the relevant Ministry is handling that.
We are interfacing with them. I am part of the team - in a way, and we are very much aware as a Ministry that indeed teachers have made these requests. As for PPEs, let us remember that the 28th was only on Monday. I am still monitoring the situation to find out exactly what is happening. I was in Masvingo, Mwenezi and Chivi and all the schools that I visited have the PPEs for the teachers. The Deputy Minister was out there as well, right across the country and other officials. Where there is a lack...
HON. MUSHORIWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Earlier in the day the Chair said that the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education was supposed to interface with the Minister of Public Servicer for him to come and answer the question. Right now the Hon. Minister is taking this House for granted and taking Zimbabwe whose kids are not getting teachers. He had the obligation to interface and come. He knew that the question of the remuneration of teachers was paramount and for him to dither and defer answering this question Madam Speaker, is contempt, in my view of this august House.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Indeed, I am interfacing with the Minister. A detailed statement Madam Speaker...
HON. NDEBELE: On a point of order Madam Speaker. You certainly have to make a decision, a ruling on what the Hon. Member has just raised. It is very important that you do so, instead of just saying Minister go ahead.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Hon. Member was asking why the Minister did not interface with the Minister of Public Service – is that not so Hon. Member?
HON. MUSHORIWA: Yes, the question Hon. Speaker is simple. We expect answers from the Hon. Minister because part of the reason why the Chair said yesterday that the Hon. Minister should interface was to come here today with the answers. For him to come here and say the Ministry of Public Service is doing this and that they are interfacing - we want answers. We want to be told what is happening and how we are going to solve the problem because right now Madam Speaker...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are saying it to yourself that the Minister has said we are interfacing.
HON. MUSHORIWA: No, that is not the question. Yesterday the Chair made a ruling and asked the Hon. Minister to interface so that when he comes here, he will have the answers. Now he cannot come here...
HON. MUSHORIWA: Let us give the Minister the chance to respond to that.
HON. MUSHORIWA: No, he is failing to answer the question about the remuneration of teachers.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Let us give the Minister the chance to respond as to that.
HON. MUSHORIWA: He is failing to answer the question about the remuneration of teachers.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Let us give the Minister the chance to respond to why he did not interface with the Minister of Public Service.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you Madam Speaker. I am actually in the middle of interfacing with the Minister.
Hon. Madzimure having stood to make a point of order
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am not taking your point of order Hon. Madzimure. Order, the Hon. Minister proceed.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Madam Speaker, I am actually in the middle of interfacing with the Minister responsible and the Minister is indicating that he is working on the issue and will give the necessary response to this august House. –[AN HON. MEMBER: Hapana, hapana]- That is what I am saying Madam Speaker that the Minister is working something to report back to this august House.
HON. NDEBELE: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Ministerial statements by their nature must give us an insight into what is in the mind of Government but with some flimsy statements nothing is happening and then this country is in the hands of dangerous men and women.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Ndebele, on that matter I think you can also ask the responsible Minister who is the Minister of Public Service and Labour.
HON. NDEBELE: This is what was visited yesterday and the Hon. Speaker in his wisdom said the two gentlemen must interface so that he comes with a fully fledged statement and this is taking us for granted.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): We are interfacing and the Minister responsible is preparing a full report for this august House.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I will not allow you to do that. Please let us give the Minister the chance to respond.
HON. MUSHORIWA: With all due respect, let the two Ministers come to this House, because it does not help the situation - the teachers and the country. Let the two Ministers come because he is not ready.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mushoriwa, please give the Minister the chance to respond. May the Minister proceed?
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Madam Speaker, as the august House knows that the schools have only just been opened, so as to the details since Monday and the next week I can give a full report of what has transpired but that does not mean that I am not on the ground and I am not aware of what is taking place. As for learners, when they go to school, the school heads are there and they manage the situation and not all teachers are actually on strike. Some teachers are not on strike and that has to be accepted by the Hon. Members.
As for the 20 000 teachers that I have mentioned, as the Minister responsible for Primary and Secondary Education, I have to make sure that I find ways and means that learners go to school. This is not the norm only in the education sector, the learners have to go to school. I have to find ways and means of inviting other people to come and assist us. –[Inaudible interjection]- I am saying when learners are at school, I have to find ways and means of bringing people to come and teach learners in school. That is the norm in every sector of the .
Hon. Nduna is asking about the issue on remuneration of teachers again on the issues of land and mines. I thank Hon. Nduna and I will pass on that message to Hon. Prof. Mavima as to the possibilities of teachers receiving land or mines. I will pass on that message to the responsible Minister.
The question by Hon. Madzimure about PPEs as to how long it will take to defer. The Corona virus is not only in Zimbabwe - it is a new ailment all over the world. We work to fight it according to what we see on the ground as days go by. So we will do the best we can – who knows, we may end up closing schools again because of how serious it has become. We will work according to what we see on the ground. As for the PPEs, we can rest assure you that those will be made available. There is another Hon. Member who was asking whether we have had any cases of infection. We did not have cases in June and up to today we do not have infections as yet.
HON. CHIKWINYA: How many have you tested?
HON. MATHEMA: Yes we have, we are doing that.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, please address the Chair.
HON. MATHEMA: Yes, up to now we have not had any infections at all. So it is not as if we are doing it for the first time.
HON. CHIKWINYA: How many?
HON. MATHEMA: We are testing every day, Hon. Speaker –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mushoriwa, please.
HON. MATHEMA: Unless if the Hon. Member has a case in point, let him bring that case to us as well, but we are making sure that every child and every teacher is protected.
Then Hon. Gabbuza – the practicability of time. We have what is also called in schools the Performance Led Address Programme. The Performance Led Address Programme was created deliberately for these circumstances that those who are already teachers anyway must be assisted to make sure that each child actually proceeds as is normal, but if again the ailment or the disease becomes worse than what it is, Government will work accordingly and stop children from going to school. As of this moment like in all other countries, we are moving ahead, schools are open.
Hon. Misihairabwi wanted to find out on the issue of Cambridge and ZIMSEC examinations. Madam Speaker, Zimbabwe has the two systems, both Cambridge and ZIMSEC examinations. This is not something new; it is not something that I have created myself. It has always been there. Cambridge and ZIMSEC examinations are there and we all know the differences. I was not given this job to come and erase one of the two. So we will continue with the two systems and we will do the best we can to make sure that every child who is lagging behind will be assisted to pass. So that is the answer I can give to Hon. Misihairabwi with regard to that. I know sometimes there are people saying we are creating two nations, but these are two systems that have been in existence for years and years.
HON. CHIKWINYA: You are not answering her question. Are we not killing ZIMSEC?
HON. MATHEMA: Madam Speaker, I do not see why we should be killing ZIMSEC at all when the two systems have been running parallel.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, please may you respond to the original question not what they are asking now.
HON. MATHEMA: The other thing that the Hon. Member asked - yes we are aware. Our systems are such that indeed Covid-19 caught us unaware, unprepared in many ways especially when it comes to radio and television lessons, but the Hon. House can be assured that indeed the Ministry is working near UZ to make sure that radio and television lessons are accessed by children all over the country and indeed they are working with the Ministry responsible for ICT so that we have online learning right across the country. How long it will take for us as a country to make sure that we have necessary infrastructure for all our schools, I cannot answer that question but we are working on it so that every child has access to online learning.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I think the Hon. Minister did not understand me. I gave him an example that in areas like Matabeleland South it does not matter what he does with ICT or with any other Minister because those children have not been able to access the radio programmes. So what is going to happen when you have a situation in which one part of our children did not access, the others did and you are giving the same examination? That is my question. My question was not whether they are doing anything. My question is - how are we going to deal with this two tier system that we have created?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. I think the Minister will respond to that.
HON. MATHEMA: Madam Speaker, as a Ministry, we will do everything we can to make sure every child writes examinations in this country when the time comes.
HON. CHIKWINYA: What is everything?
HON. MATHEMA: Everything that I am saying. The teachers must be ready, the children must be at school. We will make sure that it happens before examinations are handled.
Sorry Madam Speaker, I did not understand what Hon. Markham was saying. I just could not understand his tone. Thank you very much Madam Speaker.
HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of order.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Chikwinya, I advise you to ask other questions if you feel you were not quite responded to.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I was the first person...
HON. NDUNA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, please take your seat.
HON. CHIKWINYA: I am on the floor.
HON. NDUNA: I just wanted to say Madam Speaker, that Hon. Markham be given an opportunity so that he is clear.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I hear you, I will do that.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I was the first person to be given the floor and I asked quite a number of issues of which some of them were not answered, but however I want an honest answer from the Hon. Minister. In his response with regards to renumeration, he deferred to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and they said they are an interface. Does the current system we have work where the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is just a mere administrator of the education system yet the employer is the Public Service sector? Does that system work?
These Ministers Hon. Speaker, are not consumers of the education system in our country. Therefore, they have got no patriotic approach with care to our children. Their children are in UK and in America. This is why they cannot show any care. So does the system whereby our civil servants, with regards to Ministers having their children in UK and in Europe, does it work to have his child to be in Europe when he is administering over our children in this country? Is it not the root cause of our problems? I thank you Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Chikwinya, on your last question, I think it was fair for you to ask the Minister on what he presented, not to ask him if he cares because his children are in UK or America. I will overrule that one.
HON. MATHEMA: Madam Speaker the system works. We discuss as Ministers. The Permanent Secretaries discuss. Madam Speaker, my children are here. They are learning in schools here.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Not your small house children, your original children – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
HON. MATHEMA: Madam Speaker, I take exception to what he is saying.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Hon. Minister, please may you take a seat? Hon. Chikwinya, please may you stand up and withdraw that– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
HON. NDUNA: Hon. Chikwinya woto withdrawa zviri very strong.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, there is only one Chair at the moment. Hon. Chikwinya, please may you withdraw that.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Hon. Chair, I respect you and I follow instructions, but I want to understand – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No Hon. Chikwinya, I said withdraw that aspect of small house. Withdraw that please.
HON. CHIKWINYA: At least you have laughed Madam Speaker. I withdraw.
HON. DR. NYASHANU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I would like to thank the Minister for coming to present his Ministerial Statement in the House. I have got a point of clarification that I want to seek. Minister, the situation in our rural schools is naturally an overcrowded situation, particularly ECD learners are learning in an environment where you find them overcrowded. What mitigatory measures have you put in place to ensure that these innocent children are safe as they start learning? Thank you.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me also join my colleagues in thanking the Minister for his presentation which was much needed and I think is rather an urgent presentation because the country and the whole community are waiting for the responses and answers from the Minister. I will begin by actually observing that there was need in the statement by the Minister to highlight also the new school calendar in terms of when the schools close and when will be the new term because we are still under Covid lockdown though there has been some relaxation. This is meant for planning purposes. In my other life, I come from the worker movement where there has to be kind of planning in terms of a parent who goes to work to look after their children and their pick up times.
As highlighted earlier on by other Members, that some teachers have not been reporting for duty and others are still not reporting for duty, my golden question is - who is then supposed to be monitoring the much needed social distancing because without that the learners will be exposed to COVID 19? This is why there had to be so long a break in terms of schools having been closed.
My last question Madam Speaker, because in my other life I come from the background of the labour movement, I really could not stop asking and probing further to say what is the Government doing to ensure that teachers are back in school. Has there not been any kind of dialogue because the Chairperson of the Committee also put this. I go further to say there are unions, there is the dialogue process and piece meal approach will not actually assist Government at the moment. From the responses that were given by the Minister to say that the Labour Minister, he is part of the taskforce; whenever it is brought for discussion, you are part of that team. He has to put his input in terms of getting the information for the colleagues to actually run with the correct thing. He has to care for unfair labour practice and strikes that will affect Government and also cause paralysis in the economic development. Thank you Madam Speaker.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Madam Speaker. When Parliament resumed sittings we were all tested. What we discovered is that some tested positive for COVID 19 but they did not show any symptoms for the virus, they were not sick and they made their way through into the National Assembly. What then is the Ministry doing to make sure that all the children are tested first. This is to manage the situation in case we have children who do not show the symptoms.
The other issue is the issue of schools in rural areas. We are not seeing any infrastructure development; no new schools or classroom blocks are being built. These classrooms are already congested. One class may have 40 to 50 school children. What are they going to do since we are looking at the rain season? Are they going to learn from under the trees? If no classroom blocks are built given the congestion in classrooms, how are they going to practice social distancing? Thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. The following are my questions. First and foremost, is the Hon. Minister aware that generally Zimbabwe is in a way dollarised to the extent that the US$30 to US$50 that the teacher is earning is not sufficient to do or even to motivate one to go to work, notwithstanding the threat that you can actually fire them and replace them with temporary teachers. I do not foresee anybody that can actually want to go to work given such low level of income.
The second issue that I need to ask the Minister is, when you decided to re-open schools, you were aware that the schools have not been charging school fees; they have been closed. However, schools have been incurring certain expenses. The SDC workers needed to be paid, security at schools needed to be paid and the running expenses of the schools needed to be met, notwithstanding that the kids were not attending schools. My question therefore is - what has the Government done? How much has the Government done to help schools in terms of those expenses?
The other question Madam Speaker is, I represent a high density suburb. Most of the schools in Dzivaresekwa, whether you look at Grade 7, O’ Level and A’ Level, the number of kids are actually too many. I have done a research Hon. Minister …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please ask your question Hon. Member.
HON. MUSHORIWA: This is the question because I want the Minister to take note. The best school that was given PPEs by the Government got 32 masks, 25 shield masks and 10 litres of sanitiser. I want you Hon. Minister to confirm to this august House to say, is this sufficient for a school that has got close to 800 kids that are about to write O’ Level and 112 that are writing A’ Level. Is it sufficient? What is it that the Government intends to do? Thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, before you stand up, may I give the chance to Hon. Markham. When he asked the question earlier, you did not get him well. So please Hon. Markham, may you ask your question again?
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Madam Speaker for recognising me for the second time. My questions were simple and on the practical side. On the issue of PPEs, the Minister referred to everything except for thermometers. As thermometers are a fundamental tool to diagnose temperature, I do not know any school in my constituency that has been given thermometers. Secondly, the PPEs that are being given will not last more than a couple of days. My biggest concern with the Minister is - I would like a point of clarification. In most of my schools, we have four to five kids sharing one textbook. This is not conducive to social distancing. What is the Minister planning to do about those schools?
My second issue is school fees. Parents are being charged school fees for the third term. In a lot of schools, a lot of teachers are not coming to work and yet parents are paying full school fees. Secondly, the term has been cut down to three thirds of a term and yet parents are still paying full school fees. How is the Minister proposing to handle that?
Finally, the fundamental issue in any school is the teacher I urge the Minister to give us more feedback on how he is going to handle the teacher issue. Talking has been going on for too long on that issue. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you Madam Speaker. With regards to school fees as it has been asked by many Hon. Members, up to now the Ministry has not yet approved any school fees increases at all. So, those schools that have increased school fees without my authority, it is illegal and action will be taken against them.
All schools in Zimbabwe can only increase school fees after the approval by the permanent secretary, that is by the Ministry. I also urge parents to participate in these decisions made by some schools. There are some school boards or some school SDCs who do not consult parents and guardians. No school fees should be increased without approval from the Permanent Secretary. If Hon. Members are aware of any school that has done that, my doors are open, let me have that school.
On the issues of schools without water; we will do everything we can Hon. Speaker. As I stand in front of the august House, ZINWA and DDF are going out. We have about 800 schools all over the country that need boreholes. The Minister of Agriculture as well as the Minister of Local Government are out there with ZINWA and DDF. I have given them the whole list of those schools that did not have water at all. So, we are working on that one as a collective effort in the Government. The relevant ministries are drilling those boreholes.
On the issue of the radio – I accept that as a Ministry we really have to make sure that no child is left behind because they have no access to radio and television. Therefore, teachers are organising a crush programme so that every child goes to attend classes; it does not matter where they are.
As for working with teachers, yes, we are working with teachers unions. However, on the issue of phases, like I have said, depending on what is on the ground, the phasing will change accordingly. It is not as if the Ministry wants to punish the learners and parents. Children are going back to school simply because at this moment in time it is proper for them to go back to school but once the conditions are so difficult that it is endangering not only the children’s lives but everybody’s life, schools will be closed. It will not be the first time that we close because there is an illness.
As for closing dates – they will be closed as normal in December and will take it from there. The days for closing schools has not changed at all. The only thing that changed is COVID 19; we did not know that there is going to be COVID 19 in Zimbabwe.
As for thermometers, Hon. Markham brought in the issue of thermometers and PPEs, like I have said, I have visited schools all over the country. Those schools had thermometers. Where there were no thermometers, I know there was an incident where a school was given armpit thermometers and it was corrected. So, we are monitoring the situation. Wherever there is a need for us to intervene, we will do that like we have always done.
On the issue of PPEs – we were given 600 million dollars by the Ministry of Finance. We are working with Natpham to distribute PPEs to all the schools. It is an ongoing project, it will never stop, it will always be there.
Every school Madam Speaker, whether the schools are open or not there are costs incurred and we work accordingly but what we do not want is for a school administration on its own to increase fees without following proper procedures. Part of the procedures is that the parents and guardians must be consulted and there must be minutes to show that at least 20% of the parents and guardians attended a meeting where fees are increased.
If there is a school that feels that because of the cost that have been incurred because school fees were not paid, let that school approach the Ministry and put it in writing where exactly I am supposed to intervene.
*HON. TEKESHE: I am sure the Hon. Minister was not taking notes of some of our questions. He did not respond to my question. I had asked that when we came to Parliament after lockdown, everyone was asked to be tested for COVID - 19. There were a number of Members of Parliament and staff who looked healthy and fit but tested positive to COVID -19. So, in schools, are the pupils going to be tested? Maybe some of them might be asymptomatic just like what happened here.
On the issue of thermometers – all those people who tested positive to COVID 19, none of them were detected by thermometer. So, are we using standard thermometers or we are just taking from those who want to have quick money.
In rural areas…
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon. Member! The question that you have asked whether thermometers that did not detect those people who were COVID -19 positive were of good standard cannot be directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.
*HON. TEKESHE: Schools are about to be opened how are these children going to learn given that we are not seeing any infrastructural development in the rural areas. Are you going to build new schools? We know that schools were overpopulated. There were classes with 60 pupils accommodated in one classroom. How are you going to apply social distancing that we are applying if you are not building new classroom blocks?
HON. MATARANYIKA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. My question is basically centred on public transport for students. We know that in urban areas, most students use public transport to go to schools and back home. So, I would like to find out if the Ministry has put in place any system to ensure that these students are not unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19 infections and whether there is any special transport that is reserved for these students? I have seen many times, people crowded at bus termini and I would shudder to think what would happen if students are also exposed to that same situation. So, if the Minister can explain if there is any system that can be put in place to ensure safe travel of students? I thank you.
HON. PHULU: Thank you Madam Speaker. My point of clarification regards the giving of PPEs and other measures that the Ministry is taking with regards to ensuring that children go to school safely. This relates to disaggregation, for example the girl child who may needs things that are slightly different from the boys. My focus is on the disabled children. For example, when we wear masks, those who rely on leap reading are no longer able to function. When we use braille, it relies on touching. I know we are talking about the need for PPE, I think there is need for new equipment. Many disabled people that I have seen in my Constituency need gadgets like these tablets that we have of phones and laptops but with special features to enable them to function during this time.
My question will also relate to what Hon. Mataranyika has also asked which relates to their conveyance from home to school being disabled under these circumstances. Has the Ministry looked at their special needs and what does the Ministry intent to do, like way forward with regards to this kind of scenario?
*HON. NYAMUDEZA: Thank you Madam Speaker. You have just told us that ZINWA is drilling boreholes but right now there are schools without boreholes. What measures have you as a Ministry, put in place to make sure that there is availability of water in those schools?
HON. NDUNA: I just want to seek clarity on the issue of computerisation for the schools in particular, ICT gadgets for those that are in schools that are formally marginalised. They are not endowed with these information communication technology gadgets. We want to move with the times. We want to get connected, collaborated and networked in the same way that those schools that are in towns and private schools are connected.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you Madam Speaker. With regards to computerisation in schools, that is an ongoing project. Madam Speaker, we are working with the Minister of ICT and indeed we are working with some of our partners who are assisting us. I agree entirely that all children must have access to computerisation. We cannot do without ICT. So, we will do the best we can to assist every child to get a computer.
With regards to schools with no water, we are also prepared to bring in bowsers to any school that needs water Madam Speaker. Bowsers are there, we have done it before. The Hon. Members are free to let us know where exactly they think there is something lacking, particularly when it comes to water. Bowsers are there to assist in schools.
On the issue of disabled children, I totally agree with the Hon. Member. The disabled children and disabled teachers must have access to buses, they must go to school. ZUPCO is the one responsible for this. There was an advertisement in one of the papers Madam Speaker, showing the bus routes that ZUPCO has advertised for both teachers and learners. I agree entirely that disabled children must also have access to this and ZUPCO is working on that one.
As for the issue of transport and learners, ZUPCO is working on that one. It does not matter whether it is urban or rural areas. If there are areas where people or Hon. Members feel there is insufficient services, let us know please, we will get in touch with ZUPCO.
As to the issue of why all schools are being opened, all children and teachers are going back to school and that exposes them to the Covid-19. Indeed it exposes them to Covid-19 pandemic but all we are asking is for everybody to follow the WHO and the Ministry of Health and Child Care protocols. It is not only the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education that is easing regulations that people are being allowed to go back to work. All the sectors of the economy have been eased so it is not only just education. I plead, let us all work together and assist each other.
On the issue of learning aides for the disabled child, we really need to look at this. How long it is going to take Madam Speaker, I do not know. What the Hon. Member is saying is very critical, it is very important. No child must be disadvantaged because they are disabled, even if that child is alone in that particular school whether it is in Binga, Chimanimani or Gwanda, it does not matter. As a Ministry as well as research institutions and the industry, the manufacturing sector of this country must take a lead because the market is there. We cannot afford a situation where one child cannot go to school because they do not have the necessary gadget. Our economy as a whole must actually be geared to that. It does not matter where the child is, whether the child is alone or not. By the Constitution of this country, I have to offer education, whether the child is one or they are a million. I thank you.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF WOMEN’S AFFAIRS, COMMUNITY, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT (HON. S. NYONI), the House adjourned at Eight Minutes past Four O’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 6th October, 2020.