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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 03 JUNE 2020 46 43
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday, 3rd June, 2020.
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTs BY THE HON. SPEAKER
COVID-19 PREVENTION MEASURES
THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that as part of COVID-19 prevention measures, Ministry of Health and Child Care officials are stationed at all the entrances to carry-out temperaturescreening and provide hand sanitizers. Hon. Members are advised to cooperate with the said officials as no-one will be allowed into the building without undergoing the temperature-screening and washing of hands.
Hon. Members are also urged to wear their masks at all times.
What is not written in this announcement is that where a Member refuses to sanitize or have their temperature taken, you will be forced by the institution to be arrested because you are breaking the law and you will be immediately taken to some quarantine area. But I want to assure you it will not be to any of the prisons including Chikurubi but to a proper quarantine centre.
VIRTUAL MEETING PLATFORM
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members are being reminded to
make sure that they join the virtual meeting platform; the link was forwarded to their Parliament e-mail accounts, and they should be connected. When an Hon. Member comes forward to debate, he/she should be having their Samsung tablet in front of them so that other Hon. Members that are in break-away rooms are able to follow proceedings accordingly. The ICT department is stationed at the courtyard to assist Hon. Members.
POINT OF PRIVILEGES
THE HON. SPEAKER: There is a request for point of privileges and I have conferred with Government Chief Whip. Three of the Members did raise some point of privilege before and I hesitate to say let us keep Wednesday for question time. Also we agreed that we will only have three point of privilege per given sitting. Here I have got four, so I will go according to the list as given. The last one shall not be called upon. I hope these points of privilege are pointed as discussed previously.
*HON. NYABANI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of privilege pertains to the courts of law. The courts were legally constituted in Zimbabwe to solve conflicts that arise between different people. They are not courts just constituted without legality. They were established according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon Member, you are now crossing the
floor. We have the doctrine of separation of powers, alright. What goes on in our judiciary system is their area of responsibility.
HON. MASANGO-CHINHAMO: I rise on a point of privilege Mr. Speaker. As Parliament, we are happy with the COVID-19 screening processes that are taking place here but I am really worried on the state the surfaces, tables and chairs at Parliament are in. On Monday we had a committee meeting in the afternoon. We got here around 1330 hours and the tables and chairs in the Members’ Dining area had not been cleaned. The floors were not even swept. The cleaners had to clean whilst we were waiting. Then today - I was here by 1000 hours, the Members Dining area had not been swept again, the tables and chairs had not been wiped. We are constantly getting teachings from the radios and television, and we as Members of Parliament are continually COVID-19 awareness programmes in our constituencies. We are constantly teaching people to disinfect such surfaces as soon as they are used, but this is not happening timeously at this Parliament. Mr. Speaker
Sir, the Members’ Dining area today was cleaned around twelve noon. I feel this is very wrong and puts our health at risk. Mr. Speaker Sir, if just one Member of Parliament or staff is infected and comes to this building, tose tinopera because cleaning and disinfection of surfaces is not really happening. There is this singer who sung kuti smart inotangira kutsoka. Today Mr. Speaker Sir, I am saying smart ngaitangire pano paParliament. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much Hon. Masango. Perhaps we should have forewarned you that the six floors of Parliament were fumigated very strongly on Friday as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus. So what you saw was not dirt but the remnants of the fumigation. Secondly, we have skeleton staff. We are not yet operating at full throttle because of the coronavirus, so the skeleton have the challenge to clean all the floors including committee rooms. That is the reason. There was no intention for you to rub shoulders with the remnants of the fumigation process and we will make sure that perhaps we do the fumigation on Thursday instead of Friday so that Friday they can clean up to be ready for your sittings in committees on Mondays.
+HON. MATHE: My point of privilege is on a matter I came across. It said that Members of Parliament of the ruling party mocked their colleagues from the opposition when they entered yesterday. I was not happy at all with that. I was here from the onset up to the end. There was no Member of Parliament from the ruling party who mocked the opposition members. Members were actually happy and did not mock their colleagues as they were seeing some of them after a long time and were happy to see them entering the House. Again, the ruling party Members of Parliament passed through a lot of concientisation and were taught a lot of things, including respecting other members and how to conduct ourselves here at Parliament. There is no one who can stand to mock others here. I would like to reiterate that we are happy to see our colleagues. May we continue to work amicably in compliance with the regulations of Parliament? I thank you Mr. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Our Standing Rules and Orders guide us so that we may not follow what appears in the media or we end up confused with matters that we are not aware of. As you have said, thank you but I would want to reiterate, please do not follow the media stories. Sometimes they say the truth sometimes they are not.
HON. T. MLISWA: My point of order arises from the fact you have said that the media sometimes misleads but some of us have been investigated from stories in the media.
+THE HON. SPEAKER...no, I did not say that
+HON. T. MLISWA: What did you say baba? – [Laughter.]
+THE HON. SPEAKER: I said you should not believe everything that is reported by the media because sometimes it misleads.
Hon. Chinotimba having stood up to raise a point of order after the presentation of notices of motions.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You do not raise a point of order when there is no debate. That is the procedure, the Standing Rules say that.
HON. CHINOTIMBA: No Mr. Speaker Sir, my point of order is serious – [Laughter.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, it is not the degree of seriousness that is important. You raise a point of order when there is a debate.
HON. CHINOTIMBA: Anyway, I do not know if it is privilege
Mr. Speaker, it is serious – [Laughter.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: On the point of privilege Hon. Member, we agreed that we will only allow three points of order on privileges – [HON. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Speaker, there is a problem up there, here, these journalists are not following the…] – no, no, I cannot allow that please. Let us follow the rules. Whisper to the Chief Whip, he will deal with the problem.
HON. RWODZI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question today
is directed to either – I am not so sure if it is directed to the Minister of
Home Affairs or to the Leader of the House. Mr. Speaker Sir…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order. The Hon. Minister of Home
Affairs is there, so do not be confused.
Hon. T. Mliswa having stood up to raise a point of order.
THE HON. SPEAKER: There has not been a debate – [HON. MLISWA: It is a debate.] – No. Before the notices of motions, I should have announced that Hon. Modi, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce and Hon. Prof. Mavima, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare have sent their apologies.
HON. T. MLISWA: Sorry Mr. Speaker, I do not know how to come in, I need now to be taught; I stand guided by you. I do not know which point I should use to try and get your attention. My point was to say, first of all the notice of absentee apologies are noted. Secondly, we have the issue of the Minister of Health and Child Care and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development not being here. With everything happening, the reason why we reopened this Parliament was to attend to issues.
THE HON. SPEAKER: It is a point of privilege because it is your right to be heard by the Hon. Ministers.
HON. T. MLISWA: Last time there was a Cabinet meeting, today there is no Cabinet meeting.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr.
Speaker Sir. The Minister of Health and Child Care is coming. He is going to deliver a Ministerial Statement today. I spoke to him earlier this afternoon. The Minister of Finance was supposed to come also but I did not speak to him. Everyone else is aware that they are supposed to be here.
THE HON. SPEAKER: He did attend the Committee meeting on Budget and Finance. I am surprised he is not here because I was following the proceedings.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, is the role of the Minister of Finance to just come and issue a Ministerial Statement? I now need to understand the role of the Minister. There are real questions that each Hon. Member might want to ask and today is question time. Is the role of Ministers now to issue Ministerial Statements and go?
HON. ZIYAMBI: No, they should attend Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. T. MLISWA: But they never attend Hon. Ziyambi, this is now a crisis. You are given a job by the President and you let us down. We come to Parliament; we did not take a risk to be here because of COVID 19 BUT we are attacked as Parliament Mr. Speaker, that we are not doing anything about it…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Your microphone is not on.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, we came back to Parliament because we were attacked that we were not doing anything as
Parliament. It must go on record that Parliament tries to do as much as it can but the Executive is not at all assisting us. So, why are we here because we are not taking a risk of being here? The COVID 19 cases are going high and we need them to answer. You did well by asking us to come back but they are not here, so why are we honestly here according to Section 107 of the Constitution?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr.
Speaker Sir. With your indulgence, I think we have some who are already here. The only one that I know may not join us because of some emergency is the Minister of Defence and Security. I will then excuse the Minister of Home Affairs after about 30 minutes but his deputy is here. They are needed for an emergency meeting. I am here and other
Ministers will join us later.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Where is the Deputy Minister of Finance?
HON. ZIYAMBI: I do not know where the Deputy Minister is.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You see, that is where the problem is and
the Minister of Finance is a key Minister.
HON. ZIYAMBI: I am agreeing with you and with your
indulgence, he is on his way. We agreed that he is supposed to be here. I am not privy about the whereabouts of the Deputy Minister save for those that I have indicated that they have a meeting that they have to attend. So, when you see the Minister of Home Affairs leaving, he is not being disrespectful to the House, there is an emergency meeting he has to attend to.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much. Please contact the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development. He has not travelled; he was here in Parliament for Committee meetings so he should be here for the full House.
HON. T. MLISWA: Procedurally, the apologies, Minister seeking leave writes to you. So what Hon. Ziyambi is doing is totally out of the procedure of this Parliament which you have taught us. Any Minister who seeks leave writes to you and you mention their names. Hon. Ziyambi is out of order because the Minister himself is present, he cannot be a prefect and try and talk on behalf of another member. We know the rules of Parliament. Unless I am wrong, I stand guided by you. The moment that you announce that this Minister is not absent with leave, then we have a reason. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is not here, there are issues of abductions which are happening and so forth. So, for how long will he fend for his own like that? It is unprocedural for him to stand for his other Ministers. It is unprocedural for you to do that because you are supposed to follow the procedure of handing in the names of people who are not here. You cannot break the rules because you are Leader of Government Business. When now we have their names there that they are not here, then we are now satisfied and we ask him questions as Leader of Government Business because the name is before you that the Minister has sought leave. Is that not so Mr. Speaker Sir?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much; that is correct and
very procedural. You see, the Standing Orders do not even want to know the reasons for absence, it simply says indicate that you are not available. The Standing Rules and Orders do not inquire even to the reasons although some Hon. Ministers in the past have said in advance, ‘I shall be out of the country on Government business’, which is an improvement – [HON. T. MLISWA: But now they cannot go out of the country.] – The point has been made Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: They are wasting tax payers’ money. Why
do we have to come to Parliament when Ministers are not here? Why do we come to class when there is nobody here? Why are we here? I want to know. That is my question. Why waste our time?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mliswa. I think you
have made a blanket statement. There are Ministers here and ministries are properly represented by their deputies. The Constitution says the Ministers and Deputy Ministers and I can see numbers; several deputy ministers are here to answer questions -[AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection.] – Thank you the point has been made and also the point has been made for the Leader of Government Business here.
We do not want to be flogging this dead horse every Wednesday.
HON. RWODZI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is
directed to the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs. Mr. Speaker Sir, as our country went into lockdown like any other country in the world; we experienced a number of challenges and of course a number of advantages for the lockdown. The challenges were ....
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, please ask questions.
HON. RWODZI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I am concerned
about ex-prisoners from surrounding countries that came into the country mainly those who were in remand in South Africa. I want to know where they are right now and what you have done about them because there has been an influx of criminal activities for the past month or so. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL
HERITAGE (HON. KAZEMBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I
would like to sincerely thank the Hon. Member for such a pertinent question. Yes, we have been profiling them. The initial problem that we have is that when they started coming, these ex-prisoners or convicts or ex convicts, we did not have their information but we started profiling them and those that have been found to have committed crimes have been arrested. I would like to inform the House that we had three that had committed crimes before they left the country and we identified them after profiling them and they were taken to court and the three of them have been convicted and they are serving their sentences. I thank you.
HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development but he is not in. In his absence, I will direct my question to the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Proceed with your question.
HON. T. MOYO: My question Hon. Speaker is, what is
Government policy regarding the 2020 producer price of cotton?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON.
KARORO): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir and thank you Hon. Member. Government policy is that regarding the announcement of commodity prices, a price should be announced after all procedures by relevant ministries have been followed. So, coming to your question on cotton price, expect an announcement from next week Tuesday because it has to be ratified by Cabinet.
HON. T. MOYO: My supplementary is - why is Government not announcing the prices expeditiously because farmers started marketing their cotton in March and they have not been paid for the price of cotton. The other issue is, is the price going to be in RTGs or US dollar because cotton is an export crop? Thank you very much.
HON. KARORO: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I think the
Hon. Member was very right to direct the question to the Minister of Finance because all the answers have to do with Ministry of Finance. As Ministry of Agriculture, we are doing our part; we submit the recommendations to the Ministry of Finance who then gives it a thumbs up. So, we have done our part and we are also expecting the Ministry of
Finance and Economic Development to submit our submissions to Cabinet for final approval.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Any further explanation Leader of Government Business in the absence of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development who we hope is coming?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr.
Speaker Sir. Perhaps to add, I will speak on the policy aspect and not the technical aspect of how they come up with the price.
The policy really is that the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, in consultation with the various stakeholders, come up with a producer price and a paper that they then submit to Cabinet for consideration. Once that paper is brought to Cabinet and approved, then a producer price is announced. So, I think it is still work in progress within the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. It is not a problem of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development per se because they have not yet submitted it for approval but like he said, it is something that is work in progress and we hope that within a week or two, it would have been concluded. I thank you.
+HON. MATHE: My question is directed to the Minister of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. People in rural areas do not have any food. What is the Department of Welfare’s criteria in distributing food relief to both the vulnerable and non-vulnerable?
+THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, where is your Ipad?
+HON. MATHE: Mr. Speaker, you made the announcement just now. I had not brought mine with me …
+THE HON. SPEAKER: No, the announcement was made last week.
+HON. MATHE: I having challenges with my Ipad. It is upstairs in Room 121 and is still being fixed.
+THE HON. SPEAKER: No but you know what is going to happen now if an Hon. Member does not have his or her Ipad in front of them as announced? You will not be allowed to ask a question.
+HON. MATHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker.
+THE HON. SPEAKER: Get it fixed as soon as possible.
+HON. MATHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker.
+THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, the Hon. Minister and Hon. Member, do not explain, just ask your question.
+HON. MATHE: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, my question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare pertaining to those who are young and non-vulnerable, where did they get the rains to water their fields since you are not giving them food?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): Thank you Mr.
Speaker Sir. If I could get somebody to translate the question for me.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The translation is, food distribution is being given to the vulnerable but there are others who are also going hungry because they are suffering the consequences of drought. Why are they not being given drought relief?
HON. MATUKE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. It is Government
policy to give all vulnerable people in the country food aid but I think if there are any areas that are not receiving food aid, I would request the Hon. Member to let us know so that we can send our officers to go and profile the names of those individuals and assess whether they are vulnerable or not before we can proceed to give them food relief. –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! The Hon. Minister said
that if there are specific areas where people are not getting drought
relief, can this be brought to the attention of the Ministry. So there is no supplementary.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Mr. Speaker Sir, we
are having problems with connectivity. I think the bandwidth is just not working. So when you get Hon. Members talking and they do not have their Ipads, it is not because we do not want to – it is really difficult.
When you are outside, you cannot even connect – [AN. HON.
MEMBER: Inaudible interjections] – Yes, it cannot. They said that they had spoken to TelOne and TelOne is saying …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Members, in view of
the internet breakdown, please proceed with your questions without the tablets.
HON. MATHE: Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question!
THE HON. SPEAKER: I ruled out the question of
supplementary. The Hon. Minister said, ‘Give us the areas and the
Ministry will investigate accordingly’. – [HON. MATHE: Inaudible interjections.] - So there is no supplementary there. I am going to apply the new Standing Orders and ask you Hon. Member to be out.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker, my point of recommendation
is that may the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare declare a national drought and aid will come in because the companies and NGOs that give aid only gave aid up to April … - [HON.
ZIYAMBI: Inaudible interjections.] – Is it?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Ziyambi, if you want to clarify Government policy, please wait for the Hon. Member to finish. Please go ahead.
HON. T. MLISWA: Yes, apparently the aid for maize was last given in April because as a country, we have not declared this a national disaster. They are not able to continue giving – that is what I was told.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Ziyambi, you want to correct
Government policy in terms of declaration?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr.
Speaker Sir. Yes, I just wanted to highlight the fact that the declaration has already been done. This is the reason why we are seeing all the donor agencies coming in to assist. When we are doing quantification of the maize that we have, we are taking into consideration what the World Food Programme and other donor agencies are bringing in. So that has already been done.
*HON. CHIHURURU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government. What plans do you have for those who had their structures demolished?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT,
PUBLIC WORKS AND NATIONAL HOUSING (HON.
CHOMBO): Thank you Mr. Speaker and I thank the Hon. Member for the pertinent question. I would want to rephrase the question. We are not as Government destroying structures. At the 9th Cabinet meeting it was resolved that in line with covid-19, it is imperative...
*HON. MAKONYA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. Hon. Chihururu spoke in Shona, so I would like to request the Hon. Minister to respond in Shona so that she addresses the question – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. When Hon. Mathe raised a question in Ndebele and the Minister of Labour responded in English, no one raised a point of order requesting the Minister to respond in Ndebele. So Hon. Deputy Minister of Local Government, because you can communicate in Shona, may you proceed in Shona.
*HON. CHOMBO: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the pertinent question which sought to understand the Government’s position regarding demolished structures.
I would like to clarify that we did not destroy structures but the 9th Cabinet sat and determined that during the covid-19 pandemic, it is important to prepare informal stalls in line with the Ministry of Health’s plans so that such areas have ablution facilities and water sources. The councils were not destroying structures but they were following a
Cabinet directive. Had we continued with what was prevailing then, we were going to risk people’s lives. That is why you discovered that councils were moving around solving hygienic issues. Areas like the Mupedzanhamo are being restructured and renovated so that vendors can maintain social distance. We have plans of reallocating stands to vendors so that they can operate within the confines of the law. I thank you.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORT FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that the Parliamentary Legal Committee met on the 3rd June 2020 and considered the Marriages Laws Bill [H. B. 7A, 2019]. The Committee is of the opinion that the Bill is not in contravention of the Declaration of Rights or any other provisions of the Constitution.
HON. SHIRICHENA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question has already been asked by Hon. Moyo, although I wanted to know the producer price of groundnuts, sunflower and sugar beans. Thank you
Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Unfortunately, you cannot ask cross referenced questions.
HON. A. MPOFU: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture. What is Government’s policy position regarding offering inputs and extension service support to those rural households who have sunk boreholes and established small irrigation schemes in their homesteads?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE,
WATER, CULTURE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON.
DOUGLAS KARORO): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. May I ask the Hon. Member to come again with the question? It is just too long.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You did not comprehend it.
HON. A. MPOFU: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Let me put it this way. There are individual rural households who have sunk boreholes in their private homes and they have also established small irrigation plots schemes at their homesteads. What is Government policy regarding offering input and extension service support to those households. I thank you.
HON. KARORO: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I got the question now. I want to make it clear to the House that in terms of inputs provisions, there are two schemes. There is the Command Agricultural Scheme which targets medium to large scale farmers and we also have the Presidential Input Scheme. Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear that these schemes are not discriminatory. They look at as long as you are in the category of small scale or in the category of medium to large scale, you will benefit from the Command Agriculture. If you are in the small scale whether you have a borehole as an irrigation means, if you qualify for the Presidential Input Scheme, you will benefit from that scheme.
HON. WADYAJENA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to ask the Deputy Minister, is Command Agriculture a Government programme and are the inputs for free?
HON. KARORO: The Command Agriculture is a scheme that is facilitated by Government to make sure that farmers are assisted with inputs related to farming.
HON. WADYAJENA: I have asked a specific question, is Command Agriculture a Government programme, yes or no and not
HON. KARORO: I am happy to say that the Hon. Member who is asking the question is the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture and he is very much aware that this programme on command is a programme that is facilitated by Government in conjunction with the private sector – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - When a programme is being facilitated by Government, what does that mean – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
*HON. KWARAMBA: If Command Agriculture is a
Government programme, CBZ is taking farmers’ money and they are left with nothing despite investing in farming inputs. We need to be assisted on that.
*HON. KARORO: I cannot say this is a question but a challenge which is being faced by our farmers who are given inputs before the prices of such inputs are announced. They are given inputs and charged later after taking their produce to the market, which poses a challenge to our farmers because such prices might end up exorbitant and beyond the expectations of the farmers. This is a challenge that we are facing as a
Ministry. My promise is that in the next season – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Why do you not allow the Hon. Deputy Minister to reply and if there is some lack of clarity, you can seek clarification.
*HON. KARORO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for protecting me. During the next agricultural season, the private sector and all those who provide inputs and implements are going to announce their prices in advance. We wrote a letter to the CBZ so that the issues are ironed out.
We are waiting for a response from CBZ and Cabinet. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Does Government fund Command
Agriculture? Is there money coming from the fiscus which is funding Command Agriculture? On the Public Accounts Committee so that I help - Command Agriculture is no longer funded by Government through TBs. It used to be funded by TBs and now it is under CBZ. So when Government has no funding, whether it is facilitating, it cannot respond to this because we now run a risk of him taking a responsibility which he will not answer to because we chase after Government money. That is why I am asking – does Government fund Command
Agriculture? If he says yes, then we now chase after the money but if it does not, we then chase money to whoever runs it. I do not know if that helps.
THE HON. SPEAKER: It appears like you answered yourself.
You answered yourself very well.
HON. MUSAKWA: My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. What is Government policy position with regards to vulnerable households who were being assisted by NGOs which have since abandoned the same and we are told that there is no space on the social welfare side of Government to absorb those beneficiaries.
We have catastrophic hunger levels in areas such as Chitsanga, Maboke, Mpamaonde and everywhere just to name a few so that you know that these people are homeless. Can we have the Government policy position on these people, for they are in critical need for food assistance?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): Normally our donors
provide food for the current season which expired in April and anticipating getting a good harvest because they do not normally spill over to the next season. I understand what the Hon. Member is asking because we have another drought this year. What we are going to get from the harvest may not take us up to June or July. We have since approached those donors to continue providing food. We need to start identifying vulnerable people again for this current season. I promise the Hon. Member that in the near future, the same vulnerable people who were identified before and those who are going to be identified now will continue to receive their food aid. I thank you.
HON. MUSAKWA: My supplementary question to the Minister
is - what timeframes can he give because these people are in a serious situation. We can have some deaths if this process delays.
HON. MATUKE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I may not be in a
position to state the timeframe but what I can only say is if there is any need, the Hon. Member can liaise with our local Social Welfare Officer who can attend to the vulnerable communities whilst we are waiting for the donors to come back and provide food. So if there are any issues to do with those communities which were affected, you contact our office so that we can ask our officers on the ground to register those people for them to immediately receive the food aid.
+HON. MATHE: My supplementary question to the Minister is
that he said there is food for work taking place but we have not seen it in our constituency. Where is food for work taking place? You also talked of the vulnerable yet in this COVID-19 era everyone has been made vulnerable. How do they survive if they do not fall under the vulnerable parameter?
*HON. MATUKE: If I heard the Hon. Member’s question
correctly, she is asking where the food for work is taking place because she has not seen it anywhere in her constituency. To answer the Hon.
Member, what has stopped food for work is the COVID-19 lockdown. After the lockdown was announced everyone stopped going to work including those doing food for work. When we open again, people will go back to work for food as a means of survival. Most people were taken unawares by this disease and they are all entitled to food aid because they cannot pursue their means of livelihood. There are two options that we are using to ensure that food gets to the people. Firstly, beginning June, all those who were registered because of their vulnerability are supposed to get $300 for those in towns and for those in the rural areas they are supposed to get food in areas designated for food distribution.
I want to agree with the Hon. MP that we were all looking forward to seeing people getting food for certain budgeted months. So the end of food distribution was supposed to be in April. That is why you do not see any donors because the prescribed time had come to an end. Now because of the hunger that we are faced with, we have asked them to come back and assist Government while we buy what has been harvested to assist with food to the people. I also want you to know that
COVID-19 resulted in all countries locking down and that affected Government maize importation. However, the maize that we have harvested will suffice while we wait for the imported maize to come. That is why we urge the Hon. Member to come to our offices if there is urgent need so that no one is left to starve while we wait for the imported maize. We will ensure that everyone gets food to eat.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister of Health and Child
Care is now around and I am sure he is going to give his ministerial statement after question time.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Mr Speaker Sir. My question is
to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Since the announcement that ZUPCO is the only official transport to be used, the people in the rural areas are suffering. There is no transport and my question is - when do we expect to get ZUPCO buses in the rural areas because those who are sick cannot get transport to the hospitals? Private cars are charging exorbitantly and it is not affordable.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I think that question is for the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. MHLANGA): Thank you Mr
Speaker Sir. The introduction of COVID-19 lockdown resulted in the removal of buses in different areas but we have approved buses which take commuters to work every day. We also have exceptions like ambulances and other facilities but because we are in this lockdown, we would continue to ask people to stay at home.
*HON. TEKESHE: Of course, the directive was given but staying in rural areas does not mean that one does not go to work and does not need transport to go to different places. My question is - how can this challenge be solved?
*HON. CHOMBO: We sat down and deliberated on the issue so that we understand where people would be going. I would like to request the Hon. Member to communicate if the Hon. Member feels that we are not giving that ZUPCO service as Government. The Hon. Member should come to the office and engage us so that we come up with a position. However, as Government, we try by all means to provide transport for essential services. Thank you.
*HON. MAVETERA: Has Government analysed and looked into
the issue of provision of transport services? For example in the Seke area, ZUPCO buses are delaying to ferry people to their workplaces.
What is Government doing to alleviate that shortage?
*HON. CHOMBO: We mentioned that we are on level two of the lockdown. The country has 1000 commuter omnibuses and 600 buses. Yesterday when Cabinet sat, Cabinet looked into the level 2 and determined that buses should now carry at full capacity. For example, if buses where carrying 32 people, now they can ferry 64 people. Commuter omnibuses can now carry 16 people. Our buses should start carrying people at 0430 hours and do three trips. They should be able to ferry people going to work so that by 0745 hours people will be in town. We are advising people that this programme of carrying at full capacity started today. We have instructed that all buses should have sanitisers and people should be wearing face masks. Also, the people boarding those buses should have letters to show that they are going to work. Starting from today, things will improve and people will arrive at work on time but if you see that it is not going on well, we request you to come to our office and assist us so that we can fix the problem. The Government has however allowed us to add more buses and kombis if we see that we are still encountering challenges ferrying people to work.
*HON. MAKONYA: Hon. Tekeshe asked about rural transport because people in rural areas also want to travel, the issue is not of going to work only. There are a lot of problems we are seeing in rural areas and people need to travel. For example, when your mother dies you have to travel and it does not matter that it is during a lockdown you have to go. I am requesting the Minister and Cabinet to go back and sit down and see that you have put ZUPCO buses in rural areas from
Chiendambuya to Rusape. Let it leave Chiendambuya on Monday carrying people to Rusape to enable them to buy medicines and attend funerals, not only for people going to work.
*HON. CHOMBO: We are in a very difficult time of Covid-19. We want to work as Government to contain the disease, so we do not encourage inter-city visits. We are advising people to stay put where they are but if we are out of the lockdown, we will have a plan in terms of ferrying people in rural areas. If someone has a funeral there is transport which is provided in every area but at the moment, as
Government we gave a directive that people stay put at their places.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: The question was asking you to sit down as Cabinet and see how you can assist people in rural areas. If the request is rejected, you come back and tell us that it has been rejected.
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): The Minister of
Health will give a Ministerial Statement explaining all those issues. In our investigations, we saw that where people gather there is a risk of spreading the disease. So in our resolutions we said those who are going to companies and following regulations should be allowed to go but for us to say that buses should be carrying people from one place to another, we are not yet satisfied that we are out of danger. We may have a bigger problem and we will not be able to contain the spread of the disease. We do not even want people to gather at funerals or buses to be carrying people to funerals. We do not want people to travel. If someone is sick, they have to go to the nearest clinic and we need to look for resources so that every clinic is well resourced and we avoid the spread of diseases. So for us to go to Cabinet and ask for buses, we will be breaking the agreement which we made that we need to stop the spread of the disease.
Thank you Hon. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Leader of the House. We are happy that the Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care will address that issue.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Mr.
Speaker Sir, the justice delivery system of this country is under scrutiny.
People are arrested; they go to court and are acquitted. The number of acquittals which have been happening are a lot and there is now a question that; are people being arrested to be prosecuted or to be persecuted? There are examples; The Advocate Thabani Mpofu situation is one and many others. I would like the Minister to really reassure this House that surely the justice delivery system of this country is what it is constitutionally.
The question is why is it that when you arrest people, they are constantly acquitted? Is it because the prosecution is weak or those who are arresting are personalising the arrest and not using the law? Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you
Madam Speaker Ma’am. I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question. I want to tackle his question in two parts. We have the investigative arm of the State and the powers of investigation are vested in the police. We also have the Anti Corruption Commission; they also come in and do investigations. Once investigations have been completed and they are satisfied that they have a prima facie case, they go on to arrest and they move now to the Prosecutor General’s office and then to the courts.
Coming to his question that we have so many arrests and fewer convictions, the arm that is arresting is not the one that determines what happens in the court. Their job is to present the evidence that they have so that the court can determine. However, what we have tried to do now is; we are in the process of saying, the police, Anti Corruption Commission and the Prosecution must sit down together and agree that this docket is ready for prosecution before they go on to arrest. We are trying to encourage them to remove this silo mentality and work together, the investigators and those lawyers who are responsible for prosecution so that they satisfy each other that they have a case that they can prosecute and win. So, this is the new approach that we are encouraging them to do and we hope that going forward, there is going to be an improvement in that regard. Once they do that, then our focus will now shift to say; why are we getting more acquittals when these are satisfied that the cases are like this. However, our system also has checks and balances. We start off at the Magistrate Court, if you are not happy you go to the High Court and if you are not happy you go to the Supreme Court.
So, the judiciary system also offers checks and balances if you are not happy with the outcome of the case. In terms of policy, generally, the framework is very good but the only area that I feel that we decided that we needed to strengthen is to ensure that the investigative arm and the prosecution agree and work together to ensure that before they go to the courts, they work towards realising their ultimate goal. I thank you
Hon .Speaker Ma’am.
HON. T. MLISWA: I want to thank the Hon. Minister for admitting that there is a problem and as a result, they should be working together. What is important is that decisions must be made by the appointing authority on those who are failing to discharge their duties professionally. I am a good example of having been arrested over 70 times but acquitted over 70 times; no police officer or Commissioner General was fired. So, to me, can we continue like this; you have high profile cases of Hon. Mupfumira the former Minister of Finance, Cde. Ignatius Chombo; all these are just lingering and there is nothing that is happening.
So, it is pretty important for the Minister to understand that no one is confident with the justice delivery system anymore and it is important to tell us where the weakest link is. If it is the enforcement agent, are they arresting to investigate or investigating to arrest? It seems as if they arrest to investigate instead of investigating to arrest. No wonder why there are a number of cases which are always acquitted and people have lost confidence in that regard. The Minister, knowing him and him wanting this to work, people have lost faith and they think every arrest is personal and has an agenda and the system is trying to persecute people, which is not good. Which is the weakest link now from the enforcement agent to the prosecution and to the judiciary in your opinion? Thank you.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I think the
Hon. Member is asking me a question that I cannot answer in this
House. When I stand up to answer questions, I do not answer on the basis of my personal opinion but I am sure he can find other fora to ask my personal opinion. Here I just lay out the policy framework and what is supposed to be done. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: From a policy point of view, the enforcement agents, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Judiciary, which do you think is not implementing the policy?
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I do not believe
that from a policy point of view there is a weakness. I believe in looking at individual cases and see how they are prosecuted. If it is at the Magistrate Court, what do we then do to appeal to finality. So, I would not want to say there is a weakness in a policy. The structure of our Judiciary is comparable to any in the world and the structure of our National Prosecution Authority as enshrined in our Constitution is perfectly okay. So, I believe that we need to strengthen the institutions. That is the reason why I alluded to the fact that going forward, we are in agreement that let us remove the silo mentality. The investigators as
well as the prosecutors have to sit down and agree on the readiness of a particular case to go for trial. That is the response that I can give.
HON. MATEWU: My supplementary to what Hon. T. Mliswa
raised is that he raised a very pertinent and significant question on the integrity of our justice system. Whilst the Minister has tried to separate between the investigation arm - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. Hon.
Member, please put on your face mask; do not remove your mask from your mouth.
HON. MATEWU: Thank you Madam Speaker. Whilst he tried to
separate between the justice delivery system in terms of the courts and the investigating arm of the police, but the two are intertwined and I want to ask in terms of the persecution of political leaders in this country. In terms of people aligned within politics, I give a case....
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, that is a new
question, please take your seat.
HON. MATEWU: No it is the same question. I am sure you understand. It is a supplementary to what he just said. The Hon.
Minister said that he is going to …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am not allowing you to go
forward take your seat Hon. Member.
HON. MATEWU: Madam Speaker, I need to be given the chance
to ask the Minister a question.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is a new question, you
ask when you get your chance.
HON. MATEWU: Can I ask a new question to the Hon. Minister?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, you cannot ask now, take
our seat – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – Order Hon.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
HON. T. MLISWA: When Mr. Speaker who is a man was in the Chair, there was order. Now that he has gone, it is disgusting and appalling from the ZANU PF perspective that you constantly make noise when she is in the Chair. Is it because you have no respect for her?
When the Speaker was here, you we totally. It is about time that ZANU PF becomes sensitive to the gender issues of this country. You pay lip service to too much gender when you are going for elections but yet you do not respect a female in the Chair. Can we please respect the Chair not because she is a female or male but the chair that she is seating on. Therefore, I implore you Madam Speaker to use your powers to kick people out of this Parliament with the new Standing Rules and Orders and Rules which are there.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mliswa.
HON. MUNETSI: Thank you Madam Speaker. My question is
directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. I just want to find out the Government policy with regards to building grants in schools, does this still exist?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND
SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. E. MOYO): Thank you very
much Madam Speaker. I would like to inform the House that our school system is two pronged. We have private and Government schools. Under the Government school system, we have the pro-Government which are funded directly by Government, then we also have Council schools which come under the umbrella of Government schools. In those schools, the grants that are available are through PSIP projects. We also have other partners that come into play like NGOs, churches and so forth. So those grants are still there and are coming under PSIP and solely for Government schools in the categories I have given. The private school side is not covered in those grants. I thank you.
HON. MUNETSI: Thank you Madam Speaker. Now that some
schools are not getting that funding, is it not possible that the money which is allocated for devolution, a percentage of it be put to schools of that nature?
HON. E. MOYO: Thank you very much once more. On the question of devolution, I think the discretion lies with those that manage the devolution funds to determine what purpose that fund is going to be used for. The other side of it is SIG (School Improvement Grants) which is a product of GPE (Global Partnership and Education) which then gives some disadvantaged schools some complementary grants to complete building projects in their schools. On the devolution side, we may not say this is how you are going to use the monies but it depends on those who are planning and determining the nature of projects to be funded. I thank you.
HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker. May I know why
satellite schools in rural areas are not prioritised in accessing Government grants?
HON. E. MOYO: I think they are prioritised. If you look at the school list for these projects from the different provinces, you will find that our satellites are on the priority list. The only thing is that they may not all be covered at the same time because of scarcity of resources.
However, some grants every year are given to those schools for the construction of classrooms and other facilities.
HON. P. CHIDAKWA: My supplementary is, for this year, SIG money has been staggered from building classroom blocks. Can you as a Ministry chase up with the donor to make sure that the money is allowed to build schools? In my constituency, we have built quite a number of schools using SIG money. I thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND
SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. E. MOYO): Thank you Madam
Speaker, I think that is a recommendation that is worth chasing and also determining what is happening in that field but as a matter of policy; SIG money and as per the agreement, should be used to also assist in the construction of schools and that has happened over years. I thank you.
*HON. CHIKUKWA: My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. We are aware that in order for people to be mobile, it is necessary for them to have authorization letters. I heard the Leader of Government Business talking about crossing or moving across provinces. However, my question is that for those who want to go to banks, is it necessary for them to obtain letters?
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND
CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. MADIRO): Thank you Madam
Speaker Ma’am. The question that was asked by the Hon. Member touches and affects a lot of people.
Moving around with letters through different roadblocks was done so that the police can control the movement of people during the Covid19 pandemic. In order for people to move around for different reasons – there are local police stations in their neighbourhoods so people can go to the Officers-in-Charge and get letters from them because the head of any particular district may be far, but a Member-in-Charge is empowered to do that. Without such constraints, there are a lot of people who may want to get into town to take advantage of the situation.
Some may even deceive the police hence I would want to urge Hon. Members to enlighten their constituents of such developments so that they can go to their Officers-in-Charge and request for such letters.
People do not go to banks every day. So banking institutions must be orderly so that banks are not overcrowded. It is necessary to obtain such letters so that Government can control the movement of people. I thank you.
*HON. DR. MATARUTSE: My question is, is it Government
policy for people to pay for obtaining these letters?
*HON. MADIRO: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am – that is
corruption. These letters should be issued free of charge. Zimbabwean citizens are urged to expose such corruption, especially if it is being perpetrated by law enforcement officers.
This should be reported to the police without fear or favour so that corruption is totally eradicated. If corruption is perpetrated and people keep quiet, then it will continue unabated. I thank you.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am, I want
to know whether or not the issuance of these letters is limited to the police?
HON. MADIRO: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I believe
that the Leader of Government Business has already highlighted the fact that there are essential services that were authorised to operate. Such companies can write letters confirming that these are their workers who are expected to go to work.
Government officials like the district administrators, especially in the rural areas, can also write authorisation letters. I thank you.
*HON. T. MLISWA: This issue of authorization letters – my question is, is this issue producing results? The issue regarding corruption has been mentioned several times. At times when you report corruption, no action is being taken because corruption is found even at higher levels. So we do not have to blame the junior officers only because of the allowances that they are being paid.
*HON. T. MLISWA: My question is - how much is being paid to
the officers so that they do not engage in corrupt activities? You have not arrested anyone for corruption. Which senior Government official has been arrested and is still in jail?
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you asking how much
is paid to police officers who write letters?
*HON. T. MLISWA: My first question is - we have noted that there are a lot of letters being written but there is no compliance on social distancing. Secondly, we were told that we should report corruption, how do we report corruption yet a lot of corruption is perpetuated by senior officers?
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON.
DEPUTY SPEAKER in terms of Standing Order No. 64. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. Hon.
Members to my left side, please may we observe social distancing.
Those who were not here please may you proceed to the gallery – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – May we observe social distancing Hon. Members. Hon. Members sitting on the front row, please social distancing. You are not observing social distancing Hon.
Members please. We need to be one metre apart. Hon. Members, please may you behave like mature people – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order Hon. Members. Hon. Members and Hon.
Ministers, here please may we observe social distancing.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is no point of order
Hon. Mliswa please.
*HON. T. MLISWA: Madam Speaker there is a point of order. The reason why Members are coming in, the security of Parliament should do their work of controlling people and showing them where they should go. Why are they not controlling people?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is a valid point. Hon. Members please, may we observe social distancing. Idzo nyaya dzacho dzamunoda kutaura munguva yecovid, inyaya rudzii dzamunoda kuungana muchitaura muno? Hon. Members on the front row to my left
- please, may you observe social distancing. Hon. Sikhala and Hon.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you
Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I seek leave of the House that we suspend Questions With Notice and allow the Minister of Health to deliver his Ministerial Speech on COVID 19.
Motion put and agreed to.
– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, order. Hon.
Sikhala for your information, it was peaceful in this House – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Matangira!
STATE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Madam Speaker, allow me to start by saying that COVID-19 is still with us. I want to emphasise that so that when we go back to our constituencies, we can re-emphasise it. Madam Speaker, allow me to give an update on COVID-19 situation. I will start by telling you globally and also in country, we have a high risk. In so doing, allow me to first thank His Excellency, President Emerson Mnangagwa and his deputies for the guidance they have been giving us in the fight against COVID-19. The global outlook of the pandemic reflects a continuous presence of the disease in most parts of the world. Key to the fight against COVID 19 in our country lies in our ability to test more numbers as this will inform us whether we have the disease with us or we only have sporadic incidence of the disease.
In this regard, the Government has decentralised testing of COVID 19 to all our provinces using what is called PCR machines called the gene expert machines. This has seen us being able to increase the number of tested cases though there remains challenges in testing as many cases as possible in a short space of time. Currently, the country has a capacity to do slightly above 2 000 tests per day.
I will now give you some statistics of our laboratory activities as at the 1st of June 2020;
|Number of tests that were carried||Number of confirmed cases||Number that has recovered||Number of cases that are active||Number of cases that have deceased|
We would have loved to keep these figures down as Zimbabweans. Given the rapid increase in positive cases recently, there is anticipation of an increase in the testing demand which we need to prepare for this coming week. The decentralisation of PCR testing has also increased the access of the tests to the population with a decrease in turnaround time of results being observed.
As the Ministry of Health, we have submitted a request for additional financial allocation in order to test as many people as possible. Currently, more supplies are awaited. We have a total of six public laboratories and one private and they are still able to run 186 PCR tests per laboratory. There are fourteen provincial sites with the capacity to test using the machine called gene expert. Each of the sites can run 32 samples a day. This gives a total lab testing capacity of 448 for the gene expert per day. Thorngroove and United Bulawayo hospitals are also sites whose bio-safety is being improved to enable testing.
Since the on-set of the COVID 19 outbreak, Zimbabwe has carried a total of 19 237 PCR tests and 23 594 rapid diagnostic tests. The country has also introduced the cartridge based PCR tests and this has been deployed to fifteen sites across all the provinces. The deployment is phase based and the intention is to have district hospitals carrying out COVID 19 testing using the gene expert.
Currently, the country has been receiving commodities from the development partners and the Africa Centre for Disease Control. Government of Zimbabwe has also released funds and expedited procurement and the commodities have started to be delivered. It is common knowledge that there is a huge competition for the commodities which are used for testing. At the same time, commodities are being allocated to countries by risk of burden of disease, hence the deliveries have been taking time as Zimbabwe is regarded as a low risk country. The commodities have not been delivered in complete packages in some cases.
Africa CDC has played a useful commodity supplier. An example is in the delivery of the primers and the extraction reagents. Likewise, we have also received supplies or support from the Chinese, British, Americans, UAE, European Union – there has been a lot of support from the development partners: UNICEF and WHO have also chipped in.
Currently, the country has 9 000 laboratory based PCR tests and 3 600 of the cartridge based PCR tests. For this reason, whilst more deliveries are in the pipeline, testing has been prioritised for the quarantine areas and those patients presenting with classical symptoms of COVID 19. As deliveries improve, the testing can then be expanded to other groups of people. Parliamentarians are also earmarked for
COVID 19 testing utilising PCR. The dates will be advised shortly.
The other issue regarding COVID 19 management relates to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use by staff. Government has involved the universities and other tertiary institutions in the production of PPEs. Local industry is also complementing efforts of Government by producing the same PPEs even though they are pricing may be slightly higher as compared to those produced by the universities. Local production of PPEs accounts for at least 5% of the demand of the local market. Much of our PPEs are coming from the donor community and they have been keeping us going especially considering that our country is under sanctions and as such, it is difficult to access products in the market.
It is important that I highlight the achievements to date in our COVID-19 response. Availability of the PPEs will boost our thrust of preventing the pandemic. Despite all this, Government continues to do the very best it can within available resources to protect its citizens and the frontline staff. The quarantine centres – Government continues to be guided by the WHO guidelines on the issue of quarantining and isolation of suspected COVID-19 cases. As we may have been observing the happenings around the globe, most countries have been deporting people who are not citizens to their countries. In that regard, even the Government of Zimbabwe has banned travel of foreigners into our country. It could not ban however the return of its citizens. However, I must mention that it is our own citizens who are being deported who are now posing a challenge to our quest to fight COVID-19. The returning citizens are subjected to the normal quarantine process upon return from the respective deporting countries.
What we have noted and presented from the statistics is that most of our cases are coming from the returnees. Very few cases are coming from the local transmission. To curb this problem, Government has in the past week made a decision to ensure that all the available resources be channelled towards testing all people in the quarantine centres using the PCR testing platform so that we minimise further transmission by detecting those that are positive at an earlier stage. Once identified as positive, the patients are quickly taken to our isolation facilities depending on status whether they are moderate, mild to moderate and/or severe.
Madam Speaker, schools are in the process of preparing to open and Government has been using these facilities as quarantine centres. I am happy to inform the House that all the provincial COVID-19 task force committees have made a move ahead of time to identify suitable alternative quarantine centres and in some instances people are already being moved to these new centres. Regarding security at the quarantine centres, it has been noted that there has been an upsurge in the number of people escaping from the quarantine centres and this poses a serious threat to our people.
I also want to inform the House that our security services have upped provision of security around these centres and those who escape will have their names published so that the public is aware of those that can pose a danger to their communities. I therefore want to urge Members of this august House to pass on the message to their constituencies not to allow their members to house their relatives who would have escaped from quarantine centres before being tested.
In addition, let me talk about the preparedness in terms of the isolation centres. From the time WHO announced that COVID-19 was now a pandemic, Government went into the drive to prepare isolation centres to be used for treatment of patients. I am pleased to inform the House that of all the 10 provinces in our country, there are at least three centres available at various levels of completion in terms of rehabilitation. Most of these centres are now able to admit moderate to mild conditions with Harare and Bulawayo having the few centres that can admit the critical cases.
I must also touch on the issue of health human resources.
Pertaining to human resources, the Ministry is informing Parliament that 3 668 appointments have been made and processed out of 3 700 posts that were unfrozen by Treasury. The 45 unfilled posts largely comprise of skills which are not easily available in the local market. I also want to indicate that Old Mutual and Econet live are providing live cover to all frontline healthcare workers for the next six months with an option to continue on an individual basis after the six months.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care has submitted an additional request to Treasury for us to get 178 environmental health officers whom we require to be manning the ports of entry which are on a 24hr basis. I also want to point out that in each and every province, there is now going to be created quarantine centres strictly for returning convicts and people of a violent disposition.
Let me also highlight to you about the research that is being carried on within our institutions. We have heard about the Senegal research,
Madagascar portions. In Zimbabwe we have not been left behind. The Ministry is in partnership with the various research bodies, including the universities and will soon be publishing its findings so as to inform how as a country we have moved forward in the continued fight against COVID-19. The research also includes aspects of herbal medicines in the treatment of COVID-19. To that effect, guidelines to a clinical study of herbal medicines are now in place as recommended by the WHO. A criterion for pre-clinical evaluation of herbal remedies before clinical trials or observations has been included in the guidelines.
Lastly, I want to just highlight the issue of buses. Government has realised that there is a lot of passengers who were being delayed from going home or coming to work and therefore has allowed full load to alleviate the delays in moving the passengers who might end up in long queues where the chances of them being infected are high. However, by so doing, Government has put strict conditions on whoever has to get on that bus. Firstly, they have to be fully donned with a mask. The bus must be able to sanitise each and every passenger who gets into that bus; the bus itself must be fully sanitised...
HON. P. ZHOU: On a point of order Madam Speaker. This
House is governed by Standing Rules and Orders. I can see Hon Chibaya coming in with a mask on his face with triple CCC on it, which is not allowed in this House to come putting on such things. I request you Madam Chair, to ask him to leave the House. Thank you.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: As I was concluding, I was talking about the uses of the buses. Government has allowed full loads to alleviate delays in moving passengers who might end up in long queues and with no social distancing. So the buses themselves must also be well sanitised. We want an environment within that bus where there are no standing passengers where we only have those who are sitting. I thank you.
HON. TSVANGIRAYI: My question is with regards to the testing that is going on. Is there may be a projection of increasing the testing? If they are still the same amount of testing they are doing, that is, 19 000 of the testing kits that were done and the 25 000 of the rapid ones. We want to know if there will be an increase in testing because 200 cases from 19 000 and 25 000, to me that is a bit worrying to hear that there is only 200 cases after this long with COVID-19.
HON. SIKHALA: Hon. Minister, out of the 15 million
Zimbabweans, you are telling this Parliament that since February when this disease visited us, you have only managed to do 19 237 PCR and 23 594 rapid tests. Comparatively with our own neighbours, Zambia and South Africa, South Africa has tested more than five million of its citizens now – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – So, how true are your statistics that in Zimbabwe we only have 203 cases of COVID-19? Can you tell this House that you statistics are correct in as far as the testing has happened? Very few people have been tested.
Secondly, you mentioned the issue of escapees from quarantine centres. We have obtained reports that there are many people who have escaped from quarantine centres. What have you done to follow up those people who have escaped from the quarantine centres for us to be reassured that wherever they are going, they will not contaminated other people.
My third clarification Hon. Minister, Madagascar has discovered a serum that has been given ovation in Africa where it has also been clinically tested that it can treat Coronavirus. What is the Government doing to give Zimbabweans who want to use that serum for purposes of COVID-19 prevention? How can you give Zimbabweans the
Madagascar serum so that our people who could have suffered and who want to prevent themselves from catching COVID-19 could have access to it? Thank you Madam Speaker. Machembere nyararai uko!
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Sikhala, please may you
withdraw that statement?
HON. SIKHALA: Withdrawn Madam Speaker.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: My questions of
clarification are; what process is there for the private sector like private surgeries that are doing rapid testing? How do they feed into the portal of reporting the cases that are coming in from the private sector because we know that a lot of people particularly your more affluent
Zimbabweans go to private doctors and there are certain private doctors that are beginning to offer rapid testing but it does not look like there is a portal in which they can feed in the results so that globally, you do have the numbers.
The second one is now that we are going into winter, what are the scientific issues that are associated with ensuring that those that can get flu vaccines can do so. Would getting a flu vaccine not minimize the chances in that you know you will have particularly your young people that you want to go back to school? Should we not be considering the issue of a flu vaccine so that at least they do not have a cold and can spread the virus much more easily?
The third one is to do with the escapees. It is difficult to understand how, for example, those that are in quarantine centre that has a big wall and security are escaping unless there is corruption that is taking place. We know that at one time, I think it was your case number 14, the one associated with the old woman from Mhondoro. They were issues on social media that seemed to be saying that one of the escapees is the one who had made contact. That may not be true but there was information about who this person was because they arrived on a plane and did not go to quarantine. Why have we not been given those particular names?
The last one is following up on what Hon. Sikhala raised around the Madagascar thing. Why are we insisting to go scientific on this one when we can sell issues of herbal treatment? For example, we now have shops which sell ndolwane and it is alright. So, why are we going through this very difficult Eurocentric processes instead of just accepting the Madagascar one as a herbal treatment so that it is not set up as a treatment for COVID but more of what manages COVID? For example, we use zumbane and steam ourselves to help ourselves and it works. It looks like if we start waiting for WHO to certify this and say, scientifically, it has been proven, it will take a long time. Why not just make it a herbal treatment and run with it? Thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My
clarifications from the Minister; firstly, it is to do with the level of testing within the various areas. In his Statement, he indicates that the returnees are the people that are mostly infected by COVID 19.
However, I want to ask the Minister, specifically looking from a
Constituency point of view. For instance, when you look at Dzivarasekwa, which I represent, there is no area or way in which people are being tested. At what stage are we going to see several tests being decentralised to districts or Constituency levels?
The second issue which I want clarification from the Hon.
Minister; I listened to his Ministerial Statement; you have indicated the commitment that the Government has done and the commitment from the donor partners. However, Hon. Minister, your statement does not answer the suspicion that people have with regards to your Ministry in particular and the Government in general that a lot of money is being abused in fighting COVID 19. What we want Hon. Minister is; can you be in a position to brief this august House on the amount of money that the Government has utilized? How much has been set for masks and test kits so that we can be in a position to see whether there is value for money. A case which has arisen is that which came that the Permanent Secretary in the Minitry of Finance had to write in terms of – is it
Drucknet? Yes, where masks were being quoted at USD28 and what we want you to tell us is the issue that was raised by Mr. Guvamatanga, the
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic
Development, the general outlook of how resources have been utilised. Could this explain why there is little or no testing happening from where we come from?
HON. A. MPOFU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I would
like to firstly thank the Hon. Minister for his report. It is important that the report started by acknowledging the commitment that His Excellency has actually put in this COVID crisis. I think it is only fitting that this House also acknowledges that effort. I want to note two things, the first one being the efforts which are being put into the research process so that maybe, we can also locate ourselves within the solution that could be found.
Secondly, I would like to acknowledge the partnership that the Ministry has had with the insurance companies so that our health workers can be covered. I would like to know from the Minister, whether the coverage also includes our rural village health workers? I thank you.
*HON. P. ZHOU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care for the Statement. We are grateful for all the things that I have heard.
However, I am noting that in rural areas, the issue of awareness to
ensure that the community is alert and aware of the COVID 19 disease is very little. We are the Hon. Members who are trying to reach out but we do not have adequate resources. I do not know how the Hon. Minister can ensure that Hon. Members of Parliament are able to reach out to their constituencies for awareness purposes.
I wish you can emulate what our Health Ambassador is doing, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa who is visiting all districts. If you emulate that strategy and equip us as Members of Parliament we will also do the same in our constituencies and it will be very helpful so that COVID 19 is made known in rural areas.
The other issue that is so painful Madam Speaker Ma’am is that of truck drivers which we call gonyeti here. These international truck drivers will bring us the COVID-19 disease because they carry passengers along the way as they travel. For example, the returnees are causing the number of COVID-19 cases to multiply and you are trying to contain it in quarantine centres. What are you doing concerning the international truck drivers? It is important that you team up with other line ministries’ officers responsible so that we do not hear of people escaping from quarantine centres. How do they get out? A mother with a child, how does that happen? There must be corruption taking place where money is being paid for that to happen. What measures are there to ensure that those responsible for security at the quarantine centres are not being bribed to release people? It seems as if the cases being reported is because someone must have opened the gate for them. We have heard that there are people with underlying conditions who are vulnerable to the disease. Some of us here do have those underlying conditions and we want the COVID to stay far away from us so that it does not infect us. Thank you very much.
*HON. T. ZHOU: Thank you Hon. Minister. Doctor Edwin Sibanda from Bulawayo who is the Director of Health Services has been quoted in the Government newspaper, the Chronicle saying, “there are three cases of medical students from NUST who have returned back to
Mpilo Faculty of Medicine”. It was reported that one of the students was from Mutare, the other from Mberengwa and the other from Bulawayo.
Hon. Minister, we want to understand whether these are local transmissions or not. What is happening? Where are these people coming from? If they are coming from Mberengwa, what have you done to ensure that these people are traced and ensure that the disease does not to spread the whole country? Thank you Hon. Minister.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Speaker. Minister,
what is your target for your tests? How many people do you target to test in a month? When are you going to start doing random testing where you do not treat people specifically because they have come for treatment? Secondly, we have several task teams that go around the country sometimes just to go and see a 3 x 4 metres building being built. How much are we losing in allowances that we are paying non front line workers?
Why are we continuously using ordinary people to move around the country inspecting medical facilities that should be inspected by qualified medical people? Why are we not regularly updating the people of Zimbabwe giving them in detail? If you look around what happens in other countries so frequently we are advised what is happening, where it is happening and even the press are given an opportunity to ask penetrating questions so that it also triggers your thinking as to what needs to be done.
Why are we not allowing that to happen? We are also expecting people to open up their industries. Why do we expect the employers to pay for tests when the majority of the equipment that we have is donated? Why do we want employers to pay? Are we not making it virtually impossible for the economy to function or for industry to open which is another problem that we have? Lastly Minister, how many cases do we have that are actually hospitalized? Out of the active cases that we have, you have not disclosed to this House how many people we have who are hospitalised. This information will help us to understand how prepared we are now, considering that there is now an upsurge of infections. Under normal circumstances, if we look at the percentage from 53, we are now talking of 203. This might be frightening, there must be something terribly wrong that we are doing. Scientifically when do you think we can start seeing the infections going down? What do we call our curve at the moment?
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Thank you Madam Speaker, I will start with the last question. How many are hospitalised, I want to say the hospitalization while we were ready with our isolation centre, for some time we did not have anyone in those isolation centres, until we started getting the returnees - that is when we managed to start getting people hospitalized. Those returnees in reality, they were mild to moderate cases; there was none who required critical care. They had to go through the hospitalization process so that we could be able to make a determination directly after having being tested at the quarantine. They had to come into a hospital environment for the purposes of further care and management before they were released to go and self isolate at home.
So the reality is, I have always said 85% of the cases will require management at home. They can be managed at home, 15% who are moderate can be taken into isolation centres for monitoring and medication, and 5% would require ICU care. So the 5% has not happened yet. The next issue is while they come out of the quarantine centre, they definitely have to go through those processes in the hospital.
For Harare, we have 31 cases who are admitted at Wilkins Hospital. However, they are now being cleared, given their medication to go and recuperate at home. These are mild cases which have come out of the quarantine areas.
Testing of employees by companies where you were suggesting that Government should meet the Bill. Government actually moved and said the major criteria now was for the companies to ensure that they are taking the temperatures, they are using the donning of masks, they are continuously checking on the sanitisation and the social distancing. So, Government did not make it mandatory. However, I want to point out that for the food industry, which is necessary. We all have to be protected, we do not want someone just handling your food at a take away when they are not tested. We always had the Public Health Act taking care of the food handlers and the hotel and catering industry.
That is mandatory, we are saying the Chicken Inns and all restaurants, those who serve food we have added COVID-19 to the list which was always there.
Everyone who works in the industry of food handling and catering industry have always been required by the Act to have chest X-rays checking for tuberculosis. Now we have this other contagious disease, it has to be added on. I want to also indicate that our target is 1000 cases tested per day and we are going to be moving in stages. In actual fact our staging was interfered with by the sudden return and realisation that there was a lot of positive cases coming out of the returnees. Otherwise by now we should have moved into the general population and so on. I said in my speech that we are now concentrating on the returnees, because we have discovered that is the major source of infection. So, we must check them out not only on day 8 but on day 1. Before it was rapids on day 1, day 8 PCR, day 21 PCR, now it is day 1 PCR; so that we know that the people who are cohabiting are all clean or those who are positive will be immediately moved out of the quarantine area. That is what the situation is Hon. Member.
Dr. E. Sibanda you quoted him saying there are 3 cases that had come from other areas, we just get the cumulative number for Bulawayo that information will come later with full details. We can always be in touch, in actual fact it will be listed on the report which comes out on a daily basis. Chiokomuhomwe, kubuda mughedhi requarantine – definitely, all those issues are now being looked into with much, much more preciseness. We do not want a situation where we will continue having people escaping especially when they end up being positive. So, the security has been stepped up. It is only for me to emphasize that the security has been stepped up and also the fencing around the facilities is being improved right now – CCTV and all the security measures are also being put in place.
The issue of the long distance haulage trucks (gonyetis), we are saying that all truck drivers have to be tested. It is mandatory that they be tested so that we do not end up with them spreading the disease all over the place. We also discovered at one time that our drivers who had travelled to Zambia were caught with the disease after having been tested there. Then when they came back here, we also tested them and they were positive. The truck drivers are a good medium of transfer of the disease or for transferring the infection. So they are now under the spotlight and each and every truck driver is also required by their neighbouring countries to be tested and have a certificate. If they are positive, then cannot go across the border.
Likewise, just to add on, the Immigration and ZIMRA officials – it is now mandatory that they be tested and also to make sure that they are all clean. At the borders, we have had complaints that we had not been testing and now we have had to test all those categories.
Awareness in the rural areas, our Ambassador of Health and Child Care has done very well – we thank her for that. She is doing that not just as a mother of the nation but also as the Ambassador for Health and Child Care. She is actually fulfilling the duties of the ministry as
Ambassador of Health and Child Care. We also want to encourage all of us to do the same. There is no need for us to be re-educated on COVID19, but we must go and educate our populations about COVID-19. This awareness is very essential in the rural areas.
Insurance policies, we have got the insurance policies from Old Mutual and Econet. We are also talking to them. Firstly, let me educate you on the purpose of the insurance – it is as a risk allowance.
Secondly, we have also said that the Village Health Workers should also get risk allowance. Risk affects everyone who is working closer to that patient. The risk - whether you are a doctor, an environmental health officer or a village health worker, the risk is the same. So the risk allowance is the same across the board.
There is an issue regarding the level of testing and decentralization to the districts – that is exactly what I indicated. We are aiming to go to the districts, utilizing the machine called the ‘Gene expert’ and we are also going to use another machine called the ‘Abbott machine’. We are in the process of decentralising. At least we have achieved what we set out to achieve. We started with two machines in Harare and then there was nothing in Bulawayo. Then we got a machine for Bulawayo and started testing in Bulawayo. We then got more machines in Harare from the university, other private institutions and the numbers blossomed.
Then we went 15 out in the provinces. So we are improving continually.
What is the issue which delays us is the issue of the availability of those test kits which however we are going to be able to acquire. I want to assure you that yes; we have received funding from Treasury. Treasury has allocated funds for us to be able to acquire more consumables and that is happening on a weekly basis i.e. consumables for the PPEs, testing materials and so forth.
The issue regarding to Drax – the utilisation of funds with Drax that is an issue, initially Drax was actually not involved in the COVID19 issue. The matter is being looked into by the Ministry of Finance and
Economic Development, but as far as the Ministry of Health and Child
Care is concerned, our involvement – everything was done above board.
I want to also indicate to answer to the issue of the flu vaccine.
Why can it not be a solution? I just want to say that the flu vaccine is strictly for flu and not for COVID-19. So whoever has that flu vaccine will only be protecting themselves against flu but not against COVID19. Irrespective of the symptoms, if it is a flu that has attacked you – it will remain a flu and you will be cured but it is COVID-19 then it will take you on and be identified as COVID-19 through testing.
Therefore, it is necessary to say that there is no golden treatment for COVID-19. Every form of treatment that is there is on a trial and error basis …
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: On a point of order! I
think the Hon. Minister did not hear me at all… - [HON. DR. O.
MOYO: I have not finished yet.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Minister.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Madame Speaker, I
think that the Hon. Minister did not understand where I was coming from. I was not saying that the flu vaccine is a treatment for COVID-19. I said that given the fact that we are now going into winter and there will be more people who will get the flu, we know that when you are going
to sneeze and have a cold – you are more likely to pass on the virus because you have got flu.
I am saying is the flu vaccine not an option to ensuring that at least we make sure that people do not have a cold because when people have a cold this is why they advise us to stay at home when you have a cold so that you are not infectious. I did not say that it is a treatment for COVID-19. I merely said that as a way of managing the fact that we then become more infectious when we have the flu.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you very much for that clarification. What you said is exactly what has to be done just to reduce the flu infections. I will not add anymore to what the Hon. Member said. What she clarified is exactly what has to be done.
There is the issue of herbal remedies as well. The herbal remedies, yes we are looking into herbal remedies, as I indicated, through our research protocols. Even though we are saying that Madagascar has got their own remedy, but still when they wanted to sell or distribute the product to other countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised them that they have to follow the protocol. It is standard for
WHO, they will never say, ‘Yes, go and use it’… - [HON. SIKHALA: Inaudible interjection.] – Hold on, I have not finished. They will always say that, ‘Go and follow a clinical trial’.
In our case, we have been offered – that is what I indicated and we are actually looking at going to get some of the product. So that we can utilise it and at the same time, we are also saying those Zimbabweans who feel that they have got the remedies, no one is stopping them as long as they are registered. Anyone can approach a herbalist and be able to get the medicine, no one will stop you, but they must be registered practitioners – that is the key issue and there is that access.
There was a question on the private sector rapid testing. How do they report into the Ministry of Health and Child Care? Each and every private sector testing centre, laboratory, surgery or whatever who want to test has to register with the Ministry. They are given the guidelines on how they have to test.
Firstly, they cannot test utilising test kits that are not registered with the Ministry and have not been validated by the Ministry. Secondly, those results have got to be submitted everyday at 1600 hours through a portal to the Ministry of Health and they have to do that. If they do not submit those results they will be removed from the testing processes. That is what happens. It is a very stringent manner of getting all those results and building on to our statistics.
What is being done to follow up escapees? The escapees are indicated that the security services have now been increased. At the same time, there has been apprehension of those who have escaped from the quarantine areas and some have been caught and brought back. That is the good thing. They have to be fined for that purpose. There is a process and the department of Home Affairs is working strictly hard to ensure that there is no more escapees and that for those who escaped they are being followed and will be brought to book. We must also emphasise the fact that whenever you see someone who might have been outside and they suddenly appear, we have to make sure we report them to the police so that they can be sent back.
There was fear that our statistics might not be as they should. I want to assure you that on the basis of South Africa, it is not five million cases. In South Africa, they are currently at 764 thousand cases plus who were tested and out of that, 35 812 are the ones who tested positive.
So the Hon. Member’s information needs to be corrected and aligned appropriately. How true are our statistics? We determined that on the basis of the number of deaths. If suddenly we had a huge jump of deaths then we would have a worry. We have also had to check on the number of deaths.
It is a reality that on the basis of the patient population that we have tested, Zimbabwe has come up with the 200 cases. If you look at the testing we were carrying out before the returnees, you will find out that it was also at the ratio. The number of extra returnees that we tested yielded a spike in the number of cases which shows that we were working within appropriate parameters. However, if we had the resources, we would want to test the whole nation. Everyone would be tested but it is the resources that are limiting. There is a huge gap in our resource capability, therefore we end up doing the random and what is called hot spotting. If we find out that there has been a lot of cases arising from one area during a short period, we do what is called hot spotting like we did with the Mhondoro clan. We went there and hot spotted all the villages around where the case had been identified. That is the situation Mr. Speaker Sir. I thank you.
HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to seek clarity from the Hon. Minister with regards to why it is taking so long to release the names of those who have escaped from quarantine centres. I thank you.
*HON. KARENYI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The question that I would like to seek clarity on is on corruption pertaining to quarantine centres. I understand that recently there was chaos at
Masvingo Technical Teachers’ College after someone who was on quarantine was left to go after being in detention for less than a week.
What is the Ministry doing to take action upon such cases whereby people must comply and stay for the mandatory days in the quarantine centres?
Secondly, what measures are they taking pertaining to shops that are not supermarkets such as boutiques that have just started opening? Some of the shops are not taking measures like taking temperatures and other serious measures. What is the Ministry doing to ensure those shops comply?
Finally, at Masvingo Teachers’ College, there was a story that a lot of people who came from South Africa spent more than two weeks but never got their results. They only got their results after some chaos. What happens when people take so long to get their results? I thank you.
*HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. What I would like to ask the Minister is – is there anything we can do pertaining to some people who would like to travel to other countries be it on business or official. The other thing is, some people who crossed illegally now want to come back even if they crossed out of the country illegally and they want to come back legally. Is there anything that we can do to ensure that they come back safely and formally? Is there a possibility for a waiver to them so that we ensure that we maintain protection against COVID-19?
HON. GABBUZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I have two questions which I seek clarification from the Minister. Firstly Mr. Speaker, we have tested so many people positive but ever since people have been testing positive, only four have died and several are recovering but they are not being treated. Is the Minister compiling information from those people who are recovering? What are they doing for them to recover since they are not being treated? They are quarantined at their homes on self isolation but that information of what they have done to survive the disease seems not to be coming out public of which I think it is very necessary. Where is this information residing?
Secondly, I know there are health protocols, secrecy and the like but the challenge we have in the reporting structure of those who are infected is the fact that if somebody tests positive, it is just written ‘Case number 1’. Now, I do not know who Case No. 1 is. It could have been Hon. Mliswa here. If it was mentioned that it is Hon. Mliswa, then I would remember that yesterday we were together in Parliament. I was sitting next to him and would then make an effort myself to get screened. Is there no way these anonymous could be made slightly public? After all Corona is not an obnoxious or embarrassing disease like all others. If somebody tests positive to malaria nobody gives a damn. Why do we not have a mechanism of making sure that the person who tested positive is known so that those who were in close contact with him can immediately self prevent than to wait for the positive case to indicate to the health officials that I went to such and such a place and then they start following up. I really find the way information is being reported needs a bit of improving taking into account all the health secrecy and privacy. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: My point of clarification to the Hon.
Minister is - we seem to be having problems with rapid results kits.
Why do we not do away with them and just stick to PCR because they are creating problems as you would appreciate that you will get tested and it goes negative but you go to PCR, it is positive. It misleads people who are now tested with the rapid results kits because once you are negative, you then relax but with the PCR you become positive. Why do we not do away with them so that we go to the real issue?
The other issue is about frontline staffers, we have got civil servants coming back – we had kits that we said must be used to prioritise these. We even came up with that list of who should be tested in terms of frontline staffers. Now children are in school, the teachers have not been tested and so forth. The real issue at the end of the day is, Minister do you think it is worth what we are doing if we do not have resources to keep on opening certain institutions, schools and so forth? Is prevention not better than cure because this disease seems to be one that we can live with? Why do we not come up with ways of co-existing with it instead? How can we come up with a mechanism of co-existing with it because what we hear out there and here are two different things?
The climatic conditions in Europe, there are always locked down because it is cold. You cannot open a window whereas here we have not been told about the good of us being here from a climatic point of view so that people do not panic at the end of the day. When it started, I think there was some panic amongst the people, which is true but going on and we can co-exist with it. You have just talked of some who have recovered. What has it taken for them to recover and so forth?
Do we need these quarantine centres that are there because they seem to be the problem? They have become the epicenters for this Coronavirus. There is a case in Norton which we know very well and was reported, of someone who was at the quarantine centre. After seven days at the centre, this person was released before the test results were out yet we had worked so hard to try and contain it and all that.
Minister, we have it on record that the Chinese factory in Norton has got 500 black workers who are there and are not moving. Four or five workers are sharing one bed. I implore you to immediately visit this place tomorrow. The conditions these people are living in are inhumane.
It is if they are in a prison. I got reports from people who are there saying, ‘Honourable, please come and help us’. No matter how much money we are making from an institution, it is not worth us inviting such a virus to be able to spread to other areas.
I am glad you clarified the issue on the DRACs international and all that. It is the Ministry of Finance which has to come up with that. Moving forward, I think we should have an accepted price of things so that we know exactly that if you are going to sell to Government for this, it will cost this much and so forth because this DRACs international issue, if you look at the inflated prices, they are the ones that make the black market rate go up. Government must find foreign currency to be able to pay for it. I am glad that it really resides in the office of the Ministry of Finance.
Lastly, why have we as Members of Parliament not been tested because we are always with the people? Are we not a risk to the people?
Are we not frontline staffers? This institution on its own is an epicenter.
You can see how people interact. On a lighter note, Hon. Gabbuza said Hon. Mliswa might give him COVID. It is actually him that I am more worried about because he was out there in Hwange where there are more animals and so forth. Now, I do not know after he visited us today what will happen. We meet with people out there and once you do that for us, it will set a barometer or indicator of how deadly the virus is in the constituencies that we are in and so forth.
The frontline staffer needs to be taken care of. Where there is no remuneration, let us guarantee them good health and we need to test.
Those will be my contributions. I thank you.
*HON. TSUNGA: I would like to know the role of the task force in our constituencies vis a vis responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Child Care in the bigger schemata of things as regards COVID 19.
We do not know what is happening in our constituencies. We do not know the returnees who are being brought to the quarantine centres in our constituencies and we do not have the statistics. We do not know what is being done in isolation centres or PPEs and what is required there, yet we are representatives of the people in these areas. I would like to know whether the role of task forces has nothing to do with Members of Parliament and their constituencies so that they are updated with regards to COVID 19 quarantine centres. These task forces are not giving us information when we ask for it.
HON. T. MOYO: I would like to seek clarification on two issues.
The first one concerns the border line between Zimbabwe and South Africa. It is very long; is it not prudent for the Ministry of Health to deploy troops or to use drones? The most dangerous returnees are those who do not use the formal routes so that we can deter those who are using the informal routes to reduce COVID-19. The second issue is opening of schools which is now imminent Hon. Speaker. We want to know who is going to fumigate schools that are being used as quarantine centres. Is it the school development committees or is it the Ministry of Health and Child Care? What is the budget like for that? The other issue is on compulsory testing of teachers, students and support staff. Do you have enough test kits because one of our recommendations in the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education is we want to see all students, support staff and teachers who are returning to school being tested. Do we have adequate test kits for that?
*HON. NYAMUDEZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My question to
the Minister of Health and Child Care is how long does it take to test a returnee when they are at a quarantine centre and how long will it take to get the results. What is the time frame from testing to getting the results?
The police arrested about 90 border jumpers. Is there anything that you are doing to have the numbers of those border jumpers that were not arrested by the police? How many have been arrested from their houses?
* HON. MADHUKU: My questions to the Minister are on resources. How much resources does your Ministry have because we hear of so many reports being made by communities pertaining to border jumpers who just come and stay within communities without passing through the proper routes. It looks as though when the community reports to the police and the health officials, they do not have resources to go and check on those people to ensure they are not a threat to the community. Reports are made but it seems there are no resources to follow up on these returnees.
Secondly, in order for these officials to go to the communities to get information on the border jumpers’ exact whereabouts, it seems to take a lot of time or they do not even get there. So probably it is the resources that restrain them from doing so.
Lastly, can the Minister elaborate on the issue of buses where he said it was resolved that buses will be carrying full capacity, meaning there will be no social distancing. Does it mean the rule of social distancing is being disregarded as long as the passengers have masks, temperature screened and sanitised? Why then do we here in Parliament continue to observe social distancing yet those in buses coming from all over the place are being allowed to be packed in buses like sardines.
*HON. SACCO: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My point of clarity from the Minister is to do with the capacitation of district centres. In our districts, at times there are no ventilators or oxygen tanks for COVID-19 patients. What is the Ministry’s policy on capacitation of district centres? For example in Chimanimani, we have Mutambara Hospital but it does not have facilities to treat COVID-19 patients. What measures do you have in place so that people are treated in district centres? The other question is about testing. What is the policy pertaining to decentralising testing to districts? I thank you Mr. Speaker.
*HON. RAIDZA: My clarification from the Minister is on boozers soccer. What is the Ministry doing so that that soccer is not played in towns and rural areas since it was placed on the high risk category in sport? We continue to get reports that some professional soccer players are engaged in playing boozers’ soccer games.
*HON. SEWERA: My question to the Minister of Health and Child Care is to do with church hospitals such as St Pauls Musami. We can see that the concentration of isolation centres and distribution of drugs is concentrated on Government hospitals. On the ground, church hospitals are feeling the pinch because they are the ones closer to the people. The staff is inadequate and even provision of food is now a burden. My question is, can Government not takeover some of those hospitals or what is Government’s policy on such issues?
*HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you Mr Speaker Sir. I will start with the last question. You said hospitals like Musami are not getting adequate medication. The President instructed us to ensure that even mission hospitals should get supplies just like government hospital. So, this is an issue that we are supposed to solve through our Provincial Medical Director. He is the one in charge of ensuring that all clinics and hospitals, be they mission or government, should get the same distribution that will have been sourced by the taskforce at the central level. So I ask that you continue to liaise with the PMD to assist in the equitable distribution of everything. Actually I have been waiting for this week’s distribution list; so I will bring your issue to the forefront. There are some others who gave me a list of six clinics that had not also gotten PPEs. We want everyone to get a bit of everything so that if there is someone with symptoms, they can easily handle the case because they will have the masks and all that is required.
On the issue of boozers football – I will sit down with Hon. Coventry because there are limits which were given but these were not for everyone. Now that you have highlighted it, I have written it down for further discussion with the Minister of Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation so that we can see how to control it.
Capacitation and isolation at district level and decentralisation of testing to the districts – we are in the process of decentralisation of our testing scheme to the district. Maybe the Hon. Member might have been outside when I answered. I actually indicated that we are gradually decentralising. We started at the central level, provincial level and we are going to the district level and also to the clinic level eventually utilising that machine called the gen expert which is available at the district hospitals. What we are lacking are the PCR test kits which are used on the gene expert. We have got the machine but it is a machine which comes from America. To us, that machine was actually donated, so when we place an order for the kits, they look at those countries which paid for their machines first. Ours is a donation, so we will be on the lowest rung of priority. This is what the problem is always. There is a huge competition for these test kits. That is why we are now saying let us go east. Let us try east rather than just staying on west. We also want to go east and see what we can get from there.
Likewise, what we have done is we have identified the main isolation centres in a province where people can be transferred if they are critical, the 5%. However, for the general mild to moderate, we have said each and every district hospital should have at least two beds, one room where we can do that isolation. That is the story.
No social distancing in the buses; we are saying we are going to have a much more stricter disinfection process within the buses and much stricter donning of the masks without failure and this should be buses which are just going short distances so that we do not expose our people. You find that if we were to leave the people outside the queues, that is where they could get more infection. At least when they are going in the bus, temperature is checked, they are excluded of the illness, the donning of the mask and then the short distances within the towns.
We want to talk about the border jumpers, no transport to go and attend to the various border jumpers who would have been identified. Yes, it is true. We know it becomes a challenge in a community when we hear a person has escaped from a quarantine centre coming from South Africa. We alert the police but they have no vehicle to attend to that case. These are the reports that we get. We want to make sure that such a situation does not happen.
Regarding border posts, Government is looking at introducing drones, cameras which will be circulating identifying such loopholes. Then we have the utilisation of physical patrols and technological patrols using these drones. These are developments that we are expecting to happen.
How long does it take to test? For the rapid tests, it is 15 minutes but naturally there was a tendency of people utilising rapid tests which would not have been approved or validated and then they end up with the wrong results. However, for the PCR test, it varies. For the gene expert, it is likely shorter maybe up to an hour or so and then for the other machines, they take five hours to come up with the results. So we need to increase the number of testing platforms so that we can be able to test more people in the shortest possible time. The key issue is the turnaround time so that people can be able to receive their results on time. That is what we are trying to improve and at the same time, there are also some other rapid test kits which are being tested in other countries like America and the UK. We are waiting to see the performance of those rapid testing kits then we might be able to adopt
Definitely, the schools have to be disinfected without any doubt and we have an agreement with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education that those conditions or measures must be met. Those measures must be put in place. The only thing that we would have wanted to do is to have the teachers being tested as well as the students. So, we settled for the issue where they are just coming for the examinations and immediately after examinations back home. Just to stay at the examination centre the shortest possible time and then go back home. So we are working together with Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to make sure that there is thorough disinfection of the facilities and the toilets and all those things.
The schools can also not bring the whole school but only those who are taking examinations so that they can be able to spread them out in the classrooms where the other who would normally be there would be absent so that you can have 10-15 students in a classroom and spread them around. There is a strong inspection measure which is planned and right now the process is ongoing in preparation for the pupils to come back.
The issue of the local taskforce to work with the local Member of Parliament is exactly what we want. We want the taskforce of each and every province to involve Members of Parliament and also for the
Members of Parliament to link up with the Provincial Medical Director. You must not hesitate to link up with the PMD because he is the one who coordinates everything that happens at each and every clinic and every district hospital. So, I encourage very strongly for Members of Parliament to stay in tune and in touch with the Provincial Medical Director, and it will also help in terms of distribution of products, PPEs, gowns, gloves and masks.
We have to look after our frontline staffers definitely and we are making sure that as soon as we get any PPEs, it is equitably distributed countrywide. So we want to see PPEs arriving at the district and clinic level. It is very critical and it is through the help that we get from you as Members of Parliament and the feedback by you making contact with the PMDs that we can be able to achieve that task.
The issue regarding the testing of the Members of Parliament; Mr. Speaker Sir, definitely I mentioned right at the beginning of my presentation that it is critical that we all get tested and it is a pity that tomorrow is the last day. We are adjourning but we want to make sure that on the first or second day of resumption of Parliament, we have to have tests done, everyone must be tested. We need to collect a list and the testing will help us to increase our statistics and know the condition of the person next to you. Obviously, once they are positive, they will be excused from Parliament but do not run away from testing. We have to be tested all of us so that we stay clear and do not spread the disease.
At the same time, we are going to be publicising the names. You were asking why the names are not being publicised, it is because of confidentiality? We say COVID-19 is a contagious disease. It is a notifiable disease so everyone has to know who has the disease. Whoever has the disease must be made public so it is not like HIV which is a different category. This COVID-19 is a contagious disease which is notifiable. So, you will find very soon we will be publicising the names. This is an issue which was also discussed in Cabinet yesterday. There is a need for us to publicise all those who are COVID19 positive.
The Chinese in Norton to do PCR – we need to do PCR on all those Chinese and the intention is that company with 500 people, we want to encourage them to buy PCR machines themselves and the kits. They can be able to bring those from China quite easily so that we test all their workers. There is a huge population at one time. Again, I want to say once we get them to test all their workers, it is better statistics for us.
Is it relevant to open the schools? Yes, on the basis of what we have said with strict measures and then we see how it goes. We have said that the health workers will be stationed at the schools on a continuous basis with the environmental health officers making sure that everything is being done properly. We have had other countries where they opened the schools and there was a huge spike of positive cases.
Point of clarification on the rapid results tests; like I said, they must be valid and they cannot just be used on a willy-nilly basis and they are not for self testing. They have to be utilised by registered personnel. This COVID is a contagious disease which is notifiable. You will find that very soon we will be publicising the names. It is an issue which was also discussed in Cabinet yesterday. There is need for us to publicise all those who are COVID 19 positive.
The Chinese in Norton – we need to do a PCR on all of them and the intention is that the company has 500 people and we want to encourage them to buy a PCR machine themselves and the kits. They can be able to bring that from China easily so that we test all their workers. There is a huge population. Once we get them to test all their workers, it is a better statistics for us.
Front line teachers to be tested – we have covered that. Is it relevant to open schools? Yes, on the basis of what we have said, with strict measures and then we see how it goes. We have said that the health workers will be stationed at the schools on a continuous basis. Environmental health officers will be making sure that everything is being done properly. We have had other countries which, after opening schools, there was a huge spike of positive cases.
Point of clarification; the rapid results test – as I said, they must be valid and they cannot just be used on a willy-nilly basis and they are not for self testing. They have to be utilised by registered personnel who can be able to interpret the results and at the same time, we are saying they are for epidemiological surveys, for surveillance purposes. The
PCR is the main test that we are encouraging everyone to move to. The rapids will find their way and essence in the evaluation process, like the surveillance processes in epidemiological studies. If you want to know exactly what is happening, just a rough picture of what is happening to a population, you utilise the rapids and then if they test positive you then go to the PCR testing. So they are for research and epidemiological surveys.
The other question was on the issue of recovering: what are they doing and how are they doing it? We are saying all those who are recovering at home are still assigned to a doctor and the doctors will visit them and give them medication; antibiotics are being administered, pain relief medicine and so on. Naturally, people will always find means and ways of finding other remedies and you cannot stop them. The most important thing is that we have also had some recoveries.
Zimbabweans abroad who want to come back to Zimbabwe, we said they can come back home. There is no restriction for Zimbabweans to come back home, they can come back at any time and go through the process. That process is very necessary for us to be able to sieve out and create that buffer before they are allowed to go home. If they are positive, they will have to go through the isolation centres for check up and further instructions on the management of their condition.
Masvingo delay in results; this was due to the shortage which we experienced of test kits, but this was eventually taken care of. Measures at shops like boutiques: these boutiques and shops – I can even start talking about the major shops anyway. What we want to see at the major shops is that there is no supermarket which should allow someone who is not wearing a mask. The supermarket must also have in stock, sanitisers and they must not have more than 50 customers at a time. So we expect queues which have social distancing outside that particular supermarket or shop. Likewise, for the boutiques, there has to be thorough checks of temperature and they must not take too many clients at any one time. This is where people stay for a long time and we want to really make sure that social distancing is practiced in these small units. Sanitization on a continuous basis and all the other measure have to be put in place and it is up to that shop owner to make sure that the sanitisation, temperature checks - the gadgets are there for them to be able to check out.
Corruption, possibly at the quarantine centres; considering that there are some people who might have been let out; yes, anything is possible with human beings. However, what I want to say is; we have now emphasised to the police that the security must be intensified. So there is intensity of the security services at all these institutions, the quarantine centres. Proper documentation of the returnees; there was a time when you would get mixing of ex-convicts with regular persons, that we have made sure that it does not happen. Everyone has to be assessed appropriately and registered.
The first question which was the issue regarding the publicizing of names; that is going to happen, you will see the names. In actual fact, we already have the list of names; we have the list of the 203 people, where they come from, when they got the disease, their age and so on.
So, whether they were local or it was imported, all that is available.
That is the information which we shall certainly make public so that you know that whoever is sitting next to you is a safe person or a danger. If they are a danger, you have to know why they are out and not selfisolating at that particular time. Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.
I hope I have explained the situation thoroughly and updated the Members of Parliament.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Let me also thank the Hon.
Minister for bringing this Statement and also thank Hon. Members for remaining in the House and observing COVID guidelines. Thank you very much.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON.
RAIDZA, the House adjourned at Fourteen Minutes Past Six o’clock p.m.