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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 03 SEPTEMBER 2020 VOL 46 NO 61
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday 3rd September, 2020
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER
CONTRIBUTIONS BY HON. MEMBERS
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to remind Hon. Members that in order to maintain social distancing, Hon. Members can make their contributions from wherever they are connected to.
HON. BITI: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Passwords for today have not been communicated to us. Several Hon. Members are not logged on, even the Order Paper we cannot access it.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Biti, I have been told that they were circulated today by 1000 a.m.
HON. BITI: It is not there Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: May be you can refresh your gadget. I think ICT is attending to that.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PEACE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2018
THE VICE PRESIDENT HON. K. C. D MOHADI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I hereby table the National Peace and Reconciliation 2018, Annual Report as distributed to Hon. Members. Allow me to give a summary of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission 2018, Annual Report.
The National Peace and Reconciliation (NPRC) is a constitutionally established body whose overarching mandate is to ensure post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation. In 2018, the NPRC had a new appointed Chairperson, substantive Executive Secretary and obtained Treasury Concurrence to recruit 32 members of Secretariat. In the year under review, the NPRC was involved in:
- Conflict prevention and peace building activities before, during
and after the harmonised electionS held in July, 2018;
- Facilitating the signing of the Peace Pledge by the 21 Presidential
candidates for the harmonised elections. The intervention contributed to the peace that prevailed across the nation before, during and after the elections;
- Engagements with Government, Non-Governmental Organisations
and political actors following the violent 1 August, 2018 demonstrations in the country; and
- The launch of the 25 year strategic plan for period 2018-2022,
which is currently being implemented.
Madam Speaker, in their report, the Commission makes the following
recommendations to this august House for consideration:
- that existing laws be strengthened to include elements of hate speech by public officials, institutions, media houses and citizens in public places, social, print and electronic media platforms ;
- that organisations and institutions should develop programmatic activities that promote the development of positive communication skills;
iii. that capacity building programmes be undertaken to strengthen and sharpen investigative and prosecutorial skills of enforcement agencies, prosecutors and the judiciary in relation to hate speech;
- that the current National Development Strategy being developed prioritise devolution;
- that Parliament expedites the enactment of the Provincial Councils Act in line with the Constitution in order to operationalise devolved provincial structures;
- that Government supports the deployment of monitoring and Evaluation staff in all its Departments to monitor support programmes for fairness, adequacy and non-partisanship;
vii. that security services should mainstream peace studies in their pre-service curriculum and involve interested stakeholders in curriculum development;
viii. that the public be educated on the security services internal complaints handling and feedback mechanisms;
- that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission’s multi-stakeholder Peace Committees be adequately resourced;
- that the NPRC and Government agencies be well resourced to execute mandates as set in Section 7 of the Constitution.
Madam Speaker, the recommendations of the NPRC seek to
contribute to social cohesion, unity and tolerance among Zimbabweans. Further, the recommendations seek to contribute to positive policy and legal environment for peace as well as an improved architecture for conflict prevention at national and sub-national levels. I thank you. [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I also want to thank the Vice President for the report. Madam Speaker, what we must always know is that the silence of the gun does not necessarily mean that there is peace. Peace goes beyond even the violence that you see on the streets, it goes deeper than that. Even in our homes, there are several things that must be attended to, especially when it comes to political issues. So because of that the role of Peace and Reconciliation Commission is very important and must be taken seriously.
Madam Speaker, the biggest problem that we have in this country is that there is no effort to take the issue of civic education seriously. A society that does not have knowledge of how it must be governed is a very dangerous society, and it is a society that can easily be manipulated. It is a society that does not understand its rights and what it deserves from those in office. A society that is not informed of its obligation in the governance of the State does not know when, what and how to say issues.
When we talk of the existing laws - especially on hate speech, it must be understood what hate speech is, how it is said and when it is used. If you look at countries where violence left those countries at almost total destruction - you talk of what happened in Rwanda, the moment a certain group of people thinks that they are entitled to live better than the rest of the people, you have a problem. This normally happens in a way that many people might not understand that this is hate speech.
Madam Speaker, if you are in authority, you must always be careful on what you say because in Shona we say kamoto kamberevere kanopisa matanda mberi. If you are in office you must understand that you are in that office not because of entitlement, but it is a responsibility given by the people to lead at that particular time and that should not be turned to an entitlement.
I say this Madam Speaker, because even slogans that we chant, they mean a lot to the extent that after chanting slogans you can tell anyone amongst the group that is so excited to go and commit a crime. They can easily go and do it convinced that nothing will happen to them. So we must learn how to live together, especially after elections from primary level up to intra-parties, we must understand that we compete and after competing we go back to our normal lives and we allow the process to rest as we start doing other things. So it is important that we observe that.
We must also be able to understand what communication is and how to include everyone in the communication processes. The other issue that I would want the Peace and Recreation Commission to be able to deal with entirely is the issue of investigating cases of violence. Madam Speaker, we must be able to exhaust all the means to make sure that we unearth the cause of the problem and deal with the cause of the problem. Where we have perpetrators, we must learn to prosecute perpetrators - we must not protect perpetrators. We must make sure the affected are convinced that the State has done enough to make sure that whoever will have committed any crime is brought to book. This is what gives people the confidence in their security system. We must all feel protected when we see soldiers, police officers and the central intelligence officers.
Madam Speaker, we cannot have a situation where some people feel protected and others do not feel protected. All these institutions should belong to the people of Zimbabwe. They must not belong to a political party. We must agree that political parties come and go but the institutions stay forever. The institutions have the responsibility to protect all Zimbabweans. This must be done in a fair and just manner. We have situations where people have gone to report cases of violence to the police and they find themselves on the other side of a charge office desk where they end up being victims and arrested. This has been happening. These are the issues that the Peace and Reconciliation Commission must deal with because the moment you have that situation you force the individual to think of other means that he or she can protect herself and I think it is not necessary, especially in a country like Zimbabwe. I do not think that in Zimbabwe there can be abductions or violence against citizens which the police cannot investigate and apprehend the culprits. The security situation that we inherited from the Smith regime is so sophisticated that nothing cannot be investigated. It is important that whenever a crime is committed the perpetrator must be apprehended and that person must be arrested.
The employment of evaluators and monitors as far as peace is concerned is a noble idea as long as we select the best people for the job who will do justice to the commission, who will exactly report things as they are to the commission. I strongly support that development because we need such people so that those reports that they collect from their evaluations and sometimes observing what is happening, they can lead to the commission presenting comprehensive reports.
On the issue of how complaints should be lodged against the police and soldiers when you feel that your rights have violated, it is important that the commission comes up with a well understood mechanism of raising issues and ensuring that complaints are handled fairly. If I do complain, to whom do I complain? If I am not heard, to whom else can I go to? How do I get the feedback? I think that is very important so that we ensure that we have real peace. It is important that our people live in peace and where there is co-existence and people live together in a peaceful manner, there is development. People can raise and debate issues. Once you debate you come up with a solution.
We need solutions in Zimbabwe more than problems because the population is growing and our resources are being depleted. How do we ensure that we add value to our resources? How do we ensure that we become more innovative? We must concentrate on developing this country. We must concentrate on coming up with ideas on how best we can do certain things that we have been doing in a particular manner. We must understand how we can add value and increase our productivity. This is what must preoccupy a Zimbabwean. How should we be innovative? How do we finance the ideas? This is the most important thing and this is the only thing that we can leave for our children. We must think of our legacy. What is that we are leaving behind? Yes, we have some people who do not care what they leave behind; they look at themselves and say kufakwangu zvarova. If we really wanted to make Zimbabwe a better country, we have got the most tolerant people who can give you years and years of making mistakes and still hope that one day you will get it right. It seems we are not preoccupied with that. We are preoccupied with throwing stones at each other.
There is a difference between an ordinary person and a person who has responsibility because that person cannot keep on throwing stones since people gave him or her the trust to lead this country. We are not all the same. What a police officer does is completely different from what a pick pocket does. What a soldier does is different. Those people in places of authority must make sure that they behave in a manner that is expected of people in those particular offices so that Zimbabwe can develop.
HON. NGULUVHE: First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hon Vice President who presented a detailed report on peace and reconciliation. I want to say that for any development to take place in any nation, we need peace. Let me say that this thing should have been done in 1980. In 1980, we were just told of reconciliation but some of the perpetrators did not reconcile and it was the victims that accepted the peace and reconciliation. That is where everything started. I want to say to the Vice President that what you have done is good but it should have been done in 1980 because we do have people who are victims and up to now when you meet those who victimised us, they seem like they have not reconciled with us. They use wrong terminology against us but now we are being asked to reconcile with the current situation.
I went over the report but I would want to say to the Vice President that it would be fair that in future we get figures in terms of the victims because sometimes people distort information. We do not have the figures. I was looking at the issue of disturbances which happened in Matabeleland and Midlands, we still have varying figures and you do not know exactly which the correct figure is. People tend to use those lies and in future it would be good to get proper figures. We know the real people who were victimised and we must not generalise.
As a Member of the Committee on Defence, Security and Home Affairs, we went to Matabeleland South and discovered that some schools would give you a figure of 100 to 200 children who did not have birth certificates. I think it is better when we say in our reports that we require birth or death certificates for a specific number of people so that as we give them we know that we are giving the right people, otherwise they will just waste our time to say we will give you birth certificates but how many? Those are the issues that I wanted to say; but my recommendation Madam Speaker is please Hon. Vice President, can these reports be translated to vernacular, especially those so-called minority tribes who are mostly the victims. This will help them understand that something is being done when they read in their own languages. Also, I appeal to this House that let us provide more resources to the commission so that we enable them to do their job because I am sure they had challenges because of resources. Thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. TOFFA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am for this opportunity to contribute to the debate. This is a very important development with regards peace and reconciliation.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Toffa, you must be connected when you are debating.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I rise to add my voice to the debate in respect to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Report of 2018. Madam Speaker, let me start by thanking the Vice President for bringing the report here in this House. Madam Speaker, I just want to raise two or three issues pertaining to this report. The first issue is that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, being a Chapter 12 Commission is very important in terms of Zimbabwe and in terms of the issues that they are supposed to attend to.
The challenge that I have Madam Speaker is that if you check, in 2018 for instance, the Commission had no secretariat. They had also challenges even in terms of mobility. They had several challenges which made it difficult for the commission to actually perform and do its work. Even if you then check in terms of the report, issues to do with the 2018 elections, their role was very minimal. Where there was conflict, the NPRC could not do much. What we want Madam Speaker is that there is a need if we are serious in terms of these commissions, to make sure that they are given sufficient resources. My view Madam Speaker is that given the fact that this Commission falls under the Vice President’s office, it is my plea to you Hon. Vice President to make sure that this Commission should be well funded so that it performs its job because apparently, there are a lot of grey areas in this country which require urgent reconciliation and also the question of counselling amongst our people.
Madam Speaker, the other issue that I wanted to raise is to do with the general administration of this Commission. This Commission having started its operations in 2018, I note Madam Speaker that there were several issues that were raised by the Auditor-General and I think Hon. Vice President, these issues, in my view, need to be attended to. I just want to state here, one of the issues that was stated was that the Commission was operating with no policy documents to guide its operations. I actually want to believe that there is need for a policy document so that all stakeholders also get to understand the policy document and how this Commission is doing its work. The current set up is that we have got a Commission which is all over and without doing and performing its role in an effective manner.
The other issue which I think is also critical is, commissions should always be managed in a manner which is transparent. One of the key findings of the Auditor-General is that the Commission did not have an audit committee, which is a requirement of the Public Finance Management Act. It is my view that we need to make sure that we do not have problems that we find in parastatals happening within the commissions. We want these Chapter 12 Commissions, especially the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission which we are debating today, to be managed in a transparent manner so that the people of Zimbabwe will have confidence in it. Thank you Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. To those Hon. Members who are not on the floor, I am advising you to keep your tablets on mute.
HON. TOFFA: Thank you Madam Speaker for the opportunity given to me to contribute to this debate. As I said earlier on Madam Speaker Ma’am, this is a very important commission and I would like to thank the Vice President for bringing this report to Parliament. Madam Speaker Ma’am, as said by previous debaters, national peace and reconciliation should have been done earlier on like in 1980. Having said that, it is important that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission must include conflict resolution methods. Also the policy document must include measures and steps to avoid reoccurrence of what happened in the different conflicts, for example, in the Gukurahundi era and the different elections that were held in the country.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I would also like to add to the issue that was spoken by the Hon. Member with regards to birth certificates and the number of people. As much as it is a good thing to include numbers, if you include numbers for issuing of birth certificates, Madam Speaker Ma’am, we must remember that all this started around 1980 and beyond where people were tortured and victimised, so our numbers will grow. When a woman or family gives birth to children, those children will have children. I would like to beg to differ that if we limit the number of birth certificates, it is a higher risk for the country because you do not even know how many people are in the country. If you give everybody documentation, you will be able to monitor everyone and if we start limiting the number of people; there are children that are not going to school right now, there are parents who were victims of violence that have not had the opportunity to get birth certificates. So, I think it is one area that must be looked at differently; if I look at just Bulawayo alone, never mind Matabeleland, there are thousands and thousands of children that are victims of not having birth certificates.
Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to plead with the Hon. Vice President and the Government as a whole to look at the birth certificates issue with the seriousness and the urgency that it deserves, considering the fact that the SADC Parliamentary Forum is doing a model law on statelessness for the SADC region. So if we start off as a country by minimizing, how this project will then be a success for even the economical refugees that are outside the country who need to get birth certificates, then it becomes a problem as these people are either in South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and so on and so forth. So, I think with that in mind, through you Madam Speaker to the Vice President, I would urge that you look at this issue with the urgency and the importance that it deserves.
Madam Speaker, we also need to take advantage of this Commission and introduce a culture that we are not used to as a country and as Africans. A culture of counselling, dealing with the psychological effects that take place when people are tortured and victimized. So I would also urge that we look at this issue as well that we have a whole section in the policy document to do with counselling and rehabilitation as well.
We need to look also with a gender lens with regards to the victims who were affected in most of these conflicts. The women are the most affected with regards to being victims because they are the ones that have to look after the family and so on and so forth.
I am sorry I actually missed the reading of the Bill but I am hoping that it speaks to the repatriation and also making sure that the lives of the victim are looked at and that they are compensated in one way or the other.
Madam Speaker, at some of the foras that I have attended to, where there were victims that were actually speaking out, most of them want to be acknowledged and they also want apologies and so on and so forth. So, I would like to recommend to the Hon. Vice President that we need to take into consideration what they have collected in their rounds as they approached writing this report. Having said that, I would like to thank once again the Vice President for this report.
HON. TOGAREPI: I would like to first of all thank the Government and the people of Zimbabwe for establishing this very important Commission that deals with peace and ensuring that we are reconciled as a people and we work together for our country in order to have development.
This is a very strategic Commission that we have to support, I feel that it is very important that it is well resourced; resources are available to ensure that the Commission plays its role and ensure that the people of Zimbabwe work together and avoid conflict. Conflict is not good for anybody. No country will develop under situations of conflict, war or misunderstandings that are not helpful to the development and core-existence of people.
However, areas that I feel must be looked at usually are areas around political parties, non-governmental organisations. You know that we have a history; we came from colonisation where our people were tortured. There is a general sense in our people that we have a background of harsh treatment by the colonisers and some of that has remained with us to this day. So it is very important that some of these political parties, I am talking of political parties in general, some of them tend to then trade in pain. When they talk about something that has happened, they want it to be bigger than a mountain so that some of them make money out of it. They create stories that are non-existent hoping that they will make money out of that by misrepresenting the general environment in the country.
It is very important that in the effort of the Commission, we also investigate some of these allegations that come from political parties. I have also seen civic organisations playing a role not to unite people of Zimbabwe but trying to create a situation which gives the country a wrong image and also perpetuating conflict instead of reconciling people. I think the Vice President will take note of that and also, perhaps engage these people so that they are not sources of conflict. Infact, they should come here in our country to try and assist us.
I also want to talk about the areas related to our citizens of Zimbabwe, we know the police, the army and many other various security organisations. These play a role to protect each and every one of us. They need to be respected, they cannot be demonized. Lies and fake stories should not be created against them – it does not help anybody. When you are in trouble yourself, you then want the same policeman whom you have been demonising left, right and centre to play a role, which role when you look at these organisations as anti you? As people of Zimbabwe we need to respect these arms of Government that are playing a role that will help us coexist and maybe get criminals nabbed.
One other thing is we hear people saying police have failed to apprehend a perpetrator of violence. Police are not prophets, they work with people. If we tell them the truth, we tell them openly what is happening - they will act; but if you create stories which they cannot even follow and apprehend the criminal or whoever is the perpetrator of violence, it actually becomes difficult for them to then play their constitutional role. So it is very important that in whatever we are doing let us respect all the arms of Government, especially the security organisations because in the event of conflict and misunderstanding, these people guarantee our peace. They need to be respected.
Madam Speaker, after saying that it is very critical that the Commission is given more resources in order to get into the communities before conflict happens and preempt conflict. Political parties must be very responsible. In the event of an election and the elections have gone through and results are there; people must be disciplined and understand that there is always next time, than going out there in a way of trying to protect or maybe keep your votes - you start lying about political elections results and all other things. This creates anger and that anger you will not be able to manage it and when it happens it creates chaos. People then start fighting and use words that create conflict - name calling, insulting political leaders and so forth.
We just need to respect each other as people of Zimbabwe. We go to elections for a purpose. Once we have gone through elections, we respect each other, coexist and wait for next elections. So we move forward, but some will then want to create conflict because there is a result I am not happy with. If I do not like that result I have to mobilise people and create anarchy in the country. It is not going to help you because anarchy will destroy this country that you would want to lead one day and if you were to lead a destroyed country, are you going to succeed? Will you really perform your mandate on what you want to achieve.
So Madam Speaker, the report from the Vice President is an eye opener and it also must help every Zimbabwean. Every Zimbabwean must know that this country is the only country that we have. Every person that you see is potentially your relative - why do you have to fight, why do you have to create lies that will demonise your country and people then cannot work together because you have created an environment that is not useful for the development of your country? So mainly I am saying this is a very important commission that even Parliament in our deliberations on budget, we must think seriously of resourcing it in order to ensure that it performs its duties to the maximum. I thank you.
+ HON. D. SIBANDA: Firstly I would like to thank you, Madam Speaker, for giving me this opportunity. Thank you Madam President for bringing this important matter to this House. Madam Speaker if we are talking about bringing peace in this country where there is no peace we should look closely that if we are talking about peace, we should know what we are talking about. We should know that if we are talking about peace we are talking about peace and reconciliation. If we are talking about peace we should know that the truth is coming out like it is because when I am a leader talking about truth, I should know that people should take it as it is because people should agree with what I am telling them because people here in Zimbabwe will be knowing what the truth is.
As leaders, if we are leading people we should know that we are leading people who are happy in this country, we are leading people who understand that if I move around as a leader there is nobody who looks down upon me. They will know that a leader, mother or a father has just passed through this road. Why should it be this way? The Lord should have mercy on me, should pave way for me and the Lord should give me strength so that I can be a good leader.
Madam Speaker, because this matter has been brought in this House in my presence and I got this opportunity to stand and talk. I will talk about the matter that happened in Matabeleland after the war. The war ended in 1979. There was a ceaze fire. We were very young. We were free to walk about and everyone was very happy, then around from 1985 to 1986 there was havoc. We were very young and now we are old but we are still failing to fix that matter yet we are calling ourselves leaders or we are saying we have people who we are leading. Why are we failing to fix this? Right now we cannot jump the gun and say we will now deal with matters that are happening now. What about the longstanding issues that still hold wounds?
We should fix those wounds. We can try to run away from those matters as if we do not want to talk about them, but we should talk about those matters. I am talking about the Gukurahundi matter, Madam Speaker. We have tried to run away from that matter but we cannot run away from it because the wound is still there. I am taking not because I am noting that our expediting of these other matters seems as if we are running away from this matter. If we are telling each other the truth, we should agree and say that Ndlovu is the one who started with this matter and then Moyo told the soldiers to go there and Sibanda said this. Now you see this is the truth. If the truth comes out like this – we will know Ndlovu, Sibanda and Dube are the ones who did this other than say no, we will not talk about these people. Let us start talking about this matter, this does not help at all.
We, as people from Matabeleland want to know where this matter started from because this matter of war has already ended and there was another matter which troubled the sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and grandparent in the rural areas. I was watching CNN yesterday when they were talking about a man from Cambodia. It was just unfortunate that I cannot recall his name and this man butchered about 40 000/50 000 people. I agree that he is the one who started and butchered 20 000/15 000 people. This is good because we will always know rather than surmising or hiding behind the finger. If we are talking about the truth, we should agree that I am the one who allowed people from Tsholotsho and people from the Midlands to be killed.
Those who witnessed that will be very sorry that we will end some disagreements at home and that if we are leading, it should be known that we are good leaders of Zimbabwe and we will know that the leaders are standing for the truth and the Lord will look at our country and he will have mercy on us. People fight and you saw what happened in Rwanda. People fought and told each other bad words but people forgave each other and now Rwanda is a good country.
We saw what happened in South Africa – the bad things that happened but they forgave each other and that is why South Africa has moved forward now. If we do not talk about these matters, there are so many people Vice President. I had two constituencies in these past two terms. Right now I am still on the ground. I had so many people who did not have identity cards from my constituency Vice President, they know but the law does not allow them. Every person wants to vote but they cannot because they do not have identification cards. If you merely look at a person, you will say this one looks like my grandparents but this person does not have an identification card.
The issue that these people do not have identification cards goes back again from the matters that have not yet been fixed. These people will become useless and will start guessing and start saying this person is from Malawi. How can we say someone from the Ncube and Ndlovu clan comes from Malawi and yet that person says that his grandparents are from Zimbabwe? We know the real truth that his/her parents died during the Gukurahundi era.
Thank you Vice President for bringing this matter. We are looking forward for the Commission to interview everyone and bring out the truth because we are tired of playing hide and seek, especially if we are looking at Gukurahundi. Right now we are in pain because we hear that some other people were thrown in Bhalabha Mines. All of a sudden we hear that there are gold panners in those mines. Right now my grandfather is staying there. I am in pain to imagine that we do not have leaders in this country due to what is happening in this country.
I want to touch mainly on the issue of police officers. I heard some of my colleagues talking about the matter. A police officer should not personalize the matter and say MaSibanda insulted me or the matter that is from the Sibanda area I do not like it. The police officer will be very wrong on that Madam Speaker. If it is okay, the police officers should start afresh and be taught on how to do their duties. I do not want to say much because what they are doing is wrong. If a police officer is in police regalia, he is representing the people. A police officer should be impartial.
It is the same like soldiers – if the soldiers are wearing their uniform, they are representing the people as well. They should protect the country and they will be wrong if they choose or take sides. Thank you that this matter was brought forward. You should know that the Lord does not stand for one person and the Lord does not get drunk. Can this matter be resolved so that we forgive and reconcile and move forward so that we work together as Zimbabweans? Thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker. May I thank the Hon. Vice President for a very good report on National Peace and Reconciliation Report of 2018. I wish to add my voice by starting with a very popular quotation from the late Hon. Vice President Nkomo who said “Peace begins with me, peace begins with you and peace begins with all of us”. The issues that we are discussing are very pertinent and very important. The machinery that drives the Commission to keep going must be properly oiled. A lot of resources should be availed to them and put to their disposal.
Of particular note is the issue of vehicles and drones. The Commission should be allowed to travel to different places of Zimbabwe to monitor all activities that will be obtaining in different constituencies so that they compile reports and try to bring people together. We are all Zimbabweans and we have one country. We should not be divided on the basis of ethnicities or on the basis of tribalism or racism because we are one people. I really appreciate some of the recommendations from the report. The issue which is very important and topical is the issue of hate speech.
Zimabbwe is a polarized country in the sense that there are people who abuse freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution. They go to the extent of insulting one another and in the process that becomes very difficult to resolve conflicts. I want to link what the Hon. vice President has said with the report that was given by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission for the period 2018. On page 18 was a hate speech by one individual who was campaigning to be President. We do not want hate speech in Zimbabwe because that will divide us.
So, for the purposes of information I will read on page 18, there is a speech, an example that was captured by Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. It says, one Presidential candidate at a rally at Chivu Stadium, Chikomba West in Mashonaland East Province. The Human Rights Commission heard a Presidential candidate his speech that zvingagona here kuti tipe hutungamiri hwenyika kunaMnangagwa naChiwenga, mbavha dzagara dzichizivikanwa - such statements. We should not be divided by our political affiliations. We might be divided because of political parties but we have one agenda to defend our country.
I will address the issue of social media. Social media has played a very serious role in trying to promote hate speeches. People just put on the internet a lot of information, insulting one another and in the process making difficult the Commission’s job to resolve conflicts. I need to applaud the report for observing that issues to do with devolution should be fully concluded. I am aware that some funds have been put to different provinces but however, there is need to harmonise the issue of this devolution with the Constitution. I think the process is ongoing.
Finally Madam Speaker Maám, may I take this opportunity to thank the Hon. Vice President for a job well done. I also appeal to the Hon. Minister of Finance who is in this House to provide resources to the Commission so that they can execute their duties very well. I thank you.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Madam Speaker Maám. I rise to thank the Vice President for a well presented report on National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. It is headed by a high profile person, this is why I think it will be a success.
However, for the Commission to succeed – in 2009, the Commission was there but nothing fruitful came out. I think Hon. Vice President, for this Commission to succeed there is need to engage those in authority to observe the law and apply it equally without favour. If law is applied selectively, like which party do you belong to, the Commission will never achieve its objectives. It is like we are saying you are from the ‘first house’ or the ‘second house’, so the law is applied differently.
For example in 2008, many people died due to politically motivated violence but there were no arrests or convictions because people who were doing this were regarded as from the ‘first house’. I am not saying it was a good thing - there was a policeman who died in GlenView. I do not support the death of that police officer. I am hurt but the death of that police officer caused the arrest of about 31 people. For our country to succeed, we must not take sides when it comes to application of law.
The death of this particular police officer made the people who were arrested to stay in prison for more than 20 years. For this Commission to be a success, we must look back and correct the past. For example Gukurahundi, if those people who caused the Gukurahundi are still alive they must be charged. The Commission cannot be a success if people know that the person who caused the death of my cousin is alive and is walking scot free. They will not support the preaching of peace and reconciliation. If we remove politics when it comes to application of law, we will see our country moving smoothly. Today Mr. Zuma brought me here but if someone sees you with a person from a another political party – opposition does not mean hatred but it means diversion in thinking and belief for purposes of making things work for better. We beg you Hon. Vice President to look back into all that happened in the past so that the law can take its course.
We remember in 2008, someone was arrested and the person shouted ‘tell so and so that I have been arrested, but I am a ZANU PF card holder’. That person has been released and is walking freely. We feel as if these commissions are just put on paper only to please the international world but we are not implementing the rules of these commissions. There is no one who can agree to peace and reconciliation when that person knows that his/her child died due to political differences and the killer is known but the law was not effectively applied. I thank you.
*HON. CHIKWAMA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to thank the Vice President for bringing this report on peace and reconciliation. This Commission is a very important commission with a very important job. We know there are other people who take chances to talk bad about this commission but it is doing a good job. We are seeing the report that they have done within a short period of time and it has touched many areas.
We appeal to authorities to give this commission enough resources to cover other areas so that the whole country will get the hope of peace. There are other people who think that the commission is looking at one side of political parties. We want the commission to get the requisite resources and get to all the areas including rural areas so that there is hope that people remain and stay in peace. There are other people who want to take advantage of the commission and look at it as if they are doing a political job yet they are fighting to bring peace and reconciliation to everyone despite which political party one belongs to. Let us make sure that we resolve our differences without looking at political parties and take the commission as the commission of the country. I want to thank the President for bringing this report. This Commission is a very important Commission and has a very important job. We know there are people who want to take chances to talk bad about this Commission but this Commission is doing a very good job. We are seeing the report which they come up within a short period of time. It has touched on many areas. This Commission must be given more resources such that they cover the whole country so that all the people will get the help on peace because there are other people who think that the Commission is one sided. We want people to remain and stay in peace but there are people who want to take advantage of the Commission and take it as if they are doing the political job yet it is a good job which helps people to stay in peace and harmony and make sure that we resolve our differences without looking at political parties. We take the Commission as a Commission of the country which is doing a good job of making people understand each other so that there is harmony. We plead that they be given resources because some Commissioners are using their personal cars and this makes them difficult to reach all the corners of the country. The report helps us to be united.
We know that the Hon. Vice President is the one who is heading the Commission and we know that he is going to assist Commissioners to do the job properly. We do not want people who point at each other to say there is noise in the Army and there is noise at Parliament. The Commission is doing a very good job and we do not have to look at other organisations which are interfering with the Commission trying to destroy the purpose of the Commission. We say that the Commission must continue doing its mandate and ignore the social media and other organisations bend on tarnishing its image. People can talk of 2008 but right now something is happening and the Commission is doing a commendable job. The Commission is going area by area scrutinising these issues. Thank you.
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 8th September, 2020.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PEACE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2019
THE VICE PRESIDENT (HON. K. C. D MOHADI): Madam Speaker, I hereby table the National Peace and Reconciliation 2019 report as distributed to the Members. Madam Speaker, allow me to give a summary of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission 2019 Annual Report.
Madam Speaker, in 2019, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission’s thrust was to engage the communities on the ground, which included:
- The establishment of Provincial Peace Committees as part of its strategy to develop infrastructure for conflict prevention, complaints handling and investigations;
- Engagements and collaboration with various stakeholders such as traditional leaders, political parties, civil society organisations and the security sector;
- Preparations for public and private hearings to help victims of past conflicts secure closure, healing and reconciliation;
- Pioneering programmes to promote social cohesion as well as conducting scenario analysis programmes in order to anticipate future potential conflicts;
- Recruitment of secretariat as well as the capacitation of staff to sharpen their skills.
Madam Speaker, the NPRC noted that the year 2019 was very challenging, primarily because of inadequate financial resources as a result of the hyper-inflationary environment.
Madam Speaker, in the report, the Commission makes the following recommendations to this august House;
- That State and non-State institutions promote programmes which foster tolerance, equality; build social cohesion among Zimbabweans;
- That Government promotes and resource historians to document inclusive story lines that reframe and capture agreeable narratives about Zimbabwe’s history;
iii. That national shared vision be promoted;
- That Parliament enact enabling legislation to officialise languages in line with the Constitution;
- That Government promotes the tuition of all indigenous languages;
- That the roles of the Fallen Heroes Trust and the ZIPRA War Veterans Trust pertaining to exhumations and reburials be clearly defined and harmonised;
vii. That Government develops a comprehensive policy to address protection of witnesses, victims and survivors of violent conflicts;
viii. That political parties have formally recognised constitutions to deal with internal conflicts and self-regulating mechanisms to promote peaceful political activism;
- That the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill be expedited; and
- That Government develops a policy to integrate, mainstream or introduce peace education in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
Madam Speaker, the recommendations of the NPCR herein will foster enhanced national capacities for sustaining peace and promote healing and reconciliation as well as inclusive healing and reconciliation processes that address legacies of violent conflicts. I so submit Madam Speaker.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to thank the Vice President for bringing both the reports. I stood up on the second report of the 2019. When I was whispering to my colleagues, I was saying the unfinished business of the Global Political Agreement of 2009 to 2013, hence you heard the debates that were being carried out by my colleagues in the first report that the Vice President has tabled and were actually like demanding the way forward.
I am pleased that the presentation of the report in this House is a testimony that perhaps we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I heard about the peace committees in the communities and the programmes for social cohesion. There is nothing that beats people getting together in a community to actually say okay this was done, you have wronged me but let us find each other. There is nothing that beats engagement in terms of people that are in a community. I am glad that those were glaring gaps that I was thinking about when I was seated there listening to the first report.
If you look at the national shared vision to be promoted, that is exactly what Zimbabweans want. There was some misinformation in terms of who is doing that and where are we heading to. In this report, the Vice President laid the steps or landmarks of where we go to – the stakeholder engagement. The communities where we are coming from are the ones that are demanding answers, the answers seem to be coming out in terms of engagement and comprehensive political parties self regulating. Our slogans need to be designed in a way that is tolerable to both political parties. We need not say which party and the like. We know what we do. We know when it is election time and we know what we say at rallies. When we say “peace begins with you and peace begins with me” let us really mean it. Let us not demean that slogan because it speaks volumes in terms of actions by the political leaders. Our own branches and cells copy from the actions and what we do. When the Vice President lays such a report in the House, let us walk the talk.
Madam Speaker, I am not here to make a discord in terms of such a good report that shapes the way forward and in terms of the steps that the country has to take. Let us walk the talk as political parties and as leaders.
HON. TOFFA: I would like to thank the Vice President for the 2019 report. I have not stood up to debate much but I thought it was very important because I took note of recommendation No. 2 where the Vice President spoke to the fact that historians must be well resourced. Madam Speaker, this is a very important issue when we are talking about the history of this country. Hon Vice President, our history in Zimbabwe is distorted. The liberations struggle was fought by the ZANLA and ZIPRA forces. The history out there needs to be clear. This is one of the things that contributes to peace and reconciliation and everyone must feel included and appreciated and our nationals need to know the true history. This is a challenge to you Vice President that when those funds come out, our nation gets its true history.
HON. MADZIMURE: I want to thank the Vice President for giving us this opportunity to debate such an important report. Taking on from what Hon Toffa has just said, we are taking too long to write our own history and as a result, we now appear to be cherry picking what we call our history.
Depending on who is in charge at that particular time, we even see this when it is time for our Independence celebrations. There are certain videos and photographs that are very important that you never see depending on what is the situation at that particular time. There are videos that are very important that appear nonexistent and can only be found when the time is regarded to be suitable. This is wrong. There is no one who is more important when it comes to the history of our struggle.
During the struggle, we had two political parties and there were no other political parties, meaning you either belonged to ZAPU or to ZANU. That means we cannot talk of what is happening to use it to distort what happened then. Let us give those people who participated their due respect. It does not matter whether that person was ZAPU or ZANU, we must give those people their due respect. Already we are seeing things starting to change. When Independence time comes, those important videos where the first founding President of this country is appearing are now being omitted. This is what we must shy from. Let us give our people the true history.
I was arguing some years back before the former President passed on – may his soul rest in peace – with the late Cde Tungamirai when we spent some 12 hours here in Parliament. I was saying to him why are you not writing books so that we know exactly what happened. The story was to do with the bombing of the petrol tanks in Southerton. That is when l started knowing that he had a hand in it on what happened. This was later confirmed by the late Hon Perrance Shiri. The late Hon Perrance Shiri’s video only started being flighted now. We did not know this whole story about how these people came from the Tete Province into Zimbabwe and how they settled in Domboshava. This is now 40 years.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members who are not on the floor, I am reminding you to keep your mics on mute.
HON. MADZIMURE: The Vice President did quite well by mentioning that resources are needed. We want resources that will be well spent and produce the true history of this country. Even the disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands, we must know exactly what happened so that we learn from those mistakes. We cannot keep on doing the same thing over and over again. Even right now when you look at our politics why it is so toxic, it is because we do not tell each other the truth. This issue of continuously playing covert like we are still in a war should stop. We cannot keep on lying to each other and the only way we can tell each other the truth Madam Speaker is that we must open up the communication systems. We must open up the airwaves. Can you tell me that 40 years after independence, Zimbabwe still has one television station. Look at what they do; at 6 o’clock in the morning, you wake up and you want to listen to news and “pane majingles, panototamba band, zvivapfanha zviri kutamba zvazvo Zimdancehall.” You end up switching on to CNN, SABC, eTV, Aljazeera because we are not doing a service to our country by denying our own people information. The only way we can tell the truth is making sure that we allow our people to have as much information as possible. It is a serious indictment that even the second republic still has one television station.
If you talk of the radio, it is all one radio station. You cannot talk of Star FM as an independent radio and you cannot talk of Capitalk. Whenever someone indulges in dealing with serious matters, that person is fired. This has been happening. We have been firing presenters and even DJs for playing certain songs. Is that tolerance? Are we promoting tolerance? What are we trying to do? What will be our legacy? I think we can do better than what we are doing. There is no way we can always have this news of portraying a rosy Zimbabwe always. We are not. Let us allow our people to make choices to receive information and impart information. That is the only way we can even share a vision.
The Vice President in the report talks about a shared vision. A shared vision is not forced on the citizens. You actually have this feel that I share this vision because of what then happens. For us to have peace and reconciliation, our people must not feel petrified like what Hon. Zvobgo once said where people at night if they hear footsteps, you even suspect those foot steps to be soldiers coming to beat you up or the police coming to arrest you. There are several things that are basic Madam Speaker that we must do to ensure that there is peace in Zimbabwe; simple things, just respecting each other. If Madzimure commits a crime and you find him at his house, you can even ask him without handcuffing him to accompany the police to the police station. You do not need leg irons Madam Speaker. This is where the issue of peace starts from. In this era, we still have Zimbabweans who are leg ironed like what exactly Smith used to do and we expect peace. No ways, we cannot. It is wrong.
Even the war veterans themselves, when they once tried to demonstrate, they were beaten and water cannons came. Was it necessary for an amputee to be treated in that particular manner? It is not good. My plea through you Madam Speaker to the Vice President is that he has a perfect opportunity during this time of his life to make sure that he changes the culture, especially the culture of impunity. We went through terrible times. People like myself, I was a grown up boy during the war and I know what happened. I even saw two ex-combatants being gunned down in front of me and I have got the names. The other one is called Lazi. I saw it happening. I even have one within the family. When he was caught, he was dangled from a helicopter. Do we still want to see that happening to ourselves? We do not have to.
This commission must just be an apolitical commission. When they see that polad is not performing, they must say why is it not performing and we want to make sure that we have everybody on board. They must not enjoy several meetings in that small group when they can have a bigger group. That is their purpose. For them to think that all is normal, that is not true. Right now, if you go to a roadblock, sometimes you just say are we in Zimbabwe or Rhodesia. I once saw along Josiah Chinamano, opposite the Polytechnic, there was a roadblock and people had been asked to sit down with their papers, one after the other, “mukadzi apa, murume apa.” I have a got a photograph and I said to myself, why do we treat ourselves like foreigners in our own country? I think we still have got a long way to go. The issue of us seeing button sticks always everywhere is not the right thing to do.
I take great exception of a situation where a Zimbabwean can walk into a police station, report a case and expect the police to take action. If you go and report a police officer, you are arrested. A case is created and you know this is a manufactured case and you can even go to remand and remain there for two weeks. There is a lot that we still have to do. So, I am saying Vice President, this is a very good initiative and I hope your reports will be more detailed because there are a lot of gaps that are there; there are a lot of issues that are not handled.
Belonging to another political party does not make me an enermy. Even when you go to a rally “kuti pasi naMadzimure nembwa dzake,” that should not be allowed – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjections.] – “Nesuwo hatifanirwe kutombodaro.” We are not supposed to do so and it is your Commission that can make sure that you educate people. This is why I said we do not have civic education. It is not necessary, it is not allowed. If as a Government you take a position and say this will not be said, no one will say that. I do not have the power to do so. No, you do not just arrest, you educate people. It is not necessary to arrest people; it is not the solution. You have seen demonstrations in America. How many arrests are there? They are bigger demonstrations and serious demonstrations. I think unless we stop treating each other as them and us, the moment we do so, the moment we share our resources, then Zimbabwe will be a better country. Let us leave a legacy, let us live a country a normal country. Thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. BUSHU: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice and contribute to the debate on the report that was given by the Vice President to this august House. Madam Speaker, I listened to the two reports and I was impressed by the progress made from the first report to the second. What it means essentially is that the issue of peace and reconciliation is lacking good progress. Madam Speaker, through you, I would like to thank the Vice President and his team, particularly the Peace and Reconciliation Commission for looking at issues and solving some of the problems that have arisen within our communities, within our country.
Having read a little bit of history, we all know very well that our past history as human beings has always been leveraged around conflict, power and acquisition of resources, but with time we have all realised that a lot of the fights that we were engaged in were not necessary. However, some that would be necessary were conducted, particularly the liberation war - it was necessary that we liberate ourselves because we were not allowed to enjoy our peace. That obviously caused some natural conflict but having gone into independence, we all know that it was important that we reconciled and we all remember for those who were old enough that there was a call to turn our guns into ploughshares.
This simply means that it was the beginning of the evolution of peace and reconciliation. It could not be done in one day, things then deteriorated but alas, we looked at it and said as Zimbabweans we need peace in our country. Now, that the peace and reconciliation Commission has been established and the world over it has been proven that if you establish a Commission like that, you will be successful as a nation or as a people. In coming together and dialoging, finding out where your problems are and how you can solve them.
We are looking at these reports and we are saying the new dispensation is true to its word. We are preaching peace and peace. What we need to do now is to look at the small areas where we have a few differences and the responsibility is not on one side that there is peace but on both sides of those who think that there must be conflict. When conflict arises, we must also get sober and look at issues as they are, look at each other as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers and as Zimbabweans. There is a reason why God located us in this area, there is a reason why we think that there must be peace and there is a reason why we must push the issue of peace together.
The fact that the Peace and Reconciliation Commission has been given Presidential attention is very key. This means that our State is very focused on peace and reconciliation. It also says a lot when the Minister of Finance is here while we are talking of this; it means the resources that are required for our country to move forward in terms of peace and reconciliation will get the requisite financial attention. I think it is important that we do so because where there is peace, there is development. Most countries that are well developed are those that decide on peace after conflict so we have an opportunity as Zimbabweans to use the peace and reconciliation Commission, fund it well, believe in it and ensure that we have the peace that we require.
I do not think the Commission is a final case; it must come to an end when we achieve the peace that we require, when we achieve the satisfaction that we can relate to each other well.
Madam Speaker, I think Members of this House agree with me that we need the peace. When there is no peace everyone is uncomfortable but remember we should not just hit at the police force or the army, those are established to ensure that there is some peace and when there is no peace there is some intervention from these armed forces. So, we then need the peace so that they can remain in their cantonments, so that they can assist us in other economic development activities as we have seen them do.
Madam Speaker, we need the peace and I would like to thank the Peace and Reconciliation Commission as led by the Vice President, as their report reflects to ensure that this country the peace that we require. I thank you.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker for giving me an opportunity to add a voice. Firstly, I would like thank the Hon. Vice President for giving us a report in the 2019 report on Peace and Reconciliation. I would like to thank all those who spoke before me to say that we all know that these two political parties, ZIPRA and ZANLA are the ones who went to war, fighting for everyone so that we get independence. Now that the country is here, there are things that did not go well, even people in a beerhall fight, and husband and wife fight and aunts are called in to bring peace. So peace and reconciliation has always been there, what we appreciate today is that we have started a process to fix things.
Let us not look at the Commission with one direction, criticizing Gukurahundi. We went for elections, this is what we fought for and people died. What happened indeed happened. What we achieved was democracy for Zimbabwe after independence. Those who understood it got it, even in a race, someone will take the first position, and others will take the second and third positions. It is not always the case that you will take the first positions.
Let us loosen our hearts, we should be people with faith, let us accept ourselves, you cannot be a grandmother when you are young. If we go to elections we should be able to be in a position to accept what came out of the elections. Where is the democracy from our slogans that we say at rallies? Mobilising people to do the wrong things is not the correct position.
I would like to continue to thank Hon. Mpariwa. She said that as political parties we are the causers of this political instability in this country because of what we do as political parties. Our slogans should be corrected because they are contributing to the political instability in the country. Development does not come. We should accept the results and come together as a people. The Government is for everyone and it does not choose one particular party.
We may differ in ideas when we go for political elections as we look for people to vote for us, but after the elections we should come together as a family. Let us leave slogans that cause divisions. Demonstrations that I have heard being mentioned in this House, they have a right to demonstrate and it is within the Constitution. Even in a family set up, children can come together to demonstrate against their parents, their mother and their father, but we do reprimand them.
Why do we despise soldiers given that situation of the example? As we compare our country to other countries America has its own laws against such actions such as demonstrations. There are even harsh laws. In such situations those states you have mentioned act accordingly. Let me mention some of the things that were mentioned by the founding fathers who led Cde. Joshua Nkomo. This is what he said, ‘the Zimbabwean army is there to keep peace and stability in the country. Any action against the law they will act to maintain peace’.
I would like to thank the Hon. Vice President - inasmuch as I know the Head of State and Government, His Excellency President Mnangagwa, It is my wish that this thing had come to an end. Those who fought in Rwanda and other countries were killing each other over political issues, but now there is development in Rwanda. Let us come together and put the past behind us so that the country can go forward and we have development.
There are two things that we kindly ask as Christians - our food for the day and to be forgiven our sins. We should be able to forgive those who sin against us. With those words I would like to thank you Madam Speaker and to thank you Hon. Vice President Mohadi. Let us go and finish this Peace and Reconciliation Commission. Let us come together and develop so that things can go well and have sustainable solutions. Thank you.
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. MUPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 3rd September, 2020.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day Numbers 3 to 5 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day Number 6 has been disposed of.
HON. MUPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
FINANCE BILL: BUDGET DEBATE
Sixth order read: Adjourned debate on motion that leave be granted to bring in a Finance Bill.
HON. MHONA: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity. Finance and Economic Development Hon. Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, on Thursday 16 August 2020 presented the Mid-term budget and economic review statement to Parliament. The Mid-Year budget review statement was meant to highlight details on economic developments during the first half of the year, progress on implementation of the 2020 National Budget and also makes proposals for realignment of macro-economic and fiscal policies to the Transitional Stabilisation Programme. Guided by indications of current performance and projected economic statistics, Parliament can consider proposals for necessary fiscal policy interventions to realign the policy thrust towards the broader macroeconomic objectives and poverty alleviation.
The statement came amid a background of economic headwinds, characterised by climatic shocks especially 2019/20 drought and Cyclone Idai; Energy challenges, Currency volatility and the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee had, prior to this announcement engaged the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr. J. P. Mangudya and the Minister of Finance, Hon. M. Ncube who appeared before the Committee on 20 May and 3 June respectively. The Committee sought to understand the state of the economy as well as to get an update on the implementation of the monetary and fiscal policies.
COMPLIANCE TO LEGISLATION
The legal requirements underpinning the preparation and presentation of this statement to the August house are provided for in Section 7(2) (a) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) which requires the Minister responsible for Finance to “provide full and transparent accounts, from time to time and not less than annually to Parliament, indicating the current and projected State of the Economy, the Public Resources of Zimbabwe and the Fiscal Policy of the Government.”
COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Credibility of projections in the Budget Review
The economy is expected to contract by 4.5% amid glaring challenges the economy is facing chief among them the COVID 19 Pandemic. The economy also grapples with inflationary pressures, reduced aggregate demand and forex challenges. The growth projection is worrisome in the context of global growth projection of -4.9% and Sub Saharan Africa’s growth projection of -3.2%. The Committee is concerned with inflation projections as inflation is expected to gradually decline in the second half of 2020, from the peak of 785.5% in May 2020, to 300% in December 2020, responding to current monetary and fiscal policy intervention. The statement acknowledgers that the surge in annual inflation is attributed to speculative pricing, arising from forward pricing practice and adverse inflation expectations, following the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar against major currencies in the parallel market. The Auction system has not addressed price indexing to parallel market especially in the famous “tuckshops” which are excluded from participating at the Auction system. Credibility issues also creep in as economic agents recall the assurances they were given in the 2020 budget that monthly inflation was expected to fall to single digit figures from the first quarter of 2020 to close the year around 2% on the back of commitment by the Central Bank to fight inflation through implementing an active reserve money targeting programme (Paragraph 51 of the 2020 Budget Statement).
The committee Calls upon Treasury to work towards improving budget information. The debt information provided on paragraphs 26 to 36 and on annex 11 is not as detailed as provided for in Section 300(4) of the Constitution which mandates the Minister to:
(a) at least twice a year, report to Parliament on the performance of—
(i) loans raised by the State; and
(ii) loans guaranteed by the State;
(b) at the same time as the estimates of revenue and expenditure are laid before the National Assembly in terms of section 305, table in Parliament a comprehensive statement of the public debt of Zimbabwe.
Moreover, Section 36 of the Public Debt Management Act is instructive of the information to be contained in the report to Parliament. It provides that “At least twice a year, the Minister shall furnish Parliament with a report on Government debt management activities, guarantees and lending.
(2) The report shall be inclusive of the following-
- information on how the debt management strategy has been implemented over the course of the financial year;
- bi-annual reporting of debt management activities covering an evaluation of outcomes against the debt management objectives;
- a list of all guarantees issued by Government including a classification of guarantees according to their probability of being called in;
- a list of all outstanding borrowings and related debt service projections including classification of the loans by Government, public entities and local authorities.”
In view of this, the Committee requests the Minister to bring a detailed statement on debt to the House.
- The Committee commends the Minister for setting aside funds to support agriculture well in time before the season starts.The Committee noted that the sector was relatively spared by the pandemic, but activity was relatively subdued during the season as the country experienced intermittent rainfall. The Committee also noted that ZWL$88 million of the ZWL$390 million allocated towards rehabilitation of smallholder irrigation facilities has been disbursed. This is despite the absence of any disbursement figures on annex 2, page 126 of the Budget Review Statement. The Committee therefore calls upon Treasury to prioritise irrigation financing. Realising that Zimbabwe needs at least 2 million MT of maize for both human consumption and animal feeds, Government should aim at irrigating at least 100 000 ha. Channelling more resources to investments in irrigation development and rehabilitation as well as Water harvesting and conservation (dam and canal construction) is the way forward in the face of unpredictable weather patterns.
- The Committee noted Government efforts in securing US$51 million Belarus facility and another US$51 million for the John Deere tractors. These facilities are aimed at supporting farmers to access tractors, combine harvesters, planters, and lowbed trucks and will be accessed by farmers through commercial banks namely CBZ, Stanbic and Agribank. This comes after Government in 2015 disbursed farming equipment under Phase I of the More Food Africa International Programme, valued at US$38.7 million which benefited A1 and communal irrigation schemes throughout the country. Parliament has however not been apprised of the performance of the Phase II of the Programme valued at US30 million which was earmarked for 2017. Despite these heavy investments in Agriculture mechanization through the Reserve Bank Mechanisation programme launched on 11 June 2007, the $98 million Brazil Facility under the More Food for Africa Programme whose first tranche worth $38,7million was launched in May 2015, and the Iran Facility among other programmes and the recent Belarus facility, the country is yet to make significant strides in achieving food security because of reliance on rain-fed agriculture. Any likelihood of poor rainfall in most parts of the country
due to climate change could therefore lead to food shortage. There is therefore need for the country to prioritise climate mitigation and adaptation measures through investments in irrigation infrastructure.
- The Committee is concerned with the reduced gold deliveries that reflect increased leakages (amid high production) through smuggling and diversion of gold to the informal market arising from issues around forex retention and pricing. Against this background, gold deliveries are projected at 27 958 kg for the year 2020, which is lower than the 2019 levels despite the favourable international prices obtaining compared to the previous year. This comes on the back of disclosures by the Minister in
June 2020 that the country’s gold is being smuggled to Dubai via South Africa, The Committee recommends that in addition to strengthening security issues, the Ministry should also address pricing issues and forex retention thresholds. The Committee is also recommending that the Minister makes specific pronouncement around streamlining of Mining fees and charges to reduce costs. This has been recommended over the years with no action on the ground.
- The Committee welcomes the prioritisation of the regional gateway-the Harare-Beitbridge road rehabilitation project wherein Government allocated ZWL$321 million. The Committee is however concerned with the target to achieve 200 km by year end which may be overambitious, given the quantum of resources required. Annex 2 of the Budget review statement indicates that so far $965,9 million has been disbursed so far towards that project and 7.2 km has been completed and opened to traffic. This has however taken more than a year to achieve. The statement notes that 25 km has been primed and surfacing (tarring) is in progress. Expecting to open 100 km by end of August may be far-fetched. Any failure in that regard will further dampen the little credibility that project had generated on economic agents.
- The Committee notes with concern unsatisfactory allocations towards the COVID 19 pandemic wherein only ZWL$1.8 billion was released to various Ministries/Agencies/Departments. Support to the Ministry of Health and Child Care was ZWL$738.5 million. The immediate priority should be to ramp up public health expenditures to contain the virus outbreak as Covid 19 cases spike, offer humanitarian assistance and rescue the economy. The support to business and households should be sizable and timely and should not exclude those in the informal sector. The ZWL738.5 million is lower than US$27 million disbursed by development partners towards the pandemic during the same period. This shows that the government was only concerned with balancing its books while dumping
its core social responsibilities to development partners. When the Minister appeared before the Committee on 3 June, he assured the Committee that by 31 May 2020, Treasury had made budget releases of Z$1.3 billion of which cash availed amounted to Z$1,1 billion. This was mainly directed towards procurement of PPEs, screening, testing and isolation as well as WASH programmes in local authorities. He also indicated that Treasury had mobilized Z$500 million through TBs against a target of Z$1 billion for emergency funding for the COVID 19 pandemic. The Minister also put it on record that with regards to COVID 19 donations, domestic cash donations amounted to US$85 069 and Z$14.8 million then. Development partners had also chipped in with US$184.35 million excluding donations in kind.
- Related to the above, the Committee also noted with concern that only Z$$50 million has been availed so far support to the transitory poor households. Government also availed ZWL$127.8 million to cushion vulnerable groups in both urban and rural areas. The Minister of Finance had announced in March that Treasury had set aside $600 million in financial support over three months [$200 million a month] for small businesses and vulnerable people affected by the lockdown. However, most of the Communities that our Members represent have not benefited from the scheme. The Committee calls upon Treasury to prioritise cushioning the poor and vulnerable and these include small scale farmers, petty traders in the informal sector, people living with HIV and AIDS, people living with disability among others from the adverse effects of the pandemic through targeted social transfers Local councillors and Community Based Organisations should be involved in beneficiary identification for social transfers to vulnerable persons, laid off workers, and eligible self-employed persons in the informal sectors.
- The Committee notes with concern that the security sector remains exposed as most of them are manning checkpoints without the necessary protective equipment despite disclosures of release of ZWL$197 million operational support for the sector. The Committee is also concerned with the lacklustre government response to reports of inadequacy of facilities and security at the country’s quarantine facilities. This has seen a spike in positive cases at these facilities and frequent escapes which led to spike in local transmissions. The budget review statement disclosed that ZWL$35.5 million was allocated to shelters where the homeless are placed despite the huge increase in the presence of vagrants across many cities. The report also indicates that quarantine centers received ZWL$50 million.
- The Committee is concerned with the delay in the disbursement of the $18.2 billion Stimulus Package, which amounts to 28.6% of the 2020 National Budget. When the package was announced, it was worth US $720 million using official exchange rate of US 1 Z: 25 and US 360 million using parallel market rates. These delays in the wake of imminent prolonged lockdowns will exacerbate the impact of the pandemic on the economy. As such, a growth target of -4.5 % may not be achieved.
- The Committee is encouraged by the performance of the Foreign Exchange Auction Trading System which came into effect on 23 June 2020 where the maximum and minimum bids are converging towards the equilibrium. The auction system was adopted amid a background of forex market indiscipline and hyperinflation. The minimum entry-level of US50 000 however means that a huge chunk of the market is excluded from auction system which creates opportunities for the parallel market.Zimbabwe has a huge informal economy, estimated to be the second largest in the world after Bolivia. It is therefore crucial that the interbank market is also strengthened to cater for small forex requirements. Operating rules for tender sessions should be maintained in order to enhance the public's confidence toward the auction system. The mistakes of 2004 where the Auction system degenerated into an allocation system should be avoided at all costs. Interference with the market mechanism and monetary indiscipline lead to inefficiencies that will cause the total collapse of the Auction System as well as failure to defend the local currency. The covert massaging that happened to the interbank rate should be avoided.
- The Committee notes with concern the rapid redollarization of the economy and the deafening silence of the Mid Term budget review statement on measures to reverse this. There is need to put in place in place measures that encourage the use of the Zimbabwe dollar and Government must show the way as a measure of building confidence. The Minister should have clearly stood out to defend the Zim dollarand crafted measures to support and create demand for the ZWL$. It is important to note that not all companies are accessing foreign currency from the auction system.
- The Committee notes a temporary suspension of trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange implemented on 29 June 2020. The drastic move was taken ostensibly to reign in exchange rate spikes which the ZSE and mobile money transfers are alleged to be fuelling as the bourse was now being used as a proxy for the determination of parallel exchanges rates, which fuelled inflation. Suspending the stock exchange should be for the shortest possible period as prolonged suspension is becoming a major knock on Zimbabwe’s already threadbare image as an investment market. As such, the ZSE will find it difficult to attract investor appetite owing to such perceptions. This suspension is also likely to frustrate investor appetite in the envisioned Victoria Falls Stock Exchange.
- The Committee supports restrictions made to mobile money transfer platforms. Mobile money transfer service providers restricted some elements of mobile money services including cash out services and merchant lines. The new limit of $5 000 is however not favourable for business transactions for example payment of salaries.
- Related to the above, the Committee calls upon the RBZ to strengthen its monitoring mechanisms to curb nefarious activities in the banking sector which fuel the parallel market. Punitive measures must be put in place for individuals and institutions found on the wrong side of the law. Regular compliance checks should be preferred to abrupt policy announcements and reversals which cause havoc in the market and are a source of the current lack of confidence.
- The Committee is concerned with the absence of the supplementary budget despite the glaring need for such given the fact that the country is experiencing 3-digit inflation levels and a depreciating exchange rate. Although on average utilisation has been 46%, there is widespread imbalance on the utilisation. It is no secret that employment costs have increased from the budgeted ZW$17.8 billion on account of the salary review effected from January 2020, recruitment of additional 4 713 health personnel to fight COVID-19, payment of Risk Allowance to the frontline health workers, effective April 2020, as well as review of health specific allowances for health personnel. Recently, Government awarded its employees a 50% salary adjustment and a non-taxable US$75 allowance across the board. The Minister acknowledged in his statement that inflationary pressures continued to undermine budgeted provisions — including the cost of providing public services — but no budgetary adjustments were made to cater for that. The Minister also disclosed, when he appeared before the Committee on 3 June 2020 that additional 400 nurses and 200 medical staff recruited in March led to an increase in employment costs from Z$1.2 billion in February to Z$1.7 billion in March. However, this does not add up as this translates to more than $800 000 per person.
The Committee applauds efforts of government to create employment through the Youth Employment Tax (YETI) Incentive, but would be pleased to be favoured with statistics of how many employers have accessed the incentive and how many youths have benefited in terms of employment. The Committee also notes the ZWL$500 million for the National Venture Capital Fund set aside in the budget for the youth to create their own jobs, the same applies to Empowerment Bank ZWL$50 million, Women Development Fund ZWL$20 million, etc. The Committee recommends that the various funds set aside be released for the various programmes to commence.
- The Committee acknowledges that while this is mathematically correct in terms of averages that release was at 46% as at 30 June 2020, the various ministries utilise resources differently. Some had overspent by June 2020 while others had underspent. This points to imbalanced releases rather than inability of the Ministries to absorb. The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development had utilised only 10,9 percent of its budget by June 2020, while the Ministry Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry utilised only 8% of the allocated budget. However, the Ministry of Local
Government and Public Works had already used about 78 percent of allocated resources by June 2020, , NPA 356% and the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans 67,9 %. Quarterly performance reports received from Ministries attribute below par performance to such erratic releases.
- The Committee commends Government for alleviating the plight of the poor by introducing the Urban Mass Transport System (UMTS) with effect from 21 January 2019 in order to alleviate the transport challenges facing the commuting public as a result of unjustified price increases by commuter omnibus operators. The Committeecalls upon Government going forward to come up with a longterm plan which is sustainable given that the Mass Transport System in its current form was a reaction to the sharp transport increase. Local Authorities should be empowered to run the Mass Public Transport System on a cost recovery basis. There is therefore need to increase supply of more reliable conventional buses to minimize waiting times and improve efficiency.
- The Committee urges Government to further revise upwards the minimum taxable amount for the 2 percent Intermediated Money Transfer Tax to from $300 to $500, which is still too low as most products which the poor purchase at any given time would cost more than $300. The Committee commends Treasury for revising tax bands with tax free threshold reviewed from ZW$2000 to ZW$5000 to ramp up demand, though it is still too low. Corporate tax credits of up to 50% for Covid19 donations to release funds for working capital are a shot in the arm for our firms as we fight the dreaded pandemic.
- The Committee notes with concern the need to take crucial steps in tax reform. There is however need to build trust and provide proof for taxation to work. Citizens must be able to trust their governments that their hard earned resources are being used wisely and that people benefit from projects completed through taxation funds. Tax simplification needs to be adopted as complex tax systems foster a culture of tax evasion and create opportunities for corruption. There is also need to merge certain taxes and also eliminate some. The Committee recommends implementation of electronic tax payment and e-filing systems which also increases compliance and save on compliance cost. The Committee also notes the need for non-tax reform through identifying sources of revenue for example property tax, excise taxes and carbon tax. These could also deter unwanted behaviours such as driving cars in already congested areas, smoking and consuming unhealthy foods .
- The Committee is concerned that during the period from January to June, total social protection expenditure amounted to ZW$902, 2 million against targeted expenditure of ZW$1,253 billion. The distribution of major expenditures among other social interventions were as follows: Drought Mitigation ZW$412,2 million, Basic Education Assistance Module ZW$150 million, sustainable livelihoods ZW$67,3 million, support to disabled persons ZW$7,1 million, harmonised social cash transfers ZW$158,1 million, support to elderly persons ZW$3 million, children in difficult circumstances ZW$5,1 million, health assistance ZW$11,9 million and Covid-response ZW$85,5 million. This is far less than resources allocated towards the roller meal subsidy programme of $1.03 billion although the mealie meal is not readily available in shops.
- The Committee calls upon Government to urgently find a solution to the striking health workers as their continued absence from work in the wake of the pandemic is affecting the poor more. The announced budget review only offered health care workers tax exemptions which may not be adequate to get the health sector back to work.
- The Budget review did not give an update on the committed ZWL$500 million for National Venture Capital Fund. And the ZWL$ 700million for free sanitary wear for rural primary and secondary learners from Grade 4 to Upper sixth form in the 2020 budget.
- The Committee is also concerned with the challenges government workers are facing to liquidate their USD75 allowances. A convenient arrangement should be made with due consideration that these domestic Nostros that have the potential to destabilise the money market.
- The Committee is concerned with lope activity in the economy which has led to significant imports of food stuffs that amount for example in 2018, $403 million, in 2019 $465 million and $229 million in the first four months of 2020. Added to fuel imports that amount to at least US$80 million a month, this puts significant pressure on the available forex. The Committee therefore calls upon the Fiscal Authorities to complement the Monetary Authorities who have put in place measures to promote productivity in the economy.These include the reduction of the bank policy rate from 70% in November to 35%, 25%, and further again to 15% in March 2020. The statutory reserve ratio on bank deposits was reduced from 5 % to 4.5 %.
The Committee calls upon the Fiscal Authorities to dignify these policy statements by evaluating previous policies before proposing new policies or adjustments. Economic agents’ confidence is built by providing feedback on policy targets and an honest self-introspection of achievements, challenges and remedial measures. The Committee calls upon all stakeholders to act in good faith and for the good of the nation. A genuine social contract is needed where all stakeholders negotiate in good faith for a common good under the auspices of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum should be established.
1. ANNEX 1: SUMMARY
▪ The overall economy is forecasted to contract by 4.5% in 2020 against an initial projection of 3% growth . 11
The economy is expected to recover and grow by 7.4% in 2021 due to the COVID 19 pandemic The manufacturing sector will contract by 10.8% against the initial projection of -1.9%.
▪ As at 31st May 2020, total foreign currency inflows amounted US$2.35 billion, against foreign payments
I thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I just want to add my voice to this debate and also as a Member of the Budget and Finance Committee. I want to start from the credibility of the Monetary Policy Statement as given by the Minister. It is the view that there is a general lack of coordination from the various policy statements that you have given in this House. You look back even when you gave the initial Budget for this year and then the Mid-Term Budget Review, there is no marriage between the two. Some of the policy pronouncements and projections that you gave in the Budget and then if you try to marry them with the Mid-Term Review, you find that there is nothing that inter-connects them.
That brings me to the question that we sometimes feel that the Minister when he presented the Mid Term Review Statement appeared not to have addressed us the Hon. Members and Zimbabwe at large. It appears as if the statement was meant for some outsiders rather than for us Zimbabweans. I will give you one good example. First and foremost, the expectation that Zimbabwe had was that the Hon Minister was going to come and bring a supplementary budget to this august House. The Minister says he cannot bring a supplementary budget because in his statement he says the money that was allocated in the Budget is sufficient. The question is that at whose cost?
The Chairman talked about the crisis in the health sector. The nurses and doctors are not reporting for work because they do not have the funds. Talk about CDF, we are being asked to go and do a project with ZW$180 000 using the interbank rate. That $180 000RTGS is less than US$2500. There is no project that you can do in a constituency and the Minister does not see the need to increase the money. If you check within the various Ministries including Parliament of Zimbabwe, there are certain outstanding payments that have not been made and all those outstanding payments, whether it is Ministry A or B including the Judiciary, when you do not make those payments and then you say no I have got sufficient resources when we know that certain payments were supposed to be done which have not been done. We then ask a question, is the Mid-Term Policy Review, the Budget, the Fiscal Policy of the Government, is it tailored to us the Hon. Members of Parliament? Is it tailor made for the people of Zimbabwe because the people of Zimbabwe are saying there are certain gaps and certain issues that need to be addressed which the Hon. Minister is failing to address in the Budget and the Fiscal Policy Statement that he is actually issuing.
Madam Speaker, we need to have our books balanced, yes we need to make sure that we reduce over expenditure but we have to do it considering the political, socio-economic environment that we find ourselves in. This year Madam Speaker, there is COVID and there is lockdown. A number of our people are not gainfully employed. I represent a high density constituency and I will tell you Madam Speaker the disconnection between the Fiscal Policy Review Statement and the people that I represent.
Firstly, the Hon. Minister says that there were some monies that were allocated for the vulnerable groups but the money that has been disbursed is so little. I know because we did a programme with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare identifying the people that we felt needed to be assisted in Dzivarasekwa. I can tell you Madam Speaker that as I speak right now, less than 3% of those people have been assisted and the 3% that have been assisted have been given a paltry amount; an amount that cannot make them buy even cooking oil, salt and sugar. It is so little and this is why I am saying there is a disconnection between the Minister’s Fiscal Policy Statement and the reality that is happening on the ground.
When we talk of the civil servants Madam Speaker, if you do not reward your workers, what they will do is they will pretend to be working. Right now we know the Minister introduced the COVID allowance, the US$75, which we understand was meant for three months. My view Madam Speaker and the view of the Committee is to simply say the COVID allowance needs to be extended because we do not know when COVID is going to end. You cannot take it after the three months; it has to go beyond. Some of us even feel that the amount needs to be increased, maybe to about US$100 or US$150 primarily because the banks deduct about $15 or so in terms of bank charges. Our workers, the civil servants are not benefiting much and it is my view that right now that COVID allowance plus the paltry salary that we are paying our civil servants is now permanent income for the workers. So, this is the reason why we are saying it has to be extended at an increased level.
Madam Speaker, the Hon. Minister and the Reserve Bank have been trying to make sure that the auction system works. I agree that the auction system for the time being has actually been working. The rate has gone up to about $83 compared to the parallel rate which is around $100. However, here is the catch Madam Speaker. The percentage of people that are participating on the auction system, a huge chunk out there is not yet accommodated into the auction system. I understand and commend the Minister to say that the small scale sector is also benefiting but I think it needs to go beyond that. We need to make sure that even individuals also participate. There is also a system that allows everybody so that they move away from the black market.
We know that the central bank has now instructed Econet or ecocash to do certain things, to minimise and to limit the transactions but Madam Speaker, when the Government says that the maximum amount that a person can deal with per day on ecocash is limited to $5000, it just tells you that there is a disconnect. What is it that you can do with $5000? You cannot even fuel a tank with $5000. You cannot even buy groceries for the family with $5000. What it means is that we are actually punishing our own people and that is unfair. In as much as we are trying to cure the parallel market but the cure should not be harsher than the problem that we are trying to solve. That is why I am saying we need policy statements that resonate with the people that we are representing, that resonates with the masses of this country. This is the reason why even as Parliament we are prepared to walk the talk, walk with you Hon. Minister to fix this economy but we also need you to take cognizant of some of the views that we say in the House because we come from them.
One of the things Hon. Minister that you may not be aware of is whenever we go back to the constituencies, they actually ask what are you guys doing, we sent you there to raise the issues that affect us. When they look at the fiscal policy they say, but does it connect or touch the ordinary person’s life. It does not matter Hon. Minister including the people that are in business, whether it is CZI, ZNCC or the Retail Association of Zimbabwe, there is need for buy-in of everybody in this country so that we can move this country forward. Hon. Speaker, I thank you.
HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker. May I take this opportunity to thank the Hon. Chair for a well articulated report. Firstly, I need to thank the Hon. Minister for the Mid-Term Finance Bill. It was presented at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing a multiplicity of problems among them the issue of drought, COVID 19 pandemic, effects of Cyclone Idai and issues to do with climate change. We need to commend the Hon. Minister for that report because he is working very hard to make sure the economy grows. It is important to note that the Hon. Minister has done very well in stabilising prices, especially after the introduction of the auction system. We have witnessed before this innovation that economic saboteurs were always dealing with ecocash, one money and everyday was a new exchange rate. People in our constituencies were disadvantaged because there were new prices for commodities, especially the basic commodities like cooking oil, bread, soap, salt etcetera. With the introduction of the auction system, we have witnessed that the price have stabilised. Infact, some of the prices have been reduced. I remember last week when I walked into OK Supermarket, a bottle of cooking oil used to be sold for 300 but now it is going for RTGS230, which shows that the Hon. Minister is doing a lot of work.
However, we also want to commend him for recognising the vulnerable families. A very good and people - centered Government is known to prioritise the people, to supply people with inputs before the onset of the rain season. As I am speaking, cotton farmers are in the process of receiving seeds, fertilizers and insectsides, which is highly commendable. The Grain Marketing Board is also in the process of receiving Compound D, Top dressing fertilizers as well as the seed. We need to commend our President for the Presidential Input Scheme and also commend the Finance Minister for a job well done.
In his report he acknowledged that the civil servants will receive COVID-19 allowance which is highly commendable. What I need to appeal to the Minister - he said the allowance would be for three months and the period has since lapsed three days ago. We want to appeal to you Hon. Minister to reflect and also continue with that allowance because COVID-19 is still there. COVID-19 is a pandemic which we will continue to experience everyday so it should be an ongoing allowance and should be reviewed upwards to about USD100 together with allowances and salaries.
The Minister should also take note of the salaries of civil servants. Most of our civil servants are not earning enough. You need to review their salaries upwards so that they can continue to be patriotic as they have always done.
Another issue is an appeal to priorities irrigation. It is not just infrastructure that we need but we also need de-siltation of dams. At the moment, as I am speaking, in my Constituency Gokwe, Chireya, we do not even have a single dam that has been de-silted. However, with community engagement, through the Member of Parliament, we are trying our best to ensure that some of the dams that have experienced siltation are silted. We are doing some efforts to participate in de-siltation so as to improve water carrying capacity of those dams and that will pave way to productivity which is the theme of his Excellency that we want productivity in agriculture and it is the backbone of our economy.
I heard you talking about ZISCO Steel in your Mid Term Statement. It used to be an economic hub of Zimbabwe. ZISCO Steel is important and it needs to be financed because it affects upwards and downstream industries. There are so many forward and backward linkages associated with the resuscitation of ZISCO Steel and it is very important for us to prioritise. We may not have to go and resuscitate the old ZISCO Steel, but there is equipment which is in line with modernity, equipment which is necessary to ensure that we start exporting steel. We cannot export steel when we have iron ore, limestone in Zimbabwe.
Another issue that the Hon. Minster mentioned in his Mid Term Statement is the issue of gold deliveries. It is a fact. We are likely to have reduced tonnage in terms of gold that is delivered to Fidelity. These days small scale miners wait for two weeks to be paid. I need to applaud you Hon Minster for the payment that is done by Fidelity that they will pay 100% in terms of USD but now people are waiting for 2 to 3 weeks to be paid. This gives an advantage to economic saboteurs who may want to involve themselves in illegal trade and export our much needed gold to Dubai sabotaging our economy. We should make efforts to ensure that gold deliveries should be paid within 48 hours so that those leakages maybe stopped.
As for vulnerable people, we need to commend you for the amounts that are being paid to vulnerable families, especially in view of the impact of COVID-19. However, I think there is need to review upwards what they are paid. Focus should be made on both urban areas and rural areas.
For the COVID-19 Stimulus package, I think that is very good that you intend to give a stimulus package for the economy to quick start in view of the impacts of COVID-19. However, more funds should be injected into the economy so that the time that we spent during lockdown may be compensated.
Finally, as Hon. Members of Parliament; the issue raised by my Hon. Chair, the amount that we are paid as Constituency Development Fund is very little, it is less than USD2000 yet in the past it was USD50 000, one could do projects which people could observe that the Hon. Member is undertaking borehole drilling, road construction and so on and so forth.
I remember last year when we were in Victoria Falls discussing the budget where we talked about the Constituency based allowances, whereby Hon. Members will be capacitated to move around their constituencies doing their work and we have not yet received that. So, Hon. Minister may you move forward and find some sources of funding so that we can get those constituency based allowances. This will enable us to perform our work diligently so that we can be rated as those people who are working very hard.
HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I also want to raise my voice on the debate. I would like to thank Government for a job well done. For a long time as a Government we relied on borrowings, funding our expenditures through other people’s money and that has tended to worsen our situation. In fact, I want to thank our Government through the Ministry of Finance, what you have done, especially for the funding of Harare-Beitbridge road where a lot of work has to be carried out. I think our newspapers and those who are responsible for publicity and even those in the social media must take time to go and see good, tremendous and professional work that is happening along this very busy road, very important and strategic road in terms of our economic development. There is a lot of work going on there and I am happy that the greater part of the funding is coming from our own initiatives as Government. I think as people of Zimbabwe, we must be very thankful of that initiative because it is going to free us from debt capture, if you would like me to say that.
The other thing I want to thank you Minister and our Government for is the support that you gave to SMEs. SMEs are very critical to our economy and because of the COVID-19 pandemic subdued demand the situation there was likely to destroy that area and that was going to bring hell to this economy without them because like it or not, 80% to 90% of economic activities in Zimbabwe today is all SMEs, and coming up with that mitigatory strategy to give them funding as Government during this covid pandemic was very important. We would like to thank Government for that initiative, that tells us that our Government is actually very proactive. We were ahead of many other countries in coming up with that package and I want to salute you for that.
Coming to the civil servants - we all agree that the salaries are very low, but of course – again, it is about us managing what we give people from what we have. If we give them more than what we have, we may also create a problem and create again another inflationary environment that we will not be able to manage out of. However, I also think Government can move out of only money because we have seen that the monetary benefits that we give people in an inflationary environment do not turn out to be then beneficial. Why do we not look at other benefits like giving stands to members to build their own houses and give them concessionary loans to build those houses and then they can then earn an income out of that stand which can then help them out of the quagmire of looking for money or looking for salaries that are then attacked by inflation.
We can also provide transport. Civil servants if they can get transport, let us look at the major expenditure areas of people. It is transport, accommodation, paying school fees, all those things can help us out and help our civil servants in the interim period, because whether we like it or not, we are moving forward and I am one of those people who are very excited with the direction we have taken as a country and I believe we are going out of the woods very soon.
The other issue Minister is we still have – do not ask me where I got that, but we still get people who have huge bank balances. Whether those monies were gotten legally or illegally, we still have those huge bank balances that are still attacking the foreign currency by demanding it and creating these rates that we see and those people we should find a way, Minister, of dealing with those bank balances. If their sources are corrupt, let us deal with that and let the money be forfeited to the state. If they were got through proper business, they are still used to buy foreign currency on the black market, let us find a way to curb that, otherwise the stability that we see on our currency now, if we can find a way - I mean our Government is doing a good job. You have already brought in good measures to deal with the financial stability, but we now need to sustain that. I foresee a missing link and that missing link is people who still have those huge monies. I do not know where they got them. I am still also digging deep to say how can someone have such big monies in an individual account? We still have people who have these cellphone lines full of monies. We need to deal with that and we need to be ruthless sometimes and ensure that we protect everyone else because those who have huge monies, Madam Speaker, do not suffer if these people push the exchange rate up. They have already a lot of money. They can pay hospital bills; they can pay for their transport. They have got cars, fuel - they have everything.
So we need to protect the poor who are actually being sabotaged by these people who have lots of money. If it is true money, if it money that was gotten out of good work, let us find a way that this money is not abused. If it is ill gotten money let us find a way that it goes back to the people who were disadvantaged while this person was looting wherever that person was looting.
So Minister, it is sustainability of the status quo, what you have created now going forward. Let us look at totality, every other sector. We have already dealt with SMEs. I think we should also look at packages for farmers. If you look at the weather reports and predictions that are there now we are likely to have a very good season, but let us not have a mistake of giving people seed end of November. We will get next year with those seed packs in people’s homes. Let us find a way. Other people think otherwise but I still think Command Agriculture was going to be the best opportunity for it to deliver given that we are going to have good rains. The predictions are positive. Let us find a way of supporting. The way you have supported your SMEs can we not support our farmers and other areas so that we all benefit from the new thrust and advantages that you have brought to our economy at the moment. I thank you.
HON. BITI: I would like to add my voice on the mid-term review. What are the structural problems that we are facing? The first one Madam Speaker has to be that our country is arrested by new productivity. The growth rate that we anticipated in 2020, the growth rate that we have seen in the last five years is depressing. The Minister himself acknowledges low levels of growth that are stipulated in 2020. In his letters to the IFI 2nd of April 2020, the Minister actually projects that our growth rate is as low as minus 20% in 2020. Madam Speaker, there is the issue of unemployment; 95% of our people are employed outside formal employment sector. We have got four generations – we have got people who are in their 40s right now who have never been formally employed, munhu asati ambobairwa chitupa naemployer.
So, employment is a major issue in our economy but the big evil of unemployment is the issue of a population inequation. By year 2045, Zimbabwean population will have doubled to 20 million. We are not generating enough jobs to keep up with the level of the population. Most of the population is in urban areas and the population of Harare alone within the next ten years will be over 10 million people. Madam Speaker, you can see that in employment, there is hardly any suburb in Harare at the present moment which does not have any informal sector.
I am an MP for Harare East which houses 40 areas like Highlands, East View and Caledonia. The whole new suburb has masses. We are faced with a challenge of a population employment. We are faced with a challenge of humanitarian crisis. According to the UMTP, 10 million of our people are poor and August and September is the pre-period of vulnerability because it is far away from the harvest season, but too far away maybe from the rain season and 79% of our people are living in extreme poverty surviving on less than US$1.20 cents per day.
Madam Speaker, we call it a tsaona. If you go to Huruyadzo in Chitungwiza, Zimbabweans our compatriots are surviving on a plate of mealie-meal, coupled by a bit of cooking oil and four leaves of vegetables. This is a situation of hunger which is used across the country. Another challenge we are facing is that of . Our figures are going up instead but the good thing is that the critical people are not dying, but before the disease you have created a new name that need to be reflected and that name is suffering of our people. The informal sector is closing right now because of the law.
Maybe women who sell vegetables and tomatoes, if they could be assisted in the informal sector in Glen View and Mbare because they are not able to make it. That is the balance sheet of our contribution Madam Speaker and that is the balance sheet that our people are living in. The question that then arises is the Minister’s statement of 7th July, that attempts to address these fundamental issues that our country is facing. I submit with great respect that regrettably, the Minister’s statement did not answer the fundamental challenges that our people are facing.
Regrettably the same review that the Minister of Finance presented, you have put it as having presented it in another planet like Mars, Jupiter or Venus, because it does not reflect the suffering of the people to the manner in which ordinary Zimbabweans are reproducing themselves in Dotito, Seke, Chendambuya, Tsholotsho, Victoria Falls, Hwange, Seke, and maybe in Lupane. We need the policy to be relevant, credible, and legitimate and it is going to be legitimate if it answers and addresses the challenges that our people are facing.
Madam Speaker, talk of a budget surplus of Z$800 million on the parallel market, it will be a mere US$88 million. You cannot boast of a surplus when there is so much deficit in the economy at the present moment, when civil servants are earning salaries that are less than US$20, when a Member of Parliament is earning less than US$120 - that kind of situation Madam Speaker, when nurses have to strike for two months demanding for protective equipment and senior doctors have also gone on strike when the situation in our hospitals has gone haywire and also maternal mortality rates have gone up.
One cannot talk of a surplus because the budget is not delivered. So, our people are now existing outside the budget and surviving outside first formal economy. I used to call it the kiya kiya. The ordinary numbers including what I have said right now are actually outside the formal living and are finding ways and means of surviving outside that and when that happens, it is called vulnerable.
The Minister of Finance is obliged in terms of Section 300 of the Constitution to bring in figures for the debts that have been contracted and that should have been guaranteed twice a year if you had brought that to the House. So the normal thing to do is to bring those figures during the mid-term review and during the actual budget. The Minister never presented from December 2018 and he has failed to refer to the provision of the Constitution in Section 300. So that is a housekeeping issue.
Another housekeeping issue is that the Minister has incurred expenditure from the public wages. Civil servants are now having a cushion of US$75 per month to the . So Madam Speaker, once you spend money outside the original budget you are obliged by law to bring a Supplementary Budget, to bring an Appropriation Bill to cover all the debts vis a vis the expenditures that you would have done. As I am talking to you right now Madam Speaker, before you is the Finance Bill. It is making revenue proposals, in other words the Minister is proposing new taxes which we are going to be introducing after this debate. So once you propose new taxes it means you are proposing new revenue inflows. It means the budget is going to increase and once your budget is going to increase, it means by operation of law you cannot bring in an Appropriation Bill.
So, the Minister decided to play it down by not bringing a Supplementary Budget or an Appropriation Bill, but the reality is that we all know that it is either due to inflation and other inflationary demands, hence a supplementary budget was called for. Madam Speaker, I want to comment on the Monetary Policy.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Biti, may you please wind up.
HON. BITI: Madam Speaker, the auction is a false reclamation of the economy. Only around US$15 million is released per week but that US$15 million is coming from the Central Bank. In other words, it is not an open auction. An open auction is a platform where buyers and sellers go to exchange in the market, for example the tobacco auction floors. So I see it as a way of acquiring foreign currency by few individuals. Since the auction floor was introduced, not more than 20 players have participated from that foreign exchange market. The bulk of transactions are being done by few individuals where a market rate still remains around 103, 105 and around 110.
What has happened to the economy is that everything is now being sold in US dollars. I was in the rural areas, I come from Murewa. I tried to buy tomatoes at Murewa Centre few days ago, they are selling in US dollars. So, the Minister and the Government must bite the bullet and introduce a regime of multiple currencies. It pains me that every single day there are vehicles that come from South Africa carrying goods called malayicha, goods paid in Zimbabwean dollars through grey imports. So if we dollarise we will come back into our formal economy.
Madam Speaker, allow me to conclude by saying we need to resolve the debt issue. Former Minister Mr. Chinamasa spoke of the BIPPA Plan of 8th October 2013. The Minister does not have a foreseeable plan but Madam Speaker, we need to resolve the Zimbabwe debt crisis. It is affecting development. The last …..
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, your time is up Hon. Biti.
HON. BITI: In conclusion, the economy is dead.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Your time is up. Thank you.
HON. BITI: Hon. Speaker, I wish if you had given me more time.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Biti, there is a statement which you made that people are not dying of COVID, may you kindly explain what you were trying to say. This is a pertinent issue, so we cannot mislead people.
HON. BITI: I meant that we are a blessed country since many people are recovering.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you.
+HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Hon. Minister. The economy is going to be stable because of the auction system. This has stabilised pricing of things even though they are still high because people cannot afford current market prices though they are not skyrocketing as they used to do. Because of that, I thank you. May you continue with the good work.
Madam Speaker, on monies for the elderly, everyday people come asking about these monies which they are not able to access. I always refer them back to Social Welfare. The NetOne system makes it difficult for them to access the money. People should access their funds.
On 2019 CDF, the money was less than US$2 000. The projects that we are running are charged in US dollars. Now, with something less than 2 000 dollars there is nothing I can do at the constituency. We want to do things that are visible to the people with the CDF from Parliament. Right now, it is 180 000 RTGs and still it is less than US$2 000. So there is nothing we can do with such money for 2020 projects. I heard that you said there is a surplus and I am surprised Hon Minister that if there is a surplus our hospitals are not working and nurses are not going to work. The medical personnel want enough PPEs. Yesterday, we read a story that we lost a nurse at Mpilo Hospital due to COVID. This means that the nurse was working without PPEs. What happened then for the nurse to succumb to COVID. The nurse is now deceased. How many people are dying because there are no nurses and medical personnel at the hospital? The surplus money should be channeled towards the hospitals so that the people can get treatment. Things are tough in this country. Many people are supposed to go to the hospitals but how can they go there when there are no medical personnel.
What are you going to do? Hon Minister, we appeal to you to inform the President that we are suffering. Buses are not enough. There is a rumour that the busfare will go up very soon. At Cowdry and many other places in Bulawayo, many people are getting home late after work. When they meet the police details on the way, they are fined ZW$500 for breaching the curfew regulations. They cannot go home early enough. The buses should be increased so that the workers can get home early.
As Members of Parliament, we need to open offices as we have been promised that we shall be given relevant monies to pay for the personnel to run those offices so that people can visit and lodge their complaints there instead of coming to our homesteads. If they go to those offices, there are measures that may be taken to reduce the spread of COVID. I am pleading with you Hon Minister that we may be given the monies that were promised to us so that we can go to the constituencies as promised. We are still waiting Hon Minister.
The civil servants are crying about their US$75 allowance. The process is just unbearable at the bank. You have to go there for a whole week to liquidate the money. The banks are taking close to US$15 on these allowances. Again you cannot take all of it. Pensioners are also getting US$30 and they are crying because the banks are taking US$9 and they cannot be seen going back and forth. They should access it without any hurdles. Pensioners spend the whole day at the bank and the queues are just long. The pensioners need to be helped so that they do not take long to access their money. Someone goes to Bulawayo from Tsholotsho and they sleep in the queues and at the bank they are told that we do not have the necessary resources. They sleep outside and it is cold. It is a pity Hon Minister what we see on the queues. Let us look after our pensioners by making sure that the banks have enough funds to disburse to them so that they can go home early.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you to Hon. Members here present for their contributions. It has been a lively debate indeed, very important. Let me begin with some comments from the Committee on Budget and Finance. I will respond formally to the report and it is worth highlighting some issues in that report as he has given me a copy of the report and I will make sure that we do a proper formal response as soon as possible. The report notes the anemic growth, generally due to COVID that is panning out across the globe, in fact a negative growth frankly. Actually, in Southern and Sub-Saharan Africa, it is performing slightly better than the rest of the developed world and Zimbabwe is in that category; although it is all negative growth I must say but it is still slightly better than the rest of the world. It is all due to COVID, an invisible enermy. It is a serious issue. Who knew that this kind of shock was lurking somewhere around the corner and low and behold, we get hit by it. It knows no boundaries and it knows no exception. It knows no colour, creed, race and gender. It hits us all and economies have been badly hit. He also notes that we expect inflation to drop by year end. This is still our intention.
A lot has been said about the auction system, so I will say something and then maybe add some nuances as I proceed. The stabilisation in prices is brought about by the auction system which has been very successful so far in stabilising the exchange rate but also stabilising the inflation, price increases and price movement in our shops. We decided to open the window for SMEs so that the system becomes more inclusive and he commended us for this as the right thing to do.
He also mentioned that we needed to submit a public debt report twice a year and this is on the way. We did submit during 2019 and we will be submitting the public debt report as is required by the law. There is no issue of truancy there I can assure him and other Members who raised that issue.
He also commended us for allocating funds to support agriculture but that perhaps we need to spend some resources towards financing irrigation. I agree with him that we need more facilities or rather infrastructure to evacuate water from our bodies. We have numerous of these water bodies. I must say that we are really pushing hard on this. Recently, I visited the Chilongo Irrigation Scheme in southern part of the country and I was pleased to see the progress that has been made in rehabilitating the irrigation system and we expect it to be fully rehabilitated by October. The source of water is well-defined. The pump station has been rehabilitated and the canals for moving water around are being repaired. So, there is very good progress, we are focusing on this.
I can also report that in the Binga area in Bulawayo kraal and I am just mentioning those examples because I went there to see for myself. We just allocated specific funds and I wanted to make sure that I understood how the funds are being spent. Bulawayo kraal for example, the centre pivots that are there are being repaired and also the piping from the Zambezi River is being repaired. We have bought all the piping that was needed. In fact we have allocated about $73 million and the pump house works so the irrigation system will start spitting out water soon. Planting has started and in the Binga kraal area, initially we thought we will plant winter maize but then it is too hot, so we have decided to plant white sorghum. We are very serious and focused on the issue that Hon. Mhona has raised regarding mechanisation.
He then moved on to talk about the Belarus programme that needs to be expanded and better managed. I am happy to add that as Government, we have gone into agreement with John Dell from the United States through a facility of just about over US$51 million to supply tractors, combine harvesters and again we have decided to introduce a commercial approach to managing this equipment through a unit that will be created through Agribank, a leasing unit that will manage this equipment properly to make sure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past around mechanisation programme.
He went on to talk about gold deliveries and that perhaps the target this year will suffer enormously from the leakages which I in fact had mentioned before that security needs to be stepped up to make sure leakages are dealt with. I must say that on the pricing front, we have responded. The Reserve Bank has responded by changing and improving the retention ratio at 70:30 and then making sure the SME producers receive their monies in US dollars. Yes, I hear complaints about speed of disbursement. We will seek to improve on this to make sure that these deliveries improve. It is not that gold production has gone down or something. In fact gold production has gone up. The world price for gold has also gone up so it is an issue of dealing with these leakages and getting the price, paying people early and I can assure you we are doing our best and we will continue to do our best in this regard.
He then went on to talk about the infrastructure side that the Harare – Beitbridge Road has good progress but perhaps we need to make sure that the speed picks. I thought we were doing very well on that. I urge all of you to drive on that road, even if it is just to see the road and then you see for yourself the progress that has been made. The five companies that are contracted to do the 20 kilometre bits along the road are doing a good job. One of them is doing so well that they have actually started on their second part of their 20 kilometre allocation. I really want to push hard so that we can get close to the 200 kilometre by year end target; at least as close as possible by year end. We are pushing very hard and supported by resources.
My Permanent Secretary basically meets the contractors every week. He makes contact every week. Sometimes I joke with him to say are you the Minister of Transport? What the hell is going on? But the idea is that as Treasury, we are so focused that the project should be delivered. We need transportation and movement. Why? It is important for the country and also it is a very important road. That is how we get our goods at least coming through that angle from our neighbouring countries in terms of trade; that is the road we use for export as well. So, its economic impact is well understood and Treasury’s co-interest is also well understood in this House. You allowed us to put aside a portion of the fuel levy to basically cover that road and that is what we are doing and part of the surplus is going in that direction.
On the COVID releases, the Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Mhona mentioned the figure for budget releases and so forth but I must say that he is right about those numbers and it was back then when I presented to the Committee but the numbers have changed dramatically since that day. Remember, the National Taskforce meets every week, Cabinet meets every week so every week we are reviewing the budgets, reviewing where we are and our strategy so numbers keep moving. Our application of budget is not just health only. Health is the core but it is also to the enforcement agency who actually enforce prevention in the first place. It is also to Local Government in terms of the infrastructure for quarantine centres, hospitals and so forth, so it is right across Government and also Social Welfare for the COVID 19 social transfer so it is right across Government and numbers have changed quite dramatically.
Issues around cash transfers were also raised by other Members. We have really once tried hard to accelerate the registration of the vulnerable under COVID so that more people can benefit from the $300 per person allocation. That number will continue to push up. Some of you also mentioned the delays in payment. People were issued with NetOne lines but payments are not coming through easily. This also is partly explained by the action we took on mobile banking platforms in terms of the bulk lines which are used for disbursing the funds because of that regulatory action which was necessary and has contributed to the stability of our currency. It was necessary but of course that did have negative impact and negative externalities on some critical payments and the Reserve Bank has since taken a step towards ameliorating on that front and then allow these bulk lines to start operating again but they ought to be registered with the Central Bank. They need to have permission for them to operate these bulky lines. We would not wish to have them be used again by unscrupulous people to do their shenanigans and make sure that we reduce the possibility of money laundering.
On the auction system, he commended that we have made progress on that and this again stabilised the prices.
There was no supplementary budget; the Committee expected a supplementary budget. When I put the Mid Term Report together - actually in the month of April we had seen a drop in revenue. There was one month that we were even worried that we would not be able to meet the salary bill. So, if I come here and say we need a supplementary budget when in fact the revenues that we had told you about as a focus are dropping, it does not make sense.
So in terms of our revenue projection back then when I presented the Mid Term Budget, is that we were on target for what we had told you would be the target which is the $57 billion, and the expenditure would also therefore stay within those levels. Besides, we had only spent 46% of the budget when I presented the Mid Term Review.
So everything was still aligned to what you had provided before, largely being driven by the COVID-19 negative impact which kept us on that track and ameliorated against the other countervailling force and against the impact of inflation which you cited as a reason why we ought to have had a supplementary budget.
On the bus public transportation system as was mentioned by other Hon. Members that we need more buses; this is commendable so far that we have been able to subsidise transportation cost for our citizens in the urban areas and we are expanding into rural areas. I was in the Midlands two weeks ago speaking to the people on the ground, so even as a non-constituency Member of Parliament, I go to the ground talking to the people on the ground. I have also been to Muzarabani last weekend before I went to Midlands. What came out in the Midlands clearly was this issue of mass public transportation system which we will continue to make sure that more buses are provided and that the roads are improved.
On the striking health workers, we are continuing to engage; talks are going on between those who are involved and as Treasury, we have supported the engagement process. They are very viable, we want them to deliver their services and we are offering them packages and emoluments that we believe will go a long way to alleviating their plight but still allowing us as a nation to live within what we can afford. We do not have enough supporters out there in terms of those who can support the public sector budget directly. So when it comes to direct support of public service budget, that is limited, we are only limited to what we can raise domestically in terms of domestic borrowing but also in terms of what we have with regards to taxes that citizens have contributed. So, those are our normal budget constrains but we are doing everything we can to engage all civil servants and the health sector workers.
We have put in place a special risk allowance for frontline workers and we are looking into it. We are trying to see whether that should be reviewed and this is part of the negotiations. Our intention is to move it up naturally, but we are working out the numbers so that it is affordable.
Some of you have raised the issue of the USD75 COVID-19 allowance across the board - you are saying that should be extended, which is also the recommendation of the Committee chaired by Hon. Mhona. We have taken that on board and we will look into it .To round off on Hon. Mhona’s report, we will do a formal response as is required of us as Treasury.
Turning to Hon. Mushoriwa; the Hon. Member kept mixing up the Monetary Policy Statement and the Fiscal Statement, anyway, I forgive him it was about the Fiscal Statement and the Mid Term Budget Review, so I understood him in the end. He mentioned lack of coordination between what we presented in the Budget 2020 and the Mid Term. However, I do not think he has been paying attention; really, there is actually complete alignment that we did not even change the budget. It stayed the same, there was no supplementary, it cannot get more aligned than that.
Secondly, if you look at the objective - that objective did not change, we are still focusing on productivity in terms of approach. We are focusing on job creation which I will come to because Hon. Biti also raised it – that has not changed. We said this is our year of productivity but COVID-19 has caused us a challenge but we are staying in the course to make sure that we focus on productivity, job creation and competitiveness.
Supplementary budget - our expenditure was at 45%, it was not even at 50% and also our revenue had tied because of COVID-19. So, we are comfortable that we should just maintain what you had approved for the 2020 Budget going forward. We are in this together, so there are no shenanigans. In fact what we should be worried about is if the stewardship of your finances is done right or not in terms of wanton over expenditure. Can you imagine if we had wanton over expenditure - first of all, who would finance the over expenditure? Would we borrow in the market, at what interest rate? The interest rate will shoot up! We would have to monetize those Treasury Bills again, which is what we used to do before and we have stopped that. We would have to monetize that, money supplies go through the roof, inflation is up there and the exchange rate is all over the place.
However, we want to make sure that is a thing of the past and in the last two years we have not been on any wanton expenditure path. We have moved away from that completely and we have stopped abusing the Reserve Bank window which in the past has been used extensively for financing down the expenditure. So we are living within our means and that is a good thing.
Auction system should accommodate more people – it is doing that, we are allowing SME’s now to participate. In between auction; yes, people come to the auction, they receive monies from that auction, they are successful, the rate is published as a weighted average, and it is a Dutch auction. So it goes up all the way, so that it accommodates a range of bids, but in between auctions you are free to approach your bank to seek foreign currency.
All the auction is doing is signaling the right price for foreign currency for that whole week, because that signaled process is what was missing. That is what the Old Mutual implied rate was driving upwards, that is what the parallel rate has been distorting and we wanted to show leadership as Government that we can lead and give the market some leadership so that there is better price discovery – that is what it is doing. It is not meant to supply all the foreign currency that the country needs. There is more foreign currency out there, the auction is mainly giving you a price signal as to where the price should be. Should you approach the bank and you are free to do so in between to buy foreign currency.
Hon. Moyo noted the impact again of the auction on stabilising process and mentioned that for example cooking oil has dropped from about $300 to $230. The Hon. Member noted that we need to again move faster on ZISCO revival, it is a big company in the economy of the Midlands but also in the economy of Zimbabwe as a back bone of the good sector and I agree with him that as a Government we are looking into the revival of ZISCO. In the post Cabinet briefings you have been told we are working on this and in the not so distant future, we will be inviting bidders. In fact, we do not even invite them, they are making offers on the table, saying why not consider us? So we are evaluating to make sure that the right leader is accommodated to move this project forward to make sure that we produce steel.
Competitors are also busy in the market. We have seen there is some investment in the sector starting with the coke and coal aspect in the Hwange area. So if we look at the value chain towards at least carbon steel production that has begun from other players who have come into the market who are then supplementing our efforts as Government to revive ZISCO and in the process we will solve the electricity supply problem through investment by those companies in thermal coal and in power stations that will result in us as a country being a net exporter of electricity.
On the Constituency Development Fund raised by several members, I must say that the leadership of the House has been on this issue. They came to see me and my team and said Minister, do something about the CDF. So I wanted to let Hon. Members know that your leadership has not been sleeping on the wheel. They have been encouraging me to do something about it. We are looking into it to see if we can increase the CDF so that you can support your constituencies and the projects that you desire to deliver for the people on the ground.
Turning to Hon. Togarepi, he commended us again for financing the Beitbridge-Harare Road, and like I said before, please go and inspect that road, drive on it to see the good work that is being done, we are very focused on it. He also mentioned the support for SMEs during COVID-19. We want more of them to come forward so they can benefit from the stimulus package. On civil servants, he emphasised the non-monetary benefits and I agree with him. I mean, we have started - when it comes to transportation, through the subsidised ZUPCO programmes which includes civil servants. If you look at the Civil Service Commission they have dedicated buses for moving civil servants around. So we are doing something. We want to do more in the housing sector. We will be looking into that going forward and I agree with him.
The issue he mentions is about some huge bank balances in the banking sector, unexplained wealth and so forth. We are going to look into that so that this excess liquidity ceases to be a risk to the stability of our monetary system and the exchange rate. Some of it involves of course instituting discipline, enforcing the law about unexplained wealth, but also it involves offering special instruments to mop up that liquidity, attractive instruments that will then sterilise the liquidity so that it does not become a risk to the stability of our exchange rate and the economy at large.
His last plea was look, let us maintain the status quo, let us keep the economy stable and I agree with him. That is exactly our intention. You know colleagues when we did an assessment, and I am happy to share with you this assessment of progress we have made on the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), up until introduction of the auction. I think that we ticked all the major boxes in terms of achieving the objectives of the TSP in the last two years. It has been run remarkably well actually as to how much we have done. It has been amazing and I am happy at some moment to take you through the review process because there was one thing remaining and that one thing was stability of the currency which we have achieved through the introduction of the auction system. So I agree that this kind of stability ought to be maintained. That is what we desire, that is what we targeted at the beginning of the TSP.
Then to Hon. Biti I must say I did not quite follow his first point. I think I heard in the tail end something about growth. I have already commented on that - that as a policy maker we are focused on stimulating growth. That is why we introduced the $18 billion package to drive growth, but I did not fully hear the question and that we were assisted by some technology here which boosted the sound then I could hear the rest of his contribution, but his next contribution that I heard clearly was on unemployment where he indicated that there is high youth unemployment and unemployment generally. We are not generating enough jobs, most people are in the informal sector and I agree with him. The reason why we introduced the Youth Employment Tax Incentives Programme (YETI) which you approved and we all applauded was because we wanted to stimulate jobs and job creation. So this House, working with the Government, I represent the Government, we are doing something about, it but let us also be clear and also recognise that covid-19 knocked us out of our trajectory there. So I will be coming back for the next budget so that we must continue with the YETI programmes. I am preannouncing one of my requests to you. Please be ready for that and I hope you will support me.
I am also onto the jobs issue and I care deeply about it. Some of the youths have come to me through the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and said Minister, what if you also introduce some tax breaks for companies owned by the youths, and I thought that is an interesting idea. So it is an idea they put on the table. So they are making their contribution already to our 2021 budget. I am letting you know - so let us debate when we do the retreat and see if it is something we can accommodate. We are focused on this issue of job creation but also making sure the youth can employ themselves, so we do not worry about their job creation and then they employ others in the process if they are successful entrepreneurs.
Hon. Biti went on to talk about how people are barely surviving and so forth but that is the reason why we have a social protection programme. We introduced the $300 covid-19 cash transfer programme. We also have the ZUPCO mass transportation system for subsidised transportation system. That is a direct welfare benefit to our vulnerable citizens. We have the grain relief programme in terms of food, especially in the rural areas, but of course because of the shortage of grain we did not have good season last year. Grain has been an issue and also the importation of grain has also been impacted by covid-19 because of the letters of credit which have been slowed down in terms of their confirmation by covid-19, but we have been on to it and we have been supplying grain, but those have been some of the constraints.
The roller meal subsidy is well intentioned, which is that let us subsidise basic food for our citizens and we have that subsidy still in place. I know some of the operators were saying Minister please increase the price from $70 to something else higher because of this and that and I said no. it is a subsidy for ordinary citizens, keep it at $70. When they approached the President and tried to get him to increase he said no, keep it at $70. So we are determined to maintain that subsidy. It is very critical. We know matsotsi keep diverting the mealie meal and all manner of things. They do that. The moment something is subsidised arbitrates come in matsotsi come in and so forth but it does not mean it is a bad policy as a policy for delivering affordable food for our citizens.
Then if you look at the Presidential Input Scheme where we are trying to capacitate our own vulnerable farmers to feed themselves by giving them inputs; that is welfare to our people to make sure that they can live a better life, we can improve their income. So when an Hon. Member says that we are doing nothing about the plight of our citizens, that is not correct. He should talk to our citizens. I was in Muzarabani last week talking to the citizens. I am not an MP for the area and I do not have to be, but just talk to our people, they ask their questions. Ten people asked me random questions and it is quite clear they appreciate what we are trying to do as Government. They also appreciate our constraints. So sometimes when you speak as Members of Parliament, I wonder - did that specific Hon. Member really speak to the people or they just want to make a moot point, it is political banter. When you speak to the people you hear a very different story of appreciation of both the benefits of what we are doing, but also appreciation of the constraints that we face as Government. All the other issues that you raise here they also raised them and I answered in the same way.
Also to suggest that the mid-term budget did not speak to the people, it speaks to the people. Look at what you have done with the $18 billion stimulus package. That speaks to production, improvement in the nature of the economy, social welfare and protection of the vulnerable. That is exactly what it does. Someone says Minister do not speak of a surplus – the communication about a surplus is about communicating the fact that our finances are sound and that as Treasury we are not out of control and as Government we are not out of control. If we were, you will be unhappy as the House that oversees what we do as the Executive. I am waiting for the day if we overrun, I want to see what you will say when we overrun the budget and give you a huge budget deficit but I do not think you will be happy. You should be happy with this kind of situation but also be happier if you know that the revenues that you approved are being applied in the right areas and development is progressing.
On the issue of debt that Hon. Biti raised, I have already answered that and again we will be tabling a report. There is no issue there. Our debt is well known if maybe the issues are about structure debt. Structure debt is what it is – you structure by making sure it is collateralised with the commodity gold or platinum. That is normal and typical; that kind of debt is what we call off-balance debt. That is why it is collateralised in the first place in that way and that is how it is structured. So, that is not an issue. In terms of the debt that is uncollateralised sitting in Treasury that is about US$8 billion external debt. We know what it is and I have been publishing it and bringing it here all the time. So, in terms of giving an impression that something is hidden, there is nothing that is hidden.
On the monetary policy, Hon. Biti mentioned about the auction that does not represent the reality and perhaps not free. This is a very good price discovery process that we have put in place in terms of the auction and that is what it is. It has improved and that is why the rate is stabilised in the first place. It is not fixed but it is a result of market forces and in that auction we do not even fix the exchange rate. You come and bid at whatever rate and the rates are published and there is a range. That range has been narrowing over time since we started and that is engendering stability. So, we do not fix any rate and it is open. Inbetween you can approach any bank to source foreign currency but having the benefit of the auction rate which is an indicative rate, a result of the price discovery process.
The external debt resolution plan that we need – we have been working on it. The SNP was part of that story and our conversation with the external partners around COVID and debt resolution was exactly that. There were a lot of questions about it in the past and even in the Committee it was raised but you can see our thinking in terms of that process and it is quite clear that we have two parts that we are following:
- To seek bridge financing from the G7 countries, from the creditors in the first place for that and they have got their own conditions and that is okay.
- The other is to go the commercial route where we seek the bridge financing from commercial sources and we are working with both of those.
Madam Speaker, if we are going to go the commercial route and borrow US$100 million to meet the gap for the African Development Bank and $800 million to meet the gap for the World Bank, the total will be US$1 billion. So, these Hon. Members asking me to go and borrow US$1 billion to pay those two institutions when I should be borrowing US$1 billion to feed our people, to invest in our roads and to finance COVID, it will be misplaced priorities if I borrow the money right now to pay off debts. I should be borrowing money to finance development and the development will pay for those debts. That is our thinking right now but do not ever think that we do not have a plan. We do have a plan and we think through these issues.
+Hon. Ndlovu, I have heard what you said, the economy is okay but you want us to improve. You were crying that people are not accessing their monies that Net One is not disbursing the money properly but we are acting on that. What disturbed us was the issues of mobile money transfers there were problems around bulk line clients. We have worked on it and it is now proper and money is going around properly. We are working on it but of course such matters are always teething.
You talked about the CDF, we are looking on it and we may increase it. The surplus, we are channeling towards the roads and COVID. So it is better for us because we eat what we kill and that is what we will do. On matters of the buses, we are going to increase ZUPCO buses, We will try to fine-tune the US$ allowances and liaise with the RBZ so that we curtail the issues around this matter. For the elderly, they will have their queues and I will talk to the Bankers Association, thereafter talk to the RBZ and then talk to the Social Welfare so that we help the elderly. Thank you very much Madam Speaker.
FINANCE BILL 2020, [H. B. 4, 2020]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. NCUBE) presented the Finance Bill 2020, [H. B. 4, 2020].
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON. MHONA, the House adjourned at Twenty-Six Minutes to Seven o’clock p.m. until Tuesday 8th, September, 2020.