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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 05 MARCH 2020 46 31 1

                                                  PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 5th March, 2020.

The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order!  Hon. Khumalo, please

take your seat.  I have received some notices here on point of privileges. Let us not create a habit that is unnecessary, which causes me to say sit down please because you can ask a question on Wednesday.  I do not like to do that and I do not want to embarrass any Hon. Member.  So, the indulgence is for today - but if one Member is off side, I shall do so to save time.

HON. SPEAKER’S RULING

TABLING OF FORENSIC AUDIT REPORTS

THE HON. SPEAKER: On Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020, Hon.

Biti as Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, rose on a point of privilege and requested that Hon. Ministers who have not tabled forensic audit reports for entities that fall under their purviews be compelled to do so. I have engaged the Clerk of Parliament – [HON. NDEBELE: Inaudible interjections.] -  Can you listen Hon. Ndebele?  I have engaged the Clerk of Parliament and indeed the following reports have not been tabled in the National Assembly.

  1. Report on the forensic audit on NetOne. This is for Minister of

Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Hon. Muswere.

  1. Examination of the agents backing relationship between

People’s Own Savings Bank of Zimbabwe (POSB), Private Limited- Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Prof. M. Ncube.

  1. Report on forensic audit on Management and Staffing

Procurement System, Property and Non-rail Investments, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. J. B Matiza.

  1. Findings in respect of the forensic audit on some aspects of the operations of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority; Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Prof. M. Ncube.
  2. Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Information and Technology forensic audit report, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Prof. M. Ncube.
  3. Forensic audit of the financial operations of the Cold Storage Company Limited, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Hon. Rtd. Air Chief Marshal P. Shiri.
  4. African Union Sport Council Region Four under 20 Youth Games Forensic Audit – Minister of Youth, Sport Arts and

Recreation, Hon. K. Coventry.

  1. Grain Marketing Board Examination of Affairs and

Transactions – Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Hon. Rtd. Air Chief Marshal P. Shiri.

  1. Forensic Audit Report on Allied Timbers – Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. M. Ndlovu.
  2. Forensic Audit Report on Air Zimbabwe – Minister of

Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. J. B. Matiza.

  1. Forensic Audit Report on the National Railways of Zimbabwe

– Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. J. B.

Matiza.

  1. Forensic Audit Report on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation – Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Hon. M. Mutsvangwa.
  2. Forensic Audit Report on the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply

Authority – Minister of Energy and Power Development, Hon. F. Chasi.

  1. Forensic Audit Report which examined the upgrading of the Harare Airport Road by Alger Investments – Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Hon. J. Moyo.

I therefore rule that the responsible Ministers table the reports by

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 at the latest.

ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE DUE TO LACK OF QUORUM

THE HON. SPEAKER:  This one you will have to listen carefully and tell the Hon. Members who are not here.  This is a ruling on the adjournment of the House due to lack of quorum.

In pursuant of the provisions of section 137 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and in terms of Standing Order No. 56 (1), (2) and (3), the Chair has observed that since the commencement of the Second Session of the 9th Parliament on Tuesday, 1 October 2019, the House has had to adjourn prematurely due to the lack of quorum on three occasions as follows:-

Tuesday, 3rd December, 2019 there were only 61 Hon. Members present in the House; Tuesday, 25th February, 2020 there were 59 Hon.

Members present, Wednesday, yesterday, 4th March 2020, 65 Hon.

Members were present.

The Chair is deeply concerned about the apparent dereliction of duty by the Hon. Members who absent themselves after registering their names on that days register resulting in the adjournment of the House due to lack of quorum.  Consequently, the Chair rules that with immediate effect, all Hon. Members who are absent when the House adjourns due to lack of quorum will not be paid their sitting allowances for that day.

To that end, the Chair is directing the Clerk of Parliament to compile a list of those Hon. Members who will have been absent with the view of disallowing their allowance in future.  Further, I am also directing the Clerk of Parliament to prepare a list of Members who are consistently absent when there is no quorum in the House for sharing with their respective political parties who must take corrective action accordingly.  Please be guided accordingly.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  On a point of

clarity, Hon. Speaker Sir.  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I really appreciate your ruling but I just wanted clarity on tabling of reports of Tuesday.  As you can see there are many reports that you want to be tabled on Tuesday and today is a Thursday.  I do not want a scenario where Hon. Ministers would appear as if they did not comply with your order, given that tomorrow is a Friday.  Can you extend it a little bit as opposed to – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order!  Let me make my ruling in peace.  Hon. Leader of Government Business, perhaps you missed it.  I said at the latest 17th March.  So they have tomorrow and another week and another day.  Thank you.

HON. MASENDA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My point of

privilege rests on the fact that I notice there is a lot of disruption in Parliamentary debates arising from Hon. Members heckling at each other and making a lot of noise which disturbs us from behind there.  We cannot even hear a thing – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] – I also want to draw your attention, Hon. Speaker Sir that in your absence there is a lot of disruption that goes on even more than what happens when you are around. I am deeply concerned at the lack of respect of this august House by Hon. Members.

Through you Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like you to take corrective action on Members who continuously disrupt debates to the detriment of everyone else in the House.  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. 

         HON. SPEAKER: Order, order.  Infact, I should not be saying order twice if you are really Hon. Members.  It starts from there.  I thank the Hon. Member for raising that matter of great importance because it speaks to the decorum of the House.  I want the Hon. Members to realise that when the Presiding Officers sit on this chair, it is not theirs.  It is your chair which you must respect and it has nothing to do with the person sitting in that chair.  Tomorrow, the same Presiding Officers may not be there but this chair will be there and we want you to respect the chair and not individuals.  More importantly, you must respect yourselves because if you do not respect the Chair, then you do not understand the processes and dignity of the House. We implore you to respect the Chair and not the person behind the chair.

HON. SINGO:  I rise on a point of privilege to thank the effort that the Government is doing towards Coronavirus – [HON.

MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]I would also want to thank His Excellency for restricting travels outside Africa.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order.  I am saying order to those who are making noise.  Please carry on Hon. Member.

HON. SINGO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise on a point of privilege, to thank the effort that the Government is doing towards Coronavirus. I would also want to thank His Excellency for restricting travels outside Africa for Government officials which will curb the spread of Coronavirus.  I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible

interjections.] -  

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. We shall invoke Article 108 of the Standing Orders to send you out if you do not listen.  They say in Shona; chakanaka chakanaka mukaka haurungwe – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] – Other countries have done, what the Government has done restricting movements to save the citizens.  I do not see what is wrong with that – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible

interjections.] -  

Order, Hon. Ndebele, it is not movement from outside but also from outside you may bring and from inside you will contact the virus.

Let us think logically.

HON. T. MLISWA:  My point of recommendation is that while the Government is doing whatever it can to try and eliminate the Coronavirus, there are also certain steps that they must take.  When I was coming into the country, you get to the airport and they take your temperature and they ask you a question – where have you been in the last three weeks and let us say you have been in Zambia; they do not check your passport to see whether you have been in Zambia.  The Coronavirus can be in incubation for 24 days and they do not check the passport.  What if someone has been to China and says I am coming from South Africa.  What measures are they taking at the border to ensure that this passport stamp shows that you are coming from Zambia?

Secondly, my constituency Norton is most worrisome.  We have got more than 400 Chinese working at the Chinese Factory.  It came to my attention this morning from a member of Norton Constituency who asked if I was aware that there are Chinese who had been quarantined but are moving in and out of the factory.  I have the message and I have forwarded it to the Minister hoping that something can be done urgently. At this point in time, Norton is not so sure about what is going on because they are coming in and out.  As a result, they are spreading it and bringing it again.  That has got to be quarantined. There is need to attend to this in terms of eliminating that in the Norton Constituency.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you for your observation and I think on the first part of your observation, it was Hon. Biti who raised the same and I am sure the Leader of Government business will have some conversation with the Minister of Health so that as people are checked, they have their passports with them so that what they say is verified by the information on the passport.

On the question of the enterprise in Norton, again I am sure the

Hon. Leader of Government business will alert the Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care so that necessary steps are taken. It should not only be Norton – whenever there is a concentration of the Chinese workers, not to say that they are infected but that precautionary measures are taken especially when there is going in and out of those enterprises out of the country.

HON. CHIKWINYA:  I rise on a point of privilege in terms of Section 68 read together with Section 69 (d).  Hon. Speaker, as a Member of Parliament, there are issues that affect me in as far as I work here in Parliament and the constituency.  Those issues do not necessarily have to be discussed in the House but there is a platform created by

Parliament where we send our Chief Whips to go and discuss for the furtherance of our interest and that is the Standing Rules and Orders Committee.

In my interaction with my Chief Whip, he reports back to me that the Standing Rules and Orders Committee has not sat for the past three months and as such, the issues with him that affect my performance have not been attended to.  Can we be advised when the Standing Rules and Orders Committee is going to sit so that our issues can be attended to.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  You are now going too far – [HON.

MEMBERS:  Aaaaah!]The Chief Whips know that in terms of

Standing Order Number 13, as Members of the LCC, particularly the Government Chief Whip and the Chief Whip of the opposition, they do not have to wait for the meeting of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.  It says if there are issues that affect the operations of the

Members, they can approach the Speaker – not the Clerk but the

Speaker, that avenue is there.  They have not come to see me – [HON. MEMBERS: Not yet!] – I was going to ask you to withdraw the statement.

HON. MAMOMBE:  Thank you very much Hon. Speaker. I am

rising on a point of privilege.  Last night, when I was watching the news at 2000 hours I was very disturbed Hon. Speaker.  My performance as a Member of Parliament is being affected by the negative reporting by the public broadcaster which is the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).    

         Hon. Speaker, if you noticed, yesterday we had a very good debate and good interactions with Hon. Ministers – there was a good Question and Answer session but of all the things, the public broadcaster which is ZBC, decided only to show the public the incident that happened between Hon. Sikhala and Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga on the issue of Grace Mugabe – which is very unfortunate.  The perception that is out there about Parliament is not going to be corrected when our public broadcaster is continuously being skewed towards their reporting.  Hon. Speaker, I would like you to engage the Hon. Minister of Information,

Publicity and Broadcasting Services so that they portray a good image about our Parliament, especially when we do debates.  I thank you. –

[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!] –

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order, before I respond, I want to make a correction about the Standing Order concerning the Chief Whips.  It is Standing Order Number 15 and not 13 – I hope Hansard will correct that.  It is Standing Order Number 15 and not 13.

Your observation Hon. Mamombe is fine but again, that should be asked as a question so that there is some debate and supplementary questions can be asked accordingly.  Thank you.

I think Hon. Mpariwa you are the last one – [HON. MEMBERS:

Inaudible interjections.] – May I say that in future, we shall allow not more than three Points of Privilege from either side.

*HON. MPARIWA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker, when we look at

the calendar, today is 5th March and on Sunday it will be 8th March, which is an International Women’s Day that is recognised globally and Zimbabwe is one of the countries that celebrates such a day.  There are 52% women in Zimbabwe.  I am saying this because a census is being conducted. However, the statistical results are yet to be published.

Hon. Speaker, women also have a right to have robust debates to talk about various issues that affect women and other issues that may be of importance to women.  I am saying this because starting from the Hon. Speaker and other Hon. Members, all parties represented were borne of women.  I take this opportunity to congratulate all Zimbabwean women and women the world over for this year’s International Women’s Day.

However, before I resume my seat Hon. Speaker, there are some gaps particularly towards …

*THE HON. SPEAKER:  I wanted to instruct you to sit down

Hon. Member but I will allow you to continue.

*HON. MPARIWA:  Mr. Speaker, when we look at the public holidays that we recognise in Zimbabwe, looking at our local calendar,  I am one of the women who have raised this issue several times.  I believe that the International Women’s Day should be recognised as a public holiday.  It is my plea Hon. Speaker that this day should be recognised as a public holiday in Zimbabwe.

My voice is not clear because I was tear-gassed two weeks back.  I am one of the people who had organised people on the 8th and the Zimbabwe Republic Police denied us that opportunity.  They advised us to hold the gathering on the 14th but to me Hon. Speaker, it is like postponing Christmas so that it is celebrated on 30th December.  My plea is that actions that are taken against women should be considerate.  When police are dealing with women, I believe they should remember that they come from women and afford us due respect.  I thank you.

*THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Mpariwa.  I believe that as women or as Hon. Members, we need to come together and request officially from the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development for the issue to be taken up to Cabinet for the issue to be discussed so that the International

Women’s Day is recognised. We are going to do that and make sure that we engage Hon. Minister Sithembiso Nyoni. – [HON. T. MOYO:  Mr.

Speaker, there is an outstanding Point of Privilege!] – No, time is gone.

You should see the Clerk or myself later.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I move that

Order of the Day, Number 1 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day are disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

COMMITTEE STAGE

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES BILL [H. B.10, 2019]

Second Order read: Committee Stage: International Treaties Bill

[H. B. 10, 2019].

House in Committee.                              

COMMITTEE STAGE

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES BILL [H. B. 10, 2019]

Second Order Read: Committee: International Treaties Bill [H. B.

  1. 2019]

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 put and agreed to.

On Clause 2:

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.

Chair. I promised the Hon. Member Phulu that we will include a definition of a foreign organisation. So, I propose on page 5 of the Bill to insert the following sub-clause, the existing clause becoming subclause (1):

“(2) If any question arises as to the meaning of a “foreign organisation or entity” in connection with the application of Section 327 of the Constitution, or in any other legal context in which the scope of Zimabwe’s foreign obligations is in issue, that phrase (or “foreign organisation” or “foreign entity’) shall mean any corporate entity domiciled or incorporated outside Zimbabwe”. I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: I think there is something wrong with the mike, we can hardly hear the Minister. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- No, but I am seated here and if I cannot hear then it means all those people are not hearing.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I repeat Hon.

Chair. I am proposing the following amendment

Hon. Mamombe having been talking

       THE HON. CHAIRPERSON (HON. MUTOMBA): Hon.

Mamombe I think I am going to send somebody out of the House at the moment.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I repeat Hon.

Chair. I am proposing the following amendment:  o

On page 5 of the Bill to insert the following sub-clause, the existing clause becoming subclause (1):

“(2) If any question arises as to the meaning of a “foreign organisation or entity” in connection with the application of Section 327 of the Constitution, or in any other legal context in which the scope of

Zimbabwe’s foreign obligations is in issue, that phrase (or “foreign organisation” or “foreign entity’) shall mean any corporate entity domiciled or incorporated outside Zimbabwe”. I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Chair, I just want the Hon. Minister

to explain to us because apparently, I do not believe that this Bill is going to be Treaties Act of Zimbabwe, and naturally I think this Act should apply to all and I actually believe that there is need to ensure that publications of all Treaties, all may not be domestication, but the publishing, members or a country at large needs to know all the various treaties that this Country will enter from time to time. This is the reason I would want in that cause to remove the word, the publication aspect. I believe that it is of necessity. I can agree on the domestication but the need for all Treaties because this Treat is supposed to be superior to all the other Acts of Parliament that relate to any other Treaty. I submit Mr.

Chair.

THE HON. MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.

Chair.  The reading of this Section indicates that if we have any other Act, where exactly what he is praying for is provided for, there is no need.  So he is actually speaking about the need for publication and this clause is specifically saying that; to say that if it is provided for in another Act, the publication and domestication, there is no need to do it under this Bill.  For instance, we have international agreements and customs agreements that are published under the Income Tax Act, we do not need to do it now when it is already provided for.  So, what he is praying for is exactly what we are setting in this particular clause.  I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Minister, what happens in a situation where a certain Act of Parliament makes a provision pertaining to a particular treaty but does not have anything in it that talks to its publication; would you be saying that the provision of this Act will then take centre stage?  I want to believe that there are certain Acts of Parliament which do not mandate the publication of certain treaties, be it bilateral treaties.

 HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon. Chair.  I think we are in agreement with the Hon. Member.  If you read the clause, it says; ‘the

Act shall not apply to the publication or domestication.’  So if another Act provides for the domestication but not publication, this Act applies.

If it applies to the publication but not domestication, this Act will apply.

If there is an Act that applies to both publication and domestication, this Act will not apply.  So his worries are already covered by the very wording of this Act.  I thank you.

Clause 3 put and agreed to.

Clause 4 put and agreed to.

On Clause 5:

HON. S. BANDA: Thank you Hon. Chair.  I am worried that in the appointment of functions of PAC it looks like there is a deviation and Parliament is no longer required to be part of the appointment system.  It is only the Attorney General, the Ministry itself, Ministry of

Finance and Economic Development and the Office of the President and Cabinet.  I do not know why Parliament is now out of the mix.  Thank you.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon. Chair.  I rose to allay his fears.

This is an Executive Committee and Parliament’s role in ratifying agreements has not been taken away from you.  Parliament is still relevant when all the Executive functions have been done to ensure that agreements are tidied up, clear, in the national interests and then they are tabled in Parliament for you to assert your role in ratifying the treaties.  I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Chair, I just wanted to inquire from the Hon .Minister.  If you check on the composition of PAC, there is one from the Attorney General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the President’s Office, bringing them to about four.  Ordinarily, Hon. Chair, most Committees usually have five, an odd number and I just want to find out; I think we are diverting from what has actually become the norm so that – because what then happens, assuming that the four members end up; two opposing and two for.  What will be the mechanism to break that deadlock?

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon. Chair.  This is a subcommittee of the Executive, so it operates by consensus.  Should there be a disagreement, you do not resolve the disagreement by voting, you refer it back to the principals.  I thank you.

Clause 5 put and agreed to.

Clause 6 put and agreed to.

On Clause 7:

HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Chair, I have huge challenges

pertaining to Clause 7 (4) which provides that ‘any international treaty which falls within the scope of the prerogative powers of the President in the sphere of international relations, may be published by the

President by statutory instrument at his or her sole discretion.’  I have got serious reservations in that regard. I want to believe Hon. Chair, that whenever the President, in his own prerogative, decides, assents, signs or enters into an international treaty or bilateral relations, it ties the nation.  Therefore, I would like to request the Hon. Minister to remove the word ‘may,’ and replace it with ‘shall.’ It should be mandatory because every treaty has to be seen by all the people of this country.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon. Chair.  I would like to thank the Hon. Member for his spirited attempt to ensure that everything is mandatory as he speaks.  However, there are certain agreements that dictate, because of the nature of the agreement; for example, peace treaties.  There are certain secret agreements that need not be published but they are of essential importance to the nation and the President must be given the prerogative to enter into those and at his discretion, depending on the nature and content of the treaty to publish them if he so wishes.  I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Chair, with all due respect to the Hon. Minister, the President as a human being, as an elected officer, cannot have anything that can be seen as if it is actually being personalised.  Everything that the President does, he is the number one citizen of the country and is representing the country.  To that extent, Hon. Chair, I do not understand what the Hon. Minister is saying that there can be certain private treaties that the President may sign.  I do not think it is possible.  It cannot happen in a democratic and open state like Zimbabwe.

Get me right, Hon. Minister, we are not stopping the President from signing any treaty which he or she may think will do good for this nation, but what we are basically saying is that we cannot then allow the President to keep those treaties in a cupboard.  Nothing can be secret.  I thank you.

HON. MADZIMURE:  Mr. Speaker, a President is a citizen and a President acts on behalf of the people.  Whatever a President commits to affects the people.  It is not his own treaty.  That is why in other countries you even have a committee of Parliament that deals with those treaties.  Once the President has signed a treaty, he has committed the entire country to that treaty and it will eventually affect the people of Zimbabwe. So there is no reason whatsoever to then have any treaty that can be called a secret, because it will involve the people.

If it is a military treaty it will involve our children who are in the army.  If it is to do with intelligence, it will still affect the people of

Zimbabwe who work in the intelligence.  So it is not an individual’s treaty, it is not a private treaty for a President, moreso in a democratic state where Presidents come and go.

Also, Mr. Speaker, we cannot trust entirely on an individual whose state of mind at any given time can change.  So it is an institution’s treaty, it has to be a country’s treaty and not a presidential treaty.  It would be setting a dangerous precedence and this is exactly why eventually a number of Presidents start feeling that they own the state and they can do anything.  It is wrong for us to do so.

HON. S. BANDA:  Hon. Chair if we allow secret treaties, when I become the President I can also have secret treaties where I can have a friend somewhere who I can just discuss with and say I am going to give you 20 000 hectares of land, come and do one, two and three.  So it is a secret.

We do not want that Hon. Chair.  We want something that is open that benefits all Zimbabweans, those who are here today and those who will be there in the future.  So we beg you that it should be open.  Thank you.

THE HON. MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Hon.

Chair.  Hon. Chair we have a scenario here where Hon. Members are not reading what is in the Bill and they go in their own direction interpreting things that are not in the Bill.

If you read this subsection it says an international treaty.  So  there is no international treaty about giving each other land, Hon. Member and the clause goes on to say, ‘that which is in the scope of the prerogative of the President’.  This has already been defined in the Constitution under the Executive power that is given to the President in Section 110 of the Constitution.  So let us not make imaginary treaties in our head.  This is speaking to something that has been conferred on the President already to say it is within his prerogative and we are simply saying if it is within his prerogative, it is still in his prerogative to publish or not in a Statutory Instrument.

So it is very consistent.  If you do not want it we can then revisit the Constitution and remove the Presidential prerogative powers.  I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA:  Hon. Chair, I think the Hon. Minister is actually also contradicting himself.  Hon. Chair, for the benefit of the

Minister - I am actually holding the Bill, this is what the clause says, ‘an international treaty’ I want to underline the word ‘international’.  There is no way the President of Zimbabwe can engage in a private international treaty.  The moment it becomes an international treaty, it is something that is going to bind Zimbabwe and everything that happens, like for instance in Zimbabwe, you are aware, Hon. Chair, that even bilateral agreements, when the President goes to Russia, to China to sign the mega deals, everything is actually reported and I am just wondering what sort of international treaty that can be so private, so confidential to the extent that you do not want the country to know.

What I would want the Hon. Minister to do, probably if he intends to convince us, can he tell us any such international treaty.  We want an example of an international treaty that the President has actually done so privately and decided to simply say no, I will not publish it.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Hon. Chair, let me start by correcting my colleague Hon. Member of Parliament to say that if the President signs an international treaty, it does not automatically bind Zimbabwe.  That is the reason why we have in the Constitution a whole section 327 that speaks exactly to that and there are treaties that are allowed that are within the prerogative of the President, which is exactly what we are saying.  I have already given an example of peace treaties or treaties of alliance and the Hon. Member, if he is so willing, I will be able to furnish him with reading material that speak to what I am saying, but an international treaty does not automatically bind a country because it has been signed, unless our Constitution so says, but our Constitution does not say once a treaty is signed automatically it binds the country.  I thank you.

HON. S. BANDA:  Thank you very much Hon. Speaker.  There are Hon. Members on your right, particularly Hon. Nzuma, I think they have had a bit more sadza and maybe they are trying to sleep [Laughter.] -  so I urge them to wake up and to contribute to this important debate, Hon. Kwaramba as well.  Thank you.

HON. TSUNGA: Still on Clause 7, Hon. Chair, I think as people of Zimbabwe we are both stockholders and stakeholders in the affairs of this country and we have a vested interest in all the decisions that are made that impact our lives.  Having said that, I think that the clause is a bit worrying in that it allows the President to decide whether to publish or not because it says ‘he may’. In other words, he may not. What that means is that the President may do certain things behind everyone’s back and we all do not know what treaties, conventions or agreements he has signed on behalf of all of us.

What is important is that there must not be that leeway to allow the President to decide arbitrarily whether to publish or not as stated in that clause.  I would rather we have it that he must necessarily publish so that it is open to critique by the citizens of this country who are important stakeholders, stockholders, citizens and owners collectively of this country.  My submission is that the clause needs fine tuning so that we do not allow a single person to arbitrarily make decisions about the country and further to that, decide on their own will whether to publish it or not.

Necessarily, all agreements, treaties and conventions must be published rather than allowing people to decide against publishing.  How will we know and critique if we do not know that certain things have been signed?

HON. ZIYAMBI: I present my last submission because I notice that we are now repeating the same point over and over again.  I have indicated that the President is given powers and we have specifically stated here – where a treaty is within the President’s prerogative, and these are not many.  They are few.  He is allowed to do that.  I have stated certain treaties that I have classified to say if he signs a peace treaty, for instance like what we did many years ago, we signed a peace treaty with DRC for instance.  It is within the President’s prerogative to publish the contents of that peace treaty if he so wishes that it is in the national interest but if he believes that there are security issues that dictate that the contents of that peace treaty must not be published, it is within his prerogative.

I submit that as it is, the clause is alright and I move that we proceed as it is.

HON. MADZIMURE:  This word that the Minister continuously uses – prerogative; if there are contents that the President feels he should disclose or not disclose, this is where it is really worrying.  What are such contents that the President might feel?  If it is part of the treaty that he can feel, it should not be disclosed to the people of Zimbabwe because he does that on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe.  When we talk of prerogative on matters that will eventually affect the people, it becomes very difficult.

This is exactly the problem where we end up being committed to things that the entire nations feel was not necessary.  These are the counter checks that must be built in any law or anything that we commit ourselves to.

I will understand the Hon. Minister’s concerns because his job is sometimes to come and defend what the Government will have agreed on. This is very disturbing.  The people of Zimbabwe cannot be committed to anything that may be used or where the President has the prerogative to inform them.  There must not be a prerogative.  As long as it affects  the people; some of the secrets are so demining that by the time that you realise that was the reason, that is when you find people being impeached.  It is purely because of committing people to some things that are not right.

We have Parliament to see that the executive is held to account and this is what we are calling for.  Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy where we have got three arms of the State.  If the President does something that the people of Zimbabwe feel that, no he should not have committed us to, we must have the right to say no.  Therefore, any contents of a treaty must be disclosed because he is not entering into a treaty on his own behalf but on behalf of the country and for the people of Zimbabwe.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  I wish to end the debate on this clause.  I have already made my position clear and I have already indicated that I am not changing.  I just want to clarify – an international treaty that is signed by the President according to the Constitution does not bind

Zimbabwe until it is approved by Parliament.  We cannot spend the whole day arguing over a treaty that is within the prerogative of a President elected by the people and the very same President is entrusted with – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -  When they were speaking, I was silent.

THE HON. DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON:  Order Hon. Members.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Hon. Chair, any President in the world is entrusted with the security of his nation.  When you speak about security issues, you do not publish them in a Gazette.  This would be the first country where a country publishes issues that deal with security.  A President is elected by the people to ensure and defend the interests of the country.  I propose that we proceed and I request that we divide the

House if we cannot agree – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]

-

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO): Order,

order why are you standing Hon. Member, may you resume your seat?

HON. CHIKWINYA:  Thank you Hon. Chair, I rise to try and find a middle of way approach.  My submission Hon. Chair is that before you or before this House today on the Order Paper is another Bill that we are going to consider with regards to access to information.  The whole issue here is about transparency and the Freedom of Information Bill speaks to that.

My question to the Hon. Minister is, are treaties that are not yet ratified by Parliament public information?  If they are, there is therefore a remedy with regards to accessing of such as contained in the Freedom of Access to Information and if the treaties are to do with defence and security, there is again a law that provides for conditions under which information cannot be released to the public both in Section 62 (4) of the Constitution and again in the Freedom of Information Bill.

So in his response, he may want to advise us on the type of treaties that he does not want to be published. If they are under defence and security we do not need to then waste our time because they are as contained in the Constitution. If they are general treaties in terms of transparency and accountability, again provisions of how to access the same are in the Bill that is going to be before you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Hon.

Chair, he is very correct if you want to access any information there is a law that allows you to do so and we have that remedy.  He is equally very correct that there is certain information of a security nature that you cannot access and there are procedures that are followed.  So I want to thank the Hon. Member for that, if you want to access that information and you feel that it is important for you, there are procedures that you follow to get it.

Hon. Madzimure having stood up.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  What is it that you want to

say?  The Hon. Minister is very clear and has actually taken into consideration … - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

HON. MADZIMURE:  Mr. Speaker, why you now say that the Hon. Minister was very clear was after Hon. Chikwinya had insisted. Had he not done so, then the Hon. Minister was not going to give that clarification.  If you muzzle us out – that is why we have bad laws because you do not allow us to talk.  This is Committee business and we are dealing with a specific section yet you do not want us to debate that.

Why do we have a Committee Stage of the Bill?  It does not work.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Madzimure, I had

conferred with the Hon. Minister because Hon. Chikwinya had approached me.  The views that Hon. Chikwinya posed have been positively considered by the Hon. Minister.  I cannot understand why you still want to air your other views.  What is it that you want to say

now?

HON. MADZIMURE:  Chair, I was just saying we have

Committee Stage in order to thoroughly interrogate Bills section by section.  My own thinking cannot be attributed to Hon. Chikwinya to say Hon. Chikwinya said this and the Hon. Minister responded in this manner, then it is fine with all of us.  I even think that in Parliament we have a Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that must be seized with all the treaties and what happens outside our borders in as far as our Government is concerned.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is now high time that such committees are treated with respect.  These committees must be briefed by the Executive on some of these commitments.  My argument is that this issue of saying that it is the prerogative of the Executive to disclose information is wrong.  I propose that we establish a procedure where the committee of Parliament on Foreign Affairs and International Trade is briefed on these issues even if it was going to be the only committee that is briefed on those issues.  It must be so for every treaty that is signed by the President is brought for scrutiny.

HON. MUSHORIWA:  Hon. Chair, I want to put it on record.  The Hon. Minister in his response, I had asked him to give us a single treaty and what he did was that when he stood up, he gave one treaty – the one pertaining to the DRC.

Hon. Chairman, that response actually gives me more energy to demand that this clause needs to be amended.  Part of the problems that Zimbabwe had come with the fiscal obligation that came through the

DRC and never again shall Zimbabwe allow such treaties to happen – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – To that extent Hon. Chair, it is my submission that Zimbabwe is a democratic and open State.  There is nothing that should be hidden – everything should be put on paper. If it is a question of security, it is covered under the Constitution and other Acts.

So there is nothing or unless if there is something that the Hon. Minister is not telling us,   I submit Hon. Chair that for this reason, this clause needs to be amended. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible

interjections.] -

HON. T. MLISWA:  Thank you very much Hon. Chairman. My

point of order is that while I totally follow the debate from both sides,  I think there are certain provisions in the Constitution that can get the President fired in case he does not do his work.

In the last sitting, a motion that was moved by Hon. Mutsvangwa, supported by Hon. Maridadi as the seconder impeached the President.  One of reasons was that he was not doing things constitutionally.  So to me at any given time, if there is need to impeach the President because he is not doing the right things – I think that can happen.  Not only that

Section 140 (3) of the Constitution also gives us the power to call the President to Parliament and ask him on any issues, I implore Hon. Members of this august House to have a joint meeting where we can invite the President, on any other issues that we do not understand even now.

There is a provision and there are provisions in the Constitution that allow for that to happen. If the President has signed any treaty that is not in line with the good governance of Zimbabwe, he can be called to order.  There is no one who is above the law in this country.  It is no wonder the former late President was impeached and as a result, he left because of him not following the Constitution.  So there is that provision and I thought I could remind Members of Parliament that the

Constitution allows us to do so many things as when we get to that point at the end of the day.  It was just a reminder to them.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Mr. Chairman, I am pleased by the debate and

for lack of a better word – the extent of the ignorance that is there.

There was no treaty that resulted in us losing money in the DRC – [HON. MEMBERS: What happened?] -  I spoke about a peace treaty.  You do not sign a peace treaty and you lose money because you made peace.

In the Constitution - I want to thank Hon. Mliswa. It is very clear on deployment of forces. So for us to be confused about things that are very clear in the Constitution, it is very disheartening to say that the President has concluded a Treaty which will not bind Zimbabwe because it has not been ratified by Parliament and then we labour on a point that will be bound. When we deploy our forces, there are clear cut constitutional provisions that say what has to happen and this august House has the power even to disregard that and call the President to order like what Hon. Mliswa said. I think we are labouring on nothing and I implore the Hon. Speaker to proceed as it is. I thank you.

Hon. S. Banda having stood up on a point of order

   THE CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Member, the Hon. Minister has

sufficiently responded to that, we need to move forward.

HON. MADZIMURE: Hon. Chair, for you to then say the

Minister has sufficiently answered, that is not correct because it is us the

Hon. Members who should feel that we have been sufficiently answered.

So in this case we are not sufficiently answered and we still want the

Minister to consider removing “may’.

HON. S. BANDA: I call for the division of House.

HON. T. MLISWA: It is important for you to read the Standing Rules. It is up to the Chairman to go ahead with the division or not. You must read your rules in Parliament so that you know. He can override

that.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Hon. Mliswa is

correct. I called for the division of the House and they refused. It is in your prerogative to say whether it is necessary. They refused when I said so.

HON. MADZIMURE: No one refused. We said we wanted to debate more.   

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): If you now want,

you can call for the division and we can go for it.

THE HON. CHAIRPERSON: Because the Minister is not going

to change.

Clause 7 put and agreed to.

THE HON. CHAIRPERSON: Order, Order Hon. Mliswa.

Clause 8 put and agreed to.

On Clause 9:

HON. S. BANDA: Thank you Hon. Chair. I just want to check if there are any other International Treaties that were concluded before the commencement of this Act which are being referred to by this particular section? Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.

Chair. I do not see the relevance of the question to what is referred to in the Bill.

HON. MADZIMURE: The fear that the Hon. Member has is the

issue of condoning all the other Treaties because this is what it refers to.

Can we have the list of those Treaties that is the only question?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Hon. Chair, I

have already responded that a list of Treaties is not the subject of what we are dealing with at the moment. It is a question for another day. If Hon. Madzimure requests a list of Treaties that were approved, it can be furnished, but surely I cannot be expected to stand here and give a list of Treaties when we are looking at legislation to deal with International Treaties - how they are supposed to be approved. In all fairness, your question can be referred to the relevant Minister, to supply all the treaties that were approved.  I am sure he will oblige. Thank you.

*HON. MADZIMURE: The Minister is pretending to be ignorant, yet he knows what he is talking about.  We are referring to all the treaties that were discussed before this Bill and which will be covered in this Bill.  Whether you know the treaties or not, you are trying to say that you do not know them at all.  The point is; which treaties are these Hon. Minister?

HON. ZIYAMBI: Hon. Chair, Hon. Madzimure is the one who is acting confused yet he is not confused.  Clause 9 provides for ‘every international treaty that was concluded before the commencement of this

Act.  On Section 7 (3), it provides that, ‘subject to subsection (4) and

(8), every international treaty which has been approved by Cabinet and Parliament and ratified or acceded to by the President shall be published by the President by statutory instrument.’  Clause 9 provides that, Section 7 (3)… applies to every international treaty that was concluded before the date of commencement of this Act.  This means that what has been provided for should be published.  So, I do not know where the confusion is coming from.  Should I come with the whole list and table it here, where is it coming from?  I thank you Hon. Chair.

Clause 9 put and agreed to.

*HON. MADZIMURE: On a point of order Hon. Chair.  We were allocated portable computer gadgets so that we can keep all the information we might need.  In our pigeon holes the treaties are also there.  The other side of the House, there is no one who is holding a document and they are simply saying ‘no debate – [HON. MEMBERS:

Inaudible interjections.] –

THE CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Members.

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I think Hon.

Madzimure wants to continue to be moribund, rudimental and antiquated – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – He wants to continue to be ‘BBC,’ he wants to remain in the doldrums of technological advancement – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I seek your protection, not only for me but for all the other progressive members who have seen it fit to be collaborated, coordinated and networked – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

On Clause 10:

HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Chair, ordinarily, I would not stand to debate this clause.  However, Hon. Chair, you need to understand part of the challenges that we have with the Minister’s regulatory and other powers.  Hon. Chair, you will note that the power to make laws is vested with the Parliament of Zimbabwe and the President.  However, what has been happening in this country for the past 10 months of 2019, there has been 233 statutory instruments that have been passed by the Government through various ministers.

What they have done is usurp the powers of Parliament.  To that extend, I find it difficult today to support this clause because previously in this House, we have allowed the ministers under the belief that they would act in a reasonable manner to fill the gaps that are left and come up with some regulations.  What has actually happened is that the ministers are abusing that little power that they have and substituting us Parliamentarians.  Now, we have a challenge; you go out there, industry and various stakeholders are complaining.  To that extend, I object to this clause. I want the clause to say; ‘the Minister, with the approval of Parliament, may make such regulations.’  What do I mean Hon. Chair?  I want a situation where any regulations, now it should actually be mandatory to be debated in this august House because our powers have been usurped and it is now time that both sides of the House, we should stand to defend this House and the people who elected us.

HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Hon. Chair.  The reason why we have the Committee that is chaired by Hon. Mataranyika is because we want to ensure that all the laws of Zimbabwe are scrutinised.  Allowing Ministers to continuously issue regulations has shown us that it is not progressive.  If you look at the situation where we are today, like what Hon. Mushoriwa has said, the number of statutory instruments that have emanated from the ministers have proved to be disastrous.

I want the ministers, out of those 233 regulations to say, which one has promoted the interests of this country.  So we have irrational ministers being allowed free open cheque to manipulate the laws and usurp the powers of this Parliament.  It is not good.  Issuing regulations shows clearly that when the law was crafted, sharp minds were not used.

It is because it was rushed and done for a specific purpose which sometimes can be outdated.  I do not think that we can continuously give ministers open cheques, they must be serious as they craft laws.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.

Chair.  The Constitution jealously guards the power of Parliament in terms of legislation.  The same Constitution ensures efficient operation, gives delegated authority to ministers to issue regulations and Statutory Instruments.  The same Constitution and our Standing Rules and Orders make provision for the same to come to Parliament.  The same Parliament and I am a bit saddened today Hon. Chair, that we are not very well educated about parliamentary procedures or informed so to speak – [AN. HON. MEMBER: Who?] – I am saying all of us, we are not well informed about parliamentary procedures. I think I will request Parliament administration so that we can go through some of these things again.

We have in the Constitution a Committee called Parliamentary

Legal Committee which is chaired by Hon. Mataranyika.  That

Committee is a constitutional Committee – [HON. MEMBERS:

Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: There is no need for you to

make noise Hon. Members, you are supposed to listen.

HON. ZIYAMBI: It is chaired by Hon. Samukange, I am sorry.  That Committee has delegated authority from Parliament to scrutinise legislation on behalf of all of us.  Every time the Speaker announces that this particular month we have received so many Statutory Instruments and a non-adverse report.  if there is a adverse report, it comes here and we debate.  There is nothing that stops even the Portfolio Committees to have oversight over those and say we picked this and you come and debate here.  For the efficient and operation of Government, you cannot say there must not be delegated authority to legislate; it can never happen anywhere in the world.

Let us look at ourselves here rather than look at the Executive to say, what are we doing in terms of our role as parliamentarians in so far as Statutory Instruments and regulations are concerned?  Are we doing enough to have a look at them?  So there is nothing wrong with this. The only reason why they referred to it is because of some unknown fear but the powers are in this House to deal with that, I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Chair, I am actually happy

with what the Hon. Minister has alluded to.  I actually believe that most Ministers have not had time to also understand what the law also said in terms of those Statutory Instruments and the regulations. Hon. Minister, you are right, the Parliamentary Legal Committee looks into the constitutionality whether those Statutory Instruments do not contravene the Constitution. Our question is very simple; if you have a country where a Government in less than 12 months comes with 233 – [AN

HON. MEMBER: It is unheard of.] –

HON. ZIYAMBI: On a point of order Mr. President Sir, this is not arising out of this. The question of whether the Executive has issued 1000 Statutory Instruments is not what we are seated here to do. The Committee is dealing with the clause that says the Minister may make regulations.  If you have any problem with this you address it. So I think the Hon. Member is out of order by making reference to other issues; he should deal specifically with this. I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: The Hon. Minister is very much aware

that part of the reason I was giving that background information is, it relates to what we are discussing under 11.  What I am saying Hon. Chair, I want a situation that can make this country move forward but we also need to make sure that the zone of authority of Parliament – this blanket, to say that the Minister may make such regulations and give such directions as he or she may deem necessary has been abused in the past and is being abused. This is the reason why I am reluctant to have this clause pass as it is. We have allowed these clauses in various legislation and Bills before.  Now we are wise because we have realised that the delegated powers are being abused.  So the Hon. Minister is very much aware that I am making reference to 11 and I am simply saying

that I do not want a situation that we should continuously give ministers more powers to make these regulations through the various Statutory Instruments.

HON. T. MLISWA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I think my colleague the Hon. Member is correct regarding powers being with the ministers. If you recall during the ZIDA, I was very clear to all Members of Parliament that we have put so much power in the Ministers.  We need to start the process of curtailing that power. Moving forward, Parliament unfortunately will never get to that point and I must say this to both sides that at the end of the day they are whipped.  After all this debate no one will go against what he wants and at the same time we do not have enough numbers on this side. Moving forward, it is important that the day that we Members of Parliament decide to agree that Members of Parliament must have power, we must have a joint meeting where we clearly say what we want but can also not predetermine what the Minister will do before he does it.

So allow the Minister to do that and not only that Parliament itself has certain procedures which can be accountable to South Africa, for example if the Minister passes Statutory Instrument you have a right to get him to Parliament to respond to it and those provisions are there. I am sorry to say this but I tend to agree with the Hon. Minister that except for a few, most do not read and understand and as a result, we are always talking about things which are just irrelevant at the end the day. We spend so much time talking about nothing. They cannot even fight for their own welfare, they could not but today they are fighting putting energy into something which is just a mere process.  The day they start fighting for their own welfare then they can be respected because right now they are not even respected in the streets; there is no fuel, and they are in queues and so forth. It is better for us to talk about the welfare of the Members of Parliament right now because it is not good.

The reason why they are seated here is, they do not know how to get home because they do not have fuel.  We must be talking about whether we have fuel to go home.  This is quite in order. Minister, please continue; I thank you.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Hon Chair, I very much respect the opinion of Hon. Mushoriwa and his very strong belief that it must not pass. I acknowledge his personal belief and I believe that this is perfectly in order and we can proceed.  I thank you.

         House resumed.

Bill reported with amendments.

Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that we

revert to Order of the Day, Number 1 on today’s Order Paper.

Motion put and agreed to.

COMMITTEE STAGE

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL [H. B. 6, 2019]

First Order read: Committee Stage: Freedom of Information Bill [H. B. 6. 2019].

House in Committee.

Clause 1 put and agreed to.

On Clause 2:

HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. May I state that I am presenting on behalf of the Committee on Media and Information. The amendments as they appear on the Order Paper are as a result of deliberations of the Committee. So, under Clause 2, on interpretation of

“information officer”; we propose that it reads as; if you look at page 530, at the back of Today’s Order Paper, we have presented our amendments.  So, we propose that “information officer” means the principal officer of an entity or any such person designated by the principal officer to act on his or her behalf.

The simple reason is that there are some entities whose principal officers may delay in delegating an information officer.  The current state of the Bill reads that the principal officer must delegate and we are proposing that it must not only say “must delegate”.  The onus must be on the principal officer to be the information officer but then we give him the power to delegate such that if he fails to delegate, he becomes accountable.  That is the rational of our amendment, so that is what we move.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.

Chair. I agree.

Clause 2, as amended put and agreed to.

Clauses 3 to 6 put and agreed to.

On Clause 7;

HON. CHIKWINYA:  Thank you Mr. Chairman.  If I may refer you to the explanatory memorandum of Clause 7, at the end of it says, an applicant is not required to justify a request nor are the beliefs of the information officer relevant to the grant of a request.  The drafter of the Bill is clear that when an applicant of information is submitting the request for information, the information officer may not ask questions to do with, why you need it, where you are coming from and anything that may be personal or even her beliefs many not be incorporated.

The problem is what is contained in the explanatory memorandum is not contained in the actual clause.  What he speaks to in the explanatory memorandum, they did not then write it in the clause.  We propose that whatever they wrote in the memorandum they then write it in the Clause.  When we are now going to be referring to an Act when it passes, we do not refer to the explanatory memorandum, we refer to the provisions of the section which are borne out of a particular clause.

Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Mr.

Chairman.  I hear the Hon. Member. Even though it is a constitutional right, you must demonstrate an interest.  You cannot just wake up and say I need this information.  There should be some interest in that particular information and as a result what he wants, I respectfully reject.

I thank you.

HON. CHIKWINYA:  Thank you Mr. Chairman.  We are not

dealing with an issue of whether we want it or not.  It is actually the

Minister’s intention in his explanatory memorandum.  It is not us who put it there, it is the Minister and it is very good.  For example Mr. Chairman, in other jurisdictions - Sweden for example, the information officer does not ask you why you want that information, neither if he believes that you are going to abuse it or you are not going to abuse it, his or her beliefs must not be a ground for denying information.  This is what exactly the Hon. Minister put in explanatory memorandum and we are simply saying extract what you put there and express it in the relevant clause.  We are not differing with you Hon. Minister with all due respect.

HON. K. PARADZA:  It is in line with the Constitution, very clear. Section 62 says, every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of Government at every level in so far as that information required is in the interest of the public.  There is no need for some officer somewhere to ask me why I need that information.  Yes, it is my right.

*HON. MADZIMURE:  The Minister was fully aware in the explanatory memorandum and what he intended to achieve.  You should only take what is in the explanatory memorandum and put the same in the clause so that it will not be difficult to give out the information because when people are looking for it, it is because they want to use it rightfully.  There are laws that protect whatever information you get.  So the Minister should not trouble himself because we will be following what other countries are doing and what makes our country work is because of information dissemination.

*HON. MATARANYIKA:  Thank you Mr. Chairman.  I want to

assist on this issue.  In order for us not to waste time looking at explanatory remarks that come after the Bill has been drafted, let us not refer to the explanatory notes.  What is important is what is in the actual Bill.  If an explanatory note does not explain clearly what is in the Bill - it can be corrected or removed.

*HON. ZIYAMBI:  Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank Hon. Paradza, Hon. Madzimure and I want to thank Hon. Mataranyika for clearly putting it in context.  I know where Hon. Chikwinya is coming from but just to put the issue in its correct perspective, Hon. Paradza read the section and ended before completing it.  Section 62 of the Constitution on access to information says, every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of Government at every level in so far as the information is required, in the interest of public accountability.

When we wrote the explanatory memorandum, and I said it should not be quizzed, I violated the Constitution proviso which says, ‘in so far as the information is required in the interest of public accountability, you need to justify’.  So you cannot say I want this information, I do not want to be asked any question.  That is not the import of the

Constitution.  The way this section is couched is perfectly correct and there is no harm in saying I want this because of one, two, three, four.  Should you be denied and feel that the entity did not exercise its right correctly then there are administrative and court processes that can be done to ensure that your rights are assessed as per the constitutional provision.

*HON. MADZIMURE:  I saw the Minister smiling when Hon. Mataranyika stood up.  From the time you start quizzing a person, for example from Chiredzi when they want information and you ask him who he is, from the word go he will be puzzled on what it means and also the person who will be asking will be asked how he is in a position to ask questions and also the judgement of saying, is this person worth of the information.  Already, we are violating the Constitution for the person to have access to information.  Mr. Chairman, I think the Minister is troubling himself that a person should approach the court for a thing which is clear because if this information belongs to the Government and people are supposed to have that information, they should just be given that information on request instead of approaching the courts so that they get information because the officer can also use his or her own discretion whether to give out the information.  We are creating a problem; people will not get the information.  We are locking the information.

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  The Hon.

Member tried to explain what is not there.  The Constitution is saying you have the right to get information when there are interests that you have.

There are two categories – if you want to assert your rights or in the public interest.  We do not expect you to go to a hospital and demand for Hon. Paradza’s medical records and then you are given the records without any questions being asked.

That is the reason why the Constitution says, is it in the public interest that you are requesting for his medical records, do you want to assert your rights that you are requesting for that information?  It is very clear we cannot have an open ended system, otherwise any person can go to Masango and say I want to know Hon. Sikhala’s marital status; how many children does he have, how many cattle does he own and then go on to publish that information.  Is it in the public interest?  Why do you want it?  Then they say I have this information but I cannot give you.

We do not want to open a Pandora box.  The Constitution is very clear.  You are the ones who put the Constitution there to also safeguard people from abuse.  So I think this cause as it is, is very good.  Let us support it and I am sure you will appreciate where I am coming from.  I thank you.

Clause 8 put and agreed to.

Clause 9 put and agreed to.

On Clause 10:

HON. CHIKWINYA:  We have a proposed amendment on (b) of

Clause 10 where it says, ‘where the period has been extended in accordance with section 9 within the extended period, the information officer shall be deemed to have refused the request’.

So it speaks to an officer who has not replied within the specified period and we propose the deletion of that clause on page 9 in line 8 and the insertion of the following sub-clause:-

‘(2) When an officer is deemed to have refused a request for access to information, an applicant may lodge an appeal to the Commission in terms of section 35.’

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.

Chair, I just want it to be captured correctly by the Hansard.  We are not deleting anything, it is insertion of this at the end and I concur.

Amendment to Clause 10 put and agreed to.

Clause 10, as amended, put and agreed to.

Clauses 11and 12 put and agreed to.

On Clause 13:

HON. CHIKWINYA:  We propose that Clause 13 of the Bill is amended on page 10 in line 6 by the insertion of after ‘images’ of ‘, including braille and sign language’.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.

Chair, I concur, I agree.

Amendment to Clause 13 put and agreed to.

Clause 13, as amended, put and agreed to.

Clauses 14 to 16 put and agreed to.

On Clause 17:

*HON. MADZIMURE:  Minister, on cost, our Constitution recognises the 16 languages. So already you would have discriminated someone on cost because if I need information on any vernacular language one has to incur the cost.  We have 16 languages.  If you say those who are fluent in English are the only ones who will get information, as it is we would have discriminated everyone.  So I think the cost should lie with the Government.  If I need a document in any vernacular language, it is the Government that meets the cost not for a person who is looking for information, because they are not fluent in English then they have to pay.

* THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I want to thank

you Hon. Chair.  The Act did not say that you should get your information in English only but it is saying the language in which the information is.  I do not know whether you got it right.  It is not saying English – in other words it is the form in which it is published and you get it in that language.

The danger now in saying let us give the burden to the institution to be translating into all the languages, we are imposing a cost to the organisation.  We are saying if you walk into the Registrar General’s Office, if the language that is used in keeping the document is English, you get a copy in English.  If you want it in any other language, then you bear the cost of translating.  We do not want to overburden institutions by costs that are not related to their operations.  That is the reason why we want to keep it like that but we acknowledge that all the languages are equal but we are saying the organisation is keeping its records in this format.  You get it in that format. Should you want a translated version, then you are the one who will now carry the cost.

*HON. MADZIMURE: The official language that is used on our documents here in Zimbabwe is English and that is known.  The reason why we recognise 16 languages is because we want our people to get access to all the information in those 16 languages.  The burden of translating should lie with the State because if you give information to a person in a form that they do not understand, you would not have given that person information.

Hon. S. Banda having spoken in Chewa.

HON. S. BANDA:  Thank you very much Mr. Chair.  My plea is that some of us do not understand when everything is put in English throughout – [Laughter.] -

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Hon. Chair, if the Hon. Member rose for the purpose of outsiders to understand and not me to respond then he can proceed.

*HON. S. BANDA:  I was saying that if we want these papers, we always get them in English. If there can be a time when we will get them in our Chewa language so that I will read and understand – [AN HON.

MEMBER: Inaudible interjection.] –

HON. MATARANYIKA:  I want to concur with Hon. Madzimure.  The fact that documents are stored or kept in English language is just for convenience but if you have someone who comes from the rural areas and does not understand English, it is only proper and fair that the State should incur the cost of translating the English language to whatever language is convenient at the particular moment.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  I want to refer back to the section that confers the rights of access to information in the Constitution.   It gives two specific instances in the public interest for public accountability or for asserting a right.  The information may not necessarily be in the hands of the State always. You may need information to assert your right from Avenues Clinic for instance.  We legislate to say that we are transferring a burden of translating from the individual who is requesting the information to Avenues Clinic.  It is not proper.

I am the one who wants to assert my right, I must bear the costs of the translated version.  Moreso, it has an added advantage where you have several translations. There is always the text to refer to if there is a dispute.  It is in the interest of even that person who is requesting that information to have it in the original language and then you have a translation because you can then refer back. If you now say you want me as an entity to translate it for you and that is the translation that you now go with, you lose some of the information that you need to assert your rights.  Let us bear in mind that it is not all the information we require for public accountability. That will be in the hands of the State.

*HON. MADZIMURE: Why do we not say that all the

information that is in the hands of the State, whenever it is translated the cost should be borne by the State.  I say so because most of the information that people look for comes from the state.

Secondly, if we talk about costs it means that access to information is no longer there because here we are referring to a grandfather who is from the rural areas and it is information to do with him.  The reason why he does not have money is because he wants to understand what is in those papers and he has no other means of getting money.  Our people do not have money.  I think if we give that responsibility to the State, then the State should have translators on stand-by.  For example, the

Constitution should have been translated already in those languages.

Access to information that you are referring to should be there, if we put a component of money then we would have missed it. The Government should lead so that other private players follow because they are using resources that come from us the people.  So, people should get that information.

HON. TSVANGIRAI:  Thank you Chair. I think the clause even

on itself is fine because I would agree with the Hon. Minister to say, if me as a person went to look for information, I then say that the

Government should now translate for me and that now puts into question - What if the Government gives wrong information or incorrectly translated information?  You will say that Government is the one that gave me wrong information.

I think that if you go and look for information yourself then the cost of going to get the translation should be upon you because you are the one who went to look for that information. I think the clause is fine even on itself. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Hon.

Chair, I want to thank Hon. Members for their debate and also thank Hon. Tsvangirai – that is exactly why I said that when you have the original text, you know that you have authentic information but when you give the burden of translating on me and you have come to me to request information that you need to assert your right; we want to legislate in a manner that will ensure that you get the correct information that will assist you in whatever you want to do be it public accountability or asserting your rights. I think that we can now proceed Hon. Chair.  I thank you.

Clause 16 put and agreed to.

On Clause 17;

HON. CHIKWINYA:  The proposed amendment is for the

deletion of the word ‘access’.  This is purely to achieve consistency wherever we are going to be using the term ‘fees’, because you will find that in the original texts there are areas where we only refer to ‘fees’ and in other areas we refer to ‘access fees’.  So for us to achieve uniformity, just as a cleaning up process, we delete the word ‘access’ and simply refer to ‘fees’ throughout the clause.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Hon. Chair.  Hon. Chikwinya has suddenly become a good drafter, I agree with him.

Amendment to Clause 17 put and agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, put and agreed to.

Clauses 18 to 30 put and agreed to.

On Clause 31;

HON. S. BANDA:  Thank you very much Hon. Chair.  I just want to check on ‘manifestly frivolous’Who is going to determine whether the information that I am seeking is healthy or unhealthy for me?  I think there is need for a distinction of who really is the responsible officer who is going to be able to do that.  I thank you.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Hon. Chair, I am not sure whether the Hon. Member is very sincere in his question - who is going to determine because it is there in the Bill.  I thank you.

HON. S. BANDA:  With all due respect, maybe the good Minister can show me where that can be found?  Thank you.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Hon. Chair, I will indulge him.  It says, ‘An Information Officer - Clause 31 (1), an Information Officer of an entity may refuse a request for access to information’.  I thank you Hon. Chair.

Clause 31 put and agreed to.

Clauses 32 to 41 put and agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported with amendments.

Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

HON. K. PARADZA: I just want to say that I am so happy for this 9th Parliament that we have all agreed to make sure that we tear down AIPPA which was a bad law and that Bill is going to repeal this law. So, we are very happy. I am vindicated because in 2003, I stood up here and I said this was a bad law and I was haunted out of the party because of that. I just want to put it on record that I am so happy because I am vindicated. Thank you.

HON. CHIKWINYA: On behalf of the Committee Hon. Chair, I

want to thank the Ministy of Information and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs who firstly - I believe we need to follow this precedence. At the point of drafting these laws, that is the laws which are repealing AIPPA, from the point of drafting Parliament was included. We went to Nyanga with the drafters and we had our input. At consultation stage and even at the point of cleaning up the areas where we did not find each other, we had a round table meeting where the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Information and

Parliament were involved. I believe that such a process will remove

some of the political undertones which we may have in terms of suspicion. So I hope that precedence can actually be sustained. Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.

Chair. I just rose to thank the Hon. Members for the robust debate. I enjoyed it and I want to concur. I think the procedure that we used when we debated this Bill, we have had long sessions where we shared ideas and that is the reason why you saw we had a lot of concurrence on a lot of issues pertaining to this Bill. It is my wish Hon. Chair, that this culture is continued when we are producing more Bills in future. I thank you.

House resumed.

Bill reported with amendments.

Bill is referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I just have one

item, the Minister of Information, Communication Technology and Courier Services has a Ministerial Statement that was requested by this august House. It is not very long and with your indulgence if he can be allowed to present the statement.   

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

MEASURES TO CURB HIGH COST OF DATA BUNDLES AND

ALLEGED DATA DISAPPEARANCE

                                  THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION

TECHNOLOGY AND COURIER SERVICES (HON. MUSWERE):

Thank you Madam Speaker. The Ministerial Statement is with regards to the measures to curb the cost of Data Bundles in Zimbabwe and the alleged data disappearance. To begin with, all tariffs in Zimbabwe both wholesale and retail are regulated. In regulating tariffs, Potraz uses the cost based principle, which is the most objective criteria for determining tariffs. Accordingly, as a way of curbing unjustified high data tariffs, Potraz has resorted to the Telecommunications Price Index (TPI) to track cost movements in the provision of telecommunication services since January 2019. Prior to movements in the provision of telecommunication services since January 2019, prior to that, Potraz was using the results of the Long Run Incremental costing (LRIC) methodology to set thresholds for telecommunication services, including

data tariffs.

The use of the TPI was necessitated by the need to facilitate quick decision making in cost-based principle for decisions on tariff adjustments. This is in view of the current challenging business environment characterised by foreign currency shortages and electricity, which has forced operators to resort to alternative means of energy such as diesel powered generators and solar energy.

The computation of the TPI is done in consultation with all operators who provide the necessary information required to compute the TPI. Major cost items included in the computation of the TPI include:

  • Network repair and maintenance costs
  • Depreciation
  • Salaries and staff costs
  • Utilities and administration costs
  • Rental costs
  • Fuel costs
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Research and Development
  • Financing costs
  • Capital expenditure costs and
  • Foreign Exchange losses

Notwithstanding the fact that operators have been advocating for the pegging of telecommunication tariffs to the exchange rate movements, the Regulator has taken a principles stance not to do so but to track the actual cost movements by computing the TPI, taking into account all the costs of service provision, including those that require foreign currency, which are then adjusted using the inter-bank market exchange rate. This is in the interest of balancing operator viability with service affordability for consumers.

The Ministry has developed the Digital Infrastructure Master plan whose focus is in infrastructure sharing amongst the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). It should however be noted that data tariffs in Zimbabwe are the lowest in the region. The issue that needs to be addressed more is that of affordability. The regional tariff comparison for data tariffs within the SADC region and the tariffs per services are (in US$ cents), for example in Botswana, Mascom its 11.2 voice per minute, SMS 1.9 and mobile data per MP is 9.3. BTC voice per minute is 12.3, SMS is 2.8 and mobile data per MB is 9.3. Kingdom of Eswathini, Eswathini Mobile voice per minute is 7.7, SMS is 1.8, and mobile data per MB is 5.6. MTN voice per minute is 8.4, SMS is 2.1 and mobile data per MB is 5.6.

Lesotho Vodacom voice per minute is 11.6, SMS is 5.4 and mobile data per MB is 8.8. Econet Lesotho voice per minute is 12.6, SMS is 5.3 and mobile data per MB is 8.8. Malawi Airtel voice per minute is 9.6,

SMS is 2.0 and mobile date per MB is 4.2. TNM voice per Minute is

11.0, SMS is 2.9 and mobile data per MB is 4.4. Mozambique Vocacome voice per minute is 9.8, SMS is 3.2 and mobile data per MB is 6.5. Namibia MTC voice per minute is 10.5, SMS is 2.8 and mobile data per MB is 6.3. TN Mobile voice per minute is 10.2, SMS is 2.5 and mobile Date per MB is 6.3. South Africa MTN voice per minute is 18.2,

SMS is 5.6 and mobile data per MB is 1.1. Vodacom voice per minute is

18.3, SMS is 5.6 and mobile data per MB is 1.1. Zambia that is MTN,

10.5 voice per minute, SMS 1.8 and mobile data per MB 8.4 and for Zimbabwe, we just picked the sample Econet Wireless. Voice per minute is 5 and for SMS 1.5 and mobile data it is 1.1 The regional average, that is 11for voice per minute.   For an SMS, that is 3 and for mobile data, that is 6.

For the alleged data disappearance, we have received numerous complaints from consumers on alleged data disappearance of bundles.  In the occurrence of genuine cases on billing anomalies which are rare, the regulator has intervened and resolved the cases to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

However, we have noted that in most cases consumers are not aware that some of the applications activated on their gadgets utilise sizeable amounts of data in the background.  Additionally, some gadgets automatically update several applications in the background, oblivious to consumers, resulting in data depletion and bill shocks as airtime can be completely wiped out.

The other case in point to data disappearance occurs where/when consumers staying in or passing through border areas such as Victoria Falls, Plumtree, Beitbridge and Maitengwe, experience inadvertent roaming where they get hooked onto the network from a neighbouring country.  This may result in increased data consumption if the consumer has activated data roaming.

On the issue of default out of bundle browsing, Econet Wireless and Netone offer the opt in/out option for automatic out of bundle browsing, hence, there is no default out-of bundle browsing without consent.  Telecel is yet to offer this facility, however, it has a notification mechanism that advises subscribers on depletion/exhaustion of data bundles and alerts them to buy new bundles or use out of bundle data.  We encourage consumers to report when they suspect billing anomalies for investigation.

In cases where data is depleted due to inaccurate billing, consumers are encouraged to contact their service providers immediately for redress and also to alert them of possible technical problems within their systems.  POTRAZ intervenes in cases where service providers fail to address complaints received from consumers by facilitating redress.  Accordingly, POTRAZ has also developed an educational brochure on data bundles which educates consumers on the various aspects of data including data bundle types and their terms and conditions as well as measures they should take to ensure that their data is used for the intended purpose and with their knowledge.  This initiative is now part of our consumer education and awareness campaigns on bundles as attached.

On data expiry and data roll over, consumers have the right to choose any category of data bundles but the bundles cannot last forever and expire within the stipulated time frames as per the terms and conditions.  Some consumers are failing to deplete their data bundles and they feel short-changed as their bundles are not entirely utilised.

Accordingly, POTRAZ issued Regulatory Notice Number 2 of 2019 on data rollover and data transfer in which operators were ordered to put in place mechanisms that ensure users can rollover unused data and can transfer the data to other users on the same network.  Internet access providers have implemented the regulatory notice, whilst mobile network operators have asked for more time to invest in the system before implementation.  I thank you.

HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam Chair and thank you

Hon. Minister for that short but eloquent presentation which answers the issues that were raised by the original mover of that motion.  Hon. Speaker, my question is with regards to this facility and I hope I can explain it properly.  I buy data bundles today on an option that says; daily bundles, because the service providers now have daily, weekly and monthly data packages.  I buy data on a daily package and then, because of unavailability of electricity at times, the network is not there and the time lapses for that particular day.  In our respective constituencies we are experiencing electricity shortage which affects the boosters’ power.  Agreeably, the network providers have said one of their major costs is fuel and it is unavailable.

The network is not there but I would have bought data in the morning and I spend 9 hours without accessing my data.  How does the network provider intend to compensate for my lost time, because it is not my problem, neither is it the problem of the network provider.  My bundles expire after 24 hours; that is my point of clarification.

HON. TSVANGIRAI: Thank you Madam Speaker.  My question

is with regards to the data bundles running out.  I think , maybe, in other countries we have seen; for example Samsung in South Korea and Apple in the United States where it is not very difficult for a company to tell you that data is running out because of this or that.  However, behind the scenes these are companies which have to make their money at the end of the day.  I would not put it past Econet for example, to lie to the

Government and say; ‘we are not throttling your data.’  I believe that, that maybe the reason why data maybe running out fast.  It may be an issue of over-throttling of data.

My question is: I think one of the problems that happens and was spoken about yesterday is that we are having lack of competition in the country Madam Speaker.  For example, if we only have Econet and

Netone which are providing cell service and Econet also now owning Zol, you put too much burden on one company.  What if one day Econet is cyber-hacked?  So I think may be the space for competition within the cellular data industry also needs to be opened to provide competition in terms of data.  Those are my questions to the Hon. Minister.  Thank you

Hon. Speaker.

HON. S. BANDA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  I just

have two points of clarification.  The first one, I did not hear quite correctly, the one from Malawi, the megabytes, if the Minister can repeat that, then I can come up with my follow-up question because I was recently there, and I want to check if the figures that he has and what I have are the same.  However, I believe that what I have might not be the same.

The second issue Hon. Speaker is; if you go on the internet, you will read that Africa has got the highest price for one gigabyte of mobile data.  If you read further, it says, Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe and Swaziland are the three most expensive countries when it comes to gigabyte data.  I therefore challenge 100% the figures that are being tabled here in Parliament and still insist that Zimbabwe has one of the highest – actually in the Southern Region, Zimbabwe has the highest, most expensive data.

HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker. May I thank the

Hon. Minister for the Ministerial Statement.  I seek clarification from the Minister.  I am aware that universities in Zimbabwe are paying on average, 200 000 worth US$ for internet connectivity and I think that is very high Hon. Minister.  What is the Ministry doing to reduce the bandwidth in Zimbabwe?

The other issue concerns internet connectivity in the rural areas - some of us represent rural constituencies.  Grade 7 students are supposed to apply online and the internet connectivity is very low and is not even there in Gokwe-Chireya which I represent.  So what efforts are being done by the Ministry to ensure that there is adequate coverage in terms of internet connectivity in Zimbabwe as a whole?

HON. D. TSHUMA: I would like to seek clarification on the issue of data bundles. I realise that on the presentation by the Minister, he indicated that on the roll over issue they have approached POTRAZ as a Ministry to relay the information to the service providers so that this cumbersome issue is looked into. I would like to find out if there is any form of timeframe that has been given to POTRAZ so that the populace gains from this exercise?

HON. KARENYI: I wanted to make a follow up to say Hon.

Minister, have you taken into consideration the issue of the data bundles? He is saying as Zimbabwe we have got the lowest charges in terms of our internet or data bundles, but I was trying to say I think because of our economy Madam Speaker, I was trying to calculate that a day I may use roughly RTGS$40-50. If I calculate it for 30 days, I think it is going to about RTGS$1 500, which is someone’s salary at the moment. I strongly feel that we cannot compare with other countries at the moment because their economies are sound and their GDPs are different from our economy.

I think they must reconsider also taking what is happening in our current situation because a domestic worker, student, teacher or anyone who is earning below RTGS$4 000 cannot afford data bundles or to get information freely. In other words, those who have got money are those who are now going for Internet and the like. I was saying to myself Minister, I have a daughter who is in Form Six. She is getting all the books on the Internet and wants to download the novels and everything.

If you calculate the amount of money we send to her for downloading of these books and others, truly Madam Speaker it is unbearable. I strongly feel that he must reconsider. He cannot compare Zimbabwe and other countries because other countries have sound economies.

HON. T. ZHOU: The issue regarding data bundles is a sore issue.

This is an issue which affects all of us because everyone now surfs the Internet. The Internet has no specific age group. Everyone goes on social media. So you discover that the cheapest is $7 and you are given 40 megabytes by Econet after purchasing a $7 bundle. As I stand here, when I checked I discovered that the cheapest is $7 and the highest is

$65 worth of 1 200 megabytes. The lowest is $7 by 30 which is around $210, and that is a lot of money. As women, we also want to use the social media. Inasmuch as Zimbabwe is considered the lowest ...

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Please stick to one language.

HON. T. ZHOU: Let me say that the data bundles are written in

English, so I was trying to express myself.

What I am trying to say is that data is expensive and this is tough for us after paying that amount and as a woman it affects me because when I surf the Internet and then do my household chores, I discover that my bundles will have expired. As women, we also desire to use data bundles whilst we are doing our household chores.

HON. MUDARIKWA: Madam Speaker, my question is to do

with the current three service providers. If I go to Johannesburg today, within five minutes I will be roaming in Johannesburg. Why is it that in Zimbabwe we have no local roaming? What it means is that if I go in an area where there is Telecel, you see many Hon. Members moving around with three cellphones because you cannot roam within

Zimbabwe but I can roam in South Africa, Europe or Asia. Why is it that there is no local roaming? That alone tells you that there is a cartel that does not want to have local roaming.

Secondly, what people must understand about frequencies is because it is a national resource. The frequency each service provider is using is coming from Zimbabwe’s commonwealth so there must be no monopoly to say I do not want because this one did not build up infrastructure. Some of the infrastructure is put so close to houses of people. One way or the other some people say in the long term there will be some problems associated with having those base stations near houses. All the Zimbabweans are requesting is, if I go into one area I must be able to roam locally. I do not now need three handsets. I only require one handset. Thank you.

HON. NDEBELE: Thank you Madam Speaker. By way of clarity, I wish to invite the Minister to check his statistics again. In the SADC region, we are one of the most expensive countries together with Swaziland. I would like the Minister to verify that but amongst other things, I want to tease out the following Madam Speaker.

This is a multi-billion industry and I keep wondering every time I buy data and it disappears from gadgets if at all as a Government or our Government as a regulator really knows how to regulate this sector. Some of the questions I want to tease out the Minister are on whether we are getting legitimate revenue or taxation from these Internet service providers. Let me give you an example Minister. When data disappears and all of us here lose at least $2 or 3 bond from our phones.  The same goes for doctors out there and other people that can afford to buy data, usually we ignore but multiply $3 by roughly 8 million people, that is $24 million in a day.  This I think also amounts to retrogressive taxation on poor people like me.  Remember Hon. Minister, this is prepaid, unlike someone that first uses data and then pays for it later. I pay for the data before I even use it.

Another example that I have tested myself Madam Speaker, which I would like you to do, buy 40 megabytes of data today, switch off your phone, switch it on tomorrow and try to download a file that is 30 or 35 megabytes, you will not be able to download that, “inongopera.”  You wonder what happened to the balance. So my invitation to the Minister is, please protect the poor out there because data is a human right.  All we are asking for Minister, is that you ensure positive consumer welfare outcomes and we are part of the consumers

There are regulatory issues Madam Speaker that I want to tease out.  There is 100% failure rate from the regulator, Potraz.  Why?  Potraz goes to bed with Econet.  Econet is the single biggest cartel in Zimbabwe in terms of internet service provision.  It is a cartel and we have warned our Government that cartels are taking over the economy.  This is one example of a cartel; a black face but a white monopoly behind that black face.  Is the Minister aware of the existence of patronage relations between Potraz and Econet?  The other way of lowering data costs is to introduce competition.  There is no competition Madam Speaker.  What is happening Hon. Minister at NetOne, we are always firing Chief Executive Officers.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Ask your question Hon.

Ndebele. Do not debate.

HON. NDEBELE:  My question now, relating to the same internet - [HON. MAYIHLOME:  Inaudible interjection.] – Do not be cheeky.  You are no longer in the army – [Laughter.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, order, Hon. Members!

– [HON. MEMBERS:  Ngaagare pasi!] -  Hon. Members, order!

HON. NDEBELE:  Madam Speaker, I want to find out from the

Minister what he is doing about the dominance of Econet – [HON.

MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Members!  You

may go ahead Hon. Ndebele.

HON. NDEBELE:  I would want to find out what the Minister is doing about the dominance of Econet.  Firstly, they are in the business of wholesaling data because they provide the backbone of bringing in internet into the country.  Secondly, they are also involved in selling data to the end user.  That on its own is dominant.  Econet owns ZOL and Liquid Telecoms, so when we say Government is funding NetOne and when we say the same Government is also funding Telecel, what we are simply saying is, Potraz is funding these entities but where is Potraz getting that money from? It is money coming from Econet, but Econet is paying Potraz so that Potraz pays all these other entities to go to sleep and that they outcompete them.

Madam Speaker, there are other things that I want to tease out the Minister.  What is the business model of NetOne for instance?  They seem to be 75% parastatal and 15% commercial. So if we introduce real competition, it is only real competition that will assist to bring down data prices.  At the moment, Potraz is beholden to Econet because Econet actually funds Potraz through their USS Fund.  They pay them millions, 5% in a year.  Those are the things that I thought I would check with the Minister. Thank you.

HON. MUSWERE:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  With regards to

the data roll over, I am sure I explained that Potraz has issued Notice Number 2 of 2019 for data roll over and transfer of data. The internet access providers have activated Notice Number 2 of 2019 and the mobile network operators which are Telecel, Econet and NetOne.  They have asked for some more time to activate their system because it is a technical issue.  Before the end of the fourth quarter, they have activated their technical systems. In line with Vision 2030, Zimbabwe is open for business and we need more investment in the telecoms sector.  Potraz is authorised to licence any new players in the sector.

The other issue about data disappearance, I think I explained Madam Speaker that it is about gadget management.  MMOs can also try to assist most of the consumers who are having challenges managing the out of data bundle and browsing within the data bundle.

With regards to infrastructure sharing, Government has developed the digital infrastructure master plan which seeks to share infrastructure within the country. What actually happens is that with the digital infrastructure plan, Government encourages Telecel, NetOne and Econet to share their infrastructure.  Mainly, the most expensive part of the infrastructure is the passive infrastructure. So whenever POTRAZ constructs a passive infrastructure then they can be able to install 3 active infrastructure gadgets from the three MNOs.  With regards to the investment in NetOne, Government will soon be rolling out the NetOne

MBB phase 3.  With regards to the vision of the ministry we want ubiquitous connectivity across the country.  The major explicit objective is to ensure that there is business viability and consumer protection.  With regards to the costing method which was asked by Hon. Karenyi, we are using the TPI methodology which actually tracks the cost of each and every aspect of the expenditure.

With regards to the gadgets, I have addressed this one and it was just a repetition.  Number portability we are working on it, it is a Government policy.  For the revenue monitoring, I am sure that was asked by Hon. Ndebele, we have awarded a telecommunication monitoring company to develop what we call The Telecommunication Traffic Monitoring System and Revenue Assuring System (TTMS) which will track the costs.  For the spectrum, the interest of the public Madam Speaker superceded private interest.  For the issue with regards to the CEO which was asked by Hon. Ndebele, no one has been fired.

This particular matter is before the courts but no one has been fired.

With regards to POTRAZ, it is a professional institution governed by best practice.  With regards to decision making, the consultative process is multi-stakeholder.  With inter operability of MNOs and MFS, it is a development which is underway Madam Speaker.  I thank you.

HON. MAYIHLOME: Thank you Hon. Speaker.  Given the high

data cost for all communities, because data is now used by all levels of society, would not the Minister with his service providers consider free wifi spaces for schools colleges and public places like libraries throughout the country. This is because students or pupils from primary schools are being requested to access books using data – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjections.] – I am not asking you I am asking the Hon. Speaker.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members.

HON. MAYIHLOME: Can we have free wifi spaces, in public

places, libraries, even buses or trains as part of their social contribution responsibilities.

HON. NDIWENI: Thank you Madam Speaker.   I need

clarification from the Hon. Minister when he gave comparisons of charges in the SADC region. All I wanted to enquire from him was there any consideration taken on the per capita income of the population in which these charges are burdened, so to speak to the population.  If you just compare without such variables, South Africa – the population there could be getting more money per capita in terms of salaries and stuff like that.  So I wanted to hear from the Minister if that was taken into consideration.

My second point is that we were once promised that the rollover of data was going to be effected.  The players had promised that before end of last year they would affect data roll over so much so that if your 24 hours lapsed, your data would be rolled over to the next day, provided it was not used.  How far has that gone?  My last point of clarification is how far has the Minister gone on enforcing infrastructure sharing between these players, because if infrastructure sharing is enforced Madam Speaker, we might have lowering of data charges - because you will have the three network providers having separate base stations.  If they share infrastructure, it is our view that data charges will definitely come down.

HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. Let

me also thank the Hon. Minister for the Ministerial Statement on data tariffs.  I would want to agree with the previous speakers on the issue of data being expensive in this country.  Hon. Speaker, let me say the few who are affording the data, I personally have a concern on the regulation particularly on social media.  Recently, we have had a statement that the soldiers, the army is going to be surveying our social media platforms.

Madam Speaker, this is a key issue, this is a very important issue –

[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members – [HON. MAMOMBE: Tanga wanotenga mazino wozouya kunouku, wakundinyanyira.] –

HON. MADZIMURE: On a point of order.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

*HON. MADZIMURE: Madam Speaker the Hon. Member who

is seated over there and looking at you is abusing Hon. Mamombe.  The Hon. Member is old with his age to say that Hon. Mamombe loves him is unparliamentary.  So, I would like to ask that Hon. Nyabani should withdraw his words.  This is not a House for love affairs – [HON.

KARENYI: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Karenyi and Hon.

Matangira order.  Hon. Matangira I will order you out of the House. I have heard what happened – [HON. MATANGIRA: On a point of order!]- Hon. Matangira, I want to give a ruling and you are standing up, I will chase you out of the House.  I heard what happened, Hon. Mamombe you are the one who provoked Hon. Nyabani; you said that he does not have teeth.  Can you withdraw that? Then Hon. Nyabani should also withdraw his words that he said in response.

*HON. MADAMOMBE: Thank you for your ruling Hon.

Speaker.  However, I am not a mad woman who just says things but because I respect you Hon. Speaker, I am going to swallow my words.  I

withdraw – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon.

Madzimure, I will send you out if you continue like that.  Hon. Nyabani, can you stand up and withdraw your words that you asked Hon.

Mamombe whether she loves you.

*HON. NYABANI: When I said…

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I did not ask you to debate but I said withdraw your statement.

*HON. NYABANI: I withdraw.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members!

HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you very much for your protection, I really appreciate that.  I was in the middle of making my submission to the Hon. Minister in terms of the unformed forces with their role of monitoring our social media platforms.

This was recently announced that the uniformed forces are going to be monitoring our social media.  Let me submit this to this august

House; it is not the duty of the military to be monitoring, we understand, because of cyber bullying and so forth, there is need to monitor our social platforms.  However, is the military the right people to be monitoring our social media platforms?

Madam Speaker, this is very pertinent in case the other Hon. Members do not understand; I will be using my hard earned money to be buying data then on top of that I have the military monitoring my social media platforms.  I need the Hon. Minister to respond to that, can the Government find a civilian group of people to be doing that monitoring not the military.  We are not a military State, this should stop.  I thank you.

HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I did not hear the Hon. Minister responding to the issue of bandwidth.  The value of bandwidth used by universities; we have visited universities and noticed that University of Zimbabwe is paying 200 000 USD per month worth of bandwidth which is very expensive.  So, I was expecting the Minister to respond to that but he did not.

HON. TSUNGA: having listened to my colleagues, I thought there was one missing element or link and it relates to what Government through POTRAZ, is getting from the tariffs because we may take the service providers that is Econet, Netone and so forth to the slaughter and forget that Government also is an accomplice in terms of what component it gets from the tariffs that we pay.  So, if Government can also look at that component and say to what extent can they reduce it so that the overall picture is that of reduced tariffs because Government would have reduced what it takes from the tariffs.  I thank you.

HON. MUSANHI: There is interconnectivity between all the networks in the country in terms of calling and messaging.  You can be able to phone Telecel using an Econet line and visa a vis but when it comes to money movement, there is only one monopoly. Can the Minister explain to the House why we only have Econet as the only service provider for cash movement in the country?  Why not have the same inter-connectivity like we do on calls and other mobile services.  I thank you.

Hon. Ndebele having stood up.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  May you take your seat Hon.

Ndebele.

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION

TECHNOLOGY, POSTAL AND COURIER SERVICES (HON.

MUSWERE):  Thank you Madam Speaker.  With regards to free WiFi, Zimbabwe Academic and Research Network (ZARNet) has been capacitated to deal with academic research and currently, Liquid Telecoms and TelOne have been offering free WiFi, for example at the University of Zimbabwe to students.

With regards to what has been asked earlier on by Hon. Ndebele on the turnaround strategies for NetOne, we have now fixed targets to ensure that there is viability within the mobile network operator.  Part of these turnaround strategies include 40% revenue share for the year 2020.  We have also ensured that they are going to reduce 30% of their OPEX as a cost cutting measure.  With regards to capacitation of infrastructure, we have ensured that the implementation and development of the MBB phase three project is activated.  We are also working on restructuring the entity to ensure that it is not top heavy.

With regards to the pricing model, the TPI like I said, we have a multi-stakeholder, a process which is cost based.  With regards to Hon. Karenyi, she had alluded to the poor performance of the economy.  I think we are all cognisant of the fact that we have challenges in this economy.  That is why we have the TSP and the two five year economic development plans to turnaround the fortunes of this country.

With regards to infrastructure sharing Madam Speaker, NetOne has confirmed 148 base station sites which they are going to share with Econet.  With regards to what Hon. Mamombe asked, the Military is under the purview of the Ministry of Defence, I am sure they can respond to that one but with regards to cyber security, we are developing a Bill which will be debated in this august House is called the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill.

With regards to the taxation, that is under the purview of the

Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.  With regards to the interoperability within the mobile financial services, thus Telecash, OneMoney and EcoCash, we are developing regulations to ensure that there is interoperability within the framework of the mobile financial services.  I emphasise Madam Speaker, that the explicit goal is to ensure that there is business viability and consumer protection.  I thank you Madam Speaker.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION

COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY, POSTAL AND COURIER

SERVICES (HON. MUSWERE), the House adjourned at Twelve

Minutes past Six o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 10th March 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

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