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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 07 OCTOBER 2021 VOL 48 NO 1

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 7th October, 2021

(OFFICIAL REPORT)

MEETING OF PARLIAMENT

Parliament met in the Chamber of the National Assembly in terms of Section 140 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

                  THE HON. SPEAKER: Section 140 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that “The President may, at any time, address either House of Parliament or a joint sitting of both Houses” and Section 140 (4) also states that: “at least once a year, the President must address a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament on the State of the Nation and the Speaker and the President of Senate must take the necessary arrangements for Parliament to receive such address”.

Accordingly, I have to inform the House that at 12 o’clock noon today, His Excellency the President Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, will deliver the State of the Nation Address which marks the Official Opening of the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament.  Business is now suspended but be around not outside.  Thank you.

Business of the House was suspended at Twenty-Three Minutes to Twelve o’clock p.m.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in attendance.

         [National Anthem]

         HIS EXCELLENCY, THE PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE, was pleased to address Parliament through the virtual platform as follows:

Mr. Speaker Sir, Madame President;

It is my honour and privilege to deliver my State of the Nation Address at this occasion which also marks the Opening of the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe. I am making this address at a time when our nation remains under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic for the second year running.  I, however, sincerely congratulate the people of our great nation for their unity and fortitude as well as the hard working culture which they continue to demonstrate. This has seen us realise unprecedented milestones and successes, against all forms of adversity.

Increased production, productivity, innovation and positive ingenuity are inspiring many, especially our young people to work harder to reach their full potential for the ultimate prosperity of our nation.

         I equally commend the people of our great motherland, across all sectors of the economy for rallying together and playing their respective part towards the realisation of Vision 2030.

The peace, unity, harmony, stability and growing national cohesion will surely see us realising the goals and aspirations we have set out for ourselves.  As we reflect on the State of our Nation, let us therefore, individually and collectively re-commit to serve our mother country wholeheartedly, towards an improved quality of life for all and lasting development which leaves no one and no place behind.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Madame President,

My administration is buoyed by the upward growth trajectory of our economy. This year’s projections indicate an over 7.8% economic growth.

The higher predictions are premised on the good 2020/21 agriculture season; firm international mineral commodity prices, stable inflation and exchange rate as well as the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The financial sector is stable with the foreign currency auction performing well and accessed by both large and small to medium size businesses. Going forward my Government will ensure that the platform is adequately resourced and that the relevant authorities enhance efficiencies within the system.

These successes are being recorded against a backdrop of the continuing illegal economic sanctions. The sanctions have a deleterious impact on our economy. We therefore reiterate our calls for their urgent and unconditional removal.

         In agriculture, timely implementation of Government programmes is immensely benefitting the sector.  The focus of the multi-pronged programmes now seeks to increase rural per capita incomes while also improving household food security and nutrition. The increased number of young people undertaking thriving farming businesses throughout the country is applauded.  This new crop of young farmers assures us that the land which we fought for, will remain in safe hands, for posterity.

Recognising the far reaching impacts of climate change and the need to build resilience while ensuring adaption remain essential. Further, the Second Republic has increased the Strategic Grain Reserve to 1.5 million tonnes.

In addition, my Government is consistently availing adequate resources to expedite payments to our farmers for crop deliveries. This Strategy is envisaged to guarantee enhanced productivity and profitability of farm operations along the “farming as a business” philosophy.    I once again exhort all farmers to ensure the timely preparation for the 2021/2022 agriculture season.

This year, our cumulative tobacco sales exceeded 210.9 million kilograms, with export earnings surpassing US$589.6 million. Cotton production also increased by 100% to 92 000 tonnes. Investments to facilitate the value addition of these strategic crops are being sought.

With regards to livestock, we are gravely concerned with losses incurred by farmers due to the menace of livestock diseases. The distribution of tick-grease and locally produced January Disease vaccine doses has begun.

Farm mechanisation and agriculture modernisation continue to be high on the priority list of the Second Republic. The District Development Fund and other agencies are assisting with the tillage programme for various categories of farmers.

To augment the current number of mechanical farming implements available nationally, various bilateral schemes will inject an additional 3 000 tractor units and over 200 combine harvesters.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Madame President,

The mining sector is, this year, expected to grow by 11% as a result of robust programmes which encompass increased exploration and expansion projects; resuscitation of closed mines and opening of new ventures as well as mineral beneficiation and value addition.

Our manufacturing sector is benefitting from the Import Substitution Strategy and Local Content Policy launched by my Government, coupled with the favourable ease of doing business environment. Growth of the sector and a steady increase in industrial capacity utilisation is being registered.

Our people are encouraged to deliberately buy “Proudly Zimbabwean” brands, which now dominate our shop shelves. Meanwhile, I urge our industrialists to broaden their research and development towards increasing the range and variety of ‘Made in Zimbabwe” products.

The current economic rebound and increased productivity has seen increasing demand for electricity and fuel. In light of this, my Government has redoubled its efforts to complete and commission Unit 7 and 8 at Hwange Power Station. Other renewable energy augmentation projects, inclusive of solar power generation countrywide, are equally on course.

As a clear endorsement of our National Vaccination Programme, we have begun receiving requests for the hosting of regional and international meetings in Victoria Falls. Special attention to other tourism areas such as Kariba and the Eastern Highlands remains critical with regards to the roll-out of the Vaccination Programme.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Madame President,

Government has prioritised capital spending, with 34% of total expenditure to date, having been earmarked for infrastructure development. The ongoing Phase 2 of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme is indeed transformational across all provinces, districts, cities and towns. Local resources are being put to good use, while local contractors are empowered and the commuting and trading public is experiencing the added convenience.

In response to the transport needs of an ever growing and highly productive population, my Government has availed resources for the procurement of modern buses to service urban, inter-city and rural routes. The establishment of electronic systems for the integration and computerisation of the Vehicle Inspection Department, Central Vehicle Registry, ZINARA and related stakeholders will have far reaching impacts on our national transport management system.

The entry of Qatar Airways to further link our country with Middle East markets is a welcome development.  Air Zimbabwe continues on its quest to enhance efficiency and viability of the national carrier.                                The recent procurement of the Embraer ERJ 145 will thus increase the entity’s serviceable fleet of planes.

Meanwhile, the rehabilitation and expansion works at the R.G. Mugabe International Airport, J. M. Nkomo International Airport and other air strips such as Kariba, Buffalo Range and Grand Reef airports are on schedule.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Madame President,

I want to commend our frontline workers for their selfless sacrifice towards COVID-19 infection prevention, control and management. My Government will continue to avail more vaccines in order to save lives and livelihoods.

I, however, call upon all of us to heighten our determination with regards to continued vaccinations in order to meet our desired national herd immunity target.

In the education sector, the resumption of the school calendar for all categories of learners is being carefully managed and monitored. I am confident that the measures we are enforcing, along with the invaluable support from our educators, parents and guardians, will see the schooling period run its full course.

Remarkable progress is being registered towards the creation of a competence based education system both in primary and higher education.  The intention is to vault innovation for a knowledge driven economy and the production of goods and services which benefit our people and the economy as a whole.

In line with the National Human Settlements Policy, the implementation of the National Housing Delivery Programme is gathering momentum across the country. The regularisation programme for informal and irregular settlements remains high on the agenda.

My Government, through the National Social Security Authority, has developed a raft of measures aimed at improving the lives and strengthening social safety nets for targeted beneficiaries. This has seen NSSA setting up a revolving fund for income generating projects.

Government remains alive to the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Facilities under the Zimbabwe Women’s Micro-Finance Bank, Treasury and SMEDCO continue to capacitate women and create jobs across all sectors of the economy.

Government also notes with grave concern that some sections of our youth are under siege from the scourge of drug and substance abuse. This situation threatens the very core of our future as a country and cannot go unchecked. As such, the recently set up Inter-Ministerial Committee has been tasked with finding lasting solutions to reverse and end this disconcerting trend.  Our security services are equally seized with the matter.

The ongoing efforts to bring justice closer to communities are being accelerated. The commissioning last month, of the Chinhoyi One-Stop Court Complex, and the construction of the Gwanda Court Complex must thus be viewed as a show of commitment by the Second Republic to extend similar facilities to all provinces, countrywide.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces remains steadfast and delivering on their Constitutional mandate to defend our national sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest.

In addition to this primary responsibility, the Defence Forces are scaling up activities on the civil-military relations front. This has seen them joining hands with the country’s health sector in the fight against COVID-19 as well as helping in the mitigation of new threats, such as climate change induced national disasters.

The recognition and welfare of the brave men and women who sacrificed for the freedom and democracy we enjoy today is constitutionally guaranteed. 2021 thus witnessed the enactment of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act. The operationalisation of this Act has paved way for the establishment of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board; the Heroes Dependants Assistance Board and the appointment of the War Victims Compensation Fund Commissioner. Measures are now in place to restructure assistance programmes to support economic projects run by our Veterans of the Liberation Struggle.

To entrench the work ethic of the Second Republic and the culture of accountability, all our Permanent Secretaries signed Performance Contracts in December, 2020. At the end of 2021, the inaugural evaluation of the contracts will be conducted. In January 2022, all heads of State Owned Enterprises, parastatals as well as local authorities will be required to sign similar contracts in order to guarantee that our citizens enjoy value for money.

In furtherance of our re-engagement drive, our country continues on its quest to be “a friend to all”, within the comity of nations. Zimbabwe continues to seek new frontiers for investment and trade. We are thus participating at the “Dubai Expo 2021” which is running until March, 2022.

In addition to such initiatives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade along with other ministries, departments and agencies also host trade and investment promotion events, in line with my administration’s economic diplomacy thrust.

I want to heartily commend all Zimbabweans in the Diaspora for their patriotism and contribution towards the national development agenda and building our mother country.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Madame President,

Allow me now to shift focus to the legislative Agenda for the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament. I am aware that some Bills could not be dispensed with and were carried over from the Third Session. Of the existing statutes which required to be aligned to the Constitution, it is pleasing that only 42 statutes remain to be enacted under the alignment process. These must be completed during this session.

Thirteen Bills are still with the respective line Ministries, of these, the Principles of two Bills have been approved by Cabinet, while eleven are still with Ministries. The Second Republic will continue to maintain its responsive and proactive stance to emerging needs of our society by ensuring that the law is a tool for development.

The ratification of agreements is equally important. Hence, my Government submitted the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination State Party Report to the UN Treaty Body and is on schedule to submit the 3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Report to the UN Human Rights Council.

The Second Republic is also committed to ratifying all outstanding Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements. Furthermore, Parliament is also expected to ratify the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation.

In the health sector, this Session is expected to expedite consideration of the Medical Services Amendment Bill; the Medical Aid Societies Bill; and the Health Professions Amendment Bill. These should result in a consolidated legislative strategy to achieve Universal Health Coverage, enhanced access and affordable health services.

Parliament will equally consider the Amendment of the State Universities Statutes Bill which seeks to amend the Acts governing the thirteen State Universities, to align with the Constitution and enhance conformity with the Heritage Based Education 5.0 policy. The Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill will see further liberalisation of the broadcasting sector.

In the financial services sector, the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) Bill is set to empower IPEC to prescribe a minimum level of assets and liabilities. It will also provide for the establishment of the Protection Fund for Policy holders and Pensions and Provident Fund members.

On the other hand, the Securities and Exchange Act should be amended to widen the definition of Securities to include Virtual Asset Service Providers. This will enable the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate and supervise Virtual Assets Service Providers on a risk-based approach. This will be complemented by amendments to the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act. The envisioned Act seeks to provide for the identification and assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing risks that may arise in relation to virtual assets.

It will further ensure that appropriate sanctions are applicable to errant Virtual Assets Service Providers, their directors and senior managers. The Deposit Protection Corporation Act is also being amended to align the legislation to international best practice.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Madame President,

Allow me to highlight that Parliament will soon be requested to consider legislation relating to the implementation of the Devolution Agenda. Of special note, is the presentation of the Provincial Council’s Amendment Bill.

The requisite legislation used by the lower tiers of the State to ensure efficient implementation of the devolution agenda will also be amended. These include the Urban Councils Amendment Bill; Rural District Councils Amendment Bill; Regional Town and Country Planning Amendment; and the Traditional Leaders Amendment Bill.

Parliament is also expected to consider the Municipal Courts and Police Bill as well as the Liquor Licencing Bill intended to ensure the efficient discharge of the various mandates of local authorities.

The Second Republic is committed to ensuring that communities and all relevant arms of the State are adequately organised and capacitated to implement best practices on disaster risk management.  Hence, legislation on Disaster Risk Management will strengthen our nation’s responsiveness and preparedness to tackle disasters.

Through the Labour Amendment Bill, the dispute settlement machinery will be rationalised to remove cumbersome confirmation procedures. It also seeks to align the Labour Act with ratified International Labour Organisation Conventions, including freedom                  of association, the right to maternity leave and equal remuneration for work of equal value.

With regards to the welfare of our Parliamentarians, the proposed amendments to the Parliamentary Pensions Act should address deficiencies identified in the present Act.

Government has initiated a process to amend the Co-operative Societies Act in view of the changes in the socio-economic environment and the need to restructure operations, efficiencies and growth of co-operatives.

To enhance good governance, transparency and accountability among Private Voluntary Organisations, the Act governing these entities is going to be amended. The Bill seeks to align the Act with best practices, including on adherence to the Financial Action Task Force Standards. Proposed amendments will further ensure that PVOs operate within the thematic parameters, under which they are registered.

The Persons with Disabilities Bill is set to amend the 1992 Disabled Persons Act, informed by other contemporary legislation on disability rights.

With regards to children, the Child Justice Bill seeks to establish a child justice system for children in conflict with the law in accordance with the Constitution and international obligations. Additionally, the Guardianship of Minors Amendment Bill will amend the Guardianship of Minors Act by revising matters incidental to the definition of guardianship and custody.

Through the Administration of Justice Amendment Bill, Government intends to align the Administration of Justice Act to the Constitution.  The Judicial Laws Amendment Bill will amend the High Court Act, Labour Court Act and the Magistrates Court Act to ensure the proper functioning of the lower courts and efficient justice delivery.

The Fourth Session will consider the Prisons Amendment Bill, targeted at establishing a progressive system based on principles of rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders into society.

The Independent Security Service Complaints Commission Bill which seeks to provide for an independent complaints mechanism by members of the public should equally be considered during this Session.

The Defence Amendment Bill; Anti-Personnel Landmines Prohibition Amendment Bill and Biological and Toxin Weapon Warfare Bill will also be tabled before the Fourth Session, in accordance with the need to fulfil our country’s international obligations.

I am also aware of the expectation to migrate to the New Parliament Building in the new city in Mt. Hampden. The progress on the construction works to date is indeed pleasing. To our Parliamentarians, I wish to reiterate the need to expedite the legislative work that lies ahead. For the remainder of this year, and going into 2022, let there be a common desire to prioritise the enactment of laws which reflect and give impetus to the developmental aspirations of our people.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Madame President,

In concluding my address, I wish to express my profound gratitude to all the people of our great country for collectively creating and sustaining an atmosphere of peace, love and unity. I urge us not to tire in doing well, working hard and building our mother country. In due season, we shall surely reap successes and prosperity in the Zimbabwe we all want and deserve.

With these remarks, it is now my singular honour and privilege to declare the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe duly open for business.

God bless you all.

God bless Zimbabwe.

I thank you.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE, having caused a copy of the Presidential Speech to be delivered to Mr. Speaker, was pleased to retire.

[National Anthem]

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE and some Hon. Senators withdrew from the Chamber.

THE HON. SPEAKER resumed the Chair at Twenty-Four minutes to One o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

TABLING OF PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH

THE HON. SPEAKER: I lay upon the table a copy of the Speech which His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Hon. DR. E. D. Mnangagwa has been pleased to deliver to Parliament.

RESSUMPTION OF COMMITTEE BUSINESS

THE HON. SPEAKER: I also have to inform the House that in order to expedite the work of Parliament, all Committees of the Third Session will continue to operate as previously constituted until such time that new Committees are appointed by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.  Accordingly, Committees may resume sittings on Monday, 11th October, 2021.

MOTION

APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  I move that a Committee of Supply be appointed in terms of Standing Order Number 115.

Motion put and agreed to.

THE HON. SPEAKER adjourned the House at Eighteen Minutes to One o’clock p.m. without putting any question in terms of Standing Order No. 32 (2) (b) until Tuesday, 19th October, 2021.

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