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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 09 JUNE 2021 VOL 47 NO 58

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 9th June, 2021.

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

CHALLENGES IN ACCESSING DOCUMENTS THROUGH E-MAIL

THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to advise the House that Hon. Members who are having challenges in accessing documents that are sent through E-mails should get in touch with ICT Department for assistance, in Room 310, 3rd Floor, Parliament main building.

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM HON. MINISTERS

THE HON. SPEAKER: I have received so many apologies from Hon. Ministers.  Hon. Leader of Government Business, while apologies are accepted, they are now becoming a habit.  That habit is unacceptable.  There are some Ministers who are perpetually sending apologies.  That is not good for the country and Parliament at large.  The Ministers are: Hon. Vice President, Dr. Chiwenga and Minister of Health and Child Care; Hon. Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence and War Veterans; Hon. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Servises; Hon. Dr. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; Hon. Mathema, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; Hon. Edgar Moyo, Deputy Minister, Primary and Secondary Education.

Like this one Hon. Leader of Government Business, you cannot have the Minister away and the deputy away.  Surely, if the Minister is away, the Deputy should be around.  Hon. Chitando, Mines and Mining Development, Hon. Kambamura, also the same, why both of them away? Hon Prof Murwira, Minister of Higher Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; Hon Prof Mavima, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Hon J. G. Moyo, Minister of Local Government and Public Works;  and Hon Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries, and Rural Resettlement.

Those are the apologies; twelve of them - almost half the Cabinet is not here. I know a few are with His Excellency the President, I think about two but I am not sure about the others.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

HON NDUNA: My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development and in his absence, to the Deputy Minister.

THE HON SPEAKER: Do not go as far as that, that is my prerogative. Ask the question!

HON NDUNA: Thank you for your prerogative Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON SPEAKER: Withdraw that, you are being sarcastic.

HON NDUNA: I withdraw the sarcacism

THE HON SPEAKER: Thank you, I am an English teacher my friend. Please proceed.

HON NDUNA: My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development. What is Government policy in relationship to establishment of alternative sources of energy, in particular solar power?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON MUDYIWA): I would like to thank the Hon Member for the question. The Ministry of Energy has a policy where we are promoting the use of alternative energy, like solar and mini hydro power stations. As a result of that, we have a renewable energy policy which was launched in 2020 by His Excellency the President, where we are incentivising all those who want to venture into renewable energy.

We also have the bio-fuel policy where we are encouraging the use of bio-fuels like ethanol and biodiesel which is extracted from jatropha plant. Our policy as a Ministry is that we need that alternative energy as much as possible since the generation of electricity in the country is not enough to meet our daily needs as a country. As a Ministry, we are encouraging biofuel energy and renewable energy investment in the country. I thank you.

HON NDUNA: To that end, is it possible for the Minister to favour the House with the amount of time that an investor is faced with from inception to the time of operation if they have to start a renewable solar project in Zimbabwe in order to complement, augment and make sure they complement the power deficit that is there nationally to take root.

HON MUDYIWA: In the past, it used to take up to one year or more than a year to process such investors but as a Ministry, we have reduced that period to about three to six months. The challenge that we are facing is that we have got quite a number of investors who want to invest in renewable energy in the country but most of them were not taking up the offer because of our tariffs which were considerably low. That is where we were having challenges.

HON MARKHAM: Following on Hon Nduna’s question, could the Minister, also as an alternative energy supply us with any detail as to the Government policy of waste to energy programmes in view of cities like Harare where the waste is all over the place and you have waste energy as a major source in numerous countries as a supplier of electricity? I thank you.

HON MUDYIWA: As regards waste to energy programmes, we are promoting investment in that area. For your own information, at Mbare we do have a plant where there is generation of electricity from waste to energy.  Currently we are encouraging the municipalities to engage such investors.  We have got Pomona Dump place where there are negotiations between the City of Harare and an investor who wants to invest in waste to energy generation of electricity.  Thank you.

HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.  Considering the effects of Covid-19, are we realising increases in enrolments, comparing the period year ending 2020 to first term of 2021.  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, are you clear about your term timelines, you are saying first term, we are in 2021.

HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE: I am saying Mr. Speaker Sir, we had an enrolment up to end of 2020, now we want to see if there is an increase as we got into the first term 2021, the enrolments for 2021 compared to 2020.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  It is clearer now.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Speaker, it is a statistical question that needs a written question so that they can do the statistics and bring them to the House.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, can put your question in writing so that you can get the correct statistics?

HON. CHINYANGANYA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, my question is directed to the Leader of Government Business.  What measures have been put in place by the Government to ensure that newly crafted polices and newly enacted laws are made available to the general populace?

  THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  I want to say that with the advent of technology compared to yester years, once the Act has been gazetted, it is available on electronic format, you can also buy it from the Government Printer and it is widely circulated even by Parliament once it is enacted.  I think the availability of our laws have been enhanced by  technology and you can have the electronic copies, the hard copies you can buy them from the Government Printer and the relevant Ministries also they try to educate members of the public regarding the Act that they administer. So, we have several ways that are being used by Government to ensure that the laws that we would have enacted are traceable to the people.

HON. CHINYANGANA:  I want to thank the Hon. Minister for his response, what about the rural population and the elderly who are not able to read and some of them do not have access to the electronic means of communication?  What is Government doing to make sure that they also are made aware of important laws and important policies that would have been put in place by the Government?

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  All the laws that affect a certain segment of the society, that particular segment is educated about that particular law.  It is also incumbent upon all our Hon. Members, once we have an Act that you feel affects your particular constituents, you should take it out there, and explain that is in my view one of the roles of the legislature to explain the laws that would have been enacted.  Even before we enact laws, Parliament tries to ensure that within the geographical spread of the country, we identify places where public hearings are done and people are educated about the laws that we need to enact.  So I believe that it is a collective effort from all of us to ensure that particular legislation that affect specific members of our society, we educate them regarding the existence of those laws.  I thank you.

*HON. NDUNA: Allow me to speak in Shona Mr. Speaker Sir. How far have we gone in terms of raising awareness and putting the laws in different languages, in line with what is provided for in the Constitution?

*THE HON. SPEAKER:  The Minister has responded that you as Member of Parliament need to speak the vernacular language of where you come from so you have to speak in that vernacular language - be it venda and so on. You should educate them.  I thought his answer was comprehensive.

vHON. CHIKUDO:  My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.  It is around the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA), what difference has ZIDA made to the national economy since coming into being with particular reference to foreign direct investment and the ease of doing business?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (HON. MUSABAYANA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to thank the Hon. Member for raising such an important question.  The ZIDA was set up through an Act of Parliament to ensure that we assist on the ease of doing business. As you know, Zimbabwe was ranked lowly on the ease of doing business.  Why, because people had to move through different offices to be able to process or to register their organisation or their investment.

Now with the coming in of ZIDA, it has created a one-stop-shop where everything from enquiry to registration and the consummation of investment agreements is done through one roof.  As to the quantum and value of the investments that have been done to date, that is a bit on the specific side which we will interrogate and bring to this office, but what I would like to say is that to date…

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Bring where? Bring to this office?

HON. MUSABAYANA:  Sorry Mr. Speaker Sir, to this respectable august House.  Mr. Speaker Sir, to date, a number of investment enquiries have gone through ZIDA and they also do the due diligence.  As you know, President E. D. Mnangagwa is always saying we are open for business, but that does not mean we are open for any business that does not add value to the whole being of the Zimbabwean citizenry or society and at the same time we also make sure that only clean money is coming in and the projects that are being undertaken are projects that are sustainable and resilient in the future and make sure that they are also sustainable in terms of environmental impact. So to date we have registered a lot of investments that are being processed, but as to the quantum, we will appraise the House.  I thank you Hon. Speaker Sir – [AN HON. MEMBER:  Supplementary question Mr. Speaker Sir.]-

THE HON. SPEAKER:  There is no supplementary question because the Hon. Minister has indicated that he will bring a comprehensive resume of the actual investments that have been recorded so far since the establishment of ZIDA.  I hope the Hon. Minister will comply as agreed.  Thank you.

HON. CHASI:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker.  My question is directed to the Hon. Leader of Government Business in this august House and it revolves around the question of crypto currencies which a number of countries in Africa have now adopted, including our neighbours such as Botswana, South Africa, up north we have got Nigeria and other countries.

I would like to understand Government’s position on this matter.  Is it a matter that is currently under consideration or Government has completely ruled it out as some of the countries have done?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of crypto currency has never been under discussion or consideration.  At the particular moment, I think it is a subject for debate and consideration in the future, but it is not under consideration currently.  I thank you.

*HON. TEKESHE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs.  Is it Government policy that if you commit a traffic offence, you have to pay a spot fine?

*THE HON. SPEAKER:  May you pause your question again.

*HON. TEKESHE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Is it Government policy that if you commit a traffic offence you are supposed to pay a spot fine?  Even if you do not have any money you are forced to pay because long ago, there was 625 where you would need to pay when you get the money.  Thank you

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir and I want to thank Hon. Tekeshe for raising that question on spot fines.  Yes, it is Government policy.  Policy allows that.  That is why it is called a spot fine.  It has to be paid at that particular place.  You and the police officer are allowed to talk but if you fail to agree, you are then told to sit down and you are given time to think.  You can borrow money from others to pay the fine because if we allow you to go without paying, everyone who commits a traffic offence will use that excuse that they do not have money.  If you are allowed to go without paying the spot fine, where do you expect the police officer to make a follow up on the payment of the fine?  How will he find you?  I thank you.

HON. TEKESHE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I wanted the Hon. Deputy Minister to clarify whether 625 is still applicable because it is a person’s right to pay when they are supposed to pay, but for you to ask us where you are going to get the offender, that is not for our response.  So without money, I should be given a grace period in which to pay for my traffic offence.

*HON. MAVHUNGA:  The Hon. Member is saying that is he not allowed, but the point is that you would have committed an offence.  Without an offence, you are not required to pay but if you commit an offence, you have to pay.  If you do not have money, you need to communicate with the police at the roadblock.  You cannot run away with that money.  We need that money.  Thank you.

+HON. PETER MOYO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Thank you mother for your response but you should know that …

+THE HON. SPEAKER:  Here, we have Hon. Members not mothers.

+HON. PETER MOYO:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I will be having money in ecocash or swipe but police officers do not have swipe machines or ecocash merchant; they want cash.  Where do I get the cash because banks are not giving enough money so that I can move around with cash?  Who amongst us here has cash in his or her pocket?  Even here in town, when you say you want cash, where do you get it from?  If you arrested me in the rural areas and you expect me to be having cash, where do you expect me to get that cash from?  Should I stop going to the funerals because I will be told you are over-speeding?  Is that good?

+THE HON. SPEAKER:  Let the Hon. Minister respond in Ndebele.

+HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I also want to thank Hon. Moyo. I understand the plight.  We have little money but police officers do not have swipe machines.  This is one thing that we are going to consider and they also do not have ecocash because I think it will be so difficult for them.  We understand there is no money but because people are committing crimes, we need to fine them.  When we speak about the swipe machines, we will try to discuss as a Ministry but there will be a lot of these machines because the country is so big.  We are appealing to the public to drive and at the same time having cash so that they can pay spot fines if they commit offences – [Laughter.] –

+THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order.  I had said that the Hon. Minister will explain in Ndebele that she had said you can dialogue with the police officers giving reasons why you are failing to pay spot fines.  There should be understanding between the public and the police officers when the public have explained that way.  I know the police officers are listening.

HON. NDUNA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  In one of my encounters with the police, I have seen that I have not been allowed to pay my vehicle licence because I owed the police a certain fine for a certain violation.  Would it please the Minister to use that platform more and more that they are now enjoined with other platforms in the Zimbabwe Transport Integrated Management System (ZTIMS)?  Would it please the Minister to use that platform to get remittance or to get their fines as opposed to detaining motorists?

HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Thank you Hon. Nduna.  We will try to do what you are demanding us to do but remember we will have to consult.  Thank you.

 (v)* HON. MAKONYA:  Mr. Speaker Sir, my supplementary question to the Minister is that, if you do not have a spot fine, you need to reason with the police.  This will promote corruption because I can give the police officers $2 and they can let me loose.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Minister, the possibility of corruption in the process where you end up giving the police officer $2 and then you are told you can disappear.

HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI:  Hon. Speaker, I did not get the question.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  The Hon. Member is saying, in the process of discussing with the police officer while you negotiate, does this not create an opportunity for corruption whereby the suspected offender ends up paying a bribe to the police officer and the police officer ends up saying, you can please proceed.

HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI:  There is that possibility Hon. Speaker Sir.  This is why we are saying we should have spot fines because we do not want people to negotiate – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] -  Once we start negotiating, we are going to negotiate and end up into corruption.  This is why we are emphasising on spot fines.  People must just pay their fines.  Thank you.

Hon. Markham having stood up to pose a supplementary question.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Markham, is that a new question?

HON. MARKHAM:  It is a supplementary question Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Unfortunately, we have had four supplementary questions.  We cannot go beyond four in terms of our rules.

HON. I. NYONI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My supplementary question relates to the use of ecocash …

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order.  Hon. Member, I have just told Hon. Markham that we have had a maximum of four questions, so we cannot allow another supplementary question.  Thank you.

HON. MARKHAM:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  My question is to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  Last week, we were told by the Deputy Minister that all the money due from the auction system has been paid up to date.  Has this indeed happened and have the banks paid their customers?  What is Government policy to ensure that customers are given their allocations they applied for?  Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question which is purely operational.  The Government policy is that you access forex through the auction system and you are duly notified through your bank.  It is the bank that then proceeds to ensure that you get your allocation. Should the Hon. Member be having problems with that process of ensuring that the allocated foreign currency is accessed, I think it is a matter that can be taken up through the relevant banking channels to the Reserve Bank. I thank you.

HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My research with the bank is that some of them, particularly the big banks, are 8 weeks behind on the allocation of foreign currency. As a policy, could the Minister of Finance please check as to what is happening with the system - because in trading, if you wait for 8 weeks and your money is taken a week before, that is 9 weeks which is two months that your money has been  taken out of your cash flow before you receive the foreign currency. I am not blaming anyone but all I am asking is, as a policy, could Government check what the issue is delaying this by 9 weeks? Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. This is very specific. I know that the banks as a matter of policy do not debit your account before they effect a transfer, but if that is happening with certain banks, I think it is a specific question or issue that needs to be relayed to the Reserve Bank and subsequently to the Ministry of Finance. As a matter of policy, once you get allocated and you are notified, the bank will tell you to fund your account if it is under-funded or they will inform you that we are going to debit your account the equivalent of what they will be transferring. So any issues that are administrative or otherwise that the Hon. Member is encountering are best dealt by the bank or the Reserve Bank. I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Speaker the Minister of Finance as referred to by Hon. Markham had indicated that everything is in order but we have just confirmed with the bank that the larger banks are 8 weeks and the smaller banks are 4 weeks in arrears in terms of receiving the allocated money from the auction system. Can the Hon. Minister explain why those delays are there?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Speaker. Again, my response is that the bankers are the ones that are in communication with the Reserve Bank that releases the funds. They are best placed to explain what will be happening. The policy of Government is to go to the auction, you are allocated funds and the communication is done by the Reserve Bank through your bankers. If anyone is experiencing any problems, it is the respective bank that is supposed to explain to customers what the delay is, if any. If they are not satisfied, they can approach the Reserve Bank which can explain, because this is truly a specific issue that is not related to our policy to ensure that we access foreign currency through the auction system. I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: May I suggest Hon. Leader of Government business that you have some conversation with the Minister of Finance to check whether these delays are highly pronounced so that corrective action can be taken. Thank you.

*(v) HON. CHIKUNI: Thank you Mr. Speaker, how are you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: I am fine and you.

 (v)*HON. CHIKUNI: My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works. What does the policy say in the event that a chief dies – how long does it take for the installation of another chief?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Hon. Speaker. I want to thank Hon. Chikuni for that question. Once a chief dies, soon after his death someone is left in charge and the person acting on behalf of the chief comes from the chief’s family. The installation of chiefs is different from region to region. During the period that the acting chief is performing his duties, we believe that the families that are supposed to benefit from this chieftainship will be adequate time to choose a chief. Thank you.

 (v) * HON. CHIKUINI: I want to understand why it takes years, sometimes ten years or 20 years before another chief is chosen?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Hon. Chikuni for the question. The delay in getting a new chief takes time because of family conflicts. As a Ministry we do not have the mandate to pick chiefs and we are not involved in terms of who should become chief. Some will say that the spirit mediums have to play a role and some say that the first born child should become chief. So, it depends on the family and in most cases, there are misunderstandings and conflicts within the family and that is what delays the process on the coming in of new chief. I thank you.

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): Who was speaking on virtual – was it Hon. Gozho?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): It was Hon. Chikuni.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): Okay Hon. Chikuni, you cannot raise two supplementary questions.

*HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would want to know from the Hon. Minister that in the event that the acting chief refuses to hand over power to the new chief, what happens?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Madam Speaker and thank you Hon. Nduna for that question. There is what is known as the Provincial Chiefs Council. It has the mandate because once they decide on who should succeed the late chief, the name of the incumbent chief should go to the Provincial Coordinator and it should go to the Provincial Chief’s Council and in most cases, three chiefs should go to attend to the matter.  They will sit as an Electoral College and ensure that all procedures have been followed.  They will ensure that the procedures that are supposed to be followed by the families have been done.  After that they give us the name as a Ministry.  We take that name to the President.  So no one has the right to hold on to power.  If the acting chief refuses to hand over power, there are stages that are taken for one to hand over power.  No one can hold on to the throne, without permission.  I thank you.

*HON. CHIKUKWA: Thank you Hon. Minister.  I heard the response that you gave. I do not know whether it is true that there are families are taking over chieftainship – for example, I am from Chiweshe and people will say that we are from the Chiweshe family and we are telling you that so and so is supposed to take over the throne.  As a Ministry, you will say no, this is not possible.  As a Ministry we recommend so and so.  Is this true?

*HON. CHOMBO: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  I would like to thank you Hon. Member for that supplementary question.  As a Ministry, we do not have the right to choose a successor.  The name of the person who will succeed the chief will come from the Chief’s Council.  I thank you.

(v)+HON. M. M. MPOFU: Thank you Madam Speaker.  My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs.  We see a lot of increase in armed robberies.  As a Ministry, what are you doing to protect people, especially at filling stations?  When people report to police, they are told there are no vehicles to follow up the crimes.  So what are you doing to protect the public from these increased robberies?

+ THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI): Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I would like to thank Hon. Mpofu for that question.  Indeed there is an increase in armed robbery and as police, we are also disturbed by this issue.  I once responded to this question.  There are a lot of guns and it looks like guns are coming in through various places. Our borders are just too big that the police or the army may not be able to close tightly.  However, as a Ministry, we are seized with the matter.  We hope to have more vehicles very soon.  We have been promised by the Ministry of Finance that we will receive a fleet of vehicles soon.

The other thing is, yes the police say they do not have transport but some police stations have vehicles but they are very few. So, we are looking at that, indeed we are not happy with that.  We are living in fear but we will try.  I thank you.

+HON. M. MPOFU: My supplementary question is those robberies are taking place almost every day.  So what are they doing?  I hear the Hon. Minister saying they are trying but those robberies are taking place right now.  We need to know what strategies are in place.

+HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI: I hear what the Hon. Member is saying but that is a security issue.  So, I cannot reveal what exactly we intent to do.  How many people are going to be deployed, will they be in civilian or not and how they will be armed?  Like I said, we are looking at that and we are in control because all of us are worried by the situation including the police themselves.  I am sure you heard that a policeman was injured in a shootout.  All those things are very worrisome but I cannot reveal the strategy here because it is a security matter.  I thank you

*HON. KWARAMBA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.  My question is, we understand that teachers have been trained to do continuous assessment on school pupils, but what we notice is that the Grade Seven pupils would sit for six subjects, yet those pupils did not attend school for a long time because of COVID-19.  Now, why introducing new subjects when pupils were not attending lessons?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam Speaker. Part of the curricula includes continuous assessment and full assessment, and examination of learners dictates that component of continuous assessment be part of the examination process. It cannot be avoided to have teachers having skills to ensure that they conduct continuous assessment appropriately. It is up to the relevant school authorities to ensure that within the timelines that are available, learners are supposed to learn all the materials that they are required to satisfy the requirements for examination. I thank you.

HON. NYAMUDEZA: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport. What is Government doing to revamp the railway system so that we can see the trains back on our tracks?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS: I want to thank the Hon Member and indicate that the board of NRZ and the Ministry of Transport are doing a lot. At some stage, we entered into a contract with DIDG that did not materialise but they are exploring and I am told that the board is out of the country trying to find some investor so that they can enter into some partnerships for us to revive our rail system which is an economical part of the transport system for industry. I thank you.

HON NYAMUDEZA: Can we have a timeframe for the revival of the railway system?

HON ZIYAMBI: When you are hunting, you do not know where you are going to catch the animal. So the question is very difficult to say, tomorrow I would have concluded an agreement and the trains will be up and about. It is a process but once all the modalities that are required are in place, then and only then can you say we have identified this particular investor, we are going to have this partnership and we have given ourselves these timelines to ensure that we revamp and we will be up and about.

HON MARKHAM: Could we have clarity on the Government policy on whether they will continue pursuing the electric railway system or we are going to stick to diesel fuel? I thank you.

HON ZIYAMBI: That is part of the process and answers will be available in due course. I thank you.

*HON. E. NCUBE: My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs. When people fight and they want to seek medical assistance, the hospital requires a police report. What is of paramount importance between the life of the person or the police report? I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON MAVHUNGA-MABHOYI): I want to thank Hon Ncube for her question. Life is more important than the police report but the report is needed at the hospital to enable one to get medical attention with the full knowledge of what happened. We do value life, it is more important.

HON NDUNA: My supplementary to the Minister is that, would it please the Minister to align the Act that the police speaks to and about  in terms of the requirement of the police report on people that are injured, to align it to Section 62 of the Constitution, ‘the Right to Health’ in order that the supremacy of the Constitution according to Section 2 is upheld and all other Acts that are ultra vires to the Constitution are repudiated to their inconsistency with the Constitution.

HON MAVHUNGA-MABHOYI: I think you are suggesting, is it not so? The alignment is going to be done and remember the alignment is done through Parliament and not through the police. We are going to look into that one. I thank you.

HON. M. KHUMALO:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.  What is the Ministry doing in order to uplift the level of the five local boards in the country which have remained stagnant in terms of development so that they reach town status?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO):  In local government, there are conditions that are set that have to be made for anyone to migrate from being a local board to a municipality and town council.  This has to do with development and population so as long as they have not met those conditions, there is no way we can just up their status.  As Local Government we try by all means to encourage the local boards to work with the relevant municipalities to make sure that they try to grow them.

HON. M. KHUMALO:  Can I find out from the Ministry, in terms of those local boards who are also provincial capitals like Lupane, what are they doing to uplift a provincial capital which is still a local board?

HON. CHOMBO: We try to make sure that we put in the services that are required for it to be a city status or a municipality status.  For instance Lupane, we try to set up the Judicial offices, we are building the Government Complex there in trying to make sure that the Resident Minister has moved in there.  We are trying to make sure that for a specific city we have put in the required services that will be conducive to uplift the status of the local board or city.

*HON. JAJA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  My question is directed to the Leader of the House.  The small vehicles that are providing transport to people, the mushikashika vehicles, do they have travel permits and are they ensured?

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Since the commencement of Covid-19 era, when Government instituted the first lockdown policy, it then opened up for people to start travelling in line with the World Health Organisation.  The Ministry of Local Government was given the mandate to ensure that all vehicles that are responsible for ferrying commuters should be under ZUPCO.  So the mushikashika vehicles should not be found under ZUPCO because we need combis- the 18- seater and above, the small vehicles are not allowed to ferry commuters as a business venture.     

*HON. JAJA:  The Minister is saying it is not Government policy but this is happening. We see small vehicles ferrying commuters and they can carry up to 12 passengers in a small vehicles.  Are these vehicles ensured, why are they operating? In the event of an accident I doubt that anyone will survive under such circumstances.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Those who are responsible for safety of commuters on the road and for enforcement of compliance in terms of safety are in this august House so you can pose a question to them to ensure that commuters are not harassed by the mushikashika people.

+THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. MABOYI): Thank you Hon. Minister.  Indeed these pirate taxes do not have permits, they are not allowed to carry passengers.  They will be running away from Police and sometimes they are involved in accidents whilst they try to run away from Police.  Those are the type of vehicles that we want to pay spot fines, the one that you are opposing.  When we see them we try to arrest them and because they are human beings we are afraid of chasing them in order to prevent accidents.  They are not allowed to carry passengers.  Thank you.

(v)*HON. MAKONYA: Supplementary question Madam Speaker.  Thank you Madam Speaker, my supplementary question to the Minister is, are they aware that most of those pirate taxis are owned by policemen.  Some of them are driven by policemen in uniforms.  Thank you.

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI):  Thank you Madam Speaker.  The Hon. Member is reporting very well.  If you see a policeman driving a pirate taxi in uniform, you are allowed to arrest them.  You are allowed to arrest them or to report, but it is difficult to report.  No one is allowed to be beaten.  We are saying you must arrest them because they will be committing a crime.  They are not supposed to be driving a pirate taxi because a pirate taxi is not allowed and he is committing a crime whilst putting on a uniform.  Arrest them.  It is not allowed.  We do not want that.

We did not know that pirate taxis belong to the policemen.  I am glad that you are giving us that information and we will indeed try to investigate whether pirate taxis are owned by policemen.  Tomorrow when I get to the office, I will talk to my Minister that those pirate taxis are owned by us policemen.  I thank you.

*(v) HON. CHIMINA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs. It iconcerns access to identification cards.  What measures have you put in place to ensure that the ID cards are easily accessible to the public?  I thank you.  

+THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI):  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I know there are long winding queues at the Registrar Generals Office because many people do not have ID cards and you have to understand that we are coming from COVID lockdowns.  Most of the offices are open right now but we do not have material to make identity cards. We have that challenge at the moment, but I hope in the near future, we will be able to resolve that.  If we get adequate resources, we will work day and night in order for us to clear the backlog.  I thank you -[(v)* AN HON. MEMBER:  On a point of order Madam Speaker.  My point of order is to the Deputy Minister.  She is being asked in Shona but she is responding in Ndebele.  I thank you.]-

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  She is allowed to respond in the language of her convenience.  I thank you.

*HON. PETER MOYO:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  My question is directed to the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small to Medium Enterprises.  What measures are you taking as Government pertaining to illegal vendors, be it on roads, tuck shops or other areas?  I thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  The Hon. Member responded to the question when he said they are selling illegally which means they will be breaking the law.  What that means is that is work that is meant for the Zimbabwe Republic Police under the Ministry of Home Affairs and municipality police under Hon. Chombo.  So you can ask what they are doing to people who will be selling illegally everywhere.  They are able to respond to that question.  I thank you.

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI):  Thank you Madam Speaker.  All those who will be selling illegally should be arrested.  Sometimes we arrest them and sometimes they run away with their wares.  So when the law is broken, people are arrested and they are supposed to pay a spot fine.  I thank you. 

*HON. PETER MOYO:  Supplementary question.   Thank you Madam Speaker.  The reason why I asked that question is that these days there are no formal employment opportunities, be it is supermarkets or anywhere.  Some of those people vending are graduates or well educated people.

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  What is your question?

*HON. PETER MOYO:  My question is, would it not be proper that those people who are selling illegally be regularised so that they sell legally.  If you look at for example my constituency in Aspindale Park, there is a very good market.  They do not want to go in there because they do not want to pay.  They prefer to sell from outside.  Why?  Because it is private land, the rentals are very high.  So would it not be good that Government should sit down with the vendors and the owner of the property so that they may charge reasonable rentals that would help people so that they may not suffer the way they are doing right now.

 Indeed it is not good for people to block roads like what they are doing right now.  Some of them get run over by vehicles and thieves are also increasing.  So I think it would be good to get good places for them to sell.  I thank you.

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  That question would be directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO):  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Local authorities have by-laws.  These by-laws must be followed.  Our by-laws do not allow vending in front of shops or places that are not designated for vending.  Most local authorities are using devolution funds to construct stalls or vending markets but people do not want to use them.  People blame the local authorities for not delivering in terms of service but it is because they are not getting revenues.  Right now, you see that there are demolitions of illegal structures.  We are encouraging people to follow those by-laws. I thank you.

HON. NDEBELE:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I would like my Honourable learned brother, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to unpack the policy behind the issuance of Cabinet authority to travel on Government business. In other words, to spell out to this House what it entails.  Madam Speaker, by design, Government policy is meant to feed into the laws of the land, especially to ensure that the wheels of justice move without disturbance.  I am asking this question on the background that people who have pending criminal cases, especially those pertaining to corruption have been granted Cabinet authority to travel outside the country on Government business, in the process frustrating court processes.  In that regard, we have become a nation of paradoxes because we have committed to fully fighting corruption.  Thank you Madam Speaker.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  The first principle that the Hon. Member must appreciate is that arrest is a method of securing your attendance at trial.  It cannot be equated to being convicted.  Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  We cannot then say that because you have a pending case, it means definitively you are corrupt until such a time that the court has convicted you.  That is when we can give that label that you want to give those particular individuals.  The court process is not there unless proved otherwise to be a deterrent to people to continue doing their day to day activities.

In other words, until you are convicted, our laws say that you are innocent, serve for the conditions that you are given by the courts.  You are allowed to carry out whatever businesses that you have been undertaking unless your bail conditions dictate that you cannot do certain things.  So, let us not run into a scenario whereby we just label everyone who has a pending case as being a convicted person.  That is not the case.  I thank you.

HON. NDEBELE:  Madam Speaker, I had invited the Hon. Minister to unpack or explain what it is that Cabinet considers before granting authority to travel on Government business.  Indeed Madam Speaker, it is a paradox because in some cases, someone then has to skip court because they have been granted authority by Cabinet to do so.  In that regard, it paints this Government as belittling processes to do with prosecuting cases of corruption.  I am inviting the Minister yet again to explain to us what it is that Cabinet considers before granting authority to somebody to travel on Government business outside the country.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  There are two processes.  Everyone within the Government structure, be it Parliament, the Judiciary or the Executive; if you want to travel outside the country, you need Cabinet authority.  The reason why the Cabinet authority is needed is also to ensure that our Treasury Chief is aware that you need to travel and he then concurs to the release of the fund.  That is the standard procedure because you need to ensure that those processes are followed and the requisite documentation that leads to the release of funds are processed.

If you have a pending case, you need to satisfy your bail conditions to be able to travel.  So if your passport is with the courts, you need to go and make an application for the release of the passport. If the court agrees, then you are free to go.  So, they are two separate processes.  If you are out on bail, satisfy your bail conditions first or else you apply to the court for variation.

As for the Cabinet authority, any Government has to be organised and those that are in charge with our purse need to be satisfied that they are able to support that particular travel. I thank you.   

HON. NDEBELE:  Madam Speaker, practice has shown that during question time, we are allowed to proffer suggestions to our Government.  That is what I intend to do.  Madam Speaker, cases of corruption attract a lot of public interest.  It is therefore my suggestion that Cabinet might as well consider withdrawing Cabinet authority to travel outside the country if one is facing corruption charges because word out there is the 2nd Republic is belittling processes to do with stopping corruption. There is need to nub against institutional bias. As things stand, it looks like parliamentarians are favoured and there is no effort to promote impartiality in dealing with corruption. Thank you.

THE MINISTER OFJUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam Speaker, I explained that there are two concurrent processes that are followed if you are on remand. The first one is that you need Cabinet authority and the second one is that you need to satisfy your bail conditions. If they allow you to travel, then that is okay. He is suggesting that I interfere with court processes. If the bail conditions of that particular MP dictate that they allow that particular individual to travel, and Cabinet authority has been issued, then they are free to go because they are still innocent until proven guilty. I thank you.

(v) HON. I. NYONI: My question is directed to the Minister Health. Of late we have seen an increase of murder cases committed by mentally challenged people. On May 2, a mentally challenged Gutu man seriously assaulted two minors resulting in the death of one. Also on May 7 this year in Gatsva Village in Gutu, a 40 year old mentally challenged man fatally assaulted his father with a hoe handle, after that he went on for his 76 year old mother leaving her battling for  her life. My question is what is Government policy on the mentally challenged to ensure their admission to mental institutions and have access to free medication? 

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam Speaker. I did not get the question because the Hon. Member is saying what Government policy is to ensure that our mental patients have access to our mental institutions. For a start we have mental institutions across the country. The reason why we have them is to ensure that our mental patients are admitted, treated, rehabilitated and reintegrated. I am not quite sure whether his question is about the adequacy or otherwise. As a matter of policy, we have those mental institutions that are there to ensure that our mental patients are treated.

(v)HON. I. NYONI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I guess the Minister did not get my question correctly. The background issue of this thing is that we are having murder cases committed by mentally challenged people. These people in the first place should have been in mental institutions but they are not there. My example was the murder that was committed in Gutu by a mentally man who assaulted two minors resulting in the death one. In the same area on the 7th of May, we had a 40 year old who assaulted his father with a hoe handle until he passed on. He went for his 76 year old mother, leaving her battling for her life. Those people in the first place are not supposed to out there. They are supposed to be admitted at mental institutions. My question is: what is Government policy to ensure that these are admitted in such institutions so that they do not remain challenged to themselves and those outside?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam Speaker. If the question relates to our mentally incapacitated members of society who commit crime, once they are arrested they are supposed to go before a mental board to assess their mental capacity if they are determined to be mentally incapacitated, they are committed to a hospital so that they can be treated. I am not sure exactly what his thrust is, because we have clear policies that deal with our mental patients, prisoners and that is why I asked whether he is talking about the adequacy of the service rather than the availability of the service, in which case it has specific issues to deal with how those particular mental patients are being dealt with. I would invite him to write so that the Minister of Health can look at the particular incidences that he so refers to.

Questions without Notice were interrupted by THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in terms of Standing Order No. 67

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

IMPETUS TO THE WHEELS OF JUSTICE CONCERNING RAMPANT MURDER CASES

  1. HON M. M. MPOFUasked the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs whether there are any deliberate efforts to give more impetus to the wheels of justice especially at the High Court of Zimbabwe concerning the rampant murder cases which take more than three years or indefinitely to be heard at the High Court, while at the same time murderers will be having the audacity and zeal to commit similar crimes whilst on bail and finally some escape borders to neighbouring countries while others die before their cases are heard and finalised at the High Courts.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON ZIYAMBI): Let me hasten to say the Judiciary is enjoined in terms of Section 165 (1) (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to ensure that justice is not delayed and that judicial duties are performed efficiently and with reasonable promptness. This includes murder cases.

I admit that murder cases are taking time to be finalised. The delays are caused due to different reasons. Let me start by mentioning that murder is a Third Schedule offence which attracts a sentence of up to death penalty. For this reason proper preliminary processes must be followed before a matter is set down for trial. These processes, although they appear dilatory, they include indictment of an accused person. To indict an accused person, the prosecution should be of the view that they have sufficient evidence for a successful conviction.

Murder cases are sui generis in the sense that an accused may be arrested before the docket is complete. Hence, whilst a person is on remand, police have to gather medical affidavits, obtain ballistic report before the matter is set down for trial.  The process also includes appointment of pro deo legal practitioners. Section 70 of the Constitution recognises the need for legal representation as an essential prerequisite for a fair trial. The practice in place is that before an unrepresented accused person is arraigned before the High Court for a murder trial, a legal practitioner assigned by the State and at State expense should be appointed to represent him or her.

Even though murder cases by nature take time to be finalised, the Judicial Service Commission has taken measures to speed up trials in such  matters and others. One of the measures is decentralisation of High Courts in Zimbabwe. Efforts have been made in the past 10 years to enhance access to justice by decentralising the High Court and increasing the number of lower courts in the country. In 2016, a third High Court was established in Masvingo, followed by another High Court in Mutare in 2017. Plans to establish further High Court stations are in place for instance in Chinhoyi. Also, High court circuits have been sitting in Midlands Province at Gweru and Matabeleland North at Hwange.

Policies which translate to a Strategic Plan of the Judicial Service Commission have been set. The plan runs from 2021 to 2025. One of the set goals of the JSC provided for in the Strategic Plan is to ensure an efficient and effective judicial system. It is expected that by 2025 a High Court will be established in at least 7 of the 10 provinces. This move will reduce the time frame within which cases are heard and determined.

The JSC has also taken measures in accordance with the Strategic Plan to provide tools of trade and administrative support to the superior courts. Further, the JSC has taken measures to optimise by putting in place a case management system which ensures the proper tracking of cases in the system. All cases including murder cases must be completed within a reasonable time in the circumstances. This has resulted in the number of murder cases completed surpassing those pending cases.

Let me touch on bail aspect. The right to bail for all accused persons, including persons accused of murder, is provided for under Section 50 (1) (d) of the Constitution. The constitutional provision aforementioned protects the right to liberty more stringently, hence an accused person must be unconditionally released unless there are “compelling reasons” for keeping him in detention. It is within the confines of the law that every accused person, including persons accused of murder, has the right to liberty and is entitled to be granted bail by the court before trial. Every accused is deemed innocent until proven guilty and the Constitution provides for the right to bail.

Deliberate provisions were put in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act to guard against commission of similar offence and absconding trial by accused person while on bail. Section 117 (2) (a) of the CPEA provides that the refusal to grant bail and the detention of an accused in custody shall be in the interests of justice where one or more of the following grounds are established. That is where there is a likelihood that the accused, if he or she were released on bail, will:

  • Endanger the safety of the public or any particular person or will commit an offence referred to in the First Schedule; or
  • Not stand in his or her trial or appear to receive sentence; or
  • Undermine or jeopardise the objectives or proper functioning of the criminal justice system, including the bail system.

To sum up,  I have admitted the delays in conclusion of murder cases but as I have mentioned in most instances the delays are due to the need to follow due process. However, we have made efforts to speed up the processes by establishment of High Court, setting up strategic plans and introducing case management systems. With regards to bail, I have highlighted that this is a constitutional right. However, there are deliberate mechanisms in the CPEA to guard against the concerns of the Hon Member.

RECONSTRUCTION OF PIRIVIRI BRIDGE IN HURUNGWE EAST

  1. HON MASENDAasked the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development when the Ministry will reconstruct the Piriviri Bridge in Hurungwe East. Which was washed away by floods twenty years ago considering that a budget of $20m RTGS for this activity was set aside in 2019 and 2021 but no progress has been made as yet.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MADIRO):  Madam Speaker Ma’am, yes indeed the project was budgeted for in 2019 but due to the prevailing economic conditions, the money allocated to the projects that had not yet commenced were transferred to the projects that were already ongoing to ensure that they are completed.

Whilst it is in the National Budget for 2021, the declaration of the roads as a national disaster saw the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 superseding all other plans for the year 2021 and therefore will see the Piriviri Bridge together with other flood managed structures dating back 25 years finally being reconstructed or rehabilitated in the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Phase 3.  I thank you.

(V)HON. MASENDA:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  It is a point of clarification actually to say, when can we expect to see activity at the Piriviri Bridge?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  When should we expect activity at the bridge?  Did you hear that Hon. Minister?

HON. MADIRO:  I did not hear it Madam Speaker Ma’am.  I seem to understand that the Hon. Member is saying; when are the phases going to be unfolded?

If that is the question Madam Speaker Ma’am, the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme is a three year programme.  Phases one and two were collapsed together, which becomes Phase One and the second phase which will be undertaken in 2002 will be rehabilitating roads so that they get a longer life span, almost renewing the roads.  Phase three will be the rehabilitating of bridges which will be in the year 2023.  I thank you.

WRITTEN SUBMISSION TO QUESTION WITH NOTICE

CONSTRUCTION OF PERMANENT INFRASTRUCTURE IN MATEBELELAND NORTH PROVINCE

  1. HON S. K. MGUNIasked the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to inform the House what the Government policy is regarding the construction of permanent infrastructure such as Rural District Court Building and Prisons in the Bubi Constituency in Matabeleland North Province.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON ZIYAMBI): Allow me to explain the National Development Strategy 1 which covers the years 2021 to the year 2025. The NDS1 outlines the policy direction and strategic thrust of the country over the next 5 years. It identifies priority prorammes/projects to be executed. I am pleased to announce that infrastructure and utility development is one of the priority projects that the Government is aiming to achieve by year 2025. On that note, Government Departments, Ministries and other State institutions are working together to achieve infrastructure development in every province of the country.

Regarding the construction of Prison at Bubi Constituency, the Minister of Local Government and Public Works recently consented to transfer the Inyathi Old Prison structures currently being utilised as offices by the Public Works Department to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service. Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service is ready to commence rehabilitation of Old Inyathi Prison structures into a modern correctional institution. The resources for the renovation of Old Inyathi Prison structures have already been secured. Currently, we are waiting on the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to move their office furniture to pave way for us to begin renovations.

Turning to the issue raised by the Hon Member on the construction of permanent court buildings at Bubi Rural District, the Judicial Service Commission is in the process of decentralising lower courts to every district and at least 7 provincial cities must have High Court offices by the year 2025. One of the set goals of the JSC provided for in the NDS1 is to ensure an efficient and effective justice delivery through the establishment of Resident Magistrate Courts in every district by the year 2025. Recently the JSC gazetted Inyathi and Chimanimani as Resident Courts. Currently there is a court in Nkayi which is 80 km from Bubi that can provide service to the residents of Bubi. However, Government will continue making efforts to ensure that there are resident courts in every district in order to limit the distance travelled by people in accessing justice.

In conclusion, let me assure Members of Parliament that Government is working tirelessly in order to meet the targets set out in the National Development Strategy by the year 2025. Construction of resident courts and prisons and correctional facilities is on the priority list.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  We have come to the end of Questions with Notices.  I call upon the Minister of Industry and Commerce to give us a Ministerial Statement.

THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. DR. KANHUTU-NZENZA):  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Madam Speaker, I want to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Togarepi and seconder, Hon. Mhona for introducing the motion on the State of the Nation Address given by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa.  I also want to join members in thanking our President for the leadership …

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, order! Hon. Minister, please may you approach the Chair.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. DR. KANHUTU-NZENZA):  Madam Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 49 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 50 has been disposed of.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

Fiftieth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. DR. NZENZA): I would like to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Togarepi and seconder Hon. Mhona for introducing the motion on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) given by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa.  I also want to join members in thanking our President for the leadership that he continues to give to all of us.

In his SONA, His Excellency, the President of the Second Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa highlighted a number of issues, ranging from the impact of COVID-19; performance of the economy and the need to expedite the completion of legislative processes with regards to all outstanding Bills among others.

My Ministry is working on a number of legislative reforms that include the amendment of the Sugar Production Control Act [Chapter 18:19] which was enacted in 1964 and has now lost relevance, repealing the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act [Chapter 14:33] to Economic Empowerment Act and amending the Competition Act to align it to regional and international trends such as the African Continental Free Trade Area.

I am pleased to inform this august House that there is significant progress towards the amendment of the Sugar Production and Control Act.  To date, the principles to amend the Act were approved by Cabinet and are now at the Attorney General’s office for drafting of the Bill.  When finalized, the Bill will be submitted to Cabinet for consideration before presentation to Parliament.

May I also advise the august House that there is a proposal to consider sugarcane as a strategic crop.  Consultations between my Ministry and that of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement and stakeholders in the sugar industry have been done.  This will enable sugar cane farmers to access incentives that are available to other growers of cash crops such as tobacco and cotton.

Progress on the repealing of the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act [Chapter 14:33], to give rise to the Economic Empowerment Act is positive.  My Ministry has already undertaken wide consultations with various stakeholders.  The principles of the Bill were finalized and will soon be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration.  However, ZIDA has also proposed to submit its input into the principles.

The main thrust on the amendment of the Competition Act is to align it with the Competition Policy which is in sync with regional and international protocols, particularly the African Continental Free Trade Area. The amended Act will strengthen the Competition and Tariff Commission as an institution and will also complement the Consumer Protection Act that was signed into law in December 2019.  My Ministry has since forwarded the draft amendment to the Attorney-General’s office for scrutiny.

I am pleased to inform the House that the Ministry has made progress on the implementation of the country’s industrialisation drive by structurally transforming the economy for inclusive and sustained growth and higher productivity levels as provided for in NDS1.  Central to the industrialisation agenda is implementation of the following ten prioritized or low hanging value chains: Agro processing – (soya bean, cotton, sugar, diary, leather and fertilizer); packaging; pharmaceuticals; bus and truck; and motor, iron and steel.

The Ministry is working closely with other ministries and departments and key stakeholders in value addition and beneficiation of agriculture and mining products.

In line with the country’s devolution agenda, priority is being given to decentralisation of industrialisation initiatives where value addition and beneficiation industries will be set up in specific provinces and districts where the endowments are located.  My Ministry is working very closely with Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in this area and officers from my Ministry are now stationed in all provinces to drive these initiatives.

The impact of COVID-19 has affected us not only in Zimbabwe but globally.  As indicated by His Excellency in his State of the National Address, the COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on the country’s economy in general and industry and commerce in particular.

The following are some of the challenges that were faced by business;

  • Destruction in the global supply chain,
  • Logistical challenges resulting in imports of raw materials as well as exports being negatively affected,
  • Timely delivery of imports of raw materials due to delays in clearing at ports of entry thereby increasing cost by incurring charges,
  • Reduced cashflows due to reduced demand as a result of low economic activity.

Mr. Speaker Sir, some of the impact also include, pressure to honour obligations such as wages and rentals and also the loss of employment due to contraction of some businesses.  However, Mr. Speaker Sir, there were some opportunities as a result of COVID-19. Some businesses took advantage of the pandemic to diversify into the production of PPEs, also as part of Government import substitution strategy.  Also the encouraged companies should be more inward looking by assisting local manufactures to ramp up production.

Mr. Speaker Sir, sectors such as the pharmaceuticals experienced an increased demand for their products in order to manage the symptoms of the pandemic.  I would also like to report on capacity utilisation.  Despite the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the state of manufacturing survey conducted by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry (CZI) in collaboration with my Ministry showed us a remarkable improvement on capacity utilisation.  This rose from 11% in March, 2019 to a remarkable 47% in 2020.  Their projections showed that by the end of 2021, we predict that capacity utilisation will surpass the 60% target and indeed rise to 65%.  This is being helped by the fact that firms are now able to access cheaper foreign currency from the auction system introduced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and the RBZ Governor in June, 2020.  This has added more to capacity utilisation and growth in the country.

We have however noted positive improvements as well in the capacity utilisation and these are averaging 10% within the motor industry and also interestingly, above 60% for the food, drink and tobacco sectors.  Under the Competitions and Tariff Commission, the Competitions and Tariff Commission is a statutory board responsible for implementing and enforcing Zimbabwe’s competition policy and law in line with the Ministry’s mandate.  Its role is to undertake the major examination with the intention to prohibit transaction that will likely substantially lessen completion or indeed a monopoly that will be contrary to public interests.

Mr. Speaker Sir, under the competitions and tariff, we also investigate unfair business practices and abuse of dominance or monopoly positions and these include anti competitive agreements, curtails and abuse of dominance conduct.  We also investigate issues relating to customs duties and tariffs and charges with a view to assisting local industry from facing import competition.  The Commission is the national investigating authority for unfair trade practices which can manifest in many different forms such as dumping or surges in imports or production of subsidised exports.  These are the imports with a trade domestic impact on the domestic industry, hence a trade remedies unit responsible for carrying out these investigations has been set up.

Mr. Speaker Sir, under policies and strategies to grow the industry, we are buttressing positive momentum. My Ministry is working together with all key industry and commerce players to promote and ensure a conducive environment for the growth of local manufacturing sector.  In this regard, a number of policies and strategies have been developed to help drive the industrialisation agenda in line with the National Development Strategy 1.

 Mr. Speaker, Sir, these drives include the Zimbabwe National Development Policy of 2019 to 2023. Indeed the implementation of this policy is centred to the development of linkages across key sectors of the economy which are mostly, agriculture, mining, manufacturing and service sectors.  Under the local content strategy, Mr. Speaker Sir, the local content strategy is a policy thrust to foster value addition through the utilisation of domestic resources and the localisation of supply chain.  The implementation of this strategy will lead to increased local production which is anchored on stimulating the development of our local industry as well as to promote these value chains in agriculture as well as in extractive industrial and service sectors.

Mr. Speaker Sir, despite the lockdown, I am very pleased to report that industry responded positively to the local content strategy as shown by increased number of companies that are now beginning to source their raw materials locally as well as an increased diversification and production of fully Zimbabwean products.  We are witnessing up to 65% of locally produced goods on the shelves and this is quite remarkable

Mr. Speaker Sir.  Under the pharmaceutical and manufacturing strategy 2021-2025, we have a strategy to resuscitate and grow the local pharmaceutical industry.  At the moment, we are only utilising 12% of medicines consumed locally but the strategy will be launched tomorrow which will see growth in the pharmaceutical sector under local production.

Mr. Speaker Sir, under the Zimbabwe Leather Strategy of 2021 – 2030, we launched the strategy, it was launched by the Vice President in Bulawayo on the 9th April, 2021.  This strategy envisages transforming the whole leather sector and producing leather products locally and also increasing value addition for the domestic and exports markets.  My Ministry is also in the process of developing the sugar industry development strategy as well as the cotton to clothing strategy.

Mr. Speaker Sir, my Ministry is also working on operationalising the Consumer Protection Act.  Already seven members of the Commission were appointed and have already started implementing their designated task.  I am very pleased to inform this august House that the National Competitiveness Commission is now functional and we will be involved in interrogating prices and cost of doing business in line with my Ministry’s mandate.

Mr. Speaker Sir, under the National Quality Policy of 2021 to 2025 His Excellency the President, in his address in this august House, highlighted an increase in the certification of new products by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ).  This was due to my Ministry’s emphasis on improving the quality of locally produced goods.  These needed to meet the high quality standards that are expected in this country and also regionally.

As part of efforts to further increase the quantity of locally manufactured products and the quality of imported products that are being sold on the local market we now have a National Quality Policy for 2021 to 2025.

The National Quality Policy envisages the establishment of a National Bureau of Standards which is an accreditation institution among other national quality infrastructure.  My Ministry will also spearhead the re-engineering of the National Quality Institution in an aid of industrial and export development competitiveness.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the National Quality Infrastructure also includes Stadardisation Accreditation, Conformity Assessment which includes assessment, testing, calibration, certification and metrology, which is key to improving the quality of goods and support industrialisation programme.

Mr. Speaker Sir, there has been a reform of State enterprises and parastatals.  The reform of our State enterprises and parastatal is one of the key pillars for the achievement and attainments of the goals of Vision 2030.  I am very happy to state that the revival of ZISCO Steel is on course.  An inter-ministerial committee was set up of which I am chairperson, to drive the revival of this company.

ZISCO has invited potential investors to present their expressions of interest and the bids are now in the process of being adjudicated and the process is expected to be completed at the end of June 2021.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I will be updating this House on progress from time to time.

In closing Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to thank the Hon. Members for the support that they are giving that relates to the mandates of my Ministry.  The achievement of programmes that we are implementing in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce require that all of us need to work together for the progress and growth of our beloved country.  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  Mr. Speaker Sir I move that this debate do now adjourn and the House reverts to Notice of Motion Number 1.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT ON THE PETITION ON FEES INCREASES IN TERTIARY EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

HON. MAPHOSA:  I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development on the Petition on Fees Increases in Tertiary Education Institutions.

HON. TEKESHE:  I second.

HON. MAPHOSA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

INTRODUCTION

In line with Section 149 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe the Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development (hereinafter referred to as the Ministry) received a petition from Student Representative Councils (SRCs) of Tertiary Education Institutions and Mr. Tapiwanashe Chiriga, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). The petition was submitted on behalf of students in tertiary education institutions.

The petitioners implored Parliament to cause the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development (hereinafter referred to as the Minister) to meet with the students and listen to their concerns. They also pleaded with Parliament to summon and urge the Ministry to decrease fees in tertiary education institutions by 50% and allow students who were unaware of the new fees structure to stay on campus accommodation.

BACKGROUND OF THE PETITION

The petitioners were concerned about what they called a “steep rise of fees” for tertiary education institutions, i.e., Polytechnics, Teachers Training Colleges and Industrial Training Centres. They argued that the new fees structure was approved four days before the institutions were due for opening and the fees increased from ZWL$10,000 to ZWL$40,000. The petitioners were concerned that the four-fold increase in fees was unreasonable and beyond the reach of many and would inevitably result in many students dropping out. Further, the petitioners were concerned that the new fees structure was introduced without consulting the SRCs in the various institutions. The petitioners argued that while the increase in fees was inevitable the percentage increase was unreasonable. The Committee, therefore, considered the petition and launched an inquiry into the issues raised in the petition.

OBJECTIVES OF THE INQUIRY

The broad objective of the enquiry was to afford the Committee an opportunity to understand the fees review process in higher and tertiary education institutions and the problems encountered thereof. In more specific terms, the Committee sought to:

  1. Assess the fees review process in higher and tertiary education institutions;
  2. Assess the involvement of Students in fees review process;
  3. Understand the rationale behind the fees increase; and
  4. Allow the Minister to respond to issues raised by the petitioners.

METHODOLOGY

To get an in-depth understanding of the scope and content of the petition, the Committee received oral evidence from the Minister, the Principal of Harare Polytechnic Engineer Mudondo, Mr Chiriga, the ZINASU Secretary General, SRC leadership from Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), Harare Polytechnic and Nyadire Teachers’ College. This was in line with the prayer of the petitioners.

COMMITTEE’S FINDINGS

Fees Review Procedure in Higher Education Institutions (Universities)

The Minister submitted to the Committee that the Ministry is not

responsible for proposing new fees structures at universities. Rather fees adjustments were proposed by the universities based on their institutional needs. As a matter of process, the Dean of Students convenes a meeting with the students to discuss the proposed fees adjustments. The matter is then taken to the Student Affairs and Fees Revision Committee which includes the Dean of students, Senior Chaplain, a member of the University Council, Vice Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Bursar, a member of the University Senate, Dean’s representatives, the Director of Campus Life and Student Development Programmes and, the President of the SRC.

 The Minister informed the Committee that neither the Ministry nor the Minister are part of the Fees Review Committee and the Minister does not sit in the fees review meetings. During the Fees Revision Committee meetings, views of students are taken into consideration. The Minister submitted to the Committee; Minutes of Fees Revision Committee meetings conducted by state universities in which the SRCs participated. The Minister later highlighted that participating in a meeting does not necessarily mean having the demands met but the fact remains that one has participated in a meeting. Table 1 below presents the fees revision meetings conducted by universities and the number of SRC members present in each meeting.

Table 1: Fees Revision Meetings Conducted by Universities.

UNIVERSITY DATE   SRC MEMBERS PRESENT
Bindura University of Education  14 January 2021 3
Chinhoyi University of Technology  13 January 2021 1
Great Zimbabwe University 28 October 2020 1
Gwanda State University 16 September 2020 2
Harare Institute of Technology 15 January 2021 3
Lupane State University 9 September 2020 3
Manicaland State University 8 February 2021 1
Marondera University 14 January 2021 1
Midlands State University 12 March 2021 1
University of Zimbabwe 4 February 2021 1

The University Council adopts the recommendations from the Fees Revision Committee after which, an Ordinance is drafted and sent to the Minister for approval. The Minister emphasised that the role of the Minister in the approval of fees was to make sure that fees charged do not deviate from the principle of accessibility of the right to education. The Minister informed the Committee that after being satisfied that the students were consulted and that the fees were below those that were charged in 2018, the Ministry did not see any reason to disapprove the proposed fees structure. Finally, following the approval of the Minister, the Ordinance is set for implementation.

Fees Review Procedures in Tertiary Education Institutions (Polytechnics, Teachers’ College and Industrial Training Centres).

The Minister informed the Committee that the fees review process in Tertiary Education Institutions was different from that of higher education institutions as the former is regulated under Section 7(1) and (2) of the Manpower Planning and Development Act [Cap 28:02]. The Act gives the Minister responsible for Tertiary Education, in consultation with the Minister responsible for Finance, powers to fix fees for Government institutions. The Minister pointed out that Statutory Instrument 81 of 1999 only provides for representation of students through College Advisory Councils and Finance Committees and, legally, it does not enjoin the Minister to consult each and every college’s SRC. Essentially, the Minister submitted that direct consultations with the whole student body were a privilege and not a right, as was happening in 2008/9 due to galloping inflation during that time.

It was further highlighted that at the institutions, the Academic Boards and students discuss the fees review; recommendations are submitted to the Principal for onward transmission to the Ministry through the Tertiary Education Department. This department then compiles and averages the fees proposals after which the averaged fees are taken to the Permanent Secretary and the Minister for approval. The Minister testified that this process was undertaken by all tertiary education institutions.

The Minister submitted documents containing various fees proposals made by institutions. From the Minutes submitted, the SRCs from: Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic, Morgan Zintec Teachers College, Mkoba Teachers College, Masvingo Teachers College and United College of Education were consulted in the fees review meetings. The Minutes from United College of Education and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic stated clearly that the SRC members present in the fees review meetings agreed to the newly proposed fees structures.

Rationale behind the fees increase

The Minister submitted that in order to answer the question of decreasing the fees by 50%, one needed to look at how much it takes to run the institutions. He further explained that fees changes are determined by the principles of sustainability, reasonability and affordability. Institutions needed money for their daily operations such as payment of salaries, buying teaching and learning consumables, bandwidth, licencing computer software, e-library subscriptions, insurance, maintenance of infrastructure, affiliation fees, external audit and examination processes, purchase and maintenance of vehicles and construction of buildings. The Minister informed the Committee that whilst universities got a Government grant to pay salaries, they normally had to meet all other costs through fees and internally generated resources.

 The Minister pointed out that for institutions to operate on a balanced budget, universities and colleges should receive more support or charge more fees since reduction of fees will have adverse effects on the quality of education offered. Essentially, this compromises the country’s ability to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4.

The Minister reminded the Committee that from 2015 to 2018 the average fees for universities were US$450 and that the current tuition fees of ZWL$15,000 to ZWL$20,000 was still lower than the US$450 charged in 2015. He further explained that in terms of equivalent value, the fees had not gone up. The Minister explained that the totals submitted in the petition were inclusive of accommodation fees and accommodation on campus was not compulsory as students can opt for cheaper accommodation elsewhere. Furthermore, the Minister opined that it should be borne in mind that the Ministry does not have control over conditions which influence increases in accommodation and meal prices as this was determined by prevailing conditions on the open market.

The Minister explained that it is the institutional needs that determine the fees. To elaborate on this, he gave the example of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) and Bindura University of Science Education which he said were science and technology universities which require specialised equipment.  The fees charged by these institutions reflected such peculiarities. The Minister also argued that most of the students were paying the newly approved fees as exemplified by HIT where 82% of the students had paid as at 20 April 2021.

The Minister disputed the fees claimed by the petitioners. The petitioners had submitted that fees for Tertiary Institutions were pegged at ZWL$40,000. However, the Minister submitted that tuition fees for tertiary institutions was relatively uniform, averaging around ZWL$12,500 for National Certificate Level. This was corroborated by Eng. Mudondo, Principal for Harare Polytechnic, who pointed out that the tuition fees in Polytechnics was uniform across all institutions and differences would arise after ancillary and amenities fees were factored in. These, as highlighted by the Principal, may differ with each institution according to their needs. At Harare Polytechnic the Principal further submitted that a National Certificate student paid ZWL$16,100 for academic fees while a student pursuing National Diploma paid ZWL$20,000 per term exclusive of ZWL$17,000 for accommodation. Polytechnics also had a payment plan system for students who could not afford a once-off payment. However, this was treated on a case-by-case basis. On accommodation fees, the Principal demonstrated that if the ZWL$17 000 were to be broken down, a student would be paying ZW$188 per day for their meals and accommodation and this points to the inadequacy of the fees.

 Turning to University fees, the Minister pointed out that the average tuition fees level was ZWL$18,320. The Minister implored the Committee to note that cutting down the fees by 50% as requested by the petitioners would result in institutions cutting down on essential budget items like; internet bandwidth, e-learning subscriptions, workshop practice for engineering, practical sessions for life sciences, outdoor trips, and supervision of students on attachment. This, the Minister accentuated, would impact negatively on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Delays in announcing the new fees structure

The petitioners expressed concern that the new fees structure was announced to students barely four days to the opening day. The Minister submitted that fees were not required to be paid on the opening day and, above all, institutions accepted payment plans for students who could not afford a once-off payment. The same point was echoed by the Principal of Harare Polytechnic who submitted that he had approved students who had payment plans. Also, the Minister reminded the Committee to be aware that students had taken part in the fees determination process.

The Government had introduced the CBZ Student Loan Scheme to cater for vulnerable students. The Minister encouraged students who face challenges to approach the Student Affairs Office for help. The Minister further pointed out that in order to maintain institutional capability while ensuring inclusive, equitable and quality education and also promoting lifelong learning, the fees levels charged by State universities and colleges should be reasonable and affordable while at the same time being sustainable.

The students complained that the increase of fees came against a background of a poor diet during the previous semester. The Minister responded that diet issues were discussed at the institutions and students had a say on what they ate as long as they could pay for it. Institutions could not be expected to subsidize meals.

The students claimed that the current crop of leadership was a direct beneficiary of free education, now of which, it was denying students. The Minister rejected the idea that there was free education in Zimbabwe as someone had to pay for that education. The Minister pointed out that through the Education 5.0, institutions were on course to make institutions self financing and self-sustaining. However, he cautioned that this would take time and a collaborative effort from all stakeholders.

Another plea raised by the petitioners was that the Minister had consistently refused to meet with students. The Minister submitted that he met with the SRCs at the Management Training Bureau on Wednesday 19 February 2020, hence the notion that he did not meet students was incorrect.

Petitioners’ Response to the Minister’s Submissions

Mr. Chiriga disputed the submission made by the Minister that the average fees at universities was ZWL$18,320 and submitted that at HIT, students were paying ZWL$40,148 which was not inclusive of accommodation. This was however, later disputed by the SRC leader from HIT, who submitted that tuition fees at the institution were ZWL$22,500 and accommodation was ZWL$17,000.

Mr. Bruce Moyo, the SRC President of Harare Polytechnic, representing the SRCs of all the tertiary education institutions submitted that to his knowledge, no SRC from the tertiary education institutions was consulted during the fees review process. He also expressed concern that the petition was on the increase, of fees in tertiary education institutions yet the Minister took time explaining issues prevailing in universities and only mentioned tertiary education issues in passing. He concurred with the Principal that the average fees of a National Certificate at Harare Polytechnic were ZWL$16 100.

HIT’s SRC leader submitted that the SRC was involved in the Fees Review Meeting and that three members of the SRC attended the meeting. However, the SRC submitted that it never agreed to the fees structures which came out of the meeting. The SRC submitted that students were not receiving data for e-learning given the online classes which were the new way of conducting lectures. Further, the SRC also bemoaned the prohibitive conditions laid down to access the CBZ Student Loan Scheme.

Interventions by the Committee

The Members expressed concerned on whether the CBZ loan facility had conditions which would encourage uptake of the facility by the students. The Minister responded that the Ministry had taken note of the concerns raised in 2020 and had taken remedial action to review the conditions of the loan facility. The Minister further highlighted that students who face challenges in paying their fees should approach their respective Student Affairs Offices and their issues will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The Committee queried if the Minister was not worried about the 18% of students who failed to pay fees at HIT. The Minister responded that the Ministry was alive to the plight of vulnerable students as safety nets have been put in place.

The Committee also highlighted to the Minister the need for a lasting solution to the problems which emanated from upward review of fees. The Minister concurred that the ideal solution would allow such disputes to be addressed without escalating the issues to Parliament. He also submitted that students should also desist from skipping proper channels when they seek answers. In most cases, students had approached the President and Parliament without first approaching the responsible offices at their respective universities and colleges.

COMMITTEE’S OBSERVATIONS

The Committee observed that inclusive of accommodation, fees for a student enrolled in the higher or tertiary education institutions ranged between ZWL$35 000 and ZWL$45 000.

The Committee observed that higher and tertiary education institutions do not operate in silos and are thus, vulnerable to the economic shocks that occur from time to time. It is these shocks that prompt an upward review of fees which negatively affects affordability and accessibility of education.

The Committee observed that due to COVID-19 and other economic shocks, earnings have decreased while the cost of accessing higher and tertiary education has increased. Resultantly, it was more difficult to pay fees in 2021 than it was in 2017.

The Committee observed that there is a lack of a clear higher and tertiary education financing model and this has a bearing on the determination of fees for these institutions. Further, while it was fact that Government supports these institutions through grants, it was unclear what percentage of support was given by Government and the percentage that the institutions were supposed to shoulder on their own.

The Committee noted that it was not in a position to propose fees levels to the institutions as this was largely an administrative function.

The Committee noted that there was limited involvement of SRCs in tertiary education institutions in the fees review process.

The Committee observed that in practical terms, students in tertiary education institutions were paying more than their counterparts in higher education institutions. If one was to multiply the fees paid in colleges by the three terms, it would surpass those paid in two semesters by university students.

The Committee noted that there was no uniformity in ancillary and amenities fees which were charged by institutions hence there was no uniformity in academic fees across institutions.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Committee recommends the following:

  • The Ministry should come up with a sustainable education financing model that recognises the Zimbabwean context and is alive to the changes that may occur in the broader socio-economic environment by September 2021.
  • The Ministry should engage CBZ in a bid to improve the requisite conditions for accessing the loans under the CBZ Loan Scheme by August 2021. The improved conditions may translate to an improved uptake of the loan facility particularly by the vulnerable students.
  • The Ministry should harmonise tuition fees paid across all State institutions for the same programme by January 2022. For example, tuition fees for studying Law at the University of Zimbabwe should be the same at Great Zimbabwe University.
  • The Ministry should put measures in place that will promote effective participation of SRCs in the review of fees by tertiary education institutions by January 2022.
  • The Ministry should come up with a framework that recognises and regulates the existence and activities of students’ unions such as ZINASU and ZICOSU by January 2022.

CONCLUSION

While the evidence presented by the Minister, Principal

, the petitioner and other SRC leaders was to some extent divergent, there was a general convergence on the fact that an upward review of fees was necessary and inevitable. The evidence further revealed that although resilient, Zimbabwe’s higher and tertiary education sector is still vulnerable to the economic shocks which in turn, negatively affect affordability and accessibility of education. It is therefore pertinent and with utmost urgency, that an education financing model be designed with the involvement of all the stakeholders to ensure the progressive realization of a vibrant, inclusive, equitable, affordable and accessible higher and tertiary education sector.

HON. CHINYANGANYA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I do second the motion.  The issue of fees increase in tertiary institutions is a cause for concern to all of us, guardians, parents and us as a committee.  As a committee we have been sitting over complaints by student representatives almost every year.  I think it is high time that the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education comes up with a plan well in advance so that we do not have to sit over these issues time and again.  If we look at the petition that was brought before the Committee, the students were complaining that fees were increased and notification of fees increase were received a few days before schools opened.  This did not give enough time to parents and students who work for their fees to prepare.  My submission is that tertiary institutions should give notification of fee increases well in advance so that everyone has ample time to look for the fees and not the way they are giving notification at the moment, because it catches both parents and students off-guard.

If we look at the statistics that were given, about 27% dropped out of school because they could not afford the fees.  Had they been given ample time to prepare for the increases, I am sure a smaller percentage would have dropped out as compared to those that dropped out.  I think it is high time that government comes up with a user friendly loan scheme to enable students to access finances to fund their education.  I remember when I was still a university student, the loan application scheme was very simple, such that everyone was able to access the loans to fund their education.  I recommend that such model be reintroduced rather than the current system which is proving to be very difficult for students to access these loans.

The other issue that arose is that of accommodation.  Many students are living off campus and it is not ideal for studying.  Tertiary institutions should come up with models to build student accommodation on campus.  We have read stories of many students being robbed, raped and even being murdered on their way to school because some lectures end very late in the evening and for them to be walking to their various places of aboard off campus presents a challenge to most students.  Those are my submissions.  I thank you.

(v)HON. S. BANDA:  Thank you Hon Speaker for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this motion which is a petition which was moved by our Chairperson Hon. Maphosa, seconded by the former Mayor of Kadoma, Hon. Chinyanganya.  The issue of quality education is prime.  There was a list of top 100 universities which was released sometime last week.  Unfortunately Zimbabwe has no university on that list which is a big shame.  We therefore need to remodel our higher and tertiary education sector so that we go back into the elite class of colleges and universities such that if people think of going to universities, particularly in Africa, their first port of call must be Zimbabwe.

Quality education goes hand-in-hand with the amount of fees paid.  Yes, Zimbabwe is in a terrible economic state at the moment, which government is trying to improve. With that in mind, we need to balance the fees that are paid at tertiary and higher learning institutions. The petition was coming from tertiary college students, polytechnics, teachers colleges and so forth.  If you look at the fees, the first bone of contention is that the fees being paid by those at colleges is more than that being paid by those at universities.  It is our suggestion that the Hon. Minister kindly reviews this petition seriously and consider lowering the fees being paid by students who are at polytechnics, colleges and teachers colleges as well because they cannot pay more than those at universities.

Let me highlight what the principal of Harare Polytechnic said in terms of accommodation.  He indicated that students were paying an average of RTGs$17100 per term, which translate to RTGs$188 per day for accommodation and food.  I think though students feel that it is on the high side, if you reason with the principal, you may also see the logic in that.  However, the principal then went on to the next step - we saw in the newspaper and on social media that the Harare Polytechnic students were milling outside the gate as they were told no fees no examinations.  Some students lost an exam or two, that kind of behaviour needs to be changed.  Let the students write examinations then afterwards you can start speaking of fees.

Hon. Chinyanganya and even Hon. Maphosa spoke of the kind of loans that we have. The kind of loans that we have Hon. Speaker, I think they are not very fair because you are burdening the guardians or parents and also the students because as soon as the loan is given, there is no grace period. Not even one month because the very next month they want their fees. So, you find that the students and even their parents may not be able to go and apply for those loans because they know they are not able to repay in good time. Even by the time they start the next semester, they will be at a disadvantage.

So we are calling on CBZ and other banks which give loans to students to say can you give loans that do not punish parents and students. Those loans should have a grace period and in particular, it is even better to say after the student completes their education that is when they will be able to recoup because that is when the student would have maybe started working or some entrepreneurship along the way. Basically, I am in support that tertiary students’ fees be reduced. For universities they can maintain as they are and also in terms of the petition, I do not think the university students were really petitioning Parliament to reduce the fees. I thank you.

(v)HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Mr. Speaker for affording me this opportunity to contribute to the very topical report that has been moved by Hon. Maphosa the Chairperson of the Committee, seconded by Hon. Chinyanganya. This is a petition from students in tertiary institutions where they were saying they were never consulted regarding the increase of fees. It is important and indispensable Mr. Speaker to highlight the fact that for fees to be reviewed, some due process should be taken or followed. It is my submission that according to the Committee’s findings, the dean of students met with student executive council members where they consulted one another before fees were agreed upon.

When that process has been done, they will write a letter to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education seeking approval of the review processes of fees. That process was also followed. These agreements are done by colleges and universities to ensure and enhance quality education. It is important to note that for quality education to be realised, indeed fees must be reviewed positively so that quality education is enhanced. Once fees have been reviewed, there is purchase of infrastructure, e-learning gadgets and provision of quality food in our institutions. The fees that we are referring to would include both tuition and accommodation fees.

The Committee noted that the review of fees is important to bring about sustainable development in colleges and universities in line with Sustainable Development Goal number four (4) which talks about ‘ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030’. We first have to ensure that all the quality education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. Once that is done, there will be equal access to affordable technical, vocational and higher education by 2030 of this SDG. There will be equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education including universities.

Mr. Speaker, it is my submission that what we need are not just loans. As an august House, we want to urge the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and also the Ministry of Finance to provide grants to our students because most of the students who are disadvantaged and vulnerable are the poor and those who are disabled. Once those grants have been re-introduced, everyone will be able to afford college and university education. I need to applaud the Government for affording scholarships to students with disabilities.

I want also to talk about the Grant-in Aid Scholarships which are afforded to ECD up to Upper Six students, especially those in the poor districts like Gokwe North and schools in Gokwe-Chireya Constituency that I represent whereby the Government has provided funding for students and parents are no longer paying fees. That should also be done in university whereby the Government should provide enough adequate funds to students, not those loans that are provided by financial institutions like CBZ.

CBZ would require collateral security. They will talk of those students who do not have parents who are on salary. Obviously, they are disadvantaged and cannot access those loans. So, it is important and imperative for the Government to provide free basic education in the form of grants. As soon as they finish their university or college education, they are able to pay back to the Government and the process will continue. It is an important eye opener. It should allow the Government to go a step further and provide those important fundamental issues like the Education Amendment Act of 2020. That is important Mr. Speaker. With those few remarks, I thank you for allowing me to ventilate my views on this important subject. I thank you.

HON. I. NYONI: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to contribute on this very important report by the Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education presented by Hon. L. Maphosa and seconded by Hon. Chinyanganya.

Education is very important and is the foundation for the growth of our children to become reasonable and reliable citizens. The issue of school fees is very important; it should be reasonably charged and affordable to many.  It is very unfortunate that it appears there were no consultations when the new fees came into force.  I remember during our days when we went to university that we were given grants.  If you would get to advanced level and then you go to university, our parents would be relieved of the burden of paying school fees. Those were the good old days.  Our listening Government should resort to that good arrangement of giving our children grants.

The school fees should also be affordable.  I note that in most of the universities, for example in my constituency in Bulawayo East, we have got the National University of Science and Technology.  There is an innovation hub there where they manufacture sanitizers, masks and these are sold at a profit.  This university also offers services in DNA testing for a fee for people from within Zimbabwe and outside.  That is income for the university as well.

I am sure such income that is generated within the tertiary institutions should be used also to run the institution instead of relying on school fees only.  That will go a long way in reducing the amount of school fees that is charged.

In brief, I would like to recommend that definitely there should be a review of these school fees so that they remain affordable to all students despite their background so that those coming from a poor background can also have access to education.

The issue of this CBZ loan is quite a good idea.  However, the loan should be affordable and easy to pay.  If we look at the situation now, when our children finish school, it is very difficult for them to get employment so that they can pay back that loan.

However, with perhaps the improvement in the economy, this might help in a way to make sure that the loan continues unabated.  I thank you.

HON. MAPHOSA: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. TEKESHE: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 10th June 2021.

On the motion of HON. PRISCILLA. MOYO second by HON. TEKESHE the House adjourned at Seven Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.

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