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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 10 MAY 2022 VOL 48 NO 43

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 10th May, 2022

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I rise on a matter of national interest with regards to provision of public transport as announced by His Excellency, the President, Dr. E.D Mnangagwa.  To this effect, I want to warmly thank our listening President for allowing private players to provide transport to the public.  This will go a long way in easing transport challenges for our people.

HON. TEKESHE: Thank Madam Speaker.  I rise on a matter of national interest which emanates from the spikes which are used by the police to stop vehicles.  The last time I was here, I asked the Minister of Home Affairs why they use spikes which practice is very uncivilized and outdated but he supported it.  What recently happened in Manicaland is that the police threw a spike under a car and it killed a number of innocent schoolchildren.  I understand someone took the police to court over that incident but the police won the case.  I would ask the police to revisit the use of spikes.  They have a problem with the driver who is carrying a lot of innocent people, so I feel Government should look for modern ways to invest in such as cameras so that they move away from those uncivilized methods.  The first thing we should do is to respect life but the police who should help us to maintain law and order are the ones killing people.  I am appealing to you Hon. Speaker to have that issue revisited.  I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think you raised a very pertinent issue.  I advise you to ask the Minister responsible tomorrow during question time.

*HON. CHIKOMBO:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  My point of national interest pertains to the issue of drugs which is rife in the country.  Our children are indulging in drugs on a daily basis but surprisingly, the people selling the drugs are not being arrested?  Why are they not being arrested?  Could it be that we have drug lords’ protectors in this country who are ensuring that these people are not arrested?  We need to get full clarification from the Minister of Home Affairs on their plans to eradicate the problem of drug abuse.

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think you raised a very pertinent matter.  I advise you to ask the Minister of Home Affairs tomorrow during question time.

*HON. MUTSEYAMI: Thank you Madam Speaker.  The issue that I wanted to raise has been alluded to by the previous speaker.  I thank you.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TOGAREPI:  Madam Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1to 15 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 16 on today’s Order Paper has been disposed of.

HON. TEKESHE:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF YOUTH, SPORT, ARTS AND RECREATION (HON. DR. COVENTRY):  Madam Speaker, there are a number of initiatives that the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation have undertaken to ensure that the youths are incorporated into decision making as well as mainstreaming the economy.  With regards to the creation of an enabling policy framework, the Ministry has revised the youth policy in which the key strategies include education and skills development, employment and entrepreneurship, governance and participation, health and wellbeing.

Furthermore, gender mainstreaming is a cross-cutting issue to ensure that our youths are not left behind in nation building.  In addition, production and incubation hubs have been established in order to capacitate young entrepreneurs.  The Ministry is continuing to establish production and incubation hubs across the country.  These include the Mutoko Fruit and Vegetable Processing Hub, Kavhuwi Dairy Hub, Pangani Goat Hub and others.  The hubs will help young people to develop their entrepreneurship skills so that they can start their…

HON. MADZIMURE:  On a point of order Madam Speaker.

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

HON. MADZIMURE:  There is a nasty feedback.  Can something be done to correct that?

HON. DR. COVENTRY:  These hubs will help young people to develop entrepreneurship skills so that they can start business enterprises and grow the economy. 

In line with the national financial inclusion strategy, Government established the Empower Bank, a youth focused bank aimed at facilitating youth financial inclusion.  The Empower Bank assists young men and women with financial support to start and support their businesses.  In 2021, 43 332 youths were capacitated to the tune of $231 240 480 with a greater percentage in youths having taken part in agriculture through the capacitation of the above mentioned figure.

Apart from accessing funding for their start-ups, the youth entrepreneurs also get business management skills, financial management and marketing skills to improve the operations of their business.  During 2021/2022 agricultural season, Government through the Empower Bank’s youths starter pack programme, supported 164 youths in growing tobacco and that equated to 110 hectares in Burungwi??, Mashonaland West Province.  It is expected that over 110 tonnes of tobacco will be delivered to the floors by these young farmers.

Madam Speaker, in response to the drug and substance use among the youths, the Ministry is taking a leading role in educating the youths and the general public against drug and substance abuse in all ten provinces.  Awareness campaigns were also done during the National Youths Day Celebration.  More than 40 000 youths from all 10 provinces of the country attended the event with the theme ‘Alleviating Drug and Substance Abuse by the Youth.’

The Ministry also facilitated public discussions on Capital Radio, Classic 263 Radio and Zimbabwe television network.  These programmes had an estimated reach of two million people on the drug and substance abuse.

Madam Speaker, with regards to Vocational Training and Skills Department, as guided by the Government’s devolution thrust, initiatives have been made to ensure the setting up of Vocational Training Centres in areas that currently do not have such.  Refurbishing and retooling are ongoing in the existing 43 fully established centres as well as the 25 satellite support centres as part of the modernisation programme that the Ministry is currently engaged in.

Furthermore, the VCTs are configured towards self sustenance by setting up economically viable business units in all the training disciplines.  These units also act as business management incubators for young people under training.  The introduction of new courses that are informed by training needs assessments and modern trends are influencing the youths to fully appreciate the concept of entrepreneurship and business management as outlined under the Training for Enterprise Model.

Madam Speaker, ICT capacity is also set to be further enhanced, taking into consideration the new normal trajectory ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic which calls for online teaching and learning as well as the expansion of skills outreach programme.  As institutional training has been greatly affected by the pandemic, this is meant to enhance access to vocational skills to young people.  As the NDS1is geared towards harnessing, the human capital base across the country with a drive towards achieving an upper middle income economy by 2030, it is expected that at least 20 000 young people will benefit in all the training initiatives involving conventional vocational skills and skills outreach programme under the 2022 training programmes and funds have been allocated in the 2022 budget year. 

In line with standardisation and professionalisation initiatives, the vocational training programme being run by Government is overseeing a raft of changes with targets being set to ensure the development of vocational education policy before the end of the year that will guide all the training initiatives.  The review of the current curriculum and its alignment to the current market demands will contribute to the skills needs to the nation at large in line with the Vocational Training Centres transformation agenda.

Madam Speaker, significant progress is being registered towards the promotion of entrepreneurship through sport and arts.  Community sport and recreation club system is in place in all provinces, districts and wards to identify talent from the grassroots.  This cumulative in the women in sport event in Bikita was held on 8th April 2022; youth education through sport initiatives are ongoing in all community sport clubs where issues of drug and substance abuse are being discussed.

In the arts sector, increased productivity of cultural creative industries has resulted in Zimbabwe participating at the following international, continental and regional, cultural and creative events and festivals.  The Expo 2020 Dubai, the Zanzibar Tanzai Saraduku, Craft Mela in India, Swan Festival in Egypt and the Venus Biennale in Italy.  Furthermore, 197 creative and cultural practitioners participated, of whom 134 were female while 63 were male in various genres which include music, visual arts, fine arts, photography, craft design, fashion, architecture, industrial textile, design and graphic, dance and theatre.  I thank you.

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

HON. BITI: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 13th May, 2022.

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIOS COMMITTEE ON YOUTH, SPORT, ARTS AND RECREATION ON THE PETITION FROM GWANDA COMMUNITY ON YOUTH DEVELOPMENT TRUST REGARDING YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN DECISION MAKING.

THE MINISTER OF YOUTH, SPORT, ARTS AND RECREATION (HON. COVENTRY): Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  Allow me to give a response on behalf of the Ministry for the petition from Gwanda Community on Youth Development Trust regarding youth participation in decision making.  This presentation is in response to the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation on the petition from Gwanda Community Youth Development Trust regarding youth participation in decision making.  The Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation has taken note of the Committee’s key findings, observations and recommendations outlined in the report.

An improved youth participation and development in decision making process is one of the key outcomes to be achieved in the National Strategic Development 1 (NDS 1) Ministry’s 2022 to 2025 Strategic Plan and the 2022 Annual Plans.  As such, the Ministry wishes to assure the Hon. Members that measures are being taken to address the issues raised by the petition and as observed or recommended by the Hon. Committee.

Responses to the Committee’s recommendations: the first recommendation; the Committee recommends that the Ministry should expedite and put into place the National Youth Act by 30th September, 2021, that actually ensures that it addresses all the concerns of the youth.  The zero draft of the Youth Bill was done and has been submitted to the Attorney-General for further processing.  The second recommendation recommends that by the 31st of December, 2022, the Ministry should ensure that the Zimbabwe Youth Council decentralises its structures to promote effective coordination, supervision and fostering of youth activities at all levels.  In 2021, the Zimbabwe Youth Council received budgetary support from Treasury under the PSIP to establish the Harare offices.  Unfortunately, no budgetary support has been given to fund the employment costs for decentralisation.

The third recommendation is that the Ministry should ensure that all election processes for the Zimbabwe Youth Council are regulated by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure transparency and fairness.  An independent electoral monitoring committee which was chaired by an official from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was put in place by me. 

The Committee also recommends that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should submit a Bill to Parliament by the 31st of December amending the Constitution to increase the youth quota from 10% to 25%.  My Ministry will engage the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to ensure this comes through to the Hon. Members.  The Committee further recommends that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should amend the Electoral Act to provide for the modalities for the realisation of the amendment of the Constitution provision for 60 women to include the youth and young women with disabilities by the 31st of December, 2022.  Again Hon. Speaker Ma’am, I will engage the said Ministry.

The Committee recommends the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation to go forward, and nominate focal persons to manage youth focal desks in all line ministries by the 31st of December.  At the Head Office level, all ministries have complied and submitted names of youth focal persons in their respective ministries.  The focal persons are to undergo training to ensure that they have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.  Follow-ups are now being done in the provinces to ensure the same structures are put into place in the provinces.  It would be a delight for the Ministry to be able to provide all Hon. Members with those said names of focal persons if there are any further questions on their respective roles and responsibilities.  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.

HON. BITI: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  I seek clarification from the Minister in both her response to the petition from Gwanda and in her earlier statement.  There are three things that are affecting our youth at the present moment and I hope that the Ministry can come up with a policy, if not legislation.  The first one is an issue which you alluded to in this statement earlier on, which is the problem of drug abuse.  Youth have become captive to drugs, particularly mutoriro, guka, crystal meth and others and it is affecting the whole generation. 

Government surely and through your Ministry Hon. Minister, should come up with a clear policy on how to tackle this dangerous problem.  The second ailment that our youth are facing is that of child marriages, under-age sex and child pregnancy.  We have a generation of youth that is being affected by these problems.  Madam Speaker, because of the harsh economic environment, youth are being subjected to abuse by ravenous male species who are preying on our youth with the result that the cycle of poverty is perpetuated because if you are married at a young age, sexually active at a young age or bear children at a young age, you cannot go to school, the two are contradictory and mutually exclusive. 

Lastly is the problem of youth unemployment; graduates are selling juice cards, tomatoes and drugs like musombodia.  What is your Ministry’s focus on those particular issues?  I thank you very much Hon. Speaker Ma’am.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Biti. Drug abuse issues, there is a motion on our Order Paper about that.  So, I will allow the Hon. Minister to defer questions pertaining drug abuse issues until the motion has been debated in this House but other things you can respond.

HON. DUTIRO: Thank you Madam Speaker, I would like to seek clarity or make a contribution to the statement that has been given by the Hon. Minister here.  The issue on youth is something that we all understand, that our current industrial set-up and going onwards, is no longer a mass employment industry.  We are now faced with multiple industries where they employ a very small number of people but these must be people who are technically competent for them to be able to produce the required products by the consumers.  The challenge that we have is that our youths are not being exposed to the real industrial technical attachments, wherever they are trained by the Ministry for them to be able to produce the products that customers really want.

          I remember last time, these Polytechnic colleges used to run what they call Traditional Apprenticeship Training (TA), whereby youths from these colleges were attached to Mbare Musika, Magamba instead of being attached to a very heavy industry set up; where after completing their attachments, they would not be able to apply the skills that they would have acquired from Unilever or Olivine, and yet they were supposed to come and serve us in Gwanda, Shamva, and Mutoko where there are such big industries; where they would be inclined to use the machinery and skills for that purpose. So they became redundant when they came to the growth points.  I think the challenge that we have at the moment is to say, to what extent has the Ministry accredited people at Mbare Musika to train students?

The other challenge that we are having Hon. Minister is that our population has increased very heavily, especially the youths.  Looking at the number of technical colleges that are there, they are still very few, and some of them are becoming more and more communal.  Communities are burdened by creating these technical colleges, and these communities are finding it very difficult to equip…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Dutiro, please ask your question.

HON. DUTIRO:  Hon. Minister, to what extent do you want to increase technical and vocational training colleges in each of the districts that we have in the country? 

HON. MADZIMURE:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Can the Hon. Minister explain why, as a Ministry, they have no programme to improve sports facilities in our community?  Why does the Ministry not have any programmes at all, even to maintain those facilities that were built as recent as the Africa Games that were played here in Zimbabwe in 1996?

We talk of the Hockey Stadium at the National Sports Stadium, Magamba and Khumalo Stadiums, and swimming pools.  The Aquatic Swimming Stadium in Chitungwiza is now being used by mapositori, Les Brown Municipal Pool that we all knew, and Mufakose which the Hon. Minister has actually visited.  The biggest swimming pool we have in Zimbabwe is in Ward 36, Kambuzuma which is Mufakose, and the same applies to Avondale.  You go there today - what you see is mapositori, ndiyo yavanoto sevenzesa seJorodhani vachienda ikoko.  The Hon. Minister is very much aware.

On top of that, the Ministry is not taking care of open grounds that we have…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Please ask your question Hon. Madzimure.

HON. MADZIMURE: I am asking Madam Speaker, ndatopedza.  Can the Hon. Minister explain because her appointment was based on her experience as a sports person?  - [HON. TOGAREPI: Wakazvinzwa naani izvozvo?] – What criteria was used other than that? – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Madzimure, it is wrong for you to say that.  Please may you withdraw?

HON. MADZIMURE:  I withdraw Madam Speaker.

HON. MUDARIKWA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  My contribution on the motion under debate is, number one, the pass rate in Zimbabwean secondary schools is standing at 10%, and 90% are supposed to go to vocational training centers.  For example, in my constituency, I have Nhakiwa Nyakasoro Vocational Training Centre.  I would appeal to the Hon. Minister to come with a supplementary budget to deal with the training of our youths in basic skills like building, carpentry, and agriculture.  Even if you look at the levels of production in this country, the average yield per hectare has gone down because the natural knowledge that is supposed to be shared at vocational training centres is not there.  There is also the element of looking down at vocational training centres. 

I would appeal to the Hon. Minister to conduct Open Days for vocational training centres so that youths can come and appreciate the value of vocational training centres.  Even when I am going to the forest to cut trees, I have to sharpen my axe first.  If we are to achieve National Development Strategy One (NDS1), our youths must have sharpened their skills to fit what is happening.  Hon. Minister, I would like to find out from you, do we have a National Skills Development Policy in Zimbabwe?  The skills out there, the best performers are rank marshals, Harare apo! Harare apo! You know, they do it so professionally but in the end, it does not bear any result. 

I would appeal that even during school holidays, if you have a policy where we can convert all secondary schools into vocational training centres where our youths can learn how to construct a grave.  Last week we had a terrible occurrence in my constituency…

THE HON. DPEUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Mudarikwa, please ask your question.

HON. MUDARIKWA:  I am asking as I am going, and I said, is there a National Skills Development Policy in the Ministry towards vocational training centres?  We know that the answer may be the shortage of infrastructure but why do we not use secondary schools during school holidays to train specific skills especially building?  When you go to other developed countries, they have good structures that were built by trained people – that is my major concern. 

I was going to give an example of what happened in my constituency.  Tsikamutandas came after a grave had separated because there was no bond.  They said that the dead man had evil spirits that had caused the grave to separate but I realised that no bond had been used on the grave.  I am saying that our desire to develop starts with developing our dead people where they lie in peace. 

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I am urging Hon. Members to restrict their points of clarification to the Ministerial Statement which was responding to a Petition from Gwanda Youth.

HON. T. MLISWA:  Madam Speaker, my point of clarity to the Hon. Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation is, do you have a database from ministries telling you how many youths they have employed?  In terms of the Second Republic, the emphasis is…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Mliswa, you are not connected.

HON. T. MLISWA:  My point of clarity is, does the Hon. Minister get information from line ministries on how many youths are employed so that we can see how we have dealt with the deficit of unemployment amongst the youth?  Can she also, if it pleases her, or come later to tell us how many youths have been employed to date. 

The other point of clarity is that there is a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) in my constituency.  It is incomplete and likely to be vandalised.  I have been employing a security guard.  I have created employment for a youth, a cadre whom I pay to look after the place.  What are you doing to ensure that these VTCs which are incomplete are complete?

The last point of clarity is, how are you reconciling your figures with the rural constituencies?  I would want to understand, if you have it with you on the empowerment of the youth in the rural constituencies because there is not much employment there other than the fun in which Hon. Mudarikwa alluded to.  Besides that, how far have you gone in coming up with tangible programmes that have made the youth in the rural areas be worth of being citizens of this country?

HON. CONVENTRY:  I will try and answer, some of the questions will be answered together since they speak about the VTCs.  With regards to child marriages and what the Ministry is doing aside from the Bill that I believe is coming to the Hon. Members or has already come – we have been working closely with the Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) and the specific youth councils across the country that work with young women in this specific situation in terms of support and education and we will continue to do so.  We are fully behind the Bill that is coming through.

In terms of unemployment and VTCs creating an environment for youth to thrive increasing industry opportunities for our young people and tackling the number of young people that are unemployed, in my opinion, there is need to be a task force that is done with Primary and Secondary, my Ministry as well as Higher and Tertiary to ensure that we are through the VTCs or teachers’ training or Primary and Secondary are giving the skills that are adequate for today and not for what was used 20 years ago.

My Ministry is focussing on rehabilitation and retooling of VTCs. We have worked with Higher and Tertiary to come up with a new curriculum which one of the Hon. Members spoke about and this is attachment.  It is now a part of this new curriculum to make sure that the attachment is with industry leaders and opportunities in industry as well as them also being able to work with PPPs to ensure that we fully refurbish and retool our VTCs.  As a Ministry, we were not given enough budget allocation for the full refurbishment of all of the VTCs.  I will gladly come back to this esteemed House with a supplementary request on budget so that we can ensure that all of our VTCs receive enough  funds to be fully completed.  I will do that as soon as I get the team to compile and finish the paper.  We have already worked on it and we have the budget – we will just check what the supplementary budget will need to be heard.

The programme for sport and facilities – as a Ministry, we do have a programme and I am happy to come back and elaborate more on that. The other is on Youth, Sport, Art Community Centres which we are refurbishing and rehabilitating, the National Sport stadium, the Hockey Stadium and the aquatic centre – we have full plans for that but there is still ongoing steps being taken between Local Government and ourselves in terms of the transport which is taking far too long.

All the other sporting facilities that were mentioned fall under city councils. I am happy to work with the City Councils but we need that first step to come to an agreement with our recommendations to the City Council.  So far we have not heard that reception in terms of the upgrades.

There is only one swimming pool that falls under my Ministry which is the Aquatic Centre in Chitungwiza.  All the other swimming pools fall under the City Councils.  Unfortunately, I have not been given adequate funding from the council in terms of upliftment.  We have approached them to try and work with them - so far nothing has come to fruition. 

In terms of the data base from the Ministry and how many youths have been employed – this is one of the roles and responsibilities of our youth personnel at the youth focal desk.  I am happy to come back and share that number, I do not have it on me.  I will come back with the specific number.   

There are some VTCs that are still incomplete.  We do not have enough budget but we are working on that.  We will come back with a supplementary as well as looking into PPPs with internationally recognised partners that deliver extremely up to date, if not futuristic training centres.  So we will focus on those partnerships. 

The reconciling of figures between urban and rural and empowerment of youth – most of our rural training is done through our short  ISOP trainings – we go into communities and they tell us what trainings they want and we go back and deliver; again I will come back and deliver, I do not have the figures with me but those trainings have been extremely popular and focussed in and around mining and agriculture.

HON. MAVETERA: I have a few points of clarity to the Hon. Minister. The first one is on venture capital.  I am sure we approved in the last budget that we will have an amount going to venture capital. How far have you gone with it and are the modalities now in place for us to be having venture capital coming through?

The second point of clarification is on youth participation – yesterday I was in a meeting at Crowne Plaza.  A lot of youth came through and they were requesting a Youth Commission.  Why is it that it is only the youth who do not have a commission which represents their interests?  I know we have got Zimbabwe Youth Council but to date it has not yet been fully constituted.  The third question will then be, how far have we gone with the Zimbabwe Youth Council’s Board?  I am sure the last time you came into this House you said you had appointed eight members but to date, we have not yet got the remaining seven to fully constitute the Zimbabwe Youth Council Board.

The final one is on youth in politics - I know you have a plan concerning the Youth Bill; maybe I should also ask how far you have gone with the Youth Bill?  Where is it now and what has been done?  The last time you said it was at the Attorney General’s office.  How far is it now?  On youth in politics, have you managed to do a deliberate policy which enables you to be able to get to people living with disability to be coming through, especially into Parliament. At the National Assembly, we do not have any representation when it comes to people living with disability. What is it that you have done that you can also be able to enable young people to be coming through who are also living with disability? Those are my points of clarification. Thank you.

HON. MOKONE: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. Most of the issues of clarity that I wanted to raise have been raised by others. However, I have a few points to raise. Minister, what measures do you have in place to support theatre in Matebeleland South, especially in Gwanda? There are so many capable groups in that town. Are there any plans to come up with Youth Empowerment Bank in Matebeleland South where that petition came from? The issue of the inclusion of youths in politics, we acknowledge that there was legislation on the inclusion of youths that is having one youth per province. Are there any other means that you have to push the youths to be also included in politics more than that? Thank you?

(v)HON. S. BANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Unfortunately, Hon. Mavetera has taken some of my points, especially on venture capital and on youths in politics. I will just relay myself to one issue Madam Speaker which concerns the issue of youth – [technical glitch] – community is rising as much as in other constituencies. What is the Ministry’s deliberate policy to ensure that that sort of thing stops?

(v)HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My point of clarification to the Minister is that we have realised that in recent days, the department of the Registrar-General has been on a blitz to register young people, not only potential voters but all who have the necessary identity documents. We are aware that Matebeleland as a region is the one that has been most affected by level of registration especially of the young people in terms of the IDs and voter registration. Some figures that have come from ZEC have indicated that. What deliberate policy is the Ministry doing for the region of Matebeleland to make sure that young people may stand up, be counted and feel that they are also patriotic citizens of this country? Thank you Madam Speaker.

(v)HON. C. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker. Youths are the leaders of today, not for future. I want to know from the Hon. Minister whether there is a deliberate policy in terms of youths participating in decision making at national level, regional level as well as local level. Madam Speaker, we cannot leave my constituency Mpopoma-Pelandaba where we have got youth centres. Similarly, may be in Gwanda they will be having dilapidated youth centres and there is no way youths can gather in those dilapidated infrastructure to decide or participate in any national issues. Any comment about youth centres because youth centres become pivotal when we gather and decide or participate in local and national issues. Thank you Madam Speaker.

(v)HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam Speaker. What programmes has the Ministry put in place so as to revive the youth clubs that are dilapidated? Youth have nowhere to go because the infrastructure has dilapidated, so they go out there to take drugs and lots of beer. They are drunk every time.

HON. DR. COVENTRY: Thank you Madam Speaker and thank you once again to the Hon. Members. In terms of the venture capital, that was the fund; it still sits with the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry represented by my Ministry sits on that committee and those questions will need to be redirected to the Hon. Minister of Finance in terms of where they have gone in breaking that funding down and how many youth have been able to access the Venture Capital Fund. I do not have any of those numbers and I have not had a report from them.

Madam Speaker, the youth commission has always been the topic of conversation, whether we keep the Zimbabwe Youth Council, create a commission but the focus right now has been to get the Zimbabwe Youth Council fully established. As the Hon. Members said, the Zimbabwe Youth Council Board at the moment has eight members that are appointed by myself as the Minister and the other seven members are supposed to come from Zimbabwe Youth Councils around the country. We wanted there to be a level of independence and good governance done in how those members were elected. We set up an independent committee as I said earlier, that was led by a member from the Zimbabwe Electoral Committee along with other members. I do not have them off the cuff. That committee was responsible for working with Zimbabwe Youth Councils in terms of the submission of potential candidates. The candidates, as is put in the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act, have to have certain things that are done by their youth council in order to be up standing and able to run for the post.

There were only three councils that fulfilled all of the requirements. The independent committee has recommended to me as the Minister that those three councils be added on to the official board unopposed and that the Act then allows the Minister to appoint the other four members. To be very honest Madam Speaker, I am not sure if that is the right way to go for the Minister to have to appoint four other people.  So I have asked the Zimbabwe Youth Council staff and the Ministry staff as well as the Independent Committee to work with the councils that were close to being able to attain the requirements that they needed.  Some were just short, maybe it was not ordered or there were a few things that they were missing and that is the process that we are in now.  A lot of questions have been around this and my request is to come back with a Ministerial Statement on Zimbabwe Youth Council along with all the youths policy questions.  There is a new youth policy as well as the Youth Act which is still in the process.  The Youth Bill talks to everything that the Hon. Members have already said are important to us.  That is the inclusion of youths across all sectors, youths with disabilities, and youths in decision making - the new policy as well as the Act speaks to that.  So what I can do is share with all the Hon. Members the new youth policy so Hon. Members can see that this is all inclusive and we can always adapt and change while the work on the Youth Act remains with the Attorney-General’s office. 

Madam Speaker ma’am, in terms of measures specifically for theatre, I believe it was theatre in Gwanda, we are focusing on refurbishment of youth centres which came to the last points and with those youth centres, we are making a holistic overview of the Ministry so they will have space for ICT, theatres and sport.  I will come back to the particular Honourable with specifics for Gwanda but I know that has been taken into consideration and there is already a plan in place. 

In terms of plans for opening up a specific empowerment branch in Matebeleland North, that comes with a lot of expenses and what the bank is trying to do is, instead of spending money on leases and rents, they would rather spend that money giving it to the youths.  We are in conversations now with Ministry of ICT Postal and Courier Services because there could be a possibility of them having windows at our post offices for Empower Bank in particular.  So those are the ideas that we are trying to come up with to ensure that Empower Bank can reach across all paths of our country and be inclusive.  As we have heard, the inclusion of youths across all sectors, the youths have 30% stake and that will need the support of all Hon Members here in order to ensure that it comes through and does not get diluted.

In terms of the Registrar for I.Ds, the Ministry has been working continuously with different educational programmes.  We will continue to do that.  The following question was again around decision making.  I will ensure that the new youth policy is shared with all Hon. Members and I can make follow up on where the youth Act is.  Right now it is being finalised and it will soon be going out for consultations.  The last one comes back to the programmes in place around youth centres and reviving them.  As alluded to before, the Ministry has put together the revival, refurbishing and retooling of youth interact centres as a holistic overview of the Ministry where all parts of the Ministry will be represented and that will allow us to do numerous things from talent identification to understanding giving platforms to youths organisations and young people to speak to us as a Ministry and create little manholes.  I am also happy to share with Hon. MPs all those plans. 

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon Members on virtual, we are having problems with our internet connectivity, so I urge you to read some of the Hon. Minister’s responses in the Hansard.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. MUTAMBISI:  I move that Orders of the Day, Nos 1 to 28 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 29 has been disposed of.

HON. MUSHORIWA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER, FISHERIES AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT ON THE CASE OF THE ELUSIVE US28.2 MILLION DISTRIBUTED BY THE RBZ TO THE GRAIN MILLERS ASSOCIATION

Twenty-ninth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement on the Case of the Elusive US 28.2 Million Distributed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) for Wheat Imports.

HON. WADYAJENA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.

HON. MARKHAM:  On a point of order Madam Speaker.  Without virtual, I do not think we should proceed particularly on a very important debate like this one.

THE HON DEPUTY SPEAKER:  It is now working.

HON. WADYAJENA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I hope my fellow Hon. Member is connected now.  I want to thank the Hon. Members who contributed to this report.  I now move that the House adopts the report of the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement on the Case of the Elusive US 28.2 Million Distributed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) for Wheat Imports.

Motion put and agreed to.

HON. MARKHAM:  Madam Speaker, sorry I insist we are not connected. 

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  We are connected Hon. Markham. It is only the screens which need to be connected.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. MUTAMBISI:  I move that the House reverts to Order of the Day, Number 27.

HON. TEKESHE:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS ON THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

HON. MBONDIAH:  I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Public Accounts on the COVID-19 pandemic, Financial Management and Utilisation of Public Resources in the Country’s Provinces by Ministries, Departments and Agencies

HON. MUSHORIWA:  I second.

HON. MBONDIAH:

1.0      INTRODUCTION

1.1 COVID19, which broke out in late 2019 across the world and in Zimbabwe in early 2021 brought about fundamental changes in the way people live. Never before had people been faced with serious disruptions of work though such a virus which to date the medical fraternity has not found a cure for. Governments across the world, including Zimbabwean authorities had to come up with policies and programmes to contain the spread of COVID 19. Apart from resources provided by Treasury, individuals and corporates also mobilised resources which they donated to finance Government of Zimbabwe’s effort in fighting the scourge. 

1.2 Following the roll out of the programmes it became imperative that the resources mobilised should be accounted for. An audit was necessary, especially after negative reports that came out in various media alleging corruption in the tender processes and generally in the use of resources.  The Auditor General’s Report which focused on COVID 19 Relief Funds Management was therefore a welcome development, particularly for oversight institutions. When this Report was tabled in Parliament, it stood referred to the Public Accounts Committee, which resolved to examine the Report as part of its oversight function over the Executive. 

2.0 OBJECTIVE OF THE ENQUIRY

2.1      The Committee’s objectives for examining the Report are as follows: 

2.1.1 To study the recommendations made by the Auditor General for key Ministries involved in the COVID 19 Government programmes and establish the extent to which these had been implemented;

2.1.2 To proffer the Committee’s recommendations arising from the gaps observed. 

3.0 METHODOLOGY

3.1      In conducting the enquiry, the Committee analysed the Auditor General’s Report to familiarise itself with the issues raised and recommendations made;

3.2      The Committee proceeded to receive oral evidence from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Local Government and Public Works through two meetings held with each of the Ministries. 

4.0     COMMITTEE’S FINDINGS 

What follows below are the issues the Committee picked up and examined by seeking clarification and explanations from the two Ministries. Sadly, the Ministries in general could not provide ready answers to the Committee’s questions. Equally disturbing is the fact that despite the Ministry officials’ undertakings to submit the required information within mutually agreed timeframes, this was not complied with leaving the Committee with no option but to finalise this Report without the information sought. 

4.1      DATABASE OF BENEFICIARIES 

4.1.1  The Auditor General observed that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social   Welfare Head Office paid COVID19 allowances amounting to $89 022 103 to    vulnerable communities’ country wide through Net One. It could not confirm whether the allowances had reached all the intended beneficiaries as reconciliations and confirmation reports were not prepared. 

4.1.2 It was also revealed that COVID19 allowances processed through the Net One platform in July 2020 for 873 beneficiaries at $300 each had not been collected from Buhera and Umzingwane District Social Welfare offices. This was caused by- Incorrect contact details such as the addresses on the database; 

  • The same address being used for 1107 beneficiaries which made it difficult to contact beneficiaries; and
  • Net One lines which did not have beneficiary names to facilitate distribution.

4.1.3The Accounting Officer highlighted that as a Ministry, they did not have the capacity to register beneficiaries due to the lockdown measures that were in place to curb the spread of COVID-19,  hence  they made use of the local leadership, churches among other sources of information collection to voluntarily provide names of intended beneficiaries which they used to compile their database. He admitted that the personnel tasked with data collection lacked the necessary tools of trade such as computers and had to submit the information to the Ministry in hard copy. 

4.1.4 The Accounting Officer indicated that payments were made through the Net One’s one money platform. Normal validation processes were not undertaken due to high volumes of beneficiaries reaching an excess of 350 000 beneficiaries involved. However, sample validation exercises were conducted by phone to check whether the beneficiaries who received were bona fide recipients of their allowances and the amount received. He submitted that the beneficiaries had confirmed receipt of the amounts. 

4.1.5 The Accounting Officer, however, admitted that they were cases of phone number duplications. He alluded that the system used by Net One should have been able to identify duplications in the system but in the case where one uses a small letter and a capital letter on the same name it makes it impossible for the system to capture the name as a duplicate. It was indicated that during the clean-up exercise carried by the Ministry about 600 names were duplicated and half were flashed out. In Buhera everyone was said to be in the bread making business which was not realistic, hence these names were weeded out from the database. From the Auditor General’s Report, they received few were paid in duplicate and follow ups were yet to be made after their internal auditors’ report.  

4.1.6 The Committee was informed that data clean-ups were conducted by the IT department and were aimed towards the weeding out of duplications. For incomplete data they received they had to return it to the source origin to provide the requisite data that was needed for the process and then forwarded to Net One for processing of another verification as well. 

4.1.7 The Ministry’s position was that all the names that had been submitted to Net One attracted the lines to be released to the Ministry. The Accounting Officer indicated that at head office they had a complete database of the beneficiaries as they got the information from local leaders and churches among others. Some of these beneficiaries were not registered at district and provincial office but instead were forwarded straight to the head office and there is a possibility that these people belonged to Manicaland. Due to the fact that the Ministry wanted to pay people in time they did not send back the information to the District and Provincial offices. It was indicated that there was a mismatch on the lines and the database at the district offices but as a way-forward the Ministry was developing a MIS system that would enable District and Provincial Offices to see the complete database.  

4.2.1The Auditor General also observed that a total of 88 beneficiaries who were listed on the Buhera District Social Welfare database paid in July 2020 did not receive their COVID19 allowances amounting to $26 700, as the Net One lines allocated to them were not availed by the service provider. There was no evidence that reconciliations and communication was being done to timely address the anomalies.

4.2.2 On collection of COVID 19 allowances by third parties, the Accounting Officer indicated that normally they did not use third parties as the World Bank which so concerned about assisting the vulnerable. Under normal programming the Ministry uses Community based targeting method in a physical manner. The Accounting Officer indicated that he would not want to administer a programme where they get information from third parties, owing to the fact that he will be accountable at the end of the day.

4.2.3 On measures taken to ensure that beneficiaries whose allowances were collected by third parties confirmed receipt, the Accounting Officer highlighted that the Ministry’s regulations provided for collection on behalf of someone in cases where their beneficiaries have disabilities or chronic illnesses, child headed families and the elderly who are not able to walk. He stated that proxies were captured during the initial registration process. With regards to the 88 cases for Buhera District, it was reported that the authentication exercises were still being conducted but out of the 40 that had been sampled, all of them had confirmed having received their allowances.

4.2.4 The Accounting Officer informed the Committee that the Ministry had suspended the programme and disciplined officers as a measure to safeguard the allowances against theft. 

4.2.5 Committee’s Observation

 The distribution mechanism of the COVID 19 allowances was in shambles leaving the process open to abuse. The Committee believes that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare had databases for vulnerable people prior to the outbreak of COVID 19, given that one of its principle functions is that of assisting     the less privileged in society through various social welfare assistance programmes. 

  • Recommendations

The Auditor General should within 180 days of tabling of this Report, conduct a forensic audit of the disbursements to establish whether the intended beneficiaries received the allowances and if not, establish cases of embezzlement with appropriate recommendations.

The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services within 120 of tabling of this Report, should follow up with Net One and update the database of beneficiaries which can be relied on now and during any future COVID 19 disbursements.  

DUPLICATED BENEFICIARIES 

4.3.1 The Mutare District Social Welfare Office database which was submitted to the Head Office for payment of allowances had the following anomalies: -

  1. 58 beneficiaries who received COVID19 allowances amounting to $45 240, had similar identity numbers, different dates of birth and of a different gender,
  2. 375 beneficiaries had uncontactable addresses and ID numbers quoted which did not exist as confirmed with the RG’s Office. These beneficiaries received COVID19 allowances amounting to $292 500.
    • The Accounting Officer reiterated that the Ministry had received the names of beneficiaries from various sources due to the nature of the situation which required urgency. As a result, some of the information not been properly captured. He advised the Committee that half of the beneficiaries had been weeded out as some names had been duplicated. He argued that names forwarded to Net One for further verifications were not picked because some were capitalised and some were not. The Committee was informed that internal audits were still being conducted and once concluded people would have to account for the money.  
    • Eighteen (18) beneficiaries paid under the Mangwe District Department of Social Welfare received duplicate Net One lines each loaded with $600 for the payment of COVID19 relief allowances. There was no evidence that communication had been made to the relevant Net One office so that the error, which might have resulted in the beneficiaries being paid twice, could be rectified.
    • Further, on three (3) occasions, two (2) different beneficiaries used the same identity number [58-316200 Y 45, 19-052524 P 19 and 08- 79102 N 03] to collect COVID19 allowances amounting to $600 each at Umzingwane District under the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
    • On whether the Ministry had recovered any money out of the improper payments made through issuance of duplicate Net One lines, the Accounting Officer indicated that they had not yet recovered any but they were waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to be relaxed before sending their internal auditors.

4.4.4 Committee’s Observation

  The explanation from the Ministry was not satisfactory to the Committee as the internal audit referred to should have been conducted and concluded before the commencement of the Committee’s enquiry. The Committee had no option but to note the Ministry officials’ lack of seriousness in addressing the anomalies.  

4.4.5 Recommendations

  1. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) should institute investigations on the issue of duplicate beneficiaries with a view to prosecuting those guilty of any wrong doing within 180 days of tabling this Report. 
  2. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should institute the process of recovering improperly paid allowances from the beneficiaries.

PAYMENT OF COVID 19 ALLOWANCES (Manicaland Province) 

4.5.1 The Manicaland Provincial Social Welfare Officer could not provide to the Auditor General a consolidated report and copies of confirmation of receipt of the $3 959 950 COVID 19 allowances disbursed by Head Office and paid to 18 349 beneficiaries in the Province. He indicated that allowances paid to beneficiaries were for vulnerable communities and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) whose businesses were adversely affected by the measures taken to contain the COVID 19 pandemic. 

4.5.2 The Committee gathered that in addition to the list Head Office received from the provincial office, the Ministry received an additional list of beneficiaries from other sources within the province in the master database. In response to the Committee’s question on a mechanism developed to account for disbursed allowances for beneficiaries in Manicaland, the Accounting Officer submitted that the anomaly would be rectified by the introduction of MIS that will enable all offices to access the database. 

4.5.3 Committee’s Observation

  There was no system of accountability in the receipt of allowances from Head Office and there was no reasonable justification for the Provincial Office’s failure to adhere to simple accounting procedures. It would appear that the omission was deliberate and therefore dereliction of duty. 

4.5.4 Recommendation

The Ministry should regularise the anomaly by compiling a consolidated report and confirmations of receipt of all COVID 19 allowances. The process should be completed within 60 days of tabling of this Report and copies submitted to the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee. 

COLLECTION OF ALLOWANCES BY BENEFICIARIES 

4.6.1 As of December 2020, a total of 1 273 beneficiaries had not collected their Net One lines at Mutare District Social Welfare Office since July 2020. This amounted to an estimated $763 800 uncollected allowances. It was noted that incorrect capturing of beneficiary addresses in Chiredzi and Gutu Districts resulted in sim cards for 3 710 beneficiaries remaining undistributed for six months (since June 2020).   

4.6.2 Furthermore, 366 Mangwe District Social Welfare Office and 195 Umzingwane District Office beneficiaries had not collected their COVID 19 relief allowances amounting to a combined total of $336 600. There was no documentary evidence availed for audit to show that the Districts informed the beneficiaries about the payments.

4.6.3 There was also no safeguard against continuous payment of allowances to unconfirmed beneficiaries. Furthermore, no reports were prepared outlining Net One sim cards which were received but not loaded with money for beneficiaries.

4.6.4 On the issue of uncollected lines at Mutare District Social Welfare Office, the Committee was advised that the Ministry had not been able to get the correct physical addresses and the amount which Government was availing as allowance to SMEs was insignificant. The Committee was advised that the Ministry had taken a position to recall all the money in the uncollected sim lines for remittance to Treasury. The Committee was also advised that the Ministry had since tasked its internal auditors to come up with a report which would guide the next steps to be followed in addressing the anomalies.

4.6.5 Committee’s Observation

It appeared to the Committee that the intended beneficiaries had not been properly advised of the allowances that were due for collection. This was despite the fact that various modes of communication such as telephone, radio and television could have been used to good effect in the midst of COVID 19 restrictions. 

4.6.6 Recommendation

The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should communicate with the intended beneficiaries and ensure that the allowances are disbursed within 90 days of tabling of this Report. 

PAYMENT OF COVID19 ALLOWANCES TO MEMBERS OF STAFF           

4.7.1 It was noted during audit that members of staff stationed at Toronto Quarantine Centre,  Magamba Quarantine Centre and Matabeleland South Provincial Social Welfare Office were paid COVID19 allowances totalling $2 290 599. These allowances were paid to members of staff who reported for duty during the COVID19 lockdown period from April to July 2020. The payments were made without competent authority. Furthermore, there were inconsistencies and lack of documented guidelines on payment of the COVID-19 allowances across different Government departments. The amounts paid ranged from $180 to $320 per day.

4.7.2 The Committee was informed that the basis for paying COVID-19 allowances to members of staff was the approval by the Public Service Commission relating to payment of travel and subsistence allowances. The Ministry officials argued that the conditions in the quarantine centres were very unique and made it difficult to motivate staff to continue work under the prevailing circumstances. They also argued that members of staff were not allowed to leave their posts during their shifts which stretched to a period of two weeks, thus they were subjected to the same conditions as returnees who had to be quarantined for a period of 20 days. The Ministry had, therefore, found it imperative to pay the allowances.

  • Committee’s observations

Whilst the fear of contracting COVID 19 was real and the need to pay staff      allowances was considered noble by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, failure to seek the necessary approval for payment of allowances cannot be condoned.

The Ministry Officials could not provide the Committee with the number of staff members who benefited and the corresponding amounts they received and this was perceived as efforts to conceal information for unauthorised conduct. 

  • Recommendation

The Ministry should seek authority from the Accounting Officer in retrospect and if approval is not granted, recover the allowances paid. The exercise should be completed within 60 days after tabling this Report. 

URBAN FOOD ASSISTANCE 

4.8.1 Section 4 (3) of the Social Welfare Assistance Act [Chapter 17:06] requires that from time to time reviews/assessments be conducted to determine eligibility of persons intending to receive social welfare assistance in terms of amount, or level of social welfare assistance. The Kwekwe and Zvishavane District Social Development Offices (DSDO) did not avail for audit inspection documentary evidence to show that the urban food beneficiaries who received cash disbursements totalling $187 000 and $3 806 300 respectively during the months of April, May, July and August 2020 were assessed to determine whether or not they qualified to be in the urban feeding programme. 

4.8.2 The Ministry officials indicated that the criteria for eligibility of persons were in two parts as follows: 

  1. self-targeting, where applicants approach the Social Welfare Offices and apply for assistance and considered after a means test; and
  2. community-based targeting, where communities participate in identifying eligible beneficiaries as guided by the officials who then conduct verification 

 4.8.3 They explained that for Kwekwe and Zvishavane the targeted beneficiaries were those who are labour constrained, food poor, persons with disabilities, the elderly and the chronically ill. It was also highlighted that the Ministry was in the process of coming up with standard operating procedures for the selection of beneficiaries for the urban cash for cereal programme.   

4.8.4 The Committee was informed that the Ministry had recently updated the food deficit mitigation programme manual for the rural food assistance programme and it was this same module that had been used for the urban areas but given the difference in dichotomies between rural and urban areas the Ministry had realised that they cannot be the same and hence the different manuals.

4.8.5 Probed on why the District Welfare Offices had not complied with Section 4 (3) of the Social Welfare Assistance Act [Chapter 17:06] that spelt out the criteria for selecting beneficiaries of the Urban Feeding Programme, the Ministry officials admitted that for the community-based targeting and in all targeting criteria there should have been rigorous follow ups to the beneficiaries to ensure that those in need and deserving people were covered. They blamed the prevailing circumstances for limiting mobility of officers to conduct the usual home-based visits to weed out the undeserving beneficiaries. To remedy the anomaly, the Ministry reported that it was drafting a manual that would guide the officers and plans were being made for an online training for the officials. 

4.8.6 Committee’s observations

Failure by the Ministry Officials to submit records of assessment to the Auditor General and the subsequent failure to avail the same to the Committee is clear testimony that proper procedures were not been followed. As a result, undeserving people could have benefited at the expense of those who deserved the allowances.    

  • Recommendations

The Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare should conduct a review/assessment to determine eligibility of persons who should benefit from social welfare assistance within 180 days of tabling of this Report. 

Documentary evidence of periodic reviews must always be kept in files and made available to the Auditor General upon request.

MANAGEMENT OF QUARANTINE CENTRES (Service Delivery in Quarantine Centres)

4.9.1 The visit by the Auditor General to the Mushagashe Quarantine Centre revealed that the security at the centre was inadequate. The facility did not have a secure fence and alternative gates for entry and exit to the Centre were not lockable. Therefore, there was no restriction of movement of inmates from going to other areas of the facility. During the period from June 14, 2020 to December 10, 2020, a total of 141 out of 1 261 admitted inmates, had absconded.

4.9.2 There was also no backup for electricity and water in the event of electricity outage. The availability of electricity was not constant at the facility. The facility was used as a Quarantine Centre before the repairs of electricity and plumbing had been done.

4.9.3 On why the quarantine facilities had been allowed to operate under insecure conditions and the action taken to remedy the situation, the Ministry officials submitted that the identification and establishment of quarantine centres was the responsibility of the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works. They pointed out that while it was desired that the centres be secure with adequate facilities, this had not been the case due to inadequate funds. The Committee was advised that inmates had been admitted at the quarantine centres before the conditions had been met because there was no alternative accommodation at a time there was a huge influx of people through the country’s ports of entry. 

4.9.4 To remedy the situation, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works indicated that it had moved in to replace the security fence and to install a borehole. The Committee sought the officials’ comments on failure to lock a gate and the response was locking of gates was the responsibility of officers from the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National Army who manned the gates. 

4.9.4    Committee’s observation  

There was ample evidence of negligence of duty in as far as not locking the gates was concerned as this resulted in some inmates absconding from the quarantine centres and in the process posing a great risk of contaminating people outside the quarantine centres. 

4.9.5 Recommendation

  In future, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should work closely with other officials from the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe National Army to ensure that there is maximum security for inmates in quarantine centres.

BUS FARE PAYMENTS FOR QUARANTINE CENTRE INMATES 

4.10.1 Section 35 (6) (a) of the Public Finance Management Act [Chapter 22:19] states that every Accounting Officer shall keep or cause to be kept proper records of account. Contrary to these requirements, the AG noted the following anomalies:

Mushagashe Quarantine Centre did not avail payment schedules to support bus fares amounting to $42 930 paid to inmates that were leaving the centre.

A schedule showing payments amounting to $18 300 for twenty-seven inmates at Mushagashe Quarantine Centre revealed that the inmates received the bus fares on September 10, 2020. However, the admissions and discharge register indicated that the inmates were discharged on September 22, 2020, thirteen days after payment date.

Out of a total amount of $597 460 paid, inmates whose bus fare payments amounted to $516 370 did not sign the acquittal forms at Mushagashe Quarantine Centre as proof that they had received the amounts indicated.  The AG could not confirm the accuracy of the expenditure figures in the absence of supporting records. 

4.10.2 Midlands Provincial Social Welfare Office paid in cash bus fares totaling $604 760 to returnees discharged from Quarantine Centres. A sample of payments reviewed showed that persons travelling to the same destinations were invariably paid different amounts.  No reasonable explanations were proffered for such practices. 

  4.10.3 When asked to respond to how bus fares amounting to $516 370 were accounted for given that recipients did not confirm through signing for the disbursed amounts, the Ministry officials submitted that the anomaly had also been of concern to the Ministry after they noticed it. The Committee was advised that the Ministry had suspended the officers concerned but after an investigation by a team led by an official from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development the suspended officers had been cleared. The basis given for clearing the officers were that money had been issued in the presence of the police and other officers and that there had been concerns raised relating to fears of contracting COVID 19 hence the money was not signed for. 

  4.10.4 The Committee was informed that the Ministry had not been satisfied with the outcome of the investigations and after a discussion within the Ministry involving the Accounting Officer, a decision had been made to reconstitute the investigation Committee. 

4.10.5  Regarding the payment of different amounts in bus fare to inmates going the same   destinations, the Ministry officials argued that payments were different because there was no formal transport arrangements made for the inmates. As such different contractors had been engaged with different rates charged depending on the time of the day, minors accompanying the inmates and their luggage. On why the details relating to children and the luggage had not been indicated, the Ministry officials blamed that omission on junior officer entrusted with that responsibility and stated that this had prompted the Ministry to place a supervisory responsibility on senior officers over the junior officers. To ensure accountability of public funds going forward, the Ministry officials submitted that they had developed a procedure operation manual to guide the officers in the discharge of their duties. 

4.10.6 Committee’s observation

 There was serious breach of the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act by officials who did not keep proper records of accounts.  

  • Recommendations 

The Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare should expedite investigations and finalise this matter within 120 days of tabling of this Report. 

A Report of the findings of the internal investigation and remedial action taken by the Ministry should be submitted to the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee within 180 days of tabling of this Report. 

  PAYMENT OF ADMINISTRATION FEES FOR QUARANTINE CENTRES 

 4.11.1 Mushagashe Training Centre charged accommodation and service fees to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare for the use of its premises as a Quarantine Centre. The fees were purported to be based on the number of inmates resident at the centre on each day. However, there was no authority produced approving the basis used for payments. 

4.11.2 Further to the above, a total of $6 993 000 was billed between the period April 7, 2020 to November 14, 2020 for the services rendered and $1 508 500 had been paid by the Ministry. The invoices were not supported by records of the number of inmates for the period and the administration services that the Ministry was billed for by the Institution to enable the Auditor General to validate the invoiced amounts. 

4.11.3 The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare did not have a clear decommissioning policy that ensures that sites are restored to their original state upon closure of a quarantine centre. As at the date of audit by the AG, on December 4, 2020, it was observed that the Ministry owed Vuti High School in Mashonaland West Province $138 593 for the damages done to the school infrastructure by the people who were in quarantine as well as other expenses incurred by the School on behalf of the Ministry. The money had been outstanding since the closure of the quarantine centre in June 2020.

4.11.4 The Committee asked the Ministry officials whether there was an agreement and   approval of the accommodation and service fees charged by Mushagashe Training Centre and to explain the procedures the Ministry carried out to verify the accuracy of the accommodation and service fees charged. To this, the Ministry officials admitted that there was no agreement and stated that payments were based on the invoice amount and manifesto of the inmates admitted at the quarantine centre. The Committee was informed that verifications were conducted by the Provincial COVID 19 Task Force using the manifesto before the invoices were forwarded to head office for payments. 

 4.11.5 Committee’s observations

The Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare made payments to Mushagashe Training Centre for use of its premises as a quarantine centre without any form of contract entered into. Contracts by their nature define and govern the rights and duties between or among parties and in the event of a breach of contract, the injured party may seek judicial remedies such as damages or cancellation.

Lack of supporting documents for payments made for inmates that were accommodated at the institutions is not excusable accounting practice. 

The absence of a decommissioning policy is an anomaly which should be rectified.

4.11.6    Recommendations

In future programmes, the Ministry should enter into contracts or at least sign memorandum of understanding with service providers without fail.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) should institute investigations on the issue given the suspicion that money could have been stolen.

The Ministry should formulate a decommissioning policy within 60 days of tabling this Report. 

PAYMENT IRREGULARITIES  

  4.12.1 Gwanda Provincial Social Welfare office overpaid Appleridge Investments when it made three payments totaling $1 938 340 for the same invoice number 012 in respect of catering services rendered at DDF and Beitbridge quarantine centres from August 3, 2020 to September 15, 2020. Furthermore, another invoice amounting to $579 570 was also paid to the same company. The invoice had no reference number, no period for which catering services were rendered and the station where the services were rendered.

4.12.2 In explaining the anomaly, the Ministry officials submitted that reconciliations had been done and these had established that the company had been overpaid by an amount of $1 006 920 which the company also acknowledged. To rectify the anomaly, the officials indicated that they had asked the company to refund the money by 31 August 2021. In addition to the request for a refund, the officials indicated that they had requested the company to improve on its invoicing method. At the time of concluding this report, no evidence had been submitted by the Ministry to indicate that the refund had been made, although the Ministry had undertaken to submit the documents by 3 September 2021.

4.12.3 Committee’s observation

The Ministry did not show concern over the payment as indicated by their lack of urgency to recover the overpaid amount. 

4.12.4 Recommendation

The Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare should recover overpaid amount within 30 days after tabling of this Report. Alternatively, proof of a set off arrangement with other goods that could have been supplied should be submitted to the Committee within the same time-frame. 

 GROCERIES FOR QUARANTINE CENTRES  

 4.13.1 In Manicaland Province, approved documented requisitions, detailing the food requirements against the number of inmates, for the procured goods worth $2 998 078, were not availed to the AG by the eight (8) Quarantine Centres.

           4.13.2 There were no payment vouchers prepared for amounts paid to retail suppliers for the goods collected. Mashonaland Central Provincial Social Welfare Office did not carry out reconciliations of groceries collected against the amounts that had been paid to OK Zimbabwe amounting to $632 550. Furthermore, no confirmations of payments to OK Zimbabwe from Head Office were submitted to the AG and only a few requests to Head Office were availed. In the absence of these documents, audit could not determine the completeness of the transactions. 

4.13.3 In Masvingo Province, goods valued at $1 128 192 were not supported by authorized requisitions from the centres. The Provincial Office did not have records to confirm balances of goods at OK, TM and N. Richards. Also, the Provincial Office did not have financial records on total payments made to each supplier, total cost of goods taken by each of the Quarantine Centres and total cost of services incurred towards the administration of the Quarantine Centres. The AG was therefore not able to determine whether the COVID19 funds were appropriately utilized and accounted for.  

4.13.4 Gwanda Provincial Social Welfare office processed payment voucher number 1/2020 on August 12, 2020 and paid $339 796 to OK Zimbabwe Gwanda for food and nonfood items which had been requested by Esikhoveni Quarantine Centre. The goods had not yet been collected/delivered at the time of audit on December 8, 2020 which was almost four (4) months after payment. The management indicated that they had not been given authorisation to collect the goods by the Provincial Office.

4.13.5 The Ministry officials explained the procurement procedure used in procuring food for the inmates were the same as the one used under normal conditions. They submitted that due to the speed with which the goods were required, the Ministry had flighted a tender where the OK Zimbabwe, Pick and Pay and N. Richards were identified as prospective suppliers. The Committee was informed that at the procurement stage the other companies required cash upfront except OK Zimbabwe leading to OK Zimbabwe being awarded the contract and thereafter opening an account from which goods were procured with occasional reconciliations conducted to ensure that the Ministry operated within the budget. With regards to anomalies that had been observed, officials were still to establish how they had occurred through a team that had been set up to come up with recommendations.  

4.13.6 With regards to the whether Gwanda Provincial Social Welfare Office had now been authorised to collect food and non-food items paid for in August 2020 from OK Zimbabwe Gwanda Branch, the Ministry officials indicated that the goods remained uncollected. They submitted that there had been a donation received from the Civil Protection Unit and collecting the items would have resulted in loss of the food items as some of them were perishables. The Committee was advised that the issue of authorisation was being handled by the Provincial Office. An undertaking to provide information on the final outcome of the authorisation issues remained unfulfilled at the time of completing this Report.  

 4.13.7 The Committee was assured that the implementation of the operations procedure manual would address the shortcomings relating to requisitions of goods procured, reconciliations of collected goods and payments and others that had been observed at Provincial Offices. In addition to the procedure manual officials highlighted that the Ministry was going to embark on a training exercise, would bolster supervisory levels and take appropriate disciplinary actions where it was necessary. 

  • Committee’s Observations

The issue of missing vouchers is a matter of concern to the Committee as it proves that the payments were not authorised.

There must be proper coordination within the Ministry to ensure that intended beneficiaries receive goods   

4.13.9 Recommendation

The Ministry should reverse the purchase and get a refund from the supplier within 30 days of tabling of this Report. In the event that the amount was offset by the purchase of another order, documents supporting the transaction should be submitted to the Public Accounts Committee. 

INTERNAL CONTROLS (Segregation of Duties)

There was no segregation of duties in the procurement of goods, stores management, distribution of goods to Quarantine Centres and maintenance of registers at Manicaland Provincial Social Welfare Office. One individual was responsible for the maintenance of the Provincial Office cash book, cash receipt books and payment of bus fares to inmates who would have been discharged from quarantine centres. 

In explaining the measures taken to address the issue of segregation of duties at Manicaland Provincial Social Welfare Office, the Ministry officials indicated that they had appointed another accounting assistant at the Manicaland Provincial Office. The officials submitted that they were working with the human resources department to make sure that all the vacant positions are filled in across the Ministry so as to improve on internal controls. With regards to supervision, the Ministry confirmed that the Provincial Social Welfare Officer was the head of the Province and was charged with ensuring that work is checked at that senior level. 

4.14.3 Committee’s observation

There is need for the recruitment of more staff in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to enable it to assign the different duties to different individuals. 

4.14.4 Recommendation

The Public Service Commission should facilitate the recruitment of additional staff in the Ministry within 180 days of tabling of this Report.

 DONATIONS (Donations Registers and other Records)

   4.15.1 At most centres visited, the AG observed non-maintenance of donations registers and inaccurate registers such that she could not satisfy herself whether the donations reached the intended beneficiaries. Below are some of the specific cases:

  Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic was identified to be a Quarantine Centre and there were refurbishments that had to be done. An examination of the records showed that the Quarantine Centre, received two consignments of donations of plumbing materials amounting to $300 133 in May and November 2020 from How Mine for infrastructure refurbishment. However, the institution did not maintain a register to record and account for the donations.    

  4.15.2 Magamba Quarantine Centre did not maintain a COVID19 response donations register    to facilitate proper accountability. Instead, a file for the issue vouchers for donations was being maintained by the officer responsible for receipting and distribution of COVID19 response items. There was no evidence of review of the documentation by an independent official. 

4.15.3 Plumtree Quarantine Centre did not record a donation of (4) four bales and (6) six sacks of clothing as was reflected on issue voucher number 451371H from the Department of Social Welfare Head Office, Harare. Furthermore, the distribution list of the items to beneficiaries was not available for audit inspection.

4.15.4 Esigodini District Social Welfare Office did not maintain an updated register of donations. As a result, the AG was unable to determine the accuracy of stock records of the donated COVID-19 items as there were variances between figures on the issue voucher numbers 396220 and 9455944E and the subsequent entry of the same in the donations register. 

  4.15.5 Manicaland Provincial Social Welfare Office did not maintain a separate register for   the COVID19 response donations. The donations were recorded together with items received from the Head Office or procured by the Province. This caused confusion in       tracking movement of the items. 

4.15.6 The Ministry officials submitted that most of the centres did not maintain donations’ registers due to lack of adequate staff knowledgeable about assets maintenance which includes donations. They argued that most of the quarantine centres had been opened with thin staff and some duties had been assumed by non-administration staff. The Ministry officials did not submit records for the Joshua Mgabuko Nkomo Quarantine Centre indicating that items valued at $300 133 had been eventually recorded in the registers. Proof of records prepared after the audit and the lists of beneficiaries of the clothes at Plumtree Quarantine Centre were also not submitted to the Committee by 3 September as promised.  

4.15.7 Committee’s observation

The issue of incompetent staff may not be a genuine reason advanced by the Ministry. However, if it is genuine, the issue should be addressed. 

4.15.8 Recommendation

The forensic audit recommended earlier on should cover the issue of donations with the Auditor General giving recommendations for her findings. 

  PROCUREMENT OF GOODS AND SERVICES (Procurement Plan)

4.16.1 Manicaland Provincial Social Welfare Office was tasked with the responsibility of procuring groceries for eight (8) Quarantine Centres in the province where COVID 19 inmates were accommodated. A sample of documents reviewed revealed that groceries worth $2 998 078 were procured from April 2020 up to the time of the audit in December 2020. There was no evidence that the Provincial Office developed a procurement plan for the goods that were to be procured for the Quarantine Centres

 4.16.2 The Ministry officials attributed the absence of a procurement plan by arguing that COVID 19 had been an emergency which did not afford them time to plan. They submitted that procurement of goods was based on budgets submitted to Treasury and allocations that were subsequently made. They undertook to ensure that in future procurement plans would be prepared as Provincial Social Welfare Offices had been requested to come up with these plans.   

4.16.3 Committee’s observation

   In the absence of a procurement plan, the Ministry officials procured goods          haphazardly. As a result, there is no guarantee that the goods they procured were of the right quality and quantities and this can be construed as a deliberate destruction of an audit trail in order to embezzle the goods acquired outside proper procedures. 

  4.16.4 Recommendation 

The Ministry should prepare procurement plans for all the purchases done in retrospect within 60 days of tabling this Report. 

 STORES MANAGEMENT 

    4.17.1 The stores register at Plumtree Quarantine Centre was not being reviewed by a    senior officer to identify and mitigate errors. After a physical count of items recorded in the stores register, a variance was noted where the register indicated a running balance of 168 kilograms against 88 kilograms as per physical count resulting in a shortfall of 80 kilograms of sugar which could not be explained.         

 

4.17.2 Makonde Quarantine Centre was also not properly maintaining stores records as evidenced by the following anomalies:

  1. There was a variance of fifteen (15) between the quantity recorded on the stock card of forty (40) and the physical count of fifty-five (55) on baby pampers.
  2. Two boxes with various children’s toys and one mosquito net were not recorded in the register on the date of audit
  3. There were inconsistencies on the quantities of the food items that were issued to the kitchen from the stores.
  4. The number of staff members and people quarantined at the centre varied each

day, but the centre did not consider this factor when it issued out the food items to the kitchen. In some instances, the same quantities were issued out when there were no people quarantined at the centre. In addition, there was no evidence to show that the registers were being checked by a senior official or any delegated person.

 

4.17.3 The AG further observed that 255 blankets and 580 kilograms of mealie meal that were issued to Mushagashe Quarantine Centre were not recorded in the goods received register. As a result, accountability for the items could not be validated.

 4.17.4 The Ministry officials submitted to the Committee that investigations on the variances could have been conducted at Provincial level but admitted that Head Office did not have the Report. Like the other documents the Ministry undertook to provide, nothing had been received when this Report was concluded. 

 4.17.5 Committee’s observation

The variances are a serious cause of concern as they are prevalent and cannot be treated as errors in the absence of well-maintained records. In such cases there is reasonable suspicion of theft. 

  • Recommendations

The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should submit a Report on the investigation of the variances to the Public Accounts Committee within 60 days of tabling this Report. The Report should also include action taken against officials guilty of misconduct.

 Supervisors should conduct spot check at regular intervals.

 CASH RECORDING AND MANAGEMENT 

  4.18.1 The AG observed that the Zvishavane District Social Welfare Office did not receipt or         record cash received during the period June 9, 2020 to November 29, 2020 amounting to $483 730. Acquittals for the money were said to have been sent to the Provincial   office without retaining some copies at the District office. As a result, it was difficult to ascertain whether the amounts so received were properly brought to account.

           4.18.2 Also Manicaland Provincial Social Welfare Office did not receipt cash amounting to $30 000 received from the Head office between May 20, 2020 and November 25, 2020for bus fares to vulnerable quarantined returnees. 

4.18.3 Failure to follow procedures for receipting, recording and disposal of cash was attributed to the use of non-accounting officers in undertaking the duties. The Ministry officials reiterated that at provincial level, a human resources officer ended up performing accounting and administrative duties which was not a normal arrangement. 

4.18.4 Committee’s observation

The recording of cash is a simple exercise which can be done by no accounting personnel. 

4.18.5 Recommendation

ZRP and ZACC should institute investigations on this matter within 180 days of tabling this Report. 

FUEL MANAGEMENT 

  4.19.1 The Auditor General observed that Mashonaland Central Provincial Social Welfare Office issued 780 litres worth of fuel coupons without supporting fuel requisitions for the period under review.

4.19.2 The Ministry officials submitted that the Provincial Social Welfare Officer had been advised to use a standard requisition form instead of the one that was being used. The old form was reported to have caused some confusion between requests for fuel and requests for vehicle use. 

 

4.19.3 The Committee requested for the list of beneficiaries and purpose for which the fuel had been used for and the Ministry officials undertook to provide this information later arguing that Head Office did not have the information as it was kept at the Provincial office. The Committee was advised that provincial offices kept these records in the spirit of devolution and they were audited

4.19.4 Committee’s observation

Failure by the Ministry to submit to the Committee a list of beneficiaries and the purpose for which the fuel had been used is construed as an attempt to conceal theft of fuel. Recommendation

ZRP and ZACC should institute investigations on this matter within 180 days of tabling this Report.

In future, all fuel coupon issued should have supporting fuel requisitions. 

EXPENDITURE MANAGEMENT (Use of Funds on non-prioritised COVID-19 related costs)

  4.20.1 The Auditor-General (AG) observed that funds amounting to $581 945 were disbursed for refurbishment of Gweru Infectious Diseases Hospital through the Municipality of Gweru in order to mitigate the spread of COVID19 disease. The Department of Public Works in Midlands Province was tasked to carry out all the procurement processes on behalf of the Municipality. AG’s concern was that these funds were redirected to refurbish Mkoba 1 Clinic and there were no supporting documents and progress reports to support usage of the funds. Consequently, the Hospital remained not fully equipped thereby rendering it unsuitable to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  4.20.2 AG also noted that Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) project funds amounting to $796 817 which had been allocated to Chipinge District Hospital  Isolation Centre were used by Manicaland Provincial Public Works Department without the Accounting Officer’s authority, to settle a cost overrun at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital Isolation Centre. There was also no evidence that the hospitals were advised of the funds which were disbursed to the Provincial Public Works for Isolation centre preparation works.

4.20.3  The Ministry officials explained that they were almost completing Victoria Chitepo   Hospital which was the only isolation centre in the Province and there was need to pay   a contractor so that the centre would be functional. They hoped that with the next release   of funds, they would offset the expenses at Chipinge Hospital. The Committee was informed that the works at Chipinge District Hospital that had been earmarked for the first phase had been completed. The officials stated that regularisation of the re-directed funds had been done orally and there was need for the Accounting Officer to properly regularise it. In that regard, the Ministry’s internal auditors had been asked to double check the transactions so that the Accounting Officer would decide on the condonation of the redirected funds accordingly. This exercise was expected to be completed within a week after the oral evidence with the Committee.   

4.20.4 The Auditor-General further observed that out of funds totaling $4 600 000 disbursed for refurbishment of Gweru Infectious Diseases Hospital, an amount of $1 305 681 was still unused. This amount had been earmarked for the purchase of a standby generator around August 18, 2020 and by the time of audit, on December 8, 2020, the generator had not been acquired. Her concern was that the funds were lying idle and losing value through inflation while the process to acquire the generator was taking long. 

4.20.5  The Committee sought an explanation for on why $1 305 681 remained unutilised   despite there being refurbishments that were required at Gweru Infectious Disease   Hospital. In response the Ministry officials submitted that the funds were meant to   procure a backup generator for the Hospital. They highlighted that there were challenges with the selected supplier who had provided a generator which did not meet the required specifications. The Provincial Office had asked for a correct generator but the supplier was battling to provide it and the procurement process had had to be restarted in order to identify an alternative supplier. 

4.20.6    Committee’s observations

The use of funds on non-prioritized COVID 19 costs may have been for a noble cause. However, officials must at all times operate within the legal framework. In this instance, authority should have been sought.

On the planned acquisition of a generator, the Ministry should have sought for 3 quotations. Failure by the first supplier to supply the generator should have led to the Ministry resorting to second supplier. 

4.20.7  Recommendation

The Accounting Officer should regularise the expenditure and evidence of the regularisation should be submitted to the Committee within 30 days of tabling of this Report.

UTILISATION OF COVID19 FUNDS 

4.21.1 An amount of $41 528 was incurred towards maintenance of staff houses at Mutimurefu Prison under Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs using COVID19 donated funds deposited into the State Occasions Account.

4.21.2 The Committee sought an explanation on whether the maintenance of staff houses at Mutimurefu Prison under Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs using COVID-19 response budget had been properly authorised.  The Ministry officials requested for time to consult the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Provincial Works Director for Masvingo in order for them to give the correct position as they did not have the facts of the matter then. However, they admitted that as a matter of principle, the expenditure on staff houses had not been proper unless the Provincial Development Coordinator had authorised it as a temporary measure before rectifying the expenditure.  

4.21.3 Committee’s observation

The Committee’s observation was that the Ministry officials had not followed up on the matter as they had undertaken during their submission of oral evidence to the Committee. 

4.21.4 Recommendation

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should make a follow up on the issue of authorization and submit the response to the Auditor General for verification within 30 days of tabling of the Report.  MAINTENANCE OF QUARANTINE CENTRE BUILDINGS  

4.22.1 The Midlands Provincial Public Works Department invested a total sum of $983 657 towards the rehabilitation of Torwood Hospital Quarantine Centre. The project was reported to be 78.6% complete at the time of audit. A physical inspection of maintenance work carried out at the hospital on December 10, 2020 showed that although some plumbing and electrical installations had been done, the hospital was not yet ready to be used for the intended purpose as there was no running water. Painting of the building was required and some of the items fitted like tapes and electrical equipment were susceptible to theft due to inadequate security. 

4.22.2 The Auditor-General noted that Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare did not have a clear decommissioning policy that ensures that sites are restored to their original state upon closure of a quarantine centre. The case in point is Vuti High School in Mashonaland West Province that was owed $138 593 for the damages done to the school infrastructure by the people who were in quarantine. The money had been outstanding since the closure of the quarantine centre in June 2020. However, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare indicated that the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works was responsible for all restoration works and crafting of the decommissioning policy

4.22.3 Responding the Committee’s request for an update of the work done to ensure that Torwood Hospital was brought to its intended use, the Ministry officials stated that rehabilitation of Torwood Hospital was still at 78,6 % complete pending the release of funds required to complete the project. It was submitted that additional work had been

done after the audit and this included painting of the structure, drilling of a borehole and installation of the necessary equipment. 

  4.22.4 On whether the Ministry had a decommissioning policy, the Ministry officials acknowledged the observation that a quarantine centre should be restored to its status or even better after its use. They however referred to a tussle between the Ministry and that of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in relation to the maintenance of quarantine centres. The Committee was informed that the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works’ understanding was that whenever they are given a job by a Ministry, after doing the job it was expected that the requesting Ministry should manage the institution and when there is change of use and a Ministry requires services to restore the structure to its original use, that Ministry should alert the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works so that resources can be made available for that purpose. 

4.22.5 Committee’s observation

The Committee observed that the Ministry of Local government and Public works did not have a policy decommissioning policy to follow and there was no proper coordination with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in their work.  

4.22.6 Recommendations

The two Ministries must coordinate their work and ensure that a decommissioning policy is formulated within 30 days of tabling of this Report. 

The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social welfare should always admit inmates after all the facilities at a quarantine centre are in place.  

MANAGEMENT AND REHABILITATION OF ISOLATION CENTRES (Status of Isolation Centres)

4.23.1. The Auditor-General noted that Manicaland Province had four (4) hospitals which were identified to provide isolation services and treatment facilities to COVID19 positive persons. Out of the four (4) Isolation Centres identified, Victoria Chitepo Provincial Isolation centre was the only centre whose rehabilitation and equipping works had been completed and was fully operational as at December 12, 2020. Progress of rehabilitation at the other three (3) isolation centres was delayed by at least fifty-eight (58) days due to the failure to supply equipment by companies contracted by your Ministry.  

4.23.2 The AG observed that out of the targeted ten Isolation Centres (253 bed capacity) in Masvingo Province, six Isolation Centres (179 bed capacity) had been completed and operational. Construction and refurbishment works for four Isolation Centres (74 bed capacity) were still outstanding. She also noted that as of December 4, 2020 the construction of the COVID19 Intensive Care Unit that started on May 15, 2020 had exceeded its planned timelines of September 15 by three months. Essential items such as beds, theatre equipment, tables, and ventilators among others, had not been procured at the hospital. Only ten ventilators had been donated for the ICU. 

4.23.3 At Ndanga District Hospital an existing female ward was converted into an Isolation Unit and   refurbishment works started on May 15, 2020 and should have been completed by September 15, 2020. Costs incurred as at December 9, 2020 amounted to $581 481.However, the Isolation Centre was not operational due to outstanding works that included fencing, toilets and showers, installation of taps, water back up, procurement of oxygen gas pipe and installing an epoxy floor and there were no beds for the whole unit. 

4.23.4 Construction and refurbishment works for Chivi and Bikita Isolation Centres which started on May 15, 2020 were expected to have been completed by August 15, 2020. As at December 10, 2020 the projects had not been completed. 

4.23.5 Although major construction works for Gutu Mission Hospital Isolation Unit had been completed and operational, the donning and doffing rooms were not properly constructed due to unavailability of building materials. People passing by could see staff changing and flooring had not been done making it difficult to clean and contain the spread of the virus. Installation of the oxygen pipe had not been done because the equipment had not been procured.  

4.23.6 The AG observed that as of December 12, 2020 a total of $23 100 000 had been disbursed to Manicaland Provincial Public Works for rehabilitation works at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital, Nyanga District Hospital, Mutare Infectious Diseases Hospital and Chipinge District Hospital Isolation Centres. However, medical gas piping, plumping and furnishing of the hospital was still outstanding.

4.23.7 In explaining the root causes of the anomalies outlined above, the Ministry officials indicated that a contractor had taken too long to complete works on air ventilation and medical gas since there were components that were being imported from South Africa especially the man holds. The Committee was informed that work had eventually been completed at all the three isolation centres (V. Chitepo, Nyanga and Chipinge) including Mutare Infectious Hospital and the centres had been handed over to the Ministry of Health and Child Care for use. For Chivi Hospital, the Ministry officials submitted that the major sponsor had been Tongaat Hulett and there had been a delay in the provision of materials. Given the delays the Ministry had to request for additional funds from Treasury and all the work under that phase had been completed by 31 March 2021. For Bikita Hospital, a donation had been secured from Bikita Minerals and additional funding from Treasury had complemented the donation and the work had also been completed by 31 March 2021. 

4.24.8 Committee’s observations

The Committee noted that there was serious mismanagement of funds as goods intended were not purchased in time. In addition, there was no follow up done by supervisors to ensure that tasks were performed by the junior officers.

Donations received have to be utilised effectively carefully in order to retain the confidence of the donors.  

4.24.9 Recommendation

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should institute disciplinary action within 60 days of tabling of this Report, against officers who were negligent in discharging their duties. 

ADVANCE PAYMENTS 

4.24.1 Section 97 (3) of the Public Finance Management (Treasury Instructions), 2019 prohibits the use of advance payments unless advance payment guarantees are furnished. The AG noted that the Midlands PDC’s office made payments amounting to $113 511 on the basis of quotations prior to delivery of goods. 

4.24.2 The Ministry officials highlighted that advance payments were made because there was need for urgent procurement. They explained that OK Zimbabwe and some hotels would only deliver commodities after payment had been made and assured the Committee that in future the Ministry would comply with the laid down procedures by ensuring that procurement for Public Sector Investment Projects have advance payment guarantees signed or that payments are made after deliveries have been made. 

4.24.3 Committee’s observation

 The advance payments made by the Midlands Provincial Development Coordinator’s (PDC) Office were in violation the Public Finance Management Act as advance payments guarantees were not availed to the Auditor General and the Committee.

4.24.4 Recommendation

  The Accounting Officer must censure the officials who made the payment in violation of the Act within 30 of tabling this Report. 

VIOLATION OF TENDER PROCEDURES 

4.25.1 The Auditor-General noted that Mashonaland Central Provincial Public Works Procurement Management Unit, flouted tender procedures when it procured building and electrical material for the rehabilitation of Mvurwi hospital. The Province used competitive quotes method when it awarded tenders. The values of tenders awarded were above the competitive quotation limit of $350 000. No minutes were provided to show that a properly constituted committee sat and adjudicated the bids

4.25.2 Furthermore, the Midlands Provincial Development Coordinator’s (PDC) Office did not source the mandatory three (3) quotations when chickens valued at $16 235 were purchased from Flowell Farming.

4.25.3 The Ministry officials argued that the procurement for $ 350 000 had been conducted in line with Statutory Instrument No. 291 of 2020 whose threshold had been revised to US$ 10 000 an equivalent to ZWL 840 000. They however admitted that tenders awarded were not procured to the best advantage of the Government in the absence of quotations and adjudication

4.25.4 The Ministry officials indicated that the Ministry would write to the Midlands Provincial Development Coordinator’s Office to ensure that in future, the laid down procedures are followed. They attributed the failure to follow procedures to urgent nature of the procurement during a period of crisis where established companies were not ready to deliver the chickens before payment was done and the Office had negotiated with the particular supplier 

4.25.5 Committee’s observation

The Midlands PDC’s office violated procurement procedures by procuring chickens without sourcing of three quotation.

 4.25.6 Recommendation

The Accounting Officer must censure the officials who violated the procurement requirement in terms of the Act. Evidence of the disciplinary action taken should be submitted the Public Accounts Committee within 60 days of tabling this Report. 

MAINTENANCE OF FUEL REGISTER 

4.26.1 At Manicaland Provincial Development Coordinator’s office, the Auditor-General observed that a total of 2 154 litres of fuel was said to have been utilised for COVID19 response errands between May 11, 2020 and June 23, 2020. However, 1 954 litres of the fuel utilised was not supported by evidence such as copies of vehicle log books   The fuel register did not also indicate whether the fuel consumed was petrol or diesel and issuing officer was not signing.

4.26.2 She observed that Manicaland Provincial Development Coordinator’s office received two Trek fuel cards each uploaded with 2 500 litres of fuel. The Provincial office used card number 2675002063 for fuelling both petrol and diesel vehicles. A circular from Head office referenced Y/CP/28/1 dated May 8, 2020 requested that a proper running balance be kept. Contrary to this, fuel’s running balances could not be verified with accuracy as the fuel issued was not recorded in a sequential and consistent order. 

4.26.3 The opening balance of fuel on June 15, 2020 was 2 792 litres worth $69 609. The goods receipt voucher for the fuel card allocated to the Provincial office was not availed for audit. The AG could not therefore confirm if the quantities recorded were correct. 

4.26.4 According to a letter dated October 2, 2020 written to Head office by the Manicaland PDC, fuel valued at $60 387 could not be accounted for as at September 30, 2020. Fuel had last been accessed through Trek cards number 26750020633 and 26750020641 on June 23, 2020. The AG was not furnished with the preliminary investigation report conducted at Manicaland PDC’s office neither was there evidence of follow up by Head office regarding the deficiency on the fuel cards.

4.26.5 The Ministry officials explained the root cause of anomalies relating to the maintenance of fuel registers at Manicaland Province by indicating that when transacting the Ministry had noted that the Trek cards were not in quantity form as had been indicated on the vouchers from Head Office but in monetary values. On the fuel valued at $30 387, the Committee was informed that that a special audit had been commissioned to carry out thorough investigations and the report had not yet been submitted. On fuel registers the officials acknowledged the Auditor General’s observation and stated that the registers were being maintained using the same card for fuels. It was submitted that

going forward, separate registers would be kept for diesel and petrol. On log sheets the officials indicated that these had been requested from the users of vehicles issued with fuel and the log sheets had been compiled.  

4.26.6 The Committee requested the Ministry to submit receipts vouchers for 2 795 litres worth $ 69 609 being the fuel card allocated to Manicaland Province. The Ministry officials submitted that the Ministry would check on the fuel receipt vouchers and submit them to the Committee. The requested receipt vouchers were never submitted to the Committee.  

4.26.7 In response to a question on action taken on fuel valued at $60 387 that could not be accounted for at Manicaland PDC’s Office, the Ministry officials stated that the discrepancy had been noted and a special investigation audit had been carried out in August 2021 and the report was still pending. 

4.26.8  Asked to explain the mechanisms that had been put in place to ensure that Matabeleland South Provincial Development Coordinator’s Office obtains value for money on fuel paid for, given the volatile price changes of the commodity, the officials highlighted that the fuel had been a donation of 50 000 litres on the cards. They expressed regret that not more than 15 000 litres had been drawn and Matabeleland Province had ended up surrendering the cards because of failure to access the fuel since Trek was emphasizing on the fuel denominated in United States dollars. 

4.26.9 Committee’s observation

The Committee noted that there was lack of accountability in that officials could not even account for the fuel in monetary form. There might have been an ulterior motive for not signing for the fuel issued.    Recommendations

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works must submit the report of the investigations to the Auditor General and Accountant General within 30 days of tabling of this Report.

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should institute disciplinary action on officials found guilty of any form of misappropriation.   

INTERNAL CONTROLS (Segregation of Duties)

4.27.1   The Auditor-General observed that there was no separation of duties in the preparation of Temporary Deposit (TD) account reconciliations at the offices of the Midlands Provincial Development Coordinator, Midlands Provincial Public Works and Midlands Provincial Medical Director during the period between April to December 2020. The monthly bank reconciliation statements availed for audit showed that total deposits of $936 000, $13 817 171 and $4 500 000 respectively were received. However, they did not provide significant evidence for the doer-checker mechanism, as such reconciliations were only actioned by one person (preparer) and not reviewed by a higher authority.

4.27.2 The officials submitted that during the lockdown period Ministries had been directed to reduce personnel to levels of 50%. He indicated that the internal controls were now being maintained and supervised since the restrictions had been relaxed and about 90% of the workforce was now reporting for duty. 

4.27.3 Committee’s observation

  The Committee observed that failure to follow procedures is an act of misconduct and stresses that proper procedures should always be followed. 

4.27.4 Recommendation 

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should submit an arrangement that will ensure that in future procedures are followed even under difficult circumstances such as COVID19 restrictions.  

4.28.1 Masvingo Provincial Development Coordinator’s Office received 5 000 litres of diesel for use in the fight against COVID19 pandemic. The fuel was issued on the basis of verbal authority contrary to using authorized fuel requisitions. 

4.28.2 The Ministry officials submitted that the issue was worrisome and requested the Committee for time in order to look into the matter and give an appropriate answer after verifying the transaction. They admitted that transacting business in Government through verbal instructions was not a standard practice.

4.28.3 Committee’s observation

The Committee noted that by admitting that Government business is not transacted through verbal instructions, the officials acknowledged wrongdoing on the part of the Masvingo PDC’s Office. 

4.28.4 Recommendation

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption and Zimbabwe Commission and Republic Police should within 60 days of tabling of this Report institute investigations into this matter

4.29.1 The Midlands Provincial Development Coordinator’s (PDC) Office received fuel as COVID-19 donations. In addition, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Head Office also provided 2 500 litres of petrol and 2 500 litres of diesel towards the same cause. The total amount of fuel was 4 700 litres of petrol and 7 469 litres of diesel. However, there was no evidence that the issuances of all these resources were authorized by a senior official according to the requirements of the fuel requisition forms. 

4.29.2  On whether the Ministry had verified that 4 700 litres of petrol and 7 469 litres of diesel issued at the Midlands PDC’s Office was utilised for the authentic COVID 19 related activities the officials submitted that Midlands Province had some challenges in terms of manpower at director and deputy director level as these had not been appointed. They stated that the PPWD was overwhelmed with duties. On the reasons for the vacant posts the officials explained that appointment of staff to commissioned posts rested with the Public Service Commission which they constantly reminded of the vacant posts through periodic reports that were submitted through the human resources department. 

4.29.3 Committee’s observation

The Committee observed elements that raise suspicion of misappropriation on the part of the officers in the absence of proof of authorization by senior officials.  

4.29.4 Recommendation

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and Zimbabwe Republic Police should within 60 days of tabling of this Report institute investigations into this matter. 

DONATIONS (Donations Registers and other Records)  

4.30.1 The Auditor-General appreciated the effort made by the administration to keep a record  of issue vouchers for received donations and issues done to Districts, except for fuel,  all other information for donated items was entered on separate stock sheets. However,  Mashonaland West Provincial Development Coordinator’s Office did not maintain a  composite register for all goods donated. 

4.30.2 The Department of Civil Protection donated to Bindura Provincial Hospital through issue voucher number 517845H dated November 13, 2020, 20 boxes of one plus month pack and 10 packets of one plus combo meal meant for discharged COVID19 patients. However, the donated goods had already passed the expiry date of October 09, 2020.  Unnecessary transport costs were incurred transporting the expired goods from the Head Office as the goods were eventually condemned and destroyed.

4.30.3 The Auditor-General was unable to determine whether the donated COVID19 items issued by Chikurubi Maximum Prison to Gwanda Prison were properly accounted for due to variances and inaccuracies in the stock records presented. There were variances between figures on issue voucher number 35 from Chikurubi Prison and the subsequent entry of the same in the Gwanda Prison stock cards. 

4.3.4 The Ministry officials acknowledged the anomalies relating to donations in Mashonaland West Provincial Development Coordinator’s Office promised that correct account for the donated goods at national, provincial and district level would be kept given that almost 90% of staff were now reporting for duty. It was submitted that the Ministry had come up with a template which would be used to record the donations. On donations whose shelf life had expired, he indicated that the Ministry would in future not accept such goods and admitted that the euphoria with receiving donations had in the past overshadowed the need to look at the nitty-gritties such as the shelf life of goods. 

4.30.5 On whether Chikurubi Prison officials had investigated or inquired on the cause or source of the variances observed by the Auditor General, the Ministry officials submitted that they were looking into the variances with a view to checking and verifying whether the donations were properly accounted for. They explained that the verification exercise was not only being conducted for Chikurubi Prison but for all institutions that had received donations.

4.30.6 Committee’s observation

The Ministry officials admitted to the anomaly and undertook to develop a template for recording donations. Seriousness in addressing the audit observation must be demonstrated by developing the template. 

4.30.7 Recommendation

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should develop a template for    the donations and submit the copy to the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee within 30 days of tabling of this Report. 

COVID19 VICTIMS DONATIONS ISSUED TO STAFF 

4.31.1 At Mashonaland West Provincial Development Coordinator’s Office, from the two tonnes of mealie meal donated by World Food Program (WFP), three hundred and fifty kilograms (350 kg) were issued to staff members and also out of the 359 cases of cooking oil donated, eighty-four (84) litres were given to staff over and above the $900 worth of grocery allowances that staff were receiving. The authority to issue the donations to members of staff was not availed for audit examination.

4.31.2 The Committee requested the Ministry officials for proof of authority granted to staff at the Mashonaland West Provincial Development Coordinator’s Office to collect goods that were meant for the vulnerable people during the COVID 19 pandemic. In response to that request the officials could not provide the authority. They indicated that the anomaly had been noted and that action would be taken against those who had committed an offence. To mitigate against possible loss of donations through pilferage, the Committee was advised that the Ministry would ensure that donated items are declared to a higher structure for example Head Office to avoid double dipping. 

4.31.3 Committee’s observation

 The distribution of donated goods to staff was done without the appropriate authority. 

4.31.4 Recommendation

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should submit a report on the    disciplinary action taken against officers who committed an offence by distributing goods to staff without authority.  

5.0     CONCLUSION 

5.1     This Report is a result of thorough scrutiny of the Auditor General’s Report and oral evidence gathered from officials in the Ministries of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Local Government and Public Works. The Committee’s recommendations to the Ministries and those issues referred to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and Zimbabwe Republic Police should be taken seriously. Generally, the Committee was concerned about the laxity in maintaining records. I thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for allowing me an opportunity to debate and contribute to this motion that has been brought by Hon. Mbondiah representing the Public Accounts Committee in respect to the COVID-19. Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to preface the debate by stating that COVID-19 was declared a national disaster and indeed it was a global disaster. Ordinarily, when a disaster strikes us like COVID-19, one would expect that ubuntu/hunhu and all the cultural norms that we are known for as Zimbabweans and as Africans would come to play. One would expect that when a country like Zimbabwe with the economic challenges that we are facing, and when you see the Minister of Finance going deeper into the national fiscus to dig deep and get resources to allocate to a national disaster, to a pandemic like COVID-19, one would then expect that we as Zimbabweans, especially those ones that have been given the mandate to oversee such disasters, should always manage these resources in a transparent and accountable manner in line with the provisions of our public finance management principles.

Mr. Speaker Sir, what was discovered by the Auditor-General and indeed which the Public Accounts Committee has pointed out, we have a situation of people that took advantage of the pandemic to loot national resources, to loot donated resources for their own benefit. They did not mind the suffering that was being endured by many people. You recall Mr. Speaker Sir, that when COVID-19 was declared, the first 21 days or so, no one would go to work. It was worse for people coming from poor constituencies, for instance Dzivarasekwa and many constituencies in this country.  Many of our people rely on doing piece jobs, selling and using their hands.  So when Government said we are now going to have some funds which people could access to assist them, everybody thought they would all be assisted, but alas, some people in the Ministry of Public Service decided to use this as an opportunity to enrich themselves.  They thought that the tears that were being shed by those people who were failing to go to work would go unnoticed. They had to make sure that they themselves get as much money as possible.  The report states that there was no proper accounting and the question of registered people was shambolic.  We, in Harare met the provincial welfare officer in Harare and were told to go out there to list the names of those people that we thought deserved to get some funding from Government.  We did that and I want to believe that a number of MPs did so for their constituencies.  However, very few people were put on that list or managed to get a single dollar.  Some of our people went as far as going to NetOne to buy sim cards to submit to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare but they got nothing. So what did we get?  In the report from the AG, we have got people that were getting as much as double if not ten times the amount of money.  You would see a person using one form being used with different names of people.  If you track that money, it was being taken by officials from the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Local Government.  Whereas people would then blame politicians for taking this but the truth of the matter is that we have people within our bureaucracy that have now perfected the art of taking advantage of natural disasters.  The COVID-19 report does not come in isolation.  This House had a report about Cyclone Idai challenges that we faced.  Again we had the same people benefitting.  One of the challenges specifically looking at my constituency in Dzivaresekwa, we had rice which was donated to Zimbabwe and it was meant to be given to various constituencies.  Other constituencies managed to get 30 tonnes of rice but guess what Mr Speaker; only constituencies in Harare and Bulawayo were denied this rice.  The reason that we are urban does not hold water because in other urban centres like Mutare and other centres, constituencies were getting that rice.  Not a single grain of rice was given to the people of Harare. People then start to wonder because people in Harare and Bulawayo were the ones that were hardly hit by the COVID lockdown restrictions.  What we then discover which I think is very bad is that you have other people that would end up even selling that rice in Harare.  They go to GMB and get that rice yet the people that are supposed to benefit from it because of COVID failed to go to work, failed to get it. That is not right.

          Looking at the report, what happens at the quarantine centres?  There is no accountability or transparency.  Everybody was doing what he or she thought was good for him/her.  That spirit cannot build this country.  We have people in the Ministry of Public Service who are supposed to be in jail but who continue to preside over this.  They try to hide by the excuse that they did not have the manpower and expertise but that excuse is a lame one.  The truth of the matter is that we have got - for lack of a better word, thieves who are operating within these offices and it is crucial and important that the call by the Public Accounts Committee, that forensic audit needs to be done and there is need to involve the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) be adhered to.  There is need to also involve the police and all other agencies.  If we cannot be faithful in little things, we cannot be faithful in bigger things.  Imagine this is just COVID.  What more of the other resources that the Government entrusts with those government employees in those ministries.  How much more are they looting?  If somebody can loot money that is meant for an old woman in Dzivarasekwa knowing fully well that the old woman is sleeping without putting decent food on the table but somebody decides to buy a Honda fit, some big vehicles or stands using the looted funds is not right. 

          I want to end by encouraging Members of this august House to fully support the recommendation by the Public Accounts Committee.  We need transparency and to set precedence for the future so that people will not put their fingers into donated funds.  We want to set the record straight so that in future, people will be afraid to commit corruption to this level. 

(v)HON. S. BANDA:  Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank you for also giving me this opportunity.  I would maybe have been more comfortable if the Chairperson of the Committee had spoken first but since you recognised, me I will continue.

Allow me to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Mbondiah and the seconder of the motion Hon. Mushoriwa.  Mr. Speaker Sir, this Committee has perfected the art of oversight and I think this is what Parliament is made out of.  I want to thank the Auditor General for a splendid job once again.  This is an office that should be given resources because they really know what they are doing.  I commend them.

Now let me go into a few issues Mr. Speaker Sir.  In Mt. Pleasant, people asked their MP and councillor to say, ‘when are we going to receive COVID-19 allowances?  We hear that some people are receiving some cash hand-outs.  Do we have an MP, do we have a councillor, do we have representatives of the people in this constituency’, but it was almost deafening.  We tried Mr. Speaker Sir, we compiled list after list of people with disabilities and we hear that no response is coming from people who were busy stealing people’s monies.  It is unforgivable Mr. Speaker Sir.

I have heard the report.  They are saying this should be investigated in 180 days.  No Mr. Speaker Sir, 180 days is too far.  In thirty days the police should be able to arrest some officers who misbehaved.  The distribution plan, a channel that was used relating to the SME sector and to the vulnerable on COVID-19 allowance was a complete disaster.

Members of Parliament and councillors need to be empowered so that at least in every constituency they should be contacted when lists like the ones that were being requested for by the relevant ministries were being written down.  Members of Parliament and councillors, in the spirit of devolution, were completely forgotten.  They were thrown out Mr. Speaker Sir.  That has to be corrected.  We need to carry out the role that we were meant to do, which is to represent the people.

The officers involved in this Covidgate must be arrested as it was not erroneous on their part to do what they were doing but they planned this incompetence.  Mr. Speaker Sir, 180 days is too much for duplication of checks.  We cannot have that.  That is deliberate and the police and the auditors must make sure that within 30 days, and I hope the report will also adopt to say from 180 days we expect it to go down to 30 days so that we do not give room for changes to the documents that are there.  The moment we give these officers more room to extend that to 180 days, they will end up finding supporting information and therefore the fraud that they perpetrated will not be found out.

That, for your information, is being concealed from a Parliamentary Committee and from the Auditor General.  If they can conceal from the Auditor General, how much more can they conceal to the elected representatives?  How much more can they conceal even to the police?  So this Mr. Speaker Sir, must end.  My call is just to say 30 days are more than enough to make this inquiry or to make this investigation.

Lastly, while I appreciate the work that was done by the Auditor General, what is silent in the report is the issue of foreign procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.  I have not heard the report tackling that issue to say how much did we buy.  The Minister of Finance and Economic Development has given us figures, but this Audit Report does not state how much was bought and whether everything was procured properly, did everything go well, and were all procedures followed.  That is not clear Mr. Speaker Sir.  I think that is also an area which needs to be tackled.  With this Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity.  I thank you.

(v)*HON. B. DUBE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I want to talk about those people who are engaging in corrupt activities without any remorse during this difficult period that we are going through as a country.  During the COVID-19 period when we were under lockdown there were vulnerable groups such as people with disability, women and youth who were looking upon the Government to assist them in such times.  The challenge was that the Government was looking for funds to address the situation but this was met by those corrupt individuals and such people ended up looting those proceeds and goods for personal benefit.

People continued phoning their councillors and their Members of Parliament seeking for clarity on the way things would be delivered, even the lines that were supposed to be given to them, but this is because of other people who are engaging in corrupt activities who are taking those things meant for the vulnerable.

We have procurement regulations that give procedures which must be followed and when the Auditor General came, the evidence shows that money was disbursed and they procured whatever they wanted but the actual goods procured were not available as evidence.  I want to thank Hon. Mbondiah and Hon Nkani because they put this issue before us which has reflected that we have corrupt individuals who have benefited from proceeds meant for the vulnerable groups. 

My hope is that the police and the Anti Corruption Commission should take their stand and bring these officials to book as this was a criminal offence.  We have so many places that can cater for such corrupt individuals such as Hwahwa and Chawagona Hapana Prison in Bindura. We need to remove them from the offices that they are sitting in because those are the places that such individuals should be housed and they should only be released when our correctional services determine that they have reformed. 

I want to thank you Mr. Speaker for the Committee that did its work which was very difficult.  We want to thank you because as the Public Accounts Committee you gave us the opportunity to go around the country to gather such information.  We do not take this lightly that the Committee was given such work and support.  We want to thank you Mr. Speaker and we urge you to continue working with the Public Accounts Committee so that we continue to unearth the rot taking place in terms of use of public funds in order for this country to see that the Parliament of Zimbabwe is serious when it comes to corruption and abuse of funds.  I thank you.

 (v)*HON. NKANI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I have a few words on the issue that has been brought into the House by Hon. Mbondiah.  I am one of the Members of the Committee that looks into the issue of public funds.

Firstly Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to inform you that national fiscal and public funds cannot be used without accountability. It is the same as herding cattle in a tarred road, you will not be able to trace where they strayed and how.  I am trying to say, we have an example of fuel, we did not get evidence of how this fuel was distributed in terms of to which car and how much of it, there are no such records.  There is no accountability, no one signed for that fuel, which means that it is very difficult to account for it. You cannot tell whether the fuel was for the vehicles or it was poured into a drum. 

On the issue of donations, especially in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no records that show that so many things were donated.  For example, 5000 of fuel donated but there were no records to show how it was used.  There was a gap that left people to loot in terms of allowances that were availed to those manning the quarantine centres.  There were no records to show that these officials were given the allowances.  There is just a figure to show that so much millions of dollars were used but where the money was going, it was not clear.  In some areas, we found that people were scared to sign for the money.  When it comes to finances, there is a law that governs and provides for accountability which should be followed.  As alluded to by others, I hope that Parliament will take up the issue that ZRP and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission should investigate the issues of the use of funds during COVID-19, whether it was used or stolen.  I thank you.

*HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank Hon. Mbondiah and Hon. Mushoriwa who was standing in for Hon. Nkani for tabling the report in this august House.  If we look at the issues debated here, it is quite sad.  During COVID-19 and the lockdown period, we were grieving over people not having a source of livelihood.  As representatives, we had people who were trying to assist but when such funds are availed and the Government wants to assist, that facility does not seem to benefit the beneficiaries. Mr. Speaker Sir, in most cases, we asked questions on why the budget did not respond to the needs of the vulnerable groups, the women, people with disability and even the youth.  However, if a budget was set aside to assist the people, then it ended up falling into corrupt hands and it is pathetic.

Let me start by looking at the Auditor-General’s Report who observed that the beneficiaries did not benefit at all.  When  sitting of Parliament resumed after COVID-19 subsided, we came here to debate and people were given resources to distribute to beneficiaries but these resources did not reach the intended beneficiaries but were lost within ministries. After the Auditor-General brought the report to Parliament, it reflected that some of the people were not cooperating.  I think we need to investigate further on this matter and we need to be effective, with teeth that bite as Parliament so that the Auditor-General and her team and those who work with Parliament will be able to know.  We need to address the issue of corruption.

Hon. Speaker, the Constitution provides that it is our right and it is the right of the people to know what happened to the COVID-19 funds availed.  It is their right to be informed so that there is transparency.  Since there is support from the Government, in terms of food and health services, Members of Parliament are the representatives of the people and therefore constituents write to Hon. Members asking what happened to those hand-outs. 

The issue of corruption must be dealt with so that the intended beneficiaries get what they are supposed to get.  COVID-19 did not just affect a few people but all of us.  It is not by luck that we are here because a lot of people lost their lives.  These people who lost their loved ones were supposed to get support from the Government but we come in-between and get the resources that are supposed to benefit the affected people.  These are the people who were supposed to come and answer to the issue of disbursement of COVID-19 funds, goods and services.  The vulnerable groups are people who are struggling in communities and even after the COVID pandemic has gone down, they are still suffering.  So, when we are availing goods to the people, we need to consider these vulnerable groups as well as their sources of livelihoods. 

However, in the ministries, people were given resources which they were supposed to deliver but they did not deliver.  Some of these individuals even refused to respond or they were not available knowing that nothing will happen to them.  As I conclude, we know that the youth, women and the elderly are suffering in the community even while the COVID pandemic has slowed down but the problems remain.  It is important to investigate how goods are distributed to these vulnerable groups.   We need them to be accountable for their actions and also for what they did with the goods and services.  I thank you.

          *HON. TOGAREPI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker and I want to thank Hon. Mbondiah for tabling this report from the Auditor-General which is looking at the use of COVID-19 funds.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, us within the Government, officials do not emphasise, and are not honest at all.  They have no integrity and their mission is just to steal from the Government, and from the people of Zimbabwe.  You hear them mourning that the money that we are paid is very little but Mr. Speaker, if you go to low density suburbs, the houses that are being built are being built by civil servants.  Then you ask yourself where they are getting the funds to build in such posh suburbs – that is where the issue of corruption comes in.  As a nation or as Parliament, we were supposed to come up with a law that states that – the law is there but I think we need to tighten it so that if a person is seen with unexplained riches, it is important to investigate how that person got those riches.  Did the person acquire the wealth through working hard or through corruption? 

          Surely Mr. Speaker, if you look at the challenges that we faced during COVID-19 that affected everyone, and we lost friends and relatives, and were not able to work because of COVID-19 – even in terms of production in industries, production went down.  Even Parliament closed down because of COVID-19 but some people found a loophole to loot funds and goods.  These are the same people that when they are called to account for the use of funds that they received, they do not want to cooperate.  Where do they get such power not to attend to those platforms?

          I heard that the Auditor-General said that measures should be taken to investigate these people.  If there is legislation that can bring them to book, then they should be arrested for criminal offences.  We went to war, there are people who come to assist us – they may be donors or development partners.  Our Government was applauded for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as a country.  The Government took the necessary measures to ensure that people do not die of COVID.  Then there were some corrupt individuals who thought they had the right to help themselves to the funds that were being availed by Government for the vulnerable.  Mr. Speaker, it is the Government and the Members of Parliament who are castigated, even the leadership of the country but the people who loot such funds are known.  If it is something that is bought by Government funds, the prices are escalated four or five times, and this is because Government workers are not honest. 

Hon. Speaker Sir, I heard that some said that this matter should be investigated for a certain period.  Why should we delay on issues that are before us and are clear?  We need to do it as soon as possible because we might forget about these measures.  These people looted a lot of funds, and they may end up bribing others before we get there.  So I think we should expedite such issues.  I also urge our Committee in Parliament that wherever we have the Auditor-General, we should call those people to come and give Oral Evidence on the use of funds, and request them to reimburse the money.

We were applauded as a nation, President Mnangagwa was applauded globally for taking measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and save the people of Zimbabwe.  Then we have people who want to taint the image of the country by looting COVID funds.  We need to take measures as Parliament to go and investigate, and call them to give Oral Evidence; even the ministers themselves should also come here and give Oral Evidence together with their officials.  We want them to be accountable for the use of those funds. If the records are not there to show how the funds were used, then it means that there is a challenge.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank our Auditor-General because she reported the matter as is, in a transparent manner.  Those who are looting Government funds, we are now aware of them and the ministries that they work in.  I think that they should be suspended until such a time that we know where the money was taken to.  Until such a time that we have got evidence of how the monies were used, they should be at home on suspension.  What was done shows that these civil servants are not of the same vision as the President of Zimbabwe who has said that Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo’.  Where others have built, they are busy destroying.  One person said to me, if you go hunting with someone else’s dogs and they catch some prey, the prey will be taken by the dog’s owner.  What these civil servants did cannot be condoned. If they had the same vision as other people of Zimbabwe, they would have distributed the funds and followed procedures on how to avail these funds but they have taken the kill that we hunted and ran away with it.

This report has been an eye opener that there is a lot that is being done by Government officials.  Parliament needs to take a position and advise the Executive that Government officials have a lot of wealth that is not in tandem with the salaries that they earn.  We need to bring them to book and they should account for the wealth that they have. If they cannot, it means they looted COVID funds.  The Auditor General’s report is important to me but as Parliament, we should be united and bring to book those that have been mentioned so that there can be an example that this is not right.  It is sad that there is not even a receipt to show the use of the funds.  That is not right.  They are making us regress as a nation instead of progressing.  We do not need people who do not have mercy on others but what they look for is just an opportunity to loot funds.

These are hunting dogs that are not ours.  They are people who were sent by the Government to work for the nation but they are not working for the public; they are busy looking for funds, so they do not qualify to be civil servants.

*HON. PRISCILLA MOYO:  I would like to thank Hon. Mbondiah for bringing this report and the seconder Hon. Mushoriwa concerning the investigations or the use of COVID-19 funds.  The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of problems around the world especially in Zimbabwe because many people did not have resources.  Although people were suffering, many people contributed towards those who were suffering from the pandemic. 

This report shows that the resources which were mobilised did not get to the intended beneficiaries.  After the investigations were done, we are happy that a lot of corrupt activities are being exposed.  It shows that there are thieves that are stealing.  I suggest that these people must be brought to book.  They must be investigated and we have to establish where the resources meant for COVID-19 were taken to.  We must not end by just talking but we must take action.  Investigations must be done till the end.  Most people are being found guilty for stealing but we do not look further at the verdict at court. The Auditor General has investigated and the role of Parliament is to see how best the issues are being resolved.

This report is very important to the whole country.  Those in the rural areas are suffering.  The COVID-19 vaccines reach the intended beneficiaries late.  At the end of the day you find that those resources were mobilised but were taken by an individual who used them for personal use.  I suggest that this issue be investigated immediately. As a House, we should come up with a report of what happened to the perpetrators who stole the resources for COVID-19 victims.  We must not end with just writing reports and presenting them in the House but we must take action.  I support this report, the AG worked hard to expose these corrupt activities.  Those who are responsible for bringing the perpetrators to book must do their job.  These civil servants must be removed from their posts.  If we just continue discussion these corrupt activities by people whom we know by name and position and these remain on their posts whilst people also know that that is the case, it is not good. This issue must be looked into.

There are a lot of corrupt people in this country.  A lot of corruption is happening even in our constituencies and people continue being corrupt because they know that nothing will happen to them.  Perpetrators are just taken by the police and come back – nothing happens to them. I am pleading with this august House that we must represent people well and make sure that this issue has been investigated and the perpetrators must be brought to book. Certain people must be punished for stealing resources mobilised for COVID-19 victims. 

I would like to support previous speakers who said that the resources mobilised for COVID-19 were not used properly.  Parliament must invite people for oral evidence so that they explain themselves, hence we will have correct information.  Some of these perpetrators still hold their positions in Government and continue with corruption.  I plead that this House works towards bringing these people to book.  I thank you.       

          +HON. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to thank the Committee which presented the report regarding the Auditor-General’s Report. Madam Speaker, I believe that we procrastinate on certain number of issues. His Excellency is on record saying that people should produce good results and they should do so forthwith. Government is committed to emancipating the people’s lives, particularly during the COVID-19 era which has depleted people’s livelihoods, not only in Zimbabwe but the world-over. You then find someone who does not empathise with other people who work hard. You will find some people neglecting those who are vulnerable. No one chooses to be COVID-19 positive. Madam Speaker, I believe that people should be arrested if they committed any crimes because for the Auditor-General to generate such a report, it has taken investigations.  As Hon. Members of Parliament, we need to look into this issue as the law takes its course. There are a lot of efforts that are being done regarding the curbing of corruption.

Madam Speaker, I have a question even though I might not get the answer today. The question is, when the President initiated the programme, it was put under the Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare.  What have they been doing? Did they monitor what was happening? I know I am not going to get an answer to this question but it is important that this question is addressed because this has culminated in such a loophole. When we talk about beneficiaries who did not receive their monies, we are talking about people who are in districts and provinces in different parts of the country who deserved it. This was supposed to be done through the provincial administrators and district administrators’ offices to monitor the COVID-19 monies that were supposed to cascade down to the people. I thank you.

*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to start by thanking Hon. Mbondiah who presented the report. There are a lot of issues that were talked about and I would like to support what my fellow Members were saying. The officials who refused to appear before the Committee should be taken to task. Why did they do that? This is not supposed to happen. This is my fifth year in this august House whereby we have witnessed issues coming to this august House, debate on them but there is no action. The question is, where are they getting the guts? Some people are going to Rwanda, China finding out on how development is happening in those countries.

Development comes through action. When cases are taken to court, perpetrators should be prosecuted. When there is no corruption, we will see our economy growing but if perpetrators are not prosecuted, then the economy cannot grow. A lot of issues have passed through this august House and some of them are senior Government officials yet nothing has been done. Even the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission should be empowered to prosecute perpetrators. Maybe some are not fit to be at ZACC because if they are empowered with those powers, people would be deterred from committing crimes. We are fortunate that the Auditor-General is very professional and every year we receive reports from the Auditor- General’s Office but there is no action taken. My plea is that we need to witness action taking place.

The Committee did a good job and we need to see action. Year in and year out, we find such reports coming through this august House. At one point, officials were tasked to approach the public service, nothing was achieved from that. Some were saying they did not receive any monies. My plea is that the responsible authorities should be given the power to arrest.

I know that sometimes people might be given monies so that they do not pursue issues. Imagine when people are ordering a single mask at a cost of US$28. Madam Speaker, my request is that when I leave this august House after my term, I should be confident that issues that we discussed were actioned upon. Therefore, Government must give prosecuting powers to the responsible authority. I thank you.

(v)+HON. MOKONE: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity. A lot of issues have been said by my fellow Hon. Members but I would like to add that COVID-19 funds were not handled properly when they were supposed to be disbursed. In many places you would find that beneficiaries were not aware that there was such a fund. Even when I moved around in Gwanda my constituency, you would find that people were not aware.

The other issue is of the NetOne lines which were supposed to be given to people but were not distributed. Some of those people do not have money. The challenge then is that those who benefited from the COVID-19 funds were not supposed to benefit but the intended beneficiaries did not get the money.

Madam Speaker, in the Hon. Member’s report, she alluded to some funds which are not available as yet, especially the COVID-19 funds which were targeted to beneficiaries that time during the COVID-19 era. This issue should be investigated so that it is ascertained where these monies were channeled and Government departments should look into it.  Responsible authorities should find out what really happened to these monies.

With these few words, let me say that the report that was tabled by Hon. Mbondiah is a comprehensive one. 

*HON. MUTOMBA: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to add my voice to the issue at hand which is an issue so touching because those who raised funds did so having considered the COVID-19 situation which was affecting people in Zimbabwe.  However, there are people who diverted such funds instead of allowing those funds to cascade down to the people.

This is not the first time we are deliberating on corruption in this august House.  Corruption has been discussed several times in this House. I have noted that this is not ending, views are being aired in this august House but we are not seeing them being adopted - it seems as if it is a futile exercise.  Our constituents confront us out there alleging that Parliament is not doing anything but if you listen to our deliberations, you will discover that Members of Parliament do not condone corruption. 

After these observations have been noted, there should be recommendations and after recommendations, there is no implementation of what we would have recommended and adopted.  This is what prompted me to stand up because there is no action on the ground.  This august House is not getting the support it needs in terms of implementation.

Therefore, I would like to implore this august House that if we do not have the means of implementing what has been recommended in the House, then there should be a Committee which is set in this House responsible for looking at implementation of recommendations of all the reports that are generated in this august House. All the observations should be looked into so that they are followed up and implemented.  We debated and suggest a lot but unfortunately, no one is listening. 

Out there they are saying we are making unnecessary noise.  So I would like to implore this august House that a committee should be set up so that whatever is generated through different reports is implemented and there should be a specific time set for implementation after adoption and the action taken should be put on record.

People criticise us saying Members of Parliament are not doing anything but when you listen to debates, you discover that Members of Parliament are doing their job but there is a missing link, no one is assisting Members of Parliament so that their ideas are implemented.

Madam Speaker, if it is not possible for a Committee to be formed, then these issues should ride on existing committees, for example the Committee on Security so that they understand know that security departments have been given additional responsibility of implementing recommendations that would have been generated by this august House. 

It is sad that we can talk about corruption without action because if there is a natural disaster, then these monies should be looked into to determine how they are distributed.  If you raise funds from Seke, who accounts and records the money? If there is no clear database of these monies, then this is ripe situation for corruption. 

The Committee went to check the figure but 60% of the funds had been diverted and 40% is left, this then is corruption.  Madam Speaker, if this issue of corruption is not solved, we are not going anywhere.  We need to make a difference so that this august House can be seen to be doing a good job and people will appreciate that Parliament is doing its job. 

There should be a Committee which will look into reports and recommendations and observations of Members of Parliament so that it is determined whether they were implemented or not.    Corruption has become so popular but there is no action taken; unfortunately there is a missing link.   

*HON. SARUWAKA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  Corruption is one of our biggest enemies.  What it has brought to the fore is that because of corruption, we are seeing no progress on the missing USD15 billion. Civil servants are seeing that there is no meaningful action that has been taken because nothing has been done. Previously when ZUPCO buses were bought, a single bus was bought for USD58 900 and it was sold for USD212 000 to this Government.

          The difference bought 3 600 buses. The Government bought 362 buses instead of more than 500 buses. Civil servants will be seeing these corrupt activities happening beforehand. People are doing miraculous things and corrupt activities using Government coffers. Even if you look at Command Agriculture, Government employees will be seeing farming implements, farming equipment and seed disappearing before their eyes.

          When we were struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, we already had a corrupt culture within our DNA. Each and every individual is looking for an opportunity to enrich themselves. It is now a tendency amongst Government employees and individuals to say they should enrich themselves at the expense of the masses. We have cultured this corrupt behaviour amongst ourselves for a very long period. We plead with authorities to say for this issue to be addressed, it should start with those involved and if there are no serious measures implemented, we will never see corruption dying.

          When the new dispensation came in, we heard we were going to see the arrest of those people who had externalised funds in other countries, but now it is two years and we have not seen anything materialise to that effect. We have people from Ministry of Home Affairs and the Registrar’s office that went around writing down people’s names who had faced challenges and who had been affected. Such corrupt activities that happened - we followed the trail to no avail. Until someone is arrested, and unless someone is actually sent behind bars, then we will not see an end to corruption. Besides that, we will see these corrupt activities going ahead. We should have a period where we show our serious side about this corruption issue so that we send a clear message for the masses to see that we are really serious when it comes to the issue of corruption.

          (v)+HON. MAHLANGU: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I would like to thank Government for raising money for COVID-19 even though there are some people who were abusing the funds. For instance, where I come from in Pumula, it has three wards. There is a peri-urban and the Old Pumula Suburb where the elderly were very happy when they heard that Government was supposed to give them money yet they did not know that those funds were going to be diverted, especially looking at women who are in informal trade who thought they were going to survive because they were no longer selling their wares due to COVID-19.

          In such situations, the Government should  take the responsibility and the onus should be upon Government officials to give the money to the people because when we talk about such issues, you find that enumerators who were supposed to collect and create a data base of beneficiaries through Net One lines did not do so and those who were supposed to be given money for businesses could not do so because their businesses were affected and most of them were chased away from the streets by the police. Those who are disabled who were also supposed to be selling their wares could not do so because they were chased away by council officials yet they could not get their monies from Government.

          So, this money which was meant for the orphans and vulnerable children without parents, they should be given because such records are found in communities. For instance, in Pumula, when the monies are disbursed they should be targeted for specific populations. For instance, the disabled - the monies should be disbursed by the disabled people. If they are given to those who are able-bodied, they might divert the funds because they do not know what it means to be disabled.

          This form of corruption is not right. In the near future because of the winter season that is upon us, we might find ourselves facing a similar challenge. In future, money should be disbursed properly by the right people and it should reach its intended targeted population because every programme is debated in this august House. When funds cascade down and get disbursed to the people, we end up not knowing how these monies were taken to the people. This must be clear and so we need to unite so that different meetings are convened to explain the different funds that are being disbursed to the people so that they reach the right people.

(v)*HON. RAIDZA: I would like to thank you for giving me an opportunity to add my voice to the report which was brought by Hon. Mbondiah, supported by Hon. Mushoriwa.  Let me start by thanking the Auditor-General for doing a good job by generating a report which is clearly comprehensive and points out everything that has been happening, particularly during the COVID-19 era.  This programme which was initiated by His Excellency is a good initiative meant to benefit people.  Some people were incapacitated, they could not continue working because of COVID-19.  What we noted is that those who were given the task did not do a good job.

We also note that the policies which were supposed to be put in place before the disbursement of funds were not put in place. Even those that were supposed to account for the money through the Public Finance Management Committee did not explain clearly to the Committee what transpired.  What I noticed is that the challenge which was not unique to Zimbabwe but the world-over, of COVID-19, culminated in some unscrupulous people taking advantage of the pandemic and they ended up diverting funds.  When you really look into this issue, you discover that some people were just taking advantage because they knew that most beneficiaries were not aware of the different laws and what was due to them.

Madam Speaker, looking at the issue, we also note that there were duplicated payments that were done deliberately.  You find a name and identification number of the same person who was paid twice.  So you discover that this points to a deliberate ploy to divert funds, in the process sabotaging the President’s good initiative.  My suggestion is that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Police should intervene and deal with this issue so that perpetrators are taken to task and prosecuted according to the law because of their corrupt activities. 

This was a very good initiative but greed and corrupt people took advantage of the situation.  With these few words, I would like to say that greed people should be prosecuted and the law should take its course on such people so that things go well in our country.  We are facing a lot of challenges which come sometimes at different times like during pandemics and other natural disasters.  So, we need to curb corruption because if we allow them to continue being corrupt and taking advantage of our systems, then this will affect our economy. The President is on record saying that corruption is not welcome.   

As the august House, we need to look into the issue;  it must start with us and the rest of Zimbabwe to eliminate corruption.  Those who are given responsibilities should respect the Government and its people. 

With these few words, I would like to say the employees of the Public Service Ministry really erred in their activities by diverting groceries and monies which were supposed to go to deserving beneficiaries.  Some of the monies were not accounted for properly. There were no checks and balances, so I would like to urge the responsible authorities that those who are responsible for these corrupt activities should be brought to the fore and action taken.  I thank you Madam Speaker.

(v)*HON. SANSOLE:   Thank you Madam Speaker.  Let me add my voice to this very important debate – [ Technical glitches]-

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  I am sure we have lost him.

(v)HON. MAGO:  I would like to thank the mover and the seconder.  We cannot expect such things to happen without deterrent measures being taken.   Those people should be prosecuted for stealing Government resources.  As alluded to in the Public Accounts Report, there is need for competent people and we must adhere to the recommendations. 

(v)HON. I. NYONI: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to contribute on the report presented by Hon. Mbondiah, seconded by Hon. Mushoriwa.  I also want to thank the Auditor-General for a job well done.  Due to COVID-19, we have lost relatives, friends and colleagues. This of course included the loss of materials supplied by Government and failure to follow procurement procedures. It is possible that these anomalies, we deliberate on them in order to look for ways to mitigate corruption. This clearly is corruption at its worst and must be nipped in the bud. Fuel for big centres was not properly recorded and accounted for. I totally agree with the report’s recommendations for further audits and that ZACC and other law enforcement agencies should also be involved in this.

          Part of speech not recorded due to network challenges.

          THE TEMPORTARY SPEAKER: My apologies. I can hardly hear you.

           (v) +HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I would like to add my voice on the motion that was brought by Hon. Mbondiah seconded by Hon. Mushoriwa. The issue raised in the report is a very serious one. We lost a lot of loved ones due to COVID-19 pandemic. People should be given what they deserve when they are at home working. I would like to thank the Auditor-General for the work that was done. The groceries that were given to deserving people were allocated to those people who are employed by Government to do their job. There is so much corruption and people are not being arrested.

          Government should take measures to prevent corruption and people should be incarcerated when they are found guilty.  It is painful when you see that elderly people in my constituency were not allocated the funds which they were supposed to get when they had opened Netone lines. As a Member of Parliament, I would not know what would be happening.  There were so many people who were going around writing people’s names stating that there would be funds given to those with Netone lines. Those people who were allocated funds were said to be under age. That is corruption that we are talking about Madam Speaker.

          There were no names that were put down on paper. Those people who were doing corrupt activities should be incarcerated. There is so much corruption that is transpiring in this country but there is no one who is being arrested, that is why we are debating on this matter because things were not working properly. Those people who were doing corrupt activities are living luxuriously in their homes. May ZACC do its job? Zimbabweans want to see corrupt people behind bars. Citizens no longer trust the Government which is there at the moment. People should trust Government so that corrupt people are incarcerated. Right now we are talking about millions of dollars which we do not know where they disappeared to.

          May those people who are corrupt be incarcerated and ZACC should go into offices and search all those who are corrupt. Fuel funds which Government was defrauded of should be paid back.  It is very painful that people are living in difficult situations at the moment like what is happening in Public Service. People should get what they deserve. Judging by the Hon Members that have spoken before me, it is like we are speaking with one voice. We are singing the same song that people should be arrested and incarcerated for those who are found corrupt. People are stealing. As long as Government is not doing anything, people will continue to be corrupt.

          I thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on things that are not going on well. We are in this COVID-19 era and we do not know how things will be. Those people who are defrauding others should be arrested so that people may have trust in Government. As a Member of Parliament, we are answerable to the people in my constituency. We want to be involved when there are Government issues happening in the constituency

           (v)*HON. MIRANZI: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to this motion.  I do not have much to say on this motion.  Madam Speaker, it is of no importance to continue to debate the same things again and again.  What we need to do as the people of Zimbabwe is to find a solution, to stop corruption and arrest people behind corruption.  Those people must be arrested so as to show that the country has a leader who has people at heart by protecting them from corruption…

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): You are no longer connected Hon. Miranzi.

(v)*HON. MIRANZI:  Girl children are now practicing prostitution but…

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You are no longer connected again Hon. Miranzi.  We have lost connection with her.

           (v)*HON. NYAMUDEZA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I would like to thank Hon. Mbondiah who moved the motion, seconded by Hon. Mushoriwa.  I would like to thank the mover for his research on the fact that these things need to be corrected.  The Auditor General appears to be knowledgeable about her work.  If it was in other countries you would observe that in future the Auditor General should actually become our next Minister of Finance.  The issue in Zimbabwe is that those that are arrested are those who commit minor offences like shop-lifting, stock theft and those that would be at road blocks, bribe the police officer with a two dollar note and they get away.  The police are now very corrupt in Zimbabwe.

          We have people who stole large sums of money from Social Welfare and went scot free.   In 2023, we would find some of the culprits campaigning to be either a councillor or a Member of Parliament.  It is quite surprising that such uncouth characters even have the temerity to campaign as either MPs or councillors.  As Parliament, we should never be told by the Executive that we do not have powers.  We should ensure that whatever recommendations that we give as Parliament are taken up and that the police should take action.  We should never wait for the Executive to make a decision because this will go on unabated. 

There was an Hon. Member who talked about US$15 billion, that US$15 billion was stolen from Marange.  If we go back to Marange, there is nothing to show for that US$15 billion.  The people are living in hard times and today there is nothing to show for their improvement.

          People were allocated equipment under the Agricultural Mechanisation Scheme but some of them did not repay the loans and if that continues, it is another form of corruption.  Corruption should be nipped in the bud so that this country can develop.  We are a rich country but once we turn a blind eye to our kith and kin as they steal, then we are going nowhere.  That is not acceptable. 

In 2015, there was a certain Member who asked about the issue of the diesel and petrol.  It is much expensive in this country and that fuel that is on transit to Zambia becomes cheaper.  There are other people who manipulate the market such that Mutare nearer to Beira fuel is expensive and when it gets further away from the country it becomes cheaper, how?

          If we were to ask for a list of people that have appeared before the court and have been convicted and incarcerated, if we find that list and the Anti-Corruption Commission plays its role, then we will be able to eradicate corruption. 

We also observe anomalies in the auction floor.  We only hear that every Monday there is an auction floor but as to who has been given foreign currency at concessionary levels to go and buy goods, there is no such list.  Parliament cannot even access the list of those beneficiaries from the auction floor.  They are benefitting from cheap foreign currency, buy their own goods and then sell them at exorbitant prices. Corruption has drained this country; corruption has killed this country.

          We also look at the roads.  A list would have seven contractors but tenders are awarded to people that are of no means.  They are given to briefcase companies that would start looking for bulldozers.  You will see that four years has been spent on a road but it is still not complete.  Tippers are now onsite but they have been lying idle for the past four months.  A 32 km road, how can it be constructed over a period of four years?  This is corruption at play.  These are people who take advantage of people that were supposed to be healed akin to witches.

          COVID allowance was supposed to be given to everyone but some people decided to put this money into their own pockets.  If this case is not properly looked into and people are not assisted, we do not know what will become of it.  We should not have a law where if someone steals an elephant they are not apprehended but one who steals petty things is arrested. 

          (v)HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I will be very brief.  I just want to thank Hon. Mbondiah for tabling the report and also thank the Committee on Public Accounts according to the Auditor General’s view.  I would not repeat what other Hon. Members have said.  The Public Accounts Committee is unearthing a lot of issues that have been tabled by the Auditor General and it is good that there be action taken on what the Auditor General has raised.  I remember when Hon. Mpariwa chaired the Public Accounts Committee, she actually advocated for another term for the Auditor-General, simply because the Auditor-General was a cut above the rest in terms of unearthing a lot of delinquent behaviour and this current delinquent behaviour is not any different. In fact, all it needs is to be complimented by action taken against the perpetrators of this injustice.  I was with ZIMCODE, one day at Zimbabwe Television Network where ZIMCODE was actually saying the Public Accounts Committee does not have teeth because it is not taking any action on the Auditor-General’s Report and now the Public Accounts has been disintegrated into three committees in particular, of which I chair one of them, which is the Local Government Committee sub-Committee. Hon. Mbondiah chairs the other one and Hon. Mushoriwa chairs the Parastatals one. 

          Now is the time to take action and to make sure that we have teeth, we have had arrests that have been occasioned by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission since the separation of these Public Accounts Committees into sub-committees.  I ask that there be arrests after the debate on this report. 

Having said that, as we deal with our issues, as we unpack this delinquent behaviour Madam Speaker, we are not getting calls and we are now getting a lot of information as Public Accounts Committee to the fact that there is a lot of corruption going on in parastatals, other Government, quasi-Government entities and ministries.  As we speak, like we were debating last week about the Insurance Bill Regulation and amendment of the same to an extent that the Minister of Finance Hon. Prof. M. Ncube actually said he proposes to debate another day when we were in Committee Stage, that shows how he actually is grappling with issues that are embedded in that Bill and amendments of that Act so that there is a water-tight Act that is going to make sure that there is no corruption that is coming in as a result of Acts that have a lot of flows in them.

We spoke about the issue of insurance at ZINARA and third party insurance which was analogue at some point but now it is computerised.  As we speak, after we debated that Bill or the amendments in the Insurance Act, we started getting calls to the effect that there is more than US$10m that is actually going missing at ZINARA, as we speak US$10m for third party insurance where fictitious insurance companies, ghost accounts have been created using computerisation which we created to make sure that there is no delinquent behaviour. 

          Madam Speaker, if we had to wait for the Auditor-General to unpack what is happening at ZINARA through third party insurance, we will end up not getting to arrest anybody.  As we speak, people should be taken by surprise and should be arrested immediately and investigations should see them going before the courts because by any stroke of imagination, that is not a pittance, but it is corpus, humongous, gigantic sums of money that have gone missing.  Because we debated vociferously and effectively the Insurance Act and Amendment, now a lot of issues are coming out. 

          The issue of third party insurance speaks to and about what has happened on the COVID-19 funds except the issue of the COVID-19 funds usage which came to light when the Auditor-General had gone in. 

The Ninth Parliament is coming to an end.  The 2020 Auditor-General’s Report has come out and the 2021 Auditor-General’s Report is going to come out at the end of this year. The issues that are obtaining at ZINARA about third party are happening now as we speak Madam Speaker.  A lot of companies or all the insurance companies, their work was suspended for some time for two weeks at ZINARA and this has not come to Parliament yet.  It is because the elements at ZINARA are trying to cover up for their delinquent behaviour.  They are using that place as a tuck shop for their own self enrichment.

          I will come now to what is happening at the tollgates. That is exactly what happened and mirrors the issues that happened with the COVID-19 funds.  If you approach the tollgate and if there is congestion and you are asked to come to the side and you swipe for your fee to go through the tollgate, it is fortunate that you have got an exemption but a lot of people like me and the rest of the citizens do not have an exemption.  So we go and swipe for our entry. If you swipe where there is no computer close to the wall, what it means is the money is credited to the bank account of Intertoll and the monies that are credited and where Government has involvement, are monies that are close to where the entry is producing a receipt out of the computer.  Since December last year, there has been congestion on tollgates and as long as the money is swiped on the side where it does not conform to the computer, there is no regularisation that can see that money going to Government, that Government will get to tax that money as well.  That money is going to Intertoll and it is South African, it is group 5 and that money is having what is called illicit outflows and revenue leakages whilst we watch.

          My point exactly is, is it possible if it pleases you, for ZINARA to close for 48 hours and then we open it again, we use new staff and everyone else who is not a thief because it is a cartel, that place smells of a lot of injustice. We do not want to wait for the Auditor-General to bring in at the close of the Ninth Parliament, a forensic audit I am talking about, but this is currently happening now.  Luckily, where there is usage of computer, it will leave a footprint. So where people are saying that there were ghost accounts that were siphoning money meant for third party insurance, that is the reasons why there is no compensation for third party insurance. 

There is a reason to effect an arrest because there is a prima facie case if for any reason one may dispute the figure of US$10m. I can say to you holistically that there is money in US dollars that went missing at ZINARA through third party issuance of the electronic cover note.  This is why people are not being compensated; people are dying today after a road accident because there is no compensation because of this animal called ZINARA.

I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity and I ask that through your Chair and through this debate, you crack the weep for people to get incarcerated immediately.  I also want to thank the people of Chegutu West Constituency, that is Patricia Nyamadzawo and all the chairpersons of the districts, 14 of them, for allowing me to come and vociferously debate on this issue. I thank you.

          HON. SANSOLE:  Thank you Madam Speaker. Sorry I had been cut off. I would like to thank the mover of the motion and the seconder.  First of all, my major concern is the failure by the responsible Ministries to furnish the Public Accounts Committee with the information that they required to perform their task, that of coming up with a response. 

Despite the fact that they were given a lot of time, they still failed to give the information.  So that in itself was indicative that all was not well.  I think many issues have been raised by previous speakers to deal with that database of beneficiaries and so forth; where you find that incorrect addresses were given.  That shows that there are fraudulent intentions and issues to do with duplicate payments indicate that parts of the funds would have been misappropriated.  When the beneficiaries are not given the amounts due to them, that is also an indication or a sign of misappropriation.  All these things, Madam Speaker, point to the need of tightening of internal controls.

While I support the recommendations that ZACC and ZRP must play their role in bringing the culprits to book, I think the issue of internal controls must be addressed before funds are lost in this manner.  There must be segregation of duties.  You cannot have one person for example being responsible for the procurement of the stores of inventories with the same person receiving and looking after the stocks and also issuing out.  The same thing applies to bank reconciliations.  They need to be reviewed by senior persons.

While we are dealing with this, I think what we are doing is tantamount to closing the stable doors when the horse has already bolted.  Therefore, there is need for the Auditor-General to be more proactive in future in dealing with these issues.  As we know, prevention is better than cure.  Let us put in place the necessary controls rather than recommend action to be taken when monies have been lost.  Even when people have been sent to jail, the likelihood of money being recovered is very slim.  Thank you very much Madam Speaker for the opportunity.

HON. MUTAMBISI:  Madam Speaker, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. TEKESHE:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 11th May, 2022.

On the motion of HON. MUTAMBISI, seconded by HON. TEKESHE, the House adjourned at Nineteen Minutes past Six o’clock p.m. 

 

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