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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 11 MARCH 2021 VOL 47 NO 32
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 11th March, 2021.
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
NON ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have received a non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the following Bill and Statutory Instruments; Pensions and Provident Fund Bill, [H. B. 17, 2019]. Secondly, Statutory Instrument Numbers 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56 and 57, published in the Gazette during the month of February 2021.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, my point of National interest emanates from the hike of school fees in private schools. We have tried to understand how best it can be solved but there seems to be an understanding that private schools govern themselves. The Education Act also talks about schools and education in this country which automatically have got to conform to that. We have had the COVID period but the hikes are not justified. First of all, children are not going to school, so there is no food in terms of boarding in the schools. There is no sport in terms of transport and all that, and there is no laundry. So automatically the fees are reduced as a result of some of these services that I have spoken about. There is more. There is online which is going on and it is the parents who are paying for the bundles. Not only that, parents they must be commended for they have become teachers too. I know Mr. Speaker, even yourself with your grandchildren, you are now forced to be a teacher because of what is happening and this is not at all new to most parents and grandparents.
Why then do you increase school fees? What justification is there? A lot of parents are not able to talk about this because they feel victimized. I have a number of friends; I also have some of my children in these schools and when you want to ask you fear that your children will be victimised and because of that, you keep quiet and it is not fair. So we now need a position in terms of this but the position is not coming through.
It is my humble submission to your good office, that the Parliamentary Committee chaired by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga interrogates this further because I do not think this House has that time. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must be there, the private schools trust boards must be there as well and understand the justification because the COVID period certainly has not at all helped anybody in business the world-over. So how unique are we?
The sad thing is that people are now going to their savings. They are going to their savings which are supposed to be something that they fall back on when there are emergencies – funerals and so on. Now, the savings are no longer there and the pensions which they think they must enjoy, some of the people are now using that. That Mr. Speaker Sir, has become a cause of concern and it needs to be further interrogated so that we understand why there is a hike in school fees especially in the private schools. Not only that, even in Government schools as well, because there has not been money coming through. I think we need to represent people honestly as long as they are Zimbabweans. Whether it is a private institution or not, we have the aspect of oversight in protecting the citizenry in those issues. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mliswa. I think this is a pertinent issue of national interest affecting both the pupils as well as their parents. So I am directing that the Committee on Primary and Secondary Education invites the Minister, Permanent Secretary and the leaders of trust schools to come and justify these increases against the economic situation that has been so negative as a result of COVID-19. So Acting Clerk Mrs. Sunga, will you advise the Committee accordingly so that this is done at the earliest possible time, but not in more than two weeks time.
HON. MAVETERA: Thank you very much for the opportunity. Hon. Speaker Sir, today is quite a sad day for the film industry of Zimbabwe. We have lost one famous actress here in Zimbabwe, an excellent one indeed in acting, Anne Nhira who is popularly known as Vimbai Jari in the film Studio 263. It is quite sad and may her dear soul rest in peace. She was mugged in South Africa…
THE HON. SPEAKER: I did not quite get the name.
HON. MAVETERA: Anne Nhira. She was the main actor in Studio 263, one of the ever most popular soaps here in Zimbabwe. Mr. Speaker Sir, it is quite disheartening and very sad to note that she had actually gone to South Africa to try to make ends meet and also try to pursue her career in acting. This is women’s month where we celebrate women and it is quite sad that she had to lose her life during this period.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we need to look at the nature of the film industry here in Zimbabwe. Truly speaking, if you look at Nigeria and I have said this a lot of times - when it comes to film making, they actually earn a lot of foreign currency on number two after oil, but here in Zimbabwe it seems like we are taking and looking down upon the film industry. I am calling upon the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting services to take it upon themselves so that at least they can then be able to make sure that acting will actually bringing foreign currency for Zimbabwe.
If you look at it Mr. Speaker Sir, she would not have lost her life I would say, but of course God has the final. Truly speaking, if we are going to create a conducive environment here in Zimbabwe for filming, it will go a long way. Mr. Speaker Sir, we appreciate all the funds that are currently there, but they are a bit on the minimum side. The film industry needs a lot of capacity; it needs a lot of money for it to go forward. Today, Zimbabwe is crying about the death of Anne Nhira yet they have not capacitated the industry.
It is not good for us to be crying but it is better than for us to be rectifying issues whereby we are able to make sure that there is a conducive environment. Zvinoreva kuti hatingayeuki bako tanaiwa. Mr. Speaker Sir, it is very important for us to capacitate this industry, also not forgetting the music industry. Just two weeks ago, we were also in another crying mood whereby we were mourning the death of Soul Jah Love, but if you look at it we are not capacitating them. When they die we cry so much, but we are not having the opportunity to actually build them up and also helping them grow.
So Mr. Speaker Sir, I am calling upon the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to take it upon themselves to capacitate the film industry, the music industry and the arts industry so that it goes on well. May her dear soul rest in peace. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I share your condolences and may her soul rest in peace. I think you raise a very important aspect of our very key sector industry. The potential is there and I would have preferred that you raise this through a motion so that there is debate in the House and the responsible Minister must answer accordingly as to why the industry is neglected. Would you accept?
HON. MAVETERA: Yes Hon. Speaker, I will do that.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Hon. Speaker for recognising me. Hon. Speaker, I raise a point of privilege pertaining to myself being a resident to the north of Harare. The issue here is very simple. The City of Harare service and supply seems to be issued in two batches. One to the CBD and Harare to the north including Hatcliffe is totally forgotten. For the sake of Hatcliffe, it might as well be part of Goromonzi. They receive nothing when it comes to waste. In 20 years they have not had one metre of tar put in and they have no water. These times when it rains people walk barefoot to work so that they can clean their feet and get in the buses. This is unacceptable Mr. Speaker Sir.
My issue is very simple, we are now in a serious situation where we have been shut down for a year but nothing has happened. By the admission at the City of Harare at the end of November last year, $5.5 billion was uncollected in rates and they have done nothing. I have seen nothing to make an effort to collect the $5.5. billion yet in the budget which has been sanctioned and in my case - my rates have gone up 400% from $800 to over $3000. That is the same for all our residents, whether they are in high density or in low density throughout the whole of City of Harare. Why should I pay more money when they are not collecting the debts? They have admitted that 32% of people are paying rates, the rest are not.
The question is why should I continue paying rates, why should I continue paying my rates when the guy next door is not paying his rates, and yet City of Harare - and I would like to include Local Government here because Local Government should be forcing them to collect the rates. It is no use putting mine up 400% so I pay because more people will drop out. Mr. Speaker Sir, there are two issues which are really burning with no one, including people in this House will listen to. We have heard in City of Harare that over 100 nurses have resigned and no one is bothered about that. In the Northern suburbs we have got 4 clinics closed except for Thursday afternoon, but no one is bothered about it. It shocked us when it comes to the workers of the Council - only up to grade 12 have been paid this year. Anyone with a grade higher than 12 has not been paid this year, the last payment was in December.
Asi tinoramba takatarisa chete, tinoramba tirikuchema chete. It is serious and no one wants to fix it. Now in my particular incident and the reasons that I am coming here to Parliament, I have got 3 examples: firstly I have paid my rates up to the end of January, I have no intention of paying my rates again until they make a determined effort to collect the $5.5 billion outstanding. I can tell you now, the rest of the residents in the Northern suburbs are going to do the same as this continues. However, for Hon. Markham, as soon as that final demand comes, we will discuss it because there is $5.5 billion up there and you want me to carry them. I am not paying them one mete more.
My second point is City of Harare were bequest a park in Borrowdale West by an Estate to be looked after as a park. In my area, we have fixed and handed those 3 parks that were redundant by City of Harare to the residents; nothing to do with me but the residents have done a sterling job. In Borrowdale West they failed to get City of Harare to agree to the same conditions of a 3 to 7 year lease. I have the sale contact for that park by City of Harare to a company, yet it was bequest as a park to the City of Harare. Someone in his wealth leaves us a park and we sell it for development. I have a question.
The third thing which really irritates me Mr. Speaker, there is a market at the Racecourse, Mashonaland Turf Club called Stables Market, that is the most hygienic, clean and COVID-19 abiding market in Harare. They have been closed down because the paper work in not in order. There are between 55 and 65 stores - you can get up to a thousand people there and they only work on Saturday. I have no problems of the orders of the papers being wrong, that can be fixed but why close it and why close them when every other market in the Northern areas remains open and they have not even attempted to get a horse permit, an environment permit or obtain a permit.
It appears that this is now going too far so my plea is three fold; firstly, I would beg the Ministry of Local Government to do a land audit on all land sales - 3010 particularly in the Northern suburbs. My second one is I request immediately that the Minister looks into when an Estate gives people, bequeaths something to City of Harare as a party you give it away or you sell it. My last point is very simple, I stated it clearly and I will state it again, I will not pay any rates to City of Harare from the 1st February this year until they start a debt collection and start collecting money from everyone, not just from people like me. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can I suggest that those 3 pertinent observations, you put them in writing for written question for next week, so that the Minister can answer them in detail.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I stand guided.
HON. MADZIMURE: Mr. Speaker, we now have one season gone without young men kicking football, football is a sport and our country as Zimbabwe is expected to compete at the highest level. I implore the Minister of sport and culture to come to this House and produce a report as to what she has been doing from last year and what she intends to do with our children who are losing several opportunities. If we look at Tino Kadewere Mr. Speaker right now in France, he can pay us all as Members of Parliament one month with his weekly wages.
You look at Marvelous Nakamba, he can do even more because his talent might be even higher. A lot of countries have developed - actually soccer players in Ivory Coast contribute a significant amount to the GDP of the Ivory Coast. In Zimbabwe, it seems we are even not aware that there is sport. Right now we expect our cricketers in Abu Dhabi to do wonders, where we are now competing with countries like Afghanistan where there are bombs everyday - 500 Rand is unacceptable. You then blame our team, they are mediocre, they do not understand sport and the like but the local league is not running at the moment. Our athletes, you expect them to go to the Olympic in Japan considering how COVID-19 cases are getting down, the Olympics might be held this year and we expect our children to go there and compete. Actually we have the resources to transport people...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Our athletes.
HON. MADZIMURE: Our athletes, Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Sport as a sports person herself, an athlete herself a great athlete must at least show that she was appointed to be a Minister because of the special skills that she has and the experience that she has. So, Mr. Speaker, I implore the Minister to come and tell us when our people are going to start to kick football in this country and what she has done from the time when we were denied the chance to host the cup of nations match against Algeria. Those improvements that need to be done to stadiums, what has happened and what is the state of our stadiums right now. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAEKR: Your concerns are shared by the Committee on Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation and they should be presenting a report very soon whereby the Hon. Minister concerned will respond accordingly and give us some timelines. Thank you.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that Order of the Day Number 1 to 11 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order Number 12 has been disposed of.
HON. CHIKUKWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND NATIONAL HOUSING ON ZIMBABWE OLD PEOPLE ASSOCIATION’S PETITION ON LACK OF SERVICE DELIVERY BY CHITUNGWIZA MUNICIPALITY AND PENSIONS
HON. CHIKUKWA: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing on the Zimbabwe Old People Association’s petition on lack of service delivery by Chitungwiza Municipality and Pensions that had been eroded by inflation.
HON. CHINYANGANYA: I second.
HON. CHIKUKWA: According to Section 149 of the Constitution, read together with Standing Order No. 191 and Appendix E, every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to petition Parliament to consider any matter within its authority, including the enactment, amendment or repeal of legislation.
On 24 October 2019, the Speaker of the National Assembly informed the House that Parliament had received a petition from Zimbabwe Old People Association (ZOPA) beseeching Parliament to look into the issues of lack of service delivery by Chitungwiza Municipality and pensions benefits which were eroded by inflation. The petition was referred to the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
The Committee invited ZOPA to a meeting to discuss the issues they raised in their petition on 25 February, 2020. The Committee also invited the Management of Chitungwiza Municipality on Tuesday, 29 September 2020 to respond to issues raised in the petition by ZOPA. The Committee deliberated on the submissions and came up with recommendations.
Submissions by Pensioners
The petitioners were aggrieved that their pension contributions had been eroded by inflation, resulting in some beneficiaries getting between ZWL $30 and $80 per month as their retirement pension payouts. The petitioners complained that while they were still working, they made contributions to NSSA monthly as pension contributions and expected to get meaningful pension payouts at their retirement age. They argued that NSSA and other pension funds such as Local Authorities Pension Fund (LAPF) and Unified Pension Fund collect the contributions and in-turn invested the money so that pensioners are paid decent amounts to enable the elderly to live a comfortable life after retirement. ZOPA complained that the amounts paid to pensioners were inadequate to look after senior citizens, who tend to have ailments such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The pension payouts were insufficient for the elderly to buy food, medication and pay their utility bills.
ZOPA believed that their valuable contributions were invested by the respective pension houses. Much to their dismay, they were receiving meagre payments from these pension houses.
The petitioners wanted pension houses to adjust the payments they were receiving to match the current economic demands. In February 2020 when the petitioners met with the Committee, they suggested that a minimum of ZWL$5000 was required for an individual pensioner’s sustenance. ZOPA accused Chitungwiza Municipality of not remitting the funds they deducted from workers as pension contributions to LAPF.
The petitioners claimed that pension files for some former Council employees were missing from Chitungwiza Municipality offices. ZOPA accused Chitungwiza Municipality of deliberately misplacing the missing files, as a way of depriving employees from getting their pensions and other benefits.
Lack of Service Delivery by Chitungwiza Municipality
The petitioners complained bitterly about the poor state of the road network in Chitungwiza which they said was characterised by potholes. They felt that a lot can be done by the Council to maintain the roads using funds from ZINARA.
The petitioners informed the Committee that most households in Chitungwiza had no tapped water. They claimed that only houses built on low lying areas were receiving water. ZOPA expressed concern that residents were being billed for water that they never accessed.
ZOPA claimed that people were allocated stands on wetlands and when they asked Chitungwiza Municipality why they were settling people on wetlands, the Council shifted blame to land barons. The Committee was informed that there were a lot of illegal settlements in Chitungwiza with some houses built on sewer pipes causing sewer bursts. For most Chitungwiza suburbs raw sewer was said to be flowing along the roads.
The petitioners also said property files of residents went missing at Chitungwiza Municipality. It was alleged that most missing files belonged to deceased persons of foreign origin who came from Malawi or Mozambique and settled in Chitungwiza. It was further alleged that the files were missing for some time, but eventually resurfaced after two or three years with different names, stating that the late home owners had sold their house to the new home owners. ZOPA claimed that the relatives of the deceased were usually not aware of the changes in ownership and blamed Council officials for engaging in such corrupt activities. It was submitted that some residents who were on a rent to buy scheme did not get their title deeds after contributing for twenty five years.
The petitioners further complained that Chitungwiza Council properties were being leased to private players and Council was collecting rentals from such properties. Of concern to petitioners was the issue of stands for recreational facilities which were turned into residential stands. The petitioners felt that the recreational facilities should be used for the intended purposes.
Oral Evidence from Chitungwiza Municipality Management
The Acting CEO, Mrs. Machona admitted that there had been delays in pensioners getting their dues from pension houses due to the current prevailing difficult macro-economic situation in the country. She admitted that pensioners were not getting pensions because the Chitungwiza Municipality was not remitting pension contributions in full to the Funds. She mentioned that the Council had two pension funds namely, the Unified Pension Fund and the Local Authority Pension Fund (LAPF). The little that was being remitted to Pension Funds was the main reason for failure by Pension Houses to pay meaningful pension payouts to pensioners.
The Committee was informed that Chitungwiza Council had managed to settle the outstanding payments with Unified Pension Fund and that the pensioners were now accessing their pension through Unified Pension Fund. The Council was in the process of settling its debt with LAPF to bring its members up to date with payments.
In response to the poorly maintained road network, Chitungwiza Municipality informed the Committee that it had last received funds for road maintenance from ZINARA in December 2019 and the disbursements were inadequate to undertake meaningful road maintenance. Council was therefore, using its own funds to carry out its road repairs and the amount was not enough to make any significant impact. The Council indicated that it did not receive any disbursement from ZINARA in 2020. Chitungwiza Municipality established a roads levy as a way to bolster its funds for road maintenance. However, very little revenue has been collected from this levy because residents were not paying.
The Committee was informed that Chitungwiza Council used some of the ZWL$11.1 million allocated by Central Government under devolution funds to address the water situation. Chitungwiza Council Management said that it drilled twenty five boreholes in each ward using the first tranche of the devolution funds. Another thirteen boreholes were drilled using the second tranche of the devolution funds. The Committee was informed that the thirty eight boreholes drilled were still not enough to meet the water requirements for residents. The Management emphasised the need to have a permanent source of water for Chitungwiza and not rely on Harare City Council for its water requirements. The Council had wanted to drill more boreholes but there was no water at some sites. The Council was in the process of installing the solar system for pumping water from the boreholes that were drilled. The Council said it had requested for permission from the Provincial District Coordinator to construct a dam in Chitungwiza as a matter of urgency. The Council was informed that government was sourcing funds to construct Kunzvi, Muda and Nyatsime Dams. Council officials said if Nyatsime Dam could be constructed, it will solve the water problems for Chitungwiza. It was highlighted that Chitungwiza Municipality was receiving 30 mega litres of water per week against a requirement of 490 mega litres.
The Works Manager of Chitungwiza Council explained that non-revenue water was estimated to be 58%. Non revenue water was due to old pipes that burst frequently and illegal connections. Due to low pressure, the Committee learnt that low lying areas receive water once per week while high areas receive water after a period of three weeks.
Chitungwiza reticulation system was said to be old and had outlived its design life. It was pointed out that the issue of limited water flows was causing sewer clogging hence many blockages in the suburbs of Chitungwiza. The Council was promised financial assistance from Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) to the tune of U$1.8 million for sewer reticulation. The tender processes were underway for the pipes to be revamped in order to meet the requirements of the growing population.
In terms of refuse collection, Chitungwiza had only one functional refuse collection truck while the other ones were more than 20 years old and not functional. It was submitted that the Council was unable to conduct door to door refuse collection because of lack of refuse collection trucks. The Council was planning to use some of the devolution funds to buy refuse collection trucks. Chitungwiza Municipality had no proper landfill and was using a dump site which was not a safe and sustainable way for solid waste disposal.
Unreliable Billing System
The Chitungwiza Council officials indicated that the issue of inaccurate bills emanated from the billing system based on estimates and they were working flat out to rectify the problem. It was pointed out that water meters were vandalised making it impossible to come up with the actual readings. Additionally, the erratic supply of water to Chitungwiza forces the Council to bill residents using estimates. The Council informed the Committee that they were trying by all means to have water meters fixed so that they do away with estimates bills.
Missing Records for Properties
On the issue of missing property files, as alleged by the petitioners, the Council availed to the Committee the files which were said to be missing. The Municipality officials explained that the problem of missing files was because of the Council’s Registry which was manual resulting in poor records management. The Committee was informed that the Council was working towards computerising the Registry Department.
The Committee sought from Council Management how frequent residents’ files went missing and the Director of Housing explained that the case that was reported by ZOPA as missing related to Stand No. 8479, Unit K, Seke. The Director explained that the information in the file shows that the stand had changed ownership following a High Court Order under Case No. 6353 of 2008. Council, was ordered to transfer this property into this new person’s name. The Council said they complied and the change of ownership forms were filled in by the Deputy Sheriff according to the order. The Deputy Sherriff signed in on behalf of the first respondent who was Ms. Demetria Tapfuma who was being represented by ZOPA in the case.
The Housing Director further explained that the circumstances in the ‘missing’ file show that at one time, this Ms. Demetria Tapfuma sold the property to the people who are now the new owners of this stand. It is alleged that she was refusing to change ownership and the new owners had to go to the courts and the request was granted in favour of the new owner.
The Housing of Director further explained that the issue of missing files was a very insignificant portion. With regards to the ZOPA group, the Council was presented with two cases of missing files and these were retrieved.
The Council officials acknowledged that there were illegal settlements in Chitungwiza and were thankful that there was a Task Force which was established by the PDC to deal with land invasion. This Task Force was going to deal with every land invasion that was done since 2007 to date. The Council was in the process of identifying wet lands and people who built on top of sewer lines.
The Director of Housing explained that the issue of home ownership and title deeds should be approached on an individual basis. She further explained that Chitungwiza Council was only administering state land and did not have municipal land. Transfer of land was Government’s role and the local authority did not issue title deeds. The Council said they had engaged the residents to come forward and make sure that their home ownership forms and their tenure were in order. They indicated that they always encourage residents to come and make sure that their files were updated whenever there had been changes of ownerships. Council officials complained that residents were not coming forward to update their records. They highlighted that residents should submit home ownership forms, rates clearance certificates and a certificate of occupation for them to obtain title deeds. The Housing Director mentioned that the Municipality was in the process of engaging the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works in order for the land to be transferred to Council. The Council needed a deed of grant so that the Municipality can operate independently and be able to issue title deeds.
The Committee asked the officials if ZOPA had not approached them on the issues raised in the petition before they approached Parliament. Council Officials informed the Committee that they engaged ZOPA on the issues they raised and were confident that the two parties had resolved the issues. They explained that they always consult residents through budget consultations and encourage residents to approach Council and have their records updated.
The officials complained that ZOPA constituted a significant proportion of residents of St Mary’s and Zengeza. The Council’s rent card was pegged at $24 but ZOPA members usually approach the Council every month with requests to pay $10 citing affordability challenges yet they require service delivery. The management said they had Minutes where they engaged ZOPA pertaining to the issue of paying rates and also the issues they raised in the petition. The Committee was informed that at the moment Council was charging $167 but ZOPA members were still paying $10 on the basis that they were old people yet there was no policy which says old people should be exempted from paying rates.
The Acting Town Clerk hoped that the situation at Chitungwiza Municipality would improve after the appointment of the substantive Town Clerk. She also explained that some of the problems affecting Chitungwiza Municipality started in 2011 when employees were awarded huge salaries and the wage bill ballooned to the extent of exceeding revenue collections. This impacted negatively on service delivery. As a result, Council had salary arrears. The Council informed the Committee that it was trying to rectify these problems. It was submitted that Council initially owed workers about ZWL $21 million and the figure had since been reduced to ZWL$11 million. The Committee was informed that Chitungwiza Council was undergoing some investigations and hoped that these investigations will address the problems bedevilling the Municipality.
The Council informed the Committee that for current contracts, the Municipality would withhold 10% of the payment which then will be used to rectify any defects. This would force contractors to meet required standards. Tilco Road was given as an example where the contractor did not perform to satisfaction. The Committee was informed that the road construction works are supervised by engineers but in the case of Tilco Road, the engineer did not do his job resulting in his contractor being terminated.
The Committee observed that Chitungwiza Municipality was not performing to satisfaction considering the issues of raw sewage flowing in the streets, unavailability of water and houses being built on wet lands and sewer pipes under its watch. The petitioners were justified in petitioning Parliament concerning lack of service delivery.
The Committee noted that the allegation of Council Officials selling houses and facilitating change of ownership behind the back of real owners was caused by the poor filing system and lack of explanation of missing files by Chitungwiza Council Officials resulting in speculation. There is need for Chitungwiza Council to have a proper filing system and avoid situations where files go missing.
The Committee noted the need for Government to intervene on the issue of low pension payouts. The Committee urges the Chitungwiza Council to remit pension deductions on time to avoid prejudicing its employees. The Pension Houses must also invest wisely the funds they receive as pension contributions to enable meaningful payouts to pensioners/beneficiaries.
The Committee noted the need for a substantive Town Clerk to enable proper management, decision making and continuity.
The Committee observed that Chitungwiza Council’s engineers should supervise works done by contractors and authorise payment only when satisfied with the works as demonstrated in the construction of Tilcor Road.
The Committee was disturbed with the continuous problem of illegal settlements and home seekers being allocated residential stands on wetlands and on top sewer lines. The Committee urges the Task Force that was establish by the PDC to expedite the process of dealing with land invasions.
The Committee, therefore, recommends that:-
- The Chitungwiza Council appoints a substantive Town Clerk by 30 June 2021.
- The Chitungwiza Council should recruit relevant and competent engineers by 30 April 2021.
- The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement should come up with a lasting solution to water problems in Chitungwiza by priotising construction of Manyame Dam specifically to supply water in Chitungwiza by December 2021.
- The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should assist Chitungwiza Municipality in accessing loans for purposes of purchasing equipment considering that the revenue collected by the local authority is not enough to undertake such activities by December 2021.
- The Councillors should monitor and supervise the activities of their Council on a quarterly basis to avoid poor performance by the local authority in terms of service delivery.
- The Chitungwiza Municipality should have an electronic filing system by 30 June 2021 to solve the situation of misplacing files.
The Committee implores the Chitungwiza Municipality to prioritise service delivery from the revenue generated. This will work towards promoting and protecting the basic human rights of the petitioners as espoused in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
HON. CHINYANGANYA: The issues raised in the report are very pertinent and cannot be ignored. The issue of erosion of pension funds by inflation affects the way pensioners live their day to day lives. There should be modalities put in place by the pension houses to make sure that those remittances are not eroded by inflation and this should be done through proper investment of those remittances. Another pertinent issue is that local authorities are not remitting deducted funds to pension houses. This is rampant throughout all the local authorities. We call upon the Ministry of Local Government to make sure that local authorities are remitting deducted funds to pension houses so that when workers retire they are paid their dues.
Then the allocation of stands on wetlands, land reserved for schools and recreation Madam Speaker, this is really sad because a lot of home seekers are being fleeced by land barons. Local Authorities are playing their part in such deeds but then the land barons are playing a major role and I think it is high time Government takes the bull by its horns and bring to book those land barons because they are fleecing those home seekers of their hard earned monies.
Then the neglect of road maintenance in Chitungwiza is attributed to late or none disbursement of road maintenance funds by ZINARA. If we look around the whole country our roads are in a very bad state and it is high time ZINARA releases road maintenance funds timeously so that Local Authorities can do their work properly.
Then the issue of raw sewage flowing in Chitungwiza – if you go to Chitungwiza and you do not vomit, you will actually be strong. Chitungwiza is in a very bad state when it comes to sewer reticulation. Raw sewage will be floating everywhere. I have been to Chitungwiza several times and there is no section where there is proper sewer and no blockages. I am sure this is because of the illegal sale of stands without proper planning such that each and every person is digging their own shallow septic tank which overflows causing environmental nuisance. It is high time that such mishaps are addressed so that the environment is not polluted and there is no outbreak of diseases such as cholera or typhoid.
On the issue of salary arrears, this needs to be addressed as recommended by the Committee. What causes salary arrears is the Local Authority will be collecting less as compared to the wage bill which is fixed, yet the money being collected can go up or go down. Therefore, modalities need to be put in place by the Local Authorities to make sure that the billed residents pay for the services that are rendered. Those are my contributions Hon. Speaker.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I also rise to debate on this report by the Committee on Local Government. Madam Speaker, I just want to firstly raise what I want to call hygienic factors pertaining to this report. I want to think that in as much as the Committee did some work pertaining to this petition, I think there are certain areas where there was no holistic attention to the issues. The first issue that I raise is the question of the pensions that was raised. Madam Speaker, you are aware that this House received a petition which is more or less the same and which was debated and adopted in this august House when ZIPIT presented their petition to this House. One of the things that I had hoped the Committee was also going to do was to take in some of the issues which were discussed and adopted by this august House and factor in pertaining to some of the issues that ZOPA had brought in pertaining to pension. As you may be aware Hon. Speaker, the pension issues are from the time when we had the Smith Commission pertaining to the erosion of the pension values. I thought in my view, this was an attempt to ensure that we come up with a holistic answer to this aspect.
The other issue which I feel is also very pertinent is the state of the roads. The Committee noted correctly that the roads in Chitungwiza leave a lot to be desired. Chitungwiza Council is reported to have said that they have not been receiving or there has been late disbursement of funds from ZINARA. One of the things that I had actually hoped the Committee was also going to do was also to summon ZINARA pertaining to these issues so that in the report we should also have gotten a balanced view because one would not know whether ZINARA had disbursed the money or not and the municipality had not channelled the funds to the rightful purpose of making the roads. The reason why I say this is to try and make sure that whatever we come up with or what we want the Executive to come up with, even the recommendation or the things that we want the Executive to then attend to, we will have gotten the real position. We do not want a situation where the Ministry of Local Government would then come up and say it is because municipality has not done this or that ZINARA had given us a report on money given.
The other issue was that the highest officer in attendance was the Director of Housing because there was no Town Clerk. I was hoping that the Local Government Ministry also needs to attend to the question of the Local Government Board which has not been in place for some time and has had a huge impact pertaining to recruitment and dismissal of senior municipal employees. Any other Local Government will tell you that the complain has always been of high turnover and the non conclusiveness of the disciplinary issues that still remain hanging within the local councils is something that needs the Local Government Board to be set up so that we quickly deal with issues. We cannot have a council that continue without a Town Clerk performing the task.
The last aspect Madam Speaker, which I commend the Committee which they have noted correctly is the question of having water bodies specifically for the City of Chitungwiza. We are aware that Chitungwiza Municipality gets water from Harare and it is a noble thing to make sure that they have a supply of their own. Dams which are there to cater for Chitungwiza – the problem that we have is that for years, I recall some of us when we grew up, we knew that there was talk of several dams which were lined up on the eastern parts of Harare and Chitungwiza, dams like Kunzvi, Musana and others. Nothing has been done and as long as we have a situation where Chitungwiza or even Harare for that matter, the water that we take is the water that is downstream. All the water that we use to clean, wash and all the dirty is taken downstream. We are taking the recycled water and that is an issue which is problematic. It is even worse Madam Speaker, when you then read in the report that sewage is a major problem within the city. It means that the sewage is also flowing to the water source and the urgency of having new water reservoir is of urgency.
The Committee is right on point and I think the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works needs to ensure that sufficient work is done. If we do not do that, in the next few years we are going to see unbelievable sicknesses within the various areas. Right now Madam Speaker, even the borehole waters in Chitungwiza and Harare are no longer safe because those are now the source of drinking water for the residents. In real terms, if you check the tasting of that water, it is no longer suitable for human consumption. This is the reason why it is crucial and important for water bodies, water reservoirs and dams to be constructed so that Chitungwiza can also stand on its own and have water.
In conclusion Madam Speaker, the question of illegal settlements requires also the intervention of the Ministry of Local Government. I think the Committee is correct that things need to be put in order. There are certain things that we have allowed as a nation to continue. Just go through all the peri urban areas of all urban local authorities, the level of illegal settlements which we have given a blessing through political machination and other manner or where people have turned a blind eye whilst land barons have been taking advantage should not be allowed to continue. We need to see justice happening but we also need to see a proper methodology of making sure those illegal settlements are either formalised or a system is made to make sure that they are removed from wetlands. I thank you Madam Speaker.
(v)*HON. RAIDZA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on the debate on the petition by ZOPA. I would like to talk on the issue of lack of service delivery in Chitungwiza. I would like to thank the Portfolio Committee on Local Government for the report. I am also a member of this Committee. The report is on the poor service delivery in Chitungwiza and it is sad to hear such issues. The first issue is on the scandal on houses of the people of Chitungwiza. There are issues of missing files and sometimes the house would have been illegally sold to someone else. This shows that there is rampant corruption in this city. We urge the Anti-Corruption Commission and other Government departments that deal with the issues of corruption to thoroughly look into this issue of Chitungwiza Town. It is painful when someone goes to the extent of losing his or her own house due to such activities of corruption.
The other issue is on the Chitungwiza Municipality workers. It seems everyone who occupies that office as the Town Clerk will ends up being corrupt. This shows that there is no proper management at Chitungwiza Town Council. Government should try through the Ministry of Local Government, to look into the Chitungwiza issue and put substantive persons in place because those in acting positions are not responsible to what is taking place.
On the issue of roads, there was a problem. Funds from ZINARA were not properly channelled to their use of road maintenance and the fixing of roads in this particular area. What establishes that employees from Chitungwiza had no understanding of how monies were being utilised? We also noted that the person who occupies the office of the engineer had no knowledge or academic qualification to be doing that job. Our recommendation is that we do not expect people without the relevant qualifications to occupy and get paid for a job that they cannot do.
The other issue I would like to talk about is the issue of sewerage. It is our wish that as a municipality, they should be attending to the issue of sewer bursts. We acknowledge that these particular problems do need a lot of funding but in other instances, if they are able to fix let them react to such complaints. Devolution funds should be channelled to the residents for the development of those particular areas. This has resulted in residents refusing to remit any service delivery money because they are not getting any service. Residents saw the dedication and determination to say if council is to deliver on their premise, they are willing to pay for the service. It is our wish that action is taken with immediate effect because there is rampant corruption within Chitungwiza Town Council. Our message to the Minister of Local Government is that he should continue to work hard to stop this rampant corruption within the council. I thank you Hon. Speaker for the opportunity that you gave me.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Maam. I just want to add my voice to the report by Hon. Chikukwa on the Chitungwiza report.
As Hon. Chinyanganya has said that the issue of Chitungwiza does not only relate to Chitungwiza alone. It is a cross cutting phenomenon challenge that is across all local authorities, in particular in the urban set up. I anticipated that this report would be tabled today – this is why I have availed myself in Parliament physically because the issues that are being dealt with are dear to my heart, and the people of Chegutu West Constituency have issues that are embedded in this report going to come out –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I ask that you wait for your chance.
The people of Chegutu West want these issues to vociferously and effectively come out arising from my debate. The issue of pensions, contributions, medical aid and other ancillary contributions attached to that are a challenge and a problem. The monies that have been received and deducted from the payslips of workers from time immemorial in these local authorities have been misused by council officials. Forget the councillors because they have been voted into office. What is happening is that the accounting officers of these local authorities, Chitungwiza included and Chegutu municipality as well – they have been taking these monies and utilising them for other things other than the primary intended purpose.
What is the challenge? It so happens much to the chagrin of the workers because as they go to any medical institution, they are not covered. When it is time for them to get their pensions, they are not covered again. That is criminal and fraudulent. It is not right and should be stopped and nipped in the bud because of this report that has been tabled here. If it has been going on, it has to come to a screeching halt.
How does the issue of land and land barons relate to Chegutu on this report? We have people who are living on top of each other. In Shona, vanogara sembeva and kunonzi mbeva dzakawanda hadzina mashe. From this report according to Isaiah 6:1 – when King Hosea died, I saw the Lord. There has to be a paradigm shift or an about turn from the modus operandi of every day arising from the debate that is going to ensue here today. There is land where I come from – 530 hectares and it is called Hiltonvile suburb opposite David Whitehead; you know where I am talking about. It is on the highway. Whereas there are residents and households that only cater for 25 000 people, constituency has grown like any other constituency, it is now encompassing more than 70 000 people.
It means that of those 20 000 houses that....
HON. MADZIMURE: On a point of order. The report is specific – it is a petition by ZOPA, the people of Chitungwiza. They are listening to this debate and want a solution to their matter. All the people want to debate the specific report of Chitungwiza which has been moved by Hon. Chikukwa.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, may you stick to the motion. You can refer to your constituency here and there but stick to the motion.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Maam. Here and there, I am going to refer to the land that is lying idle that can either be unlocked for the good order of the people of that constituency that I am talking about and the same issue can be related to Chitungwiza Municipality or council so that the land that is lying idle there, Hon. Madzimure, can also be unpacked in the manner that has happened in Chegutu West Constituency so that the 530 hectares can cater for minimum 200 square metres each; 25 000 people – the backlog there which is 25 000 then can be dealt with expeditiously....
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, please may you stick to the motion?
HON. NDUNA: Chitungwiza Town Council petition and report has unearthed a can of worms. When it comes to water and sewer reticulation, I want to mirror what is happening in Chitungwiza to what is happening in Chegutu. In 2009, 400 people died because of cholera and typhoid. So the issue of sewer and water reticulation can be solved by monies coming from devolution funds, but the monies are going into a bottomless pit in these municipalities including Chitungwiza.
There is gross abuse by the accounting officers who are the town clerks. You need to deal with the town clerk’s office before you can hand over money from Government. I want to say, arising from this debate, that the Second Republic does not hunt with the neighbor’s dogs, they need to remove what has been entrenched which has caused a lot of fraudulent activities and acrimony in the people residing in the local authorities.
The problems that we see today have been championed by the historic issues of square plugs in round holes. We have town clerks and C.E.O’s who are not supposed to be in places of authority.
The people of Chegutu West have spoken with one voice and fired the town clerk yesterday who has been there for a very long time, who is impeding the issue of residential stands allocation and infrastructural development.
Madam Speaker, I want to also go further and say as councils sit, councilors are elected officials, they have no challenges whatsoever, one who has a challenge is he who has not been elected by the residents because he only comes to get what he can, take what he gets and move on. The city fathers need to deliver to the electorate what they have been voted into office for.
However, the impediment factor is the square plug in the round holes. The quicker we observe that the accounting officers have caused the rot in the local authorities, all these issues can be solved by one thing for sure. By councilors being resolute, taking a stern and a firm position to say we now need a round plug in a round hole, the issue of being impeded by the former republic in the second republic should be a thing of the past. There is nothing that we lose by making sure we put the right people in the right positions.
The challenge, for a very long time is that these accounting officers have been employed along party partisan lines but the local authorities and the city fathers have seen through that thin veil of political petty machinations. Going forward, they have come together and said enough is enough, we need to deliver to the electorate the mandate we have been given.
We have a lot of learned youths out there, in my constituency, I have 6 724 on the voters roll, 18 to 35 years in 2018. Those peopled are endowed with a lot of theatrics and education. Why should we continue to act as though we are archaic, moribund, rudimental and antiquated in this day and age? Why should we continue to repose our trust in the past on these people? These are the issue that we are debating here today, they are our challenge and we need to remove them. They cannot tell us that they have no problem but their voice is thwarted by the accounting officers.
As we are debating here today, the issue of Chegutu is going to be debated in this manner. There is going to be an appointment of the Acting Town Clerk. It is my suggestion that do not look amongst the thieves, look lower and appoint people who want to work for the people so that there is no flowing sewer, no building under power lines on top of water pipelines. Appoint somebody who is going to be in the acting capacity whilst you deal with issues of delinquency, fraudulent behaviour and other issues of the former, I call him the former Town Clerk so that what is happening there can be a show and a wonder for the people of Chitungwiza.
We should not have after today, a petition such as this one anymore. We need to stand up for the people and use this pedestal and platform for the good order of the people of Chitungwiza. The people of Chegutu are just the same as the people of Chitungwiza, they deserve the same good services that we are seeking for the people of Chitungwiza. A committee is going to be appointment tomorrow that should the second, the thing that should happen tomorrow.
It is also my fervent view and hope that the technocrats should unpack the ills and evils of the former accounting officers so that when the people of Bulawayo, Chitungwiza and Victoria Falls see what is happening there – they will definitely say because Chegutu is a centre of everywhere, we need to emulate. There is something good that has happened there and we need to then say…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, you are left with 5 minutes.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I am so happy for the people of Bulawayo, now that there is going to be water ad infinitum, perennially coming from Shangani River. This should be replicated in all other cities, including Chitungwiza. There are dams and water sources that have been on the cards for a very long time. The second republic, through devolution funds and other initiatives has come to deal a blow to the delinquent behaviour of the past, but there is need to hunt with its own dogs.
Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to vociferously and effectively debate on the issues of Chitungwiza, mirroring them with what is happening in Chegutu West Constituency, especially the suspension of the Town Clerk and subsequent firing of the same without looking at petty partisan politics from across the political divide. I thank you.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Madam Speaker. Let us go through some quick points and there are two that I just want to labour on a little bit. I believe it is criminal that pension funds and medical aid should be deducted, not for one year, two years or three years. We are talking nearly 10 years that these funds are being deducted and we have done nothing. The answer is very simple. We must fix it but we do not. We talk about it, we have had the pension fund come in here, we have had this, we have had that and we have done nothing. We have got to fix it and the urban councils, both on pension funds and medical, someone has to go and answer for it.
The second issue I would like just to bring up, the whole urban councils and rural councils in Zimbabwe are factored on a situation where they are supposed to be stand alone. It is one of the few systems that we have in Southern Africa. Recently we have instituted the 5% devolution fund. Stating that they are supposed to be stand alone - you cannot stand alone if you do not bill the residents. Now the residents earlier on in Harare were not getting bills. Here in Chitungwiza they are not getting bills. Who pays a bill if he does not receive it? So that is one of the fundamental reasons why we have a problem in most of the urban councils.
I also want to go on to the issue of land barons. We have talked about land barons, we have talked about illegal settlements and settlements on wetlands. There are two fundamental points which are being missed here. One is the land is being taken up by unscrupulous people, but we have done this but we do not want to fix it. We have done it through the Justice Uchena Report. It is there. Why is it not being released? The Justice Uchena report is comprehensive on all illegal things province by province. It ran for 18 months on public money and we have not released it, but we are still talking about illegal settlements. Until the report is released there are no illegal settlements, land barons and cooperatives. There is no council is stealing and there are no management stealing until we see that report and the answers are in there because one of the summaries he put there is that the intrinsic value of land lost by councils is $3 billion.
On the issues of service delivery, particularly sewerage, I have a problem with that as Chairman of Harare Wetlands Trust. We as Harare Wetlands Trust are concerned and have been concerned for years on the wetlands and the settlement on wetlands. We have lost 50% of the wetlands in the greater Harare catchment area, but on top of that we are still building on wetlands. The sewerage in Chitungwiza is redundant, it does not work. All the sewerage from Chitungwiza goes straight into the river down to Chivero. The same with most of Harare Sewerage. Then we take that water, we throw 11 chemicals in it and pump it back to drink it again, yet God gave us the wetlands to do all that for us. The wetlands are not about pretty biodiversity and frogs and things like that only, it filters the water so it is clean so we can collect the water and maybe use one or two chemicals.
So we are now in a situation here where Chitungwiza has really no infrastructure. It relies on Harare for water. It was built for 100 000 people and it is now I do not know how many hundreds of thousands of people and yet we have the same infrastructure. Yes, we built houses but the services are not there and that is a major issue for Chitungwiza.
Things we can fix which concern me tremendously, the whole lot runs and one of the major things we are missing since the last election is the local government board. The local government board has a very good and strong advisory and acceptance of positions, including that of town clerks. Why do we not have that board? Why is that board not being constituted? So that is the fix and it should be done immediately, because we are also in a situation with the devolution. On the issue of devolution, we have 5% of the national budget going to local authorities. Who issues that? Who acknowledges which projects are more important when we do not have the administration or the legal side done and of the devolution fund of last year, if we all read, we will see that only 50% of what was supposed to be allocated was allocated. So we were short changed and we have major development issues which need to come out.
The second last point I would like to bring up is the issue of roads. The issue of roads is a major issue throughout the whole of Zimbabwe we understand that. However, I would like to point out that in ZINARA’s collection of funds, 18% goes on contract to the people they are contracted with. Why was it done like that? Why was that a contract and not the local authorities? So they get the 18% instead of us paying it to someone we do not even know and then that 18% will force local authorities. If they want to fix the roads, they collect that money - they send 80% or whatever percent to ZINARA so that it is centralised so it can be distributed fairly amongst rural areas and in the urban areas we start with 18% instead, now we have got nothing.
The last point which I would like to highlight and it affects Chitungwiza tremendously is the issue of the subsidy on ZUPCO which accounts for 21% of the local government budget nationally. That alone has stopped all strategic special planning and put it basically at a standstill. I have said it and I will say it again, in most areas on our special planning we are working off maps from before 1980 and that has to be rectified. I thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. BUSHU: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to debate on a motion that was put across by Hon. Chikukwa who is Chairperson of the Committee. This petition came through ZOPA, Madam Speaker and their issue really at the beginning was their standard of living had come down drastically and we are talking about people aged 60 and above.
Firstly, these people are very uncomfortable because of the decline in the value of their pensions. Secondly, they are also uncomfortable with the general decline in the quality of life that they are living and this opens up the can of worms, but what we are saying here we would not leave out issues that relate to Chitungwiza town council because Zimbabwe Old People’s Association has brought issues to the fore. What we are looking at here is a petition that also affects many other old people in the whole country. Therefore when we look at this report, we must look at it and say to ourselves how much impact does this issue have on the rest of the country and we are talking about a substantial portion of our people. We are talking about a substantial portion of the people that we must start looking after. Those are the people who have looked after us in the past.
Anyway, the issue is the issue of pensions, pension funds. This did not apply only to the local authorities pension fund which they had come to protest against, it also applies to all the pension funds in the country or to the insurance industry in general. There is an issue that came up in Parliament at some point in time that the pension funds and the insurance industry in general must look at the pensions that people contributed and the incomes that they are getting now that are United States dollar denominated in a lot of cases. That should also help uplift the value of life of the old aged.
Now because of this complaint, we found out that there is an issue relating to municipality that must be taken care of. What we found out also was that generally administration at Chitungwiza Muicipality has been poor for very long. People have complained for very long time, we must look at this and put a closure. We, as Zimbabweans must look at this and say how can we improve the administration at Chitungwiza and municipalities in general, people have complained about this.
We do have legislation that helps the Public Finance Management Act, the Urban Councils Act and the various other Acts that will ensure that public administration is done. Now, when you look at it, water in Chitungwiza is simply not available and in a town like that, we are looking at Chitungwiza as probably the third largest populated urban centre outside of Harare and Bulawayo and we do not have water. We have boreholes being drilled everywhere, there is no simple water reticulation that is safe and sound. In a lot of other areas there was no water reticulation at all before people were allocated stands to live in.
Madam Speaker, this is not good, the same applies to sewer. I remember before Independence, there was a place called Chirambaguwa, I think Chitungwiza is better than Chirambaguwa. Madam Speaker stands were allocated and houses were built along sewer lines, what is going to happen in future. In any case those sewer lines are going to start bursting and what do we have, we have an administration that has got a town planner, they know the Town Planning Act very well. Why did they not implement it? Are they going to implement it in future.
Madam Speaker, this say a lot about our supervision, the roads are terrible to say the least but what can we do. In any case we welcome the fact that His Excellency said that it is going to be attended to by the Ministry of Transport under a special arrangement because it is a national disaster. The issue is what is the municipality doing about this? In particular what are the Chitungwiza people doing about this, all the old people are having to go round potholes and down in potholes, old people are risking their lives which they have defended for a very long time because there are huge potholes in Chitungwiza; it is unfair. These are the same people who are prepared to pay rates, these are the same people who are saying they have been paying rates for a long time and these are the same people who are saying our future children – what is it that is there for them. Madam Speaker, it is sad.
Chitungwiza has a lot of land that is available, we have seen Chitungwiza growing very big but we have also seen Chitugwiza residents building on wet lands. This does not apply to Chitungwiza only , this applies to almost every urban council in the whole country. I want to imagine, I wonder to think that there is one municipality that has been doing well in the area of wetlands management probably Bulawayo. It is a sad situation that has to be corrected and the new ways that wetlands are being dealt with by Central Government is a welcome development.
Madam Speaker, the issue brought up by Zopa started off as a small thing and like what Hon. Nduna said it opened a can of worms. If we look at it again, we have as a Committee presented to Parliament on service delivery by local authorities. I can tell you one thing that report presents again an alarming position for most of other municipalities. It is sad and Chitungwiza has not been left out. We did not make a special report on that but Chitungwiza’s problems have been unearthed by ZOPA. We urge as we work together with the Ministry of Local Government to look at the old report on service delivery by local authorities and also look at the Chitungwiza report. My wish is they must not forget that the issue around pensions and insurance must also be included.
Like they did by responding to the report on Bulawayo and its water problems, like they did in responding to Victoria Falls and now Victoria Falls is a city and by their response to the issues around Hwange, I am sure the Local Government Ministry is capable of solving Chitungwiza. Madam Speaker, I think that it is only fair that issues related to poor service delivery, poor administration and generally poor performance are things that have evolved over a long period of time. With the coming of the new dispensation, we would like to sort out the administration and we should like to see it happening and I believe that the Ministry of Local Government has got capacity and capability to do so. What we are saying is the people are crying in the municipalities and the issue of service delivery and better quality of life has to be delivered to them. I thank you Madam Speaker.
(v)HON. R. R. NYATHI: Thank you Hon. Speaker, I want to add my voice to the motion that was moved by Hon. M. Chikukwa and seconded by Hon. Chinyanganya concerning the report from Chitungwiza, the Zimbabwe Old People Association. When we listened to the reports that we now being given by the council employees, it is sad to note that the employees were very frustrated and we actually mentioned that their working relationship with the politicians is so bad that one dreads to go to work. So that that is where I think the whole thing starts where somebody is going to work but is not motivated to do the work that one is qualified to go and do in order to upgrade the standards of living of the people that he is working for.
The next thing that I also realised is that as they were speaking, I realised that the funds that are paid by residents for rates do not seem to be channelled in proper manner. If you go to Chitungwiza, you are not able to notice areas, even though there are small to say we set aside a small amount.
Thank you Madam Speaker. So, you need to see an area, though very soon to say from the money that we collected from the rates, this is what we did and we do not seem to see that in Chitungwiza. Probably if you have to see that, you see it on their salaries. There is also one very important issue that I want to share which was also noted by Hon. Mushoriwa when he spoke about Chitungwiza being provided their own dam or dams, which I also think that the same thing applies to Harare. Harare is our capital city and it is our sunshine city for Zimbabwe, but our water systems are very poor. I think that Chitungwiza should have their own dams and Harare should also have dams upstream so that our people are able to get good supply of water.
It is also important for me to note that it appears that our physical planning departments throughout are not doing their duties. I say so because if you look at the water supply, you would say to yourself, when these people were planning for these towns, were they not also planning for water. One might say it is difficult and very expensive to do the dams but the question is, is it expensive, but over time, it becomes cheaper, more affordable and more healthier for our people thereby doing away with all those other problems like cholera and other water borne diseases.
I also want to note the issue that has been very topical in Parliament now and in the papers and this is the issue of building on wetlands. I think Chitungwiza is not spared on this one. I blame it with the relevant planning section where I think that our councils are either directly or indirectly involved in allocation of stands in wetlands. I say so because if certainly one builds a house worth USD500 000 and it is completed and tomorrow somebody comes with a grader or a dozer to say we are pulling it down and yet we were seeing these houses being built every day. Where was the monitoring team to see what was going on?
If the councils are difficult – it becomes difficult for them simply because of the land barons. Why is it that they have not been able to raise it with the Ministry to say please come and redress such a situation? So, this situation is prevailing in Chitungwiza let alone the issue of refuse collection. The report states that Chitungwiza, almost every corner there is refuse, there is no collection of refuse and mosquitoes and flies are multiplying in that area thereby causing a big danger to our people.
May I also talk about sewerage? I think we need to up our dams when it comes to planning of our towns. I understand that much of the sewer bursts have been caused because these sewer lines were built for a certain number of people but as we plan, we should have in mind the growth of the town. We know that they might have planned to say we have got five people per household but because of those that are lodging and the extended families, that house is now occupying maybe ten or so people. This causes some bursts of sewer lines but that being the case, we must start planning for alternative ways of upgrading our sewer lines.
We must be able to see that there is something that is going on than just for us to keep on complaining to say there are sewerages and that we do not have money. A stitch in time saves nine. If we just go one brick at a time we will finish the house. Let us see some action over that side. I want to give an advice to my Hon. Members that let us encourage one another that we also attend some councils meetings whenever the councils are having their full councils meetings so that we can also do our monitoring and evaluation so that we can give our guidance and advice so that everything is under control – that which is under our purview. Some of these mistakes also point to us as leaders that we are not playing our part.
We need to create a conducive environment so that everyone enjoys working around us. We give advice and we work as a team and together, we can always make it. Let us stop this blame game and before pointing our fingers to others, let us ask ourselves what it is that we are doing to improve this situation. So, in conclusion I say let us discourage one another to act in a manner that is not transparent. Let us lead by example as Honourables so that as we lead the councillors and as we also lead our various councils, the employees can see where we want them to go. Leading by example is the best way we can do to redress the situation that we are facing, not only in Chitungwiza but throughout our country. I thank you Madam Speaker.
*HON. ZEMURA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker for giving me an opportunity to contribute to the report which has been tabled by Hon. Chikukwa, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government. What we are seeing is that we have very big stories from this report. What we have noticed is that we have change of ownership of houses of those who passed on. Those of foreign origin are losing properties and their children are not accessing these properties. It is our wish that we have those who would investigate. There must be an investigation department to look into such issues and arrest those who are involving themselves in such activities.
This is a criminal activity that is going on. Property is being stolen. As old as I am, I want my house to go to my children not that a municipality is involved in these corrupt activities that see property being swindled and being given to other children –It is a very painful situation. They also talked about pensions. People work up to 65 years and retire but they do not get their money. It does not even go to Pensions Fund or even Rural District Council Pension Offices where it is kept to benefit those who have retired.
You just retire to go and sit at home. They do not get any remuneration. People are suffering as they wait for their pensions. There is no documentation. Those who collect these monies put them to their own use without the knowledge of those who have retired. They are suffering, grappling in poverty. I have a relative who used to stay in Chitungwiza way back. There used to be very small houses. It means since these houses were upgraded, people are not getting anything from that. People worked for nothing. Nothing came out of it up until they got into retirement. There are a lot of corrupt activities. The employees are criminals. We are here as legislators, we have heard what is happening; a well detailed report with regard to the Chitungwiza issue. What action are we going to take as legislators? Hon. Speaker, we want to see results of the actions that we will have taken as legislators. We have heard the contents of the report, we are supposed to take action.
On the issue of wetlands, I am in the Portfolio Committee on environment. I have been to Chitungwiza before. There were very big houses that were cracking because of the foundations they were built on. These houses were cracking but today we here of a report to say they should stop these investigations until there is compensation fund for these people. The only thing we see is the happiness of those who illegally sold the land to these people. Those who allocated land should be arrested because this was purely criminal. There is no one who is educated in Chitungwiza Council. I think I am better educated than them. Who would allocate residential stands in a wetland? That is ridiculous, it is a very terrible situation which these residents are exposed to. Let us look at the Government’s lands lessons. From way back, Government does not allow building of residential houses on wetlands. We want to see the apprehension of those who committed these crimes and their conviction, they should be thrown into prison.
Hon. Madam Speaker, we heard that one of the land barons collapsed in court after being grilled about the corrupt activities committed. Sin does kill! These people are committing criminal activities. It was even shown on television. People are living in water, some of the houses are being swept away. What we saw in Chitungwiza is terrible, I did not know that a used pumper could inflate to become huge.
Madam Speaker, the issue of Chitungwiza does not require lenient people. Let us deal with this issue once and for all. Let us be thorough, let us be very serious about the Chitungwiza issue. Chitungwiza Municipality needs people who are firm when dealing with such issues. Chitungwiza is a wetland. Most of the areas are wetlands, those underground pipes, because of the type of the soil, they quickly rot and eventually burst.
The reason why we see this rampant and bad situation continuing is because they do not get to experience these sewages, they spend most of the time at work and they only get home at night. They never get to experience this horrible situation of sewage flowing during the day. Those employed at Chitungwiza Municipality should be investigated. Their qualifications should be thoroughly looked at. Those are fake qualifications.
Hon. Speaker Sir, if we look at all municipalities, rural councils are way better than Chitungwiza. We have let Chitungwiza go on like that for a very long period. We should take action immediately. All the people involved in selling State land should be thrown behind bars. These people are enriching themselves whilst the masses are suffering. People are suffering because of wetlands.
Madam Speaker, even the new employees are busy copying bad tendencies of the previous employees. I do not trust anyone within that Council. Let all activities be investigated, even by the Members of Parliament of Zimbabwe. Action must be taken immediately. People are suffering for no reason because of corrupt activities by these corrupt officials from the councils. People have amassed wealth corruptly. There are a lot of big houses that have cracked because they were built in wetlands and those who live in these houses have no knowledge that they built on wetlands.
Let us look at these things and let us not be lenient. We may spend the whole day talking as legislators but in some of these things, we want action to be taken. If we continue being lenient on these corrupt land barons, we are destroying the nation. We can get on the Parliament bus and got to Chitungwiza to inspect what is actually affecting these residents. Surely, we will be beaten. Since long back, people have been complaining about the Chitungwiza situation. There is no law and order among the small and medium enterprises. People are allocated land to do their business as entrepreneurs haphazardly. You cannot even look at it and say this is where it is coming from and where it is going. If we are to go there, let us go there and work together with Local Government to come up with a sustainable solution for Chitungwiza.
It is possible that when you go to Chitungwiza, you might not come back because our own transport might get stuck in mud there. I am saying this because of the bad state of roads in Chitungwiza. Chitungwiza is no longer a town as we thought back in the day. Let us look thoroughly at the Chitungwiza situation and come up with a sustainable solution. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me.
HON. KASHIRI: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the report presented by Hon. Chikukwa on behalf of Local Government and Public Works Committee on lack of service delivery and erosion of pension funds petition presented to Parliament by Chitungwiza Residents. I will not waste a lot of time because a lot of things have been said and debated upon and nothing will change that. I just want to highlight one or two things that I thought are of paramount importance.
In the report, there was an issue that came up on refuse collection. The report outlined that there is only one truck to collect garbage in the whole of Chitungwiza Town. That is unbelievable Hon. Speaker. One truck to collect garbage for more than 200 to 300 thousand households is really unbelievable. Where is the money they had deducted from pensioneers? Can we not get that money, buy another refuse truck. I would draw your attention to the idea that was brought to this House by Hon. T. Khupe that we make biogas using that rubbish. There is a lot of rubbish or garbage in Chitungwiza we can use to make biogas and even sell biogas to the residents.
The next point I thought of paramount importance was the issue to do with lack of water in Chitungwiza. I would like to think here lies an opportunity to make money. You supply water to the residents, they pay rates and you make money. In Chitungwiza, there are boreholes and that is free money. Somebody is actually capitalising on that. If you look on television and follow local news, there are people that are charging $1 for a bucket of water or something like that. That is revenue that could be coming to council if Chitungwiza had water.
Let me talk about ICT Hon. Speaker. I think every local authority should be computerised by now. As Parliament, we should, in the next budget, vote that every local council be computerised and every title deed be in the system. That is one way we can stop this missing files, stealing of files, double allocations and when everything is computerised, we will get rid of all these things Hon. Speaker.
Last but not least, let me talk about the recreational spaces that were taken advantage of by land barons. The recreational places were there and drafted for. We need recreational places but because there is no development taking place, there are no kids’ playing grounds and local activity taking place on these recreational places the land barons take advantage. So, if these lands are allocated, let us go in there and develop the places.
Hon. Speaker, Chitungwiza is not a very good example for the people of Magunje. Magunje is only a growth point trying to grow to a town then city status but with what we have seen and heard from the report, I do not think Chitungwiza is a very good example. Let me conclude by saying that should there ever be a chance, it is my thinking, I may be wrong Hon. Speaker, this report could have made a large and bigger impact if this particular Committee of Local Government and National Housing had joined up with the Committee on Environment and Tourism to go and see what is exactly happening in Chitungwiza. Unfortunately, maybe the petition came from pensioners hence so thereby they did not go together. Thank you.
HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 16th March, 2021.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that the House reverts to Order of the Day, Number 11 on the Order Paper.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to
REPORT ON THE VIRTUAL EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION (IPU)
HON. TSVANGIRAYI: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Virtual Extraordinary Session of the Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conducted from 1st to 3rd November, 2020.
HON. MUKUNYAIDZE: I second.
1.1 The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) convened a virtual session of the Governing Council from 1st to 3rd November 2020 to discuss and take decisions on pressing issues relating to the functioning of the organisation, including the adoption of the IPU budget and programme of work for 2021 and the election of the IPU President. The decision to meet virtually was made in light of the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
1.1.2 This decision was in line with Article 17.2 of the IPU Statutes, which provides that, “The Governing Council shall be convened in extraordinary session by the President if the latter or the Executive Committee deems this necessary, or a quarter of the Governing Council’s members so request”.
1.2 Parliament of Zimbabwe’s delegation to the Governing Council comprised of three Governing Council Members led by Hon. Advocate Jacob Francis Nzwidamilimo Mudenda, Speaker of the National Assembly. The other Governing Council Members in attendance are as indicated below:-
o Hon. Tsitsi Veronica Muzenda, and
o Hon. Vincent Tsvangirayi.
1.3 The meeting was chaired by the Acting President, Hon. G. Chen of the People’s Republic of China. At the recommendation of the IPU Secretariat, Hon. Advocate Mudenda chaired the Session in instances of technical challenges with Hon. Chen’s connectivity from China.
2.0 Election of the President of the IPU
2.1 The IPU received four candidatures as follows:
Ø Mr. M.S. Sanjrani (Pakistan, Asia- Pacific Geopolitical Group)
Ø Mr. D. Pacheco (Portugal, Twelve-Plus Geopolitical Group)
Ø Mr. A. Saidov (Uzbekistan, Eurasia Geopolitical Group)
Ø Ms. S. Ataullahjan (Canada, Twelve Plus Group)
2.2 Parliament of Zimbabwe supported the candidature of Mr. Pacheco of Portugal. This was in keeping with the motion adopted by the SADC PF to rally behind Mr. Pacheco given his extensive experience in the operations and functions of the IPU. It is imperative to note that Hon. Advocate Mudenda moved the motion which was adopted unanimously by the 47th Plenary Assembly of the SADC PF held from 9th to 11th October 2020.
2.3 In an unprecedented online vote with a voter turnout of 97%, Hon. Duarte Pacheco of Portugal was overwhelmingly elected President of the IPU for a three year period.
2.4 In this regard, Parliament of Zimbabwe wishes him a successful tenure in office and pledges its full support during his term.
3.0 IPU’s Honorary President’s Report
3.1 In her report, Hon. Gabriella Cuevas Baron, former President of the IPU articulated activities undertaken during her three year tenure as President of the Assembly. The outgoing President’s main thrust was to engage in Parliamentary diplomacy and build strong synergies for the IPU.
3.2 Under her presidency, the IPU strengthened relations with the United Nations, implemented a robust Strategic Plan and introduced positive initiatives such as the Leadership Training Programme for Young Parliamentarians.
3.3 Hon. Gabriella urged the IPU to continue on this trajectory to ensure that the voice of parliaments is heard in collective solutions for global challenges.
3.4 Members extended their appreciation for her energetic and visionary leadership throughout her tenure as President of the IPU. More importantly, they observed her unwavering commitment which ensured that the IPU continued executing its mandate even with the advent of COVID 19 pandemic.
4.0 Financial Results for 2019
4.1 The Governing Council approved the accounts for 2019 after consideration of the reports of the findings of the external auditors from the Swiss Federal Audit Office and Internal Auditor which noted that IPU statements were in compliance with International Sector Accounting Standards and that the IPU is in sound financial health.
5.0 2021 Draft Consolidated Budget
5.1 The Governing Council approved the 2021 Draft Consolidated Budget. Of note, is that the assessed contributions by Member Parliaments will be maintained at the current levels. Accordingly, Member Parliaments were encouraged to pay their assessed contributions to enable the IPU to implement its programmes.
5.2 The Secretariat will continue to source for voluntary funding from traditional partners (International Organisations and Member Parliaments) as well as engaging new partners. Member Parliaments were called upon to consider providing voluntary funding towards specific areas of interest.
6.0 Elections to the Executive Committee
6.1 Ms. Laurence Fehlmann Rielle of Switzerland, representing the Twelve Plus Geopolitical Group as well as Ms. Beatriz Argimon of Uruguay, representing the GRULAC Geopolitical Group were duly elected into the Executive Committee.
7.0 Brief Report on the Outcome of the Virtual Segment of the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament and the 13th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament
7.1 Hon. Advocate Mudenda, a key member of the preparatory process for the virtual segment of the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament briefed the Governing Council on the deliberations and the positive outcomes of the Conference which was attended by 115 top legislators. In his presentation, he highlighted the following:-
o That the Conference discussed a wide range of topics spanning effective multilateralism, robust parliamentary diplomacy, climate change, sustainable development, health, youth and gender, democracy, human mobility, countering terrorism, as well as science and technology.
o That the Conference affirmed the need to generate a strong message of parliamentary leadership and solidarity so as to learn from the lessons of today and join forces to tackle the daunting challenges facing our world at so many levels not least in terms of global health, environmental and economic vicissitudes predicated on the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
o That the Conference was also a seminal platform in deepening our ties with the United Nations and the IPU’s other partners, in consonant with our theme of more effective multilateralism.
o Participants pledged to reinforce the role of parliaments in global governance underpinned by enhanced multilateralism and international solidarity anchored on the equality of sovereign nations.
o Invited all parliamentarians around the world to study the Conference publication and reflect on the key outcome messages which should spur us towards working together for a better world.
7.2 The Governing Council elected members into the Preparatory Committee of the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament in person Meeting scheduled for July 2021 in Vienna, Austria. The SADC Group put forward, Hon. Catherine Gotani Hara of Malawi to replace Hon. Margaret Mensah Williams who is no longer Speaker. Hon. Gotani was duly elected into the Preparatory Committee.
8.0 Brief Report on the Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians
8.1 The Governing Council adopted the Report of the Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
8.2 Of note, is the case involving Hon. Joana Mamombe on the following alleged human rights violations:
Ø Ill-treatment and other acts of violence
Ø Arbitrary arrest and detention
Ø Violation of freedom of opinion and expression
Ø Violation of freedom of assembly and association
8.2.1 The Report acknowledges Parliament of Zimbabwe’s response through the Hon. Speaker, which elucidates that the principle of sub judice limits Parliament’s possibilities of engaging for the resolution of this case.
8.2.2 In the spirit of transparency and Parliamentary diplomacy, the Hon Speaker responded to issues raised in the report emphasising that, in line with the country’s Constitution which enshrines the doctrine of separation of powers, Parliament cannot interfere with due process. However, Parliament will be on the lookout for any violations of Hon. Mamombe’s rights. Furthermore, Parliament will continue engaging the Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians on the status of the court case.
8.2.3 The Hon. Speaker briefed the Governing Council on the status of the court case highlighting that Hon. Mamombe is out on bail and receiving appropriate treatment after being confirmed mentally unfit to stand trial.
9.0 Future Meetings of the IPU
9.1 The Governing Council approved the schedule of future meetings of the IPU. Of particular note, is that the 142nd Assembly is scheduled for May 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland while the October Assembly is scheduled for Kigali, Rwanda.
10.0 Questions Relating to the IPU Membership: The Specific Situation in Mali
10.1 On 18 August 2020, a group of officers staged a coup d’état and proceeded to arrest the main political leaders, namely President Keïta, his son and Parliamentarian Karim Keïta, his Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, and the President of the National Assembly Moussa Timbiné. The putschists, acting under the banner of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), claimed they planned a three-year transfer of power period to review the foundations of the Malian State. During the night of 18 August, President Keïta resigned.
10.2 Following ECOWAS sponsored negotiations, the process of normalisation has been initiated and should result in the reinstatement of the constitutional order as recommended by the entire international community.
10.3 In this context, the Governing Council approved the proposal from the Executive Committee to take note of the ongoing progress, give its support to the initiatives aimed at reinstating the constitutional order and recommend the provision of technical assistance to the Transition National Council.
10.4 The Secretary General is expected to take steps to this effect and set a roadmap with the transitional authorities.
11.1 The Parliament of Zimbabwe should continue to engage the Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians through provision of updates on the status of the case of Hon. Mamombe.
11.2 The Parliament of Zimbabwe to continue engaging Treasury to ensure that subscriptions to the IPU are timeously paid to avoid accruing arrears.
11.3 The Parliament of Zimbabwe to continue participating in virtual statutory and ad hoc Meetings of the IPU. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for affording me the opportunity of seconding on the report of the IPU Governing Council. Let me also hasten to say that I want to thank the delegation headed by our Speaker, Advocate Mudenda to participate in several meetings of the IPU and also congratulate him on behalf of the delegation that he happened to co-chair one of the sessions. This Mr. Speaker Sir, explains that we have a wealth of experience in terms of the Speaker amongst our delegation. I know for sure that even in that delegation, the three of them, Hon. Sen. Tsitsi Muzenda is in one of the committees that she chairs as a gender person. I also want to congratulate Zimbabwe that we are also raising the flag high up in terms of representing Zimbabwe.
Let me move on quickly to congratulate the newly elected President of the IPU and the new executive, but perhaps to pay tribute to Hon. Gabriella who made the IPU what it is today. During her tenure, she lifted the flag and the bar high in terms of the IPU as a woman. I happen to have interaction with her. She is a woman of respect. I want to thank the world for having voted for her to lead the IPU. As women, we celebrate her success as a woman who took that institution to another level.
You would see that this was a preparatory meeting Mr. Speaker Sir, in terms of looking at the budget, the programmes that were to be targeted. However, I also celebrate that in the budget discussions, women and youths were mentioned. Developmental activities targeting even sub-regional activities were allocated some kind of support.
On a sad story before I conclude Mr. Speaker, you will notice that there is mention of violation of rights for Members of Parliament, specifically Hon. Mamombe. There was mention of the violation of freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. These are matters that if as a country we work together, we should be able to deal with domestically rather than us being on the agenda internationally and regionally if we do not handle such matters in the right way. It is my fervent hope that we will be able to have this matter dealt with and put to rest so that at the end of the day when delegations, especially the IPU delegation goes to IPU, they will have enough answers. They can get the respect as a delegation, especially in the person of the Speaker who will be one of the spokespersons in terms of the country where they will ask where are you in terms of this particular case. I want to share that this is a good report in terms of getting what others are doing, the support by the UNDP and participation of our delegation.
I think there was mention Mr. Speaker Sir, in terms of affiliation fees. Many a times our delegations go to meetings and only to realise that we have not yet paid subscriptions. It is embarrassing and if the Finance Ministry is made aware that in certain delegations to wherever we are affiliated, affiliation fees or subscriptions are paid prior before departure of the delegations. I want to thank Hon. Tsvangirayi for moving this particular report for the adoption of the House. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. MAVETERA: I would like to congratulate and thank Hon. Tsvangirai for moving this important motion. Let me also thank the seconder, Hon. Mpariwa. I would like thank them for attending the virtual meeting. Indeed Corona is not going anyway – it is going to stay with us.
We have got young blood in Parliament and we are happy when we see such young people going to represent us as a country. I applaud SROC for coming up with Hon. Tsvangirai, Hon. Mnangangwa and Hon. Mukunyaidze. These are young people who represented us. What is worrisome, especially on the delegation and participants who were supposed to be going on, especially on the election of the president – I am surprised that we do not have an African President being there so that we are represented in Africa. It is important that we are represented as Africa and having African people coming into place. I acknowledge the position that they gave to the Hon. Speaker.
I would like to applaud at this juncture the Hon. Speaker of this Parliament, Jacob Francis Mudenda. Our Hon. Speaker is one person who has always made sure that whenever it comes to issues to do with IPU or any issues that are meant to capacitate Parliamentarians, he always stands for parliamentarians. However, without considering that he was also appointed and was also co-chair; my worry is why it is that we do not have African people standing in as President.
I applaud Hon. Gabriella Cuevas, she was a very good President and a very gender sensitive woman who showed that she would do well and she was really doing well in IPU. She made IPU get onto the map. Of course, we need to alternate and have a man this time but I just hope that after this term we also have another woman coming in because she really showed that she could do very well. We are hoping that we are going to get another woman coming in. I am not saying that I am not in support of the current President. We were happy as female parliamentarians having a female President for IPU, it was a good step.
However, I applaud the composition of IPU here in Zimbabwe. I think it is worth commenting that it is gender sensitive. We are mainstreaming women into international politics. Now that IPU is coming to Rwanda here in Africa, it is good for us. We are happy because that alone is going to bring a lot of foreign currency and trade here in Africa and makes us feel that we are a good African country. What unites us is that we are Zimbabweans and what unites us as Africa is that we are Africans. I thank you.
(V)HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Often times, we criticise the Executive pertaining to the matter and the methodology they use when they go out there to sign international treaties. One of the things that I feel we are not doing well as Zimbabwe is prior consultation and the other issue before a delegation of Parliament goes to some of these meetings, we tend to get these reports post the meeting. If you were to ask many parliamentarians, they do not even know what IPU is, neither do they know these agendas beforehand that there is a delegation of Zimbabwe that is attending an IPU meeting or SADC or any other international fora for that matter.
For the sake of transparency and democratic aspects, some of these things need to be posted in advance and members need to be aware that we have got a delegation that is going out – the agenda is a,b,c and our delegates are so and so. Members can then help to equip those members who are delegates to these meetings.
The other issue I want to raise is the issue that relates to the human rights violations, especially when it comes to Hon. Members of Parliament. I note in that report, that the Speaker is said to have said that at Parliament we are monitoring and everything is according to the dictates and ethos of the law. I was at the Rotten Row Court today where Hon. Mamombe – I do not know how many times she has been dragged and also denied bail being a Member of Parliament (MP) for some charges which ordinarily in other countries are not worth to deny bail. These are the charges that the Magistrate Court should grant bail, especially for a member of the society who occupies a position of Member of Parliament representing a constituency.
It is wrong in my view for us as Zimbabwe to fail to attend to some hygienic issues and fail to solve some internal discourse and challenges that we face. It is wrong for us to be found every now and then having an issue of human rights violation – MPs being on an agenda of international meeting. Inasmuch as the Speaker might have said the law is taking its course, the truth of the matter is that it puts Zimbabwe on the wrong mark and creates an impression. It may be true that there is human rights violation because if you look at the stature of an Hon. Member, an Hon. Member needs to be treated with honour. In any vein, when you have got a country that arrests and does investigate – in normal democracy, investigations are done. You investigate and establish a prima facie case against a culprit and then you arrest. The courts will then decided on the merits of the case but in our situation regarding to Hon. Mamombe, she has been called to court on several occasion. Right now, even the prosecution is not even ready to bring her to trial but every now and again she has been arrested for other things. For example, recently she was arrested for addressing a press conference but the other people who were there, Prof. L. Madhuku who also addressed the press conference was not arrested.
When we have got a case of that nature happening, it creates a problem. Hon. Speaker, you will recall that Hon. Mliswa was arrested addressing a press conference but he was granted bail that very same day. What are we doing as a country if we allow female legislators to be kept in prison, moreso when we just have been celebrating the women’s day? What message are we sending to the young women about their participation in politics?
This why even if you look in our Parliament today – how many young women do we have, they are less than 10. So what message are we sending out there to our daughters, sisters who may want to join politics and contribute to the growth of our country? It is wrong in my view.
I believe that the Hon. Speaker, instead of just simply saying we are going to talk with the National Peace Commission, we need to see justice being done. We do not want a talk show to say we are going to do this, what is it that Parliament has done? I believe that we would not even want a report to say what Parliament of Zimbabwe has done pertaining to the harassment and the ill treatment of its own Members.
Mr. Speaker Sir, such things will continue and I can guarantee you that the next meeting that is scheduled for Kigali in Rwanda, Zimbabwe again, will be on the agenda because we continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect people to just get used to it – to simply say this is the Zimbabwe way.
I listened in court today when Prosecutor Razor literally smiling and thinking that they are doing justice in punishing a poor young Parliamentarian, yet they are damaging the reputation of this country. We are talking of an Hon. Member without an army, catapult or stones. What security risk would Joanna Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri create?
Mr. Speaker Sir, I believe as a nation we really need to avoid ourselves to be on the agendas of international forums. However, as long as we continue to do this, we will continue to feature. I thank you.
HON. TSVANGIRAI: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon. Members who contributed to this report, Hon. Mpariwa, Hon. Mavetera and Hon. Mushoriwa. In future, I will definitely make efforts to make sure that the report is read on time.
I now move that the report be adopted and withdrawn from the Order Paper.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that Orders of the Day, Number 13 to 14 on today’s Oder Paper be stood over until Order of the Day Number 15 has been disposed off.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE, HOME AFFAIRS AND SECURITY SERVICES ON IMMIGRATION SERVICE DELIVERY AT BORDER POSTS
HON. GWANETSA: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on immigration service delivery at Border Posts including during COVID-19 lockdown period
HON. S.K MGUNI: I Second.
HON. GWANETSA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. As a way of introduction the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services resolved to conduct an inquiry into the state of service delivery by the Immigration Department particularly at ports of entry and ports of exit. This follows concerns from the public about the declining state of service delivery in the department, particularly at border posts. This prompted the undertaking of the inquiry which culminated into this report. The report provided highlights of the Committees findings, observations and recommendations.
The objectives of the fact finding exercise were as follows:-
- To get an insight into the challenges and experiences facing the Immigration Department in fulfilling their service charter.
- To ascertain if the Department of Immigration was observing World Health Organisations guidelines as per Statutory Instrument 83 of 2003 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To provide informed recommendations for approved service delivery by the Immigration Department.
In March 2020 the Committee received oral submissions on the state of service delivery at ports of entry and exit from the Immigration Department in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. Realising the need to establish facts on the ground in light of the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee split into two teams and from 12 to 14 October 2020 visited border posts as follows – Sango border post, Plumtree border post, Beitbridge border post, Chirundu one-stop-border post, Nyamapanda border post and Kariba border post.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee reengaged the Chief Immigration Director in an oral evidence meeting on 16 November, 2020. The major purpose of the meeting was for the Committee to get further clarity on the critical issues that were raised during the fact finding visit. It was also meant to appraise Committee Members on the nationwide state of service delivery at border posts on the challenges the department was facing in fulfilling its constitutional mandate, constitutional rights in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to have effective service delivery at border posts infrastructure such as roads, commercial offices, inspection bays, housing for the officers, information and communication technology, surveillance technology, truck and baggage scanners are a requirement, a critical requirement for that matter.
The one-stop border post model where clearance is done at one facility is a core border post design concept being considered after a pilot project at Chirundu between Zimbabwe and Zambia which showed good results, cutting wasting time by 30%. The one-border-post concept has advantage of easing congestion at existing facilities, reducing time delays thereby reducing transport costs, increasing coordination between border agencies and simplifying clearance processes to facilitate trade.
The unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. The Government of Zimbabwe closed all its borders and airports to ordinary travels on 30 March 2020. Office counters and doors were physically closed for ordinary travelers aside for commercial vehicles and returning citizens and SADC citizens in transit.
The processing of certificates of origin, import and export licences, rebate concessions and all correspondence were mainly done electronically. Stringent regulations put in place for compliance included mandatory temperature checks, comparisal use of respiratory masks, obligatory hand sanitisation, strict observation of social distances, limiting crew members in cargo trucks, observation of strict transit requirements.
Citizens or residents of Southern African, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states transiting through Zimbabwe’s land borders to their homes were to present a covid-19 free certificate issued within the previous seven working days and have had to submit themselves to screening and testing for COVID-19. Once a traveller exhibited COVID-19 like symptoms on arrival he or she would be detained at a holding facility and would be required to pay US$60 for a test.
Seized with the rampant cases of illegal crossings and associated elicit activities at the designated and undesignated entry and exit points, allegations of the degenerating services delivery and the looming effects of border closures due to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic the Committee resolved to inquire into the state of service delivery at the border post under the prevailing circumstances.
Findings and Observations
- Border infrastructure
The Committee was concerned about the general infrastructure at border posts which need to be improved especially with regards to commercial offices, inspection bays, office space, housing, bridge development, information and communication technology, and software as well as surveillance technology.
Mr. Speaker Sir, at Nyamapanda the Committee discovered that the infrastructure which was constructed for fewer people back then probably during the Rhodesian era has now outlived its purpose. With only one side catering for both entry and exit passages congestion of both human and vehicular movement was imminent. Long winding queues of heavy commercial trucks were seen stretching further down into Mozambique on the Mozambican side. There was also acute shortage of office space resulting in some offices being used as both offices and store rooms. There was inadequate infrastructure to use by travellers during the border formalities. The clearing hall was very small and it could hardly accommodate more than 10 clients at any given time. The situation was unattainable in light of need to comply with the social distancing COVID-19 regulation. There was no shed at the search bay consequently exposing officers, clearance and their goods to the vagaries of weather conditions.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the shortage of office accommodation was a major observation at border posts such as Nyamapanda, Kariba, Chirundu and Sango. At Plumtree border post the Committee was concerned to note that the Regional Immigration Officer had no office of his own and was sharing an office with subordinates for eight months. At Beitbridge border post the Committee was informed by Immigration Officers that the border redeployment project was failing to take off as there was still talk of financial closure 10 months after the date of the works. However, I am happy to report that as a result of our visits the funds were availed and there is something that is taking place at the border. The border between South Africa and Zimbabwe is the busiest in Southern Africa region both in terms of commercial and human traffic. A joint South Africa, Zimbabwe border efficient management system programme was launched in May 2009 but is stalled after Committee and a draft Memorandum of Understanding had been drawn up.
The specific objectives of the memorandum as it were firstly to reduce congestion at the border crossing as you can take note Beitbridge border post caters for the route right across to North, East and West Africa as it is so there was really congestion at the border. To enhance operational efficiency, thirdly to reduce waiting times and fourthly lower transaction cost at the border. Zimbabwe was tasked with the upgrading and expansion of infrastructure using public private partnership options. The plans incorporated the development of one stop border post as a long and as noted this is in place at Chirundu. At Plumtree border post the Committee noted that the border has no proper patrol room, in that case officers on patrol relied on main road since most areas remain inaccessible. The poor state of patrol road infrastructure was also raised at Sango border post, Nyamapanda border posts and at Beitbridge border post. Officers at the stations bemoaned lack of commitment by responsible authorities in respect of the sorry state of the patrol roads. The roads are in such a dilapidated state and it opens up for pourousness.
They openly challenged the Government to urgently improve the networks along the country’s border lines in order to promote efficiency and effective monitoring of human movement along the border; the human movement along the borders is so rampant.
Shortages of accommodation; at Plumtreee border post, the Committee received reports of critical staff accommodation shortages. The station had 18 houses which provided accommodation for 44 members of staff and their families. The Immigration Department at the border post purchased 4407 square metres of residential stands for construction of flats but due to lack of fund construction was yet to be commenced so that situation still remains dire. Similarly, at Beitbridge border post reports were received that members of staff were forced to share accommodation with three or four families per quarter and that compelled other members of the staff to move to rented facilities or elsewhere to retain privacy and have adequate space.
Mr. Speaker Sir, at Kanyemba and Kariba border posts, shortage of staff accommodation was also raised and that available structures were in a dilapidated state. In some worst case scenarios officers were compelled to share rooms even though some officers lived with their families. At Chirundu border post in particular, staff pay rent for their accommodation, despite paying rent for the houses the Committee was informed that the Department Of Public Works had not been maintaining the properties as was expected.
More so, when officers had to be transferred to other regions, the responsible authority would delay cessation of rental deductions, this situation affected the work moral of the employees, thereby hindering effective and efficient service delivery.
Conditions of service; cognisance of the fact that ZIMRA is a parastatals whose conditions of service are determined by a board while Immigration is a department in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage whose conditions of service are determined by the Public Service Commission. Immigration officers complained that their counterparts in ZIMRA received pecks which were much higher than theirs. They hinted that ZIMRA staff enjoyed benefits such as car loans for managers every 5 years, out of station allowances, overtime and union representation. Unlike their counterparts, Immigration officers did not enjoy these incentives despite being the face of the nation particularly in entry points, Immigration is the face of the nation and they also play a critical role when it comes to the provision of security. They are the first point of contact into the country by all travellers including diplomats. The Immigration Department’s essential services cluster was reported to be lagging in terms of conditions of service despite having a staff establishment of less than 600 nationwide.
Their expression was more of the big brothers when they were comparing their conditions of service to that of ZIMRA and conditions of service as prescribed on the Immigration officers which really become very untenable. The Committee was pleased to received report at Beitbridge and Plumtree border posts that the Immigration Department had received sufficient COVID-19 PPEs materials. However, lack of PPEs was a common outcry at Sango, Nyamapanda, and Chirundu border posts while tests kits were critical in determining one’s COVID-19 status, the Committee was indeed dismayed to the state that Kariba border post had not received any COVID-19 kit from the Ministry of Health and this was conducted sometime in October and pronouncement of COVID-19 on 30th March and therefore that laxity was really unprecedended, as a result the situation deterred the Immigration Department from prosecuting foreigners who would have committed immigration offences since courts, police cells, prisons were not admitting foreigners without COVID-19 free certificate. Sadly, there was no effective management of COVID-19 testing as truck drivers were only subjected to temporary check without testing as stipulated in COVID-19 national guidelines.
The Committee was further informed that there was no off road terrain vehicles at Kariba border post to conduct patrols on the lower Zambezi Valley which was said to be a hive of illegal activities when you look in terms of those people coming from Zambia, DRC, Rwanda, Great Lake and everywhere. So, it is really unpleasing.
The Committee was disheartened to find out that the department heavily relied on the ZIMRA land cruiser to conduct their patrols. The vehicle available only was when ZIMRA as the big brother was not using it. If ZIMRA was not there, no patrols, porosity of the border would continue unabated. This situation was deemed unsustainable in light of the rampant illegal activities taking place along the border line. The situation unlike its Zambian counterparts reported that there was not any boat patrol on Lake Kariba which was quite often used by border jumpers. The entire Kariba, no boats on patrol by the immigration officers, so, the laxity was unprecedented. Mr. Speaker Sir, fuel shortages affected the smooth operations of the Border Post, cognisance of the fact that most fuel providers dotted in the vicinity of the border areas were selling fuel in foreign currency, USD, Rands and Pula. The department continued to receive RTGS coupons from the Government instead of the redeemable DFI coupons or DFI Ones. At Kariba border post, the Committee found out that there was no Redan Service Station in Kariba and that the station was compelled to collect fuel from Karoi which is 157 kilometres away and those people were given Redan coupons and yet on site, no Redan Service Station. So, they were forced to drive 157 km and multiply that by two – how much fuel will you have used? The other challenge reported was that Redan only redeemed new DFI coupons yet the station had old RTGS coupons which could not be used anywhere else in the area.
On ICT system challenges - at Nyamapanda and Chirundu Border Posts, the Committee was informed by the Immigration Officers that the computer system experienced frequent down times. The Committee received similar reports at Beitbridge Border Post where Afrosoft backed system was said to have crushed in December 2019 putting the Immigration Department and the whole nation at risk as all entries and immigrant management had to be done manually. Given the high volumes of movement at the ports, officials were not able to collectively identify criminals and some prohibited immigrants using the manual system. Once again, the porosity of the system and criminology, all issues were pertaining to use once again of Afrosoft which was not controlled in the country.
At Kariba and Nyamapanda Border Post, the computer system was in a dire state with no internet connectivity between these stations and other border posts including the national headquarters. This was an appalling scenario that poses serious challenges in assessing travelling history of clients as and when it was urgently needed. The Committee noted that the black book was not computerised and as a result prohibited immigrants were not easy to identify. It was a willy-nilly situation. The Committee was dismayed when it was told that due to lack of internet connectivity, officers were buying airtime and expensive bundles using their own money to send daily returns to the regional office.
At Sango Border Post which also happens to be part of my constituency, the Committee was concerned that with no reliable source of power due to lack of electricity, the station could not use computerised immigration systems and they were being used at the border post. At Plumtree Border Post, the Committee received reports that the computer system Afrosoft again owned by a private entity had crushed in February 2020 and had not been repaired ever since. The Immigration Department further reported that it was still using obsolete passport scan. It really calls for our concerted efforts as Zimbabweans when we are looking in terms of our vital aspect in terms of security.
Porous border lines – at Beitbridge Border Post, the Committee learnt from the Immigration Officers that the 225 kms, if you want to say from Crook’s Corner to Beitbridge, you pass once again into Matabeleland South – the frontier had too many breach points, forward basis and communities along the frontier line were said to be fuelling cross-border illicit activities. At Nyamapanda - the Committee was told that the Zimbabwe/Mozambique Border had no physical barrier and was highly porous with a number of illegal crossing points along the border line, thus creating operational challenges. No wonder why at one time we had people from Ethiopia caught in Gwanda on foot because of the porousness of the border line.
Our security as it were, remains bleak. The demining exercise which had been going on was said to have compounded the situation since previously inaccessible areas were now open to invaders whilst the deminers were doing a great job of demining the area, but to illegal border crossers, it was a blessing in disguise in terms of opening up illegal entry points because smugglers were taking advantage of the safe passage. At Sango Border Post - the Committee was told that the near 200 km straight line was punctuated by rattled trucks weaving in and out of the country, testimony of the presence of vehicular and human traffic entering and leaving the country illegally. The main points that were said to be costly were mostly used for smuggling goods in and out included Crooks Corner, Machichi, Dumela, Malipathi, Dingi among others. This paused potential security risk to the country and at the same time undermining revenue collection efforts, security of great importance, revenue going uncollected and all those are of great concern to a State of the nation. More so, the porosity of the border gave way to illegal crossings of people whose COVD-19 status was unknown and that increased the risk of spreading the virus in the country.
Border Post Management - the Committee received reports that due to absence of a recognised border management authority, ZIMRA again which is a stakeholder, was given the maintenance and repair budget for the entire Ports of Entry and exit premises. The main grievances were that the management was unattainable since most of the expenditure was said to be in the intimacy of the big brother ZIMRA at the expense of other departments at the border post. In the absence of the arbitrator, in the form of a border management authority, this created a big brother mentality, big brother element and an unfair distribution of resource since other departments had no other administrative say in the management of infrastructure and some services at the border post.
Issuance of gate passes to locals - the Committee was informed by immigration officers at border posts that the issuance of gate passes to local residents usually residing within 20 km radius in the border areas was a provisional arrangement meant to benefit the disadvantaged members of the local communities especially school children, those who were indiscriminately unable to procure travel documents. However, the Committee heard that the service was quite openly abused even by the able bodied members of the society who reside in the surrounding areas.
According to the officers at Nyamapanda and Chirundu, those who sometimes secured passes to attend to relational and social issues on the other side of the border often abuse the facility by engaging in criminal activities. They end up being apprehended for various offences and that created operational challenges between Immigration Officers of the either side of the border. It was suggested that the Registrar-General’s Office be centralised in order to cater for citizens living in the very remote area including those near the border in order to curb illegal border crossings due to lack of travel documents and abuse of the gate passes.
Mr. Speaker Sir, on the observations, the Committee made the following observations that firstly the absence of a specific authority that takes responsibility of all management issues currently handled by ZIMRA derailed service delivery in the Immigration Department at border posts.
Secondly, the department was drastically lagging in utilising modern technology such as drones, surveillance cameras, biometric cameras at clearance points, helicopters for effective operations, patrols and security surveillance at border posts. Criminals were therefore taking advantage of this to paralyse operational systems of the Department and thereby affecting service delivery at all levels.
Thirdly, the Department did not have efficient and effective computerised software. Instead, it relied on the service of a private entity Afrosoft whose computer software was no longer compatible with prevailing service delivery requirements and client demands. Consequently, lack of a robust computerised system, compromises data collection and increases the country’s exposure to criminal or illicit activities.
The absence of harmonised or integrated border management system affected the smooth flow of business in the Immigration Department at border posts. The adoption of the integrated system would inevitably standardise conditions of service and boost morale among workers. Maintenance of morale is one of the principles in campaign. Therefore, if morale among the security people is low, we are playing with a very important scenario in terms of security provision.
The country’s borders were very porous as evidenced by the proliferation of illegal exit and entry points. The rise in illegal border crossing cases impacted negatively on the reputation of the Immigration Department in as much as it affected the entire nation in terms of security and loss of revenue. The one-stop border post concept at Chirundu was critical for the Department of Immigration as it has the potential to improve service delivery in several ways. It would go a long way in expediting clearing processes and subsequently decongesting entry and exit points.
There was limited working space at Nyamapanda and Sango Border posts with senior officers sharing offices with junior staff or using storerooms as offices. The officers and staff accommodation require immediate refurbishment at almost all the border posts visited. This impacted negatively on the welfare of personnel at the border posts who happen to be the face of the nation.
The Department did not have adequate terrain patrol vehicles to secure the entire country’s border lines. The Committee noted that securing the country’s borders was critical and there was urgent need to adequately and properly equip border security personnel for effective operation and patrol along the border lines.
Mr. Speaker Sir, there was very low morale among officers. They complained that they were not paid overtime and hardship allowances while their counterparts at ZIMRA were well looked after although the Committee noted that ZIMRA was a parastatal whose welfare was determined by the Board of Directors while Immigration was a Department in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. Such circumstances were not only demotivating but also a potential to expose officers to corruption.
Border posts such as Nyamapanda, Kariba were overwhelmed by applications for gate passes by citizens living close to the border. The Committee noted that the majority of the citizens did not have primary identity and travel documents and this caused most civilians to resort to illegal crossing or bribery to facilitate their movement. The Department faced serious problems in accessing fuel using RTGs coupons and that impacted negatively on the service delivery particularly on transport operations such as routine patrols, ferrying of detained immigrants and other arrested offenders.
The Chief Immigration Officers in the six border posts visited suggested the use of retention funds by the Department in order to speed up service delivery at remote border posts. Border posts are in remote places so they are requesting the use of retention funds, probably that can ease the operations of the Department.
The presence of mines in some places dotted along the border lines affected effective patrols and other operations in those areas. Border lines, when we look in terms of the history of this country, freedom fighters were using those border lines to cross, therefore, those were the areas that we are concerned about because of landmines. There were health ports at all the border posts we visited. The sanitisation, social distancing were being observed. Truck drivers were subjected to temperature checks with COVID testing witnessed.
At some border posts such as Nyamapanda, Kariba and Sango, measures put in place to contain COVID-19 were rendered ineffective due to limited provision of PPEs, limited working space and insufficient testing kits. This had the potential to expose officers to the disease which subsequently reduced their confidence in carrying out their duties.
In order to improve service delivery in the Immigration Department at all border posts, the Committee is recommending the following;
ü That by 31 July, 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage should push for the Ports Authority Bill to create an authority that will take responsibility, currently being handled by ZIMRA at all border posts;
ü That during the 2021 financial year, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage should prioritise and ensure installation of modern and state of the art ICT facilities by 31st October, 2021 in order to enable effective border patrols and surveillance using drones to gather, on real-time basis, accurate data and intelligence about illicit activities occurring across border lines. This should also include availing resources for integrated capacitation programmes for Immigrations, Customs and security agents at border posts in the use of modern ICT and drones;
ü That by 30th June, 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage should secure robust computer software entirely owned by the Department of Immigration and backed by specialist engineers employed in the department in order to improve on security of data. Relying on private entities compromises the security of both information and the travelling public;
ü That the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in collaboration with other relevant ministries should prioritise the establishment and operationalisation of an Integrated Border Management System that involves the Immigration Department, Customs, security agents and various other stakeholders by 31st July, 2021;
ü That during the 2021 financial year and 2022 National Budget, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should allocate adequate resources towards the repair and re-electrification of the security fence along the border line. More-so, Sango Border Post should be given first priority in the electrification exercise. This can be done through Government entering into a bilateral agreement with Mozambique whose border town of Chicualacuala (Vila Eduardo Mondlane) is being electrified;
ü That by 30 July 2021, the Ministry of Public Works and National Housing should commence projects aimed at redevelopment of all border posts. This should be done with the OSBP concept in consideration. This should include construction and renovation of offices and staff accommodation at all border posts;
ü That during the 2021 financial year, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should release sufficient financial resources to the department of Immigration to secure adequate and all terrain patrol vehicles. This should include funding for the rehabilitation of the road connecting Sango and Rutenga;
ü That during the 2021 financial year, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Public Service Commission should review and improve the remuneration and conditions of service for staff in the Immigration Department. Frontline officers should be awarded incentives such as overtime and hardship allowances commensurate with those enjoyed by their counterparts in the various agencies operating at border posts;
ü That by 31 May 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, through the Civil Registry Department, should further decentralise the application and issuance of primary identity certificated as well as travel documents to places convenient to all citizens, including the underprivileged members of society. Doing so will help mitigate cases of corruption involving immigration officials, at the same time curbing illegal border crossings;
ü That from the 2021 financial year onwards, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage should allocate adequate DFI fuel coupons which are redeemable at service stations operating near the country’s border posts;
ü That by 30 March 2021, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should consider authorising the use of retention funds by the Immigration Department in order to improve service delivery, especially at remote border posts such as Nyamapanda and Sango;
ü That during the 2021 financial year, the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs in collaboration with other stakeholders should prioritise de-mining all areas infested with mines near the borderline, particularly Nyamapanda and Sango Border Posts;
ü That by 31 July 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage should allocate adequate financial resources to procure COVID-19 test kits, sanitisers, fumigation equipment, chemicals and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for the Immigration Department, particularly for use at all the country’s border posts to help contain the pandemic.
Thus, the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services acknowledges the critical role that the Immigration Department plays in the management of migration. It is therefore, the view of the Committee that financial support, adequate tools of trade, decent remuneration packages and various other requirements are key necessities to the Immigration workers at all border posts. Adequate test kits and PPEs should be timeously provided to help contain the ravaging pandemic at ports of entry and exit. Establishment of a Ports Authority, institutionalisation of an integrated Border Management System, digitalisation, upgrade and refurbishment of physical infrastructure to meet international best practices among others, will indeed facilitate the improvement of service delivery in the Immigration Department. The Committee implores Government and all interested parties to expedite development programmes aimed at uplifting the standard of service delivery at all border posts “under the new norm”.
HON. S.K. MGUNI: I would like to thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to aire my views on such a good report which was written by the Committee. I was one of the members who also participated on the mission of visiting the border posts to find out the working conditions of the workers at those posts. I was equally shocked when I noticed some disparities when it comes to service delivery and the upkeep of the workers, especially those in ZIMRA and Immigration whilst they all belong to the same Government. Though they are managed by two ministries, they are under the same government and I see no reason why the upkeep of these workers is so low for some of the officers.
The other thing that I noticed at those border posts was that even the maintenance of the infrastructure is so unappealing that if you look at the sign posts, bill boards and road markings they were so worn out and even the national flag was tattered and torn. When we tried to look across the border you could see light at the end of the tunnel especially on the South African side. I went to Beitbridge, Sango and Plumtree and the markings were clear. There were no potholes on the other side but you could see the negligence of maintaining infrastructure on our side.
Coming to the issue of management, I also noticed that there was confusion pertaining to who was in control of the borders. Since there was no one tasked to control, all the departments deployed there did their own duties without any coordination and that has created rampage corruption which is prevailing on that side. I started by saying we were all shocked to notice serious corruption after having been told that there was corruption at the borders. What we saw on that day was terrible. When we tried to see what was happening at the river, we saw with our own eyes people being assisted to cross the border by our officers but not from Immigration. This highlighted that there was need to have Border Authority that would have control over all the officers deployed at the border post. The Border Authority will have control over all the personnel at the border and that is the only solution that will bring sanity at the border posts.
Even the issue of lack of ICT and many other things lacking at the borders will be solved because people in charge will look closely at all those and I believe our borders will be run smoothly.
I was pleased with the report because it covered almost everything that we thought could be done to improve the service delivery for our staff working at the borders, especially those in Immigration. But the only solution that I would like to recommend is to have the Border Authority that will take care of the border management system. I believe those people will do better by improving service delivery of the Immigration officers or the management of the border in general. I thank you Hon. Speaker.
(v) HON. MUSHORIWA: Let me start by congratulating the Chairman of this Committee for such a sterling report. The issues that have been raised by the Committee.... [Technical Fault]
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mushoriwa, you seem to be having internet problems and we can no longer hear you.
(v)HON. I. NYONI: Firstly, I would like to thank the Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services for a detailed report presented by Hon. Gwanetsa and seconded by Hon. Mguni. The visit covered various border posts inclusive of Beitbridge, the busiest border post in Southern Africa. The Committee clearly highlighted challenges affecting the efficient running of these border posts. Of note, was the issue of infrastructure, accommodation, transport for officers and the actual human resources as well as issues to do with ICT. The Committee clearly identified lack of cohesion at most of these border posts because of lack of which department was overally in touch, hence their recommendation of creating a border to have a creation of a border management agency that will overally be in charge of the border post. I totally agree with this particular recommendation and I am sure this will improve the efficient running of the border areas. However, the bulk of import revenue generated by ZIMRA, which also contributes quite a chunk to the national fiscus, comes from Beitbridge border post. Hence the need to ensure that this border post is given priority above others while others can follow later. My reasoning is that we are aware that on the revenues we are looking at import duties, SETEX, VAT and other revenues. This will go a long way into minimising the revenue leakages at Beitbridge border post. There was the issue of smuggling which is prevalent at Beitbridge and most of these border areas. Particular interest was the area bordering Mozambique and Zimbabwe where the border line is not clearly defined. This makes it very difficult. There was also the issue of capacitation of our officers at the border posts whereby transport was identified as one of the major things that impinge efficiency in carrying out their duties when doing border patrols hence the smuggling going on. This makes it very difficult to be reduced. Briefly I also concur with the Committee that these border posts need urgent capacitation through allocation of adequate resources. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. MUTAMBISI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 16th March, 2021.
On the motion of HON. MUTAMBISI, seconded by HON. TEKESHE, the House adjourned at Half Past Six o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 16th March, 2021