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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 11 MAY 2021 VOL 47 NO 48
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 11th May, 2021
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
LOGGING IN ON VIRTUAL PLATFORM
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that Hon. Members are urged to use their full names when logging in during the virtual sittings of the House. This will assist the ICT staff to easily identify Hon. Members when admitting them on the zoom platform. Be advised that from tomorrow, the ICT staff will not admit Hon. Members who do not use their names to log in.
INVITATION TO JOIN THE ZIMBABWE PARLIAMENTARY PHARMACEUTICAL CAUCUS
THE HON. SPEAKER: I also have to inform the House that the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Pharmaceutical Caucus is inviting interested Members to join the Caucus. Registration will be from 11 to 13 May, 2021, from 1430 hours to 1530 hours, at the Members’ Dining Room.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: I rise on a matter of public interest. The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs carried a fantastic audit pertaining to their visits to border posts especially in terms of the smuggling that was happening at the borders. Yesterday we faced an embarrassing situation as Zimbabwe when a person that passed through our airport was caught at the airport in South Africa carrying a lot of gold. This embarrassment puts the name of our country into disrepute.
To that extent, I would request the Minister of Home Affairs to come to this august House to answer – most of the issues mentioned in the report that was tabled in this august House so that he brings a Ministerial Statement answering some of the issues that were raised by the Committee, more-so written issues that are happening like smuggling of gold and other minerals through our borders and airports. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I shall advise the Leader of Government Business to assist in requesting the Minister of Home Affairs to respond to the Committee report as you requested and in so doing, respond to some of the issues that you have raised this afternoon.
(v)*HON. T. ZHOU: I rise on a matter of public interest. My point is similar to what the previous Hon Member has alluded to. Our security is very much compromised at airports.
THE HON. SPEAKER: If the issues are the same, why do you not allow the Hon Minister to make that statement in response to the Committee report and in the process you can raise some of the issues that you wanted to raise now.
(v)*HON. T. ZHOU: I wanted to raise issues that help our country as quickly as possible.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Please do that tomorrow.
HON. MAVETERA: I rise on a point of privilege and I would like to start by congratulating the Minister of Housing and Social Amenities for launching the sanitisation programme which is there to promote the transformation of Zimbabwe’s rural community waste management systems. This was a programme that we thought was quite long overdue and we really want to congratulate them. They launched it yesterday in Chikomba Central at Mawokomavi Primary School. This plan goes in line with SDG 3 which talks of good health and well being and SDG 6 which talks of clean water and sanitisation.
Let me also applaud this House for setting up an SDG Committee which indeed goes a step in the right direction in making sure that we address the issues of water and sanitation. I am kindly requesting if the Minister of Housing and Social Amenities could to come to this august House and to furnish us with a roll out plan of how they wish to establish this and how they would go forward in making sure that this is addressed in the rural population that I represent.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Leader of Government Business will assist to ask the Minister of Housing to do precisely that as per your request.
HON. NDUNA: My point of privilege is a follow up to a point of privilege that I made in this House before and you made a ruling on it to the effect that the Leader of Government Business or the gold finger, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is going to come to this House and articulate on issues of progress towards Vision 2030 in terms of infrastructure development and all other projects that are currently being embarked on by the Second Republic so that it does not seem as though Parliament does not know what is happening outside Parliament and that positives of this Second Republic can come out into the fore Presently, unless this Parliament has been favoured with that booklet that articulates and provides what it is that is happening in this Second Republic and we are hamstrung and you have made a ruling. I ask you to follow up on it so that a booklet can be availed to Parliament on issues to do with Hwange 7 and 8, our minerals, infrastructure development or ERRP our agricultural sector Mr. Speaker Sir, so that we get to hear it from the horse’s mouth compressed into one document towards Vision 2030. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Nduna. Well, in English you say you are closing the stable when the horses have already bolted. The Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development has already done an excellent job and produced a compendium with all the projects in all sectors that have been undertaken by government and those that are being undertaken. To my knowledge that compendium was distributed online and there are physical documents in the Papers Office. Hon. Minister you can confirm.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker. Thank you Hon. Nduna for that noble request. I agree with you Mr. Speaker Sir that a compendium has been distributed but I stand ready to give any further updates especially from January to now in terms of progress. I will also be giving the statutory updates during the midterm budget review sometime at the end of June or beginning of July this year. I must hasten to say I stand ready at anytime to give a Ministerial Statement.
THE HON. SPEAKER: It sounds like you might give us just a modicum of what is in store. I would really suggest that we wait for the midterm budget review which will solidify the issues in a more standardized manner. I think we have now heard sufficient numbers of those who are raising matters of national interest.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs having given notice to bring in the Report of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Minister. I must say I am having a breath of fresh air for the first time that the Commissions are now complying with the Constitutional requirements. This is a pat on the back for you Hon. Minister Ziyambi for ensuring that this is being done. In that context allow me to request you to remind your other colleagues, I think one outstanding Commission that needs to present its report is the Gender Commission. If they can follow suit, I think this Hon. House will be pleased to receive such reports on time.
ZIMBABWE INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS COMMISSION BILL [H. B. 5, 2020]
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) presented the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill [H. B. 5, 2020].
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise to give a Ministerial Statement on borehole drilling. Zimbabwe has approximately 41 754 boreholes in various provinces distributed as follows:
Manicaland 6 899
Mashonaland West 4 323
Mashonaland Central 3 459
Masvingo 6 130
Matabeleland North 4 870
Midlands 5 096
Matabeleland South 5 572
Mashonaland East 5 505
These water points provide potable water to rural communities but their functionality is about 55%. In the current year, the Ministry will commence a massive borehole drilling programme where an additional 44 600 boreholes countrywide (35 000 boreholes in villages and 9 600 in institutions) will be drilled by 2025 to provide water for both horticultural production and primary water supplies. These will be drilled at a distribution rate of one borehole per village and one at every one of the 9 600 schools. To start off, we will target three boreholes per ward and where there is sufficient yield, piped water schemes powered through solar energy will be developed to serve villages and institutions. We have dubbed this progamme the Presidential Rural Horticulture Scheme which is part of the broader Horticultural Recovery and Growth Plan. This programme will address the twin challenges of water security and food/nutrition security for the rural populace as we move towards an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Treasury has, in 2021, availed ZWL760 million through DDF and ZINWA and another ZWL350 million through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for borehole drilling, altogether ZWL1.11 billion. This will be sufficient to fund the drilling of around 1800 boreholes countrywide. ZINWA and DDF have combined rig capacity of 12 (ZINWA 4 and DDF 8), with an additional 20 rigs (DDF 10 and ZINWA 10) currently being procured. Additional capacity will be outsourced from the private sector where some 120 rigs are available.
Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution will coordinate the borehole site identification efforts with local community leadership. The community of users (or villagers) will identify three pre-sites that will be subjected to hydro geological surveys for confirmation of potential sites for drilling. It is these sites, identified by the locals and where scientific confirmation of potential for water has been made, where boreholes will then be drilled.
Moving forward, we intend to have the Presidential launch done during the second half of the year. Currently, the process of identifying the three sites per ward has just commenced. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The Minister spoke of one borehole per school and three boreholes per ward but in reference to the rural part of Zimbabwe. My question therefore premised on this, seeing that I have 48 boreholes in the Constituency that were drilled by DDF to augment and complement the potable clean water supply, are you also going to drill these three boreholes per ward in my urban Constituency, Chegutu West where I come from?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Who do you not say urban areas? You are a national leader.
HON. TOFFA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of clarification from the Minister’s presentation is the fact that I observed that he spoke about rural areas and he did not talk about urban areas. Considering the water shortages that we have been experiencing in most urban areas, I am wondering why they are not included in this list. Thank you.
HON. NGULUVHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to applaud the Minister for coming up with that idea. My only appeal to him is that there should be some thorough interaction with the people on the ground. I have realised that sometimes Resident Ministers do not actually go down on the ground. We have areas where we have serious shortages of water for consumption by people and livestock. I appeal that as they drill the boreholes, they should also involve the Honourables and the councillors so that they can assist on those areas which are dire in need. Thank you.
HON. I. NYONI: The Minister indicated that of the boreholes that have been drilled, only 55% are working. That leaves us with 45% that are not functional. What measures are they taking to ensure that the other boreholes that are not working are functional considering that water is a necessity in all both urban and rural areas.
HON. ADV. CHASI: I would like to acknowledge efforts by Government via Treasury as well and the Ministry of Lands with regards to this massive project that will change the lives of our people. Is the Minister going to consider ensuring that each one of these boreholes particularly in schools, clinics and villages are solar powered and that sufficient security at the same time is put in place to secure the solar infrastructure in order to ensure that this equipment does not vanish?
HON. NDEBELE: Hon. Speaker, kindly allow me to welcome the Ministerial Statement and also to thank Treasury for giving the millions of dollars that the Minister of Agriculture just spoke about.
I wish to bemoan the fact that the Minister’s statement was short and to the point. It is however incomplete because in this House, we were promised that in his Ministerial Statement, he was going to address questions relating to boreholes that we were promised in the previous Parliament - that did not happen. Also, I would like to inquire about the two drill rigs for Matabeleland North and South that have been lying in Harare awaiting service for more than nine months – just oil change. I have registered it in this House that I believe there is a problem within DDF. My question to the Minister is that Matabeleland has the least number of boreholes and from reading Geography and Agriculture at school, appreciate that Matabeleland is the driest in this country. What could be the reason that we have the least number of boreholes and what concerted effort is he considering scaling up in terms of providing us with boreholes so that we also enjoy our quota within horticultural scheme of things.
Secondly, I wish the Minister would address the issue of our drill rigs. They have been here – oil change is something I could have done from the time we prayed and I would be done by now but they are here in Harare and we know that Matabeleland is very dry. When are we going to have those two drill rigs from DDF going back to their respective provinces? I realise they have been given even more money to procure ten more rigs. Could it be the best department for ten more rigs if they cannot service two from Matabeleland?
I am happy that we are going to have yet another scheme, the Presidential Rural Horticultural Scheme but Hon. Speaker, if we look at our history, we have this appetite for launching and launching grant schemes that end up lying as white elephants. If I take you back in the not so distant past, I will be asking myself; we launched a grand scheme for our rural folk, ‘the People’s Bakeries.’ What happened to those and what is going to happen to the horticultural scheme? Is there going to be follow up to ensure that our people benefit from that?
HON. KASHIRI: I applaud the Minister of Lands for awarding three boreholes per ward. The challenge that we will face is that the wards are not equal in size. Some are smaller than the others – the distances become a question. If a smaller one in terms of geographical space is getting three boreholes and the water ponds will be close by but on the bigger one, I think we will have challenges. I do not know what rationale the Minister would apply to find balance between the geographical area versus the number of boreholes being given per ward.
I will speak about Hurungwe Rural District Council. We recently bought a rig through the Devolution Fund. The rig has been sitting at the council for the last three or four months and it is not working. There is no apparent reason for that. We have tied up tax payers’ money in a rig that is not working. I think the Minister needs to help us in each aspect, to see if the rigs within the councils’ local Government are working.
(v)HON. SARUWAKA: My point of clarification from the Hon. Minister is on the naming of the Presidential Horticultural Scheme. What could be the motivation for naming that scheme as the Presidential Horticultural Scheme? I raise this because I have had problems with other schemes named ‘presidential’ where because they are called presidential instead of Government schemes, they are then misconstrued as if the money is coming from the President himself where then in the rural areas or communities where I come from, there is now segregation along political partisan lines because they are then saying these are from our President yet the President is supposed to be for everyone. Would it not be better to simply call it Government of Zimbabwe Horticultural Scheme rather than Presidential Scheme because we have had problems where the inputs are now said are from the President in his name, not the office. My question to repeat is why not call it Government of Zimbabwe Horticultural Scheme rather than Presidential Scheme.
(v)HON. M. MPOFU: The former Minister responsible for water had promised us some boreholes and they were sited. I want to know whether you are going to maintain those sites which were sited by the former Minister. Also, we have some boreholes that need deepenning - I did not hear anything about what he is going to do to deepen those existing boreholes. We have a lot of boreholes which need resuscitation, what is he going to do about those boreholes which need spare parts?
(V)*HON. NYABANI: I do not think that sinking three boreholes in an area such as Rushinga where there is a problem of water will be sufficient, considering that these will not be enough to cater for all the wards, but it is necessary to identify other wards that should benefit from the programme and also increase the number of boreholes in problem areas.
HON. MATARANYIKA: Let me start by applauding the Hon. Minister for such an initiative. A lot of our people are suffering and do not have clean water, So this is a very welcome initiative. However this is not the first time that we have also told our people that we are going to have boreholes sunk in their areas. I would like to ask the Minister to give us a clear timeframe when this project is going to start so that when we relay the information to the people, obviously they will ask us this question and we need to give them the correct information. Thank you.
HON. MAVETERA: I want to thank the Hon. Minister for this plan. The first question is to do with the provision that he has put aside, especially for the horticulture scheme which we applaud very much. I know you said there is also the issue of drilling boreholes. How are the young people going to benefit from this process since now we are still waiting for us to get the land that we are supposed to get? What provision have you put in place so that the young people will be able to benefit from this process of making sure that they get a provision towards the horticulture scheme? The second issue is what mechanisation you are also going to put in place to avoid dry holes that will result in wastage of resources?
*HON. PRISCILLA MOYO: I am happy with the statement by the Minister, but my concern is on Mwenenzi, a dry area where a number of boreholes have been drilled but not getting any water. What is Government doing to eliminate that challenge because the community might be happy that boreholes are being drilled for them? In such areas what is Government doing to make sure that this does not happen?
(v)HON. GABBUZA: Let me appreciate the statement by the Hon. Minister. The Minister’s statement assumes that underground water is ubiquitous all over, but that is not the case. We have places where even if you drill, you can go up for 200 metres and you will not reach underground water. Those are some of the challenges and in some areas the borehole is too deep that it is not technically possible to harness the water. Then we have places that are too salty that the water is minerally contaminated, for example Siahlaba area. Then we have places where the water is not suitable for human consumption too hot consumption. What are the strategies that the Minister is putting in place so that such communities also benefit?
HON. DR. KHUPE: Hon. Minister, according to the NDS1, there is supposed to be digging of 35 000 boreholes in the rural areas. How many have been dug so far since we are almost halfway through the first year?
(v)HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My question to the Hon. Minister is that we would want to know if they have done hydro-geological studies to ascertain the level of the aquifers especially in areas like Harare because the best aquifer like in Harare is found in areas like Hatcliff towards Domboshava and in other areas there is not enough underground water. What is going to happen when the other Ward does not have enough underground water that can be taped?
The point of clarification is that the previous Minister, the late Hon. Minister Shiri, directed that when the rig was coming from Mutare and was going to pass through Harare, it should drill at least two boreholes in all Wards in Harare but that never happened. We do not know whether the Hon. Minister will resuscitate that programme that was promised by the previous Hon. Minister.
Lastly Mr. Speaker Sir, in the 1990s, the Government commissioned a study in rural areas where sites were pegged for borehole drilling. I am not sure if the current Ministry is going to consider those sites that were pegged in the 1990s? I am asking this question because if it was pegged by the Government, we consider that as a Government area. What would then happen if an individual, without knowing that this area was cited by the Government and has potential for water, a person drills the water without the approval of Government? Are they also abandoning those previously cited sites? I thank you.
(v)HON. TSVANGIRAI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question to the Hon. Minister is on whether any scientific research was conducted in terms of the longevity of these many boreholes being drilled? Much like farming Hon. Speaker, farming land can be over farmed. I want to find out from the Hon. Minister if there is a long term in-depth and the amount of boreholes that we are drilling? I thank you.
(v)*HON. T. ZHOU: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank the Hon. Minister for the statement that he delivered. Hon. Speaker Sir, I want to ask the Hon. Minister on his plans of revamping the boreholes and disilting the rivers so that animals get water, so that animals and people do not share the boreholes.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you, kudrila kuchera. Hon. Minister, please proceed and respond accordingly.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank the Hon. Members for the interest in what is a national project and the many questions that have been posed.
Hon. Nduna and Hon. Toffa want to know whether this programme will be extended to urban areas. As indicated, this is strictly a rural scheme, so urban areas are excluded. However, we have previously done specific interventions for urban areas. Hon. Members will recall that in February, we commissioned the Epping Forest 20 boreholes for augmentation Bulawayo water supply to an extent that to date, Bulawayo is receiving 127 mega litres per day against its national daily demand of 155 mega litres. On Thursday this week Mr. Speaker Sir, the President will launch a dam and a major water supply project for Marondera and the eastern parts of Harare. So there are very specific interventions for urban areas but this is strictly a rural horticulture scheme, with it a major component being borehole drilling in each of the 35 000 villages and 9 600 schools.
Hon. Nguluvhe just re-emphasised that we need to consult the locals and that perhaps Members of Parliament and councillors be involved. I think that this will be a welcome development. We had said that the villagers will be able to identify three sites for which the hydrological survey will be done. This is a very scientific approach to doing these things but as to which villages in the Ward, I think Members of Parliament and councillors should assist in this regard.
Hon. Nyoni enquired as to whether the old boreholes will also be repaired. Yes, this is part of a broader ongoing project under the Covid response. We are rehabilitating and repairing as many boreholes as resources permit and this is part of that broader programme. Hon. Adv. Chasi enquired as to whether we could consider solar powering the boreholes and putting security to protect these perhaps from vandalism and theft. I think that it is something that we can consider. At this stage, we were thinking simply of putting in a village borehole and around that a nutrition garden.
Hon. Ndebele made three observations and a question. The first one relates to the two DDF drilling rigs that are idle somewhere. I will consult with the Ministry that is responsible for DDF and revert; we have oversight over ZINWA specifically. He also spoke about the boreholes that were promised in the previous Parliament. We will look into this Mr. Speaker Sir, with a view to aligning this with the current thrust and that Matabeleland is the driest and from the figures that we provided, we seem to indicate that Matabeleland might have been neglected and how do we scale up and catch up?
I think Mr. Speaker Sir, we tried to be as equitable as possible in saying that each village will have a borehole but if Hon. Members have a better way of allocating these boreholes. I am willing to look at that better way. Then on that in previous schemes, we launched these mega projects that have tended to become white elephants, Government is committed to ensuring that this succeeds in the period to 2025 and time will tell.
Hon. Kashiri stated that the Wards are not of equal size; perhaps we should use another way of determining where to drill boreholes. Hon. Kashiri, I would welcome your views on what other better way there is to do so because currently we aim to have a borehole in each village and we are aware that villages are not necessarily the same size, but we felt that this is initially the best way to go about drilling boreholes and ensuring that the Zimbabwean rural population - their sanitation is improved, nutrition is improved and that their incomes can also be improved through the nutrition gardens.
Hon. Kashiri, you relate to Rural District Council that has an idle rig - thank you for letting us know. We will also link with the Rural District Council and others so that their borehole rigs can also be utilised for its mammoth scheme.
Hon. Saruwaka, you say the meaning of presidential rural horticulture scheme – it means exactly that. I think it is Government programme and Hon. Members ought to clearly articulate that.
Hon. M. M. Mpofu, what you said was largely inaudible for me. I would prefer a written question but you were talking to the former Minister and the pledges that had been made. I am willing to consider and see how we can integrate that into this broader project.
Also Hon. Nyabani from Rushinga, you were largely inaudible and perhaps I could get this as a written statement and I will be able to attend to it. Hon. Mataranyika you were saying this is not the first time this project has been muted and what is going to be different and when are we going to start. In fact, we have just started this project. So with the procurement of the 20 additional rigs in place and now having identified private sector capacity, as soon as we are sufficiently resourced by Treasury, we will be able to go all out and you will be able to see the activity in your constituency.
Hon. Mavetera you talked about the role of youth – youth are key, the youth demographic in all we do as the Ministry but this is precisely why in the broader presidential rural horticulture scheme we intend to have two youth centres per ward and a total of 3 800 youth centres under this scheme where we will also be able to assist them with boreholes, nutrition gardens and horticultural interventions so that they can find economic activity in the rural areas and not journey to town to look for opportunities.
You also relate to dry boreholes and avoidance of such, I think the capacity scientific and engineering prowess within ZINWA and DDF will come to play and ensure that this is scientifically done so that it is cost-effective. I am sure we will be able to minimise the number of dry boreholes encountered. Hon. Moyo, you said in Mwenezi they drill those boreholes and find no water. In ZINWA and DDF, we have experts whom we put upfront so that they site where we can get water before we drill those boreholes.
Hon. Gabbuza, your question is that perhaps we have made an assumption that water is ubiquitous and yet in some instances, you have to dig up to 200 metres to get the water resource. In some areas, it is salty. The country is not uniform hydrologically and we know that the experts will be seized with that and this is an operational matter. Let us leave the experts to deal with this issue and they will be able to advise us accordingly.
Hon. Khupe, you said in terms of National Development Strategy 1, this should be an activity but you want to know how many boreholes have been sunk to date. The number of boreholes that have been sunk to date is less than 20. Experimental ones, we did a few in Tsholotsho North for example when we started a while ago, but now we are waiting for the resources to be availed by Treasury so that we can go all out. We are waiting for the rigs. The procurement process is now with the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to enable us to procure these rigs so that we can start all out. Government is fully committed to ensuring that all the villages by 2025 will each have a borehole and all the schools will each have a borehole.
Hon. Hamauswa, you talked about whether there have been surveys to ascertain aquifers in Harare and Hatcliff and that they may not be sufficient ground water. As I have indicated to the other Hon. Members, this is a scientific technological and engineering endeavour for which we have sufficient skills in the country and may the Hon. Member be patient and allow this profession to be able to inform us on the best way forward. The rig promised by the late Minister, I will investigate and revert; they also say what will happen to the sites that were pegged in the 1990s. I think this will be an advantage, which is why we want locals to be involved so that they can also assist us in directing these teams there but they will superimpose this knowledge that is already there, of these sites with the new equipment that they will use to survey and do these hydrological surveys to ensure that when we drill there will be some water.
Hon. Tsvangirai, you were inaudible and I did not quite get the question but I would be pleased to get a written question which I will be able to attend to. Hon. Zhou, you said for us to remove sand in the dams is that we want to drill boreholes so that people get clean water because where we come from, we are affected by climate change and river waters and wells dry up quickly. You find that in the next season, our women and girls will be walking long distances in search of water. We are saying that if we start by drilling boreholes, they would help our women to engage in other things which will uplift their lives. So the disiltation of dams is very important. Thank you.
(v)HON. NDIWENI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to applaud and thank the Minister for his ministerial statement pertaining to a very topical issue - the issue of water. I want to thank the Minister and the President for the Presidential launch of this borehole scheme but my appeal to the Hon. Minister is for uniformity. Plenty a time, people in my constituency and myself in particular, you see programmes on television where DDF is doing 24/25 boreholes in one constituency and in other constituencies there is nothing. I want to appeal to the Minister that in my constituency Hurungwe Central, we do not have the luxury of using CDF for other things. As it is, we have just applied to do boreholes, so with the CDF, we are doing basic things as provision of water because we cannot think of anything else other than doing boreholes. I have plenty of resettled areas that do not have water Madam Speaker. Water is a basic necessity, so I really plead with the Minister that this programme be done uniformly so that everyone is satisfied that we are being recognised and treated fairly. Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.
HON. NDEBELE: Madam Speaker, in conceding that Matabeleland does not start from the same touch line as most of the other provinces, the Minister has invited me to proffer a suggestion on what he can do to ensure that we are better off. I am happy to suggest to him right away that whereas he suggests drilling three boreholes per ward, he could kindly consider in Matabeleland to at least drill four or five per ward.
Madam Speaker, I must express disappointment that the Minister did not find it worthy of his time to consult well ahead on two issues, the issue of the two drilling rigs that I have spoken about several times, ad libitum in this very House. When it was mentioned that he was going to be preparing this very Ministerial Statement that he gave, we also put it on record that he should address the issue of the two Matabeleland rigs that are lying in Harare awaiting service. Of course, he has also failed to address the question of the boreholes that are old. That question has been raised several times, if you go back to the record. I am therefore not impressed. Madam Speaker, I believe nothing precludes this House right away to come up with a resolution that the relevant committees must invite the Permanent Secretary, Jonga to come and address some of these questions.
Madam Speaker, patriotism does not necessarily need to be legislated. It is small things like this. Our people expect their Government to show up for them when they are in trouble. In Matabeleland we are in trouble, we are in dire need of water but our drill rigs are stuck in Harare and nothing stops us from thinking they have been deployed to other presumably better provinces. We are also a part of this country Madam Speaker.
Finally, if you may allow me Madam Speaker, I wish to check with the Minister if he is in a position to address us on the question of protecting indigenous borehole drillers. In the event that he is going to be out-farming some of these skills to entrepreneurs out there, what has he got in mind in terms of protecting indigenous borehole drillers? We are aware that Zambia kicked out a lot of Indian borehole drillers who are now resident in Harare. What is in place to protect our own local drillers? Thank you Madam Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): Thank you. On a point of procedure, if you have got a specific question, I am sure you should have known how to be able to address that through a Question With Notice. Secondly, when the Ministerial Statement was sought, it was specific to the roll out of boreholes. So in that capacity, if you really wanted a specific issue to the two Matabeleland rigs, you were supposed to put it in writing and I am sure the Hon. Minister could have responded to you. Thank you.
HON. NDEBELE: To respond to that, I stood in this very House and my request was admitted by the Speaker. I stood in this House and this is a House of record. I specifically requested that when the Hon. Minister brings his Ministerial Statement, he addresses that matter and that matter has not been addressed. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA): Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. When I requested for Hon. Members to proffer suggestions on a more equitable manner for sharing, I have now received a proposal …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May you be connected Hon. Minister. When I requested for Hon. Members to proffer suggestions on a more equitable manner for sharing, I have now received a proposal …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May you be connected Hon. Minister.
HON. DR. MASUKA: Thank you. I think I am now connected. Madam Speaker, I thank Hon. Ndebele for the follow-up question. First for proffering a mechanism of ensuring that there is accelerated borehole drilling in Matabeleland. His suggestion is four to five per ward. I am sure we will get more suggestions from other Members as well. We will consider those and see within the resources that are available whether that is indeed possible to vary from the one per village and initially three per ward that we have suggested.
In connection with the two DDF drilling rigs, my Ministry…
HON. S. MGUNI: Madam Speaker, can we be protected from senior Member, Hon. T. Mliswa?
HON. T. MLISWA: My apology, let me go back to my position.
HON. DR. MASUKU: Madam Speaker Maam, in connection with the two DDF drilling rigs, DDF is under the Office of the President and Cabinet. May I suggest that we get the details regarding the status of these two drilling rigs from – with your concurrence Madam Speaker, perhaps with the Leader of the House, the status of those drilling rigs. We have specific oversight over ZINWA but not DDF.
There was a question regarding protecting indigenous borehole drilling companies. The Hon. Member will be pleased to know that the borehole drilling fraternity recently formed an association and I was pleased to meet with the leadership of that Association, at which I emphasised that Government’s thrust is for the promotion on localisation for production. It is in this regard that the Hon. Member’s reminder that we should focus on the indigenous borehole drilling companies is most welcome. This is what the Ministry is going to be doing. I thank you.
HON. TONGOFA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me first of all thank the Hon. Minister for such a wonderful programme which they are rolling out. However, I have got a question. When we went to DDF and ZINWA for borehole drilling, at one point we were told that the rigs are available but there is no diesel and no casing. Also villagers in some areas gathered diesel; gathered casing and the society was saying, it is almost a year now the rigs are not available. Villagers are now wondering whether the rigs will be available. So Hon. Minister, can you help us to clarify when these rigs are going to come and drill because the diesel has now over stayed in people’s homes and people no longer have hope whether the boreholes are going to be drilled. I thank you.
(v)*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to thank the Minister for the statement. We are now left with five months for the rainy season to begin. It is not recommended to drill boreholes during the rainy season. The water table will be high. Also on the issue of rigs, since we know that almost every province needs boreholes, can we not have a rig in each district? It is noted that people wait for almost 9 months for a rig to come to their area and right now the rigs are not functioning. It is better to have them at provincial level and they will set up their own pace. I thank you.
(v)*HON. R. R. NYATHI: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me the opportunity to add my voice to the debate which was raised by the Minister on drilling of boreholes. I was listening attentively to the contributions of other Hon. Members, for example, Hon. Nyabani. I realised that some wards are small and others are big, so this should be considered when allocating number of boreholes per ward. It was raised that some wards get more boreholes while others do not have. I think there is need to work with number of people in a ward and distribute accordingly. Also, there should be some mechanisms to check if all provinces benefit, for example in Shurugwi, we have never benefited from that programme of borehole drilling by your Ministry.
Can the Minister make it a point to inform Members of Parliament as to when that programme will come to our areas so that we also inform responsible authorities in our areas to assess where boreholes can be sunk in our areas? I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Maam. It is with clarity that I ask the Minister, when this programme of urban sufficient water provision is going to come to Chegutu, in particular, because in 2008 and 2009 we had cholera and typhoid which killed about 400 people. These diseases are medieval diseases and they ward off investment. They cannot be contained, they originated in Chegutu but they proliferated and migrated to other towns. When is it that you are going to come to Chegutu West Constituency, Chegutu town in particular, to complement and augment the pittance water supply that we have from our seven water bodies in order to avoid and eradicate and completely ameliorate the scourge of the cholera and typhoid pandemic. I thank you.
(v)*HON. CHIKWAMA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to thank the Minister on this address to Parliament. We once heard that we were going to have four boreholes drilled from ZINWA but they did not come back to drill. With this programme, I want to know whether you are going to come and drill the boreholes. We want the Minister to honour his promise because if you come to our areas you will see that we are lagging behind. You must visit women constituencies. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. There are many boreholes which have been sunk and all they need is flushing and rehabilitation. Why is Government prioritising in sinking new ones when the old ones can be flushed out and rehabilitated? There are many irrigation schemes which have always been there yet there is no horticulture. Why are we coming up with this facade of creating these irrigation schemes which do horticulture when the current ones are not working? Why not focus on the current existing ones?
The other issue of clarity is; Hon. Minister, the source of water in the urban areas are dams. For example in Norton water comes to Harare then goes back to Norton yet Norton has got two lakes, that is Darwendale and Chivero. So Norton actually supplies but it does not go directly to Norton when Norton is an industrial hub. How then do you intend to rectify that situation so that there are no problems in Norton given the fact that they have two dams which feed into the City of Harare? I thank you.
HON. DR. MASUKA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I thank the Hon. Members for the additional questions although on the first two, I apologise that Hon. Tongofa and Hon. Chinotimba, I did not get the two questions from them. I would be pleased if those questions could be put in writing and I will attend to them in detail.
Hon. Nyathi said that we only see these boreholes being sunk in other constituencies, when are you also coming to our constituencies? We are appealing that Hon. Members and councilors site three places that we can start with under this project so that there are boreholes in each and every constituency. Government policy is that by 2030, all provinces must have boreholes sunk. You further went on to say that you want to be notified about the places where boreholes are going to be sunk. This, we can do and next Friday we will hold our monthly meeting with all the Ministers of Province in Bulawayo where we will be discussing on this issue so that we agree as to which places we will start with.
Hon. Nduna wanted clarity as to when Chegutu Constituency will have its water supplies attended to, because sadly in 2008 and 2009 there was an outbreak of cholera and typhoid and these diseases ought not to occur. I agree with you, but the responsibility however for urban water supply lies squarely with the urban local authority. So in the first instances, they have the primary responsibility to ensure that water is supplied to their residents. That having been said Madam Speaker, Government has a responsibility in terms of SDGs to supply clean water to its citizens.
It is in this regard that Government has availed 10 billion dollars this year for the construction of various dams across the country and it is also in this regard that a parastatal, ZINWA is in charge of 450 water points throughout the country where urban authorities do not operate. It is where our sole responsibility is to supply the raw water but from the treatment and reticulation, the responsibility is for the urban local authority. I will be willing perhaps to get more details so that we can assist each other in terms of Chegutu in particular, to see what ZINWA, Government and what the urban authority roles are.
Madam Speaker, Hon. Chikwama said it was once said that there was going to be such a programme. She further asked whether this was not a lip service only. I just want to highlight now that we have started this programme and we are determined to see its success. We shall be updating you on progress in this august House and if we encounter any problems, we will update you also. We will also go into areas that have female representatives too as alluded to by Hon. Chikwama. Why we have embarked on this project is that most of us grew up in the rural areas and we witnessed our sisters walking very long distances carrying buckets of water. We therefore applaud Government efforts in bringing up such good projects so that this will ease the work of women and girls.
Hon. T. Mliswa you said that we are drilling more new boreholes and not focusing on the ones that are dysfunctional; they must be flushed out and rehabilitated. I highlighted this aspect that the functionality of boreholes is 55%. So what we are currently doing, especially under the COVID-19 response plan and Government all together, as of yesterday we availed 13.1 billion dollars under the COVID-19 response plan. We see that in COVID-19 response plan we have rehabilitated over 5 000 boreholes and this is an ongoing programme. So we will continue to do so. You also mentioned about the irrigation schemes that are idle and why we are doing horticulture on these.
Madam Speaker, we have 450 irrigation schemes in the country on 26 000 hectares. Two years ago, one would have described these irrigation schemes in the following sentences ‘that Zimbabwe has 450 irrigation schemes on 26 000 hectares in various state of dilapidation’. Today the description for these 450 irrigation schemes on 26 000 hectares is that Zimbabwe has these and they are in various stages of being resuscitated. So Government has put in resources to rehabilitate these schemes under the accelerated irrigation and revitalisation plan. It is our plan that in the next three years, we will have these schemes revitalised and revitalisation of these schemes is something that we need to look at from a more holistic perspective. It is not the infrastructural rehabilitation that will make these schemes viable and sustainable so that the Government does not go back. It is to ensure that there is sufficient capacitation of the scheme participants and that each scheme becomes a business case so that when we go to rehabilitate, the scheme becomes viable and sustainable. The Government will not have to go back as we do so often and then we see these idle schemes.
So those are the irrigation schemes, but we have 35 000 villages in need of clean water and there are 35 000 villages where every dry season women and girls go by the stream or river side to fetch water and start a garden, in order to be able to provide vegetables for their families. As Government in terms of Vision 2030, we want better nutrition, better incomes and we must provide for that by drilling a borehole in each village and that ought to be accompanied by a nutrition garden. I think this is a dignified thing for our women and girls.
The Hon. Member also looked at Norton. When we look at the design of water, this is the responsibility for the urban local authorities: Harare, Norton, Ruwa and Chitungwiza. However, the water is purified, pumped to Harare and 6 mega litres is sent back to Norton which they require. I think in the long term, Norton ought to just have its own treatment works.
However, what we are looking at later this year would be to assist Harare by providing as much as 20 to 25% of its water requirements from a very different source. When the President launches the dam on Thursday, more details will be availed on how providing water to Marondera will allow certain dams supplying Marondera to be de-commissioned but immediately commissioned to supply the east of Harare, in the process making water available to more areas, including Norton in the short term.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order! I wanted the Hon. Minister to clarify on what he means by 35 000 villages. My home in my area is a village, so can he really clarify what he means when he talks about villages?
HON. DR. MASUKA: Thank you Madam Speaker. The Hon. Member seeks clarification on what a village is. A village is a line with a headman and that is our interpretation at this stage. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Moving forward, it is important for it to be known that a village is one that has a village head.
HON. NDEBELE: On a point of clarification! When the Minister was responding to me on the question of DDF, he said I could check with the Leader of the House. So I presume the Hon. Prof. M. Ncube is the Leader of the House at the moment.
It is clear that there are problems with DDF and the problems arise from their situation or location within the President’s Office. I just want to check with the Hon. Prof. Ncube how difficult is it for our esteemed Cabinet to reconsider or to consider re-assigning DDF to one of the Ministries so that as Parliamentarians we are assured that there is a political head who monitors them on a day to day basis; because it is criminal, the question of our two rigs in Matabeleland to be sitting in Harare for more than 9 months.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: That is a recommendation Hon. Ndebele and that decision lies with His Excellency, the President.
(v)HON. NDIWENI: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I wanted to applaud the Minster for his presentation and thank him and His Excellency for the programme that they want to initiate. However, my plea to the Hon. Minister was for uniformity on deployment and implementation of such programme…
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order! Hon. Ndiweni is not properly dressed.
THE HON. TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Ndiweni may you please show your face because now, Hon. Mliswa is saying you are improperly dressed with the picture that is on your profile.
(v)HON. TONGOFA: My question was not addressed. My question is, Hon. Speaker, in Chivi North Constituency, there is a problem of water. People were advised to buy diesel and casing and got their site sited. They spent almost a year ago. They have got diesel in their homes but the rigs are not coming. When are we expecting the rigs to come and drill those boreholes? So many villages contributed all resources towards having those boreholes but up to now we are waiting. I would like to ask the Minister when we are going to get those rigs. That was my question.
HON. DR. MASUKA: Madam Speaker, I must apologise again. I did not quite get the question from Hon. Tongofa.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: His question was rigs have not yet come to Chivi North Constituency so he is saying when are the rigs going to be coming to Chivi North Constituency.
HON. DR. MASUKA: The reason they have not come there is because they have not been deployed yet because we are in the process of procuring the additional rigs and also getting the resources from Treasury. Once that has happened, deployment will commence in earnest, but this is the plan. Thank you Madam Speaker.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 3 be stood over until Odrer of the Day Number 4 on today’s Order Paper has been disposed of.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
PENSIONS AND PROVIDENT FUNDS BILL [H. B. 17, 2019]
Fourth Order read: Second Reading: Pensions and Provident Funds Bill [H. B. 17, 2019].
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam Speaker, thank you. I rise to deliver a second reading speech for the proposed amendments to the Pensions and Provident Funds Bill.
The Pension and Provident Funds Act [Chapter 24:09] was enacted in 2006 to strengthen the regulatory framework of the Pension and Provident Fund sector. The Act is being amended through the Pension and Provident Funds Amendment Bill in order to accommodate Commission of inquiry recommendations as well as align the Act to the international and regional developments. Stakeholder consultations were solicited from the public to enrich the Bill.
The Bill will improve the operating environment for Pensions Funds and Administrators by providing protection for policy holders, beneficiaries and trustees. The Bill also promotes Government efforts to achieve financial inclusion, financial sector stability and financial soundness of the Micro-pension Fund Institutions (MFIs).
The rationale for amending the Pensions and Provident Funds Act in summary is as follows:
- Address and identify deficiencies in the current legislation.
- Provide for the management of troubled pension funds, provident funds, fund administration and dissolution.
- Prohibit cross directorship in the industry.
- Promote the rights and to protect pension contributors’ and pensioners.
- Strengthen the regulatory framework of the pensions in order to promote growth and development.
- Incorporate legislative recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry on the conversion of Zimbabwe dollars to United States of America Dollars values and,
- Align the pension and provident fund legislation to international best practices.
Key provisions of the Bill
In Clause 3, the clause seeks to set out clearly the objectives of the Bill which are to promote good corporate governance, protect pension fund members and strengthen the pension sector by minimising regulatory failure.
Clauses 4 and 5 provide for the responsibilities of Commissioner and delegation of functions of Commissioner respectively.
Clauses 6 and 7, the Bill is adjusting the regulatory powers conferred to the Commissioner when the Commission was under the Ministry. However it now requires to be conferred to the Commission instead.
Causes 8, 9, 10 and 11, Madam Speaker, these clauses oblige persons who want to establish or carryon the business of fund to register their funds and factors to be considered when deciding whether or not to register a fund. Further, set the procedure on the assurance of a certificate of a fund and criminalises operations of unregistered funds.
Looking at clauses 12 and 13, clause 12 provides for circumstances for the dissolution of a fund, appointment of a liquidator and liquidation process where a fund may be dissolved in terms of the rules of the fund or where so directed by the Commission in terms of section or where the certificate of registration has been revoked.
Clause 13 empowers the Commission to revoke certificate of registration of a fund if it discovers that the applicant willingly or knowingly made a false statement in the application or the fund breaches the conditions of registration or contravenes this Act or regulations made in terms of this Act or the fund is merged, wound up or dissolved.
Clauses 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27, these clauses deal with the composition, functions and duties of board, qualifications and disqualifications for appointment as member of the board, terms of office of board members and capacitation of board members.
There is also a section in the Bill, Madam Speaker, which deals with the issue of penalties. The pension sector is unique in that it touches on people’s life savings, hence the need for deterrent sanctions for none compliance with provisions of the Act or regulations. The level of penalties prescribed in the Act do not appear to be dissuasive considering the potential loss of pension funds.
The Bill is seeking to empower the regulator IPEC to prescribe the penalties that are dissuasive in the regulations and call some of the contraventions in the Act to have personal liability in order to deter mischief and reconstitute the contributors and pensioners in case of losses.
Clauses 28 and 29 refer to the notification of material matter prejudicial to the fund. Clause 47 refers to the minimum time lines for maintenance of records, the accreditation of auditors and evaluators. All these are critical issues in the proposed Pensions Bill.
In conclusion, the amendments being proposed are based on the realisation that our law relating to pension is lagging behind market developments and require to be aligned with international standards in order to achieve effective monitoring mechanisms.
Overally, the Bill seeks to improve the operating environment for pension sector as well as provide adequate protection for pensioners and beneficiaries. The Bill also promotes Government efforts to achieve financial inclusion, financial sector stability and improve the financial soundness of the pension sector.
I therefore submit the statement to Parliament as a Second Reading. I thank you.
HON DR. NYASHANU:
Section 141 of the Constitution requires Parliament to engage the general members of the public in its legislative processes and ensure that all interested parties are consulted about Bills being considered by Parliament. In fulfilment of this constitutional obligation, Parliament through the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development held public consultations on the Pensions and Provident Funds Bill to gather the views of the people from 7th to 9th of April 2021. The Committee was split into two teams covering 6 of the country’s 10 provinces. Team A conducted public hearings in Hwange, Bulawayo and Harare, while Team B covered Zvishavane, Chiredzi and Mutare. Generally, the public hearings were attended by pensioners who felt they were the most affected by the current state of the pension system in Zimbabwe and desired the Government to urgently address their plight.
2.0 Background to the Bill
The Pensions and Provident Fund Bill was gazetted on 21 February 2020. The Bill seeks to repeal the Pension and Provident Funds Act (Chapter 24:09) and to provide for the registration, regulation and dissolution of pension and provident funds. The call to amend the Pension and Provident Funds Act of 1976 emanates from the urgent need to bring the legislation in line with emerging trends, in particular, in areas of good corporate governance and the socio-economic environment. The regulatory reforms in the Insurance and Pensions industry have not kept pace with the dynamic changes currently being experienced in the financial markets. The financial sector in Zimbabwe has undergone different economic conditions since 1980 to date which has significantly impacted on the performance of the insurance and pensions industry. It has been observed that over time, a huge legislative gap developed in the sector which significantly contributed to the loss of value to investments, particularly during the hyper-inflation era, currency de-basing period, dollarization of the economy and the delayed de-monetisation of the ZW$ currency prejudicing policy-holders and pensioners. Thus, the major thrust of the Bill is to enhance the protection of policyholders and pension fund members as recommended by the Justice Smith Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Conversion of Insurance and Pension Values from the Zimbabwe Dollar to the United States Dollar of 2017.
The Committee considered submissions received from the public consultations in addition to written submissions received from the Zimbabwe Association of Pension Funds (ZAPF), Zimbabwe Pension and Insurance Rights Trust (ZIMPIRT) and Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF). In addition to that, Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) facilitated two virtual meetings aimed at unpacking the Bill so that Members would have a general appreciation of the contents of the Bill. The Committee then deliberated on the submissions received together with views from IPEC leading to the development of this report.
4.0 General Submissions and Observations Received by the Committee
Clauses 14, 15 and 16 on the memorandum section talks of ‘board of directors’ of a fund to disclose important information to stakeholders and provide for the amendment and consolidation of rules of fund respectively. However, ZIMPIRT together with members of the public noted with concern that pension funds have ‘board of trustees’ and not ‘board of directors.’ It also noted that there is no mention of the term in the Bill other than the mention of the term ‘board’ under various sections in the Bill. Therefore, it is not so clear if reference is being made to board of trustees or board of directors. The term ‘board of directors’ has those connotations or intentions of privatising pension funds as pension companies. Therefore, it was suggested that the term ‘board’ should be removed and replaced with ‘board of trustees’ as in the current Act.
4.2 Clause 1: Short Title
On the short title, the MIPF and ZAPE noted inconsistencies in the title of the Bill. On the title page and the document header the title reads as ‘Pensions and Provident Funds Bill, while in clause 1 it is cited as the ‘Pension and Provident Funds Bill.
4.3 Clause 2: Interpretation
The clause provides for interpretation of terms used in the Bill. Submissions received by the Committee indicated that there were some terms which were problematic and required clarification. ZAPF and ZAPE highlighted;
- That the definition of ‘actuarial surplus’ was adopted and modified from the South African Pension Law and is questionable if the modification would serve the Zimbabwean context any better. That the definition of valuator should not be accepted as it leaves so much uncertainty and discretion to the Commissioner. A valuator is defined as an actuary and any other person so designated by the Commissioner.
- That definition of an actuary provided in the Bill allows the Commissioner to designate someone as an Actuary. This gives the Commissioner too much power, considering that Actuaries are not considered as a profession by any law and neither are they regulated. Thus, it is prudent at least to ensure that the Commissioner Gazettes any designations.
- That the definition of existing fund is defined in Section 49 instead of Section 2 as per the current Act. This must be rectified.
- That the definition of stakeholder is too broad. It has been proposed that the definition be restricted to stakeholders with interest in a fund, that is to include founding members, pensioners, former members, deferred pensioner and employer participating in the fund.
4.4 Clauses 4-7: Responsibilities and Functions of the Commissioner
The clauses provide for the responsibilities, delegated functions and additional functions of the Commission as recommended by the COI report. This measure seeks to strengthen the Insurance and Pensions Commission so that it can be held accountable to by both the public and the Legislature. Clause 7 ensures that the Commission exercises its mandate in line with Section 194 of the Constitution. However, ZAPE noted that throughout the Bill, the powers conferred to the Commissioner have been conferred to the Commission. There must be a clear separation of duties.
Clause 6 which provides for the additional functions of the Commission has been argued by ZAPF to be a replication of Section 4 in the IPEC Act. ZAPF proposed to retain the objects in the IPEC Act and strengthen it.
4.5 Clauses 8-13: Registration of Funds
The clauses provide for the registration, dissolution or cancellation of funds. Submissions received from members of the public and ZIMPIRT proposes that the Bill vests too much discretionary power to the Commission, like under clause 12. It was proposed that the Commission must act in terms of the legislation, which must spell out all provisions and instances that will call for the dissolution of a fund. This will avoid a situation where pension funds are dissolved arbitrary at the discretion of the Commission as a consequence of this clause. ZIMPIRT further argued that between 2010 and 2011 there were quite a number of pension funds that were dissolved unsatisfactorily at the discretion of the Commission and to date a number of pensioners are still calling for a transparent dissolution of the pension funds in question.
4.6 Clauses 14 – 16: Rules of the Funds
This part spells out what must be contained in the rules of the fund and that the rules shall be binding to the fund and the members involved. However, ZAPF argues that some of the provisions dealing with this part would be best placed in regulations as opposed to the main Act such as all the requirements of the rules of the fund (clause 14) and communication with stakeholders (clause 15) and therefore must be deleted from the Bill.
Members of the public also proposed that under the rules of the fund, it was important for the Bill to regulate a time frame mandating pension funds to timeously disburse one’s pension upon retiring from service. Most pensioners bemoaned the late disbursement of pension pay outs by most pension funds. The current Act is silent on this provision which is making it difficult for pensioners to receive their benefits timeously. It was also proposed that the Bill criminalise non-complying firms.
MIPF notes that clause 14 is very comprehensive in its requirements as it demands that the rules of the funds incorporate processes and policies that enhance disclosures and promote sound corporate governance and risk management principles. However, according to the MIPF and ZAPE, clause 14 (1) (b) (iii) B provides that the rules of the fund should state administration expenses among others. MIPF and ZAPE then raised two concerns as follows;
- That there is need for the Bill to clarify whether the administration expenses should be measured based on the expected contributions or against received contributions.
- That there is no standard agreed guidelines in terms of what will constitute administration expenses and thus noted the need to establish minimum guidelines to place comparatives into perspectives.
Clause 15 places the obligation to provide information on the fund and states the critical information that should be given to fund members and the frequency at which such information must be supplied to the member. This ensures that the member is adequately informed about the fund on an ongoing basis. This enhances accountability and transparency by pension funds. However, clause 15 (6) (a) stipulates that ‘any meetings of members and beneficiaries of the fund shall constitute a quorum exceeding fifty per centum of the total members. MIPF noted that this could be problematic in terms of implementation, in particular, in the mining sector, whose total membership is around 82 815 from 140 different employers as at 31 December 2019. Therefore, such a high quorum for the MIPF is not practical. MIPF thus proposed that the quorum be comprised of representatives of membership from at least 50% of the members.
Clause 16 is welcome provision as it allows participating employers to exit the fund and set up or participate in another fund if such other fund provides superior benefits to the members. The new provision allows for opening up of these funds so that entry and exit is based on employer’s preference and this in turn promotes competition within the industry, and results in efficiencies in fund administration. However, MIPF noted with concern that the Commission under Clause 16 (11) is allowed to give an exemption based on representations from the participating employer only. This is notwithstanding that there are three parties involved, namely, the participating employer, the fund which the participating employer seeks to exit from and the members whose interest are at stake. Thus, it was proposed that in order for the Commission to make an informed and balanced decision on the exemption, representation should be received from all the three parties concerned.
4.7 Clauses 17: Payment to and from Fund
This part provides for how contributions into the fund shall be done by the members. Clause 17 makes it an offence for any participating employer who fails to remit contributions within the stipulated period as provided for in the legislation. Further to that, Clause 17 (8) places personal liability on the director or executive officer who is regularly involved in the management of the participating employer’s overall financial affairs. The clause also provides for category 1 of civil penalties against defaulters. Generally, the members of the public together with other stakeholders welcomed this provision as it seeks to solve the current challenges bedeviling the sector. It was however suggested that the penalty must be deterrent while at the same time the Commission be empowered to garnish from companies that are not remitting pension funds. For example, it was noted during the public consultations that Hwange Colliery Company failed to remit pension funds between 2009 and 2018. This has prejudiced Hwange employees of their hard earned pensions over the years.
4.8 Clause 19-20: Minimum Benefits and Contributions
This provides for minimum benefits and minimum contributions to the pension funds. Members of the public welcomed this provision which seeks to standardise pension contribution and benefits so that they are of a meaningful value when paid out monthly after retirement. Concerns were raised by the general public with regards to the paltry $ZWL 1000 pension pay out by NSSA, which is equivalent to USD10. IPEC noted that it was critical for the law to define the minimum benefit, vis-à-vis the fund type, which should be expected by the member. This protects the member and also places a burden on the board, since it needs to ensure that the fund is in a position to meet the benefit and puts in place policies that ensure attainment of the objective. It was noted that members who participate in a fund do so because they expect to get a benefit at the appropriate time.
Some members of the public even proposed that the pension benefits be pegged in the United States Dollars to counter the effects of volatile exchange rates or pegged to the minimum wage which takes into account the basket of consumer goods. The public further mentioned that there is need to strengthen transparency and accountability of NSSA funds which was reported to have been paying USD 60 in the previous years as opposed to the current USD10. Others suggested that IPEC must be given the powers to increase or standardize pension pay outs in line with prevailing economic environment.
Most participants also raised concern over the lack of a grading system on pension funds resulting in a flat figure being awarded to everyone regardless of contributions and position of pensioner during his/her working years. It was therefore proposed that pension funds take into consideration contributions and position of pensioner. IPEC must be empowered to monitor pension funds databases so that it also monitors if pension payouts are commensurate to contributions and grade of pensioner at the time of retiring.
4.9 Clause 21: Actuarial Surplus
This clause determines how actuarial surplus might be expended. The use of actuarial surplus is currently governed by regulations but spending of such surplus is at the discretion of a fund and there is no obligation on the fund to inform or seek the approval of the Commission prior to utilising the surplus. As a result, the Commission has limited powers to regulate the use of surplus by the fund. This is not a desirable state of affairs since the use of the surplus has often benefited the employer to the prejudice of the members. ZAPF argues that this concept of actuarial surplus was adopted and modified from the South African law, but it is not so clear how this will be implemented in Zimbabwe.
4.8 Clauses 22-29 Management and Administration
This part of the Bill provides for the management and administration of the fund. The members of the public welcomed this provision which provides for the establishment and functions of a Board of Fund. The current Act only provides for the appointment and functions of the Principal Officer and leaves the appointment and functions of the Board to be provided for in the regulations. This was noted a great deficiency in the Act since the Board is the governing authority of the fund that is responsible for all decision making. However, Clause 23, subsection 3 provides that ‘No person shall be appointed as a board member of more than three funds.’ Members of the public questioned why one person must be allowed to be a board member of at least three funds and not only one board. It was proposed that one person sits on one board.
ZAPF welcomes clause 25 which provides for the qualification and disqualification as member of board. Clause 25 (1) and (2) ensures that a board member is highly qualified and have the requisite experience to run the affairs of a pension fund. ZAPF submitted that this development regarding the corporate governance of funds was welcome as it gives the board fiduciary responsibilities, collectively and individually.
4.9 Clauses 30-36: Financial Requirements
Clause 31 provides for holding of assets of fund. The current Act states that assets of a fund can be held in the name of a nominee and there is no strict obligation to ensure immediate transfer of ownership when the fund acquires an asset. The COI observed that some funds had assets, particularly real estate that were acquired years back but whose ownership title had not been transferred to the fund. Thus, members of the public noted that such a scenario may easily result in misappropriation of assets that take long to be changed title. Thus, it was suggested that where such assets are purchased in the name of a nominee, transfer of ownership to the fund must be done as soon as possible after acquiring the asset. The Bill proposes that all assets of Fund be registered in the name of the fund or ‘any other person who is approved by the Commission or who is a member of a class of persons approved by the Commission.’ While the public applauded the strengthening of IPEC to oversee pension fund assets management, concerns were raised that the legislation continuously gives the Commission absolute discretionary power. ZIMPIRT and other concerned stakeholders submitted that under no circumstances should the Commission be allowed to discretionarily approve of any person of class of persons, other than the fund, to control the assets of a pension fund.
In addition to that, Clause 32 has been enhanced by requiring that financial statements of funds be submitted within three months after end of financial year. ZAPF welcomes the proposal as it enhances corporate governance of funds in Zimbabwe. However, ZIMPIRT argues that the clause should also provide for accounting and auditing principles and practice to be pari passu (equal footing) with international accounting and auditing standards as issued by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). This will firstly, enhance comparability between pension funds of same size locally and internationally and secondly, avoid creative accounting such as what happened for pension funds for periods after 1996 as the inquiry insinuates.
Clause 33 ensures that life insurers maintain separate pensions fund and separate Accounts. Currently, Section 16 of the Act only requires the insurer to show the aggregate assets that have been designated as assets of the pension fund on the balance sheet of the insurer. There is no requirement to provide details of the assets. This makes tracking of the assets difficult as the actual details of the underlying assets is known by the insurer and not by the Commission or the fund member. This exposes funds to the risk of the insurer switching assets to favour the shareholders at the expense of the fund members. Thus, the Bill seeks to ensure that returns submitted to Commission by an insurer should clearly show the aggregate value of Pensions Fund, the detailed split of funds, as well as each fund’s share of the balances comprising the Pensions Fund together with details of the underlying assets supporting the Pensions Fund. ZIMPIRT submits that an additional clause be inserted criminalizing any insurer failing to keep shareholder funds distinct from policyholder funds in a deterrent way. This will prevent insurers from engaging in this malpractice.
Clause 35 stipulates how funds may be invested in and outside Zimbabwe. The current Act does not allow funds to invest all their assets in foreign markets. Section 18 of the Act gives the Commission discretion to invest part of the assets in foreign markets. However, the Bill gives the Commissioner discretion to allow funds to be invested either part or all of their assets in foreign markets. However, ZIMPIRT argues that while the Commission has a role to play in authorizing investments, it is critical that the legislation provides for appropriate pension fund investment policies and asset-liability management practices. ZAPF proposed that the Bill prescribe minimum or limits to specific foreign investment for planning purposes, stability and continuity. Investments above a certain set threshold would then require further engagement with the Regulator. Other principles to govern reporting standards of investments shall be further stipulated in regulations given that such principles are not static.
4.10 Clauses 37-42: Supervision and Investigation of Funds
Clauses 37 and 38 provides for appointment and powers of Inspectors. The current Act is silent on the powers of Inspectors which is a legislative gap that inhibits the effectiveness of on-site inspections and investigations by IPEC especially where the entity being investigated resists or refuses to cooperate. Thus the Bill clearly defines the powers of Inspectors providing a sure basis to enforce compliance from the entity that will be under inspection or investigation.
Clause 39 provides for action that may be taken by the Commission upon discovering illegal conduct by fund. The current law is limited on the action that IPEC can take in response to identified illegal conduct. While the Act provides powers for IPEC to conduct inquiries or investigations into the affairs of a fund, it does not state what action will be taken thereafter. There is need to clearly state the actions that may be taken by IPEC to ensure that the response is appropriate to the conduct which it seeks to address and has a legal basis.
Clauses 40, 41 and 42 read together with clause 39 are exhaustive in ensuring that IPEC is adequately empowered to carry out its supervisory role on pension funds. The regulated entities are also clear on the action that IPEC as the regulator is empowered to enforce. However, members of the public were of the view that there must be a provision that regulates conflict of interest in relation to IPEC discharging its duties. It was proposed that the following provisions be added (a) statutory objectives of the regulator, (b) transparency in the appointment of office bearers and (c) performance assessment in the achievement of statutory objectives.
4.11 Clause 46-65: General
This section provides for the general pension issues such as right of members to information, amalgamations, splits and transfers of funds, termination of service, currency conversion, appeals and offences among others.
Clause 49 provides for currency conversion. The COI observed that the lack of a sector-specific guideline on how to manage the conversion of assets and liabilities of insurers and pension funds during the currency changeover was one of the major causes of loss of value by pensioners and pension scheme members. It was also noted that legislation governing insurance and pensions was also inadequate for the purposes of guiding the industry on currency reforms. Therefore, this provision seeks to guide process of conversion of benefits following any currency conversion within Zimbabwe and minimise the risk of loss of value as occurred during the 2009 currency conversion as a result of the absence of adequate guidance. However, ZAPF noted that while this provision seeks to deal with past economic failures, the concept of currency conversion should be dealt with by the fiscal authority and not in the Act.
Clause 59 provides for conversion of funds from one form to another. The Bill noted the various forms of funds, namely; defined contribution, defined benefit, hybrid fund or any other conversion. IPEC pointed out that submissions received from pensioners during public hearings conducted by the COI revealed lack of transparency and communication with members when most pension funds were converted from defined benefit to defined contribution in the early 2000s. The current law does not oblige funds to seek such approval when converting from one form to another. As a result, the Commission, in most circumstances, has not been able to monitor such processes and in some instances this has resulted in loss of value to the fund members. The prejudice has frequently been difficult to correct as IPEC normally become aware of the conversion at a later stage normally through complaints lodged by fund members regarding the level of benefits. Thus, to require every fund to seek the approval of the Commissioner prior to conversion will enable the Commission to monitor and guide the process for the protection of fund members.
Clause 63 provides for enactment of regulations which empowers the Commission to regulate for various matters which are necessary for giving effect to the Act and for the proper conduct of pension and provident fund business. This is essential as the nature of certain activities within the industry is such that they are highly responsive to macro factors. As a result, what may have been applicable in a specified time may be deficient in a later time. Such matters are best dealt with in the regulations as regulations are easy to amend as opposed to the Acts of parliament. However, ZAPF highlighted the need for the Act to provide the timeframe for regulations to be in place, especially that regarding record keeping and preservation of records by funds and fund administrators. Given the long-term nature of pension business, all pension funds, life assurers and fund administrators should be compelled to maintain robust record keeping systems on members’ contribution records, investment returns and benefit payments.
Clause 64 calls for the creation of a Pension Protection Fund. The current law does not provide for a fund that is set up to compensate fund members in the event that a fund becomes insolvent and fails to meet its obligations. As a result, members of such funds suffer total loss. The banking sector has the Deposit Protection Corporation whilst the securities market has an Investor Protection Fund established in terms of the Securities and Exchange Act [Chapter 24:25].
4.14 Discretionary Powers to the Commission
Members of the public raised concern over too much discretionary powers given to the Commission by the Bill, which might be problematic. Clauses 12, 31, 35, 40, 41 and 42 must be reviewed. Some members of the public suggested that the current pension funds such as MIPF, NSSA, ZAPF and others must be strengthened in term of administration of funds. Further to that, it was noted that instead of assigning arbitrary powers to the Commission, the Bill should state explicitly the responsibilities of IPEC in relation to (a) conduct of transaction between insurance companies and pension members, (b) pension fund record keeping and accounting, (c) pension fund solvency issues and (d) pension fund investment management.
4.17 Other General Comments
The majority of the participants who were pensioners bemoaned the paltry pensions being paid out by pensions funds, particularly NSSA. It was clear during the hearings that the members of the public would want an urgent review of the NSSA Act so that it is in line with the global trends. It was noted that NSSA has properties across the country and yet the pensioners are suffering.
The general public bemoaned poor investment and abuse of pension funds by Fund managers who purchase properties whilst the contributors are not getting any value from the monthly payments.
Members of the public were also concerned that most pension funds in Zimbabwe do not have the requisite professionals to oversee pension funds management. For example, it was pointed out that NSSA and IPEC do not have Actuaries which then compromise the operations of the Fund. The Bill must ensure and enforce recruitment of pension fund employees based on merit and competency to avoid pension calculation challenges.
The public also called the Government to review the age to receive benefits once one retires as pension funds wait for one to reach 65 to start receiving pension even after taking early retirement.
It was proposed that pension funds must include a borrowing window for its clients so that as people draw closer to retirement, they are able to borrow and prepare for retirement. Others proposed a once-off pay out at reaching 40 years so that employees are able to start preparing for retirement.
The members of the public noted with concern that most pension boards, such as NSSA had no representation from the pensioners themselves. It was proposed that the Bill provides for such so that the voice of the pensioner is heard. The pension boards cannot make decisions on behalf of pensioners without involving them.
Some participants noted with concern the poor treatment of widow/ers and children once the beneficiary dies. This was noted particularly on pension pay out which is reduced by 50% once the beneficiary dies. It was suggested that the pension must not be reviewed downwards and that the age limit of 21years for children be reviewed upwards to about 25 years.
The public submitted the exclusion of workers such as gardeners and housemaids from the bill yet they are also employed. It was proposed that the informal sector, including domestic workers be targeted also to participate in paying pension contributions.
Pensioners noted with concern that most pension funds head offices are in Harare and called for decentralisation of such funds in line with the spirit of devolution.
Some members of the public suggested that contributing towards a pension must not be made compulsory but must be left to the discretion of the individual.
5.0 Committee Observations
5.1 That the current Pension and Provident Funds Act of 1976 has since been overtaken by events and require a complete overhaul so as to bring the pension and insurance industry up to date with global trends. The legislative gap that has accrued over time has contributed to the loss of value to investments, particularly during the hyper-inflation era, currency de-basing period, dollarisation of the economy and the delayed de-monetisation of the ZW$ currency prejudicing policy-holders and pensioners.
5.2 That the majority of pensioners in Zimbabwe are wallowing in poverty due to a lack of legislation that protects them. Worse still, the paltry pension is reduced by 50% when the beneficiary dies living the widow/ers and children worse off.
5.3 That traditionally, pension funds are managed by ‘board of trustees’ as provided for in the current Act and not ‘board of directors’ as proposed by the Bill.
5.4 That some pension funds are taking too long (e.g. one year up to more than 18 years) to start giving pension pay-outs upon one’s retirement. This means that some pensioners may die without even enjoying their pension.
5.5 That most pension pay-outs are so little that pensioners can hardly afford medical care in hospitals. Pensioners naturally would require medical insurance more in their old age as compared to their working years.
5.6 That the proposal to constitute a quorum of members or beneficiaries exceeding fifty per centum of the total members as envisioned in the bill in Clause 15 (6) (a) is too ambitious and not practical. The Committee noted that a pension fund can have more ten thousand members and beneficiaries who are scattered across the country, as was noted by the MIPF.
5.7 That some companies are failing to remit contributions to pension funds which in turn prejudice employees their hard earned pension (e.g. case of Hwange Colliery Company). The Committee therefore welcomes Clause 17 which seeks to penalize companies that fails to remit such funds to pension funds.
5.8 That one of the challenges bedeviling the pensions industry as noted by the COI was poor corporate governance practices by the board as well as absence of legislative requirements governing corporate governance. The lack of adequate representation in boards by the pensioners themselves was a cause for concern for the Committee.
5.9 That conflict of interest must be avoided at all costs between IPEC and pension funds, especially if one is either a shareholder, director or board member of a pension fund. One cannot be a regulator and be a participant at the same time.
5.10 That Clause 23 (3) provides for one to be appointed as a board member of not more than three funds. However, the Committee noted with concern why one person would be allowed to sit in at least three 3 boards and not limited to one fund.
5.11 That some pension funds continue to purchase and register company assets under private individuals or directors and this scenario may easily result in misappropriation of assets, especially if title is not changed to reflect the Fund name. While the Committee applauded the strengthening of IPEC to oversee pension fund assets management, concerns were raised in relation to empowering the Commission in Clause 31(1) to have absolute discretionary power to ‘approve any person’ to hold company assets instead of the Fund. It is the responsibility of the Commission to safeguard the assets of members by ensuring that all assets are registered in the Fund’s name.
5.12 That the provision allowing pension funds to invest in foreign markets is a welcome development. However, Clause 35 (b) which allows pension funds to invest ‘all’ or part of its assets in foreign markets was problematic. The Committee fully recognizes the role of pension and insurance funds in economic development and therefore argues that allowing ‘all’ funds to be invested in foreign markets was regressive.
5.13 That Clause 35 (3) (a) of the Bill allows lending of pension funds to individuals or employees of the Fund. However, the Minister may prescribe a cap to the percentage to which a pension fund shall be exposed in terms of loans. It is important that a percentage cap is set so as to reduce exposure of the fund to abuse.
5.14 That Clause 49 on currency conversion is a welcome development as it seeks to protect policyholders. However, the Committee noted with concern that the clause lacked proper guidance by relevant authorities like IPEC or Minister on what should happen in the industry in the event that there is need for currency conversion. The Bill only provides that the boards of each existing fund give a directive for calculation of benefits, assets and liabilities of the fund among others.
5.15 That Clause 54 (1) the provision to allow the Commission to submit reports within six months is not in line with the constitutional provision in Section 323. It is now standard that reports by Commissions are tabled in Parliament within three months after the end of each financial year.
5.16 That Clause 58 on indemnity clause by members and employees of the Commission, which seeks to protect IPEC and its staff from negligence is problematic. The Committee observed that this provision might be an avenue for abuse of power by IPEC and its staff.
5.17 That the establishment of the Pension Protection Fund under Clause 64 is a welcome development that was long overdue. However, the Committee is concerned about the development of regulations which shall be legislated through the IPEC Act.
5.18 That IPEC as a regulator and other statutory pension funds like NSSA are failing to attract Actuaries who are at the core of pension and insurance industry due to uncompetitive remuneration. The Committee noted that Actuaries play a major role in giving guidance to investment developments in the sector.
6.0 Committee Recommendations
6.1 That Clause 1 on the Bill title be correctly named as on the current Act as follows; Pension and Provident Funds Bill and to delete the s on Pensions so that it corresponds with provision on Clause 1.
6.2 That Board of Directors be changed to Board of Trustees.
6.3 Some of the definition in the Bill be correctly defined as raised by the stakeholders in this report so that they reflect the actual meaning in relation to the Bill. Definitions must not be ambiguous.
6.3.1 The definition of Actuary in line 10 of the Bill page 6 be amended by deletion of the words ‘approved by the Commissioner’ from time to time for the purpose of this Act’ and replace it with ‘gazetted by the commission’ from time to time for the purpose of this Act.
6.3.2 The definition of stakeholders in line 17 on page 10 of the Bill should be amended by the addition of the following words ‘such as founding members, pensioners, former members, deferred pensioners and employer participating in the fund’.
6.3.3 The definition of valuator in line 23 on page 10 should be amended by deletion of subsection [b]
6.4 That Clause 4 on the responsibility of the Commissioner should be amended by deletion of the words ‘in consultation with’ in line 34 on page 10 and substituting by the words ‘under the direction of’.
6.5 That Clause 5 and Clause 6 on Delegation of function by the Commissioner and additional function of the Commission be deleted and the other clauses renumbered accordingly. These two clauses are better strengthened in the superior IPEC Act [24:09].
6.6 That clause 15 (6) (a) on page 18 line 31 be amended by deletion of all the words after quorum and replace them with the following words ‘comprising of representatives of membership from at least two thirds of the members and beneficiaries who are democratically elected by members every two years.’
6.7 That clause 16 (11) in line 25 be amended by insertion of the following words between employer and commission, ‘the approval from two third of the employees so affected as well as the pension fund from which the employer seeks to exit from.’
6.8 That a time frame of one month be set for pensioners to start receiving their pay-out upon retirement and any defaulting Fund be penalized by pegging interest on the pension pay-out.
6.9 That most pension funds consider including medical insurance for all pensioners so that they will be able to access medical care when need arise.
6.10 That IPEC be empowered to garnish funds when an employer defaults in payments of contributions to the pension fund. Clause 17 should therefore be amended by insertion of a new 17(5) with the other following subsection renumbered accordingly, that ‘The Commission may garnish a participating employer who fails to remit pension contributions for a period of three months consecutively without a reasonable excuse.’
6.11 That Clause 23 (3) be amended to allow a Board member to sit in only one board and give others chance and opportunity.
6.12 That IPEC board members must not be either a shareholder, director or board member of a fund so as to avoid conflict of interest.
6.13 Clause 3 (1) on holding of assets of funds be amended by deletion of ‘or any other person who is approved by the Commission or who is a member of class of pensions approved by the Commission.’ Under no circumstances should the Commission be allowed to discretionarily approve of any class of persons, other than the fund, to control the assets of a pension fund. The Commission should ensure that the assets are registered in the name of the Pension Fund.
6.14 Clause 32 (3) should be deleted from the Bill. The commission should not be allowed the discretion to waiver the production of audited accounts.
6.15 That Clause 35 (3) (ii) stating that, ‘Provided that the Commission may exempt, either wholly or in part, any fund established by a local authority or a statutory body from this paragraph.’ be deleted and insert, ‘In the event of any inconsistency between this Act and any other enactment, this Act shall prevail.’
6.16 That the Bill provides a cap of not more than 25% of assets for pension funds to invest in foreign markets.
6.17 That the Minister prescribes no more than 10% on the cap to which a pension fund shall be exposed in terms of loans to a holding company or fund employees so as to reduce exposure or any abuse of the fund.
6.18 That an insertion be included in the Bill that empowers relevant authorities like IPEC or Minister to provide guidance in terms of policy in the industry in the event that there is need for currency conversion.
6.19 That the establishment of the Pension Protection Fund under Clause 64 must be clearly spelt out in the IPEC Act and not through regulations.
6.20 That pension benefits be pegged in line with the Poverty Datum Line while at the same time ensure that IPEC is empowered to regulate pension benefits.
6.21 That Clause 54 (1) be amended to reflect the constitutional provision stipulated on Section 323 of the Constitution which requires Commissions to report to Parliament ‘not later than the end of March in the following year to which the report relates.’
6.22 That Clause 58 on the Indemnity Clause be amended to recommend civil penalty for acting recklessly in line of duty.
6.23 That the Minister tables the IPEC and NSSA Acts as soon as possible for amendments to address some of the following sticky issues in the current Bill; i.e. role of IPEC in regulating pension funds, board membership and areas of conflict of interest, among others.
The proposed piece of legislation aims at addressing the regulatory inadequacies and weaknesses observed by the Justice Smith-led Commission of Inquiry (COI) as well as strengthening the Insurance and Pensions Commission’s (IPEC) regulatory, supervisory and monitoring role of the industry, among others. Therefore, the Bill is progressive and once passed into law would bring the sector into line with market developments and international best practice. In addition to that, the Bill aims at providing for a legal framework for the prudential regulation and supervision of insurance business in Zimbabwe that is consistent with the Constitution and promotes the maintenance of a fair, safe and stable insurance market. However, the Committee still implores upon the Hon. Minister to consider tabling of subsidiary legislation like the IPEC and NSSA Acts for amendment so that implementation is not hampered by legislative gaps. I thank you.
*HON. PRISCILLA MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this Bill to the House. I believe this Bill will correct all the anomalies that are being faced by pensioners. When we were gathering information as a Committee moving around the country, we got a lot of complaints from the public, particularly the fact that the monies being received by pensioners are insignificant. Some were saying that after being retrenched or in some cases after retirement, some do not receive their monies until they pass on. This is despite the fact that they would have worked throughout their adult lives, even those who get their monies were citing the fact that the amounts are meagre. So, I believe that this Bill will ensure that after working for many years, they receive their pensions.
We also noted that some companies are collecting money from their employees and investing these finances whilst the owners of these funds are not benefitting in any way. This is painful because the pensioners see their monies being invested in infrastructure at the expense of pension schemes. I believe this Bill is going to solve this challenge.
I would also like to talk about how this is affecting women. There were a lot of complaints from women who indicated that after they lost their husbands, they face a lot of challenges following up on their husbands’ pensions. This is affecting both women and children who are supposed to be beneficiaries of the late pensioner. I am happy that this Bill is going to correct past anomalies especially looking at the point that in the past, some had access to the pensions office and got their pensions. However, those in the rural areas were prejudiced. Some even said they have worked for so many years but have nothing to show for it. Women also said that their husbands informed them that after passing on, they benefit from their pensions as a family but nothing of the sort is happening. This is a challenge being faced by so many people.
As a Committee, it is our wish and desire that this Bill passes because during public hearings, we noted that the public is not happy, they are pained because these issues need to be solved as soon as possible. Those who were given the task of looking into this issue for instance the IPEC should make sure this issue is resolved so that we do not continue receiving complaints from people who work but do not receive their pensions. This company should discharge its duties with fortitude so that pensioners get their pensions and dues. I would like to concur with the Chairman’s input towards this Bill. I thank you.
HON. DR. KHUPE: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I would also like to add my voice to the report presented by Dr. Nyashanu on the Pensions and Provident Funds Bill. Firstly, I would like to allude to the fact that the Bill seeks to modernise the regulation and supervision of the pensions sector so that it grows in a more transformed and inclusive manner. This Bill is very important to all of us because one day we are going to be pensioners and therefore this legal framework must make sure that it balances the interest of both the pension funds and pensioners.
After conducting public hearings, we gathered a lot of information and I would like to focus more on what was said by pensioners. One of the pensioners said pensioners are destitutes. They are aged and are dying because of the paltry pensions they are currently getting. Most of them said they are getting around ZW$400 per month which is an equivalent of four loaves of bread Madam Speaker. This is very pathetic. This Bill is also premised on the Justice Smith Commission which was mandated to investigate and establish like what the Minister said, the total value and type of assets owned by insurance companies and pension funds, to determine the causes of loss of value of Insurance and Pension Fund and establish the extent of prejudicing any policy holders and pensioners amongst others.
Madam Speaker, based on this, it is very clear that there is definitely prejudice particularly to pensioners. Pensioners are senior citizens who have worked for years contributing to the development of this country but the sad reality is that they have absolutely nothing to show that they worked before towards nation building. Senior citizens were looked after very well during the good old days but now pensioners are in a sorry state Madam Speaker. Pensioners have been reduced to destitutes, they cannot even feed their families. They cannot send their children to school. They cannot pay for their overheads and more importantly, they cannot pay for their health needs. Due to the fact that they cannot meet their health needs, pensioners then propose that there be an establishment of a health facility for pensioners which is going to be subsidised because the older they get, the more unhealthier they become. Pensioners also decry the pension fund which they contributed and that they have invested their money into assets in the form of buildings such that those buildings are generating a lot of money and yet pensioners are not getting no value from the monthly payments.
Madam Speaker, the public noted with concern the poor treatment of widows and their children like what Hon. Moyo said. Once the beneficiary dies, they also complain that their paension is reduced immediately after the beneficiary passed on. This matter is very urgent and must be looked into as a matter of urgency. Pensioners indicated that their pension must be aligned with the poverty datum line and that they must be matched with the standard of living because being a pensioner does not mean that your stomach is starved such that you are now taking little food. They want their salaries to be matched with the poverty datum line.
The public also bemoaned the exclusion of workers such as workers and housemaids from the Bill yet they are also in employment. They propose that the informal sector, including domestic workers be targeted also and participate in paying pension contributions so that they also get income when they retire and grow older.
Based on all this Madam Speaker, it is of paramount importance that our recommendation as raised by the Chairperson, Dr. Nyashanu be taken on board so that there is modernisation of the pension sector and that there be improved management and supervision of the sector so that it grows in a more transformed and inclusive manner taking into consideration balancing the interests of both the Pension Fund and the pensioners in order that there be a win-win situation because in the majority cases, pensioners are always on the receiving end with nothing to show that they are indeed pensioners who are senior citizens who built this country.
Lastly Madam Speaker, I would like to propose a pensioners’ Indaba as part of dialogue which must be attended to by the President so that he listens to the problems faced by the people who worked for this country to be where it is right now. This will afford him an opportunity to understand what pensioners are going through. Once he has an appreciation of these issues, he might be in a position to address them to the satisfaction of pensioners. Madam Speaker, I submit and I support the report and hope that our recommendations are going to be taken on board. I thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I rise to support the report from the Budget and Finance Committee as presented by the Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Dr. Nyashanu. Madam Speaker, I want to raise these issues pertaining to this Bill. Pension and the welfare of pensioners is a topical issue in Zimbabwe given the history that we have gone through in the years of the hyperinflation that we have experienced in this country from the 2008, 2009 era followed by the time we removed the 1:1 pegging of the US dollar to the RTGS. Pensioners did lose a lot of money.
Madam Speaker, my main issue that I want to raise with the Hon. Minister pertains to the piece-meal way of pension reform that the Hon. Minister is doing. The Hon. Minister has brought in the new Pensions and Provident Fund to repeal the current one. I think it is clear Hon. Minister, if you look into the report of the Budget and Finance Committee, hat there are certain key and fundamental issues that the people out there have raised and the recommendations that the Committee on Budget and Finance has submitted. More importantly, in my view, is that it was prudent for the Hon. Minister to first and foremost bring the Insurance and Pensions Commissions Act Amendment because this is the main Act in as far as pension and insurance is concerned. This was to me the most important thing and the first thing that the Hon. Minister was supposed to do. Once the Minister has brought the amendment to the IPEC Act Chapter 24.21, the Minister would then bring in this amendment to the Pensions and Provident Fund as well as the amendment to the insurance and other pieces of legislation whose mandate is tied up to the IPEC Act.
Most of the recommendations you will find out Hon. Minister, are that as long as we do not deal first with IPEC, it creates a huge problem because some of the powers, for instance if you look even under Clause 6, the functions of the Commission are conferred under the IPEC and here we then have additional powers coming. The right way of legislating is to amend the main Act and then come up with subsidiary. Once it is done, it becomes easier.
Hon. Minister, the challenge that we even faced as a Committee is that when we went out there to meet the people, because the main Act has not been amended and we are now dealing with a subsidiary legislation, it meant that most people would not speak to the Bill per se but would just speak to other issues that concern them, especially the pensioners and some of the people that have lost their money through the insurance. We would then allow them to ventilate their issues though technically they were not related to the Bill per se. My request Hon. Minister, I am aware that the Pension Amendment Bill is now there but I would be happier that if we could have a mechanism to combine all these so that we know whatever we are doing in terms of insurance pension reform, then everything is done.
There are several clauses that we have mentioned to the Budget and Finance Committee that we feel need to be looked into but if you go through the report, you will realise that some of the issues that were raised are primarily because the IPEC Act itself needs to be panel-beaten so that it fits the modern pension of today. You will know Madam Speaker, that insurance all over the world is the backbone of economic development.
Hon. Minister will be aware that the question of inflation did not only affect the pensioners but in a way it also affected some pension houses. Why do I say that Madam Speaker? Go and look into the prescribed assets of most of the insurance companies and Pension Fund, most of them before the hyperinflation period had actually invested and bought Treasury Bills, bought Government stock and invested hoping that Government stock is true and proper vehicle for investment. What has then happened Madam Speaker, is that in the process, whilst Government projects or the reason they managed to raise the money, at the end of the day it is the pensioner that then suffers. This is the reason why some of us believe that the first and foremost port of call is the Government. That is why in a way what Dr. Khupe was talking about the question of having a pension indaba comes into play because Government owes the pensioners as we speak. It is not the pension fund only that owes the pensioners, no. It is also the Government. We need to do an analysis and say to ourselves, how much money or how many Treasury Bills were bought by insurance and pension fund prior to the hyper- inflation of 2008. We also need to ask how much money in terms of Treasury Bills or bonds that is the insurance and pension fund have bought prior to the Statutory Instrument 33 of 2019. Those are fundamental issues if this country is going to move forward. We can never move forward as a country if the workers that contributed to the growth of this economy over the years are languishing in poverty. We cannot move forward Hon. Minister as long as the people that used to do and perform a lot of good work are suffering.
During the outreach programme, you would see some of the people that I used to meet during my time in the bank – these were the people who were literally running the industry; people that were chief executives in their domain, but if you meet them now, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Finally Madam Speaker, I would urge and appeal to the Hon. Minister, if it is possible, can you take a step back; would it hurt the Ministry to consider bringing the amendment to the IPEC so that we debate and discuss these issues together. As Parliament, we are in full support of all these Bills that intend to modernise and reform the insurance and pension industry. We are simply saying Hon. Minister, is it possible or would it hurt a lot if we could ensure that we come up with the combo that brings everything on board, then we deal with this issue once and for all so that we will not have other problems. The problem with some of these clauses is that they tend to leave a lot of loopholes and we are simply saying that we cannot afford to have any amendment or legislation that leaves some room for other people to exploit pensioners tomorrow. Like Hon. Khupe was saying, you and I are potential pensioners and we will be pensioners very soon. We need to make sure that this is rectified. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: I want to applaud the Finance and Budget Committee led by the able Chairman, Hon. Dr. Nyashanu who really pushed this in a direction which many would not. What I want to emphasise – and I am glad that the Minister is here, is that the downfall of this pension fund is that they were given to people without capacity. You cannot say that Parliament has a pension fund and must still run it and control it. The most important thing that has got to happen is that all these pension funds must fall under IPEC, directly. We have people who understand investment.
Look at NSSA today. It has become a looting machinery for anybody, yet the pensioners themselves are not benefiting. If you look at the investments which NSSA has done, some which have not yielded any results to the detriment of the pensioners - nobody has said anything about that because it is within the company. The CEO has not got the capacity. Actuarial Scientists are needed for these issues. It is a different ball game in terms of investment. Most of the CEOs in these companies do not understand what investment means. If you look at what NSSA did – for example it got into many investments ranging from the Capital Bank which went bankrupt and left the pensioners with nothing. We move on to many other transactions that they were involved in – for as long as we do not have these pension funds falling under IPEC, we will still encounter the same problems. IPEC then brings on board people who are able to understand the markets. This is a big game. It is about understanding the global markets and how many people in these institutions understand global markets today? It is critical that we have people stationed under IPEC and are able to understand the global markets where the investments are going at the end of the day.
The reason why I am saying this is that if we had anybody with capacity to think, this money would be used to buy gold which should then be kept at the Reserve Bank. That gold is the one that you monetise so that you are able to get value. With inflation, it is simple – gold is being bought in Zimbabwean dollars, the pensioners money is in Zimbabwean dollars. Why has that money gone to buy gold and you cannot go wrong with gold. It is kept at the Reserve Bank and they are able to then use that in doing whatever they want in trading or even buying fuel for the Government. You do not need the Ministry of Finance to be getting money elsewhere when we have money here. The foreign currency lies in gold and the minerals of this country. When they now want that product, be it fuel, they are able to pay pensioners at whatever they were going to pay, for Government is using a lot of foreign currency in finding these resources which we need as basics. Why can these resources at RBZ gold not be the ones to be used to do that?
We have a situation where the Justice Smith report is a good report. It must certainly be applauded for the work done but the timing is critical, where you are in a hyper inflationary environment. Six months changes – the report done in 2018/19, we are in 2021 - a lot has changed. How relevant is it today in terms of the welfare of the people? The Bill itself talks about the aspect of having trustees. Money is something that requires people that can be trusted. The other issue is: what sort of trustees are you looking at? It was not specific, and I like the fact that the pensioners themselves must not be involved so that there is no conflict of interest in whatever they will be doing, but we still have not spoken to exactly who do we want to be able to be a trustees in this? What sort of curriculum vitae are we looking for? Are we looking for CAs, lawyers, actuarial scientists or what because the next thing is you are going to have people who are not qualified.
The same way we have done with Community Share Ownership Trusts. It is not every chief who has the capacity, with due respect to the chiefs, but they sit on The Community Share Ownership Trust and they do not understand certain issues yet you have said the chiefs must sit there. It is important for us to distinguish exactly who we want to sit there. Are they actuarial scientists, CA or what and how did they come about to be there because if we do not have the people who understand these investments, it will be very difficult for us to be able to maintain the same capacity to ensure that these people are well resourced.
Madam Speaker, you will see that brick and mortar is the way to go. These pension funds, you can see they have been building houses. The question that I want to ask is of these houses that they have been building, why equally have they not invited pensioners to also be part of the scheme because once they benefit a house and are getting rent, that is good enough benefit at the end of the day but they have been building houses for everyone yet the people who put in money have nothing. When they can get their rentals of US$200 per month, they are able to be sustained but now most of the beautiful houses that you are seeing, the developments are pension funds which are going to private companies and do not benefit the pensioner.
Now, there are scams. They are telling you they are receiving rentals in Z$ yet they receive in foreign currency. They give you at interbank rate yet they are getting the hard currency. So, there are too many scams which have come up as a result of that. How then do we protect the pensioner from these scams which are happening? It is important that we also look at the time frame. The board itself of trustees, how long do you want it in office because I did not hear that being mentioned at all and we also want to look at the way the pensioners will be able to communicate.
There is the issue of them reporting to Parliament quarterly but the pensioners, when are they going to be briefed on all these issues? Why are we coming up with projects which they do not understand and do not know? Which format are you coming with to also educate them on the direction that you are taking in terms of investments of their money? Parliament, yes we represent people but I have not understood or heard how the stakeholders will also be briefed about investments or so forth. That is the reason why there is that information gap which makes them think that there is a lot of money and money is being stolen because the communication is not there. We need to close that information gap so that they are all appraised where that money is going.
IPEC to me is critical and it is a board that must fall under the Ministry of Finance. Where do you get pension funds falling under labour? Yes, it is the labour that generates the money but the money must be managed by people who understand that and Ministry must be able to do that. The Hon. Minister must not be looking for command agriculture but must be able to be using this money and also pay the farmers a good price. Why are you creating Treasury Bills when we have so much money that is sitting there? For you to unlock the value you cannot because you are not in control of it.
With IPEC under you, then you are able to control these and that money goes towards what you will have targeted to be the turnaround of the economy. Right now we cannot do that and the value is diminishing every day. It is the private companies who are enjoying this money. We want to see this money going towards Government programmes which the Minister of Finance would have said these are critical for the turning around of the economy. We would rather suffer with this money being with Government than anybody else because Government is not going to go anywhere and Ministry of Finance must be mandated with immediate effect and it must be there in the Bill that this IPEC is under Ministry of Finance. As such, the pension funds must fall under Ministry of Finance but directly reporting to IPEC and IPEC being under the Ministry of Finance, the same way as ZIMRA.
We must understand we have a situation where the money that we seem not to be having in the country is somewhere but is not doing anything. From an inflation point of view, it is not benefitting anyone. It is my suggestion that IPEC becomes responsible for all pension funds and they will be remitting the money to them in a professional manner and find people with capacity to be able to run these pension funds. The investment so far which are testimony to bad governance of these pension funds have yielded absolutely nothing, only poverty, languishing amongst the pensioners at the end of the day and the gold model is important. You do not require the RBZ to print money.
My suggestion to the Minister is why not have IPEC through these funds be a shareholder of Fidelity because they will be pumping in the Z$ that you need and you do not need to print because they are getting it from the various investments which are there. These are ways which I thought are critical because the real issue here is how you maintain the value. This is the issue. You can only maintain the value by identifying commodities that are able to retain that value for you; gold and minerals are the ones that we have that we can now start saying go and get gold bars and so forth, deposit them with the RBZ and whenever you need your value you know what to. That is the way to go.
I would want to add my voice to say I must applaud the Chairman for bringing this up because like Hon. Priscilla Moyo said, it is an issue that people are crying about. I must applaud the members of the Committee for going out there to meet the people because they had no one. They thought they are on their own and we must be able to turn that around into a success by ensuring that the Bill that we put together is a people centred Bill which will give them some confidence that moving forward, I think people can retire and be able to enjoy the pensions that they have.
The timeframe again of a year to eighteen months is unacceptable. If you cannot get your pension when you are alive Madam Chair, what guarantee do you have when you are dead? When you are alive you are running around, when you are dead, you do not run around. The families suffer and I think that is not what pensions are for. They are there to sustain these families and this is the little legacy that they leave for themselves. Ndiko kunonzi baba, ndiko kunonzi amai nekuti takudya mari yakashandira baba and so forth.
I really want to thank the Committee for this job that you have done, Chairperson and your Committee, it is commendable. I think Parliament must really be involved because at the end of the day we are all pensioners when it comes to us and not being able to discharge our duties. Thank you very much.
(V)HON. MUSAKWA: Thank you Madame Speaker Ma’am, I would like to add my voice to the report on the Pensions and Providence Fund Bill brought by Dr. Nyashanu.
I would like to start by saying that if you are not a pensioner today, you are a potential pensioner tomorrow. What the Committee saw during the Outreach is a tip of the iceberg, it only goes to show that there are a lot of underlying problems in our pension industry. The pensioners mentioned that most of the funds that they contribute have to be regulated in such a manner that when they provide pension, it must have a component of health because most of the monies that they are being paid are not even enough for food, let alone the payment of medical bills and as a result, they are relegated to the graveyard sooner than necessary. So the pensioners were lamenting that they need the funds to be given a mandatory requirement to add the health component to their pensions.
They also lamented the low levels of payments they are getting as some are getting as little as RTGS22.00 per month which cannot even pay – I do not know what you can buy with it but they would have worked all their life only to be relegated to such abject poverty. This needs to be seriously looked at and legislated upon. They proposed that at least it be put into law, that they be given a pension that can equate to at least the poverty datum line so that they are able to survive or at least to have their pensions linked to a stable currency, for instance the United States of America dollar, the Euro, pound or Chinese Yen or any of the global stable currencies so that at least they are covered when there is hyperinflation or the economy changes. They also said that they need it regulated that once they retire, they must be paid their lump sum benefits and pensions within a reasonable time because some pension funds are going as far as 10 years before they even calculate someone’s lump sum benefit or even calculate their monthly stipends because the law is silent on such matters.
So the bringing up of this Bill must address issues such as that so that at least someone can predict to say if I retire today, in two weeks or in a month, I will get my dues. I think that is also very important. They also lamented the fact that the Bill must also include the acceptance of the Justice Smith Report as part of the law so that those pensioners whose incomes were eroded by inflation are properly compensated as per that report. They also lamented the fact that the national disasters such as COVID-19 have left them exposed because their meager pension incomes cannot even buy a sanitiser let alone a face mask. I think that this report is very timely and has to be looked at seriously for the national and common good and ensuring that these social safety nets are made functional. I submit Madam Speaker Ma’am.
(V)*HON. NYABANI: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I just want to add my voice to this Bill. When we look at our pensioners today they are living in abject poverty because they are earning poor pensions- Someone who is now a pensioner is unable to work or sustain themselves. When someone is no longer capable of working and are now on pension, the Pension Fund should respect that person and treat him/her as a former worker. The Hon. Minister should come up with a USD scale so that even when there is inflation, using the bank rate, the person is able to get the actual value of the money that they were supposed to earn. Government should also be responsible for legislating Statutory Instruments that govern private and Government institutions to adhere to pension regulations because some non-governmental organisations are operating without adhering to pension obligations.
Like the example that I gave that in 2013, he/she was supposed to receive $15 000.00 and then convert it. Today RTGS84.00 multiplied by $15 000.00 is the money that one should get so that they are able to build a single room. Someone who has worked for more than 60 years should have something to show at the end of their working days. We have several pensioners in the rural areas that are now living in abject poverty and others are even dying early due to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure due to stress. The stress usually begins whilst they are still working due to poor salaries and gets worse once they are pensioners. This only goes to prove that our workers are miserable during their working lives and after.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I therefore urge the Hon. Minister to seriously look into this matter and consider paying pensioners in USD$ equivalent that can adequately sustain them. How can a pensioner be able to sustain himself/herself with a meager RTGS300.00 in this day and age? I thank you.
*HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this motion which was raised by Hon. Nyabani. Pensioners are people who contribute to the economy of the country for so many years but they later face challenges because of the meager amounts they receive of pensions which are not commensurate with their contribution throughout their adult life. We also know that women face a lot of health challenges after 65 years like diabetes and other chronic illnesses. The point that is normally raised that they are supposed to receive free treatment is not correct.
So, my plea is that pensioners should be treated for free because medical aid does not apply to those who are on pension. It is important that pensioners benefit. When you look at the pensions that are given to retired civil servants, their pensions are so small that they are insignificant. It is important that Government looks into this issue so that pensioners receive significant amounts of money. Let me also look at widows who are supposed to benefit from their late husband’s pensions. They only get small amounts of money which cannot cater for all their needs. So it is important that they receive money which will be enough to take their children to school. I spoke of chronic illnesses like diabetes, but there is also hypertension which is very common to those who are above 65 years. It is important that they are looked after and they have enough money for their medication. I thank you Madam Speaker.
*HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me start by thanking the Hon. Minister who brought this Bill to this august House so that we see and discuss it. If there is any input that we can give, then it is important that we do so. I would also appreciate Dr. Nyashanu’s Committee which did public hearings and gathered people’s views, especially pensioners’ input to the new Bill which is meant to better their lives - the pensioners who are elderly and who cannot continue to go to work. Most points have been debated on.
Let me start by saying that when you look at the claim forms that are being completed, they are complicated. For instance, NSSA claim forms. I was in the rural areas last week and my uncle who was employed by the National Railways of Zimbabwe is now short-sighted so much that he needs assistance in completing these claim forms every time he goes to claim his pension. My request is that the language that we use in these claim forms should be simple for someone who is claiming their pension. Languages is very important and even the clarity of the language, it is sometimes necessary to use local languages like Shona because the Constitution has that provision which clarifies that anyone has the right to communicate in a language that they are comfortable in using.
The second point is that when you look at where pensioners go to collect their pensions for example NSSA - when you look at the corner by Second Street, you will find elderly people accompanying each other to buy food because where they come from is very far. So, I would like to implore Government that there be decentralisation of the disbursement of pensions so that pensioners do not have to travel to Harare to receive their pensions. They should get their money wherever they are, whether it is in Gweru or whichever town because these are elderly people whom we should respect and honour because they contributed to the construction of different infrastructures in the country.
Madam Speaker, let me also concur with Hon. Mliswa who suggested that IPAC should fall under the Ministry of Finance. This will assist us and I know that this will be added responsibility to the Ministry of Finance, but we have specialists in that Ministry because if a mother is given a task of cooking, this is the Ministry of Labour, I believe that this budget should fall under the Ministry of Finance so that there is clarity on who should receive these pensions and how many pensioners are benefitting. I know that the database of pensioners falls under the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare but it is important that this happens.
Let me also share some other points. Madam Speaker Ma’am, I believe that we have seven years now, talking about the medical health scheme, which has not come to fruition yet. We are pursuing a lot of medical aid societies. I have a suggestion that pensions should be invested in medical schemes which would cater for the elderly. This is because most elderly people cannot afford to get medication. Instead of pension funds being invested in infrastructure, they should be invested in medical aid schemes for the elderly and those who are receiving their pensions. Contemporary pensions are not pensions because people who receive them are very mobile. They commute from their areas to towns to access their pensions. They cannot afford to relax. It is important that they have relaxation so that they benefit from their sweat.
Madam Speaker, my father was employed by the National Railways of Zimbabwe. When you look at the infrastructure like railway lines and trains, you will discover that a lot of work was done in that area. So, it is important that if there are pensions, then the young should learn a lot from that.
Let me also look at hospitals. Madam Speaker Ma’am, I know we have a hospital for civil servants but it is important that even private companies like OK, Delta and other companies have their own health care centres so that the elderly are able to access medication in a proper health care centre. This will be a culmination of what they worked for.
Madam Speaker, I would also like to talk about burial schemes. I have noticed that when a pensioner passes on, there is need for a collection for their burial expenses like coffin and other things. So, I would like to implore the Government that burial schemes be established so that they benefit pensioners. It is not my desire that they pass on but like what Hon. Mutambisi mentioned, we desire that the elderly rest whilst they are relaxing, getting proper medical care.
In the rural areas, you will discover that the elderly are anticipating adequate pensions and they believe that this would be solved because they contributed during public hearings. I would like to end by saying that the report which was brought to this august House is a good report and the recommendations should be adopted together with other recommendations that were proposed by Members of this august House. This should be taken up by the respective Ministries because this Bill is a good Bill which should sail through. So, I believe that the Ministry of Finance should have a legacy of such a Bill. This is a Bill which touches on how pensioners can benefit from this. You will discover that as Hon. Members of this august House, we are also growing old. In six or seven years, we will also be ageing and we would also expect our pensions. Madam Speaker Ma’am, I believe that what we are proposing should contribute towards success of the Bill and I support everything that was presented by Hon. Nyashanu and his Committee. As Hon. Members, we support the report and the Bill. I thank you for giving me this opportunity.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 12th May, 2021.
(v) HON. GANDAWA: Madam Speaker, point of order.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): What is your point of order?
(V)HON. GANDAWA: I was wondering if tomorrow you could also recognise people who will be online. We are not all in the House. I want to make my submissions. I will take it up tomorrow and I am praying that you will also recognise me.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): Thank you Hon. Gandawa. I recognised a lot of people on the online platform. I am sure you were offline because if you were online you could have actually seen that I recognised a lot of people online on this debate. Thank you for that. I am sure when the debate comes again, you will be recognised and given an opportunity to debate.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 5 to 10 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day Number 11 has been disposed of.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPEAL OF THE VAGRANCY ACT [CHAPTER 10: 25]
HON. S.K. MGUNI: I move the motion standing in my name;
That this House;
MINDFUL, that the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the comprehensive human rights and that Parliament must protect this Constitution;
ALSO COGNISANT that Section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for equality and non-discrimination to the extent that every person has a right not to be treated in an unfairly discriminatory manner on such grounds as their nationality, race, colour, tribe, place of birth, ethnic or social origin, language, class, religious belief, political affiliation, opinion, custom, culture, sex, gender, marital status, age, pregnancy, disability or economic or social status or whether they were born in or out of the wedlock;
DISTURBED that some existing statutes such as the Vagrancy Act [Chapter 10:25] are selective as they specifically target persons with no places to call home;
FURTHER DISTURBED that the term vagrant is defined as someone who maintains himself or herself by begging among other definitions;
NOW, THEREFORE resolves to;
- a)Repeal the Vagrancy Act [Chapter 10.25] as it does not safeguard the interests of vulnerable people;
- b)Conduct its constitutional mandate of ensuring that all citizens enjoy their basic human rights; and
- c)Recommend that all relevant institutions which deal with the underprivileged embark on a massive exercise to promote the rehabilitation of vulnerable people, particularly those without homes.
HON. RTD BRIG. GEN. MAYIHLOME: I second.
HON. S. K. MGUNI: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am for giving me an opportunity to move this motion to talk on a group of vulnerable members within our society, namely the street children. The twenty-first century presents a host of challenges which directly and indirectly affect millions of children in many African countries. An increasing number of children are being forced to the streets as a result of poverty, abuse, torture, rape, abandonment or have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic and COVID-19. Human rights violations against children in the 1990s have become a common and disturbing occurrence in Zimbabwe. Indeed denial of basic human and legal rights, including the rights to life, liberty and security as a person to children are now a defining feature of the African socio-economic landscape. This motion seeks to address the causes and challenges being faced by street children and the subsequent solution being provided by the Government and the community due to the growing problem of street children. What kind of polices and strategies are African Governments putting in place? What are the families and communities doing? For instance, to what extent are families, schools and individual members of society dealing with this problem? How is Government dealing with the increasing number of unsupervised children living alone in urban streets? What role can the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and community based organisations play in addressing the problem of street children? We contend that not enough is being done to address the problem and that indeed the problem of street children remains an ignored tragedy that is set to have devastating impact on the development of this country.
It is clear that the response to the problem as has been muted remains ignored, sidelined by Government and the general public. Key players who are supposed to play a leading role in finding a solution to the problem have become the major source of the problem. Government policies that embrace liberalisation and the free market economy are contributory factors to the persistent state of poverty and increased hardship with children being affected most. The family which is supposed to be the bedrock of children’s welfare and protection is today becoming a major cause of the problem of street children. Parents are sending their children into the streets to beg, steal or engage in petty trade. Children are leaving their homes to escape domestic violence or because of the breaking up of the family structures. Schools are turning into centres of violence and crime, creating an environment to put more children into the streets. We contend that Government polices directed by structural adjustment programme are responsible for putting more and more children onto the street as a result of increasing poverty instead of devising policies that will ensure the welfare of children and the society in general. The general public pretends not to notice the plight of an increasing number of destitute children on our streets. There is at present, real alarm or outrage from the general public on the increasing number of children on our streets even though these children face starvation and are at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals and a brutal police force. The Government and the community in general need to put in place viable polices or strategies that will ensure that the plight of street children is urgently addressed.
The phenomenon of street children is not new, and neither is it restricted to certain geographical areas (Connoly, 1990). The street urchin, the runaway. The street wives and stray children were part of the ‘urban landscape’ during the process of industrialisation and urbanisation in post-war Europe (Argelli, op,cit; Swart, w986). This has also been the case in many populations that have undergone political, social, or economic upheaval. The problem of street children in Zimbabwe may not be new as related by Grier (1996). Grier’s paper looks at the street children in Zimbabwe from the 1920s to the 1950s. This paper notes that native lads aged 10 to 14 were attracted to towns, mines and other centres. Colonial officials were concerned with the way children survived on the streets or made a living on the streets (Grier, 1996). Grier notes that many lads found wage, employment in urban areas as domestic servants and gardeners in white and black homes. In mining towns, the boys were hired directly by mining companies to cook and clean for the ‘senior’ black workers in the company’s single sex compounds. Boys were also seen performing domestic services, including in some cases, sexual services for ‘single’ black mine workers who lived in the huts they built for themselves in native locations adjacent to the mines (Grier, op.cit).
s of our urban areas appears to be a recent phenomenon in Zimbabwe. Prior to independence (1980), it was almost impossible for children to work in the streets as vendors, car-washers, beggars or parking boys as municipal by-laws that restricted this were brutally enforced. With independence, such enforcement of the restrictions became slack and unpredictable. Following independence, more children came onto the streets due to the inability of the Zimbabwean economy to create sufficient formal employment. Since 1975, there have been recurrent drought periods and the war that was in Mozambique. The Mozambican war displaced Mozambicans. This finding was also verified in the study that found that almost all vendors at Mbare Musika in Harare were of Mozamnbican origin (Dube et. al. 1991). Thus, for the larger number of street children, the underlying and basic causes for pushing children onto the streets lie in the increasing number of families surviving under extreme poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunity for social mobility and strained family relationships (Bourdillon, Grier and Muchini).
With the current economic strain, many children are dropping out of school opting to earn or beg for their living, education being substituted for work as money becomes a priority. One may argue, begging may be their own source of livelihood but as the old adage rings, ‘if you think education is expensive try ignorance’, which makes one wonder what their future holds as leaders of tomorrow.
Part 3 of the Children’s Act 2002, headed “prevention of neglect, ill treatment and exploitation of children and young person” cites that (Section 10 coined, ‘begging and public entertainment’, subsection 1, Part 1);
(i) Any parent or guardian of a child or young person, who allows that child or young person to;
(a) beg, or
(b) to accompany him/her whilst they beg, or
(c) to induce or to endeavour to induce the giving of alms or
(d) to perform or to be exhibited in any way for public entertainment in a manner detrimental to the child or young person’s health, morals, mind and body; is liable to a fine not exceeding level six or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both such fine and imprisonment.
Despite the existence of such Acts and penalties accrued to such offences, blatant disregard continues unabated. Children are seen aiding blind parents as they beg, others exposing themselves to accidents as they venture in the middle of the robot controlled intersections. Others are seen playing instruments alongside their parents/guardians as a means to attract money from passers-by. This is slowly becoming a norm as they are seen at almost all street corners. It is a survival means but it drains from tomorrow as they are instilled with the mindset of begging and might never learn to work for their upkeep.
Challenges being Faced by Street Children.
Mr. Speaker Sir, there are a number of challenges being faced by street children in Zimbabwe and these include the following:
- i) Street life can be extremely traumatic, exposing children to high levels of hunger, violence and disease.
- ii)Both boys and girls face high levels of verbal, physical and sexual abuse, with girls at high risk of being forced to engage in commercial sex work.
iii) Children are routinely exploited and paid significantly less than adults for the same jobs.
- iv)Street activities carry physical risks, such as dangerous traffic, health risks, poor levels of hygiene and sanitization and other environmental hazards.
- v)Children often turn to substance abuse as a way of escaping the harsh realities of life on the street.
- vi)Street children face stigma and discrimination as they are labeled as criminal vagrants.
vii) Periodical round-ups and brutality from the police, reinforce street children’s criminalization and prevent these children from gaining the support and rehabilitation they need.
- a)Most street children are unable to attend school simply because they have to work to support themselves.
- b)The few street children who do go to school are regularly absent and achieve poor learning outcomes due to having a lack of time to study.
- c)Street children often struggle with low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and a sense of worthlessness and shame.
- d)The stigma of being on the streets makes it difficult for children to integrate into education and with their peers.
- e)Teachers have not had adequate training to deal with such sensitive issues as vulnerable children, inclusive education, and child protection.
- f)Due to the negative labeling of street children, there is poor awareness amongst communities of the need to support the reintegration and education of these children.
What Can Be Done.
Madam Speaker, there is need for co-ordination of responses to street children’s rights. There is need to conduct a best practice survey to study responses to street children and to share this with all stakeholders. A process could be initiated through the department of Social Services for a review of existing legislation on children and how these could be strengthened. There is need for research to be conducted to fill the information gap on the effects of street environments on child development.
The Government of Zimbabwe needs to seriously consider re-deploying its welfare departments into development departments. This would mean that the departments of Child Welfare and Social Welfare would focus more on child and social development. The fact that it is much more expensive to ‘cure’ than to ‘prevent’ cannot be overstated. Many of the organisations working in the area of street children have been in existence for a couple of years. In the long term, it could be beneficial for these NGOs to do a need assessment in order to come up with programmes suitable in addressing the problem. Community mobilization should be a priority in ensuring duty-bearers are ‘keeping their promise’ to children of Zimbabwe, including street children.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would like to also speak on some of the positive work being done by Government in trying to address the plight of street children. I understand in 2020, there were 305 children and persons working in the streets from major cities who were removed and reunited with their families or were placed under Chambuta Children’s home. There are also 3 286 children in Residential Children Care Institution, that are being supported by Government. In addition, Government has plans to assist over 1.5 million children in 2021 under the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM). All these initiatives are intended to protect our children from the harsh economic and social problems that I outlined earlier in on in my presentation. With these few words, I thank you.
HON. BRIG. (RTD) GEN. MAYIHLOME: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me an opportunity to add my voice to this very important debate on vagrancy and homelessness. This issue Madam Speaker had been in existence since industrialisation or urbanisation in the world. Many countries have grappled with this problem and not many countries have successfully addressed or solved the problem of street children or vagrancy mainly because first and foremost, many countries or many societies see homelessness as self inflicted or a crime. Instead of having empathy they tend to criminalise it.
In this country before independence, this country had a law called The Vagrancy Act, it was not repealed but it was one of those laws that were just ignored or not enforced. This law said a vagrant is a person of no fixed abode and a person who wanders from place to place without cause. It criminalised these kinds of persons and it also criminalised the people who were giving them help, assistance or protectiveness. So, it became a kind of a crime to be poor, a crime to be homeless, a crime to be a destitute, a crime without employment and a crime to be without shelter. We grew up in that kind of environment and society has always been grappling to come out of the challenges.
There have been several attempts through non-governmental organisations and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to arrest this problem, try to mop up children from the streets to children’s homes or foster homes, several attempts have been made like the previous speaker has mentioned that thousands of children have been resettled through this method. However, the problem does not seem to be ending, it is like pouring water into a sinking hole. The more we try to move them from the streets, the more we seem to be encouraging more children to get back there. There are so many ills that cause these things. I will not belabour listing them all here but issues of unemployment, displacement, child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, gender based violence all come to the fore in exacerbating the problems of particularly women and children in the streets.
Unfortunately, this cycle of destitution, this cycle of homelessness and people living in the streets does not seem to end because the more they are removed, the more they come back. Society has not managed to address these issues squarely not just in Zimbabwe but worldwide. Inspite of good intentions, the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and all urban centres are still littered with people who have no fixed aboard, people who live under bridges. Society is unable to solve that problem.
Social welfare, much as they try but they are not resourced sufficiently or their institutions are not adequately resourced to deal with this problem. It is an issue that mankind or human kind has to address fully to solve. It can only get worse because it perpetuates, unless it is fully addressed.
The statistics may not be available as to whether the numbers are increasing or not but as we see in our street, we have children that are supposed to be doing ECD level. They are begging in the streets maybe with their mothers and also fathers and then you say to yourself what kind of citizens are we producing, what kind of people are these going to be?
We unfortunately do not have soup kitchens and meals on wheels or free accommodation like they have in other countries and one wonders where these children go when it is raining, cold or for the night if there is really no accommodation for them?
It is about time that the society and the nation looks at this problem squarely in the face and say what needs to be done so that we show a human face as a country. Let us lead by example. Zimbabweans are known to be peace loving. Let us integrate these people back to society. Let us find ways of resettling them. The children must go back to school, those that need mental care, those that need to be cured from drug addiction need to be treated and sent to relevant centres so that they become useful citizens of this country and not to be wondering in the streets for the rest of their lives.
The institutions must be strengthened, particularly the social welfare at all levels and institutions should start with individual homes. Every family should understand that it is their responsibility to take care of their own. These children or these persons come from certain homes. It can not only be a Government problem or social welfare alone, people must understand that the responsibility starts with me and you. Wherever you are, you have got the responsibility. Probably, you have got a relative in the streets; you just turn a blind eye. People must be connscientised from a young age to understand that it could happen to anybody.
To some people it occurs as a result of poor health. Maybe you come back from hospital, you find that the family is gone or the family has been wiped out by national calamities like disasters or COVID-19, this can visit anybody but society must learn how to overcome those problems once it visits your children.
We are standing here today maybe as Parliamentarians; we never know when AIDS or COVID-19 is going to strike. Maybe it is going to strike everybody in the family and just leave the little ones. These little ones might end up in the streets. What will society do? So, let us not imagine that this problem will always remain somewhere. It might come to visit your own family; it might visit your future generations.
Therefore, the society must be conscientised to look after such people. It must prepare sufficient resettlement areas not to criminalise as was the case with Rhodesians. Of course, to them it was easy because it was criminalising blacks. It was really meant as a discriminatory measure to get blacks off white areas but for us it is our own, it could be our children.
Let us show as Zimbabweans that we can do something different. Let us show that we can integrate these people. Let us clean our streets, send children to school those who need to go to school, and send those who need health attention to hospitals. Let us send adults to resettlement places for they will learn skills that will make them break out of this destitution cycle. With those few words, I thank you.
HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 12th May, 2021.
On the motion of HON. MUTAMBISI seconded by HON. MPARIWA the House adjourned at Twenty Three Minutes past Six o’clock p.m.