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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 12 APRIL 2022 VOL 48 NO 38
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 12th April, 2022.
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
NOMINATIONS TO PORTFOLIO COMMITTEES MEMBERSHIP
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that the following Members have been nominated to serve on the following Committees: - Hon. Munyaradzi Zizhou- Portfolio Committees on Energy and Power Development and the Public Accounts Committee; Hon. Master Makope - Portfolio Committees on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; Hon Davison Masvisvi- Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Public Accounts Committee; Hon Tasara Hungwe- Portfolio Committees on Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development and Industry and Commerce; Hon. Jeremiah Chiwetu- Portfolio Committees on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development and Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation; Hon Nyasha Masoka- Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Public Accounts Committee; Hon Musa Ncube - Portfolio Committees on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises; Hon Zalera Makari- Portfolio Committees on Foreign affairs and International Trade and Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services; Hon. Misheck Mugadza- Portfolio Committees on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Information Communication Technology.
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I also have to inform the House that I have received from the Parliamentary Legal Committee, a Non-Adverse Report on the Labour Amendment Bill [H. B. 14, 2021[.
PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM THE WOMEN’S COALITION OF ZIMBABWE, COMMUNITY YOUTH DEVELOPMENT TRUST AND MEDIA INSTITUTE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
THE HON. SPEAKER: Furthermore, Parliament received the following petitions from the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe of Milton Park, Harare, beseeching Parliament to take the necessary steps to ensure the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprise Development.
The second petition is from the Community Youth Development Trust of Gwanda, beseeching Parliament to exercise its oversight and legislative roles by institutionalising the informal traders and legislating for their protection. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprise Development.
The third petition is from the Media Institute of Southern Africa, beseeching Parliament to conduct an enquiry into the cost of mobile data in Zimbabwe. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services.
HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker - [HON. ZWIZWAI: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Zwizwai, you are a very senior and seasoned Member of Parliament. Please respect the procedures.
HON. TOGAREPI: My point of privilege relates to the unfortunate events that are taking place in South Africa where some of our people have been killed. Some have called this xenophobia and Afro-phobia or whatever it is called. Many people are in deep pain as to how our fellow Zimbabwean was killed in South Africa by the so-called vigilantes. We are deeply pained and it is our hope that the people of South Africa, especially those criminals who are perpetrating this heinous activity stop it and allow for co-existence which will see them doing their work, and Zimbabweans or any other African live in peace. We are however confident that the South African Government has the capacity to deal with these criminals. We hope that this xenophobia or whatever it is called is arrested and no further spilling of blood is seen in South Africa.
Elvis Nyathi was killed in a barbaric way that I have never seen where people beat someone, pour him whether it was, paraffin or petrol – a human being cannot just do that to another human being. What a painful way of dying, may his soul rest in peace. It is our hope that we see peace and those who are perpetrating this violence are dealt with according to the laws of South Africa.
(v)HON. NDUNA: Hon. Speaker Sir, would you not want to make a comment on the issue of national interest if it pleases you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I am not so directed.
HON. PETER MOYO: My heart bleeds Mr. Speaker Sir as we face Uhuru next week. Crimes being committed by members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) show us that there is something very wrong in the ZDF. If we do not handle this issue as a matter of urgency…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, did you say committed by ZDF?
HON. PETER MOYO: Some members of the ZDF and not all of them Mr. Speaker Sir.
Some of the members of the ZDF were arrested and incarcerated for 15 years each. This shows us that there is a very big issue in the ZDF. These people are not properly remunerated. We enjoy the independence that we have today because of these men and women who are protecting us on a daily basis during the day and night. The breakdown of aeroplanes tells you that there is something terribly wrong in the ZDF.
The ZDF is inadequately funded. I take this back to the Minister of Finance. He is responsible for not properly paying the ZDF members. These members of the ZDF …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. There is a point of order.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): My point of order is with regard to the way the Hon. Member is speaking. He is speaking with authority that there is a co-relationship between the committal of crimes and conditions of service. I think he is uttering words that are discouraging the whole defence forces. He should concentrate on issues that he has full knowledge of as opposed to coming here to proffer an opinion that has not been proven.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Member, can you restrict yourself to quantifiable evidence.
HON. PETER MOYO: Mr. Speaker Sir, I think it is also appropriate that you protect me when other people are saying point of order when there is no order. Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is of national interest...
THE HON. SPEAKER: You are saying the Chair has been unprocedural. Please sit down.
HON. PETER MOYO: No, I am not saying that.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you sit down.
HON. BITI: Hon. Speaker, I rise on a point of national interest and I hope that you may direct the Minister of Finance to issue a Ministerial Statement. I rise on my feet on the issue of the importance of gold in our economy. Gold is a stower of value but most importantly, in a country that is struggling with its currency, gold reserves and the gold bullion becomes the backer of the national currency because gold stows value traditionally.
Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the disposal of 60% of our refinery owned by a Reserve Bank subsidiary, Fidelity Printers and Refineries. My question to the ...
HON. MATHE: I rise on my feet on a point of order against what the Hon. Member has already said; to call the Minister to explain what in this country when he is the one with clips of evidence calling for sanctions – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – What does the Hon. Member want the Minister to say honestly? That is my concern. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – What is it that he expects the Minister to say at the expense of sanctions that are draining this country? He has to withdraw what he said to the Americans – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – the costs of sanctions on the economy of this country. We are all suffering in this country because of the sanctions that he requested and this is backed by evidence of the clips. I thank you Mr. Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Biti, can you please proceed – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Members, please sit down. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – [HON. MUNENGAMI: He is scolding us saying a lot of words. Mr. Speaker, it is not fair.] – Hon. Munengami, do not take the floor when you are not recognised. I had recognised Hon. Biti, so can you please sit down.
HON. MUNENGAMI: Thank you Hon. Speaker but the Hon. Member is saying a lot of things.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Biti, can you please wind up.
HON. BITI: Thank you Mr. Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Speaker, I would like the Minister to explain in his statement the rationale of the disposal of the shares in our gold refinery. Secondly, why Parliament approval was not sought –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – before the disposal was made. Thirdly, whether or not due diligence was done. Fourth, point of order is that why the country’s procurement laws were not followed and lastly, what was the purchase price – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! You are not connected – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order!
HON. ZWIZWAI: Mr. Speaker, do you want us to collapse this Parliament? We can equally do that and nobody will speak here. Your role as Chair there is to make sure that Members are heard in silence but if you allow ZANU PF to heckle one of our own when you have recognised him to raise points of national interest, we will not allow that.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. I heard you. Can you sit down – [HON. ZWIZWAI: Maybe they are not respecting you because you are coming from a minority tribe yekuMatonga. Maybe if you were Shona or Zezuru, they would have respected you. It is important for you vanhu veZANU to respect the minorities. Eeeh the Speaker of Parliament comes from the minority tribe yeMatonga and we know kuti muri kuda kuvabvisa pahuSpeaker ipapo.] – Hon. Zwizwai! Can you sit down? Can you switch off your microphone there?
We have now wasted 20 minutes, I am closing the points of order and also the issues of national interest. We have wasted 25 minutes saying nothing – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order!
Hon. Mathe having laughed.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mathe!
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! Next person to make noise, you are out of this House. Can the Minister be heard in silence – [HON. ZWIZWAI: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order. Hon. Zwizwai, out of the House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
Hon. Zwizwai left the Chamber.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 11 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
Hon. Munengami having stood up on a point of order.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Sit down. I said sit down. Can you get out of this Chamber? I have been very indulgent with you. Get out of this Chamber now.
Hon. Munengami left the Chamber
PRIVATE VOLUNTARYO RGANISATIONS AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 10, 2021]
Twelfth Order read: Second Reading: Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [H. B. 10, 2021].
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to deliver my Second Reading Speech on the Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill. Mr. Speaker Sir, the Bill before you today is a very necessary measure to improve the administration, accountability and transparency of charities in our country. The legal word for charity in our country Mr. Speaker is Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO). Under our law, every charity that uses money collected from the public or donated from the foreign Government or foreign agency is required to be registered as a PVO in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisation Act which the Bill before you seeks to amend.
Let me say Mr. Speaker, from the outset that our country benefits very much from the work of those PVOs which operate lawfully within our borders. PVOs provide support for communities in a wide range of areas where the national or local Government for want of resources or expertise has been deficient for any reason. I am speaking Mr. Speaker of support and assistance in the form of programmes, projects, services, goods and money in such sectors as health and education provision, assistance to widows and orphans, the relief of poverty and hunger and the empowerment of women, youth and disabled.
We, as Government are very grateful for the help given by the PVOs. The best PVOs have access to resources, experience and expertise solely needed by the people they benefit. Mr. Speaker Sir, therefore, from the bottom of my heart, I say to them, on behalf of the Government, “Thank you for the good work you are doing and please keep it up!”
Accordingly Mr. Speaker, this Bill does not speak to those law-abiding PVOs I have just mentioned, but to the few who may be tempted to use the guise of charity to carry out undesirable, harmful and even criminal activities. For instance Mr. Speaker, we have received communication from the Financial Action Task Force (which is the world’s policemen against money laundering) that some charitable trusts are being misused as a means for channeling funds to fund terrorism and other criminal activities, or to launder the proceeds of criminal activities by, for instance, buying up properties in Zimbabwe and other countries.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we are also as the Government, aware that some so-called charities act in a politically partisan manner by directing money to favoured political parties or candidates at the expense of other political parties or candidates. Partisan assistance using foreign money or money collected from the public under the guise of charity must never be allowed to influence the outcome of national or local elections. In many developed countries Mr. Speaker, this kind of behaviour is understood to be harmful to the very idea of charity. In the United States for example, you cannot register any organisation as a non-profit organisation for tax purposes if that organisation campaigns or canvasses for any political candidate or party.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is in this context that this Bill seeks to clean up the space within which PVOs may operate. For some time now, the Government has noticed that some so-called charities have completely by-passed the Private Voluntary Organisations Act by forming “trusts” sanctioned by the High Court. This is a devise that is specifically permitted by the Act because originally Mr. Speaker, the Government did not want to discourage families or individuals from forming family or private trusts to benefit family members or members of the public using their own wealth. It is still not our intention Mr. Speaker to impose registration on these kinds of private trusts. However, if it appears that any trust is using for “charity purposes” foreign money not generated by their own activities or investments, or using money collected from members of the public at large, then they must be required somehow to register as a PVO under the Private Voluntary Organisations Act. We want such trusts to be accountable in the eyes of the public on the sources of their funds and the use to which they are put.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I realise that the procedures for registration under the Act need to be streamlined and expedited. This is why some of these charities have chosen the route of forming trusts sanctioned by the High Court. We cannot run the risk of charities of a public character being used as a cover for theft, embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering or partisan political activity.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I will not at this stage, undertake a clause-by-clause analysis of this Bill. The Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill admirably suits that purpose, I encourage Hon. Members to read it carefully. However, we have taken suggestions from stakeholders on how to improve its provisions.
Just yesterday, the Government through me - I personally undertook consultations with Civil Society organisations (CSOs) to improve this Bill. The CSOs indicated their willingness to co-operate with us to improve the Bill in certain key respects. In particular Mr. Speaker Sir, they suggested improvements to the composition of the PVO Board to ensure a fair representation of a cross-section of PVOs and CSOs, from a list of nominees supplied to the Minister by an umbrella organisation of PVOs and CSOs. Mr. Speaker Sir, we are willing to seriously consider their suggestions in that regard. Also, they undertook to explore Committee Stage amendments to the Bill to better refine the Minister’s powers to intervene in the operations of PVOs in a manner more consistent with rights bestowed by our Constitution, especially the freedom of association.
Mr. Speaker Sir, more importantly, the CSOs agreed to assist us with the reformation of Clause 6 of the Bill, which seeks to criminalise the politicization of charitable activities. We do not want our PVOs to operate in a climate of fear in which they feel they may be subjected to criminal prosecution because they might unwittingly involve themselves in partisan political activities. For example Mr. Speaker, we do not wish to punish a PVO for assisting women to become candidates in national and local elections. However, we do look with extreme disfavour upon PVOs that abuse their resources by acting in a partisan manner, for instance by favouring communities on the basis of their supposed or expected political affiliation. Mr. Speaker Sir, we look forward as the Government, to CSOs helping us to frame an appropriate criminal offence in this regard.
With these words, I urge Hon. Members to support this Bill, which is intended to promote a better, safer and more conducive environment for the operation of PVOs in our country. I move that the Bill be now read a second time Mr. Speaker Sir. I thank you.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I understand that the report is not ready. I move for the adjournment of debate so that the Committee can first present their report.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 13th April, 2022.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The responsible Committee, make sure your report is ready.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS: I move that we revert to Orders of the Day, Nos. 8 and 9 on today’s Order Paper.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of order concerns how the Ministers come for a Second Reading. After the submission, he then says ‘is there any debate?’ The Minister says no, it must be moved to the Committee. I think there is a communication breakdown between the Minister and the Committees. What is supposed to happen is; the Minister is supposed to communicate with the Committee first because the mere fact of saying, ‘is there any debate,’ cannot go back to the Minister; we must debate. So the ministers must understand that they must liaise with the Committees so that when you call if there is any debate, the Committee is ready. This happens all the time and I need to be guided by you because I wanted to debate but then it has to go to the Committee. So why do the ministers not talk to the Committees first to say, here is the Second Reading – we are here to debate because the Committee would be ready to debate. This is a culture which I have seen happening but it shows that there is no communication whatsoever. I think through your Office, may that be stopped because it is really disturbing the processes of Parliament at the end of the day.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Committee was not ready and that is why I urged the Committee to make sure that the report is ready because we start with the Committee before any other person can debate.
INSURANCE BILL [H. B. 1, 2021]
Eighth Order read: Second Reading: Insurance Bill [H. B. 1, 2021].
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. I rise to present the second reading for the Insurance Bill [H. B. 1, 2021].
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The Hon. Minister wants to present the Insurance Bill and it is under consideration by the Budget and Finance Committee. We wanted to seek the indulgence of the Hon. Minister that, can it be moved forward so that we can be in a position to have sufficient time for Members to debate after the Committee has submitted this report.
THE HON. SPEAKER: When will the Committee be ready?
HON. MUSHORIWA: It will be ready by tomorrow.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You present tomorrow?
HON. MUSHORIWA: Yes, the Committee is finalising tomorrow and by Thursday, it will be ready. So I am seeking the approval of the Hon. Minister to move the debate to Thursday.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Well, allow the Hon. Minister to make the statement and will adjourn the debate until your Committee presents tomorrow.
HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. I allow the Portfolio Committee to finalise their report so that we can do the Second Reading on Thursday as proposed. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, I said proceed to speak on the Bill. We will adjourn so that tomorrow the Committee can make their presentation. So, proceed.
HON. CHIDUWA: Let me proceed with the Second Reading of the Insurance Bill [H. B. 1, 2021]. Mr. Speaker Sir, I hereby present the Insurance Bill for consideration by this House. Hon. Members, the Insurance Bill is aimed at repealing the Insurance Act [Chapter 24:07], to strengthen regulatory supervision and policy holder protection.
The Insurance and Pensions Commission was established in 2006 following the promulgation of the Insurance and Pensions Commission Act [Chapter 24:21]. The operational Acts namely the Insurance Act and the Pensions and Providence Funds Act [Chapter 24:09], have provisions which are outdated and hence, the need to have provisions that conform to both the regional and international best practices.
The March 2017 Justice Commission led a Commission of Inquiry into the conversions of insurance and pensions values, highlighted the need to review the legislation in order to strengthen the effectiveness of IPEC’s regulatory and monitoring mechanisms to protect policy holders. It is against this background that the Insurance Act is being amended. Mr. Speaker Sir, the Bill covers a range of amendments which are, in terms of the Insurance core principles. I will therefore, with your indulgence, make emphasis on some of the major amendments.
The Bill requires all insurers to engage in only one class of insurance business which therefore means that composite insurance companies writing both short term and life business will no longer be registered as such.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is imperative that financially unsound institutions engage expect assistance for recovery. The current Act does not provide for this, hence the Bill is proposing that registered entities showing signs of distress should be placed under the administration of a curator. The Bill outlines the curator’s powers and duties. The Bill now allows the commission to apply to the High Court for winding up of any registered person with solvents issues who is unable to meet liabilities and continue with the insurance business. The Bill also confers the right to oppose any application by any other person. Provisional liquidators are to be appointed after recommendation from the Commission and Sections 42 to 47 and 49 of the Insolvency Act to apply to liquidators. The clause also provides for IPEC to recommend the appointment of a provisional judicial manager, liquidator or judicial manager for the registered person. The claims of policy holder and IPEC in relation to any fees or expenses incurred in the exercise of its duties in terms of the Act against the person whose estate is being sequestrated or wound up shall enjoy such priority as may be prescribed.
The Bill leavers room for voluntary winding up of a registered person which is to be done upon written approval of the Commission.
Mr. Speaker Sir, another method or change in the Bill is that the Commission will now be able to prescribe minimum and maximum premiums payable in any class of policies. IPEC has experienced situations where a number of insurers charge inadequate premiums to meet claims and other obligations. Indeed, some Government bodies have found themselves doing business with an insurer charging uneconomic premiums only for that insurer to fail to honour its claims. The Bill will now allow IPEC to prescribe payment of minimum premiums after consultations with industry associations.
Prescription of premiums in accordance with the Bill will not affect premiums payable on policies issued before the date on which the minimum and maximum premiums was prescribed.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Bill also provides that the Commission shall maintain or cause to be maintained, a register of each registered person covering insurers, insurance brokers, risk consultancy, loss adjusters, insurance surveyors and any other person required or permitted to be registered or under this Bill.
The Bill also strengthens the regulatory power of the Commission by stating that if a memorandum, articles, constitution or any constitutive document of a board corporate contains a provision that is inconsistency with the Bill, the provision shall be void to the extent of the inconsistency.
The Bill also provides that a person who is not registered and holds himself to be registered or conducts any insurance or insurance related business and a registered person who deals with any unregistered company shall all be guilty and liable to a fine not exceeding level 14 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
The Bill also provides that a juristic person shall be liable to pay a fine for contravening the Act provided that a director or employee of such a juristic person who mainly contravenes this Act shall also be liable to a fine and to an imprison term where the relevant provisions so provide and the commissioner may serve upon the defaulter a civil penalty order of the appropriate category.
The current Act provides that inspection should be done by individuals. This limits the scope of work as bodies such as but not limited to auditors and actuaries may not be engaged as inspectors. The Bill therefore extends the appointments of inspectors to include corporates, firms or associations.
The Bill also seeks to provide for the setting aside by registered persons in a manner satisfactory to the commission, an amount equal to a prescribed percentage of its paid up capital to be deposited to policy holders and pensions and provident and fund members’ protection fund established in terms of the Insurance and Pensions Commission Act.
The Bill has proposed amendments which empower IPEC to ensure that insurers disclose relevant comprehensive and adequate information on a timely basis in order to give policy holders and market participants a clear view of their business activities performance and financial position. This will assist the commission to fulfill its mandate of prudential and market conduct whilst enhancing market discipline. The market will also have access to information on the risks an insurer is exposed to and the manner in which those risks are managed.
With the approval of the Minister, and subsequent publication in the Government Gazette, the Bill also empowers IPEC to come up with regulations covering the following:_ registration of persons carrying on insurance business outside Zimbabwe; requirements to comply with international and regional best practice; requirements such as capital adequacy, risk based supervision, solvency, risk management and corporate governance; accreditation of actuaries; the inclusivity of insurance to low income segments of the population in terms of cost, scope, coverage and delivery through micro insurance.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Bill be now read for a second time. I thank you. - [HON. MLISWA: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): I think I am so much respecting you. We need to have a triangular relationship in this august House.
HON. T. MLISWA: I do not know if you could hear my voice from this side.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You are supposed to be quiet and take your seat so that other Hon. Members listen to the debate attentively.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Thursday, 14th April, 2022.
INSURANCE AND PENSIONS COMMISSION AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 6, 2021]
Ninth Order read: Second Reading: Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill [H. B. 6, 2021].
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I hereby present the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) Bill for consideration by this House.
Hon. Members, the IPEC Bill seeks to amend the IPEC Act [Chapter 24:21]. Regulatory reforms in the insurance and pensions industry have not kept pace with the dynamic changes being experienced in both the domestic and global financial markets, driven mainly by technological innovation and the development of new financial instruments. These changes have resulted in new ways of doing business that call for legislative amendments to align with market developments, minimise regulatory gaps and arbitrage.
The current legislative framework cannot address observed weaknesses in the insurance and pensions industry. In recent years, we have witnessed poor corporate governance practices and failure by insurers and pension funds to meet policy holder and member expectations. Regulatory inadequacies were also identified through the 2012 assessment done by experts from the SADC Secretariat on the level of compliance of the country’s insurance and pension legislation to the regulatory standards set by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and the International Organisation of Pension Funds (IOPS). Therefore, benchmarking Zimbabwe’s legislation to these standards forms part of the basis of the proposed amendments.
The Bill covers a range of amendments. I will therefore, with your indulgence, make emphasis on some of the major proposals. The Bill under Section 4 was amended to provide for the functions of the Commission. This is done to provide the Commission with additional powers in its mandate of supervising, regulating and monitoring the industry.
Another notable change in the Bill is that IPEC will now have the power of accreditation of certain service providers in the insurance and pensions industry such as actuaries, auditors and asset managers.
The Commission was in the past faced with the challenge of having inadequate board members to fulfil the Commission’s mandate and there was therefore the need to increase the number of board members and the need to also provide for adequate and diverse skills in line with Section 11 (7) of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act [Chapter 10:31]. The Bill proposes to amend the Act by increasing the number of maximum members from five to seven.
The board will have a balance of skills mix which should at a minimum include insurance and pension industry expertise, actuarial, legal, finance, regulatory background, human resources management, information technology and any other expertise as may be required.
The current IPEC Act does not define what amounts to conflict of interest. The Bill proposes to remedy that by amending the Act through adding disqualifying criteria for persons who can be appointed as members of the Commission’s board to include persons who are under the employment of any other such body or organisation under the supervision and regulation of the Commission or any organisation associated with an entity under the supervision and regulation of the Commission or a person with significant conflict of interest to perform his or her duties independently. Conflict of interest is now defined in the Bill to include the following situations:
A member of a board of a regulated entity or employee of a regulated entity;
Direct or indirect ownership of more than five per centum of shareholding in the regulated entity or
Close relations to any person employed in the regulated entity or a controlling stake in the regulated entity.
There was need to amend the IPEC Act to make it explicit that all non-executive board members must be independent. Individuals with significant conflict of interests should not be appointed as board members. The Bill further provides instances which may result in vested interests such as being a member of the holding or subsidiary of the insurance company and/or pension fund.
Mr. Speaker, the current Act provides the term of office of board members to be three years only and is not in line with Section 11 of the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act [Chapter 10:31] in terms of the tenure of office. The Bill proposes that a board member can serve for up to four years and be eligible for renewal for only one term, in line with the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act.
The Bill also removes the requirement of a board seat to be reserved for the Secretary of the respective Ministry, to comply with Section 11 (5) of the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act.
Mr. Speaker, another notable change in the Bill is that the Bill now makes it mandatory to establish certain committees such as the Audit Committee. It is critical that the regulator has the requisite committees to enable effective supervision. The responsibility of each sub-committee will clearly be stipulated in the regulations which the Minister can prescribe from time to time.
The Bill has also removed the current reference to the Commissioner in his/her individual capacity and now makes reference to the Commission as an entity. The Bill also now provides for insurance brokers which were previously covered and extends the scope to include new types of entities that may fall under IPEC.
Mr. Speaker, the Bill proposes an insertion of a new Part 11A which provides for provisions relating to the Commission’s cooperation with other authorities, treatment of records obtained from foreign law enforcement authorities, sharing of privileged information provided to the Commission. This provides for agreements to be put in place which will allow for cooperation in investigations, enforcement, and harmonisation of laws, exchanging information and handling of such information, including privileged information.
Another notable proposal that the Bill brings, is the introduction of a Policy holder and Pensions and Provident Fund Members Protection Fund. The new provision creates the parameters of setting up and administering a Policy holder Protection Fund. The purpose of the fund is to compensate policy holders and fund members for losses directly incurred by them in the event of a contributor becoming insolvent.
The Policy holder Protection Fund will consist of, amongst other sources, contributions from insurers registered in terms of the Insurance Act, pension funds registered in terms of the Pensions and Provident Fund Act and other sources such as donations.
Mr. Speaker, the Bill introduces a new section 32A whose purpose is to remove personal liability for the actions of IPEC Board, management, staff, and inspectors appointed in terms of the Insurance Act and/or Pensions and Provident Fund Act unless such acts are done intentionally and are grossly negligent.
The Bill also ushers in the introduction of Section 32B. This section gives the Commission the responsibility to maintain a register of assets of its regulated entities. Disposal of these assets will require written notification of the Commission and supporting documentation (valuations and reasons for disposal).
With the coming in of the Bill, the Commission will have powers to stay any disposal where disposal is considered to not be in the interests of the policyholders. In conclusion Mr. Speaker, I move that the debate do not adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Thursday, 14th April, 2022.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 10 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 11 has been disposed of.
HON. L. SIBANDA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
AMENDMENT OF STATE UNIVERSITIES STATUTES BILL [H. B.13, 2021]
Eleventh Order read: Second reading: Amendment of State Universities Statutes Bill [H. B.13, 2021].
Following the publication of The Amendment of State Universities Statutes Bill [H. B.13, 2021] was gazetted on 7 January 2022, the Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development considered the Bill in terms of Standing Order 20(b) which enjoins the Committee to consider and deal with Bills or and Statutory Instruments or other matters which are referred to it by or under a resolution of the House or by the Speaker. After that, the Committee conducted public hearings on the said Bill. The Bill seeks to amend the thirteen State Universities Acts. In its memorandum, the Bill states it aims to align the university statutes with the Constitution to bring uniformity and harmonisation to all State universities.
In compliance with Section 141 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Committee conducted Public Hearings on the Bill from 14 to 18 March 2022. Six universities, namely; Lupane State University, the National University of Science and Technology, Midlands State University, Great Zimbabwe University, Manicaland University of Applied Sciences, and the University of Zimbabwe, were physically visited for the public consultations. In partnership with the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust, the Committee held a consultative workshop on 6 April 2022 at Crowne Plaza Hotel. This workshop targeted representatives from the universities that were left out in the public hearings.
SPECIFIC SUBMISSIONS ON THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
Clause 1 of Masvingo State University
This clause applies only to Masvingo State University Act as it seeks to change the name of the University from Masvingo State University to Great Zimbabwe University. There was no objection to the clause.
Clause 2 of Masvingo State University which is Similar to Clause 1 of NUST, 1 of Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), 1 of Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (MUAST), 1 of Lupane State University (LSU), 1 of Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), 1 of Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), 1 of Gwanda State University (GSU), 1 of Harare Institute of Technology (HIT)
The clause provides for the objects of the university to include the five pillars of Education 5.0 most of the submissions suggested that the clause should be expanded to include how innovation was going to be funded.
Clause 3 of Masvingo State University which is similar to Clause 2 of NUST, 2 of ZOU, 2 of MSU, 2of MUAST, 2 of LSU, 2 of BUSE 2 of CUT, 2 of GSU and 2 of HIT.
Tt provides for the University Council which shall consist of not less than ten (10) and not more than twenty (20) members. Most respondents welcomed this amendment as a step in the right direction as it promotes efficiency, however, representatives of student movements expressed disappointment that the clause provides for the inclusion of the President of the Student Union only to represent all students. Students opined that this was a typical case of underrepresentation. Students, therefore, submitted that there is need to increase the number of students who sit in the council to at least three, that is, the President, the Secretary General and/ the Gender Secretary.
Several submissions highlighted that the number of Council Members appointed by the Minister should be reduced from 10 appointees to five inclusive of the Ministry’s representative. Further, it was suggested that the title of the student representative under the amendment of section 10 should clearly read, “President of the Student Representative Council,” instead of “President of the Student Union” as highlighted in the Bill. Students noted that the Bill talks about “fair regional representation” however, they submitted that the conceptualisation of the phrase was not clear hence the phrase should be expanded to clearly conceptualise its meaning or be removed from the Bill completely.
Some submissions voiced concern over the overemphasis on the University Council and its silence when it comes to other important organs like the University Senate. Those of this opinion submitted that the Ministry should also address how the Senate was going to be aligned to the new philosophy of Education 5.0.
Under the amendment of Section 10, the public emphasised that the attendance of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor should not be at the mercy of the Vice-Chancellor but the former must be obliged to attend. It was therefore recommended to delete the word “may” under the amended Section 10 (1) (a) with “should” to make it obligatory for the Pro-Vice Chancellor to attend Council meetings.
The Committee heard that there should be an intersection of the Senate and the Council by appointing at least eight members of the Council from the Senate. It was submitted that Senate was an integral pillar of the university and its members should be included in the Council. Further, the public opined that in the spirit of inclusivity, the appointment of the Council members should take into consideration appointment of people with disabilities.
Clause 4 and 5 of Masvingo State University which is similar to Clauses 3 & 4 of NUST, 3& 4 of ZOU, 1&2 of PAMUST, 3&4 of MSU, 3 of MUAST, 3&4 of MSUAS, 3&4 of LSU, 3&4 of BUSE, 3&4 of CUT, 3&4 of GSU and 3&4 of HIT; provides for the appointment of the Bursar and Librarian by the Council with the approval of the Minister. Some members of the public expressed concern that the approval of appointments by the Ministry was tantamount to excessive Government control of the institutions thereby striking at the institutions’ autonomy. Those aligned to the foregoing argument submitted that the Council alone should have the sole right to select and appoint qualified persons through “competitive procedures.”
Some respondents suggested that the Minister must not be given any power to disapprove or approve the appointments of any executive post, rather the University Councils should have full authority to appoint top university officers and notify the Minister in writing of their decisions. The public submitted that allowing the Minister to approve or disapprove appointment of the executive officer would cripple impartiality, transparency, and meritocracy as the decisions of the Minister might be influenced by political or other interests. Further, the public observed that Minister’s approval or disapproval of executive posts appointment was ultra vires the current Public Entities Act [Cap 20: 07] Section 18 (2) which stipulates that where the board of a public entity appoints a senior staff, it shall cause written notice of the appointment to be sent to the line minister without delay. The public submitted that similarly the Universities Council should have the right to appoint to officers and then send a letter of notification to the Minister.
The public also picked some inconsistencies and discrepancies where the Bill gave differing provisions on supposedly similar issues which should be homogeneous. Cases in point were that Clauses 2 and 3 of the Harare Institute of Technology respectively talk about an Institute Board and a Financial Director. This is in contradistinction to the rest of other universities where the terms used are Council instead of Institute Board and Bursar instead of Financial Director. The public opined that such variations defeated any semblance of uniformity projected by the Ministry. It was suggested that for uniformity’s sake, the terms should be uniform across all the universities, if the intention of the Ministry was to harmonise and bring uniformity to the terminology used in the institutions.
Some submissions received voiced the logic of having 13 different statutes if the purpose of the Bill was to bring uniformity to all 13 institutions. The public opined that the ministry should come up with a consolidated and composite Universities Statutes Bill which does not fragment but seeks to amalgamate the miscellaneous independent statutes.
The public also criticised what they called archaic and simplistic nomenclatures used to refer to some posts as failing to capture the dynamic nature of the posts in the modern era. It was suggested that titles; ‘Librarian and Bursar’ were now out of step with modernity and do not capture the essence of those posts. Some suggested Chief Finance Officer or Financial Director should replace Bursar while the title Librarian should be replaced by Chief Director of Information Management. Some submissions highlighted that the title ‘Vice-Chancellor’ should be replaced by ‘Chief Executive Officer’ and going down the ladder Chairpersons of Departments should be called Departmental Managers. Such change of names, submitted the public, was the new thinking enshrined in the New Management Theory which states that if you want to enhance performance at a public institution, you must undertake the quasi privatisation of key aspects of public entity operations.
Clause 6 of Masvingo State University which is similar to clause 6 of ZOU, 3 of PAMUST, 5 of MSU, 5 of MUAST, 5 of MSUAS, 5 of LSU, 5 of BUSE, 5 of CUT, 5 of GSU, and 5 of HIT;
The amendment provides that the conditions of service are as stipulated in the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01]. There was no objection to this amendment.
Clause 7 of Masvingo State University which is similar to Clause 5 of NUST, 8 of ZOU, 4 of PAMUST, 7 of MSU, 7 of MUAST, 7 of MSUAS, 7 of LSU, 7 of BUSE, 7 of CUT, 7 of GSU and 6 HIT; provides for the Student Disciplinary Committee to include a registered Legal Practitioner. At NUST the public picked an inconsistency where the summary to clause 5 highlighted the inclusion of a Legal Practitioner in the Student Disciplinary Committee, however, in the actual amendment of Section 25 of the NUST Act, there is no mention of the Legal Practitioner. The public hence submitted that the Legal Practitioner should be expressly included under the amended Section 25 of the parent Act.
The public also further, quizzed if the Legal Practitioner was going to be an external or internal practitioner. Most of the views opined that an external legal practitioner is likely to be impartial and hence the appointment should be informed by the need to preserve impartiality and objectivity. The public also submitted that an external Legal Practitioner would reduce costs since he or she would be engaged on a need-basis not as a permanent employee of the institution. In addition, the public submitted that state universities must provide for legal practitioners to represent students in disciplinary hearings or facilitate a fund for such arrangements. Moreover, it was highlighted student representatives must be present at student disciplinary hearings so that they can assess if the students have been given a fair and just chance to present their cases.
It was also suggested that the Disciplinary Committee must include all 16 officially recognised languages as working languages of the Committee and the provision must be stated explicitly in the Amendment Bill.
Other members of the public noted minor errors which have the negative impact on the gender lenses of the Bill. It was observed that the amendment of Section 26 on the Staff Disciplinary Committee of several universities continuously referred to a “Chairman” instead of the more ungendered title, ‘Chairperson.’ The public, therefore, called for the deletion of the word Chairman and be replaced with Chairperson.
Clause 8 of Masvingo State University which is similar to 6 of NUST, 9 of ZOU, 5 of PAMUST, 8 of MSU, 8 of MUAST, 8 of MSUAS, 8 of LSU, 8 of BUSE, 8 of CUT, 8 of GSU and 7 of HIT; provides for the removal of the Chairperson of Council and the Vice Chancellor from the Finance Committee. Submissions, notably from Vice-Chancellors, suggested that the amendment was problematic. As such, the Vice-Chancellor should retain his or her Finance Committee since he or she is held accountable to any financial consequences to which he was not part and parcel. However, some members of the public welcomed this amendment as they said it brought with it transparency and objectivity in universities financial matters. In the same vein, other submissions noted that the Vice Chancellor and Chairperson of Council must remain in the Finance Committee of the University Council as they have a crucial role to play in the financial management of the university.
Clause 9 of Masvingo State University which is similar to 7 of NUST, 10 of ZOU, 6 of PAMUST, 5 of UZ, 9 of MSU, 9 MUAST, 9 of MSUAS, 9 of LSU, 9 of BUSE, 9 of CUT, 9 of GSU and HIT; provides for the four-year term limit for external members of Council. The public welcomed this amendment.
Clause 7 of ZOU, 6 of MSU, 6 of MUAST, 6 of MSUAS, 6 of LSU, 6 of BUSE, 6 of CUT, 6 of GSU; provides for appointment of the Staff Disciplinary Committee and disciplinary action procedures. It was recommended that the Staff Disciplinary Procedures should be synchronised with the procedures laid down in the Labour Act. The public further suggested that the Chairperson should not be someone appointed internally by the Vice-Chancellor as there were fears that he or she would be ‘captured.’ Rather, the public suggested, the Chairperson should be someone appointed from outside the rank and file of the university. Some suggested that a Retired Judge who is neutral could make an ideal candidate for the post. Further, it was suggested that most of the committee members should be people versed in law.
The public submitted that the following should constitute the Staff Disciplinary Committee; the Pro-Vice Chancellor, representative from the Workers' Committee/Associations, a registered legal practitioner to act as an arbitrator and a representative from the human resources section. Other submissions submitted that the quorum of the Committee should be increased from two to three.
Clause 5 of ZOU; provides for the removal of the post of the Information Technologist from the ZOU Statute. The public underscored that the move was flawed and was not in sync with the spirit of Education 5.0. It was submitted that Information Communication Technology Systems (ICTs) had become an integral part particularly for the internationalisation and survival of higher and tertiary education institutions as such the ICT Governance should be reflected in all statutes. The public bemoaned the failure, by the Ministry, to realise that universities are increasingly becoming digitalised. The public submitted that it was paradoxical that the Ministry was pushing innovation on the one hand and then seek to undo appointment of a post which epitomises the embrace of the digitalised 4th Industrial Revolution by the institutions. The public opined that ZOU as the premier university for Long Distance eLearning, therefore, relies heavily in ICTs to deliver and the position of the Information Technologist is of paramount importance. It was from this backdrop that the public concluded that the post of Information Technologist should be designated a principal post and should be left intact.
The public applauded the 1998 ZOU Act which introduced the post of Information Technology and argued that the drafters had the virtue of farsightedness. Respondents that supported this move opined that undoing such a positive gesture 24 years latter was anachronistic and defies logic. The public, therefore, submitted that the post of Information Technologist should be introduced at the executive level in all other state universities. The public queried the essence of maintaining the position of librarian, a position which they alleged to be outmoded given the shift from the traditional concept and space of library, and at the same time downplaying the import of the Information Technologist post, a post which they argued was speaking to the modern way of learning and the general modus operandi of the institutions worldwide.
General Observations by the Public
Some members of the public opined that the Bill purports to bring uniformity to university statutes, however, the very same universities have different niches and bringing homogeneity to such universities will defeat the peculiar nature of the institutions.
Other submissions criticised the move to create uniformity on the number of designate posts across all institutions, a move they described as retrogressive and devoid of any empirical basis to warrant such a proposition. Supporters of this view submitted that it was wrong to force universities to have similar executive structure and the Ministry should move away from the traditional executive structure of the; Vice Chancellor, pro-vice chancellor(s), bursar, librarian and registrar. It was submitted that universities should be allowed the flexibility of coming up with their executive structures which take into consideration their unique natures.
The students noted the absence of any reference to academic freedom in all clauses and that it was an indictment on the utility of academic freedom in the everyday running of universities. They opined that academic freedom was at the centre of higher learning hence one of the clauses should address how universities and the Government were going to guarantee academic freedom.
The public bemoaned the lack of clarity on who was the actual employer of the university staff. The staff submitted that there was confusion on whether the staff was employed by the Council or the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development. This, the staff submitted, negatively impacted on the establishment of a negotiating forum between the employer and the employees. The staff, therefore, recommended that the Bill should unequivocally state who the employer of university staff was to avoid this ambiguity.
The public felt that the Bill was silent about awarding individuals who excel in the fields of innovation and research. Such awards, the Committee heard, were critical in encouraging staff to be innovative.
COMMITTEE’S OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Committee observed that the Bill still seeks to maintain the same university governance structures of the universities which have existed since independence. This does not take into consideration the disjuncture in the operations of the universities since the establishment of the universities and the nexus between Education 5.0 and the use of ICTs.
The Committee recommends, to the Ministry, that there is no harm in including an ICT post under the designated posts. The Committee feels that ICT should be part of the Government’s broader policy given the digitalised learning environment, including such a post under designated executive posts in all state universities will be a step in the right direction. Such a move will catapult State Universities towards embracing modern learning methodologies. Hence, the Information Technologist can give strategic advice and direction on how universities can grow with digitalisation in mind (digital mainstreaming of policy and decision making).
It was noted that the Bill is silent on issues of academic freedom which is enjoyed by both students and university staff. The Committee further observed that academic freedom is the bedrock of disruptive innovations and research and failure to clearly articulate this in the parent act governing the institutions would be a failure on the part of the Ministry. Section 61 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe protects academic freedom as a fundamental human right and academic freedom broadly means the freedom of members of universities and similar academic communities to research, study and teach what they consider to be appropriate. Academic freedom includes (a) freedom of the academic community to express themselves as enquirers after knowledge and truth in a manner consistent with professional standards of enquiry. It includes freedom to teach, to conduct research and to publish their views, (b) institutional autonomy of the university, which entails a corresponding right and obligation on the university to protect the freedom of its academic staff. While universities are entitled to determine teaching standards, they must protect their staff against external pressures that seek to limit their freedom, and (c) an obligation on the State to respect and protect academic freedom in both the other two aspects.
The Committee recommends the inclusion of a clause which expressly provides and guarantees academic freedom. Such important provision should be included in the parent Act and not necessarily wait to find its way in individual university rules and regulations documents.
The Committee concurs with the public that streamlining the Universities Council was commendable and a positive step towards good corporate governance system. Having noted this, the Committee shared the same sentiments that, with only the president of the SRC in the Council, students are heavily underrepresented given the utility of the Council in the decision-making process of resolutions which affects the generality of the students.
Recalling the accusations, from the students, of how the voice of the students are not usually heard in key decisions the Committee underscores the need for the Bill to increase the number of students in the University Councils to be at least three members. The Committee reiterates that the students are an integral stakeholder of the university body politic hence inclusivity can assure the smooth governance of the institutions.
The Committee observes that the Bill is silent on how the Councils or the Senate will achieve 50/50 gender representation in line with the constitutional provisions.
The committee recommends the Bill should state clearly that council composition will be 50/50 in terms of gender representation in line with Section 17 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The Committee notes that most submissions called for the inclusion of a Retired Judge to preside over staff and students’ disciplinary proceedings. The Committee understands the utility of such legal people in disciplinary hearings. However, the Committee is also cognizant of how it can be difficult to have Retired Judges readily available to preside over the disciplinary proceedings.
The Committee recommends that beyond Retired Judges, the institutions should also work with Retired Magistrates who are relatively in abundance as compared to Judges. This will widen the pool of legal persons.
The idea to align the statutes governing universities is highly commended especially if such amendments bring the need to transform the governance system, promote inclusivity and revolutionise innovation and industrialisation. The Committee is emphatically convinced that such aspirations can only be achieved when there is a general and mutual consensus from the stakeholders and parties which will be directly affected by the amendments, hence it calls for the Ministry to look diligently into the suggestions made by the public. I so submit Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. T. MOYO: Hon. Speaker Sir, I want to add my voice to the Report that has been presented in the House by Hon. Lindiwe Maphosa on Amendment of the State Universities Statutes Bill [H. B. 13, 2021]. I will start with Clause 1. Clause 1 provides for the objects of the universities to include pillars of Education 5.0. The pillars include teaching, research and service to the community, innovation and industrialisation.
I find this Bill very important because when it is enacted into an Act of Parliament or law, we are likely to see a lot of fast tracking in terms of innovation happening in the already existing innovation hubs that have been established in universities. There is going to be a lot of research in those innovation hubs and laboratories which will prompt, lead to or pave way to industrialisation and modernisation of Zimbabwe.
I will also talk about the titles given to Vice Chancellors, Pro-Vice Chancellors, librarians, Registrar, Bursar and so on. From the visits that we conducted throughout Zimbabwe, there is a general feeling by the public that these titles are now old, so they want new titles to be given. For example, Vice Chancellor should be given the title Chief Executive Officer because he is the one who will be directing and presiding over most of the activities at the university. The Bursar can be given a title like Director of Finance and so on. We found that to be prudent and important that we should move with time. Just like the Dean of faculties, for example the Dean of the Faculty of Education or of Science, those titles have been there for many years and we need to move with time. So name suggestions could be a manager of a particular faculty, Faculty Manager in terms of Law, Social Science, Education and so on. Those suggestions were given by the public.
I will talk about Clause 2, ‘University Council shall consist of not less than 10 members and not more than 20 members.’ Mr. Speaker Sir, in the past, University Councils could consist of 40 to 50 members and that was found to be retrogressive. If we compress the numbers to 10, between 10 and 20, it means there is going to be efficiency in the execution of duties in those particular councils. So, I also want to support the Bill in that we need to restrict the figures to between 10 and 20 to bring about efficiency and effectiveness in the council.
On Clause 8, which provides for the removal of the Chairperson of Council and the Vice Chancellor from the Finance Committee, I think that is not a good clause because the Vice Chancellor is like a Chief Executive Officer who has a mandate to ensure that the day to day business of universities progresses smoothly. I suggest that the role of the Chief Executive Officer and the Chairperson of Council should be retained in the Finance Committee because they have a lot of responsibilities. The vision of the university is driven by those two members to ensure that business of the university is conducted in a very good way. I will go on to talk about Section 61, which protects academic freedom in our universities and which is fundamental to the running of universities. The public felt that academic freedom is not explicitly stated in the Bill but when we talk of academic freedom, we are saying that faculties should decide their research activities and should also have the autonomy to consider bodies of knowledge. Whatever is taught in universities will be determined by those faculties.
However, the Bill is not against academic freedom. The Bill should support academic freedom which should happen in universities, students, professors are free to decide whatever they want to teach, research on, field trips and so on.
I will now talk about the issue regarding who should preside over disciplinary hearings. According to the Bill, if there are any misdemeanors by members of staff, the Vice Chancellor will appoint a pro-vice chancellor to preside over disciplinary hearings. So, from the universities that we visited especially at Manicaland State University there was an outcry that people felt that the pro-vice chancellor is a senior position, so if he or she is given the mandate to preside over disciplinary hearings, they felt threatened by the boss. So, suggestions given were that the Bill should include the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing to be a retired judge or a magistrate because there are so many magistrates who have retired from service.
Then the Bill is silent about rewarding individuals who excel in terms of research and innovation. We want the Bill to be specific and to be explicit, it should state exactly those who carry out those important studies and who are going to publish their findings. There must be some form of rewards which should be given to professors and students who do very well in their field of study. So, they need to be rewarded as a way of encouraging hard work and innovation among university students and professors.
Finally, I find this Bill to be very important because it is going to pave way to innovation industrialisation and modernisation which is the expectation and mission of the Second Republic. The Second Republic’s mandate and vision according to His Excellency, the President is to bring about reforms which will see Zimbabwe quickly industrialising. For industrialisation to take place, there has to be a lot of innovations, a lot of hard work which should take place in the innovation hubs. Industrialisation will also lead to employment of graduates, semi-skilled, unskilled people and that will contribute to the economic development of Zimbabwe.
(v)HON. S. BANDA: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to also add my voice to the voices that have been raised by the mover of the motion, Hon. Maphosa who is a student herself at a university so she is speaking from the heart.
Firstly, I want to discuss the issue of people with disabilities. I note that whilst the Bill makes an effort to say 50/50 on gender, while the Bill seeks to remove marginalisation of regions by disabled representation, there is very little to do on people with disabilities. Statistics show that about 50% of the world is people with disabilities. So, I was also hoping that the Hon. Minister would also consider stating in the Bill directly that a portion of whatever positions could be available, set aside for people with disabilities.
I also want to support the motion which was brought up by the Hon. Chairperson, Hon. Maphosa which stated that the numbers of students who are in the councils are also key effective. These universities and colleges are there specifically for students. So, I also support that there should be an increase to at least 3 members of the council from the students themselves so that they can decide on their own future.
Globalisation and internationalisation of higher education, I note with concern that there is an attempt to make more state universities. If you go to other countries, you find that there are international, local and regional universities. So, we really need the Bill to state transparent platforms so that we identify which universities are national, international and regional. The University of Zimbabwe and NUST among others used to be among the top 50 universities in the world but now they are not even counted because they have made all universities to be the same. So, I am imploring on the Minister to make sure that while we are talking of innovation, technology, let us not make all things equal. Let us have global universities with global standards. So, this Bill must also have that platform whereby we do not make all oranges, oranges but we make oranges we make apples and we differentiate depending on what they provide.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me commend the mover of the motion for a job well done on this critical issue which is the hub of the country in terms of moving forward. Let me repeat Hon. Prof Murwira’s adage that development today’s technology is quite critical in a lot of things that we do. Education dominates technology and that is critical because the world that we are living in today is about technology. I am glad that the Minister puts that as a very critical issue in terms of moving forward. That is the world that we are in.
It is important that resources are accounted for. Tertiary institutions must be well resourced. They must be allocated resources which most of the institutions that have benefited from these resources such as mining and farms have under-utilised them. I think this whole research and development resides. There is no nation that can develop without research and development. I propose that in our National Budget, can there be a percentage that goes to research and development the same way we talk about a certain percentage going to health. May there be a certain percentage that goes to research and development.
We also need to uphold our heritage culture and tradition. Heritage, culture and tradition are quite important. He has spoken about rapid industrialisation which is true in terms of what we have seen on the ground and what universities are able to do in terms of Education 5.0. It has been exciting to see a lot of new things happening, which we never saw before. We wonder what the other ministers were doing when they were in office because clearly, there has been an education revolution where people are able to create jobs for themselves rather than waiting for the job.
Education 3.0 moved to Education 5.0. I am going to do this for other members who are not as gifted intellectually like others – Education 1.0 is teaching; Education 2.0 is research; Education 3.0 is community service; Education 4.0 is innovation and Education 5.0 is industrialisation. I hope that with so much knowledge that I have today, if there was a quiz, probably only three people would get this right but at times you wonder when Hon. Members are heckling – is it a noise of brilliance or of some lack of certain things. This is where we must be focussing on – Education 5.0 which requires a lot. In terms of uniforms, there are a lot of issues which need to be considered at the end of the day.
On appointment of board members, it must be based on merit. I commend the Minister because he is the first Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education who has not participated in student politics. Most of them went there to do student politics; ZICOSU, ZINASU and so on. For the first time, there is no student politics which is associated with the Minister. He is an academic. I must applaud the President for all that. I always joke with him and say I never want you to win a constituency. I am one of the people who pray that you lose so that you focus on this portfolio. If he had a constituency and was running this Ministry, he would not have the time to do that. That is why we say those five non-constituency positions be given to technocrats – here is a true technocrat. I wish many more would be like that. I want to once again commend the President for that and also congratulate the Hon. Minister Prof. Murwira for his discipline and dedication to ensure that this country is taken to another level.
I think merit has got to be used when appointing board members and that is important. What I do not see in most of these institutions which has to be done is career guidance. The reason why most children leave and go overseas is because those universities advertise themselves. Why are our universities not having career guidance through going to various high schools in the country and tell children what they offer. We are known to be an education hub.
There is education and health tourism. People go to India where they are treated and that is health tourism where they are treated. Zimbabwe must be making money and charging overseas students foreign currency which these institutions need to be able to run certain things. You can ask anybody from the University of Zimbabwe the education reputation we have as a nation – why are we not riding on that in terms of us marketing ourselves? The South African, Zambian and Mozambican education is nowhere near Zimbabwe education. We must be able to speak to other SADC countries encouraging them to come and learn here and pay us in foreign currency because what you get is a good product.
If you look at the captains of industry in South Africa, they are Zimbabweans – Old Mutual, MTN; these are conglomerates which are listed on many stock exchanges but they are run by Zimbabweans. Just recently, the Vice Chairperson of Google is Zimbabwean – James Manyika and was in partnership with Mackenzie. He went to Prince Edward School and University of Zimbabwe. Prof. Mutambara is also an academic. He has been through the University of Zimbabwe and Oxford University. One of the people involved with the vaccine Pfizer is Zimbabwean.
That is why I am saying there should be a certain amount of money on the budget which must go towards research and development – be it agriculture or civil engineering. We must be on top of the situation. People must be coming here to see. I propose that at least one percent of the total budget must go to research and development because we all need it in every sector; be it health, transport, agriculture and all that.
On the gender balance issue, Section 17 is very clear but the problem is that the laws are there to support women to be in power and they are not being complied with. There is no enforcement. When laws are there to empower them, who else should be pushing for that? There is a total of 55% of women in the country but they do not vote for each other. It is their choice – so democracy speaks. Women should be in the corridors of power and boards detecting the future because they are the majority at the end of the day.
Hon. Banda spoke about the disabled, 10-15%; why are they not sitting on these boards? Why are they being left out? We must come up with an institution for the disabled, a university for the disabled with amenities that suit them and not to tailor-make and so forth. It does not work.
HON. MAPHOSA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir, the terminology, they are now particular with being called disabled or living with disabilities. The correct terminology is ‘persons with disability’.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Okay, may you stand guided Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: I am the patron for the National Council for the Disabled Persons and they actually do not like me using ‘living with disability’, you are right. They want to be called they are disabled. I am the patron, so I cannot make a mistake on that. They do not want any excuses. They are disabled. I am the patron Honourable, I do not know if you knew that. So, I would not be insensitive about that – [HON. MAPHOSA: I am also in the Steering Committee kana takuudzana zvema lokhuzeni, Steering Committee of people with disabilities, so the terminology is ‘persons with disability’]...
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Maphosa, I did not give you the floor. You cannot dialogue with the contributor.
HON. MAPHOSA: Sorry Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. T. MLISWA: The disabled must be given an opportunity to sit on these boards so that there is also that balance. The SRCs, I like the fact that there must be students in the boards. Students must be represented. There is no way we can have a council without students and what I propose is that if there are elections, numbers one and two sit there so that there is a checking system. We do not want a situation where ZICOSU or ZINASU wins and it is always ZICOSU and ZINASU. If there are elections, if number one is ZICOSU and ZINASU number two, then they sit. If number one is ZINASU, number two is ZICOSU they sit. If YARD is number one and number two is ZICOSU, then we have all that. It is important that there is representation of the students at the end of the day in what goes on.
I want to also zero-in on the tenure of Vice Chancellors. The President is the Chancellor and enjoys two terms. Why should the Chancellors not enjoy two terms too? There is no continuity there. If we believe that the President of a country must have two terms, why are we limiting the terms of the Vice Chancellors? There is no logic there. You Members of Parliament do not have terms, whether you lose or not, whether you are developing or not, you keep going on. Why do you want to give a shorter term to the academia which requires planning and futuristic approach? The President’s terms must also be in compliance with the terms of the Vice Chancellors and that is very important as that is continuity because the prerogative to appoint lies in the President’s Office. The President has the prerogative to appoint or disappoint. I do not think we really want a situation where - because there are a lot of things and research can take a lot of time, you know that. It is not about five years. You can be at something for years until it comes out. So, I believe the two terms are quite important at the end of the day.
Then the Vice Chancellor, the report which was tabled spoke about the Vice Chancellor not sitting on the Finance Committee. I would say the Vice Chancellors must be ex-officio members of each committee. They must know what is going on. They might not chair but they must be ex-officio members so that they contribute and know what is going on. Yes, chairing I totally agree but being an ex-officio member is important because you cannot have somebody chairing again and at the same time they are Vice Chancellor, then how does oversight work? It becomes difficult in that regard. I believe that they must be ex-officio members of every committee so that they know what is going on and all that.
I will go now to the controversial term before I close. I googled the word ‘Chairman’ and the definition of chairman by Google search is “a chairman is the leader of business meeting or group. The chairman oftenly opens a meeting by addressing the group and explains what the agenda would be. Charities, clubs and boards or companies have a chairman who acts as the President or leader.” Then I went a step further to say why is it called chairman. My sister provoked me to go deeper and Google search says when the word “chairman” showed up in the mid-17th Century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it referred to occupier of a chair of authority.
You know, it is great when you research. To me, that is what it means. It does not talk about gender. It talks about authority and that is why I am saying we need to educate the public there, that being a chairperson whether you are a woman or not, you occupy a chair of authority. So now when you say because it is a woman you must say chairperson is wrong; if it is a woman chairing, we might as well say chairwoman. You cannot bring that in. I think we need to educate the public on that. I am glad it came from the public but it does not make any sense at all. Chairman is good and we want to see women in the chair and chairing men. That is what I like about it. If you look at the provincial elections which were held in Mashonaland West Province for example, the Hon. Minister of State is the chairman of the province. In the political parties we belong to, whether it is a woman or not, it is still the chairman of the province. So, I propose that it remains chairman and I think it makes sense.
I want to conclude by saying that the contributions or submissions by the Chairperson were quite thorough, diligent and thought-provoking, and certainly require people to pay attention. The problem Madam Speaker is that we have a Parliament which is known for heckling and not for debating. This is where we expect them to debate. Those who were heckling, this is your time to debate and not to heckle. The Chief Whip tells them to heckle like dogs, bark and they bark. I hope he can also tell you to debate. We must be in this Parliament to debate and not to continue heckling each other as if we are baboons. I think baboons are the ones that heckle each other. As human beings, we must respect each other. I would like to urge members to debate positives towards this because this is where the future of the country is in terms of higher and tertiary institutions, which really are critical for any nation to grow. I thank you.
(v) HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: I would like to start by congratulating the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education for yet another Bill that has been presented before the National Assembly. In 2018 and 2019 when I used to chair the Committee, one of our major concern was that the Ministry was struggling to bring in Bills to address some of the issues that were affecting that particular sector but I am so happy that in the last two years, we have seen several Bills being introduced in Parliament, including this latest one. I am excited and happy for the Ministry.
Let me comment on some specific clauses. I personally welcome the new Amendment Bill. I was part of the public hearings and also part of the Committee. I am aware that most of what the Chairperson has presented and other colleagues have seconded is exactly what I am also supporting. I would like to be more specific to avoid repetition. The Ministry has introduced Education 5.0 and this particular Amendment Bill would have been an important opportunity to further give more guidance and specific leadership in terms of the institutions of higher learning implementing the aspirations of Education 5. 0.
This is an opportunity that the Bill is presenting, especially in terms of adding more flesh to the policy framework around innovation. For example, we know that one of the key issues is that under Education 5.0, we are not just producing graduates. We want to link the graduates with the mainstream economy, with the industrialisation of the country. So one of the key guidelines around the innovation in line with Education 5.0 that needs to come out clearly is around the proposal to make sure that institutions for higher learning start setting up companies and commercial ventures on their own and also ensure that students who are studying at these institutions for higher learning start also to have practical studies; not to just have lectures at lecture halls but also do practical lectures in a very technical and vocational way to enable them to make sure that once they graduate from university, they are not just looking for employment but they are ready to work on the factory and industrial floors. It is important that there be clear guidance and leadership through this Bill to the institutions for higher learning, giving them opportunity to give practical implementation of Education 5.0.
I would also want to comment on Clause 3 which talks about the University Council. I am happy I am a former University of Zimbabwe Council member. I served at the University of Zimbabwe Council between 1995 and 1999 and I used to represent students in the University Council. One of my major concerns that time has been addressed through this Bill. We had a bloated University Council, most of the members were not very active and useful. I welcome the proposal to reduce the number of councillors to about 20 members. My main concern is that in the process of reducing numbers, there has not been any balance between the university community stakeholders and the ministerial appointees.
At this moment in time, the Bill as it stands, gives unfair advantage to the ministerial appointments which are almost 50% if not 60% of the councillors. This then will reduce the university councils into an extension of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. I would move that there be a reduction on the number of direct ministerial appointees from about 10 that we have at the moment to about five to increase the independence of the university councils from the Ministry.
It is also a major concern that if you go through the Bill, you will realise that the Executive arm of the State is too involved in the administration of institutions for higher learning. The Minister in particular, is almost appearing everywhere in the Bill. I think it is something we must be alert to and something which must strongly be opposed to. I think if the Minister of Higher Education is so involved the way he is at the moment, it then reduces the independence or autonomy of the institutions for higher learning. I would want to discourage those clauses where the Minister of Education is directly involved like an operations officer which is the job that should be done by the Vice Chancellor or the Chief Executive Officer of the institution of Higher learning. Let us try to reduce the direct involvement of the Ministry in the day today running of institutions of higher learning, especially in the appointment of structures in the institution like the university council and the university Senate.
There should be a specific clause giving guidance in the appointment of council members that speaks to the special interest groups. One special interest group I feel should be clearly articulated in the Bill should be the disability sector. We need to make sure that the disability sector is clearly represented. Right now if you go across institutions of higher learning across Zimbabwe, you will see that the disability community is being excluded in terms of student intake, in terms of staff intake both teaching and non-teaching staff. I think it is important especially in the university council, that we have people from the disability community to push the agenda of disability inclusion.
We need to make sure that the Bill is more specific around gender inclusivity. We need more women to be represented in the university organs like the university council, the university Senate and so on. In my time at the University of Zimbabwe, the majority of the university councillors and the majority of the university senators were not women. They were men and that situation has been like that for many years. This Bill presents to us an opportunity to fulfil the aspirations of the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe that seeks to promote 50:50 gender representations and in particular Section 17 of the national Constitution.
I would want a specific clause to be inserted to say that not just in the university council but in all offices or committees affecting the institutions of higher learning, whether it is the student disciplinary committee, staff disciplinary committee, the senate or the student affairs committee. All such offices or committees must have 50% gender inclusivity in terms of women. So we need to make sure that such clause is put.
I forgot to mention earlier Madam Speaker, that even for the disability sector, we must also make sure that they are included together in the other structures apart from the university council, the student affairs committee and also the Senate. Also appointment of positions and employment opportunities, special regards must be given to historically and presently marginalised interest groups such as women, youth and disabled persons.
On academic freedom, as a former student leader, I am aware how important the University of Zimbabwe Amendment Act of 1990 was to a lot of student leaders in terms of how it reduced the Vice Chancellor from being chief academic to a chief disciplinarian. One of the issues that happened after the UZ Amendment Act of 1990 is that we have a lot of student leaders being victimised and expelled from university arbitrarily. Not only just student leaders but we had a lot of workers’ representatives being victimised by the Vice Chancellor or the University Administration because of the stripping powers that the UZ Amendment Act of 1990 gave. We lost a lot of experienced lecturers, academic staff who left Zimbabwe in protest and went to other countries.
Up to date, almost 30 years later, we see that the issue of academic freedom is still strong throughout the public hearings consultations. There was a strong voice around lack of academic freedom in institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe. This is a strong concern coming not just from the students but also from the staff, both teaching and non-teaching. We need to make sure that in this Bill, there is a specific clause that speaks to institutions of higher learning promoting academic freedom. This is very important especially in line with Education 5.0 where we are trying to encourage institutions of higher learning to improve or increase their focus on innovation. Creativity and innovation are directly linked to academic freedom. It is important that in this Bill, we have a specific clause that seeks to promote academic freedom in all institutions of higher learning so that we may promote innovation and creativity and free thought in institutions of higher learning.
I also wanted to comment around the issue of committees that are chaired like the disciplinary hearings committee that are chaired by legal practitioners. My strong view is that the legal practitioner should be someone who is not a full time employee of the institution of higher learning because they will be subject to manipulation and victimisation by their seniors. It is also expensive to employ a full time lawyer. So I think the universities should have a pool of lawyers who apply that they accredit to be available on call, on standby to take up opportunities to play the role of the legal practitioners. These lawyers must be registered with the Law Society of Zimbabwe but there must be a pool of lawyers on standby that the university can call upon to chair some of these committees. The universities must not have a full-time who would be subjected to manipulating and would lack independence because they would be subjected to the authority of their superiors.
I also wanted to emphasize that the Bill as it stands right now, does not speak directly in terms of legal representation in both the Students and Staff Disciplinary Hearings. I think as it stands, it speaks only to Students Disciplinary Hearings. It must also include Staff Disciplinary Hearings; there must be an opportunity for someone to be represented by legal practitioners.
I also wanted to speak around Clause 5, on the Zimbabwe Open University that seeks to remove the post of the ICT specialist in the top management of the institution for higher learning. I think this is a very retrogressive measure and is marking the trend because since the advent of Covid …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): You are left with five minutes Hon. Molokela.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: Thank you Madam Speaker. Since the advent of COVID-19, we have seen more institutions of higher learning migrating towards virtual education, use of technologies for their students.
Zimbabwe Open University by its very nature was established to emphasize learning through ICT – virtual education. So it is a generation ahead of other institutions of higher learning. So this clause should actually be made to be written upside down. We should say, ‘all institutions for higher learning in Zimbabwe should have an ICT specialist in their top management so that all institutions of higher learning migrate towards virtual education in line with the impact of COVID-19 which has made it easier for institutions of higher learning to start using information technology to increase access to education in Zimbabwe’. Education should be made more accessible through the use of ICT. So I am strongly opposed to the removing of the ICT Specialist from the top management of the Zimbabwe Open University. Instead, I recommend that the position be equally put in all other institutions for higher learning in Zimbabwe.
Last but not least Madam Speaker, I think this Bill should also include a specific clause around the appointment of the Chancellor in institutions for higher learning. In the 1980s, we only had one university in Zimbabwe which was the University of Zimbabwe. There was no real harm having the President of the Republic doubling up as the Chancellor of the university but today, we have about 13 institutions for higher learning that are universities in Zimbabwe. I do not think that the President of Zimbabwe should be laboured with the responsibility of being Chancellor of each and every one of the universities in the country.
So I am proposing that there be a clause that gives flexibility in the appointment of chancellors to say that the chancellor of the university can be the President of the Republic or someone else who the University Council may deem fit. This is in line with other institutions for higher learning across the world even public institutions for higher learning. For example in South Africa, the President of the Republic of South Africa is not the chancellor of each and every State university. The university councils are given the flexibility to appoint another eminent person in society to be a chancellor. So I am recommending that we include a clause in this amendment Bill that says, University Council should have an option of appointing another chancellor, apart from the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe because we now have a lot of universities and there is no need to burden the President to officiate.
You have seen graduation ceremonies being postponed because the President is unavailable, the President is busy. Yes, that is normal because the universities are now many. So let us include a new clause that says that the chancellor can be the President of the Republic or any other eminent Zimbabwean citizen who the council may choose. Otherwise I am happy. Thank you so much Madam Speaker.
THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA): Thank you Madam Speaker. I wish to thank the Hon. Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development and the Committee members for always supporting the Ministry and doing everything that is objectively necessary to make sure that we advance our education in such a way that this country develops and that this country has dignity in knowledge, and innovation for industrialisation, and making sure that we use our knowledge, and heritage to give dignity to our people.
So the object of this Bill is basically to make our universities comply with Section 13 of the National Constitution which states that, ‘Every institution of Government must lead to rapid and equitable development.’, so this is the main basis. The other basis is basically that we need efficient administration and efficient administration as captured in Section 194 of the Constitution. At the same time, this Bill wants to comply to the spirit and letter of the Constitution including Section 61 (1) (c) which talks about academic freedom – that is why, it is very important Madam Speaker that the Bill, in its founding statement, is to bring aforementioned Acts into conformity with the Constitution in totality. This is why it is very important to note that in formulating this Bill, we made sure that academic freedom is not violated.
I would be very happy for any Hon. Member to tell me where this Bill is violating academic freedom because that is not what it intends to do. It actually intends to strengthen academic freedom. In my opening statement, I said so. If it pleases the House therefore, it might then say, section this, this, this of the Constitution but then another one would say, why did you not mention one? It means it is the Constitution in totality. So this is very important, just to make it very clear that this Bill review was mainly for compliance with the Constitution.
I will also try to comment to the best of my ability on the very useful and important insights that we got from the Public Hearings as it was stated by our Chairperson. Hon. Speaker, there are two things at universities. There is overall general governance of the university which is the responsibility of Government. This overall governance is represented by about five officers. One the Librarian, we may want to change terms but what if it changes tomorrow? Universities by nature are conservative in order to be stable. So the word ‘Librarian’, even in the computer, there are libraries in the computer. They actually say Library A, Library B, et cetera. So I would not reduce this debate to semantics.
So I said Librarian, there is Registrar, Bursar, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor. This is for the overall Administration Financial of the institution. However, there is what we call Academic Administration of the university. In the Academic Administration of the university which talks about generation of knowledge and innovations, and how people teach what they teach, and what time they teach, this is the realm of academic freedom, and Government does not interfere in that and there is nowhere it is mentioned that the Government will appoint a Dean. The Government cannot appoint a Dean because that is an academic post. Therefore, once you start to appoint a Dean, it means that the Government is interfering and that is where academic freedom begins to be violated. If the Government appoints, for example a Chairperson of a Department to say with the approval of the Minister, it cannot be so, that is the academic side. So when we are talking about the appointment of principal officers, these are by any definition and one can search anytime, to know that the principal officers of a university anywhere in the world are appointed by the Government.
An Act of Parliament is administered on behalf of Parliament and the President by a Minister. That is why we brought this thing here. However, it does not mean that the Minister is going to run the university on a day to day basis. Ceremonially, it is important that an Act provides that ‘the Minister shall…’ Several mentions of the Minister are normally on issues of procedure rather than issues of substance of academic freedom of the university.
Hon. Speaker, the Bursar is the Finance Officer of the university who accounts for Government resources at the university. We might talk about their alternative names and so on but if we do that, we are not focusing on the main point. The main point is; we want universities to constitute cogs of the development of this country. In the past, universities were doing teaching, research and workshops and we are saying; innovation and industrialisation because where else will we get innovation and industrialisation? In the past, the university is in the metropole of countries which had colonised us and had all the five items, including innovation and industrialisation. Here we were only taught to do three things for the purposes of becoming managers in their innovation industries. So, we are breaking a barrier that is very important and I am very pleased that the Committee and Hon. Members are emphasising on the importance of this shift.
I want to thank this Hon. House for making sure that they passed the Manpower, Planning and Development Act which is the principal Act of planning and is telling us about the mechanisms by which innovation is going to be managed at all institutions including universities and it talks about the establishment of the innovation fund. When we say innovation, it is already mentioned in the principal Act, what it means and in detail. This august House also passed the Centre for Education, Innovation, Research and Development Bill, which belongs to the same universities and state exactly the establishment of an innovation fund and what they should do with that fund.
So these Acts should not be read in isolation, they are a part of a cocktail of remedies that this august House has put in place to make sure that this Higher and Tertiary Education has a meaning to this country, gives dignity, food, health, connection, sleep and water to this country. Hon. Speaker, academic governance is entirely the purpose of the university and the highest academic authority in a university is the Senate and we do not interfere with it. It is very important to create an environment where they make their decisions regarding degrees and how to learn what; we only provide them with the environment in which they can do so. So there is no interference there.
However, the Government has a purpose to see whether public funds are being appropriately used when they are sent there and it is primarily in the Constitution that we should do so. So, we will continue to appoint the principal officers of the university; that is not interference, but it is facilitation.
On the issue of council, it is clearly stated; maybe some Hon. Members might have lost that in terms of gender. I will just give an example of the Zimbabwe Open University Act. On Section 10 (2) (a), on Council; ‘ensure both genders are equally represented and for the avoidance of doubt, that women constitute half of the membership of council.’ So, maybe some comments are due to the fact that maybe some terms are hidden and people are not seeing them, but it is very clear that we are not in violation of that constitutional requirement. We actually stated it for the avoidance of doubt.
There was an issue also on the issue of information technologist. An information technologist is like a Dean; these are operatives of a university. It is important that the university chooses whom they think is an information technologist in their university because they are directors of ICT. There are two things; at some point, people want us to make sure we impose another person but at some point they say, your hands off. So, on this one, we are saying ‘hands off.’ It is important that this academic post – because the head of Computer Science and Computer Centre is normally an academic, so let them do it, let the Senate deal with it, it is their business. However, when it comes to our monies and where our money is going, we will follow it, it is in line with the Constitution.
There are other issues like student representation, which is enshrined in the university ordinances. We are saying, the President of the Student Representative Council or the President of the Student Union sits in Council. Just like a nation, I do not know when we will go to the United Nations and we say the President must go with other people - what is he a President of? If the president is truly a president of the Student Representative Council, he/she must be representative of the students’ concerns. If the students are not happy with that president in Council, they must vote down the person, we do not interfere with that. We will not decide the president of the Student Representative Council (SRC).
We want to make sure that we have a lean and efficient administration. For every department at a university, they have a student representative at level 1 to 4 and then they have faculty representatives and then they have an SRC. Student representation at universities is the core business of the university and academic freedom is guaranteed because nobody will tell – Government cannot tell a person how to think and what to think when they are in a faculty. Most of the times there is confusion between freedom of speech and academic freedom. Academic freedom is a specialised type of freedom that is enjoyed by students and faculty members only. It is like a privilege. Academia is like a little cult; it is a specialised group where people think. Lawyers call themselves; I think they say, ‘we are the learned people.’
In academia, we do not interfere with how they do their business because we want them to think freely so that they can provide solutions for us. So academic freedom is not under threat; if it was, that was then but not now, now it is completely guaranteed. Academic freedom does not mean shouting at a parent, it does not mean running around the street and destroying property, that is not academic freedom. It is a preserve of those people in faculties who think freely and do things freely without interference or fear. They might actually say, ‘I want to describe Prof. Amon Murwira as a ghost when they are in class. There is nothing that I can do to them. It is because they want to take me as a ghost and they can talk about it as long as they are in class. As soon as they get out of class and they are in the streets and they call me a ghost, I will sue them. I think it is very important that we understand what academic freedom is all about. It is not violation of laws of a country. It is a special preserve of faculty whereby people can criticize freely. That is why you can see that some academics are even heads of political parties but they are not chased from institutions because at university they are doing what they are supposed to do in the academic.
This country respects academic freedom but the main object of this Bill is developmental. Secondly, it is just to make sure that the administration of the university is efficient. Thirdly, is to make sure that representation does not violate the Constitution and to make sure that students are represented.
When it comes to the Chancellor, it is not a new introduction that we are making here. The Chancellor is already known and is the President of the Republic. We are not making any amendment about the Chancellor at all. In my tenure, with the privilege of being in this tenure, we have never delayed any graduation. It is on time. The Chancellor is a ceremonial post with the most prominent person in that nation. We take our first citizen proudly as our most prominent person. It is in the statutes and we do not have any problems with that.
It is also very important that in our boards we do not violate sections of the Constitution that include the sections on disability and women, which basically means in our council we must observe Section 17 and 18 of the Constitution. If it is not clear, we can just insert, observe Section 17 and 18 of the Constitution but I thought it was there. It is not in our intention to violate the Constitution at all.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I thank the Hon. Members for such a robust debate and the involvement of communities in giving input to how we run our universities. In other things, we can include the details in the ordinances because if we are too detailed in the Act, it might be difficult to make flexible ordinances. The universities must be able to look at their ordinances so that we increase the amount of academic freedom that they must have. Madam Speaker Ma’am I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: Wednesday, 13th April, 2022.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. T. MOYO: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 34 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 35 has been disposed of.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED LOSS CONTROL MANAGEMENT BILL
Thirty-Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion that leave be granted to bring in a Private Member’s Bill.
HON. MUNETSI: Thank you very much Madam Speaker for giving me this chance to air my views from this Institute of Chartered Loss Control Management Bill. I found it very interesting when I was going through the Bill and I decided I should air my views as well so that we have a solid act to control loss in this country. When I was reading through, I decided to thank Hon. Dr. Murire for bringing up this Bill so that we can assist in controlling loss. The whole idea about this Bill is to plug some gaps that are found in losses that are incurred in this country; loss of property, damage of property, injury of persons, loss through negligence, accidental loss or loss by breach of law. All these losses need to be controlled somehow.
Loss control management is to ensure that there is safety and security, there is also protection and prevention of items, whether they be for companies or the State. A lot has been done in this country to try and prevent loss quite a number of mitigatory measures have been tried so that loss is not incurred. Loss starts from planning. If you do not plan well, you lose a lot. It proceeds to when you do the manufacturing, if you do not manufacture and if you are under manufacturing, you incur a loss. It proceeds to the time when you want to gain some profits; you will discover that it has been a trail of losses. Loss Management has been tried in this country in several ways. You will discover certain systems that have been put in place, all have been designed everywhere to control loss. There is some hiring of guards, it is a measure to control loss in a country, you have CCTVs, cameras all over, there are some designs of cyber software, private investigators in companies and everywhere. All those are put to try and control as a measure of loss management.
You will discover that whatever method is used, the idea at the end of it all is to try and consolidate what one wants to gain. I was also looking at some of the sophisticated methods, technological advancements methods that have been used but they were all manufactured by a human being who makes it. If it is human manufactured, it can also be attacked by a human and loss can be incurred. This Bill seeks to bring in some ideas of how many loss management systems have been put; how then can they be put together to come up and go under oversight of Government. You will discover that all these loss management systems that are there, some are personal, whatever one thinks can control loss is what you do. All these systems have no Government oversight. They need to be put under some stringent measures, be they private as they may be. They should have some regulatory factor in them.
If they are not regulated, then they stand a chance to lose anyhow. There are several issues on control measures that have been put in place, some human and others machinery. Now, if you look at some video surveillance camera which we put, or some close circuit television, biometric security processors and even some drones, all those were put to try and mitigate loss in any company. You will discover at the end of the day, clever as we are, we always come up with a method to counter whatever methods...
Hon. Col. (Rtd) Dr. Murire having passed in between the Member holding the floor and the Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, you do not use that way of crossing between the Speaker and the member. You can proceed Hon. Member.
HON. MUNETSI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I was saying all those methods are put to try and control loss in any situation. The whole system that we have in this country, some institutions, some universities that teach about loss control, we have Chartered Institute of Management Accountancy, Association of Certified Chartered Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountancy and all those institutions. All those are meant to try and put some measures to control loss in companies and elsewhere. You will discover at the end of the day, many as they are, you still incur shrinkage and you wonder why? There has to be somehow some regulatory measures which have a Government insight to control loss in the country.
If we do not make or put an Act that has measures to control loss, the loss remains on individuals, just like for example you can have debt collectors, it is a loss control measure but there is no way in the statutes of Zimbabwe where debt collectors are allowed to do that. It is just a measure that people come up with. So, as a recommendation, Parliament must come up with occupational activities and h measures that allow loss control to have regulator effects and Government oversight. I thank you.
(v)HON. BRG. GEN. (RTD) MAYIHLOME: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this very important motion raised by Hon. Col. (Rtd) Dr. Murire concerning security organisations in the country. It is very alarming that 42 years after independence, this country has never thought of regulating this sector that is private security organisations operating loosely although they get licenced by the Ministry of Home Affairs but they are operating loosely without strict oversight, strict control and observance of what they do. It is indeed a security threat or a serious security breach that such things can happen for 42 years in a country with the advent of so many disturbances around the world.
We talking of insurgency, terrorism, civil disobediences and as a country somehow, somewhere, who is carrying what weapons and for what purposes? Who is carrying what gadgets and for what purpose? Where did they source them, how do they use them and how do they dispose of them? Will those gadgets not end up with a subversive element in the country? It is important that there is an Act that oversees and regulates the way they operate. The events that we see in the rest of Africa, we talk of Born of Africa, the Sahel Region, Nigeria; the Great Lakes and very close to our border in Mozambique here. These look remote but one day they might visit us as a country. We do not want such situations to arise and we do not know who is who. We know we have private armies. We have this dyke group that goes out of the country to intervene or to assist other legitimate Governments in the region like in Mozambique. That group means it is a force. How is it regulated, which law covers their operations, not just to go and operate in Mozambique but the law that regulate even their carrying of arms, what sort of weapons do they have and how do they get them. Weapons in the world are procured on the strength of an end user certificate. So, how are they procuring their weapons? We do not want such loopholes to remain. Such loopholes should be closed and regulated so that the nation is never put to risk.
We also need to understand the level of training that they get. We do not want to have a situation whereby private security organisations and private armies destabilise the region. We need to know what force is where and how they can assist. As long as they are not regulated we do not know. As it is their strength and capabilities are not easily quantified because no law regulates how they procure and operate. I really strongly feel that this Bill is long overdue. We need an Act that will ensure that everything that has to do with security is monitored and known so that when the need arises those security forces and those that need to react have sufficient information. I strongly recommend that the Ministry of Home Affairs crafts this Bill and brings it to Parliament. I thank you.
HON. DR. MURIRE: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 13th April 2022.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI seconded by HON. TEKESHE the House adjourned at Twenty-one Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.