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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 13 MARCH 2018 44 No 46
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 13th March, 2018
The National Assembly met at a Quarterpast Two o’clock p.m
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
PETITION RECEIVED FROM THE CENTRE FOR NATURAL
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that on Friday, 2nd March, 2018, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), supported by its partners in civil society, beseeching Parliament to intervene and ensure the protection of freedom of movement and protection of the rights of the people of Mukwada and Chiadzwa Wards which fall under Chief Marange. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committees on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Mines and
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that
Order Number 1of the Day be stood over until Order Number 2 of the
Day has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 6, 2017]
Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second
Reading of the Electoral Amendment Bill [H. B. 6, 2017].
HON. CROSS: Mr. Speaker Sir, I thought this afternoon I would make emphasis on the fact. I heard you on the radio this morning emphasising the importance of a free and fair election in 2018. What I want to do in just a few minutes is to tell this National Assembly why this is important. Zimbabwe has been in isolation for nearly 17 years. We have been subjected to restrictions from the Americans for the same period of time. The principal motivation of the international community in maintaining these restrictions has been the fact that they have, year after year, election after election declared, that our elections were not free and fair for one reason or another.
I think that we have to recognise that we simply cannot put out economy back on its feet if we do not have a legitimate Government. Zimbabwe today has external obligations exceeding $11 billion and domestic obligations exceeding $7 billion. Combined, this is $18 billion.
This debt hangs over us and simply too much for us to manage.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Mliswa and a few
others, reduce your voices. This Bill affects everyone here present. So, please listen.
HON. CROSS: This overhang of debt Mr. Speaker basically inhibits recovery because the international community requires that we service our obligations before new financing can be made available. It is virtually impossible in the modern world today to get your economy back on its feet without access to the international market for funding.
If you take a country like China, China in building its economy which is today worth about a $100 trillion, has borrowed in excess of $250 trillion from the international market. They have done that at interest rates amounting to one or two percent per annum. Floating around the world today is about $100 trillion of loose cash for which there is no outlet. The people who hold these vast resources are anxious to invest in places which are safe, where they can feel they can get a return and where their money ultimately can be recovered to them. We pay in excess of 1215% or even 20% per annum for funding here.
I have been in business for more than 50 years. You cannot run a business at 15 or 20% interest. It is not possible. You cannot make enough money to service those debts. At 1 or 2% interest per annum you can do just about anything, and the Chinese miracle has been built on cheap financing from the international market. Unless we get ourselves back into that position so that we can access that sort of funding, you can forget any economic recovery in Zimbabwe and the only way to do that is a free and fair election.
I believe the President; Hon. E.D Mnangagwa understands that perfectly, because he has been saying this for a long time now. I remember in 2017, about the middle of the year, when I had a conversation with him and he said to me we have to have a free and fair election. I was shocked because I felt that he had little chance of winning a free and fair election because he is opposed by everybody; G40, Joyce Mujuru, now the Mugabes, MDC and – [Laughter.] – despite that, he has stuck to his guns and I respect him for that enormously. You can see the reaction of the international community already. The flights from Johannesburg to Harare are full. You have to book a seat on a plane two to three days in advance. I understand during the first two months of this year 49 000 business visitors from overseas came to
The American Ambassador says he cannot handle the enquiries that he is receiving from the United States. I personally have been involved in the negotiation of contracts worth nearly $3 billion in the last two months. This is a sign Mr. Speaker Sir, that the international community is responding to something. What they are responding to is the commitment by this Government to a free and fair election. We in the opposition, the MDCT have never asked for anything more. We just want a level playing field, the opportunity to put our case in front of the people and let the people decide who will form the Government.
In the past 17 years I have been in the trenches in the opposition, and I can tell you we have been beaten, killed, murdered in accidents and have had one person abducted per day since 2000. Nearly 5 000 people of the MDC structures has been abducted, that is one person per day for 17 years and – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Mr. Speaker Sir, my colleagues on the other side are claiming that I am not speaking the truth. Mr. Speaker, you know me better than that. If my colleagues want a list of those people abducted, together with their identity numbers and dates on which they were abducted and what happened to them, I can provide them. Mr. Speaker Sir, I am prepared to provide that list to the media and it is not mythological but the problem is because of this sorty of activity which is basically on attack on democracy. The international community sees these activities, receive the reports from us and declare the election subsequently illegitimate.
Mr. Speaker, this Bill is of vital importance. I support it 100%. It is not enough Hon. Minister and you know that. This will not deliver a free and fair election on its own. We need to do more, but what every Member in this House needs to understand is that Zimbabwe today, 38 years after independence is poorer than it was at independence. I said last night in radio interview that my generation, your generation, our generation, has failed Zimbabwe because we are going out leaving behind a country which is poorer, more marginalised, more isolated than at any time independence.
The only way out of this cage is a free and fair election. What I would ask the Minister to do is to scrutinise the legislation that is in front of this House today. We will support it as the opposition but we will ask for changes, he needs to understand that on its own, this is not going to deliver a free and fair election. Time is running out and I believe that the election will be on the 17th August, 2018. It is not that I
am a n’anga and I can see into the future, that is one weekend after the heroes day and it is three days or four days before the deadline runs out and that is six months from now. We have got a lot of work to do in order to ensure that in 2018, the people of Zimbabwe are given a chance to elect the people that they want to lead them into the future. I believe that for the first time...
Hon. Tshuma and Hon. Mliswa having been talking
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Tshuma and Hon. Mliswa,
can you listen?
HON. CROSS: I believe that for the first time, nearly two thirds of the voters roll is going to be under 35 years of age. This is going to be a young person’s election. What I hope Mr. Speaker Sir, is that those young people who put their faith in democracy by registering to vote, will in fact be rewarded by being given an opportunity to vote in a free and fair election.
I just want to say to my colleagues, that if we fail to deliver a free and fair election, the consequences for us as a nation are going to be severe because the international community will react with anger. They have the started to put their trust in our new Government and I believe that trust is justified because I know the man who is making those undertakings. If we as a nation fail to deliver these undertakings to our people, I fear for the future for every young person in Zimbabwe. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
JOINT SITTING RULES
THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that the proposed joint sitting rules of Parliament were circulated through the Hon. Members’ pigeon holes. Hon. Members are requested to submit inputs to the Counsel to Parliament by Thursday 22nd March, 2018.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for allowing me to also add my input into this Bill which speaks to the manner in which elections in this country should be managed. I speak not only as a citizen but also as an interested party in the forthcoming elections. My debate will be informed by history as much as it will also be informed by the desire to have a free and fair election. As has been mentioned by the previous speakers, there can never be a situation where it is said that the electoral playing field is level if we do not speak about access to media coverage by all political players in a fair manner.
When I refer to the media in this instance, I refer to State owned public media. I am not going to dwell much on private media because like any other private enterprise, they are a profit making entity. Therefore, anything that they will cover will be aimed at ensuring that they earn a profit, but for State owned enterprises, these are public entities which are sucking from public funds and therefore, the need for them to serve the public in an equal manner is desirable and critical.
During the days of the former President of this country, President R. G. Mugabe, especially in his final days, public media was known to cover prominently two people at the expense of everyone else. These two people were always Cde. R. G. Mugabe or Cde. Grace Mugabe. Those were the people that were prominently covered at any moment in the public media of this country. We know that everywhere Cde. Mugabe went or his wife went, ZBC would send outside broadcasting vehicles to go and beam to the whole nation what will be taking place live and at the expense of the tax payer.
After the removal of President Mugabe, we thought that things were going to change and we expected that in terms of media coverage, we will see at least a fair manner of coverage of all citizens of this country without giving prominence to certain particular individuals. However, as we currently speak, if statistics can be taken we will find that the State media, ZBC included has covered President E. D. Mnangagwa and his wife more than they have been covering anybody or any institution in this country.
Last week as I was driving towards Bulawayo, I met three OB vehicles for ZBC that were coming from covering President Mnangagwa and they were also coming from covering his wife. So, it means that we have not moved from the previous dispensation. We continue to have
State media that covers one person and his wife. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] So, Hon. Speaker, what we have done from the previous dispensation in terms of media coverage is to remove a mask and we continue to portray things in the manner that they used to be.
We have seen cameo coverage of the opposition leadership. We have seen cameo coverage of the leadership of the opposition and the other political players. If you analyse the cameo coverage, you will realise that the coverage is usually in the negative rather than in the positive. So, that is a sign that the editorial trajectory Hon. Speaker, has not changed. Our media still remains entrenched in the politics of one political party called ZANU PF, which Zimbabweans think cannot lead to a level playing field in our elections.
Hon. Speaker, we expect ZBC to one day take their outside broadcasting vehicles to a rally that is being held by Mai Mujuru, Hon. Chamisa – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – by any political party of this country. It is only under those circumstances Hon. Speaker, where we can see any – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. If you have your opinions, the floor is yours after he has spoken – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. What I am saying is that when President E. D. Mnangagwa came into power, he promised every Zimbabwean that he was going to change things. We do not believe that his promises are merely rhetoric, we believe that it is within his powers to implement the promises that he has given to Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans want to equally see President Mnangagwa as much as they want to see President Chamisa – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections] – so that when they are going to make – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. The Hon. Member should
not get confused by the title. You should have qualified to say, President of the MDCT, there are no two presidents in the Republic of
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Let me qualify Hon. Speaker. The coverage that is given by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
(ZBC) to President Mnangagwa is not only done in his title as the State President, it is also done in his capacity as President of ZANU PF. So, I am equating these two presidents – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. A leader of a party that is not in Government cannot be equated to a leader who is the Head of State. That distinction must be made. Do not try to justify or else I am going to ask you to sit down.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: I accept Hon. Speaker. Let me qualify.
Hon. Speaker, if we were to follow on the promises that were given by President E.D. Mnangagwa during his times of coming into power, he assured Zimbabweans that he will try to govern in a transparent manner that favours every Zimbabwean. Therefore, as we are heading for elections, I anticipated that the law will emphasise that the amount of coverage that is given to one political party, whether that party is small or big, in Government or not, it should be fair and equal. There should be an element of equity.
Hon. Speaker, what is the importance of that? It is to give the Zimbabwean citizens a fair assessment, a platform upon which they can assess the leadership qualities of the various leaders who would want to assume the position of State President. There should not be an unfair advantage to one of the participants because the idea is not really about having a President headed by one or another political party but the idea is to have a Zimbabwean President who is going to adhere to the desires, the interests and future desires of Zimbabweans. So, in order for us to be able to do that, we should be able to say all these Zimbabwean leaders vying for various political offices should be given equal access to the media; the slots should be equal so that Zimbabweans can be able to compare them in their multiplicity of ideas and promises that they have. This is also so that Zimbabweans can be able to say; the promises that are coming from this leader are better than the promises coming from that other leader. Hon. Speaker, we do not want a scenario where 90% of media coverage is going to a certain individual, thereby giving that individual an unfair advantage over others. We need to ensure that the playing field is indeed level in all practical instances.
Secondly Hon. Speaker, I anticipated this law to look at the deployment of soldiers in communities. Hon. Speaker, I was in Binga on Friday. I do not want to talk about somewhere else, let me talk about the constituency from which I come from. I went there with the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care to conduct public hearings. During that meeting, as some people were introducing themselves, I can give you an example of two soldiers who introduced themselves as peasant farmers. The reason why they introduced themselves as peasant farmers is because amongst the audience in that meeting, they knew them as members of the Zimbabwe’s military who have been in the communities for over two to three years whilst they are withdrawing salaries from the Ministry of Defence. The audience knows these people as individuals. These are soldiers deployed in the community.
Hon. Speaker, for record purposes, I actually spoke to the former Minister of Defence, Hon. Sydney Sekeramayi sometime last year but one and I gave him a list of soldiers deployed in our communities in Binga North Constituency. They have no other role that they are doing except to be going around intimidating citizens to conduct themselves – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – in a manner that suits a political party. Hon. Speaker, I have got the names with me. If it is the desire of this House, we can produce the names and ID Numbers because these are people who live in our communities. They are our own brothers and sisters, one of them is actually my own brother’s son and these soldiers have been deployed there to harass people in the communities – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – We therefore demand without apology that those people should go back to the barracks and leave the community to make a free and fair choice on which leaders they want to see in the next Parliament and Government. We need that Hon. Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
interjections.] – We are not going to be silent.
Even as the election monitors come into this country Hon. Speaker, it will be very embarrassing for us to go and show them individuals in their homesteads and say, ‘this one is a soldier, this is their service number and so on’. Those people are withdrawing salaries from the Government for purposes of only intimidating members of the community to decide in the forthcoming elections in a particular manner. We cannot tolerate that to continue Hon. Speaker. Let us withdraw those people to come out from wherever they are deployed in the communities. Let them go back to the barracks, put on uniforms and leave the civilians to campaign and do their politics – [HON.
MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – in a manner that does not intimidate. Those people are deployed to intimidate and ensure that the distribution of inputs and whatever welfare items given to the people is done in a particular manner.
In the districts, they are deployed deliberately by particular Government offices such as the office of the District Administrator and the office of Social Welfare. They are deployed deliberately to ensure that the distribution is taken towards a certain or particular political inclination. I have got an incident in Binga Hon. Speaker where I went at a Grain Marketing Board depot where seed maize was being distributed and the soldiers were the ones doing the distribution. I went to the Manager of GMB; Hon. Speaker, I am talking about specific incidents and the truthfulness of this can actually be checked. I saw the manager and asked him whether the people that were doing the distribution worked for GMB and he said no, they do not. I then asked him why he was allowing them to do the distribution and he said he had been instructed by the District Administrator.
Why would the D.A have to instruct soldiers that are deployed in various communities, including in Siyabwa where I come from to go 100 km away and distribute inputs? Is the GMB or the Government short of staff to deploy temporarily for that basis? The answer lies in the fact that this is an effort to try and manipulate the results of the elections so that when people vote, they should vote in a manner that is predetermined.
Finally Hon. Speaker, on ZEC we believe that ZEC should be truly independent in word and indeed. It cannot remain an institution that is independent only in word but dependent when it comes to the deed. For example, the nation has not yet received a true and honest explanation on how Justice Makarau resigned from ZEC. There are a lot of questions that are surrounding her resignation. Does this have to do with a new dispensation, does it have to do with the fact that Justice Makarau was going to be a fair arbitter in the running of elections or does it have to do with the fact that the new dispensation thinks Justice Makarau was going to rig elections or the other way round that Justice Makarau would not comply with the pressure to rig elections from the current dispensation. So, we need an explanation. Hon. Speaker, these things should be explained.
I am not so sure why we continue to keep military and security personnel in ZEC. We believe that they need to be cleansed. What are we afraid of, why not retire them, we are retiring every other civil servants. Retire them, pay them off and we put in civilians to run that electoral board.
Finally, I hope that this law will deal with transparency in the production of ballot materials. If indeed we want to run a free and fair election, let us be open to everyone and say this is where we want to produce our ballot papers. They should not remain the preserve and secret of one political party. We should do that in a transparent manner so that when we go to the ballots, we will not have these mysterious statements about an X being put there and then suddenly appearing on another political party. For us to beat these mysterious allegations, we need to ensure that the law provides for a transparent production of ballot papers so that all parties are happy to say we know where the ballot papers were produced and definitely that these ballot papers are as they appear when it comes to the election day.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to add
my voice on this Bill. It is a very pertinent Bill but the issue of media; it is not about the State media only. Yes, the State media can be bad but media is media whether it is State or private. The private media, when it is only focusing on one thing, for example studio 7, I listen to it but it does not talk any good about the country or the ruling party. Studio 7 only talks about the party which Hon. Chamisa is leading. Zimbabwe should hold free and fair elections but if we have private media in Zimbabwe only focusing on the opposition yet they want the State media to talk about Zimbabwe, I do not think it is fair.
In English we say Charity begins at home; in my constituency, a brother of mine passed away, Mr. Tsvangairayi. At his funeral, the media was harassed when they wanted to capture the violence that was prevailing. The media wanted to capture Hon. Khupe when she was about to be burnt in the house. So, I do not know how the opposition wants the media to cover their stories. If they would have allowed the media to capture Hon. Khupe taking refuge in a hut, the nation would have appreciated that charity begins at home indeed. There is no free and fair election if people cannot do free and fair election in their own part.
If my young brother, Hon. Chamisa wants things to be good on his party, he must first of all chastise his people and the party’s allied media so that people will appreciate his leadership instead of scaring people away.
*HON. MURAI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My point of Order is that what can we do in this House if someone is going crazy? Should we just leave them going astray like that? Now, we do not understand the line of his story – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! The Chair does not see anyone who is not feeling well here.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Hon. Speaker, it is very painful to see our State media being harassed. The State media wanted to cover the demonstrations that were taking place at Town House where the ZBC vehicle was burnt. If vehicles are burnt, cameras destroyed, so what do they want the State media to do? So, this issue of elections cannot be free and fair if people come from Harare to attack people in Bulawayo. The people who went to Bulawayo, we never heard any Ndebele name; they were all Shona names. People were sent to go and murder and at the same time that party says we want free and fair elections; the people who murder people.
Mr. Speaker, we want to talk justice here, as Parliamentarians, when we are in this House, we should debate how to panel beat the Bill. In this House, Members of Parliament on your left are not debating but campaigning. There are no members of the public in this House; we only have Parliamentarians. The public is out there in the constituencies. If they are campaigning here, they are making a mistake. Their mistake; I think you heard them referring to soldiers, soldiers do not stay in barracks because it shows that the Hon. Member does not know the work of the soldiers. There are thieves and cattle rustlers; the duty of the soldier is to maintain peace and order in the country.
I think these Hon. Members should ask what soldiers are supposed to do. They should ask us who were soldiers before, how soldiers work. I was at Inkomo Barracks, I was allowed to go and live with people in the rural areas or in Kuwadzana. You cannot say that you have seen Chinotimba in Kuwadzana, what is he doing, he should go back to the barracks; no. He could have gone to build his house; he cannot be stopped because he is in uniform.
In Binga, we know that there are murderers and soldiers should stay there. In Mutare, we have matsanga from Mozambique….
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: On a point of order. Hon. Speaker, I find it very offensive for one Hon. Member that has been alleged to have murdered a person in his own life to stand up here and say kuBinga kune mabhinya therefore masoja should be sent. I am sure every community is known through something but obviously the community of Binga is not known for murderous conducts. It is not the responsibility of soldiers to arrest murderers. I think the Hon. Member should withdraw his statement which seeks to insinuate that we deserve to have soldiers in our Community because he thinks we are murderers.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Chinotimba, I think you need to withdraw the issue yemabhinya kuBinga.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw. Mr. Speaker, this country, I am perplexed, we know that we are under sanctions in this country but you find that my relative called for those sanctions on me. As Parliamentarians here, we wish that for our country to move forward, we should collectively denounce the Whites who placed us under sanctions. What we are saying is that sanctions should be removed, which were brought by the Whites. We were not placed under sanctions by the Black people; the Africans.
I watched the South African Parliament and I saw a White man saying past is past; people should be given their land….
HON. GONESE: On a point of order. Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon.
Chinotimba is making allegations against White people, we have got White Zimbabweans here. If he is talking about other people from other countries, his statement is not clear when he just says White people, vachena, this means White people. In our Constitution, we have got a specific provision against discrimination on the basis of race, tribe and other grounds.
I believe that it is not Parliamentary for the Hon. Member to be making statements which can be misconstrued as violating the provisions of the Constitution, relating to discrimination of people of a certain race or tribe.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, what the Hon. Member is saying or talking about are White people who have imposed sanctions and it is common cause that the White people who imposed sanctions on
Zimbabwe are well known.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Speaker, each time when we refer to issues that impact negatively on our country, they stand up and oppose but when they are talking, we do not disturb them. We wait to be given a chance so that we give each other opportunity without any interjections. I support the Bill, that it should proceed like that. The truth of the matter is that State media should cover freely without any intimidation or fear or any interference from political parties.
Even in ZANU PF, if media arrives, even if they are private, they should not be intimidated. Even on the opposition, if it is State or private media they should not be intimidated. Allow them to do their job. We do not want people who want to hinder when they are flighting negative news because it is not proper. Then we go about and say we want free and fair elections when free and fair elections were not done by the opposition party. She was harassed as the Vice President of the MDC, now she does not move freely because she is afraid. My opponents should know where to start and where to end. I thank you. HON. KANENGONI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to add my voice to the Electoral Amendment, together with the rest of the Hon. Members that have spoken here today. We are living in an exciting time in Zimbabwe that everyone is referring to as a new dispensation. In the spirit of a new dispensation, I think all Hon. Members who are the first Hon. Members of the new dispensation must be excited to bring in positive change as far as elections are concerned. It is not a matter of which political party you belong to. It is a matter of what type of Zimbabwean you want to be in this new dispensation.
We have young people who want to come into politics and this is our opportunity to show them what politics can do in terms of the change that Zimbabwe can bring and what type of future Zimbabweans can have. If we start the new dispensation with violence, then it is no longer a new dispensation, it is just a dispensation. If we start the new dispensation by victimizing each other, by going into each other’s constituencies and down playing each other, and not giving the electorate an opportunity to chose whoever they please, then it is not in the spirit of the new dispensation.
His Excellency, the President, Hon. E. D. Mnangagwa spoke about letting bygones be bygones in his speech. If we do not embody what His Excellency is saying, there is no way we will ever see positive change. This Bill will always be on paper but the reality of it will be in our actions and how we handle ourselves as Hon. Members of this august House. If we lead by example, the State media will follow and those who are coming will follow. It will not even be an issue of debate as to how elections should be conducted.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am very excited to be part of a House that is open to debating and discussing how exactly we envision our country to be. If we come in here and do not practice what we preach, we are going nowhere. We are going to end up exactly where we were. I see this as a turning point for our country. This is the turning point for anything and everything positive that is to come. There are some Hon. Members here who might be choosing to resign from politics because they have been in politics for a very long time. Their resignation must not be a resignation where they go and then suffer and wish they had not done that and paved way for others. It must be a turning point where they feel that they are handing over and they are now having an opportunity to enjoy the Zimbabwe they have always wanted to enjoy.
Mr. Speaker Sir, when we talk about going to elections and when we talk about voter registration, we are saying there is a new system in place, the electronic BVR registration where everybody has the opportunity to start anew. We were very happy that extensions were given for people to register to vote so that they can practice their democratic right. If they register to vote and they are not allowed to vote for whom they want or if people are blocked from the opportunity to stand in their constituencies and if social media is used to rubbish other people like lists that are circulating now volunteering people to political parties they do not belong to, is that the spirit of the new dispensation? Mr. Speaker Sir, I would really like us to be able to lead by example. Let us not be afraid to contest against each other. Competition must be healthy, whether it is intraparty or inter party. It must be healthy competition that leads to the same thing; a better Zimbabwe and a good representation, good politicians that can genuinely work for their people and can see development in their lifetime. Mr. Speaker Sir, I really hope that we can move forward in a genuine spirit of wanting the
2018 election to go well. Thank you very much.
+HON. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to take this opportunity to add my voice on the Electoral Amendment Bill. There are a few things that I want to highlight what I feel needs to be corrected on this Amendment Bill. Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about the Police. I think it would be best if they can be given an opportunity to vote for their leader freely. Most of the times, they are asked to vote using the postal vote and the results are not very clear. If only the policemen, soldiers, those who are in the diaspora, those who are in hospitals and the prisoners could be allowed to come out and vote for the leaders that they want.
Mr. Speaker, most of the times there is disruption, violence and harassment as well, especially in rural areas. People in rural areas are intimidated by political parties that we know. In Zimbabwe we know that there is a political party that normally goes to rural areas to intimidate people. We would want to see that when we are coming up with this Bill, we need to highlight and correct that. When we look at the Constitution Mr. Speaker, it states that in Zimbabwe you are allowed to choose the leader that you want without being harassed or forced and also put on the clothes that you want, especially when you are campaigning. You are allowed to put on your party regalia in a free manner. This is what we are anticipating from the Electoral Amendment
Bill that it will allow all the Zimbabweans to do that.
Mr. Speaker, in my constituency which is in an urban area, I hear that there are places like Lupane, Nkayi and so on whereby they are saying there are people who walk around, go to their homes and ask for their serial numbers. I do not think this is something which is constitutional Mr. Speaker. It is the responsibility of the Government to really look into the issue and check with those who are making those allegations whether it is true or not. If true, those people who would have submitted their serial numbers should report to the Police. The BVR serial number is a secret document that one is not supposed to be given anyone. This is something that the Government should work together with the community.
Mr. Speaker, most of the times during elections we have observers. In my own view, I think as Zimbabweans we complain that we did not have free and fair elections. Why as Zimbabweans can we not have monitors? This is one thing that could assist when they identify that something is wrong they can quickly report and corrective measures taken, especially those who will be coming in to observe. Let us come up with a law or regulation that will allow anyone who wants to participate in that and not choose specific people that we want to come and be observers or monitors.
I was part of the delegation that travelled to Lesotho for election observation. I did not hear any place where any violence or harassment of the community people was reported. We never saw anyone being harassed or intimidated. We went right round Lesotho because it is a very small place. My wish is for us to copy from other countries and do like what they do, especially during elections.
Mr. Speaker, there are also transitional mechanisms. For example, in 2008 the results were delayed to be announced. It took about five to six weeks for the results to come out. We do not want that Mr. Speaker. We have to follow what the Constitution says, especially on the publishing of the election results. It says within five days the election results should be announced. This is one of the things that we should correct and as Government, we should really work on that so that it does not take us back.
Before I sit down, there is also an issue to do with ZEC. This is one thing that is troubling everyone; who selects and appoints them? these are the questions that we are asked by our constituents. The leadership of ZEC should be appointed due to their credentials. Even as Parliament, we do not even know, but Parliament should be involved and be in agreement with the Minister on the appointment of the leadership of ZEC. How was the leadership selected or appointed. We should have a transparent system on appointment of leaders. I thank you.
*HON. MANDIPAKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for according me
this opportunity to add my voice on this debate in this House. I stood up after listening to Hon.P.D. Sibanda from Binga. I have a few words in response to what he was saying …
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: My point of order is, and I stand guided by the Chair on the basis of him responding to me. I do not know whether Standing Rules and Orders provide for honourable members to respond to other members?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: The Hon. Member is right to
not really respond – [HON. P. D. SIBANDA: But that is what he said.] – any Hon. Member is free to look into what you have said and probably respond as he says.
*HON. MANDIPAKA: I am a bit sorry because listening to what the Hon. Members on your left are saying; it looks like they are afraid of what is going to happen, come election time. It shows that ZANU PF is going to win because what the members on your left want to say is that after elections they want to say that elections were not fair and free.
When you look at the politics in Zimbabwe, the party which is violent is MDCT. I say that because when Tsvangirayi was buried I was in that village and what I witnessed Mr. Speaker does not bring us out as people who always talk of peace and unity. Their Vice President, Hon. Khupe and Mwonzora had gone into a thatched hut where they risked being murdered but we have a party which preaches democracy, freedom of expression and about free and fair elections – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] – I think this party must relook at itself. …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Mandipaka. Hon.
Ndebele, can you leave the Chamber please.
HON. NDEBELE: With people like this I had better go than stand people like this. I am leaving happily.
*HON. MANDIPAKA: What I am talking about Mr. Speaker is that if we want our elections to be credible we should say our deeds must be our words as well. That is what I am encouraging the MDCT party because they were talking about what is happening in ZANU PF.
Hon. Mnangangwa, the one who is leading this country, if he says we are now in a new dispensation I think he is genuine. What it means is that we should understand what he is saying and follow it as a nation because it will help us at election time. When we get to elections, people would be in peace and will be able to choose their representatives without any intimidation. What we want this House to know is that people talked of 100 Days, I do not think President Mnangagwa can turn around the economy of this country in 100 Days if it was not possible to do it in 37 years. What he is only saying is that he wants to show us that as citizens of this country this is what we should do and how to do it. If we take that and use of it, we will see change in our country slowly till we get to where we want to get to where our economy will be ticking.
In the whole world I have not seen a country where a leader of a nation can perform 100% even in America but leaders try to give direction to the people that they are leading. As a nation, we should help the leaders. For us to say that elections will not be free and fair, if we take that and use it, we will slowly see change in our country till we get to where we want to get to when our economy will be ticking. In the whole world, I have not seen a country where a leader of a nation can perform 100% even in America. Leaders try to give direction to the people that they are leading. As a nation, we should help the leaders. For us to say that the elections will not be free and fair, I think we are getting it wrong. I think the President as well has done a good thing by allowing observers from all the nations which never used to happen in the past.
So, we have countries from Europe and countries from the West where they are asked to come and observe our elections because everything is transparent. People get into ballot boxes and make their choices freely. There is nothing to be afraid of. Yes, they can be afraid because they know that ZANU PF is strong. There is the issue which has been talked about that ZBC should go out and get news. I did journalism Mr. Speaker. People look for news that is news to the nation. There are times when reporters do not flight news because it is not worth it. That is not an issue which should concern the President.
These reporters go there because of news. Our laws in this country do not prohibit our journalists to go and cover news anywhere. So, our laws are very good. They are free that even these political parties can pay the journalists so that they cover them. Our laws are transparent. If they are free, they can go and come up with news. Hon. Chinotimba talked about State and private media. We have seen that the private media is only focusing on one party. It is not covering all the parties. That is what happens in democracy as the opposition says. That is democracy that those who are private, independent and State controlled, I think that is the democracy that we want.
Mr. Speaker, what I want to say is that I am very sorry of what is going to happen after the elections. What it shows is that when the observers come, if ZANU PF wins, they will say that the elections were not free and fair. If you want to experiment it, if another party wins, they will say that the elections were free and fair. So, the definition of free and fair, we are not looking at it from the opposition party. I remember, I went to Madagascar with Hon. Khupe and as SADC, when we were defining free and fair elections, we were not looking at the ruling party that if it wins then we will say it is not free and fair. That is not how we do it. It is only here in Zimbabwe. I do not see where we had elections which were not declared free and fair. People from the SADC region come and endorse our elections as free and fair.
You can have pockets of violence here and there, but they are not the ones that determine the freeness and fairness. That is not the way it is done. I think we should really look at it and see what we mean by free and fair. I think in this House, we should be exemplary so that our people know that we have to live in peace.
If we talk negative about our country, we will destroy it. So, I think we should listen to President Hon. Mnangagwa and give heed to his plea for us to be united. I was reading in the newspaper and saw that he was pleading with the West to remove the sanctions because we are now living in a new dispensation. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
Some Hon. Members having stood up.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MARUMAHOKO): I
thought I was clear when I said after Hon. Mandipaka, Hon. Chakona would follow. Hon. T. Dube, you have already spoken on this matter and so, you cannot debate twice.
HON. CHAKONA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I would
like to contribute to the Bill on electoral reforms. I think we have a very simple problem in this nation. What we lack is basically light for us to be able to define where there is light and where there is darkness. I just want to quote John Chapter 1:Vs. 9. It says “The one who is true light, who gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” I think it is imperative that we understand where we came from, where we are and where we are going as a nation.
Mr. Speaker, on the 18th of November 2017, Zimbabweans came out in their millions to demonstrate and ask the former President to step down so that we can have a new dispensation in this nation. Here we are as parliamentarians who also sat on the 21st November, 2017 moving a motion on the impeachment of the former President. The whole reason was that we wanted light in our nation. We wanted a new dispensation in this country and that is what precisely happened. When somebody stands up in this august House and says what we lack in this nation is
legitimacy when in actual fact everything that happened, happened in terms of the Constitution of this nation. It is discouraging and disheartening.
We are a nation that is supposed to seek light, what is righteous for the people of Zimbabwe and what is good for the generations to come. That is what we are here to do. So, we have got a legitimate Government that is in power right now that was actually put into power in terms of the Constitution of this country. Therefore, the issue of legitimacy is not something to be debated. However, what we are looking for is basically electoral reforms that will drive towards a free, fair and credible election in this nation. I am sure what we need to do is to spend our energy and time on actually saying what is it that we need in order for us to attain or to have free, fair and credible elections.
Mr. Speaker, if we annex the economic recovery to free and fair elections, it is very unfortunate because this is a country that has had its elections consistently every five years in terms of the Constitution of this nation. Therefore, to say we are in this economic quagmire as a result of previous elections, I think it is unfortunate because we are in this economic situation because of sanctions and it is well known and it is a fact. When I observed the elections in the United States of America, there were two ultimate contestants and that was Hillary Clinton and the current President Donald Trump.
Mr. Speaker, after the elections, there were issues to do with some irregularities in that particular election with others alleging that Russians had something to do with the electoral process, but Hillary Clinton never requested for sanctions on the people of the United States of America
(USA). She accepted that she had lost the elections and that President Trump was the new President of America. In this country Mr. Speaker, if I lose elections, what I have to do is to go to other nations and say, I have lost elections and therefore bring sanctions to my nation. I think it is very unfortunate. Sorry for those who actually advocate for sanctions for this nation just because they would have lost elections.
Mr. Speaker Sir, what I think is imperative in our Electoral Amendment Bill is that we should deal with issues to do with violence, that which causes our elections not to be free, fair and credible. Another speaker spoke about abductions, I just calculated and said, If a person has been abducted every day for the past 17 years, it means we have got 6 205 people who have been abducted. Mr. Speaker, this is not true. As I speak today, who was abducted yesterday, who was abducted? We do not have that news. Rather, what we do have is, we have situations where in Masvingo Province, we have people who have invaded this province and are causing mayhem. They are raping and robbing people every day and killing them. We have thieves and robbers who have invaded our nation. What we should be saying here is that, ‘what is it that we can do so to protect our people so that they are not attacked by these kind of people other than attributing that to politics. I think it is more important for us to do that.
Mr. Speaker, I also have a constituency and in my constituency, we advocate for peace and we have been preaching peace. However, each time we distribute inputs, social welfare inputs or food stuffs and so on, the violence we find and get is coming from the opposition supporters – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] They are the ones who are causing problems in my constituency Mr. Speaker. I requested one journalist, Godwin Mangudya from the Voice of America, I said to him, ‘come to my constituency, I want you to record and get first hand information as to who is causing violence in my constituency and he ran away because he knew. You can call him; he can be contacted and called. I told him, ‘I want you to come and see who is causing problems in my constituency, it is the opposition supporters.’ That is a fact, and that is the truth as we can see and we have witnessed in this place.
Mr. Speaker, for your own information, we do not even have soldiers in my constituency, province or district who are campaigning for ZANU PF. We do not even have soldiers who are going to call people to vote for ZANU PF, we can campaign on our own. It is important that this Bill protects the people of Zimbabwe and the electoral system in our nation so that we can have free, fair and credible elections.
Lastly, Mr. Speaker, this nation – [HON. MARIDADI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker.] – we never stood up when you were debating, we never interrupted your debate. This is unfair Mr. Speaker, this is getting out of hand.
HON. MARIDADI: It is a point of order Mr. Speaker, because I am seated here and listening to his very interesting debate but I am also hearing people saying he has more than one identification certificate. Is it true that you have more than one identification certificate?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon Maridadi – [HON.
MARIDADI: I was just trying to verify.] Hon. Maridadi, I was about to give you time to debate, so if you start your point of order which is not there, it is not fair – [HON. MARIDADI: I wanted to verify if he is a crook or not.] – Just take your seat – [HON. MARIDADI: I am really sorry Mr. Speaker. Thank you.]
HON. CHAKONA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I just want to say, we happen to have some interaction with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and what we observed is that no one party could be happy with ZEC because we do not know what they are going to announce and we are very unsure as political parties. However, in as far as I am concerned, ZEC is a partial organisation that carries out its work professionally.
Lastly Mr. Speaker, our nation is made up of very literate people. Our statistics actually indicate that almost 98% of our population is literate, that they are able to read and write and they can be able to make informed decisions. It is therefore imperative Mr. Speaker, that no matter what people go through, they will be able to make their own independent decisions and I believe in as far as we are concerned, the upcoming elections will be free, fair and credible. In that regard Mr.
Speaker, I would like us to speak to the Bill and contribute towards what it is that can actually bring free, fair and credible elections into our nation. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. J. TSHUMA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir, for affording me this opportunity to also add my voice on this very pertinent subject. Mr. Speaker Sir, they normally say that charity begins at home. I believe that as we look at amending this Electoral Act, we need to first start by amending our own thinking and looking into ourselves first as leaders of this beautiful nation Zimbabwe. We can talk about amending this Bill but the acts that we do down there totally contradict the spirit and meaning of a proper Electoral Amendment Bill.
Why do I say so, Mr. Speaker Sir? It is because we lack sincerity in trying to bring up Zimbabwe as a country. At times, we actually forget that Zimbabwe belongs to all of us regardless of which political party one comes from. The country which we are living in today is the same country Zimbabwe, which our next generation must also live, our children and their children.
How are we going to leave this country if we do not prepare adequately for it to be left in a very sound position? I say so because other Hon. Members here have already alluded to the fact that we are in a new dispensation very well, but whilst we are there, we have some prominent leaders who still want to pull us back to that era where we have run away from and then you ask yourself, are we being sincere or are we moving in the same direction?
I was so devastated when Parliament kept quiet when some of our Hon. Members whom we sit with here, were violently attacked and harassed. Nobody ever said anything about that. I was expecting the Leader of the House to probably issue a statement against such acts. We know Hon. Khupe had a tough time in Buhera and Bulawayo. She is a Member of Parliament and Parliament keeps quiet about that. It does not talk about it but then we are talking about amending the Electoral Act yet we are leaving things here undetermined.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to say that as we go through this process which is very noble, let us also have an amendment of our mindsets, the way that we want to carry ourselves and behave because at the end of the day, in Zimbabwe all due processes must be followed, we must respect whatever is happening in any other side but what I cry for is that when we go into these elections; if we go with that note of violence then how is the credibility of these elections going to be measured. Now, what is worrying is that, as leaders, we are failing to reign in on our people, instead we come here and want to pretend that everything is okay. People are going out and becoming violent because as leaders, we keep quiet, we do not condemn this in public and we do not live it. We are actually some of the perpetrators because we send these people out there, we give them money, we get them drunk in order that they go and carry out these acts of violence just because we are probably power hungry or whatever, I do not know.
Before we start to amend these things, let us look at ourselves and be sincere. I do not think there is anybody in this House who can volunteer their children to go out there and be in the forefront of violence but we are quick to make sure that other people’s children die for us, get maimed for us, how fair is that? Then we say we want to build a Zimbabwe or recognized by the whole world. How are we going to be recognized when we are still barbaric.
So, Mr. Speaker Sir, what I am trying to say is that let it begin with us as the leaders here in this august House. Let it begin with us here to condemn things that are not supposed to happen. Whether it is in MDC or in the new NPF part, it should never be allowed that leaders do things with impunity. We have had enough of that and these are the kind of things that are not going to bring Zimbabwe up, these issues will keep
America to continue putting sanctions on us yet we have changed. Our President has done everything to guarantee change. He has even said, we are free to open up our doors for UN, AU and SADC observers, anybody who wants to come to observe can come. Is that not change enough? If I remember well the last elections, all those organisations and people were not allowed to come into Zimbabwe but today they are allowed.
We are clean; we are coming to the table, us as leaders let us not spoil that. At the end of the day, we want to turn around and blame the President or the ruling party, it is not fair. Let us leave and walk the talk of saying we are democratic and free. If we are democratic and free, let us then make it transcend down to the people that we lead down there. Let us not come here and preach a different gospel yet when we go outside there, Nicodimously, we become animals and start attacking people. It is wrong and it is very unfair.
So, all I want to bring to this august House is that as we amend this thing, let us amend our brains, let us amend our actions as leaders. Let us be seen to be true leaders, not leaders who preach peace but practice violence. It is not fair for Zimbabweans and it can never build us as a nation. As we amend the Electoral Amendment Bill that we are talking about today, let us amend our brains and behaviour too. Thank you for affording me this opportunity to also add my voice to this motion.
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this proposed Amendment Bill, the Electoral Amendment Act. During the war of liberation, one of the major objectives of the war of liberation was one man one vote. Indeed, when we became independent in 1980, even those who were not registered voters but had National ID’s that showed that they belonged to this country were allowed to vote but alas, this is not the situation at the present moment.
If you look at the so called aliens who came to work in this country so many years ago, in the late 50’s and early 60’s, they were issued with National Identity cards that showed that they are in Zimbabwe and they are Zimbabweans but of alien origin. Come 2018 elections, they are not going to be allowed to vote. Although there was a slight dispensation which allowed some with long birth certificate; I do not know what a long birth certificate in this country is all about. Does your long birth certificate change your being alien or we have a skewed idea of what an alien should be. I think we should be very fair. If somebody was born in this country even of alien parentage but the mother or the father is a Zimbabwean, let us be fair and make sure we register them to vote. Whether they have a long or short birth certificate, it has nothing to do with their citizenship if those are the people who built our railway lines, if they are the people who built those high rise buildings that we witness in Harare today and who live in Rugare or Mbare but because they have a short birth certificate, they are not registered to vote.
When we look at some of the pronouncements I have been listening to, I was wondering whether we are still talking about the Electoral Act Amendment Bill because I never heard anybody talking about the provisions of POSA and AIPPA. Those are some of the legalities that restrict people from expressing themselves and associating freely when they are campaigning for political office. Mr. Speaker, I never had of anybody talking about lack to a provision to ensure that ZEC is adequately funded so that they are able to conduct elections and ensure free and fair elections.
Alas, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the role of police in policing elections. In 2008, history has it that when people went to complain about political violence, no dockets were opened. Those stories are unrecorded but it is on record that over 200 people were murdered during the rerun of the elections. The former President is on record addressing a ZANU PF congress to say he lost the vote by 73% to the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirayi. He even went on to shout a slogan pasi ne ZANU PF; maybe he was even frustrated by his own party after having lost by 73%.
Mr. Speaker, people have stood up in this House to say there was no rigging and I wondered, a black pot calling another black pot black. They talked about violence in the MDC. If we go to Mutoko today, there is evidence of people who had their arms chopped off, short sleeve, long sleeve, it happened in this country within the borders of the country when we move in from Nyamapanda area. However, we seem to pretend that it never happened. It happened in this country and that must stop. The provisions of any Bill must ensure that if we are going to have free and fair elections we had NIKUV employed by the registrar’s office when it was responsible for registering voters. Now I understand they have been fired and another company has been employed but the irony of the situation Mr. Speaker is that we have a Palestinian Embassy in this country. However, we employ Israelis to come and spoil issues for us, to come and rig our elections. Let alone US$10 million was recovered when the new dispensation was being introduced and we understand there were Israelis defending that US$10 million in some private member’s house. Let us not actually close our eyes to reality. Sometimes some of the things that we have done in this country make us feel ashamed as Zimbabweans because some of the things, we could have avoided and some of the things can be avoided.
Mr. Speaker, when you put a ruling party into power for over 37 years and you have junior doctors going on strike for the past 20 years each and every year, is that competence? That is incompetence. Just last night I was listening to the news that people are being turned away from hospitals, some wards have been closed but no permanent solution is being found. What about the new dispensation? Is it our entry into the new dispensation that some people should be turned away to go back home and die; so that we move forward to have free and fair elections or immediate action should be taken to ensure that we are an effective and efficient Government that is able to look after its own people. Mr. Speaker, the issue of distribution of rice and maize on a partisan basis, is it gotten rid of in this Bill so that when we have electoral processes, we know that people are not going to be influenced because of receiving cups of rice.
Recently, we had a court case that was going through the courts in Kwekwe, where an Hon. Member admitted that over 30 tonnes of maize he was actually storing had been issued to him by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare so that when we go towards elections, he can start distributing out to voters. Mr. Speaker, we need a law to prevent such things to happen in our country and this Bill should cover some of those areas where we have such errors which are still being used.
There is the issue of chiefs and headmen; it is not included in this Bill, where they are asking people to bring their serial number for your voter registration so that we can record it down so that we will know how you are going to vote. Although that is speculative but however, the law should ensure that – it is not good enough to just issue statements and say it is illegal; the law should actually prohibit that. They are violating the Constitution and no action is taken. The Constitution is very clear about traditional leaders that they are not allowed to be partisan, let alone to be sloganeering about any other party. They should be impartial but however they are allowed to vote.
Mr. Speaker, this Bill still misses out these omissions because once we have a Constitution stipulating what is supposed to happen; what is supposed to happen then is to make sure that we put in laws. So, the amendment of this Bill should also be covering issues like that so that
we have a free and fair election. There is also victimisation of nurses and teachers. It is not covered in this Bill. These are people – I was actually in Rushinga just prior to the previous 2013 elections, when one of the teachers was made to pack up and go home instead of being a polling officer, simply because it was suspected that he was a supporter of the opposition. Some of these issues need to be included in the Bill so that it is all encompassing and at the same time it ensures we move towards the new dispensation.
As we talk about moving towards the new dispensation, let us take note that we are asking for Diaspora remittances. Diaspora remittances but not Diaspora voters. How are we trying to put our wishes and desires in this country if you want a dollar from the Diaspora, so you must be able to give the vote to the diasporans. We have embassies in most countries and people should be voting in those embassies but we have not allowed them to register to vote and we are not allowing them to go and vote and yet it is reported that we have got over 3 million voters; Zimbabweans outside this country who are supposed to vote, yet no President has won this election since 1980 with 3 million votes. In other words, we have another full country outside this country with the amount of voters that could vote out a President who has been in power for the past 37 years.
Mr. Speaker, let us face reality and let us not shout about violence that took place three weeks ago, when we have been under bondage as the opposition party with violence being meted out to us for the past 37 years. I am a living witness. I have gone to prison several occasions and yet I am not a criminal, all because I was carrying out activities as a member of the opposition. I would like to thank you for this opportunity and hope that when the Bill goes through, it will be all encompassing and also AIPPA and POSA will be repealed so that we will have a better Zimbabwe. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO): I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th March, 2018.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO): I move that Order of the
Day, Number 3 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON
TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT
ON THE FAMILIARISATION TOUR OF VICTORIA FALLS
AND HARARE AIRPORTS AND THE PLUMTREEMUTARE
Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Familiarisation Tour of Victoria Falls and Harare Airports and the Plumtree Mutare Projects.
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRURAL
DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO): Thank you Mr.
Speaker Sir. Mr. Speaker, I stand to respond to the Committee’s observations on the topic you have just read. I would like to thank you for affording me the opportunity to respond to the report of a familiarisation tour of Victoria Falls and Harare Airport and the PlumtreeMutare road projects which was undertaken by the Portfolio
Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development.
I would like to thank the Committee for their report. The Ministry notes the observations and recommendations made by the Committee and hereby response as follows:
At the time that the Committee produced their report, the
observed that disbursements to Victoria Falls town stood at $58 000. The Committee expressed the view that this was insignificant, given the work that needed to be done. I am pleased to inform the House that the
current disbursement for Victoria Falls town stands at $901 680. The Committee also noted that the funds disbursed to Marondera
Municipality was not enough. In 2017, $2.8 million was disbursed to the said municipality and 36 km of road was resealed. The Committee also pointed to the issue of mistrust and suspicion between the City of
ZINARA. The relationship between ZINARA and the City of Harare has improved as reflected by the $14.9 million which was disbursed to the city in 2017 for road maintenance.
It is also important to note that funding for road maintenance and most road authorities is not adequate due to the mismatch between
required budgets to rehabilitate the road network which is estimated at
$5 billion against ZINARA annual average collection of $200 million.
the Committee observed that Government, through my Ministry, instructed ZINARA to take over the construction of Airport road after the City of Harare failed to undertake the project. Indeed, phase one of the Airport road dualisation project was completed by the Department of Roads at a cost of $16.2 million and 9.2 km was achieved. The feasibility studies for Phase 2 are in progress and will be completed soon.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee highlighted the fact that City of Harare took over the collection of billboard fees on Airport Road without consulting ZINARA. It is our considered view that since the road belongs to the Department of Roads, they should collect all billboard fees and use the proceeds to maintain the road. Consultations are already underway with the City of Harare with a view to finding an amicable solution. Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee observed that an
800m section of the Plumtree – Mutare Road as we approach the Forbes Border Post had not been completed by the contractors. At the time that the Committee undertook the tour, this section of the road had indeed not been completed. I am happy to report that the 800m section of the road was rehabilitated at a cost of $1.1 million and is now complete and open to traffic.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee observed that Goromonzi Tollgate was still collecting toll fees manually. The tollgate in question as opened in September 2014 and commenced operations from a temporary structure. Mr. Speaker Sir, Goromonzi Tollgate was fully computerized in 2016 and this resulted in a marked increase in revenue collection.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee made the observation that there was no signage on the Harare to Mutare Road. This observation may have been true at the time that the tour was undertaken. I wish to inform the House that SADC signs have now been fully installed on the entire network since this was part of the agreement. The Committee further pointed out that it appeared as if Intertoll was not maintaining the road as evidenced by the tall grass along the road. Representations have been made to Intertoll and they are now carrying out routing maintenance on the road.
The Committee, Mr. Speaker Sir, further pointed out to the fact that there was no perimeter fence on the Plumtree – Mutare highway. The contract agreed at the time did not include erection of the perimeter fence as part of the project. I am however happy to report that perimeter fencing has been erected on the Gweru to Bulawayo section of the road by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe as part of their road safety campaigns. The Council is now working on the Bulawayo – Plumtree section which we are hoping to commission soon.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the report of the Committee alluded to the fact that the rehabilitation of the road had increased traffic in Rusape Town. The Committee has expressed the view that the increased traffic necessitated the installation of more traffic lights in the town. I wish to inform the House that two sets of robots were installed in Rusape in 2017 and have assisted in the management of traffic.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee further pointed out that Urban Councils did not get the graders that ZINARA gave to rural local authorities. The Committee further pointed out that ZINARA bought the equipment without consulting the road authorities. Road authorities including urban councils will benefit from the $28 million availed in the 2018 ZINARA Budget for equipment procurement. Mr. Speaker Sir, I am informed that consultations were done before the graders were bought.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee observed that Mutare RDC was sharing one grader with the Department of Roads and DDF. It cannot be true that these road authorities are sharing a single grader. Each of them received a grader from ZINARA in 2013. Mr. Speaker Sir, there was a further observation to the effect that ZINARA is disbursing funds for routine maintenance only and no funds are being availed for periodic works, including regravelling. ZINARA is disbursing funds to cover both routine and periodic maintenance works, including emergency works as guided by the Roads Act.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee made an important observation that carriageway markings were wrongly done on the Christmas Pass section of the road. They expressed the view that the double lanes should have been on the side of traffic going to Mutare to allow fast moving vehicles to overtake heavy trucks but the opposite was done. Mr. Speaker Sir, the observation by the Committee was indeed correct and the carriageway markings have been corrected. The Committee also observed that the same section of the Christmas Pass was slippery during the rainy season and bleeding in hot weather, causing a lot of accidents. This anomaly has since been corrected through the application of 7mm stones.
The above observations point to poor workmanship by the contractor and poor supervision by the Ministry of Transport. Mr. Speaker Sir, for future projects, strict monitoring mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that we are not confronted by these embarrassing situations.
The Committee also observed that there was congestion at Forbes Border Post. The Border Post was decongested by the rehabilitation of the 800m section of the road which has now been opened to traffic. It was further observed that toll plazas operated by Intertoll could not identify Government vehicles for exemption purposes, thereby causing unnecessary delays. Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue is being attended to and is work in progress. I would want to assure the House that it will be concluded soon.
The Committee highlighted the problem of poor drainage system at
Chicken Inn Shop in Chegutu along the Harare to Bulawayo Road. Mr. Speaker Sir, a culvert with a bigger pipe is required to improve the drainage system at this place, hence there is interface with Intertoll in that respect. The Committee further highlighted the prevalence of illegal mining activities which had the potential to damage the road. We indeed share the concern of the Committee in this regard. It is up to us to educate people in our respective constituencies about the dangers of mining activities close to our road network.
The Committee noted that ZIMRA has been charging taxes on loan repayments being made through Infralink by ZINARA. The Infralink Tax exposure is an outstanding issue and engagements with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development are continuing with a view to resolving the matter.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I would also like to thank the Committee for the positive comments emanating from their tour of the Harare and Victoria Falls International Airports. As a Ministry, we remain conscious of the need for us to fulfil our role as a facilitator and enabler and pledge to execute that mandate to the best of our ability. Due to budgetary constraints, my Ministry is pursuing alternative and innovative funding modalities to ensure rehabilitation of infrastructure in the country. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. NDUNA: Mr. Speaker Sir, thank you for affording me this opportunity. I want to thank the Minister for an expeditious, eloquent and very rounded response to the Committee’s report on the familiarisation tour on the Victoria Falls Airport and the Plumtree –
Mutare 800 km $206 million DBESA loan financed project.
If you heard from the Minister, he touched so much on what the Committee recommended and he has touched on a lot of issues that he has written the wrongs. To date Mr. Speaker Sir, because of an enhancement of computerisation both on the Mabvuku tollgate and the Traffic Safety Council, remittances on the 12,5% have spiked revenue generation by fourfold on the tollgate. He has also managed to do the road side fencing using the monies from Traffic Safety Council on the Plumtree Mutare highway, partially from Gweru up to Plumtree. This is applaudable Mr. Speaker Sir.
What you also want to note Mr. Speaker Sir, the Minister has been quite eloquent in terms of his partnership and his response to the Committee’s recommendation in particular because the Committee at the time has got about three engineers; Eng. Mudzuri, myself and Eng. Madanha who was his deputy minister. They observed aptly the carriageway markings that they were going the wrong direction and there was signage on the Plumtree Mutare Highway. He has since rectified that and to date you would want to know that we have gone down in terms of road carnage statistics because of that rectification.
Further to that Mr. Speaker Sir, he has not only put in two robots in Mutare town but he has also put in two robots in Chegutu town. That is applaudable. That is going outside the Committee’s recommendation and further upgrading the road that he speaks about. That is quite applaudable. As a Committee, we do not seek to govern but to interrogate the manner the Executive carries out its mandate. If all the Executive can come to Parliament and account to the people of Zimbabwe in the manner that he has accounted to this report, that would certainly be applaudable.
As I speak to you the issue of drainage in Chegutu in particular, where I come from and which is my constituency. It has cost the Ministry in particular ZINARA about US$150 000 because of what has happened at O.K and T.M. supermarkets. That road that leads to that drainage has unraveled and potholes have emanated because water has collected at those points. So if it can be expeditiously installed that 900 mm culvert on the Plumtree – Mutare Highway at Chicken Inn, it can certainly ameliorate the plight of ZINARA in terms of the monies that are being utilised in Chegutu town in particular.
Otherwise, this is a rounded response Mr. Speaker Sir, to a very good report that was produced by your Committee. I stand here Mr. Speaker Sir, not as the Committee Chair of the Transport and
Infrastructural Development Committee but I stand in the very big shoes of Hon. Christopher Chitindi who has rushed off to the bank to meet his bank manager. He has given me this opportunity to respond to the Minister. Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank the Minister and Committee for a wellrounded report.
I therefore move for the adoption of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Familiarisation Tour of Victoria Falls and Harare Airports and the
Plumtree – Mutare Road Project.
Motion put and agreed to.
FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON
TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT ON
THE INQUIRY INTO THE TURNAROUND STRATEGY FOR THE
NATIONAL RAILWAYS OF ZIMBABWE
Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Inquiry into the Turnaround Strategy for the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND
INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO):
Mr. Speaker Sir, I wish to respond to the Committee’s report on the turnaround of NRZ. I would like to thank you for affording me the opportunity to respond to the report of an inquiry into the turnaround strategy of NRZ, which was undertaken by the Portfolio Committee on
Transport and Infrastructural Development. I would like to thank the Committee for their report.
The Committee undertook this inquiry to get an appreciation of the operational challenges faced by the organisation. The Committee also sought to be appraised on the overall functions of NRZ and efforts being pursued to resuscitate the railway transport system. These are the Committee’s observations. The observations and recommendations made by the Committee and I hereby want to respond to the same as follows:
On resuscitation strategy premised on recapitalisation by Government – Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee observed that current efforts towards recapitalisation of NRZ appear to be premised on funding by Government. The NRZ’s recapitalisation strategy in fact aims to avoid dependence on Government. The funding structure currently being negotiated with the DIDG Transnet consortium does not call for Government sovereign guarantees and neither does it depend on the NRZ balance sheet to secure borrowings, but is predicated on the Transnet balance sheet and other financing instruments being structured by all parties concerned.
Service level agreements are also being negotiated with companies which depend on NRZ for their transportation requirements to ensure that the market is available to take up the service once the negotiations are completed and the rehabilitation programme commences. The legacy debts of the NRZ are being warehoused rather than being taken over by Government and the NRZ is working with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to develop credible and bankable debt retirement plans.
Mr. Speaker Sir, apart from the major initiative on the overall recapitalisation of the organisation, the NRZ has continued to pursue other short term initiatives to improve its performance. These include the release after overhaul of nearly 400 wagons and two mainline locomotives and the commissioning of the UHF radio network on the
Dabuka – Chikwalakwala line in 2017.
On the reduction of salary to revenue ratio: Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee observed that the reduction of the salary to revenue ratio is a long overdue initiative. The Committee further indicated that there does not appear to be any solution in sight in terms of raising the much needed financing of the workers who are already owed over $90 million.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the NRZ management has over the years taken concrete measures to reduce the salary to revenue ratio in very difficult operating environment. These measures include but are not limited to the following:
- Freeze on recruitment and natural wastage. NRZ has not been filling vacant posts that arise when employees exit the organisation unless it is a critical post.
- Retrenchment NRZ retrenched about 444 employees in 2015;
- Reduction in overtime and other related employment costs, and
- Automation of processes.
Mr. Speaker Sir, through these measures, the salaries to revenue ratios have progressively reduced in the last three years. In 2015, the salary to revenue ratio was 93%. In 2016, it came down to 92% and in
2017, it came down to 80%.
The NRZ managed to stabilise the disbursement of salaries in 2017 and reviewed the percentage of salaries being paid from 50 to 50% to 60 and 70%. Another review is planned for February 2018 to take this to 70 or 80%. Further reviews will be carried out in 2018 as performance continues to improve. The employees’ salary arrears are part of the NRZ debt to be warehoused by Government and the organisation is currently engaged with the Ministry of Finance over its plans to liquidate the warehoused debt.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the organisation continues to make payouts to retired and retrenched employees on a monthly basis and is targeting to complete liquidating salary arrears and retrenchment packages for the
440 employees retrenched in 2016 by the end of 2018.
Debt as an impediment to attract investors
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee expressed the view that the debt overhang of $176 million and the $90 million owed to employees were major impediments to attracting investors.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am pleased to inform this august House that this challenge was addressed by the warehousing of the NRZ debt so that investors would come on a clean slate. In terms of the overall NRZ strategy, the warehoused debt will be liquidated over a period of time using funds that the NRZ will get after recapitalisation.
Bureaucratic red tape between the organisation and the parent
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee pointed to red tape between NRZ and the Ministry as inhibiting expeditious decision making particularly with respect to price tariffs. The Committee noted that this has rendered NRZ uncompetitive especially against road transport as the latter is able to make price adjustments instantaneously in line with market forces. Mr. Speaker Sir, the NRZ determines its own tariffs and does not consult the Ministry on these. The tariffs are purely market driven.
NRZ not actively following up on the mineral claims held in
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee made the point that mineral claims held in South Africa were not being followed up. It was argued that this could provide an alternative source of the much needed revenue for the entity.
Mr. Speaker, the NRZ’s interests in mining claims in South Africa are held under the auspices of the Pan African Minerals Development
Company (PAMDC), a company jointly owned by the governments of
Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Two representatives sit on the
PAMDC Board from Zimbabwe, one from the NRZ and the other from the Ministry of Mines. The company has been in the process of seeking for partners with financial capacity to undertake exploration activities on the claims. A tender was floated in December 2016 towards this end.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the company is currently involved in negotiations with a potential partner on a limestone project and with another on a manganese project. Mr. Speaker Sir, I wish to inform Members that work on processing other claims has been hampered by a dispute with another company over a double allocation of exploration rights on a significant portion of PAMDC’s claims by the South African
Department of Mineral Resources which is in the courts in South Africa. PAMDC won the case at the Supreme Court and the other company is now taking the matter to the Constitutional Court.
Lack of strategies to lure passengers to use rail transport
Mr. Speaker, the Committee noted that while Management at NRZ foresees an improvement in passenger movement in 2017, there appeared to be no initiatives taken to lure passengers. The Committee made the point that it could not ascertain the basis of this confident projection given the stiff competition from the road transport industry at the moment.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in the event that the NRZ did improve its passenger numbers from 210 000 moved in 2016 to 310 000 in 2017, the poor condition of the infrastructure, which leads to delays in the movement of trains and the poor condition of the coaches continue to be a challenge but these will be addressed under the recapitalisation programme and we have started doing that.
The need to replace the Centralised Train Control System
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee highlighted the need to urgently replace the collapsed Centralised Train Control System. It was argued that if this was not done, it could have devastating effects on both cargo and passengers.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the restoration of a Centralised Trains Control
System is one of the projects to be covered by the US$400 million recapitalisation programme. The NRZ in the meantime developed a UHF/VHF voice communication system over most of its mainline corridors to enable trains to communicate with control centres. The corridors so far covered are Victoria Falls – Bulawayo, Bulawayo Harare and DabukaChikwalakwala, and the organisation is currently working on the Harare – Mutare corridor. In addition, a GPS satellite tracking system has been installed on mainline locomotives to monitor the movements of trains.
Government to guarantee the debt owed to employees
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee recommended that Government should guarantee the debts owed to employees by the NRZ if it is to attract a serious private investor. Mr. Speaker Sir, as part of the NRZ recapitalisation programme, the Government has agreed to warehouse about $323.5 million as at 31 December, 2016 and is in the process of crafting the enabling legislation to effect such an arrangement. This was done to ensure that the legacy debts of NRZ do not encumber the potential investors being engaged on the recapitalisation programme. Of this figure, $98 million comprised salary arrears. The proposal will be for NRZ to liquidate the warehouse debt over a period of time with funds generated from the recapitalisation process.
Ringfencing bulk cargo
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee further recommended that the Ministry should expedite the enactment of legislation banning the transportation of bulk goods using road transport and ringfence traffic to rail. Mr. Speaker Sir, the recommendation brought forward by the
Committee was approved by Cabinet at its thirtythird meeting held on
16th October, 2017.
My Ministry has started the consultative process with other stakeholders who will be affected by this decision. Once consultations are completed and financial closure is reached on the recapitalisation programme which will indicate to the Ministry the capacity of NRZ, relevant legislation will be enacted. Currently, the organisation has no capacity to move all bulk traffic on offer owing to the capacity challenges. Recapitalisation thus will address the capacity constraints, among them track cautions (speed restrictions) highlighted in the report.
Inventory of all NRZ properties
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee further recommended that the NRZ should come up with an inventory of all its properties within and outside the country and use some of the properties to liquidate their debts. Mr. Speaker Sir, the NRZ does not own assets outside Zimbabwe though the NRZ Pension Fund and Emerged Railway Property (ERP) do. An inventory has been done for all locally held properties. NRZ will seek to operate joint venture partnerships with suitable partners to unlock the value of some of the assets as opposed to disposing of the same. The organisation recently acquired a Real Estate Management software and is transferring the data base of all its properties into the new system.
General Manager of NRZ not to sit on the BBR Board
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee pointed out that allowing the General Manager of the NRZ Board to sit on the BBR Board, a competitor in the rail industry is against sound corporate practice. Mr. Speaker Sir, from the time that BBR was incorporated in 1997, the Ministry has appointed the office of the NRZ General Manager, one other member from NRZ senior management and an official from the
Ministry to represent NRZ and Government interests on the BBR Board. The objective is to have representatives who are able to engage representatives from the other shareholders in the discussions and debate in the board. Mr. Speaker Sir, we have noted concerns of the Committee regarding this issue and have directed the board to find an alternative to protect the interests of the NRZ on the board.
NRZ to develop an industrial relations policy
Mr. Speaker, the Committee further urged the NRZ to develop an industrial relations policy. I am pleased to report, Mr. Speaker Sir, that the NRZ Board has requested management to come up with an HR Strategy and Policy, which will incorporate an Industrial Relations Policy. The major issue that was straining the industrial relations environment was the irregular payment of salaries. Management has from 2017, managed to stabilise the payment of salaries as I have alluded to earlier on in my presentation.
Engagement of a technical partner on a PPP basis
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee noted that Government has granted the NRZ authority to engage in negotiations with a view to finding a technical partner. The Committee urged the NRZ to proceed with speed in this regard. Mr. Speaker Sir, the NRZ floated a request for proposals in April, 2017 for the recapitalisation of the organisation which culminated in the selection of the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet Consortium as the winning bidder. As is now common knowledge, negotiations with the consortium are in progress.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am pleased to report that the NRZ has received the first batch of seven locomotives, 157 wagons and seven passenger coaches as part of an interim arrangement with the DIDG/Transnet Consortium to bridge the gap in rolling stock. The equipment was officially received by His Excellency, the President on the 21st of
February, 2018 in Bulawayo. May I take this opportunity to thank the Portfolio Committee for their overwhelming support during the commissioning of the wagons and locomotives.
Mr. Speaker Sir, when all the interim equipment is delivered, the NRZ would have received 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and 34 passenger coaches. This equipment will enable the NRZ to uplift an additional 100 000 tonnes of cargo per month and boost monthly revenues to $1.1 million.
I can point out Mr. Speaker Sir to the august House that these wagons, coaches and locomotives that I am referring to are not new wagons and they are not part of the deal of the $400 million. They are a stopgap measure, an interim relief to the NRZ which we have leased by agreement with the Transnet and DIDG because it will take about 18 months for them to deliver new wagons, coaches and locomotives which they are already working on in order to deliver them to the NRZ. That may be has to be made very clear for our colleagues or Members of
Government to immediately remove duty on fuel meant for
The Committee also recommended that Government should consider removing duty on fuel meant for NRZ wagons. Mr. Speaker
Sir, the Committee submitted a proposal for the removal of duty on fuel.
However, after consultations with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the complete waiver of all duties was considered to be impractical, and the focus is now limited to the road levy portion of the duty.
In conclusion Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to assure the House that my Ministry is currently seized with the matter of the recapitalisation of the NRZ and results of these efforts should begin to show soon. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to applaud and thank the Minister for a well rounded response. There are two issues that come to the fore. The issue of the mineral rights in South
Africa, which reside in the same pool of property like the Victoria Falls Hotel and the Victoria Falls Bridge. I am quite elated that he has taken that under his stewardship and is going to make sure that there is expeditious usage of those mineral rights.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank the Minister that now NRZ is going to be an awakened giant, aware that they are now embedded with DIDG/Transnet. Transnet is the owner of Africa’s 80% of all rail systems Mr. Speaker and they reside in South Africa. For you to see far, you need to stand on the shoulders of giants and this is what the Minister has done as he has responded to, in particular, the Members of Parliament from Bulawayo’s plight in order to resuscitate NRZ. I therefore move that the First Report of Portfolio Committee on
Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Inquiry into the Turnaround Strategy for the National Railways of Zimbabwe be adopted.
Motion put and agreed to.
SECOND REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
ON TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL
DEVELOPMENT ON THE INQUIRY INTO THE
TURNAROUND STRATEGY FOR THE CENTRAL
MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT DEPARTMENT
Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on the Second Report of the
Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Inquiry into the Turnaround Strategy for the Central Mechanical Equipment Department.
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND
INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR.
GUMBO):Mr. Speaker Sir, I would want to respond to this report by the Portfolio Committee but from the grumblings and having also been in the House for a long time, it would appear like Members seem to be saying enough becomes enough. I have been having these responses for quite a long time and I was feeling it was very unfair for the Committee. I am now alone in the Ministry, before I used to send my deputy and the work that I do is calling for me to travel across the country and at times I am then accused of not coming to make responses. I wanted to do my duty but if I am allowed, I can hand over the reports, I have got all the reports with me, if that pleases the Chairperson.
HON. NDUNA: You can carry on. Thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Maybe Hon. Minister, you can
carry on with this report.
HON. DR. GUMBO: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank you for affording me the opportunity to respond to a report on an inquiry into the turnaround strategy of the Central Mechanical Equipment Department which was undertaken by the Portfolio
Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development.
The observations of the Committee are as follows; the Ministry notes the observations and recommendations made by the Committee and hereby respond as follows:
Mr. Speaker, the Committee recommended that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development must be urgently engaged to guarantee protection of investors willing to partner CMED in fuel importation. The adopted strategy on the revival of the organization’s fuel business is to get a strategic partner who will inject the required working capital. To that end, the CMED and management have engaged the APEX Bank to guarantee the protection of investors willing to partner the organisation in the fuel importation business. Given the foreign currency shortages prevailing in the country, one of the key issues CMED has raised with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, is the need for a consistent allocation of foreign currency to enable CMED and strategic partner to meet the fuel import bills.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe could not commit itself to giving CMED preferential treatment as it has a standing import priority list. In other words, the needs of CMED will be met within the confines of the import priority list.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee pointed out the need for Government within the limits of the resources available to it, to stager payment of the debt to CMED to ensure that the organisation has adequate resources to fund critical operations. The burden to address this issue lies with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. On its part, the CMED has employed a number of strategies to recover the debt and these include debt settlement through setoffs, taking legal action against debtor Ministries and departments. These strategies have to a limited extent assisted but a huge amount of $24, 7 million still remains outstanding of which $22 million is owed by Government.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee made the point that my Ministry should consider granting CMED a stake like other indigenous companies in major infrastructural development projects such as the dualisation of the BeitbridgeChirundu highway.
Contracts signed with the main contractor Geiger International provide that 40% of the project value which will be subcontracted to local companies. CMED is not only a local company but a state owned enterprise and therefore qualifies to make that application.
Mr. Speaker Sir, CMED is currently busy preparing itself for this and other projects. The following measures are being instituted:
- The company is setting up a construction unit, thereby placing itself in a position to execute construction works. The
construction unit will have a full array of equipment namely a Road Reclaimer, Tippers, a Water Bowser, pneumatic roller, a Vibrant Roller and a grader.
- CMED recently procured a road reclaimer, high tech machinery that rehabilitates a road in a short space of time performing multitasks. It executes four processes that would ordinarily have required four different pieces of equipment.
- The company has embarked on a rehabilitation exercise of its current fleet to improve on reliability and performance once the project kicks off.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee retired that the need for fuel scandal be urgently concluded and for the culprits to be brought to book. The case referred to is before the courts and therefore as such subjudice
Mr. Speaker Sir, in view of the competitive nature of the fuel industry, the Committee urged CMED to benchmark itself against private suppliers such as Puma and Total and adopt best practices to ensure that their operations are sustainable. It is indeed acknowledged that the image of CMED service stations leaves a lot to be desired. This stems from the fact that the institution used to operate as a Government department with the service stations designed to service the internal fleet in which case competitiveness was not an issue.
I am happy to report that CMED has initiated the process of upgrading its fuel infrastructure not only to improve its outlook but to meet the regulatory requirements imposed by the institutions such as the Zimbabwe Regulatory Authority (ZERA). Local authorities and Environmental Management Authority under its capital budget for
2018, CMED intends to spend $2, 7 million on the upgrading of the
Workington or Coventry Road Service Station and the Victoria Falls
Service Station through Public Private Partnerships. The Workington Service Station is estimated to cost $2 million while the Victoria Falls
Service Station will be upgraded to a cost of $700 000.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee implored the CMED to consider actively pursuing strategic alliance with successful players in the industry in order to remain viable. Mr. Speaker Sir, CMED has the potential to perform well. Its major challenge is nonpayment of services by Government Ministries and Departments. As indicated above, CMED is owed $22 million by debtor Ministries. The debt has a negative impact on the provision of services by the organisation. The company finds itself unable to recapitalise and procure consumables for its vehicle fleet as the money is tied up in debt. As a Ministry, we will continue engaging Treasury so that it liquidates the debt.
In contrast, EasyGo Car Hire and Travel which is a cash business, is doing well because it does not face any cash flow challenges. Its vehicle fleet is relatively new and is within its economic life. Consequently, it has established itself as a reputable and dominant driving school in the country.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee further recommended that the employment contracts of CMED’s top officials must not be open ended. The Public Utilities and Corporate Governance Bill intends to address the issue of performance contracts for Executives in State owned Enterprises. The CMED, along with other State owned enterprises will be guided by this Bill in that respect, once it becomes law.
The Committee encouraged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to liquidate their US$768 000 debt with CMED in order to open further lines of assistance for the 2018 elections. I wish to inform Hon. Members that ZEC settled its debt emanating from vehicles hired for the 2013 Harmonised Elections, in 2017.
The Committee expressed the view that forensic audit should be instituted on the fuel business unit before any funds amounting to US$24 million can be injected. It is my humble submission that circumstances surrounding the prejudice of US$2.7 million to the company through the
First Oil deal were thoroughly investigated; hence a forensic audit would be a waste of resources. Officials implicated were subjected to disciplinary hearings and court processes and they were exonerated.
The Committee also emphasised the need to modernise and computerise the equipment of the organisation. In 2017, CMED embarked on some serious strides to recapitalise the equipment business. The company secured a bank loan of US$1.9 million with which it intends to utilise for this purpose. The exercise of modernising the equipment is underway. What is critical is to maintain or sustain the momentum going forward. We hope Government will give support in that respect through the debt liquidation process. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank the Minister for a well rounded report again and also thank him for his resilience and endurance, having gone through a plethora of reports from the
I want to just touch on one issue, the $768 000 that has been settled by ZEC to CMED. This is applaudable, yours truly stood before Hon. Justice Chigumba once and she asked yours truly to settle his debts if it comes to debts and she was not going to rule in any other way. Now that she is the head of ZEC and she had settled her debts, I am quite enlightened that she is leading by example. Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank you. I therefore move that the motion that the Second Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Inquiry into the Turnaround Strategy of the Central Mechanical
Equipment Department (CMED) be adopted.
Motion put and agreed to.
SECOND REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON
TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT ON
THE ENQUIRY IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY
Seventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural
Development on the Inquiry into the Aviation Industry in Zimbabwe.
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND
INFRSTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO): Mr.
Speaker Sir, in their submission to the Committee, Traffic Controllers and Pilots raised a number of issues. The Ministry also notes the observations and recommendations made by the Committee and hereby responds as follows:
Since 2014, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAZ) embarked on a fundraising initiative to procure identified systems for airspace management and airport infrastructure such as;
- Air Traffic Control Training Simulator;
- Air Traffic Control Communications System for seven airports;
- Navigational Aids System, Very High Frequency Omnidirectional
Range (VOR) and Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) for three airports;
- Primary and Secondary Radar Surveillance Systems to cover the whole airspace;
- Baggage handling systems and
- Completion of terminal buildings, runways and taxiways rehabilitation.
Mr. Speaker Sir, these efforts were meant to address nationwide modernisation of systems for the Communication, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) systems and rehabilitation of airport infrastructure. However, fund raising in a depressed macroeconomic environment posed serious challenges to the
Authority, which could only implement the Air Traffic Control Training Simulator using own resources at a cost of US$565 000. The simulator was commissioned in August, 2016.
I am pleased to inform the august House that CAAZ entered into a
US$33.7 million agreement on 20th December, 2017 for the financing, supply and installation of all the above systems including automatic Dependant Surveillance –Broadcast (ADSB) following an award of tender to Indra Sistemas of Spain through State Procurement Board resolution PBR No. 1109. The agreement includes the Tower Cab for J.
- Nkomo International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower.
The funding modalities for this project are being finalised and the project will take 18 months to complete with the majority of the systems being installed and commissioned within twelve months from June 2018. In the meantime, CAAZ is continuing to provide the necessary preventive and corrective maintenance on the available systems in order to provide services that meet minimum standards until the replacement of systems is implemented.
CAAZ continues to audit its processes and is committed to address all shortcomings through training of all its personnel including Air
Traffic Controllers and Technical Staff. In this regard, all Air Traffic
Controllers have since gone for mandatory refresher training following the procurement of the Air Traffic Controller Training Simulator in
Mr. Speaker, with regards to the airport modernisation programme, Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport terminal buildings are set to be expanded through a loan financing to the tune of US$153 million from the Government of the People’s Republic of China through the Export Import Bank of China. The Government to Government Memorandum of Agreement was signed on 6th December, 2017. The project will include the completion of the runway rehabilitation which has been outstanding for a couple of years due to financial challenges.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Air Traffic Control Tower at J. M Nkomo International Airport will be constructed once the US$7 million allocated by Treasury in the 2018 National Budget has been disbursed. Meanwhile, CAAZ continues to upgrade the airport infrastructure to meet the expected international service standards as stipulated by ICAO.
Mr. Speaker Sir, CAAZ is also in the process of tendering for the installation of perimeter fences at Charles Prince and Buffalo Range Airports and the electrification of the fence at Victoria Falls International Airport. The provision of airport ancillary systems like wind socks is part of the routine maintenance of airports, which are ongoing works.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee called upon CAAZ to implement the Safety Management Policy in full. I am pleased to report that a requirement for Safety Management Policy has been incorporated in the current Civil Aviation Bill and the Bill has now gone through the public hearings on 12th and 13th February, 2018. The Ministry is looking forward to the expeditious promulgation of the new Act.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee also made several observations regarding Air Zimbabwe. The Committee recommended that representatives of Pilots and Engineers be drafted as permanent members of the Board of Directors of the national airline. The Board of the national airline is appointed in terms of Clause 69 of the Articles of Association which requires that people be selected on the basis of their experience and qualifications in the various professional disciplines for the benefit of the organisation.
Mr. Speaker Sir, with regard to fleet modernization, I wish to inform the House that in Zimbabwe, air operators are no longer allowed to import Chapter 2 aircraft such as the Boeing 737200. Those who already have them may continue operating them under special maintenance conditions. This is in line with the prevailing environment management standards, reducing operational costs and reduction of foreign currency outflow. Mr. Speaker Sir, whilst the economic design service objective for most aircraft is 20 years, there is an escalation of costs soon after that. This is occasioned by enhanced maintenance programmes and structural checks to maintain airworthiness and operational efficiencies.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is indisputable that the Harare / London is very lucrative and efforts are underway to resuscitate its operations. The airline will currently have to partner with a regional airline until Third Country recertification is attained from the European Union. Mr. Speaker Sir, the Government has continued to support the national airline in its operations over the years. This has included ring fencing of almost all domestic routes for the national airline. However, other continental initiatives like the Yamoussoukro Declaration militate against continued protection.
Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon. Members will be aware that the national airline does not have adequate and appropriate equipment to ensure a semblance of schedule integrity. There has also been increased pressure from the tourism sector players that the sporadic nature of the operations of the national airline are militating against the growth of the tourism industry. I wish therefore to announce that with immediate effect, we have made the decision to allow other players to ply the domestic routes on frequencies not allocated to the national airline for the convenience of the travelling public and tourists.
Mr. Speaker sir, I would like to assure this august House that Government is seized with the issue of the revival of our national airline and is working on a holistic package that will include the clearance of the IATA debt which has crippled its operations. Mr. Speaker Sir, in the coming few weeks, the national airline will take delivery of new equipment which will greatly improve its operations. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: MR. Speaker Sir, once again I want to thank the Minister for a well rounded response, in particular the tail end of that report that speaks to the rehabilitation and complementation of the equipment at Air Zimbabwe. I speak as an aviator of ten years, an air traffic controller and a combat controller. The issue of a surveillance is very key Mr. Speaker and the Minister has eloquently addressed that one to the effect that he says in 18 months Zimbabwe will not be a black whole which it currently is. This is because if an aircraft goes down with 300 people, it will never go up again. As we fly without radars, it is akin to driving blindfolded Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank the Minister for a wellrounded response and I want to say to him I wish I was again the Chairperson of that Committee.
Mr. Speaker, I therefore move that the Second Report of Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Inquiry into the Aviation Industry in Zimbabwe be adopted.
Motion put and agreed to.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO),
the House is adjourned at Twenty Two Minutes past Five o’clock p.m.