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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 14 DECEMBER 2023 VOL 50 NO 21

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 14th December, 2023

The National Assembly met at a Quarter past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER

SWEARING IN OF NEW MEMBERS

         THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I have to inform the House that on Wednesday, 13th December, Parliament was notified by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in terms of Section 46 (17) (b) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13], that Sakupwanya Pedzai…

         HON. MAHERE: On point of order, Mr. Speaker Sir! – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible injections] –

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Order, please take your seat. Do not be over excited please! Sakupwanya Pedzai was duly elected unopposed as a Member of the National Assembly for the Mabvuku -Tafara Constituency.

         Parliament was also notified by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in terms of Section 67 (3) of the Electoral Act – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible injections] – Order! Do not be over-excited.  Sakupwanya Pedzai of ZANU PF Party had, with effect from the 9th of December, 2023 been duly elected unopposed – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – please do not invite me to take drastic action against you. Sakupwanya has been duly elected unopposed as a Member of the National Assembly for the Mabvuku-Tafara Constituency.  Parliament was also notified by ZEC in terms of Section 67 (3) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13], that with effect from 10th December 2023, the following Members were duly elected as Members of the National Assembly for the specified constituencies.  Hon. Thusani Ndou of ZANU PF Party, as a Member of the National Assembly for Beitbridge West Constituency; Hon. Chineke Muchimba of ZANU PF Party, as a Member of the National Assembly for Binga North Constituency; Hon. Rajeshkumari Modi of ZANU PF Party, as a Member of the National Assembly for the Bulawayo South Constituency; Hon. Arthur Mujeyi of ZANU PF, as a Member of the National Assembly for Cowdray Park Constituency – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Members on my left, you are aware of the Constitutional processes that took place and the courts also determined.

         The next is Tendai Chitura Nyathi of the CCC Party, as a Member of the National Assembly for Lobengula-Magwegwe Constituency; Hon. Phatisiwe Machangu of ZANU PF Party, as a Member of the National Assembly for Lupane East Constituency; Hon Charles Moyo of CCC Party, as Member of the National Assembly for Mzilikazi Constituency and Hon. Albert Tawanda Mavunga of ZANU PF Party, as a Member of the National Assembly for Nketa Constituency. 

         Now, Section 128 (1) of the Constitution provides that before a Member of Parliament takes a seat – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, Order!

         CCC Members broke into song: ‘Ndimi makauraya hazvina mhosva pahukama’ …

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order!  Three Hon. Members from the CCC Party sitting next to Hon. Mahere and those three immediately behind, leave the House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]

All the CCC Party Members left the House still ‘Ndimi makauraya hazvina mhosva pahukama’

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Because of your singing and disturbing the peace of this House, you are suspended for the next four sittings of the House. 

Section 128 (1) of the Constitution provides that before a Member of Parliament takes his or her seat in Parliament, the Member must take the oath of a Member of Parliament as set out in the third Schedule. Section 128 (2) states that the Oath must be taken before the Clerk of Parliament.  I therefore call upon the Clerk of Parliament to administer the Oath of Members of Parliament.

Before the Oath is administered, where is the Serjeant-at-Arms? Advise the Serjeant-at-Arms that these Hon. Members have acted dishonourably and I do not want to see them within the precincts of Parliament and they should checkout immediately tomorrow morning.  As I indicated, they will not have four sittings in attendance.  I thank you.

NEW MEMBERS SWORN

HON. SAKUPWANYA PEDZAI; HON. THUSANI NDOU; HON. CHINEKE MUCHIMBA; HON. RAJESHKUMARI MODI; HON. ARTHUR MUJEYI; HON. TENDAI CHITURA NYATHI; HON. PHATISIWE MACHANGU; HON. CHARLES MOYO; and HON. ALBERT TAWANDA MAVUNGA subscribed to the Oath of Loyalty as required by the Law and took their seats – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, Hear.] -

CCC Members having returned to the Chamber    

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Members on my left, I have ruled that you leave the premises of this august House.  In terms of your behaviour against Order No. 114, can you peacefully leave the august House?  Can you peacefully leave the august House? Can you leave, please? - [AN HON. MEMBER: That arbitrary behaviour must stop in this House] - Can you leave the House? – [AN HON. MEMBERDo not turn this House to a massive crime scene.  It is wrong for elected Members of Parliament, we have a right to be in this Parliament, you cannot rule arbitrarily.  We must express ourselves in this House, Masaya died.  We have a right to express ourselves Hon. Speaker]- Can you leave the House! - [AN HON. MEMBERYou cannot throw us out of the House because we are expressing ourselves – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] -Do not entertain him – [AN HON. MEMBER: There is nothing honourable about Scott.  Scott killed people in Mabvuku, Masaya was killed by Scott in Mabvuku.  There is nothing honourable about Scott.  He should leave the House, he is an intruder.  We were truly elected here and we must express ourselves. Scott has got blood on his hands.  Scott killed Masaya in Mabvuku – [AN HON. MEMBER:  Hapana zvaurikutaura ibva ipapo!] –

         Opposition Members having refused to leave the House.  

         THE HON. SPEAKER:  Sergeant-at-Arms, escort them out!  Can you leave the House peacefully please! – [HON. KARENYI: Mr. Speaker Sir, we were not in the House, we have to defend the rights of the people in our constituencies.  Where is democracy, where is democracy, this is not rightOn a point of order Hon. SpeakerWhat have we done?]-

         Police officers entered the House and asked the Opposition Members to leave the House.  Some Opposition Members having refused to leave the House willingly were forced out of the House by police officers.

MOTION

FINANCE BILL: BUDGET DEBATE

First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion that leave be granted to bring in a Finance Bill.

Question again proposed.

HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Mr. Speaker, that I get this opportunity to debate this very important phase which is the formulation of our budget that deals with how Government is going to spend, get the revenue to then finance its expenditure. I would like to start with looking at the background of us having a tax revenue on behalf of Government. The Government must provide utilities and it must provide many things that individuals cannot provide for themselves. It must provide infrastructure like roads, dams, look after civil servants who work to provide services to the people of Zimbabwe.

For it to be able to finance all that, it must be funded and the financing must come from the people of Zimbabwe who are individuals like ourselves and like any other employee or any person who earns an income like corporate organisations. They must contribute in terms of tax or in a form of tax. When we look around ourselves and when we see infrastructure like roads, dams, hospitals and the security that we get, we should also be able to ask ourselves as to where the Government gets all this money to finance those services.

I would like to focus mainly on the revenue and tax policy measures that our Minister has proposed. The Minister has shown a lot of dexterity and initiatives that will help Government to have funding or revenue to use to help Zimbabwe grow and develop. There is no country that can develop without its citizens paying tax. Tax is very necessary and we should know that whatever luxury that we get, it has been paid for by somebody. Whatever Government provides, it means it has either borrowed or we have contributed to income tax, corporate tax or sales tax and all that is mobilised to pay tax.

We are in a unique situation as a country where we are sanctioned. The other source of revenue would be donor aid from international governments coming forward to help us as a country. We have a situation that we are under sanctions and that source of revenue is not there. It brings us to our present war cry. Our present war cry is Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo. How do we build our country if we are not contributing to mobiliisation of revenue…?

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, can you address the Chair?

HON. TOGAREPI: I looked at tax thresholds that were proposed by the Minister, ZW750 000. I looked at it vis-à-vis what other people are saying in terms of our budget being poor-friendly or very harsh to the poor. I realise that most of our civil servants are in this bracket and the Minister has said these will not pay tax, meaning in his structure of the budget, he is already exempting those who are earning less. This will bring in our civil servants and low-income earners. So, by this, already the Minister is demonstrating that he is pro-poor and these people, because of their position in terms of income, will not be paying tax. I feel that this is very critical and the Minister must be applauded for including this measure as a way of cushioning the low-income earners of our country. Minister, what I would also want to encourage you, I was very excited when you said the $300...

         THE HON. SPEAKER: Please, do not address the Hon. Minister. Address the Chair.

HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I am sorry the Minister is very close to me, next time do not sit close to me. Mr. Speaker, the $300 that civil servants are getting as a COVID allowance that the Minister has now said is now going to be pensionable, it means members, the civil servants, those who would be in this same bracket will have their future looked after through a deduction on this amount towards their pension. What I would want the Minister to assure us is, if this amount remains an allowance, that makes it untaxable so that it does not destroy the good measure of $750 tax free threshold. If the $300 is also not going to be taxed, we have fully cushioned the low-income earners. So, that area, if it can be looked at.  Also, if the Minister can confirm to us in his responses that, that is covered, then this budget is one of the best and responsive budget I have ever seen.

In the Budget Statement, the Minister spoke about increase in toll fees. I know very well nobody wants to pay but people want to travel. They travel on the roads that have been built by Government and they think that those roads maybe came from heaven. Those roads were paid billions of dollars for them to be there.  It is critical that we ensure that these roads are maintained. We also ensure that we do more roads. It is a marvel when you travel along Masvingo- Beitbridge Road today, surely you can sleep. I was talking to the Clerk, he said he can afford to sleep from Harare to Beatrice because the road is very smooth but it costs money.  For you to have that road and those who are using that road must be prepared to pay.  When you pay, you will maintain those roads, you keep the roads smooth and you are going to be safe from accidents.  Even when investors come here to explore opportunities, they look at your road infrastructure. Can we come and do business where there is no road? When they see roads, it means many people would want to do business with you.

My plea is, there are two ways of dealing with toll fees. The $5 that the Minister is proposing is, it maybe very expensive to others. You go to other countries, people do not even go into town using their own cars because it is expensive. They use toll fees to exclude people from getting into town. People will not travel willy-nilly to Masvingo, to Harare to Bulawayo. They will not travel because if there is a cost, that is a point of opportunity for us to protect our roads.  Many people who travel long distances are those people who have money and tax has a function of distributing income from those who have, to those who are poor. That is why I recommend to the Minister that registered public transporters are those that are registered through the Ministry of Roads and Transport; that are registered as buses carrying members of the public. Those must not have their toll fees increased. That is my recommendation. Those kombis that are not registered are the source of accidents. They are sources of indiscipline on the roads, let them pay.  If they decide to also then want to benefit from that concession, I recommend that they register.  If they register, it means the Minister collects more but they just use roads, those Mushikashikas and so forth but the Minister does not collect. This will help the Minister in taxation.

There is one important thing the Minister must pursue; any Government, any tax collector must have a register of the people of that country who pay tax. Do we have it today? The best way of doing it is to ensure that everyone who does business in Zimbabwe is registered and if those people are registered, it means the Minister will then follow and get the dollar. Tax did not start today.  By the way, in the Bible there was Caesar who was paid tax. So, pay unto Caesar what is due to Caesar.

The other issue is about passport fees that the Minister raised.  Hon. Minister, I have no problem in us charging economic fees on passports but I was going to recommend, despite that I support the issue of increasing, but it must then be proportional not in a way that would discourage people from getting a right.  Having an identity document is a right. I was going to recommend that the Minister keeps maybe the passport fees for those who are prepared to wait for a month or two to get their passport at the same rate.  For those who would want those passports yesterday, they must pay. It means they want a passport for some economic value. How do we share if they get that passport and fly out of Zimbabwe and start making millions out of Zimbabwe? How will Zimbabwe benefit after running around to give this member of society a passport that he wants so much?

I would recommend, if it is good to the Minister, to have a three-tier pricing system. One for those who are prepared to get the passport because they want it as an official document in this country, they can have it.  If you want to give them in three months’ time, they apply, get it in three months but do not charge these people because they are the poor. Those who would want it yesterday, let them pay very economic prices.

I now go to the wealth tax I have friends who are very rich who work in Mbare and Magaba area. That place used to be for small and medium enterprises.  Those were the people who were working in Magaba and Mbare, but the same people who are running Magaba and Mbare today are people who stay in Borrowdale, who are flashy but they carry their monies in sacks. Ma card box anenge akazara mari. When they bring that money in the economy, they distort prices without paying tax.  I recommend that the Ministers wealth tax, US$100 000 cannot define a rich man. If you have a principal house, I think that must be exempt.  Let us exempt a principal house. Secondly let us look at higher figures.  Someone who has a US$300 000 or US$400 000 house must pay something.

 I was going to recommend that we have a register of all house owners in Zimbabwe.  Let us produce it and let us create a culture of paying tax.  If each of those people in urban centers, because of their location would pay $10 and those in higher income areas pay more.  How much will the Minister collect?  After collecting that, we will see better roads in urban areas, we will see an improved environment in terms of service delivery.  As we speak, our Government, because of failures of local authorities, has taken up that responsibility to rehabilitate roads.  If the locals in those urban centres are not paying tax, what will happen to those roads and facilities that are not supposed to be given to the people of Zimbabwe? 

I want to conclude Mr. Speaker, by talking about the sugar levy.  Surely people enjoy sugar, but the consequences are very high and they strain the health system.  When you have diabetes, cancer, and many of these non-communicable diseases, you have some relationship with your consumption of sugar.  The figures in terms of the percentage that the Minister would want, maybe, he may then look at the figures and their implications but the principle must not escape us.  Let us ensure that we do tax those people so that we pay our nurses ,doctors, police and soldiers well.  We need to tax our people and progressively those who are rich must help everybody so that we have a decent economy.

In Shona kune mumwe mutauro unoti, kana uchida kufara, idya nevarombo.  Those Hon. Members who have money here, for you to be very happy, enjoy that money with the poor.  And the other best way of enjoying with every poor person is just paying tax and their roads and clinics will be done and they have no reason to then envy you or start challenging you on your wealth. 

In conclusion, let us have a culture in Zimbabwe of paying tax.  Every Zimbabwean must feel responsible that he must pay tax.  The courage our Minister has shown in coming up with these revenue measures has never happened.  Let us not talk about politics when you are talking about building Zimbabwe and financing Government expenditure.  Whatever we get today is from our own sources.  We cannot build this country running away from paying tax when our neighbours in South Africa pay 60% in income tax.  They pay 28% in sales tax.  We pay 25%, we pay no tax in Zimbabwe on income tax.  We have companies that are very rich Mr. Speaker, who are not paying a cent.  They hide because we put an exemption on dividends because we want to encourage investment to come to Zimbabwe.  They come here and dig holes, take our diamond, take our gold and dig big holes in our country.  What are we going to be left with?  Mazikomba, but we do not have good schools and good roads.  However, if we tax these people and they do not want to do business with us, it is better if they go. We will live with our gold, diamond and lithium. If a new generation comes after us, they will find our lithium there instead of having a situation where all our lithium is gone and we have nothing to show.

I support the proposal by the Minister. Mr. Speaker Sir, I would want to say through your office, encourage the Minister not to be scared or intimidated by people who have so much money such that they do not want to pay tax. He must not be apologetic. This money will see us moving a step ahead. We have no source of money because we have few friends. We want to stand on our own using our resources. I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: What was your Shona idiom?

HON. TOGAREPI: If you want to be very happy kana uri mupfumi, idya navarombo because they will protect your riches.

THE HON. SPEAKER: I get it. I wish to remind Hon Members that in terms of Section 111 of our Standing Orders, go for virgin land and try not to repeat what was reported by the Chairperson of Committees or the debate that ensued yesterday. Come up with something fresh. Go straight to the point and in 5 or 10 minutes you are finished. Please be guided by Standing Order No. 111.

Hon. Chiduwa having stood up to debate.

THE HON. SPEAKER: You are the Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee. You debated yesterday and the Standing Orders do not allow you to have a second bite. I now call upon Hon. Ncube.

HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker Sir, she was listed but I am told you advised her not to debate because she is a Presiding Officer.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Correct.

HON. TOGAREPI: But they have been debating all along.

THE HON. SPEAKER: I have ruled because all along we were sufficient.

         HON. MAKWIRANZOU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir, good afternoon.

HON. SPEAKER: Good afternoon.

HON. MAKWIRANZOU: I rise Mr. Speaker Sir, to add my voice on the War Veteran Affairs Vote. Mr Speaker Sir, this is a new Ministry whose mandate covers several issues of which I shall only repeat the significant ones.

The Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [Chapter 17:12] needs to be operationalised. Mr Speaker Sir, this Act is pregnant with issues that include the registration of war veterans, the maintenance of accurate records of war veterans and repatriation of deceased war veterans. Mr Speaker Sir, these war veterans made the ultimate sacrifice – sometimes they think we sidelined them, I think we should honour them.

I am in the Committee that caters for war veterans’ affairs and they are very grateful that the Hon. Minister ring-fenced for their Ministry. However, out of the proposal or bid, only 4,4% was awarded. Mr. Speaker Sir, the surviving war veterans should be empowered.  The current freedom and sovereignty that we enjoy today is because of the sacrifices made by these war veterans. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -   It is for this very reason that His Excellency, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, established the new Ministry of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the allocated funds are not adequate.  For example, regarding social issues or social benefits, there was no allocation for funerals of war veterans.  Mr. Speaker Sir, medical expenses for war veterans, most of whom are now above 62 years and their dependents, were only allocated 7%. This is unattainable Mr. Speaker Sir.  Heroes dependents as well as their statutory requirements, only 3% of the bid was allocated; school fees for war veterans’ dependants, only 15% of the bid was allocated.  Mr. Speaker Sir, what was allocated can only pay for half the school children for only one term.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the lowest was the War Victims Fund where only 6% was allocated.  The war veterans of the liberation struggle and war collaborators and non-combatant cadres brought this freedom which we take for granted and so lavishly enjoy. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, I have a few recommendations.  War veterans are a disciplined group, they take leadership as they did during the war.  There is a fund termed, ‘Veterans Investment Cooperation’, and this fund, if adequately capitalised, will enable war veterans to start their businesses, mines and farms.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I am appealing to the Hon. Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion to look at this particular fund deeply and try to uplift the lives of war veterans.

Mr. Speaker Sir, war veterans should be taken seriously and the funding be increased upwards – not 4.4%.  Indeed, through you Mr. Speaker Sir, War Veterans Fund and Heroes, Patriots Assistance Fund should be raised, Medical, Education and Funeral Benefits Fund should be raised, and Compensation of War Victims Fund should also be raised.  War veterans are pleased that there was a mop-up fund for war collaborators vetting, but this is just a process.  To date, 110 000 war collaborators, and 10 000 non-combatant cadres have been vetted.  Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker Sir, these people have not received the benefits. 

I propose, Mr. Speaker Sir, that while we are waiting to do the rest of the vetting for unestimated 119 000 war collaborators and non-combatants, that those who have been vetted should now be paid, otherwise we would not be serious. Mr Speaker Sir, I submit my comments. I thank you.

HON. S. SAKUPWANYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for the opportunity to add my views on the proposed 2024 budget. Firstly, I want to highlight that the projected reality of the upcoming 2024 year will form the premise of my debate.

The anticipated effects of the El Nino drought which we can feel even now, means beyond food security, we have to consider the massive drop in water levels which will have a ripple effect on the ability of the Kariba hydro plant to supply adequate electricity, thereby also affecting manufacturing and industry, coupling this with global challenges that we expect to be facing next year.  It is a marvel that the Hon. Minister has projected that we will reach 3,5% growth in the 2024 year. In light of this, I must applaud the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion for including the $300 COVID Allowance towards the pension as this will protect our Civil Service and encourage the aspect of proper budgeting.

On the Wealth Tax, this is by definition, a proper initiative and I would like to thank our Minister for the proposition. However, I would like to propose that the tax condition should be limited to those who have two or more properties, the first one being exempted as a primary residence. This will ensure that you are not just hitting someone who has had his primary residence and who has worked hard for that particular residence out of the blue, but instead, you are saying who is going to enjoy further investments from additional residences out of their primary residence will be falling under that Wealth Tax.

         Given the difficult year ahead and with our challenges to have access to finance due to the punitive sanctions, again I applaud the Ministers for finding ways to finance our road infrastructure.  In Manicaland, we have a big challenge at the Forbes Border Post, the massive increase in productivity has led to long queues that lead to Mutare Town.  All this is happening before the Sabi Star Lithium Mine in Buhera starts exporting its product at full capacity.  This means that at its full capacity; we will have more than 100 trucks in a month, working our roads and extending the queues at the Forbes Boarder Post.

         To this effect, the proposed marginal fuel levy is a welcome development.  I support that it be ring-fenced towards road infrastructure.  In the same vein, the toll fee increase suggested is also a welcome initiative to add to the funds needed for road infrastructure and development.

         Mr. Speaker Sir, I must say that adding to road infrastructure should not just be on a quantitive basis, but on a qualitative one.  It is not enough to say that we need to add on to the roads, but we must also need to maintain the roads so that we have a standard that cuts across as our economy grows. 

         I want to take in the recommendation again of the Finance Committee that the public transport would ordinarily carry the low-income earners, that they be exempted from this toll fee increase.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I agree with the two cents per gram levy on beverages.  This is not a sugar tax itself which is a basic necessity, but on the beverages that are not classified as basic commodities. Having heard sentiments alluding to the probability of smuggling, one should not be afraid to implement a progressive policy out of fear of illegality.  This is why we have our security sector at the border post and to ensure we protect local industry from the effects of smuggling.  So, I propose that the Minister, in the same vein, also increases the budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs which deals with border control and smuggling which was originally allocated 3,9 trillion against the budget requirement of 9,5 trillion.

         As we consider the sugar tax, which is a progressive tax, I would also, in the same vein, highlight to the Minister of Finance that drug and substance abuse is a scourge that has affected our nation.  So whether it be under this budget consideration or future consideration, I suggest that the Minister must look into creating a fund that is directed towards drug and substance abuse.    In this vein, the Minster must consider putting a tax on alcohol in the same way that he implemented towards sugar tax. 

         Mr. Speaker Sir, as a youth, education is a priority for the future of our country. In this light, I want to highlight under the Ministry of War Veterans Affairs where they stated that under their education, only one billion was allocated out of a requirement of 136 billion.  This is only 15% of the students that are already attending school.  In the first term of 2024, only half of the students that go to school would have fully paid school fees.  The rest will not have fees paid for them and this is for War Veterans, people who went to war, and people who suffered injuries only for their families to be insulted in that way.

         Mr. Speaker Sir, it is my humble plea that we urge the Ministry of Finance to put more weight, especially on the Education of the children of War Veterans, and meet the demand to show our appreciation for their efforts of having gone to the war.  We know they did not have the opportunity to go to school themselves, but at least let us allow their children to get a decent education without any disturbance.

         Last but not least, I would want to just say, having heard all the arguments that I appreciate the Minister of Finance for continuing with a pro-poor budget, and I recommend that the Minister of Finance must be behold in ensuring that mechanisms are put in place, especially for the ring-fenced taxes that he suggested.  If indeed we are talking about ring-fencing for mining communities, let that amount go back to the mining community, be it Penhalonga, Buhera, or Mashonaland Central - it must follow that the last person on the ground can feel that the taxes are working.  With that, I humbly submit.

         HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me this opportunity to also contribute to this 2024 National Budget.  I am going to focus on three ministries.

         I will start with the Ministry of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture.  Mr. Speaker Sir, let me start by applauding the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion for the budget that shows great commitment to service delivery and economic development in a very challenging environment.  The revenue measures, broadly speaking, are a call to great sacrifice and tightening of our belts to reach our destination.

         The Ministry of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture is a crucial ministry to economic development.  There are quite several countries that have prospered on the back of sports.  It is a contribution to GDP and how we fund it matters.  I acknowledge the allocation by the Hon. Minister, but still appeal for a review to ensure that sports will be able to make an effective contribution to economic development.  It starts at a very local level including rural areas which is only possible through funding.  As you know Mr. Speaker Sir, that talent is only being identified in the urban setups, towns and cities, it is not being identified down in the rural areas where there might be a lot of talent that is hiding and going unidentified. 

         However, without funding, it would be difficult for the Ministry to visit all these areas and identify talent.  Once we identify good talent and nurture and develop it, it will be easy to market and the country will get returns from sports.  On the issue of retention, we know quite several people who have made it in sports, but if you ask, they are playing for so and so team somewhere.  We are not retaining the talent that we have developed and nurtured because there is no talent attraction.  I think the Ministry of Finance, through you Mr. Speaker, needs to look at how to retain and attract talent that we would have developed in our country.

         Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of Arts and Culture defines who we are in the world.  These days because we have lost the culture, we are now having challenges of drug abuse and early child marriages.  We used to play nhodo, pada and so forth.  That is where we would spend most of our time, but now because we have totally lost our culture, a lot of our people, not only youth, but even adults are now resorting to drug abuse and also child marriages.  So without funding, it will be difficult for the Ministry of Sport to go down there and encourage that type of sport, pada, chikokoko and things like that, that we used to do. These days they say we do not have a ball, what can entertain us, we would rather go to the bar and we would rather go to these different clubs.  Once that is encouraged and is seen as something that is recognised by our Government, you will see that people will go back to that and we will reduce drug abuse.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry requires effective funding for setting up and coming up with a structure following its separation with the Ministry of Youth.  Hon. Minister, may you please review the 10.18% allocation to reduce the 89.825 deficit for the Ministry to be on the right track.  The Ministry of Youth is now the original Ministry and Ministry of Sport is now being taken as the new Ministry.  It does not have furniture, transport and all sorts of things that make the Ministry going. That will also capacitate future fundraising by the Ministry for its activities.  If it gets adequate support from the onset through effective budget support, surely it will be able to raise and contribute to GDP.  For example, our National Stadium, once we have funding for the bucket seats, our national team will start playing at home.  That will raise funding for this Ministry to be able to uptake some of their programmes.

Let me move on to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.  I will only reign in on the issue of National Railways of Zimbabwe.  It is a national priority.  The Second Republic has scored highly on infrastructural development realising it is the driver and base for economic activity, the National Railways of Zimbabwe is lagging behind yet it would lower transport cost, improve efficiency and have very positive impact on the economy.  Refurbished and new wagons will mean most of the businesses will use cheaper and reliable NRZ away from expensive haulage trucks that damage the roads.  It will mean employing more people and more tax for Government and improved livelihood.  An 8.1 allocation for requested budget means not much will be achieved and NRZ will continue to slow down the current momentum of infrastructural development.  The public-private partnership model needs to be speeded up by the Ministry of Finance and that will rescue Treasury from having to fund NRZ and not being able to do it adequately.  The continued overdependence on road haulage will continue to damage the roads currently being modernised.  

NRZ also has assets including houses.  Mr. Speaker Sir, we have heard a lot of people saying we live in the houses of NRZ but they are not paying rentals.  There is need for the management of NRZ to look at this because some of them are not leaving those residences because they feel they were not being given their packages when they were laid off by the NRZ.  If this issue is not fixed in time, it means management is holding the whole country at ransom by continuation of loss of revenue. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, I will not conclude without saying something on the very important person in this nation, important to me and important to you, who is a woman.  I would want to say just two issues about the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Zimbabwe Gender Commission.  Mr. Speaker Sir, women constitute a bigger component of economic drivers now working in various sectors of survival families.  They also suffer the most from GDP.  I make this point to underscore the importance of making sure the Ministry is capacitated to provide for the security and safety of women.  The current allocation of the Ministry does not reflect the commitment to GBV initiatives.  The prevention of GBV and safety of women needs adequate funding for construction of the stop centres for victims of GBV and safe shelters. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, the GBV theme of ‘Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls’ is not misplaced.  The budget allocation for the Ministry needs to be reviewed and increased.  I am also appealing to the Hon. Minister to follow through on Government commitment on women empowerment.  The Women Micro-Finance Bank is a key institution in the process of empowering women but that will not happen if the bank cannot even meet the RBZ capital requirements and risk losing its licence.  An allocation of 10 billion out of the request of 100 billion is a let down to the women who are the backbone of our communities and society.  We cannot, at this stage, lose sight of the objectives of setting up a separate bank for women by not funding it adequately.  Once the women are able to access funding and set up businesses, they will grow the revenue base for Treasury and grow the economy, reducing poverty and over-dependence of Government. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, in conclusion, I would want to thank the Minister for including the budget for sanitary wear for the school going girls.  It will give dignity and confidence to our young girls in school.  It will help them even excel in their schoolwork.  If most of the recommendations made by the Committee on Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development are met, the Minister of Finance would have scored high on gender budgeting.  I thank you and I so submit Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Members, we are debating a very important aspect of our nation.  When you whisper, please keep your whispers low so that the Hon. Minister of Finance and his deputy can hear what the Member on the floor is saying.  Thank you.

HON. MUKUHLANI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir and a very good afternoon to you.  Let me thank you for giving me an opportunity to debate on the 2024 Budget proposal tabled before us by the Hon. Minister of Finance.  Mine are proposals to the budget allocation for the Ministry of Health and Child Care.  Mr. Speaker Sir, the old adage says prevention is better than cure.  If that stands true, it will then mean our preventative budget would be much higher than our curative budget.  I fully understand and appreciate the thinking behind having a higher allocation of the budget to the curative sector, mostly because that is where we procure medicines and associated accessories. 

My proposal to the Minister Mr. Speaker Sir, is that we start a process where we shift more towards preventative by investing in our public health sector and also investing in our primary healthcare.  Yes, it is good to have medicines on the shelves of our hospitals.  That is what is increasing our budget allocation for the curative sector.  It is so because we are not preventing what is preventable.  Therefore, if we invest more or allocate more funds to our preventative sector through the public health care and the primary health care, we will gradually reduce the amount of money that we are putting on the curative sector. I have heard a lot about the 15% of the budget meeting at the Abuja Declaration. It is a good wish but I want to applaud the Minister even though he has not met that target, because the Abuja Declaration has 39 items on its wish list, of which the 15% allocation is just one of them. If you look back, it was signed on 27th April, 2001; exactly a year after this country was put on sanctions. The Abuja Declaration takes the assumption that it is an ideal world. Zimbabwe is not operating in an ideal world. Therefore, what the Minister has put before us is practical and possible.

I now turn on to the sugar tax. It achieves the public health element of controlling non-communicable diseases which are associated with the intake of sugar. I appreciate the cry from the House for probably reducing the percentage. Having said that, we already have in place the Aids Levy which we were using for the fight against HIV and AIDs and the opportunistic infections that come along with the condition. We have fought the HIV and AIDs pandemic very well using the Aids Levy but we have today, the same patient for HIV and AIDs are now the new patients for the non-communicable diseases.

You will appreciate that the same patient now has hypertension, cancer and diabetes. While we request for the Minister to look at the percentage for the sugar tax, probably the proposal I will put before the House is that we look at using part of the Aids Levy to deal with the non-communicable diseases as the same people are also affected by the same conditions of non-communicable diseases.

Let me conclude by commending the Hon. Minister of Finance for having come up with this budget in a very difficult space. As I have mentioned, the issue of sanctions, unpredictable climatic conditions, unfavourable and unstable international markets and economy and yet he has come up with the budget that speaks to the aspirations of the greater populace of this nation. I thank you. 

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mukuhlani, did I get you right that your prayer to the Minister is that he reduces the tax on sugar drinks and supplemented with the Aids Levy?

HON. MUKUHLANI: Yes, Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. NDUDZO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I do not envy the invidious position of the Hon. Minister of Finance who has to discharge in these circumstances, what is palpably an invidious mandate, faced with expectations amounting to ZW110 trillion. You can imagine even if he were to introduce all kinds of taxes. Anyone of us put in his position and given this mandate, even if we were to invest all kinds of taxes, even if we were invent a rate tax  whereby you pay the  rates you have to pay a tax for those rates, it is a mission impossible to raise ZW110 trillion.

This is in the context of the size, shape and circumstances of our economy. That notwithstanding, we must commend the Hon. Minister for going out of his way to present the budget as we have it, which goes a long way to bring on board the expectations of the population and the expectations of Hon. Members. There must be an acceptance that for the Hon. Minister to raise ZW59 trillion as he has proposed, he inevitably must cast his fishing nets deeper and wider. He has to cast those nets deeper in going along the traditional streams and making sure that there is  a raise on the amounts he raises from  those streams, which finds justification in the raising of toll fees, passport fees, vehicle licence fees, corporate tax and the other tax streams where the Hon. Minister has proposed an increase.

I am, however, of the view that the budget proposal as we have it, though to some extent, has endeavoured to widen the base from which the Hon. Minister is collecting revenue, the budget has not widened the scope of where we can possibly collect revenue as much as would be possible. I say this because we must accept, as a nation, that for all the good things we wish to have, there is no such thing as a free ride anywhere in the world. If we want good schools Mr. Speaker Sir, we must pay the price. If we want good health care facilities, we must pay the price. If we want to cruise on good roads: we must, of necessity, pay the price so that we get good roads infrastructure. 

The widely and universally acceptable principle for infrastructure development the world over is the user pay principle model. If you want to use and enjoy something, you must be ready and be prepared to pay the price. In my observation, if you look, for example, at our roads, the greatest population of motor vehicles is concentrated in urban dwellings, you have far more vehicles in Harare than in the rest of Zimbabwe yet you will not find a single tolling facility in Harare. Our reality Mr. Speaker Sir, is that our inter-city and our intra-city road network carries the biggest number of motor vehicles.  So, I would urge the Hon. Minister to be bold, to be courageous and cast his net wider and make sure that we also have tolling within our cities and intra-city tolling because that is what the situation so demands. 

         In life and in business, there are two ways of raising revenue even if you are running your own business.  The first way is to make sure that you push the volumes.  If you have more volumes, even if your margins are few, you can still realise a good bottom line at the end of the day. You can simply push your margins and my fear is that the budget is more along the lines of pushing the margins than pushing the volumes.  Let us have as many facilities as possible so that we receive as much revenue as possible for us to have the roads we all wish to have.  I think it is a very bad experience that every motorist who comes into this big city, from whichever direction, if you are coming from the eastern side, once you are along the Goromonzi area, traffic starts to move at a snail pace.  If you are coming from Bindura, once you pass the tollgate, you suffer the same fate.  We need to be able to account for those huge volumes with corresponding revenues by making sure that we also collect from those quarters.

         I now want to address the issues that have to do with our justice delivery system.  I am happy, I note that not only do we have the Minister of Finance in the House but we also have the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in the House.  I wish to pose a question to you Mr. Speaker, which I believe you can also pose to the two respectable Ministers.  The order that says, he who pays the piper, chooses the tune.  We must ask ourselves the question, if we are not adequately remunerating our prosecutors and our judicial officers, we must ask ourselves the sober question of how they are able to sustain their livelihoods. 

         In our study of jurisprudence, we learn one very critical aspect, which is that judges and judicial officers are human beings.  They live in society, just like all of us.  They purchase whatever they require for their livelihood from exactly the same shops that we all go to, yet they are having to deal with the temptation of very rich criminals, with deep pockets who everyday are dangling carrot in their face.  That affects our justice delivery system.  In that regard, it is my view that the exclusion of our magistrates and our prosecutors from the payment of retention allowances that I understand is now centralised to the Public Service Commission and certain other professions have been given worth of receiving that retention allowance.  The exclusion of magistrates, where perhaps 90% of our people resort to, for their access to justice and matters prosecuted by our prosecutors, that exclusion must be reviewed and must be looked at as a matter of utmost urgency.

         Secondly and equally important, we know that when our courts convict offenders, fines are paid.  It is saddening to note that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been excluded from benefiting from the Court Retention Fund.  So, the prosecutors who actually do all the work make all the arguments, fight with the lawyers and fight the criminals until they secure a conviction, nothing comes to the NPA to support that great work. In my respectful submission, I would urge the Hon. Minister of Finance to make sure that he allows the NPA to retain part of the funds.

         As I conclude, let me categorically state that we must all bear in mind one important fact, whether we are politicians or whether we are high-heeled or whether we are privileged in the society or not, we must take into cognisance one fundamental fact that we are all going to be clients of our justice delivery system, one day or the other.  Either, we will need the services of our courts as clients being complainants and God forbid, perhaps we will need the services of our court as actually suspects or accused persons.  What we need is to make sure that when we access our courts, justice is not just done, but justice is also seen to be done.  Therefore, we must pay a fair compensation to those who operate and those who run the justice delivery system.

         On the basis of what is already allocated, I humbly beseech the Hon. Minister of Finance to make sure that we adequately take care of those who are steering the ship.  If we do not do that, we run the risk that other vultures and other nocturnal creatures will move in and take care of what ought to be our responsibility. 

I thank the Minister of Finance for having taken into account all the considerations.  I want to applaud him as I speak and I want to say in Latin, this is the kind of budget we could call pro bono que budget.  It is a budget which has been made with the interest of the public at heart.  I thank you.

HON. FRED MOYO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I think comments on the tax issue have been adequately dealt with by my colleague Hon. Members.  I would like to approach my comments from a different point of view.  I think we all need to accept that what we have been debating are issues to do with the one-year budget.  However, this one-year budget is actually a one in two-year budget.  In other words, if we are looking at the NDS1, we must realise that this year’s budget is in fact anchoring the last part of NDS1.  We also must realise that this year’s budget actually also anchors the National Vision of 2030.  If it does not work, then everything above it or that follows tends to also take the same trajectory. 

I therefore, look at how we should project our view of this budget taking us forward, through NDS1, through to 2030, which is a National Vision that we must achieve.  I would like to indicate to

the Minister that perhaps he should also look at revenue collected from business efficiencies and not necessarily direct taxes. We can get as much tax as we want, but if businesses that generate those are not being run efficiently, we will not win. In the private sector which I am familiar with, efficiencies are not being really looked at effectively the way we are running businesses at the moment.

Let me look at the mining sector which I am very familiar with. You look at some of the mines that we look at as big and try and analyse how they generate revenues and how they are structured from a manpower point of view and human resources – you will see clearly that the companies are simply going for quick gains. Let me put a poignant example. Our Government will operate on a five or ten year economic plan, that is how Governments are run, is it not really quite true that we could go to private businesses which anchor the economy and ask them for their five and 10 year plans and they will not be able to produce those.

         What we are saying is that the Minister is assuming what he thinks is happening in industry, but in fact that is not what is there. It makes the plans that we are talking about to say Government has got a five year plan, maybe there are none, because it is based on information that is not credible. From a private sector point of view, I would be very happy if the Minister was able to base his future projections on real business revenue plans.

         I listened when our Ministers made the presentations when we were discussing budget issues, I was a bit disappointed that efficiency issues did not come to the fore. I also realised that e-business as a  strategy by Government, was really not discussed to a large extent. E-business is meant to create an ease of doing business environment in our country. We have had this strategy for the last five years and for Hon. Members who are in this House, it would be interesting for them to indicate whether they are now feeling that they are doing business by Government in an easier way than they were doing before. Are they visiting Government offices less, are they being received better, are they filling less forms, are they still fighting for services?  If that is the case, then we need to try and get Government to look at efficiencies and also look at the ease of doing business because when that happens, then it allows citizens and private business to reduce losses and in fact generate better returns on their businesses. People are still battling to get efficient services from some of our Government Ministries.

         I am a consultant, I go into coffee shops and I listen to those who come in trying to bring FDI in the country.  These people still stay in hotels because we are not an efficient system. I would like to encourage the Minister of Finance, if he could possibly have a unit that checks whether in fact Government is doing business in the most efficient manner and benchmark with neighbouring countries whom we are competing with for markets.

         Let me zero in on whether in fact the Ministry of Finance has got adequate watchdogs over industry and whether they are having a research unit in most of our key ministries. I say this because you get the feeling that we are not looking at where we could gain, where we are making losses. Let us take an example of the last ten years when task force after task force was sent into Bulawayo to go and resuscitate the closed industries. People went in there and came back. We saw reports and communication, but it is amazing that we are not able to realise that in fact, Bulawayo industries cannot be resuscitated unless the businesses that made it are resuscitated. Bulawayo industries were simply what they were because they were supported by CSC, Railways, ZESA, Shabani and Mashava Mine, Triangle and Hippo Valley, ZISCO Steel, Zim Alloys, Bata, ZimCast, Hwange Colliery and Zambia industries. If those industries are down, you cannot resuscitate Bulawayo.

         It would also be interesting for one to visit just one of those industries I have mentioned  like ZESA Hwange and look at the technology that they are using today and then go into Bulawayo and say which company in Bulawayo can produce an item that Unit 7 and 8 can service, zero. So, you cannot resuscitate Bulawayo. I am simply saying we need to be able to research and get to the bottom of issues that affect our economy.

         Let me go to Ministry of Mines. I want to touch on the Ministry of Mines because we have said 80% of our forex comes from minerals. If 80% of our forex comes from minerals, we actually have a concentration risk. In other words, if something goes wrong with that Ministry, then the whole Government is in a domino effect. If you go into our districts, you find that each district under the DA, every ministry of Government is represented in the district. They have meetings daily, weekly and monthly, the only ministry that is missing in districts that are now devolved is the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. Miners who are bringing in 80% of our forex from the districts are the only ministry that has to travel to provincial offices because they are not in districts.

         One does not understand why we devolve business, why every Government office is in a district, but the most critical one is missing. When we get farmers and miners fighting for claims, they are fighting in the districts. The Agritex officer is there, JOC is there and they do things every day, but the Ministry of Mines is missing and they are not looking at the claims that are being fought over.

         The other day I went to district offices and I saw the CEO of Rural District Council and I said by the way, you are a very busy district mining wise and he said yes. I said how many claims do you have in this district? He looked at me and he mentioned three mines. I said no I mean claims – working or not working? He said, I do not know. I said, are you aware no mine should operate and work in a district without your authority? I have heard about that. Are you authorising or not? No, they just go to province.

         So, these are things Hon. Speaker, that we should attend to. They could augment the fight that we are having over taxes by bringing in the invisible or hidden tax revenue that we are looking for. I calculated and I think we have close to half a million claims, if not more in this country but only about 30 or 40% are inspected. They are officially invoiced by Government to pay the regulated taxes. The reason why that has not been happening is because the Ministry does not have vehicles. So, all the staff that we are employing in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development are sitting idly in the provinces and not going on the ground. When we inspect a claim, we go to the ground, look at the corner pegs of the claim, and make sure that you take the owner to sign things off before invoicing them - if you do not do that, you cannot invoice them.

         So, provinces are running with single vehicles to look after mining engineers who must look at safety, metallurgists, geologists, and surveyors.  Hon. Speaker, if we bought a hundred vehicles, put each into our hundred or so districts, decentralise and move mining officers from the province to the district - those vehicles cannot cost us more than the revenue that is sitting in uninspected claims which I calculated.  I may be wrong, and I may be right, would equal anything up to 300 to 400 million dollars (USD) per year but we are not collecting that because we cannot afford a Barkey to give to an officer to go to a district and inspect claims.

When I talk of research Hon. Speaker, we must always, I think, try and understand the business in which we are in. I listen with interest the hype that we have on lithium.  I also understand that it could be a bubble that will burst anytime now if we do not get certain fundamentals in place. One fundamental that we must put in place Hon. Speaker, is that the Minister of Mines and Mining Development must do everything that needs to be done to make sure everybody who is producing lithium is producing it at the right cost. Everything  must be made; we must help them, that is why we have got engineers in the Ministry to make sure that minerals are mined at the correct cost. If we do not, this whole hype is going to be  a bubble that will burst because cheap producers have just emerged.  They have entered the market and we are under threat.  I was saying to myself, so as lithium takes this high ground, what happens to poor platinum because they work opposite each other? So, as lithium takes its place, platinum is under threat – we must also look at it and say, how do we protect our platinum?

         Let me also say that other countries have industrialised their economies on the back of mines. Eighty per cent (80%) forex from one sector is not good – why are we not able to say any big mine that comes to invest, if it is a lithium mine, they must indicate what technology they are going to use, they must be made to put aside 5% of the capital that has come in, select their local players and be given that money to bring in the equipment that manufactures spares that are going to be needed for the technology. That way, the forex that comes in from our exports does not come in today and goes out tomorrow because the Hon. Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion received that 80% forex in the country, but I think 60% goes back to re-service those mines. So, I think he remains with 20% but if there was a way of creating input spares by bringing technology that is funded on the back of that capital into the mining business, then the money does not go back.

         My final comment is on industrialisation…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, Order, Hon. Member, you are left with five minutes. You may proceed.

HON. FRED MOYO: Thank you, if we do not bring enough forex into the country, than we send out through ports, we will never succeed. The only forex we talked about, I looked at it and I think it was around nine billion from mines and the Hon. Minister remains with one. I also looked at Agriculture and Mines – very smaller amounts. How do we make sure that our import bills are smaller than our exports?

I think to play the regional game which did not come with our ministries, they are expected to sit out of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We need to do very detailed research of economy from our surrounding neighbours and see how we are going to compete. We must compete on quality, price and should be able to position our products in neighbouring countries. Sometimes one gets the feeling that we do not even understand which sectors of the economies of neighbouring countries we must attack.

Mr. Speaker Sir, that point is something that the Hon. Minister and his colleagues must look at and say, how do we industrialise our economy at the back of mining and agriculture?  Interestingly, it is only in recent years that we have allowed companies to import anything that they want. We used to run a system that said if it is public transport, we knew that there was a kombi and a bus followed by a 35 or a 45 seater and that made it easier when we got spares, engines, gearboxes costing the country fortunes. At the moment, industry is not supervised to ensure that we aggregate the technology that we are using. If we go to mines and say vehicles of mines will be certain sizes and forced industry so that the country is not burdened by whoever wakes up today and decides to bring in the small components, they will do so but we will still have to support them.

My last comment is to applaud His Excellency for bringing up the Ministry of Skills Audit and Development. We have an interesting situation in the country Hon. Speaker Sir. At the moment, believe it or not, universities are producing more graduates than colleges – it is unheard of, if we are going to run our industries effectively. You cannot produce more doctors than nurses but that is what we are doing. We have 10, 11 or 12 universities issuing 3000 to 4000 degrees annually. The pyramid of skills is normally 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. So, how are we going to function when we turn our pyramid upside down? More skills up and less below – so we will get five engineers walking around with one electrian because we have done things the wrong way.

The degrees that are being championed, some of the degrees that we are doing at the moment have nothing to do with the direction in which the Minister of Finance is trying to take the economy.  The economy is emphasising these schemes and technologies, universities are probably producing something else.  We need to look at that and the skills that we are producing at the moment are not skills that have been used.  Producing somebody who has a diploma, or a degree and deploying them to run an industry is not the same thing.  I do not know how many of us would like a doctor who is qualified and never works to take you to the theatre.

         So the industry will not run efficiently because our people are not skilled.   I hope this Ministry is going to be supported by industry so that all our young people coming out of colleges and universities find somewhere where they can do industrial training.  At the moment it is sad because 70% of them, if not more have nowhere to train.  They come out with a degree but they cannot practice anywhere, so we are not doing anything.

         Finally, Hon. Speaker, can something be done to make sure that the curricula of the various colleges and training institutions are all commonised?  We do not want an industry where you talk of a nurse, all of us  know what we are talking about but we must be careful that in the future when we say ‘nurse’, it is not the same animal because they were trained from different colleges with different curricular, different skills but they wear the same uniforms and we assume they are nurses as we know them.  This is happening across all skills.  I thank you.

         HON. MATEMA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker.  I rise to lend my voice to the budget that is before this august House.  We are here to interrogate and dissect the budget so that we offer informed advice to the Minister of Finance.  I will not belabour the points that have been raised concerning taxes. I just have two points which I want to plead with the Minister of Finance.

         Point number one is the Vote relating to Research and Development.  I believe that the future lies in research and development and it is the future.  The allocation of 456 billion…

         HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE: On a point of order!  Hon. Chiduwa wanted to debate but the Hon. Speaker said Hon. Chiduwa had no right to debate because he is the Chairperson of the Committee on Budget and Finance.

         THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: So, you are saying Hon. Matema is a Chairperson and he is enveloped in the same ruling of the

Speaker.

         *HON. MAPIKI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank the Speaker who was saying the spirit of Nehanda is getting involved in this House from the opposition, she is intervening.  As we are debating our budget, the people who are misbehaving in this House are being chased out of the House.

         I want to thank the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, Hon. M. Ncube for the Budget he has presented in these trying times when Zimbabwe is under sanctions.  I want to entrust the Minister that when the country is under sanctions or let me say when soldiers are in the battle, they are supposed to feed themselves whilst they are standing.  I say this because in the proposal that you have put in place, you are supposed to stand by them because these are not normal times.  You are not supposed to turn left or right, otherwise you can end up turning into a pillar of salt as Lot’s wife.  What you have decided, you are supposed to stand by it because a lot of people are saying remove this and this but you are supposed to stand by your words and maintain what you have said.  Do not let people undermine you but keep on doing your work.  Much of the proposals that you have done, you are supposed to put them in place.

         I would like you to dwell much on mines because there is a lot of money in mines.  I heard the Chairpersons of Mines that there are low-hanging fruits, in other words eating whilst you are asleep.  There are a lot of resources in mining but people are not bringing them for your consideration.  The issue of issuance of licencing in mines has to be looked into.  Someone pays 300 dollars and yet they get millions and millions of dollars.  This means in the gold claims people are supposed to look into and the gold buyers are also supposed to be looked at because they are supposed to pay large amounts so that they can help in financing the budget.

         Some people are buying mines for 300 dollars and the following week he sells the same mine for 90 000 or 100 000.  The local authorities are not benefiting from these transactions and even the Government from such.  There are a lot of mischievous, corrupt people  who are stealing from the Government.  I wish the Minister would put a closer eye on this one to make sure that he also has a hand and gets something from it.

         There is a law which says work on it or lose it, some people have more than 30 claims of mines which they bought for 200 dollars.  We are now complaining about the issue of a passport that you get for 200 dollars but there is someone who has 30 claims which has millions of dollars just lying idle.  We want that law to be implemented, that person should pay tax which is more than 50%, these mines are not supposed to be idle.  For the gold miners or other minerals who had these laws of Community Share Ownership Trust, that person who had 10 billion for example in Shamva - so is that classroom or school worth the billion that they would be taking from mining?  We want to remove the 49% and we want the 10% from each and everyone who would be investing in that area.  If you are saying 10%, the 2% should remain with the immediate community because some of their trucks are carrying more than 10 tonnes of ore but the roads that they are destroying need millions of dollars to be repaired. 

         When we went to the Conference, we raised the issue of community share ownership trust that communities should benefit from those companies.  We are not supposed to be struggling when we have resources.  We mentioned something to do with resource mobilisation which says we are supposed to rely on our country.

         On the issue of Lithium, we want a clear-cut policy on the mining of Lithium, we want to know where we are going.  Looking at the Northern region from Harare going to Dete, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central, it is Lithium.  We do not even need surveyors to mine this, we just go with our hoes and wheelbarrows to the farms and get the lithium.

         *THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Mapiki, I left you to debate, but what you are saying, most of it has been said by Hon. F. Moyo.  What you said earlier on about claims was correct, but now you are repeating what Hon. F. Moyo has said that supervision of mines should not be done whilst people are here in town. They should go to the grounds where these mines are found.  I urge you to contribute differently from what the previous speakers have said.

         *HON. MAPIKI:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  May be he debated in English and that skipped me.  Moving on, the issue of small and medium enterprises is contributing to the fiscus.  To the people who are selling in the streets, those vendors used to get licences from the local authorities.  If we sell them for a dollar and we have six million vendors, we will have six million dollars in a month.  I think that this is another way that can help us to raise income.  We need to have measures put in place such that we can raise money through this initiative.  People are supposed to pay, do not hesitate to make them pay saying that people will complain because even in the Bible, people were paying tax.  We want the small and medium enterprises to pay.  I heard that we want to do away with vendors in the coming year, but we want to have places that are designated for such vendors. 

         On the issue of sugar tax, in Kenya, they also implemented a policy that anyone who is bringing in any beverage with more than eight percent alcohol is supposed to pay tax.  We can assist the First Lady in this because all our medication is now being exhausted, pending to diseases that are caused by consuming a lot of sugar. We were even encouraged by our parents that we are not supposed to consume a lot of sugar because it affects men, it can lead to impotence.  We are suffering from bedroom problems due to such issues.  We want people to do away with this. 

         Everyone is going to Cuba and other Asian countries, we want people to register and pay money to go to such countries and Government raises money from that.  These people who say they can find jobs for you online from abroad, they charge you a lot of money.

         Mr. Speaker Sir, let me talk about the issue of ICT.  Our parastatals do not have a clear communication policy.  Police are struggling to arrest people that go through red robots, but if there were cameras installed at robots, they would go to arrest these people who break the law.  We even want cameras in parking bays so that someone can be given a ticket after committing an offence.  People are breaking laws, but there are no tickets that are being issued.  If we get drones, we can be able to monitor those tickets. I want this to be implemented.  If you go to Harare and Rezende, there are people who are selling goods, with the receipts that are being prepared, you do not even understand how the Government is going to tax such people. 

         Let me move on to the issue of defence.  I want the Minister of Finance to look into this.  If you hear that a country has gas or oil, it means that you are igniting war.  When we discovered gas in Muzarabani, we heard that there was a base that was opened in Botswana and another base erected in Zambia.  We want the Ministry of Defence to be equipped with the latest technology.  Thank you.

         HON. GANYIWA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  Let me take this opportunity to debate on the budget presented by the Minister of Finance.  I might need to start by reminding this august House of a basic financial accounting principle which says, you do not increase the expenditure budget before increasing the income base.  Hence, the reason for us to overally support the budget presented by the Hon. Minister of Finance.  Mr. Speaker Sir, we have to consume what we have gathered ourselves as a country, my constructive proposal, but kind of unavoidable painful solutions and recommendations are as follows;

         For light motor vehicles, I think to increase by 50% from two dollars to three dollars, which is 50% but quickly allocate a special fund to ZINARA for a quick erection of new more tollgates in all tarred highways of our country and making sure that we do so at each and every 80 to 100 kilometre peg at most, like what other countries have done.  Mr. Speaker Sir, it is commonly known that an effective medicine that cures is usually sour.  If we want good and better infrastructure in our country, like most of our Hon. colleagues who have just gone out because of misbehaving, they always give an example of colonial master countries, but in those countries, their tax base is bigger than ours and that is a fact. Public transport like buses and omnibuses - if they can be allowed to charge as little as one dollar, considering that we are going to construct more tollgates.  They travel on a daily basis so they will also be paying that dollar at each and every tollgate unlike private motorists who do not travel on highways every day. That reduction of toll fees will cushion as well as protect our travelers, especially when the transport sector decides to increase fares, coupled with further duty free on all public transport motor vehicles.

         Private players will come in and invest more in the public transport sector and that means this will promote a culture of opting to use cheaper and easily available public transport for our citizens because of competition. In the first world, even whenever we travel to other countries, we use public transport and it is efficient. Let me repeat what I often say in corridors when we are discussing about this. It is true that going on a journey is not a choice. You can either travel to attend a funeral, wedding and for anything, but how you go there, is a choice. For example, I usually use the Masvingo road, you take an hour only to pass through Mbudzi because of so many buses and kombis passing there. This means there is a sharp increase in public transport on our roads, hence it cannot be a justification by many to say there is no transport.

         If you decide to use your own vehicle for a reason best known to yourself, you must be prepared to pay for a price. Let me give an example that I often give – I do not think it is fair for a road that was constructed in 1984, which is Gutu-Zaka-Jerera to Chiredzi from Harare or Harare-Nyamapanda, whereby a motorist can only pay US$2 on exiting and travel 500 kilometers after exiting or paying one tollgate. Where on earth surely, Mr. Speaker Sir, the medicine that cures most is sour.

         On that the Ministry responsible for SMEs in conjunction with ZIMRA and company, let me make it very clear, and I hope through you Chair or through you Mr. Speaker Sir, I hope the Minister is listening. The Ministry responsible for SMEs in conjunction with ZIMRA and most importantly companies with products commonly sold in the sector should physically go on the ground and assist the authorities on how best they can politely create a database in harmony with the sector without being too harsh.  The sector can be easily integrated into the mainstream economy and at the same time, create a revenue collection conduit for them with a new and more friendly working model that promotes growth to their operations.

         Let me talk about wealth tax and I repeat wealth tax, although we may need to rephrase it so that it does not sound as if we are the first country to take revenue from properties that generate income for companies or individuals, there is a difference between a necessity and an asset which brings in the question. Should we talk of property value that we kept, apply wealth tax on or what the property is being used for? I am sure that is where the question is Mr. Speaker Sir.

         A necessity is something that you cannot live without, like shelter or a house. As per our Constitution, it is a basic fundamental right to have shelter. An asset is something that can bring income in your pocket. I am sure we all come from a background of business. There is a mushrooming of cluster homes that are coming by virtue of investing money by individuals and they will be getting rentals from those houses. Surely, I think the discussion should not be of taxing an individual home. The discussion should be around the taxing of rentals collected by those individuals.

         I have got a background in the construction industry. Let me talk from experience, whenever you construct or come out with a project of a cluster home, when you go to ZIMRA, the number of cluster homes that you have built are considered as stock and you have to pay VAT. How come people can build houses? Let me give a word, if it is a house like every speaker said, a first house which you will provide shelter to your own family, fair and fine.  If it is a second home or third house, it should only apply if one has got an official polygamy – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- if not because otherwise people will lie to us that I have got two or three wives.  So, there is a system that officialise that through our Constitution, which is the proof of paying lobola.  This means if we debate on the issue of wealth tax, as far as I researched, it is not applied as such in first world countries.  A wealth tax has another definition and applied differently, which might be subject for another day.

         Actually, here in Zimbabwe, this is necessary to charge rentals that are collected by each and every person who use any other house to collect revenue.  The danger now on allowing….

         THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, remember you are left with five minutes.  Can you just wind up, I am giving you one minute?

         HON. GANYIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I hope may be you will just add two or three minutes.  The issue that we are talking about is very paramount.  If we say let us focus on a value of a house that should be taxed, what will then happen is, people will shun buying high value properties.  The international mortgage scale states that value of a replacement caused by each and every property should give you 0.1% of rentals paid vis-a-vis, the first value, meaning to say if one has got a  house worth half a million in Borrowdale, the normal international mortgage scale in rentals should be $5 000 per month.  Years back, like in 2010, one could get that $5 000 rental.  Now, you cannot get it.  So, what will then happen is, people will sell houses and deprive the poor and go to the high density suburbs and buy $35 000 worth of a house in Kuwadzana and Warren Park and put tenants, where they can get $350 monthly, and easily.  They can run away from this tax and run away from the areas which you intend to tax.

         Let me talk because you cut me, I want to abide by your rules.  I leave others but I thought they were of paramount importance.  Let me just talk about the issue to do with Home Affairs, Defence and Security apportioned budget because of time.  I would not do justice if I sit down before I talk a bit about that.  I heard and it is very easy to come up with vocabulary whenever we are debating and phrase whatever we talk.  With all due respect, I have heard so many phrases from one speaker to another and the one which I got yesterday and it was repeated today was of Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.  It was referred to as the industry of the low hanging fruits.  From my research, you can only get the low hanging fruit in a peaceful environment, even if it is low, you can runaway for your life and forget to eat.  Hence the importance to look at the issue with these two ministries because in as much as we can lobby for education, health, Ministry of Agriculture, et cetera, if we do not have peace and security, we are most vulnerable and we cannot enjoy our economy.  I rest my submission.

         HON. TSITSI ZHOU: I move that the Hon. Member be given more time to debate, may be 10 more minutes. 

         HON. SHAMU:  I second.

         Motion put and agreed to

         THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Ganyiwa, I am giving you an extra five minutes.

         HON. GANYIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for extending my life-spun to debate.  The area that I did not do justice was the area to do with the importance of embracing this budget as it speaks widely on the revenue collection.  The reason why I mentioned the SMEs and street vendors, in order to conform with His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa’s mantra of living no one and no place behind, we should now know and accept the new world order in economic and business pattern that SMEs and street vendors do not in any way reflect poverty or the level of unemployment rate in any country.  In actual fact, this is the new world order but these important people, they are an alternative, easier and faster ways and mobile distributors, helping many companies to channel their products, reaching and getting to the end users to all corners of the country, regionally and globally.

         Now, the reason why we say ZIMRA together with the Ministry responsible for this sector should compel the companies that we often see their products moved and distributed by these vendors, is to make these companies pay them handsomely.  We should make sure we protect vendors from being exploited because to some extent, we feel they are just being used.  You will see them pushing at times mid-night, some scotch-carts of certain branded companies, without having meaningful or anyone who can check how much they are given as a percentage of volume that they push.  You cannot distribute things such as bread on your own as a manufacturer. You need this sector. You cannot distribute water, drinks and fruits on your own as a company without having to make use of this industry. The reason why we want these companies to accompany ZIMRA is to make sure that they know whom they are giving certain quantities of products. They are the ones who know which vendor operates from. If I start opening another can of worms at this juncture, we will not finish. Thank you very much.

         HON. MUGOMO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me the opportunity to add my view on the 2024 Budget. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, Hon. Prof Ncube on the international recognition he got by being named the Best Finance Minister of the Year – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear].  It speaks volumes on his stewardship of our economy and the trust bestowed upon him by His Excellency, the President especially as we chart our course and destiny towards attaining a middle class economy by 2030.

         I would like to applaud him on coming up with a pro-people budget that speaks to the majority of the people of Zimbabwe. The targeted revenue would assist ordinary Zimbabweans through various initiatives from infrastructure development to the health delivery system. I would like to specifically mention the 1% increase on VAT with 50% of that revenue going to the rural development fund as a highly commendable move, especially with the motive to equip rural hospitals, clinics, schools and maintenance of roads in remote areas. Utilisation of revenue in this way is excellent and people centered.

         The creation of a cancer fund from a special levy on sugar drinks is a great move to double the effort on our fight against cancer and non-communicable diseases. It is not a fight against our beverages industry but to reduce sugar related diseases expenditure on our health system and also change our consumption behaviour. I would like to applaud Government on this well thought out intervention which is not regressive but good for our health. I so submit.

         HON. CHIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for allowing me to add my voice on this important national debate. Most of the points have already been submitted but it is now a reality that the El Nino induced drought is a threat and as such, I urge our Hon. Minister to plan in advance for this disaster which is coming. I have noted that on the budget for Ministry of Local Government, there is no specific allocation towards this imminent disaster which is coming. This disaster is associated with destruction. We have already experienced so many destructive hailstorms in our constituencies and the challenge that we face is that there is no allocation. I hope this is the time and chance for the Minister of Finance going forward to reconsider this position.

         It is also important to note that this is a real drought which is coming and we need to plan ahead. I come from the lowveld where we have the land earmarked to be irrigated from the Tokwe Mukorsi Dam. Our Government has done what even the previous colonisers have failed to do. We have a full dam but we are not tapping into the waters of that dam and yet we are facing a serious drought. Unlike in 1992, we are in a better position if again our Minister of Finance put a specific programme of irrigation development ahead of this drought. The land and water are available and our people are hard working but the challenge is we need funds to tap into this Tokwe Mukorsi.

         I want to thank the Minister of Finance for the measures that the Ministry has taken on basic goods. I want to emphasise that I am coming from a sugar producing constituency, worldwide all sugar producing countries primarily produce sugar for their nation and the surplus is exported. When the borders are opened, and sugar is included, it is a direct attack on a product and industry which is sustainable as long as its economy is managed internally. Our sugar industry currently employs 25 000 who are paying tax and another 10 000 that are coming from our indigenous farmers. When the borders are opened, there is a serious threat on the future of farmers or economy because given the challenges that we are facing as a country, we are unable to compete with other countries.

In other countries they actually get the incentive to export as they dump their sugar into this country. In other countries they are getting subsidies for producing their sugar but here in our country, whilst we are happy that it is now a strategic crop, there are no benefits so far that have come along with that position. We depend on inputs that actually go down to the farmers or producers on a black-market scale. I would like to urge the Ministry of Finance to consider sugar for funding like many other strategic crops. I thank you.

HON. MUSANHI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I actually came in through the back door to be able to add my voice to this very important subject. I would like to thank the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion and his team for compiling the budget at a very difficult time when our country is bleeding through sanctions.

Mr. Speaker Sir, we are in these sanctions because of the Land Reform Programme that was done in 2000. So, our country needs to be protected.  I know a lot of things have been debated, but I only want to emphasise to the Hon. Minister that this time around, the budget is done and it is difficult to try and revise it. I know next year we are going to be having another budget. It will be very important to consider the industry because this is where a lot of revenue comes from through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and through corporate tax. Our industry is bleeding, it needs retooling and a lot of capital to take off and compete with other industries.

Mr. Speaker Sir, for as long as Zimbabwe is exporting its jobs and taxes to other countries, it will be very difficult for the Hon. Minister to craft his budget on annual basis. What do I mean by exporting jobs and exporting taxes? When someone imports a sweet from another country, the country that made the sweet employed people and those people paid tax to their Government. So, it is important to look at our industry and make sure that we collect all the revenue that is supposed to be collected in this country.

It will be important for me to add my voice as well. We have a war that is looming ahead of us. I was looking at the sky the whole day and noticed pregnant clouds, and by pregnant clouds, I mean these clouds have signs of water. When they are induced to bring that water down, it will rain in the country. For as long as we do not gear up for the climate change, we are going to be in dire problems.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I once mentioned during Caucus, that countries under aggression will go to great lengths to protect their sovereignty, definitely billions of United States dollars will come out to defend our country. So, if we treat this threat ahead of us and treat it as if we are going to war, we will definitely win Hon. Minister. If we construct dams as fast as possible, we will be able to provide irrigation for our farmers and provide more irrigation to everybody around the country in the farms, we will be able to surpass our grain reserves for the year. So, in that way we will have won the war.

Cloud seeding Mr. Speaker Sir, though people think I am conflicted, this issue is a very important issue that should be looked at in this country to make sure that all the clouds that are pregnant, when they pass through our country leave rain. There are a lot of pregnant clouds that are passing through and we are just watching them without leaving any rain. I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank Hon. Members for their robust contributions in the debate on this budget. I must say this, may be some of the older Members may not like it, but I have noticed something. I have been in this Parliament for the past five years, to me, this is the first budget debate I have experienced in five years – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  the quality of contributions is absolutely incredible. I will not say why I think so, but that is how I feel.  I think some of you really agree with me in hitting the table, it is really fantastic.  I thank you for this quality debate.

Mr. Speaker Sir, naturally, we are constrained for resources.  So, you will find that our approach in this budget has been to deal with that, to raise as much resources as we can.  We have sanctions and constraints globally, in terms of access to credit – that is really what has driven us.  We also want to move our country to the next level as we try to achieve the 2030 Vision of being an upper middle-income economy.  Let me go formal having made those cursory remarks.

Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to express my appreciation to the various Portfolio Committee Chairs for their constructive comments on the 2024 National Budget Statement that I presented to this august House on 30th November, 2023.  The 2024 National Budget Statement running under the theme, ‘Consolidating economic transformation’, seeks to deepen and implement reforms that will ensure progress towards the achievement of the nation’s vision as reiterated by His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa’s inaugural address on 3rd September, 2023.  Hon. Chairpersons of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees made presentations on their analysis of the 2024 National Budget.  I also wish to commend Hon. Members who made their excellent contributions on the same, during parliamentary sessions since yesterday. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to respond to issues raised by various Portfolio Committees and Hon. Members.  I will start with a broad brush in connection with expenditure management, focusing on expenditure first then I will transition to revenue measures.  Let me start with the issue that has been mentioned by almost all Portfolio Chairs, that there is no adequate budget in terms of the initial targets that the various ministries were expecting.  Well, this comment was obviously made during the budget retreat vis-a-vis the budget circular ceilings.  We listened carefully as Treasury and increased the allocation, almost to the expectation of each Ministry beyond the ceiling and this is what I presented on the 30th of November.  I heard the Chairperson that when they said they wished they were at the level of what the Ministry desired to have in terms of budgets, but this could not be done simply because given the size of our economy and the constraints, we can only go as far as 60 trillion while the requirements are well above 110 trillion. The economy cannot just support the expenditure requirement – that is a simple constraint.

         When we look at our tax revenues, we can only raise about 18% of our gross domestic product.  The economy right now is unable to easily move above that ratio, we are working on it.  So, some of the measures we have introduced are trying to address that.  Other countries such as, South Africa, are closer to 30% if not higher, and Kenya closer to 25% have done better than us.  Uganda has kept up, I think they are almost at 21%, Ethiopia has also kept up, and we are also working on it to see if we can continue to raise more revenue.  Some of the measures cause pain here and there and debate, but that is part of the process.  We will try to balance between revenue-raising measures and incentives so that we can incentivise our economy.

         Mr. Speaker Sir, there is an issue that was raised regarding the accumulation of arrears across various MDAs, across various ministries.  We intend to deal with this matter in 2024 and try to settle these areas.  Some of them have to do with cross liability, across agencies, I am sure there is a way in which we can rationalise this so that there is minimal movement of cash at least from Treasury through rationalistion and harmonisation.  We are working on this in 2024.

         Having said that of course, we have a limited budget envelope, so we cannot go towards the target of 100 trillion.  I listened carefully to the contributions from the Committee Chairpersons and some of the Members, particularly from the Chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee, Hon. Chiduwa.  He passionately made a plea that we should increase the budget for ZIMRA and I concur with him, therefore I propose that we increase the budget for ZIMRA by 70 billion dollars.

         Equally, there was a passionate plea to increase the budget for one of our oversight entities the Auditor-General’s Office especially in the area of digitalisation. So again, I propose that we increase that budget for the Auditor-General’s office by another 10 billion – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  

         Coming to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs budget number 17, Women’s Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises development.  Again, there was a plea that this Ministry needed more resources to support the cause of women and gender equity in the country.  SMEs need to be supported by building stores, that way you can actually formalise them and we can even collect taxes in a more orderly manner.  So again, I was persuaded by that argument and we are proposing an increase to that Ministry of 20 billion Zimbabwe dollars. 

         Then is the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Development and Vocational Training again there was a very passionate plea that we should increase the budget for this Ministry.  I think it was Hon. Ziyambi who had a passionate plea that we should do something after all the youth are the future, with the issues regarding substance abuse and so forth.  So, we felt that we had to do something here, the building of vocational training centers.   I propose that we increase the budget for the Ministry of Youth, Empowerment Development, and Vocational Training by another 50 billion ZWL.

         There is the Ministry of Hospitality Industry, again the portfolio Chair argues that what was done here, is that we continue to treat this Ministry as if it is a department and I accept that.   I see great potential going forward, tourism numbers are looking up, and more hotels are going to come up.  It is a sector that I also know well, have been an operator in the sector.  I must say that we had to do something for this Ministry so I propose an additional 10 billion ZWL towards the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

         An issue was then raised by the Chair of the Higher Education Ministry, Professor Murwira’s Ministry that we needed to do something about investing in infrastructure to assist disabled learners in our tertiary institutions.  Again, as Treasury, we were persuaded by this so we have allocated an additional seven billion towards infrastructural support for this Ministry.

         I also listened to the Chair of the Portfolio Committee that covers Defence and Security in the area of War Veterans, Hon. Nguluvhe, and other contributors.  Again, there is an oversight where there was no budget for the funerals of war veterans.  An allocation will be extended towards that Ministry again to deal with that matter and the other matters within that Ministry.

         I also listened carefully to the contributions regarding the companies that are under this Ministry that they should be supported to take off.  They will be supported; just to say a few things, I was personally involved in the creation of these companies.  I know the whole history.  We have currently six farms and we expect eight farms. Two provinces have not yet given us towards war veterans. I am still waiting, a lot of cities have no farms so we include Harare and Bulawayo. We have 21 mining claims and they are mainly in the gold sector under that comfort.  We have a hunting concession that is under that sector and then we have also a financial institution under the umbrella fund that we are also supporting.

         The War Veterans Welfare has the intention of creating a real estate company.  They also want to create a health facility for war veterans and we as Treasury, are supporting so again going forward, it is a Ministry that can lean on us after all the Permanent Secretary of that Ministry was my former staff in the front office.  So, I think I feel obliged to support it as we support the war veterans in general.

         I now turn to the issue of budget releases and it is a fair comment that budget releases are often not followed up by cash releases.  Cash releases are what matters when we prepare the budgets.  That is correct, we have created a new system where we want the cash releases to lead budget releases, it does not sound quite right, but at least they should match.  We asked the Accountant General first how much cash they are  expecting in the next week.  Therefore, we can only do budget releases to this amount.  That way, budget releases will not run ahead of cash releases because budget releases are done by our expenditure department within the Treasury while cash releases, which is what matters, are done by the Accountant General’s office.  We will have that alignment going forward.  It will remove all the headaches and not raise expectations for additional budget and then it does not come because no cash is released. Devolution programme has achieved a lot.  If I can urge our MPs, especially the new MPs that there is a trick to this.  Let me put it this way, they can speak to Hon. Chiduwa or Hon. Mayihlome, Hon. Paradza lost but they can still speak to him on how to access the Devolution Fund.  There is a trick, it involves you the MP, you should be active, you have to involve the relevant chiefs in your districts, they are very important because the projects have to come from the bottom.  Do not forget the CEO of the Rural District Council. The CEO is a very important person who can actually frustrate you.  So, you need all these pieces but you as MP drive the agenda.  Do not leave anybody behind and you should access those devolution funds having agreed on the projects. I really want to give you some advice on that. 

On ZIMRA, I think we have dealt with this one.  I have written it on another part of my document here, we have increased the budget for ZIMRA.  Then, there were comments about alignment of our budget allocations, for instance for the health budget alignment with the Abuja target of 15% of the budget going towards health.  There was also the Dakar target issue regarding the education sector and then the Maputo principles regarding agriculture, that for agriculture 10% of the budget should be focused on agriculture and then 20% of the budget should be focused on the education sector. 

         Hon. Speaker, I think I can advise the Portfolio Chairpersons to do the following.  The budget that matters in allocation is what we call the above the line budget and not the below the line budget.  The below the line budget includes interest payment.  It is not a productive budget allocation, chikwereti, urikubhadhara chikwereti, is it not?  So, what you should do when you calculate the percentage, let us say health has been allocated about 6.5 trillion for example, you must divide that by the 44 trillion and not by the 60 trillion.  If you do that – so for health what you will get is a percentage of about 14.3%.  So, 14.3 for health is as good as 15%, it is very close. 

Then for education sector, you have to do the following.  You have to take Primary and Secondary and Higher Education; it is about the sector.  Again, you do the same at those two budgets, divide by that 44 trillion, what you get is a percentage of about 23%.  It is over 20% over the Dakar target.  The same thing applies to agriculture, I can do the same for agriculture.  You will get a figure of about 10%.  Really, we have actually met all those targets using the methodology that I have just explained.  In fact, I was very strict about these allocations Mr. Speaker.  I said to my team, we have to meet the target.  We were very methodical and that is the methodology we used. So it is above the line budget and not the below the line budget that you use as a denominator.    

         Let me comment Mr. Speaker Sir, on the issue of urban transportation system.  A comment was made that certainly we need more public transport.  We commit in this budget to procure another 1 000 buses, over the next two years and the first batch of 250 buses will be expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2024.  We are committed to this.  I have emphasised to my Permanent Secretary, Mr. Guvamatanga and the ZUPCO executives that some of these buses need to be green buses, we need some buses that use batteries.  We must show that we also need some progress as a nation.  We need some green buses; I think they have committed to 50 at least that will run on batteries.

         I will now turn to the issue of decentralisation of administrative functions.  I also note the request by the Portfolio Committee to decentralise administrative functions of various ministries and MDAs, in particular the Independent Commission.  Whilst decentralisation of administrative functions is central to efficient service delivery, that is largely dependent on availability of resources to cater for employment costs operations and attend to infrastructure that includes office space among others.  The source requirements, thus significant hence decentralisation cannot be implemented on big approach, this has to be done on a gradual approach.  The point is well taken and again overtime, we will make the resources available for these gradual decentralisation.

         Mr. Speaker Sir, those were my general comments regarding the expenditure side. I now turn to the revenue and tax policy measures.  Let me start with the domestic minimum top up tax.  Again, there were comments from Hon. Chiduwa, the Chairperson of the Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion Committee.  These were commendations that we have done the right thing by plugging this tax arbitrary problem presented by multinationals who want to pay more taxes elsewhere and not where they are making money from which is Zimbabwe.  We are plucking that hole to make sure they comply with the 15% threshold globally. 

         I will now turn to the levy on sugar.  On the sugar issue, I have been focusing on the cancer machines.  We are determined that we must create a cancer fund to deal a blow on cancer, at least ameliorate, give some relief to our sufferers whether in the form of affordable diagnostics, drugs and all that.  In my previous life, I spent a lot of time studying the economics of HIV.  I know a lot about the economics of HIV.  One thing that is clear is that it does have some unpleasant comorbidities.  One of them is cancer.  So, I feel very passionate about the issue, that is why we need to make sure that we have support for our cancer sufferers.  I think now the machines at least in Mpilo and Harare are working and if they are not, please let me know.  But now, we want to procure a gamma knife.  A gamma knife is what is needed to deal with intra cranial cancers in your brain, in your sensitive organs and so forth.  We have to move up and make sure we procure the right equipment. 

We need this sugar tax to pay for some of these critical infrastructure and drugs.  I must say that the original two cents, actually that was a mistake, we made a mistake in that calculation, those are the facts.  It should actually be 0.2%, which means that if you have got a can of coca cola, if it is 300ml, it has got about 135 grams of sugar in it, so 0.2 cents, that means an extra seven cents on that can of coca cola, that is what it translates to.   I do not think seven cents is a big deal Mr. Speaker Sir.  Surely that is affordable, let us support this cancer fund effort.

On the wealth tax Mr. Speaker Sir, again I accept the contributions from the public, from the Portfolio Chairpersons and Members of Parliament that we need to move the threshold.  Some Members suggested that the 70 years exemption should be brought down to 65, again I agree with that, that we must exempt the primary residence of an owner of a property – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  I agree with that, actually it is just that when we announce these things sometimes we use a broad brush but we already had this in mind to make these adjustments when we come to this Statute and make it clear, so the primary resident is secluded. In fact I am proposing a new threshold of US$250 000.  I am also proposing a limit as to how much any person can pay.  No one should pay more than US$50 000 per annum. That pertains to a property of about US$5 million. In other words, if you have a property worth about that value and beyond, really you should not be paying more than that, there should be a cap somewhere.

On passport fees, we have listened carefully to the contributions from the Portfolio Chairpersons and Hon. Members that the US$200 is on the high side, we agree with that.  It is just that when we were having the discussions about modernising our borders, we wanted to be the first country outside Dubai to have an unmanned border post where you can walk in because now we have an e-passport with a chip in it. You can walk in and the gates open your passport is read. You do not talk to anybody. We want that equipment here by end of 2024. We have to be modern. That is what motivated us. It is the kind of thinking to say we need resources to support the Ministry of Home Affairs and we thought that increasing passports was one way to do this. Someone proposed that rather USD120 for an ordinary passport, let us make it USD150. It is a proposal, but for the express passport, the 24-hour passport, anyone who needs it urgently is often those who can afford it. That one should be USD250.  I know one Hon. Member who proposed USD350, but let us make it USD250 and I think USD250 is okay.

I now turn to the issue of duty on basic commodities. As Government we will do whatever we can to make sure that basic commodities are affordable to our citizens. So we always try especially when prices shoot up, we will open borders. We have seen that is almost like our default reaction because we think that is the only way to support our citizens to access cheaper commodities when we open up. We are also aware that we do not want to kill our industry. I heard the plea from the sugar sector for example and we will be careful.

         This is why whenever we open up borders, it is always temporary and it is never permanent. We open and we close and we watch the price. We have done the same right now with fertilizer. Initially, we allowed the manufacturers only to import when we realised that they will not reduce their prices.  Cabinet made a decision to say any farmer can import fertilizer. Of course, there is a limit cap and that was helpful and prices started coming down.

         The same thing applies to cement and now we had cement selling at USD20, then it came down once again, we open those borders, but it will not be a permanent opening. At some point we will shut when things equilibrate and then they stabilise.  A comment was made on rebate on ICT equipment. This came from the Chair of the ICT Committee. We already granted a low duty on ICT equipment and continue to work with the sector on items that may still be outstanding. We can take another look and see whether we need to do more for this sector, we will look into it. After all, digitalisation is a key pillar of our Vision 2030 which will deliver us there.

There is a comment that was made by the Chairperson of Transport, Infrastructure Committee, Hon. Kaitano regarding the issue of toll fees. We are proposing that rather than increasing the basic toll fee by 100%, I am now proposing that we increase it only by 50%. We have lowered the increase. The same applies to the premium roads, again I am not proposing the full amount but only half of that. So, we have lowered these toll fee increases.

I also listened to a comment that perhaps tollgates that are closer to the city should have lower toll fees than elsewhere. We will look into this. It sounds like a noble proposal because some of the people who live out at the edge of the city or those who work in the city, if they are having to pay high toll fees, we do not want that. We want it to be fair and reflect the fact that the work here we do not want to overly penalise those individuals.

On registration fees from Number Plates, thank you for these proposals. This is under review and we will review it and see what we can do. For some of these proposals and suggestions from colleagues, these we proceed by way of regulations, Statutory Instruments and things like that. It does not necessarily have to come into a Bill although we may need to confirm by Parliament but it does not necessarily have to come through a Bill in the first place.

On the issue of the informal sector and formalisation, we believe that the proposals we have in the budget about ensuring that before they can access goods from manufacturers or retailers, they show that they are VAT registered. That is how we begin to formalise them. We think that this will do part of the trick but we need to build stalls as Government so that it is easy to find these SME operators. We will do that but we feel that the measures we are proposing, if fully implemented, will need to contribute to the formalisation agenda.

On the issue of the 1% levy on lithium, I know one colleague talked about this and I will find out who it was. They proposed that we increase the community investment levy from the 1% proposed to 10%. that is quite a bit. We like this but the industry will be very unhappy. The royalty for the lithium sector is 7%. So proposing 10% for the community levy is quite too much. Let us see how the 1% levy is doing and then we can adjust as we go forward. Anyone who does not comply with the beneficiation tax by the say or rather beneficiation imperative is forced to pay a tax of 5% which I want to increase to 6% in this proposal.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I do not want to leave any interest in points out. I am just going to run through the comments from the Committee Chairs and Members of Parliament. I am looking at Committee from Budget and Finance under Hon. Chiduwa. I think the issue there was the ZIMRA budget and that is one thing I wanted us to act on and then the Youth budget, we have dealt with that. DMTT was complementary sugar tax, we have dealt with the adjustment. On the wealth tax, we have made the adjustments and the comments. Passport fees, we have made an adjustment.

Turning on to Hon. Mudekunye, Industry and Commerce Chair, he made a comment about rural industrialisation. We will not have a policy that any company that establish a facility in the rural area in processing in value addition or whatever they are doing, we will accord them special economic zone status. We have that policy but the industry had been slow to take it up but it exists. We are supporting the rural industrialisation that way. We have been requested to have a budget allocation for ZITF, we will do it and we agree Hon. Mudekunye.

On Environment and Climate, the issue there was to make sure that we pay the carbon collections to EMA and we agree. On Tourism and Hospitality, we have dealt with the budget and we have increased it so that we should do something about that. The Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, the big point was about the budget for the Auditor General’s office which we have increased. So, Auditor General’s Budget has been increased, again on the request of the Chair of the Committee and other contributors. On ICT, Postal Services, again we responded to this.  I must say that for this Ministry, the budget is actually kind of split because we have got the Ministry itself and then we also have the department that deals with ICT issues under the Office of the President and Cabinet.  So, some of the budget tends to split.  Therefore, when we look at it, we need to look at those two together to see how much we really allocate to the ICT sector.  Besides, this is a profitable sector for commerce, for private operators, so investors also play their part in investing in ICT.  I have also taken note of the arrears of $31 billion on TelOne.  Again, it is one of those arrear issues that we are going to deal with as we rationalise this issue.

         The Chair on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, I think a big issue here was raised.  The recommendation came on the fact that we have included the USD300 as normal salary which is pensionable, but a point was made about the review of salaries for the uniformed forces, making sure that again, we comply with military salary concepts, I agree with this.  I think we have started on that concept.  I have worked hard I must say, but the issue has been the erosion of the Zimdollar component.  That is the issue, but in terms of the items, currently, Defence Forces have about 11 items under the military salary concept that we are trying to capture.  Special Services, I think it is about seven issues and then Police and Prisons cover again about 7/8 areas.  I am not free to say it publicly what they are, but if you ask me in private, I will tell you, certain areas that we cover.  I will give an example; it matters whether you are a paratrooper or not.  If you are a paratrooper, it is considered to be more dangerous, so you are given an allowance.  Also, if you are a marksman, it matters whether you really shoot straight or you do not shoot straight.  So, it is better you rather shoot straight so that you get an allowance for more accurate shooting.  We are really trying to impress the military, maybe we need to do more and we will look into it. 

         The issue about BEAM that there are arrears, these need to be cleared.  They will be cleared. Digitalisation under the Media and Broadcasting Services, I agree.  The Chair for Justice, and Legal Affairs, again making sure that the judges are more comfortable, they need to be better paid, allowances, housing and vehicles, et cetera.  I think we have tried, especially on accommodation and vehicles, we really tried.  I know that the magistrates, I think and Prisons are also included in the salary that we call staff retention scheme.

         Looking at Sport, Arts and Recreation, there is the issue of the stadium refurbishment, the Chair raised this.  On that one, let me say it was not in the budget.  We have actually struck an arrangement with a private sector investor who is going to help refurbish the National Sports Stadium.  Government is also chipping in with its budget and we expect that in the next three months, everything will change.  We are acting on it.

         Coming to Chair on Health and Well-being, I have dealt with the issue around the Abuja target of 15%.  Sugar tax, may be something is that the alcohol levy that was introduced last year that perhaps should also be targeted towards the substance abuse issue among our youth.  We will try to target it towards that.  Let me say this, when we look at the health sector budget, there is a bit that is not in the budget.  For example, the USD200 000 that was spent building the polyclinics, we built one in Harare South, Hopley area and then in Cowdray Park.  Now the one in Mataga area in Zvishavane is complete.  One also in Runyararo is also complete and ready for launching.

         We are now moving on to building two district hospitals in Hwedza and Umzingwane.  So, overally, we are building 30 clinics with the best equipment and six district hospitals again with the best equipment.  That is not in the budget because we borrowed that money.  There is a lot that is happening in the health sector that is not being captured.  If you look for instance, even the Aids Levy is not properly captured in the budget allocation, but is hidden off to supporting the sector.

         Then Chair for Higher and Tertiary Education Committee, I have highlighted the infrastructure for the disabled that we are going to support and also support the increase in lecturer salaries so that we can match the regional ambush to stop the brain drain into the regional universities.  We have taken note of that. 

I think something was raised by the Chair of Energy and Power Development Sector, the issue regarding strategic reserve levy.  He was supporting and that we should do more and build our reserves towards the bad days cover.  That is accepted.

         On the Foreign Affairs Committee, I think we have come a long way with this Ministry.  I recall a time when Ambassadors were not getting their salaries, staff being kicked out of residences; kids not going to school, out there.  We have moved mountains in terms of procurement of vehicles, clearing the arrears, in fact with arrears, when I came in, we had outstanding arrears of about USD85 million.  When I last checked, about two weeks ago, we were down to USD3 million.  We have cleared arrears in the last five years. -[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-

         I passed through the South African Embassy and UK, I can see that right now we have to do something about vehicles.  So, I propose that we should buy them another multi-people vehicle, 7/8 people.  They need that.  Most embassies need that.  Secondly, refurbishment, well in South Africa, the residence of the Ambassador is done.  In the UK, the Ambassador’s house is about to be done.  Then the Chanceries as well, we are making a lot of progress.  We involve the private sector when it comes to renovations in UK and also in New York because those are highly potential profitable reimbursements on a PPP basis and get a developer, they can help in supporting the custom running.  So, we are clear, also other embassies under critical need is Ethiopia. We will deal with it.  It is in a bad state.  We also have to deal with Geneva as well.  We have a programme, we will get there and we really want to support the Ministry on this.  I can assure Hon. Shamu that we are on it.

         The Local Government Chair, talked about raising funding for ZUPCO.  She said something about 1000 extra ZUPCO buses going forward.

Maybe I can give a comment on the wealth tax on how it is done in other countries. They do a whole lifestyle audit of an individual – how many houses, how many cars, how much money you have in your bank account minus your liabilities which are mortgages and things like that. What we should do is for us to adopt the French model which is simpler. We target one major asset of an individual which is a house beyond their primary dwelling, that is what I propose. If you check the new French wealth tax, it looks like that. There are other models as I said for Spain, Switzerland, Columbia and Norway. Those are the leading ones. Take a look at them if you have time to see the variations. I think that ours and the French are the simplest because you focus on the one type of asset and concentrate all your systems around it.

Turning to youth empowerment from Hon M. Ziyambi, the issue there was the toll fees having to prejudice the youth. We have lowered the increases. We have responded.

For mines, one issue has come up Mr. Speaker Sir. The issue of the Cadastre system. Maybe this was not loud enough in the presentation. There are some brilliant ideas coming from your Chairs and backbenchers. They are proposing that we should set up a national Cadastral system which should not be under the Ministry of Mines, but perhaps under the Surveyor General’s Office and then make use of Zimsat, our space agency to then do the mapping. They did a great job in Caledonia in terms of mapping when we were trying to see which are the wet areas and which ones are no, I bought into this. We are not having much progress with this Cadastral system. We have been on it for the last seven years and there is no progress. What I am hearing now might be the best way to go. Let us consolidate these budgets and focus on building one national cadastral system.

It is worth mentioning that I got a very professional contribution from Hon Wilson Mhuri who is the Member of Parliament for Shurugwi South. He gave a very professional contribution on how this could be done. That Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development, Hon. Maburutse also made a comment about the Cadastral system as well as the other comment that we must climate proof our agriculture. I think we are working hard on this one because El Nino is upon us. Investing in irrigation and supporting Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme as well as matching the type of seed to the agro ecological region, we have done that mapping and the Ministry of Agriculture has that map which I think is a good idea. All that is being done.

We have also been speaking to the Ministry of Agriculture to say could you find another 100 hectares to put maize under irrigation in this season. Can you imagine our average yield for maize is about 5 tonnes per hectare? We are talking about 500 000 tonnes of maize that we could harvest under irrigation. That is our typical reserve that we always target at GMB. Just by doing that, we would have solved the reserves issue and cushioned our citizens who may need food because of this El Nino issue. I fully agree with what Hon. Maburutse is saying and we are doing everything we can.

When we came to the open debate, Hon. Mushoriwa made the point that we should budget in US dollars. I want to say Zimbabwe dollar is our currency. So, we are budgeting in our currency.

Hon. Mukomberi’s comments were around the wealth tax. Again, that is a welcome development, but we needed to make adjustments. We have made some adjustments. The same applies to the sugar levy that he mentioned. The issue around being focused on taxing the SMEs, eventually they will contribute to the fiscus as well.

Hon. Zhou, you made the comment about increasing the budget for Tourism Ministry and we have done that. Hon. Bvute was very supportive of the budget trying to raise revenue relying on domestic resources because we are under sanctions and credit squeeze globally. He welcomed again the wealth tax with some adjustments. He was very clear that actually, this budget is pro-poor because of its strong focus on the social services sector and also on social protection, that is pro-poor.

Hon. Dhliwayo again highlighted that the BEAM programme is a pro-poor programme and so is Pfumvudza. The wealth tax is also seeking to redistribute from those who have a lot to those who have less. This is a pro-poor strategy as well. He also made a proposal about paying for claims in gold. I thought it was an interesting idea, but I will engage him privately. This is something that we can pursue. I did not fully follow it.

Hon. Hamauswa made a comment about changing the wealth tax and charging US$2 per household. We have about two million houses or so and I am not really sure about that. It cannot be the same figure for all. It has to be something like what we have proposed that there is a threshold and only those who are above a certain threshold pay the wealth tax. It cannot be uniform, otherwise that will then be what others have been calling a hut tax.

Hon Togarepi, welcomed the incorporation of US$300 into the main salary and that it is pensionable. He further said toll fees ought to be paid.

Hon Ndudzo, made a plea like the other two colleagues who made very passionate arguments that we need to toll more roads around the country then raise revenues to build more roads.  I think it is a good principle that we should do that and we will look at that going forward but make sure that these are also affordable toll fee levels.

He also made a comment about the judiciary perhaps not being on the retention scheme they are.  Maybe I will ask my colleague to furnish him with some of the details of this so that he is fully satisfied.

 I also note the positive comments from Hon. Mapiki who was supportive of the general thrust of the budget and I really appreciate the contribution from Hon. Ganyiwa regarding toll fees that maybe we should do a 50% increase and that is what we have done in actual fact.  There is also the issue of the SME Ministry and ZIMRA working together to integrate SMEs into the formal sector.  I fully agree with this.  He presented a very interesting argument about how we should think through a wealth tax versus a property tax.  That is helpful to think through these things but who knows, going forward, sometime in the future, then we can refine it and take into account some of his thinking in this. 

Then Hon. D. Chiwa said we need to look into the budget for disaster management.  I thought we had some decent allocation in the Ministry of Local Government but maybe we will take a look and see if we can top that up.  The thing is, you cannot really plan for disasters because they just happen. So maybe what we need to do is to make sure in our back pockets in the unallocated reserve, we have something to meet whatever disaster may hit us.  But this is a very important point that he raised and I fully take it on board. 

Also, in terms of investing more in irrigation, I agree with him.  If you recall colleagues, we sat aside fines from the SDRs to develop 18 new irrigation schemes.  I need to check with the Ministry of Agriculture how that is going. We will need two per province, so we are focused on this issue and I concur with him. Then the issue of sugar because perhaps he comes from the sugar sector, that next time we should consider not to open up for sugar.  However, these are always temporary border openings to manage prices but we have taken into account what he said.

Then Hon. Musanhi, regarding the support to industry as we work through the budget, that industry needs to retool which is supported.  I agree with him and if you consider some of the ways in which we have done it - just having an auction in the first place which industry can access US dollars to import.  Most of those resources have gone to retooling and that is why our company has been labelled retool through access to resources through the auction.  We also set up a retooling fund for industry again using SDRs but we will continue to do more.  So, we agree with him that we need to retool our industry and we could do more going, forward such as investing in them, making sure that when it comes to cloud-seeding, we do not miss an opportunity.  Let us do cloud-seeding and harness that water for agriculture. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, I think I have tried hard to cover quite a bit of what was contributed from the floor, the chairs and individual contributions. If I left out anyone, it is not because we do not want to answer but maybe we felt it had been captured elsewhere by other speakers.  But largely, I am very impressed with the quality of contributions from this side of the House.  In the last five years, in my view, this has been the best contribution.  I think I should end by saying, I move that the Bill be read for the first time.  I thank you.

FIRST READING

FINANCE BILL [H.B. 7, 2023]

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. NCUBE) presented the Finance Bill [H.B. 7, 2023].  

Bill read the first time.

Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY

MAIN ESTIMATES OF EXPENDITURE

Second Order read: Committee of Supply:  Main Estimates of Expenditure.

House in Committee.

         Vote 1: Office of the President and Cabinet $2 157 038627 000,  put and agreed to.

         On Vote 2: Parliament of Zimbabwe $475 112 468 000;

         *HON. CHOKURURAMA: For the Parliament budget, it is not quite sufficient. May it be increased a little bit because Parliament is the one that runs and oversees all the ministries. So we need to be fully resourced so that we can be able to execute our mandate effectively.

         *HON. CHIDUWA: I think the issue that is being raised by the Hon. Member is that the figures should be specific. On the welfare of the Members of Parliament, I think everyone is looking at the issue of vehicles which enable us to carry out our mandate. If last year a vehicle was pegged at $50 000 or $80 000, in this 10th Parliament, what is its value?  The other issue pertains to our salaries, are we still at $300 or it was increased. If we know that, it might help us to decide because right now we do not know the amount and we need clarification. Maybe the SROC knows.

         *HON. S. ZIYAMBI: To add to that, the Parliament budget figure includes the CDF, so we would want to know the figures so that we know if the funds are still at the same amount or it was increased as per our request. We note that the budget for $475 billion needs us to look at it closely so that we know if it’s in line with what we requested as parliamentarians. At the same time, we raised a concern that our constituencies do not have constituency offices such that most of us do our parliamentary work from our cars or such other dilapidated structures.  We need to look at the CDF figure so that it can be reviewed upwards to enable us to build the offices and do other developmental projects in our constituencies.

         *HON. HUNGWE: I want to make my contribution on the Parliament budget looking at the issue of accommodation which has posed a major challenge as some Members of Parliament end up sleeping in cars. There is a lot of uncertainty pertaining to that issue that if one is to come to Harare for sittings, sometimes hotels refuse to accommodate parliamentarians. I would like the Minister to clarify on the issue of hotel accommodation so that we have a lasting solution in that regard.

         On the issue of vehicles, most of the newly elected Members of Parliament including the youths and others, no one has a vehicle to take them from one place to another and bundle up in one car. We want the Minister to make it clear when we should expect the release of vehicle funds giving us a timeframe and how much each vehicle will cost. Also, we want to know the amount that we are going to receive as increment on our salaries in USD even if we are to receive at interbank rate to help us understand.

         Coming to CDF, if it is said to be $50 000, let it be at the current interbank rate of the day when it is finally released because we notice that there are delays in releasing CDF such that when you finally receive it, say in October, it will be equivalent to about $1 000 , yet in January it was $50 000. Thank you.

*HON. SAMSON: Thank you Madam Chair, I want to talk in relation to Members’ accommodation because if we rush to conclude that everything is fine, we will end up being in trouble. Last time, on the issue of hotels, it was resolved that Members of Parliament will be given money to secure private accommodation, but it never happened. There was a time when we came here and failed to secure accommodation, like now, some of our colleagues do not have anywhere to put up. When the hotels are fully booked, Members of Parliament are advised to secure private accommodation which becomes a challenge to us because we do not have relatives in Harare.  We, therefore, end up living as squatters. 

Secondly, I want to talk in line with Members of Parliament with constituencies.  What happens is that the Member in his or her constituency. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order, Order, Hon. Members. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -

*HON. SAMSON: I was talking about Hon. Members who have constituencies. They can go to their constituencies without anywhere to point to as their offices, which ends up becoming difficult to go to the constituency and also accessed by the people in the constituency because they do not know where to find them. Sometimes people may end up looking for the Hon. Member at his or her home when they are supposed to go to his or her office and have a field officer at their disposal. These issues should be looked into as well because the field officer will also be expecting a salary from the Member of Parliament. It is very difficult to deduct wages for the field officer from the Member of Parliament’s salary. 

Again, there is supposed to be analysis for the women’s quota.  The constituencies that we cover, for example, if in your district you have five constituencies, you are supposed to reach out to all the five constituencies, yet you are not being considered.  Instead, it is only the sitting Member of Parliament who benefits. I propose that the budget revisits the welfare of all Members of Parliament.  It should be looked into thoroughly because once the budget is passed, we will not be able to revisit it.

*HON. SAMAMBWA: Thank you, Mr Speaker Sir.  Let me first thank the Hon. Minister for considering our plight. Let me first remind the Hon. Minister that a home is taken care of by the maid and caretaker. Our staff, Hon. Minister, are getting very little as their salaries considering that sometimes they go up to 24 hours at work with us here. It is not good because, like yesterday, they started at 7 am and they finished at 0100 hrs the following day. Let me say Hon. Minister that in order for our work to flow smoothly, we must consider the welfare of our workers.

Secondly, Hon. Minister, let me talk about our salaries.  We have become a laughing stock in the villages because our salaries are the same as those being paid to ZESA interns. 

We also want to know Hon. Minister, before we pass this budget that,  is duty free still applicable in the Tenth Parliament as it was in the previous Parliament?  We also want to know if Members of the Ninth Parliament got USD40 000.00 loans, are we also going to get them?

*HON NYABANI: Thank you, Madam Speaker. The Hon. Minister had promised to review Hon. Members of Parliament fuel coupon allocations depending on mileage and constituency size. I would like to speak on the issue of fuel coupons for Members of Parliament.  Hon. Minister, you had promised that you were going to review the liters and I propose that the fuel coupons should be given according to the size of the constituency.

         I would like to talk on the issue of the welfare of Parliament Staff.  May the Minister give car loans to the staff of Parliament? The staff of Parliament use staff buses and have to wait for each other, so instead of waiting long hours after finishing business, give them car loans so that they can go home early.

         On the issue of the Constituency Development Fund, let it be given consistently and on time.  I thank you.

         +HON. S. SITHOLE: Thank you Hon. Chair. In the previous Parliament, the 5th Session, you promised us vehicles which were at $80 000.00, but at the end of the session, you said the vehicles were now $50 000,00 so there was a difference of $30 000.00 which we thought we would be given as cash.  So as we are passing this budget, are we going to be given that difference?

         Hon. Minister, may we also have a benchmarking analysis like in South Africa in terms of Hon. Member's remuneration?  May we also be given the privilege of bringing our spouses so that we stay together in the hotels?  I thank you.

         *HON. TSITSI ZHOU: Thank you Hon. Chair.  I would like to contribute to the issue of the accommodation for Members of Parliament.  We are being offered poor services to the extent that at one point, I was bitten by mosquitos.  May the Hon. Minister have a dialogue with the Central Bank so that we get loans to buy houses for our accommodation instead of being accommodated in hotels?  At a decent accommodation, we can cook healthy food and we are also able to provide ourselves self-service.

 Furthermore, on the issue of sitting allowances, they should be disbursed timeously.  We have a lot of work to execute in this House, for example, we go out for public consultations, and thus we appeal to the Minister to consider our plea for the timeous disbursement of allowances.

*HON. MAKOPE: Thank you, Madam Speaker.  My issue is on the welfare of Members of Parliament.  I want to look back, during the Ninth Parliament, there was an issue of outstanding vehicles for the 26 Members of Parliament who had joined lately. My question is, has the issue been included in the 2024 budget?

On the issue of duty-free, Members of Parliament had no money to go and import these cars to the extent that the duty-free certificate expired without Members purchasing those second vehicles.  I thank you.

*HON. MASVISVI: Hon. Chair, we used to have Parliament Sitting in the Central Business District, however, since the relocation of Parliament, we have not been cushioned for our traveling on the extra 30 kms that we are traveling.  The fuel coupons that we are getting are now insufficient.

*HON. MUCHEMWA: The Parliament administration is working towards going paperless; however, we do not have tools of trade such as tablets or even airtime.

*HON. MAHACHI: My contribution is to the Constituency Development Fund.  I am requesting the Minister that, some Members did not receive CDF in the last session, so, Hon. Minister, may we have those constituencies prioritised in this Budget?  I thank you.

*HON. MARUPI: Why is there a selective application in terms of loan amounts?  For example, Hon. Ministers get $500 000.00, Deputy Ministers get $350 000.00 and the Member of Parliament gets $40 000.00

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Thank you Hon. Chair.  Let me start with the duty importation of motor vehicles.  I must say that the facility for the second vehicle is still in place, so you are free to import a second vehicle.  Those from the Ninth Parliament  who could not bring in cars before Parliament was dissolved.  We are going to extend the Statutory Instrument so that you can bring in your cars – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – I have already received a letter through the Clerk, of Members who have been affected.  We are processing that as Treasury.  In terms of Parliament Staff, they also have access to duty free motor vehicles just like any other civil servant.

         On the issue of remuneration of MPs, Parliament and Treasury are working together to review the framework and improve the salaries of MPs.  On the issue of the budget itself, I am aware that we need to increase the budget for constituency offices and constituency visits.  Also, in the past, we have talked about research officers to support MPs and also to bolster the CDF Fund.  With that in mind, we have done some calculations with my staff.  I propose that we increase the budget for Parliament by another 225 billion so that it becomes 700 billion in response to those needs.  There was a question specifically about vehicles, we have budgeted 132 billion at the current exchange rate, it converts to about USD60 000 per vehicle.  We have done that but I think the main issue is that we increase the budget for Parliament to 700 billion.  Thank you. 

         I put the amendment to increase the budget for Parliament to 700 billion:

         *HON. HUNGWE: Thank you Hon. Chair. I want to take the matter back to the Minister. Can the issue of the Hon. Members be further clarified as the majority of the Members in this august House would want to understand in US dollar terms?  If we go to salaries, how much are we going to get?  If motor vehicles are going to be 60 000, what amount is being looked at for salaries?

         *AN HON. MEMBER:  Thank you Madam Speaker, we ask that the amount that the Hon. Minister of Finance has mentioned, of US$60 000 should be increased for each Member of Parliament and not in the budget itself.  If possible, if we would be allowed to buy motor vehicles of our own choice based on the amount because we could get off-road motor vehicles at a cheaper price.   

         On welfare for Members of Parliament, we ask the Hon. Minister to clarify if it is still work in progress.  What are the timelines?  We also want him to come up with disaggregated figures because you should also look at best practices in other countries.  I will give an example of Kenya, their salaries compared to ourselves, there is a large gap.  They are respected more than ourselves, we are disrespected because we do not have sufficient earnings.  We ask the Hon. Minister to look into that issue so that he can come up with a clearer position.  How much is that increase going to be? 

         HON. MHURI:  We would like to thank the Hon. Minister for being a listening Minister.  I know the Hon. Minister knows the percentages and the figures, that is why he was the best Minister a few days back.  It is my plea that the Hon. Minister can give us percentages so that we know whether the salary increase is 20%, 50% or 70% and that we know how much is going to be allocated to salaries.  Finally, I would like to end by saying that the motor vehicles that we use are not in good condition since most of our vehicles broke down during campaigns, what motor vehicle does he have in mind?  I am not looking down upon the vehicle but vehicles for US$60 000 are not befitting of the stature of an Hon. Member of Parliament.  I thank you. 

         HON. TOGAREPI:  My issue is related to how you fund Parliament.  Why are we not paid immediately, we were always told ten days after sitting for a month, Members of Parliament must receive their allowances.  We still have former Members of Parliament who have outstanding allowances – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – so when the budget is approved, I know obviously monies have to be mobilised, there should be a way to create a good relationship with the service providers.  In my view, I am sorry to say this, it looks like Parliament Administration, to some extent, has given up on protecting the interests of Members of Parliament.  Parliament must intervene.

         Let me say to my colleagues that the US$60 000 he is proposing is duty free, meaning you can import a car of US$80 000 to US$90 000.  Let me give you an example, top of the range GD 6 ,the most expensive is 40 000.  Fortuner, you can still get it plus or minus 45 000 – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:  Order, Hon. Members, let us accord him a chance to speak. 

HON. TOGAREPI: The only car that has gone out of the range at the moment is Prado which is about 60 00 to 70 000. I just want to open your mind so that when we are talking about the vehicles, we know what is due to Members of Parliament then you raise your issues knowing exactly what is in the market.  Some of the Hon. Members who are here are suppliers of the same vehicles.  Hon. Minister, we had a challenge of procuring vehicles in the last Parliament.  We still have 26 Members who are yet to get their vehicles.  Some obviously came through by-elections but we also have those who came in 2018 who have not received their vehicles.  Let me request the Minister to find the best ways to secure those vehicles  and members get them. Parliament only helps the Hon. Members to identify as to who can supply us and so forth. The payment needs to happen directly at Treasury level. You will see that we will not have Members who will go throughout the five years without their vehicles being procured. I think Hon. Minister is very practical in terms of the image of Members of Parliament. Our other colleagues were there and for them to remain relevant in their constituencies, they must go there every so often.

         They need reliable vehicles to go home. They do everything and this needs flexibility. I was looking at the budget items. I saw a fixed figure related to your Members of Parliament. I think we should not take it in the view of the budget, but also to be practical and sit down. Every service that are supposed to be given to MPs must be practically looked at. If we say we have given whatever we have given, the issue of hotels is too expensive for Government.

One of these hotels was charging USD1000. When USD100 was equivalent to about USD100 000, Parliament was being charged USD358 thousand and a room was now USD400. They take advantage of us because we pay them very late and we have no cash. I want to suggest that you were generous through the President last time, that you gave support of that figure to Members of Parliament. Why do we not take that figure and go to a building society and deposit it.

Instead of giving us because they have precedence and they will say you gave others, but it was best for Members of Parliament to buy houses. Why not take that money to a building society and get accommodation and not go to these hotels?

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Chief Whip. I want you to address the Chair. You can go ahead Hon. Togarepi.

HON. TOGAREPI: I have raised the issues to the Minister very well and the issue is just being practical. If we go to a hotel or any service provider, our people should get value for money. There are hotels that we pay so much lump sums who are now saying when Hon. Members go there, they do not give them dinner. They just tell them that we are not going to give you dinner. Hon. Members were booked in a certain hotel and we were told they had booked to check out tomorrow. Yesterday because there was COSAFA youth tournament, they were followed one by one and told to leave the hotel.

All this can be solved by Parliament. We know these are administrative issues and we are telling you Hon. Minister as the owner of the pace, but not to say that you should be doing it for us. I think you should facilitate enough leeway for the Hon. Members or for the Administration of Parliament to be able to do these things and serve your MPs so that they perform. You can see the cooperation with your budget. We are saying this budget maybe it will give you enough resources to improve our welfare. We are chasing a loan target that was set sometime ago that Hon. Members were getting an equivalent of USD2000.

We believe with enough resources, the generosity of Parliament today to say Minister go an extra mile, be funded and get money out of taxes and that will look after civil servants including our staff here. They do not need individual service vehicles but pool cars. When we leave this place at 1o’clock, buses leave them where they have always left them, but if there is a pool car, it can go in small avenues and leave people safely and then they come here and support us.

My issue Hon. Minister is just be practical and with the administration, sit down with them because what they tell me is, they get the budget allocation and no disbursement. So what they do when you allocate them, they tell the Members of Parliament that your money is now available and Hon. Members spend 7 days and the money would not appear. A lot of phone calls and more pressure will be put on Parliament Administration. Let us just be practical when we go to the welfare of your Hon. Members. Thank you. 

         *HON. MANGONDO: Thank you Madam Chair.  I believe that the problem with the welfare of Members of Parliament (MPs) comes from the lack of a framework that caters for MPs.  We have three arms of the State.  We have the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.  Executive, if you look at the civil service, they have an Act, the Public Service Act and the Public Service Commission.  All that cater for the issues of…

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. CHIKOMO):  Order Hon. Member, just a quick announcement - a Member with a car registration number, AGH1554 left the windows open and it is raining.  You may excuse yourself.  Hon. Member, you may go ahead.

         *HON. MANGONDO: Thank you Hon. Chair.  Ministers have an Act which provides for special packages.  One of the provisions is that whenever the salaries of civil servants’ salaries and allowances are reviewed, automatically theirs are reviewed.  The Judiciary in terms of the judges, have the Judiciary Services Commission which looks at the welfare of judges.  MPs do not have any Act.  They cannot bargain.  There are a lot of things- if you look at a Director in the Civil Service, they have got perks which an MP does not have, yet the MP oversees more than 35 000 constituents.

         This is where our problem emanates from.  Even when we look at this Parliament, there are no offices for MPs.  In other Parliaments, MPs have offices at Parliament and they have their staff there.  In our constituencies, the issue of Constituency Information Centres no longer exist.  We do not have staff, even computers.  The best way is to look for a framework that Parliament has its budget that looks at what is happening in other countries and bring it home.  Being an MP is a full-time job.  We come here on Monday up to Thursday, we do not have time to augment our salaries, but when it comes to benefits, we are not considered. 

         The Minister said he was impressed by the quality of reports that were presented here.  A lot of effort has been put in order to come up with such reports.  There is a lot of research that was carried out to the extent of even paying a researcher so that we get such reports.  If we believe that Parliament is a sovereign institution, Parliament should have a framework that will be commensurate with other Parliaments in the region.

         If you look at it, a Minister has Cabinet allowance, housing allowance, salary, workers who are paid by Government, telephone bills, fuel and everything, what about an MP?  Vehicles that were discussed here, my constituency Murehwa South, from one end to the other, I travel 60km in a dirty road, with no gravel.  I was issued with a GD 6 vehicle by my party, it is now a wreck, just in a space of four months.  GD 6 is not useful to me, I need a Land Cruiser for me to be able to move from one point to another.  I have three Land Cruisers which were wrecked by the state of the road in my area.  This issue needs to be well dealt with, not in piece-meal.  We need to sit down to discuss this issue.  If there is need to have a Committee of MPs who can present our issues and not to be given small amounts which do not help us; it is not accepted.  I thank you.

         *HON. MUKOMBERI: Thank you Madam Chair. I would like to follow on the issue of employees.  When he responded, he did not talk to that issue.  When he responds this time, can he respond to the issue of workers?  A worker is a machine fueled by money.  Before they come to work, they first satisfy the basic needs.  I also include Members of Parliament and staff of Parliament; we need to be properly dressed.  In our Standing Rules, we are all supposed to be formerly dressed.  As MPs, we should not put on a worn-out suit, we cannot put on a suit similar to that of a herd boy.  An MP needs a good quality suit and they need dry cleaning.  The suit might cost up toUSD300 before even buying shoes.  We need to also look at the basics.  Some Members might end up absconding from attending Parliament Business because they do not have the required attire. The suits that we are wearing now were bought using some other sources before we came here.  At times you wonder whether you made a wrong choice to represent the people of your area.  I just wanted to raise the issue of staff, whether they got an increment and how much is it? I thank you.

         *HON. MAUNGANISO: Hon. Mukomberi has hit the nail on the head. I have no further question.

         *HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: Thank you Madam Chair for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this debate on Parliament budget. My issue is on Parliament staff. I am suggesting to the Minister that he engages with the Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Housing and allocate residential stands here so that workers will be closer to Parliament. Look at what they are earning at the moment, it ranges from Z$300 000 to Z$800 000. If we convert this amount to US dollar it is actually US$80 and they cannot buy stands. There are some pieces of land around Parliament building and we would not want to see foreigners grabbing this land ahead of us.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I think the detail of this discussion should be supported by what happens in the welfare committee. Some Hon. Members may not be aware that we have a welfare committee which is a subcommittee within the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders which is chaired by the Speaker.

         *HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: On a point of order. I am not disrespecting the Minister. The committee that the Hon. Minister is referring to only sat once. They did not discuss the issues with us and the workers. There is no committee which is in existence …

         HON. TOGAREPI: I think you are economic with the truth because the welfare committee sits almost every month. They discuss everything and recommend to the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. Every CSRO meeting discusses the welfare of employees and Members of Parliament.  I think the members of staff who are in here may recall that the welfare committee always sits. The truth is that we are constrained because there is a budget and whether we think that this is better for us, but sometimes we do not want to go off the budget. In addition, Hon Zhou benefited last year from this welfare committee.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: Thank you for that explanation. If I can just comment on the welfare committee, the Hon. Member at the back there said he wanted to create a committee of Members of Parliament. My point was, we already have a committee, maybe it could be enhanced or consult ordinary Members more so that we hear all the issues. This committee exists for us to put together a decent welfare package for our Members of Parliament. I agree with that.

         I was also speaking to the Leader of Government Business and the Deputy Chief Whip about the same point. In a way, that is what Hon. Zhou is saying that we could become smarter. We can identify land and once that land has been identified, we take some amount and deposit with the building society and build accommodation for Members of Parliament. They are given a key and they use that during the duration of Parliament. That is what South Africa does. That is the arrangement.

These are just ideas which are emerging now. I am not proposing, but I am merely responding to say, I am hearing some ideas. There maybe better ideas with backbenchers and that is fine. That is what should come to the welfare committee for discussion so that we all agree on the best model and Government stands ready to support. I agree with you that we need to do something with accommodation.

*HON. MATANGIRA: I rise on a point of clarity. My point of clarity that I am seeking is that we are here as Members of Parliament. When we go back for elections, some of us may not come back. The house has been built in my name and then I do not come back. I will be on the streets. If I heard right from what the Chief Whip said, the stands should be built for workers and Members of Parliament so that when they go on pension, they have a roof above their heads.

*THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Like what the Minister has said that this is a suggestion which needs further consultation. May you allow the Minister to conclude?

HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: You have explained well Honourable Chair. Hon Matangira wants to keep the key and not give it back. That is also a good proposal. The welfare committee needs to consider all this and support the Members of Parliament.

On the proposal by Hon. Togarepi that let us release the budget for Parliament three months in advance, again I agree with him. We should stick to this because it will assist Parliament to be able to pay these services without any embarrassment that is happening to Members of Parliament being thrown out of hotels because of delays. This is very important. I take it seriously and I agree with him.

The issue of US$60 000 on cars, this is the duty-free prices and not the full price. Again, I think this is quite okay. Overally, when we did the increase by Z$225 billion to Z$700 billion, the percentage increase is actually 47%. That is what my technical team assisted me with. We all feel that this will go a long way in addressing the budgetary demands and imperatives for Parliament.

I think what the Chief Whip said about being practical and flexible – some of these things are administrative. He is right and should we need to top up, we will always have a back pocket to support Parliament. The target salary for Parliament is $2000. We said this about two years ago and we are working towards that target. I am hopeful that we will get there. I thank you.

HON. MATANGIRA:  Point of clarity Hon. Chair.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:  What is your point of clarity Hon. Matangira. 

HON. MATANGIRA:  Thank you very much Hon. Chair.  My point of clarity that I am seeking is we are here as Members of Parliament.  The next tenure when we go back for elections for reelection, some of us are not going to be coming back.  A house has been built in my name and then I do not come back, I will be on the street.  I think if I heard right from what the Chief Whip said, houses must be constructed for the staff of Parliament.  When they go on pension, they will have a roof over their heads.  The same as for Members of Parliament.  If they do not come back to Parliament then they deserve a roof over their heads.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:  Hon. Matangira, like what the Hon. Minister has said, it is a suggestion that has come as a proposal.  Allow him to then conclude his response.  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  You have explained well Madam Chair.  Hon. Matangira wants to keep the key and not give it back.  That is also a good proposal.  So I think the Welfare Committee, needs to consider all of this and support the Members of Parliament.

Then on the proposal by Hon. Togarepi, the Chief Whip that let us release the budget for Parliament three months in advance.  Again, I agree with him.  We should stick to this.  This will allow Parliament to be able to pay for these services without causing the embarrassment that is happening where Members of Parliament are being thrown out of hotels and so forth because of delays.  So this is very important.  I take it seriously and I agree with him.

The issue of the 60 000 on cars, this is the duty free price and not the full price, probably about 100 000 or so.  So again, we think that this is quite okay, but I must say that overall, when we did the increase by 225 billion to 700 000, someone asked for the percentage increase.  That percentage increase is actually 47%.  That is what my technical team assisted me with to work that number.  We all feel this will go a long way in addressing the budgetary demands and imperatives for Parliament.  I think what the Chief Whip said about just being practical, being flexible, some of these things are administrative.  He is right and besides, should we need to top up we will always have a back pocket to support empowerment and that the target salary for Parliament is 2000.  We said this about two years ago and we are working towards that target.  I am hopeful that we will get there.  Thank you very much.

HON. C. MOYO: Thank you Madam Chair.  There was an issue which was raised pertaining the 30 000 balances for Ninth Parliament Members of Parliament and I did not hear the Hon. Minister clarifying on that.  Thank you, Madam Chair.

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  We cannot afford the 30 000.  We extended and now I can tell everybody, 40 000 to Members of the Ninth Parliament for accommodation or purchase of a vehicle and then we also extended duty free status for the second vehicle.  So, within Government, we feel that we will be unable budget-wise, to support 30 000 pay back for the previous Parliament.  We feel really that we should be looking forward to some of the ideas that are emerging about building accommodation which a Member of Parliament is given their key to keep permanently.  Perhaps I think that is the way forward.  I think let us try to look forward on this one.  I thank you.

Vote 2 – Parliament of Zimbabwe as amendment, put and agreed to.

Vote 3 – Public Service Labour and Social Welfare – ZWL2 371 042 499, put and agreed to.

On Vote 4 – Defence – 3 637 636 664 000;

HON. TOGAREPI:  Minister, I saw the figure that you are allocating to Defence but I was of the opinion that we have within that budget, issues of garrison shops where members of the security forces can buy things at low prices.  That can actually boost their moral.

I strongly feel that we also have to improve their barracks where they work from but my major area is, as a person who at one point stayed in that environment, that thing is critical.  Yes, we want them to earn so well.  We have got a structure for their incomes but their rations, their garrison shops are motivating for your members of the security forces.  So I really request Minister, that if your back pocket allows, start with a pilot project where you have these garrison shops and see how they will improve the welfare and moral of our soldiers.  We can only be safe to do business, to be in Parliament here with our soldiers and security people giving us enough security and they are motivated to do so.

HON. NGULUVHE:  Thank you Chair.  I just wanted to buttress the point that you will assist them, for example those who are into construction and civil engineering.  So I am just asking if you can please capacitate them.  Thank you.

*HON. TSISI ZHOU:  Thank you Madam Chair.  There is an issue about people who were vetted, the war veterans.  They have the greatest expectation that they are going to benefit. – [AN HON. MEMBER:  The Votes on the war veterans will be coming.] -  My apologies I thought they were joint.

         *HON.  BUTAU:  Thank you Hon. Speaker I was thinking that the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion is responsible with regards to the availability of resources.  The issue of accommodation that parliamentarians are experiencing is an important one.  This issue does not need the availability of cash, there are prescribed assets that Treasury can arrange with insurance companies and banks to avail funding for accommodation. 

         In some countries, if someone joins the military, he is intitled to a car and house loan.  That should be the same for Zimbabwe. It should not draw directly from consolidated funds.  If Government negotiates with financial institutions, those resources are outside national budget that is my contribution Hon. Minister.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I thank you let me start with the last contribution Madam Chair.  I like it, it is a good one, we can extend PA status to anybody who is willing to construct institutional accommodation, I think more of that should be done, I really thank the Hon. Member for that.  On the comment by the Chief Whip, Hon. Togarepi and Hon. Nguluvhe on the garrison shops.  I propose his garrison shops in 2020 but then when we started implementing, we realised that actual garrison shops already exist and we were not fully aware as Government, but they exist.  The leadership of the force had gone ahead to do it because it is the right thing to do. 

         As I speak, I am informed that there are over 40 garrison shops already so what I have proposed to do is, because they already exist, is to extend a zero VAT benefit to them so they should not charge VAT that will then constitute a benefit for our security forces but they exist, I am told. We will take another look where maybe nothing has been done and within something ought to be done, maybe then Government can intervene and make sure there is a garrison facility in there.  It looks like the leadership of the Defence Forces especially, have done it, they have just gone ahead and have done it.  I visited one at Manyame Air Base and that is how I realised that we had them.  I went through it, I looked everywhere, checked prices and so forth then I made a realisation that maybe let us just make sure they do not pay any VAT and that benefit will go towards the Defence Forces.  I thank you.

         Vote 4, put and agreed to.

         On Vote 5 – Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion ZWL8 489 940 552 000:

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE):  Madam Chair we have added 70 billion to support ZIMRA, I propose we do that.  Then the new figure becomes – I will just mention the numbers one by one, it is faster.  It becomes 8 387 940 552 000.

         THE CHAIRPERSON: Does that include the additional to Parliament?

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: On Parliament, we have already added 225 billion, that one is done and then this is now Finance.

         THE CHAIRPERSON: Is it being subtracted from Finance?

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: The one for Parliament was subtracted from the unallocated reserve and then also for ZIMRA, it was also subtracted from the unallocated reserves, so we have done those adjustment, so this is the figure post the two adjustments.  In-fact they are further adjustments by the way, this is the final, I have got to make further proposals.

         THE CHAIRPERSON:  Can we defer the Finance Vote? He indicated that he is going to look into the Finance Votes.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I have already made proposals for those and we have included that in the final Finance Vote.

         Amendment to Vote 5 put and agreed to.

         Vote 5 as amended, put and agreed to.

         On Vote 6 – Office of the Auditor-General ZWL116 964 994 000;

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): We have increased the budget for the Auditor-General’s Office by another 10 billion so the new figure is 126 964 944 000.

Amendment to Vote 6 put and agreed to.

         Vote 6 as amended, put and agreed to.

         Vote 7 – Industry and Commerce

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Madam Chair, I propose that we make an allocation for ZITF of RTGS5 billion.  So the new total will be RTGS135 473 990 000, I thank you.

         Amendment on Vote 7 put and agreed to.

         Vote 7 as amended, put and agreed to.

         Vote 8 Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, 4 285 933 440 000.

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Madam Speaker, my contribution is not on the budget allocation but it is on the naming of the programmes. Looks like an error was made and I want to make that correction.  On page 3 under Programme (iv), it reads Cropping Livestock Production, Extension Advisory Services, it should read Programme (iv): Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development’ that is the first correction. Overleaf under Programme, again there is an amendment it should read ‘Animal Production, Health and Advisory Services. Finally, on Programme 9, it should read ‘Programme 9: Integrated Water Resources Management and Irrigation Resources Development and Management. I thank you.

         Amendment to Vote 8 put and agreed to.

         Vote 8 as amended, put and agreed to.

         *HON. NYABANI: Thank you Madam Chair.  Through you Madam Chair, I want the Hon. Minister to seriously consider the Ministry of Agriculture because it is the mainstay of the food security.  On water, I would like to say that where we come from, we do not have boreholes.  We were promised boreholes but at the moment we do not have water, people are getting water from open wells in rivers.  Livestock is now affected by the non-availability of water.  Dams should also be constructed.  Semwa Dam has been under construction for a long time.  May there be an increase to this budget so that boreholes can be drilled, we need to put measures this year  to alleviate the effects of El Nino through drilling of boreholes.

         HON. MAKOPE: Thank you Hon. Chair, my contributions goes towards the importation of food now that drought is now looming. I think contingent measures should be taken in place on time so that we can defend our people.  I saw 33% of the budget has been allocated towards that. I do not think it is enough to secure food. I have a suggestion that I want to give to Hon. Minister that he can digest.  My suggestion is that we can craft a policy that empower other stakeholders, private partners who have been working together with the Ministry of Lands such as Silo to import food right now.  The Government can then subsidise, that can remove a lot of burden from the Central Government, that is my suggestion. 

         On the same note under agriculture, we have our commercial farmers who are owning our farmers particularly the cattle ranching, those should be empowered.  I think a scheme was supposed to be designed to cater for those farmers so that they can have the capital to start the farming business. At the moment we have a number of farms which are lying idle because those farmers are not well equipped and empowered to start farming business. I thought probably the budget can also look into that and give us a provision to our farmers.  I thank you.

*HON. MUCHEMWA: Thank you Madam Chair. The issue of the dams that I wanted to make reference to has been already alluded to by Hon. Nyabani. Let me make an addition that in Uzumba as a whole, there is not a single irrigation scheme. The budget should be increased for the Ministry so that the rural farmers can also have irrigation schemes. The dams that were constructed a long time ago are even silted. May there be desiltation so that we can have sufficient water in the irrigation schemes in the communal lands.

*HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: Thank you Madam Chair. I am beseeching the Minister of Finance to increase money from unallocated reserves for the Grain Marketing Board, for them to be able to buy trucks that will assist in the transportation of the seed and even the maize from the GMB to the people. At the moment, they are hiring trucks. The MPs that you are seeing here are also assisting in the transportation of the maize grain and the maize seed to the people. If these trucks are procured for GMB depots for the purposes of distribution, it will be quite useful. I hope you will look into that issue Hon. Minister. I thank you.

*HON. MAHACHI: Thank you Madam Chair. My contribution to the Hon. Minister is to urge him to increase the allocation to irrigation process. We have the Osborne Dam in Manicaland which was constructed around 1994 and a lot of water is just flowing. It is not being put to any use. May the dam be put to use so that the majority of the Manicaland District could benefit through irrigation. I would want to furthermore add that in terms of the rigs for borehole drilling, we could get taxation there. A lot of Indians who are coming with rigs in the areas are not paying tax. They are Asian owned companies and I believe if the Minister is to look into that issue, it would help towards growing his tax strategy.

*HON. MASVISVI: Thank you Madam Chair. My plea to the Hon. Minister of Finance is that he should closely look at the allocation that is given to the Agriculture Ministry. This year we are having a drought. It is not just the drought that is experienced by the people, it is also going to affect livestock. In Gokwe South and Gokwe North, a lot of livestock is being lost due to the anthrax disease. This is because of drought. Even the provision of water in boreholes, a lot of them have dried up. The boreholes should be deep enough so that people can have a continuous supply of water. The drought phase is already being witnessed. For example, in Ward 20 in my constituency, they used to live on magwadhi which is now finished.  So, please increase the budget for Agriculture because everyone is now looking towards drought relief so that they can survive.

*HON. MABURUTSE: My plea to the Minister of Finance is for him to look at the allocation of the Ministry of Agriculture as regards livestock diseases – only 18%. January disease is coming and livestock will be lost. May he increase that percentage? It will be more useful if he attends to that issue. My constituency Chivi South is at the edge of Tokwe-Mukorsi. The dam has been constructed long back, but the people in my constituency are not benefiting from its construction. The people of Chivi just see the water passing to Chiredzi, but they also have the land. Can the land be profitably put to use for irrigation purposes so that the Chivi people also benefit? That is my plea to the Minister, to look at the Unallocated Reserve to increase the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture. I thank you.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Hon. Maburutse. Let us kindly stick to national matters because if we narrow them to constituencies, we will not finish.

HON. MAPIKI: Some produce called magwadi and they are now finished, so please increase the budget for agriculture because everyone is now looking towards drought relief so they can be sustained.  I thank you.

         *HON. MABURUTSE: My plea to the Minister of Finance is that when you look at the allocation given to the Ministry as regards cattle disease, it is only 18%.  January disease is coming and livestock will be lost.  May you increase that percentage?  In my constituency called Chivi South, this is the edge of Tokwe-Mukosi dam.  It has been in existence for a long time after its construction.  The people of Chivi just see the water passing through their area on its way to Chiredzi, yet the land which can be put under irrigation purposes is there for the Chivi people to use.  May you look into the unallocated resources and increase the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture.

         *HON. MAPIKI:  Thank you Madam Chair.  I think the Minister should increase the budget for Agriculture because the whole country is now importing citrus from South Africa.  I thank you.

         *HON. MDUMI:  Thank you Madam Chair.  May the Hon. Minister consider creating a small scale agriculture development fund that can be disbursed through government financial institutions to assist our small scale farmers to enable them to drill boreholes and they can buy water tanks and pipes to enable them to irrigate.  The issue of pfumvudza in Masvingo North - if war veterans that were allocated land were assisted with the construction of boreholes and other ancillary equipment, then they will be able to irrigate their land.  These small scale farmers, once they are empowered enough to irrigate at least one hector through a fund that they can pay at a nominal fee, can feed the entire country and they can no longer suffer from hunger as a result of the El Nino.  I thank you.

         +HON. MARUPI:  Thank Madam Chair for giving me the opportunity to speak. I am a Member of Parliament for Gwanda South and my plea to the Minister of Finance is that our budget be increased because we need food for the people.  We know that Zimbabwe is known as a country that produces beef.  The beef it produces comes from Matebeleland region which is a cattle ranching area.  If the money is going to be put towards irrigation or for Tokwe-Mukosi and Zhove, there should be sufficient cattle fodder so that the country’s economy can be improved because of agriculture which is the mainstay of the country apart from mining.  I thank you.

         *HON. GANYIWA:  Thank you Madam Chair.  I plead with the Minister to increase the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture because as we look at the current state of affairs, we have cotton farmers who are still mourning due to non-payment for their produce and they are in the dark as to when they are going to receive this payment.  I am pleading with the Minister of Finance and Investment Promotion to set aside funds to ensure that farmers are paid.  The seeds and pesticides have been delivered, but the farmers are reluctant to go back to farming.  I urge that they be paid profitably so that they can go back to the fields and be able to grow more.  In as far as pfumvudza/intwasa project, I will give an example of Mt. Darwin North where I come from.  They are carrying inputs from the Grain Marketing Board and it is very expensive.  The Minister of Agriculture, in a circular, did say inputs would be carried to each and every ward, but it did not happen.  The people are now contributing money to pay for these expenses.  They should be given adequate funding so that farmers should not be complaining about having to pay their own money.  I thank you.

         HON. MEMBER:  Thank you Hon. Chair.  I think I see where everyone is coming from and their experience with the problem we are going to face - that of drought which is now imminent.  My plea to the Minister of Finance is for him to reserve some money in a special fund so we can channel to different areas.  By December 2024, we will not have harvested something to assist us.  If only they can have a special fund that is specifically for channeling to hard hit areas in the short and long term.  By December 2024, we will not have harvested anything to sustain ourselves.  So, if we have this fund in place, we can then demarcate green zones, for example we feel pained when we pass through areas with rivers overflowing with water which can be used for irrigation until next year, but the fields have to be ploughed which means we will experience hunger whilst we have water.  The special fund should be activated so that agriculture extension officers can use these zones and dams.  The Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam in Gutu East and Ruti Dam - there is no irrigation downstream and such areas could be used and be turned into green belts and be able to ensure food security due to the imminent drought.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE:  I thank Hon. Members for their contributions. Let me say that in terms of financing the Agriculture Ministry, we do not only rely on tax revenue, we are also borrowing a lot.  In fact, when I look at the levels of borrowing, both in terms of domestic borrowing by issuance of Treasury Bills or external borrowing, you find a big chunk of those loans are financing agricultural products. So, that is not sitting within the budget but you see the interest payments below the line but we are borrowing to support agriculture.

         Let me turn to contributions from Hon. Nyabani regarding investment in dams and irrigation. I just want to assure him that if he goes to page 178 of the Blue Book, we have listed the dams that this budget will deal with and other rural development water schemes and also schemes that we are upgrading. For example, you see Gwayi-Shangani Dam with three components there; Marovanyati, Kunzvi, Defe dams and then we have got Ziminya, Vhungu, Tokwe-Mukorsi, Semwa and I see Chivhu as well, Bindura, Dande, Mbata Dam which is the new name for Silver Stream Dam in Mashonaland Central and I see Muchekeranwa.

         So, we have budgets for supporting our dam infrastructure but it is critical also to invest in irrigation and we are investing in irrigation. For that irrigation, we are actually working on a facility with one of the banks, and I dare not name them so that we partner with them for them to supply us with a credit loan to put 50 000 ha under irrigation. So, we are working on that.

On the issue of importation of grain, I agree with the Hon. Member and we will allow the private sector to do importation. We cannot import everything as Government and perhaps support Silo as suggested. I like that suggestion and then maybe subsidise anything that needs to be subsidised from those imports. I think the bottom line is, allow private sector, Silo and other parts of Government to do the importation to relieve the fiscus of that full burden.

Also, I got a contribution from Hon. Muchemwa asking for an increase in the budget and also a comment about GMB that we should support their logistics department to sustain that but GMB is also a company. I think this one really needs some kind of proper business plan so that we understand it and we can see how best to intervene as Government but I thank the Hon. Member. It is a very good suggestion so that we have a proper logistics division within GMB which existed before but has since run aground and private operators are now doing that job instead.

From Hon. Mahachi regarding Osbourne Dam and so forth; this has to do perhaps, with irrigation around Osbourne Dam. Again, this is something that we will look into and make sure that it is included in our Irrigation Development programme for which we are negotiating a facility with the bank. I thank him for that. On the tick-grease programme, we think that we have got decent funding from the budget and also for the dip-tanks and dipping chemicals.

On the fund for small-scale development to support the small-scale farmers, again this is a very good idea from the Hon. Member, I did not catch his name. I think we will go into rural development part of the budget and see how we can accommodate this kind of fund and focus on supporting the small-scale farmers. On cotton, this one is a tricky one. The issue of late payment of cotton farmers and no payment at all, I am aware that there is something about five or so million that is outstanding. Really, this is a COTTCO issue. COTTCO has gone through difficulties and as Government, we are supporting them to come back and they should be able to take care of this because this cotton is largely exported, often with huge margins.

So, out of those margins, COTTCO should be able to pay farmers. It is my expectation that things will change in 2024. They have been going through this transformation phase trying to recover in the last five years, I remember it was in administration and almost delisted from the Stock Exchange and all that. As Government, we have been wanting to increase our shareholding to 51% so that we can support it as a major shareholder. COTTCO going forward should not have difficulties supporting and paying cotton farmers. They should earn enough from export revenues. Cotton prices are decent and quite good.

Therefore, I really feel that given that we are able to support the agricultural sector through borrowings, both local and domestic, I feel that the budget for the Ministry is adequate. I think that they should be able to do what they need to do. My staff has also given me additional information regarding the irrigation areas. For what it is worthy, the Ministry intends to open up a 100 000 ha of land for irrigation. So, 55 000 ha for example in Tugwi, Runde and Mwenezi rivers taking advantage of the Tokwe-Mukorsi-Manyuchi Dam and the proposed Runde-Tende Dam.

Then 10 000 ha in Mbire District, 3 000 ha around Dande communal area, 5 000 ha around the Angwa block and 2 000 ha in the Mushumbi block. In Binga, 15 000 in Bulawayo Kraal. Finally, Bulawayo Kraal is up and running. It has taken a while. We had to redesign, relocate pipes, pumps and so forth. I remember going there three times and I think finally we have nailed it with the last payment of about US$350 000 and that should give 15 000 ha and we are getting water from the Zambezi. Again, another 10 000 ha in the Lupane area is envisaged, 2 000 ha in the Middle Save area and finally, 8 000 ha in the Rimbi and Kondo dams.

These are some of the areas that this budget is focusing on. In this budget, the Ministry is funded for all of this including the borrowings that I talked about. They also go towards supporting this Irrigation Development programme. I thank you.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Hon. Minister for the work that has been done so far.

Vote 8 – Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, put and agreed to.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: We are now taking a short break for our dinner and we will come back in 30 minutes time.

Business was suspended at Twenty-Three Minutes past Eight o’clock p.m. and resumed at 2115 hours.

         On Vote 9 - Mines and Mining Development - $132 708 341 000.00;

         *HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: I have a proposal to the Minister. There is the issue of mining pegging fees riding on what you said in presenting the Budget, when you said that when claims do change, there is a fee that is charged. Still on that, I am saying when mines are being pegged, I propose to you that there should be a difference between fees that are charged for locals and foreigners. You will find that foreigners are using the same fee as locals to get title. If you go to Namibia, you cannot peg a mine if you are not a citizen of that country. I urge the Minister to come up with measures, together with the Ministry of Mines so that foreigners cannot just come and peg their claims willy nilly.

         *HON. MAHACHI:  I urge the Minister of Finance to increase the budget of the Ministry of Mines so that they may be able to buy motor vehicles to enable them to monitor mining activities. The country gets a lot of revenue from the mines, but they do not have the resources to carry out their work.

         HON. DR. MAKWIRANZOU: First and foremost, I just want to thank the Minister of Finance for bringing what he calls mineral beneficiation where lithium must be processed to lithium carbonate. You even have a date for presentation of beneficiation plans. You are saying that all beneficiation plans must be in by 1st March. That is quite welcome.

Secondly you want to introduce a 1% levy on gross proceeds on lithium, granite and other dimensional rocks, this is most welcome. My question is, when is this levy going to be effective? How are you going to educate the miners because they are uncooperative when you talk about corporate social responsibility, they are quite uncooperative? They need to be educated on their duty regarding this 1% levy on gross proceeds. There is the issue of the Cadastral map system that you want to introduce, it is quite unfortunate because other countries such as Malawi, Zambia and even Mozambique are ahead of us. So, I would encourage that this is effected as soon as possible. I thank you.

*HON. SAMSON:  Thank you Madam Chair for the opportunity that you have granted me.  May the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion look at the budget for the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.  The mines have maps that are no longer legible.  If you can increase their budget allocation, they may be able to come up with maps that are legible. 

If you go to the provinces, the offices of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development are in a pathetic state.  If funds could be availed to spruce up these offices because mining is the mainstay of the economy.

We also appeal to the Minister to increase the budget so that we can buy motor vehicles.  The fleet that they have is almost nonexistent.  They do not have motor vehicles to go to where mining disputes would have taken place.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:  Order.  Hon. Samson, can you please focus on the budget allocation.

*HON. SAMSON:  Thank you Madam Chair.  I appeal to the Minister that the budget be increased so that they can do their work properly.  Thank you.

HON. CHIDUWA:  Thank you Madam Chair.  My contribution is on the royalties that are being paid on our minerals.  Madam Chair, I have attended quite a number of symposiums with these mining companies and most of the times they are complaining that they are not making profit, but if you analyse their books, you will see that quite a number of them are making rates of returns on investments that are even about 60% or 70%.  I am proposing Madam Chair, that for all our minerals, why can we not peg the royalties at a minimum of 5% because what is happening now is once the resource is gone it is gone?  Zimbabwe is classified as one of the countries with the highest mineral per capita in the world, but there is nothing to show for it.  What we are proposing now is, Hon. Minister, if you can consider the royalties of a minimum of 5%.

Then the issue of beneficiation levy where we have got uncut granite and there is supposed to be a 1% levy which is supposed to be given to the RDCs, what then happens to the corporate social responsibility contribution when these companies start to beneficiate.  Are we then saying it will stop?  So those are the two questions that I wanted to pause.  Thank you.

HON. MATANGIRA:  On a point of order.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:   What is your point of order Hon. Member.

HON. MATANGIRA:  Thank you Madam Chair.  My point of order is the Honourable who just debated is talking about 5%.  Fife percent of what?  Is it 5% of zero which is zero, is it 5% of one which is still five?

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:   Order Hon. Member!  I think there is no point of order.  If you want to propose you can raise and propose your percentage.

HON. MATANGIRA:  Can I then propose Madam Chair?

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Not yet Honourable.

*HON. MUCHEMWA:  I wanted to add on to the issue of corporate social responsibility.  Madam Chair I thought that 1% is very little.  Instead, it should be increased.  It should be moved between 2% and 3% and my appeal is that, that money should be taken straight to the places where those minerals are being extracted from instead of putting it into the central revenue.  Thank you.

HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE:  Thank you very much Madam Chair.  Let me start with Hon. Zhou basically on the issue of pegging fees, that should be differentiated between locals and foreigners.  I think he was implying that foreigners ought to pay more on flagging fees.  I thank him for this suggestion and we have taken it on board. I will also discuss with the Minister of Mines and Mining Development to see if then we can proceed by way of regulations to make sure that there is a differentiation in the pegging of fees because it does not have to be in a Finance Bill, Finance Act.  We can proceed through the gazetting of regulations.  I thank the Hon. Member for this suggestion.  It cannot be the same level playing field between the locals and foreigners.

Then Hon. Mahachi again, the plea was we should increase the budget for the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.  They need cars.  The other Hon. Members said the same thing.  We need to spruce up their offices.  What we would like to do with the resources that we will raise from this disposal of mineral rights because we cannot predict how much we dispose, but as the disposals are made, we will ring-fence resources directly for the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development so that they can spruce up their offices as well as be able to acquire vehicles.

Also, this issue on notification of the Government or Ministry regarding the disposal of assets outside.  That can generate quite a lot of resources and in fact, we have back dated this.  We are owed monies and again, I propose that those resources, some of them then should be directed at the Ministry to support the budget of the Ministry. Unfortunately, I cannot put a figure to it really, but I can see that there are some resources that are going to flow from that angle.

To Hon. Makwiranzou, on the issue of the 1% community levy, when does it take effect?  It is on 1st January, 2024.  That is our intention.  Then on educating the miners, I agree that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development then ought to spend time educating them, but also just monitoring to make sure they are complying with the dictates that they ought to invest in the communities where these resources are extracted in the first place.  The communities must feel the positive impact of the resources that are in their localities.

         Hon. Chiduwa’s suggestion is that perhaps we should have a minimum of 5% royalty almost across the board, I think we have tried, we used to be at 2 ½ % for lithium and also, it was quite lawful for platinum but we have since increased this royalty to actually 7%. So lithium is currently at 7% and also the whole PGMs and family is at 7%.  Perhaps I could say he has made the point, he is clear; I propose here maybe we take a gradualistic approach having increased to 7% and see and examine to see if there is leeway to push it higher. 

         In fact for gold and diamonds, we have proclaimed that half of the royalty should be paid in the physical asset in the first place so that we can also benefit from increases in prices from whatever we are keeping in the Reserve Bank vaults and I am told right now, we have got quite a bit and we have made a bit of progress there. I take his point but I propose we take a gradualistic approach. 

         He asked what will happen then if lithium producer eventually complies with the beneficiation policy and they invest in some facility where they can beneficiate; will then this 6% export levy fall away? Yes, it will fall away because they have complied. So, the point is that once they have fully beneficiated to lithium carbonate, we should make quite a bit of money as a country now out of that from the huge price increase of raw lithium as compared to lithium carbonate.  We should be able to get quite a bit of money as a country which will compensate us for the drop in that levy or the termination of that levy. 

         Hon. Muchemwa proposed that we should increase the 1% community levy to something higher, perhaps two to three percent. Again, can I propose that perhaps we take a gradualistic approach, I think we have made the statement.  It is clear that we want them to invest in the community, let us watch over the next year or two if they are really making progress or we need to be tougher and increase the levy.  I am not against an increase but I am just thinking, let us take a gradualistic approach so that we can also keep the investors interested in the sector.  They should not feel that perhaps we are driving them away, that is what I will suggest that we leave it at 1% and then maybe next year we do not forget to raise the issue again. We can re-examine and see if we can take it up to may be eventually three percent by year three.  I thank you Madam Chair.

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Hon. Chair, I hope we all get the answers and do not forget to raise the issue next year.

         Vote No. 9 put and agreed to.

         On Vote 10 - Environment, Climate Change and Wild Life - $135 476 827 000;

         *HON. NYABANI: I wanted the Chair to address the issue of wild animals.  Wild animals must not have conflict with human life.  The wild animals are destroying people’s crops.  This year we are likely to face drought…

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIPERSON: Hon. Nyabani, what is your proposal?

         *HON. NYABANI: My proposal is that the Minister of Finance must increase budget for wild life so that the animals are looked after and not destroy plants and attack humans.

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Nyabani, switch off your microphone. I can see that you are angry, do not be angry, today we are all happy.  Please be happy.

         Vote 10 put and agreed to.

         On Vote 11 - Transport and Infrastructural Development - $1 153 233 300 000;

         HON. KAITANO: As you might be aware that road safety programmes are funded via the 12 per cent received from the third-party insurance. Now this fund is within Treasury, it has been taken over by Treasury, we pray that this road safety portion be increased to say 20 per cent and still remain ring-fenced to be used for the same purpose of road safety awareness programmes.  This will help to fund the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe as well as to fund its transformation into a road safety agency like MITs. The second thing goes to NRZ, we pray that the Minister of Finance may facilitate the SPV between NRZ and rights of India and also facilitate the parastatal to dispose its assets in order to raise funds for CAPEX.  NRZ is ready, they have already identified the assets they can dispose of and they believe the business model will help them to self-fund their recapitalisation.  Facilitation from the Ministry of Finance is required in order for it to be able to dispose of its assets, alternatively to assist in the creation of the SPV between NRZ and the rights of India.

         Lastly, Air Zimbabwe requires about 1.3 million, this figure they would want to use it for what is called C-check which is a scheduled aircraft service maintenance, that is, provided they will be able to fly their Embraer. It can be able to fly to Johannesburg as well as locally and there are many multi effects.  There is a lot of GDP growth that is going to be derived from allowing Zimbabwe to be in the air again. So, if Hon. Minister of Finance is able to fund USD1.3 to help Zimbabwe to fly again, I think it will go a long way. I thank you.

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: I guess when you said the other thing goes to NRZ, you wanted to say the other proposal.

         HON. KAITANO: Yes, Madam Chair.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MUTHULI NCUBE): Thank you Madam Chair. There was a contribution from Hon. Nyabani regarding the issue of human wildlife conflict, this is catered for in the budget already. However, we expect this Ministry over the next year or two to realise some very serious substantial revenue upside from selling carbon credits. This is a new revenue stream which has not even been budgeted for – carbon credits which run into some billions. I think at some point Madam Chair, it may be a good idea for the relevant Minister responsible for climate issues to come and share with Members of Parliament in this august House what is going on in that sector. It is a new sector. It is complex but the revenue potentials are huge.  There should be enough revenue for that activity to support human wildlife conflict from carbon credits.

Looking at proposals or comments from Hon. Kaitano, he proposes that we should ring-fence the resources for supporting the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Council and road safety issues. I agree with him and we will certainly take his advice on that one. I thank him for that.

Then on NRZ, supporting the creating of this SPV between NRZ and the Rights of India, it is a transaction that we are very close to in Treasury. We are already facilitating. We are pushing hard on that to make sure that it happens. Basically, it is a facility of about USD115 million which is extended by the India Exim Bank or Indian Government to be specific, via African Exim Bank to finance railway projects in Africa.  We made an application for NRZ to be assisted.  The programme which Hon. Kaitano is referring to is linked to that India Exim Bank facility. We are pushing hard to have that concluded.

It is quite clear that we need to upgrade our rail network so that the trucks that are carrying all the heavy ores, minerals and so forth can then be transported through rail as opposed to roads because they damage our roads and cost money to fix these roads. Again, I agree with him and we are already active. We will push harder so that this is concluded, including support on the disposal of some of the NRZ assets.

Hon. Kaitano mentioned the issue of the USD1.3 million to the C-Check for our aircraft. That is already being looked into by Treasury and we hope that we will be able to disburse that amount before the end of December this year. It will go into the 2023 budget, not even 2024. It is an urgent matter and I agree with him. Thank you.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Hon. Minister. Hon. Nyabani, I am sorry, your response came late. We have already passed Vote No. 10, we are now on Vote 11.

Vote 11 put and agreed to.

Vote 12 – Foreign Affairs and International Trade – ZWL$976 004 051 000, put and agreed to.

Vote 13 – Local Government and Public Works – ZWL$1 220 136 186 000, put and agreed to.

On Vote 14 – Health and Child Care – ZWL$6 311 893 756 000:

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Madam Chair, it is just a correction again on the naming of the programmes. On programme 3, it should be called, Curative Services, then programme 4 should be called Bio-Medical Science Pharmaceutical and Bio Pharmaceutical Production. I thank you.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIPERSON: Thank you Hon. Minister for the correction.

Vote 14 put and agreed to.

On Vote 15 – Primary and Secondary Education – ZWL$7 965 973 528 000:

*HON. MURAMBIWA: Thank you Madam Chair. I want to thank the Minister for allocating the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education the amount around ZWL$ 8 trillion. My request is that the Minister should note that 83% goes towards the salaries for the workers while the 17% remains for the Ministry’s use. Therefore, the Ministry can only afford to construct only five schools using the 2024 Budget, yet the Ministry has a shortfall of three thousand schools. I am appealing to the Minister to look into that so that the Ministry can be able to construct schools so that each province can have at least one school constructed per year. In 2024, if we can have 10 schools constructed.

Secondly, I am requesting the Minister to consider the issue of the Ministry hiring vehicle for directors to use and USD80 thousand is paid every month. I find it very expensive for the country. The Ministry should be allocated funds for the purchase of vehicles. I think this is cheaper. This Ministry caters for all the other ministries because it is the background to every Ministry. Thank you.

 

*HON. CHOKURURAMA:  Thank you Madam Chair.  I want to thank the Minister for the allocation he has given to the Ministry of Education.  I am pleading with the Minister to increase the allocation so that we can increase the satellite schools in the rural areas.  There are many hazards that are also faced by schools such as roofs being blown away by winds.  That money will also assist in such instances.

*HON. MUCHEMWA:  Thank you Madam Chair.  My request is that the allocation for the Ministry of Education be increased because the education system in our country, with a special focus on schools in the rural areas where most of the school fees is being funded through BEAM, almost 50% are benefiting from BEAM and BEAM is paid after two years, which is leading to the deterioration of standards of education in the rural areas.  I consider BEAM to be a good programme meant to help the vulnerable students, but if the funds are disbursed late every time, how can these schools function without funds? I propose that the BEAM funds be released at the earliest convenience so the money can go towards the development of these schools.  I thank you.

*HON. TAFANANA ZHOU:  Madam Chair, I have a proposal for the Minister.  There is a proposal by the President, of constructing schools. The Minister did set precedence of constructing state of the art schools in a deal he struck sometime back. I plead with him to look into such partnerships again and strike another deal just like that.

*HON. CHIKOMO:  Thank you very much for according me the chance to add my voice to the debate.  I am leading a rural constituency - Mwenezi where we have 173 schools, 98 of which are satellite schools.  It is a disheartening state as children are still learning under trees and sometimes the committees try to build pole and dagga schools, but that is not sufficient.  My humble request is for the Minister to consider such rural schools so that they also have proper buildings and a conducive learning environment.  We still have marginalised societies where students still walk for more than 15 to 20kms just to go to school.  In Mwenezi East in particular, we have only five schools which have been built.  I want to thank our Government for the effort in trying to assist us.  I would like to comment on the huge gap and discrepancy between the rural and urban schools.  Urban schools are already moving into projectors.  My proposal is for the Minister of Finance to consider increasing the proposed amount.

HON. PROF MTHULI NCUBE:  Thank you Hon. Chair.  I thank Hon. Members for their contribution on this Vote on Primary and Secondary Education.  I will start with the comments from Hon. Murambiwa. He is correct to say that 83 per cent of the budget covers salaries and the 17 per cent remainder covers the rest of the demands from ministries.  Basically, what we have realised is that the agenda of building schools especially in rural areas is now split between the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and the devolution funds. In fact, over the last three years, more schools have been built under devolution and not directly under the Ministry and that is fine.  A school is a school and it does not matter which pocket we are using, so this is now a shared agenda.  So, do not worry, schools will be built. 

Hon. Chokururama also argued for a bigger budget, but let me say  our experience with this Ministry in the past is that it needs quite a substantial support in terms of its absorptive capacity of the allocated budget.  So, what I have done is to create a Budget Implementation Committee co-chaired by the Deputy Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, Hon K Mnangagwa with his counterpart Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education as well as officials from this Ministry.  So, this Committee will assist the Ministry in accessing that budget and budget execution so that they can keep to their programmes because it is quite a large budget, and we are always concerned about the Ministry’s capacity and absorptive capacity.  So, we are mentoring the Ministry in terms of budget execution. 

Hon. Muchemwa’s comment regarding the BEAM programme that it needs budget support, we have allocated a budget for BEAM already, but it is sitting in the Ministry responsible for Social Welfare.

Again, this is a budget that, depending on how you look at it, is an education sector budget but also a social welfare budget but we have allocated it there. I can assure him that we will also clear the arrears around this BEAM programme. We hear so many proposals on this BEAM that sometimes it is wrong to select which pupil qualifies or does not qualify. In some schools, everybody qualifies and it is not quite what it should. Someone suggested the point that maybe the SDCs should be more involved and know what is going on. There are some issues around BEAM that we need to get into with the relevant Ministry and try to understand how best to target these resources towards deserving pupils.

Hon. Zhou regarding the loan scheme that we arranged in the past from the Middle East OPEC funds which have set the standards for what model schools should look like, especially in our rural areas. I agree with him and in fact, there is a model school in Mashonaland East and Mberengwa. These are model schools and I agree with him that perhaps striking more deals with these kinds of funders is the way to go. They have set the standards, but also it is just additional resources and I take his point on board.

Again Hon. Chikomo argued for the need to increase this budget, for example, your constituency is a large one and not easy to get around, and also comparing rural to urban schools, there is quite a big divide. You believe that we should add more budget here. On this one, I still go back to this issue of devolution that if there is a way that you can support the accessing of funds through devolution, those funds are already available and we have agreed that they should be used for building schools, clinics, roads and water in the main.  These are four things all focusing on infrastructure. If we did that, I think it will make a difference to your constituency.

I think there are other funds from elsewhere, but we really feel that the budget of the Ministry is at the right level. It is the largest budget, but we also want to support them with the absorptive capacity issues so that they can spend this budget and not end up returning it. In the past, they have had to return I think for almost two or three years in succession, the budget for learner support. I just did not understand. You hear Members of Parliament saying our schools have no textbooks, but there is a budget yet there are no textbooks. They need to be supported and I really feel that we have budgeted adequately and appropriately for the Ministry. I thank you.

Vote 15 put and agreed to.

On Vote 16: Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development - $2 355 379 810.

HON. MAKOPE: The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, I think there are some projects which were not allocated any cent, but those projects were initiated in the previous budget. Some are at 20, 80 or 60%, but in this 2024 budget, they are not allocated any funds. I do not know if it was a mistake or it was deliberate, we do not really know, but I think it is very noble to complete those projects which we have already initiated rather than having such piecemeals.

I am very worried with projects such as the accommodation for students in our universities. My worry is on the accommodation at NUST as well as Midlands State University. Those projects were not allocated monies, but if you can imagine Chair, our girl-child after the lectures at six o’clock, they depart from the school and we see them the following morning,  you do not even know where they put up. It is really worrisome, especially for our parents.

We also have innovation hubs which were not allocated funds, but have already been initiated. I think the Hon. Minister can support this Ministry because innovation currently is our key driver to Vision 2030 where we are aspiring to go. On the same note, there is the issue of compensation of our experts. We have the professors and engineers in those areas who are the initiators spearheading a number of innovations for us to walk our long journey to 2030, but their salaries are not in line or on parity with the other lecturers in the region.

 My prayer is for them to be considered. Some of them are looking at this 2024 budget, otherwise they are ready to leave, and they are at the fence and can leave anytime. For your own information, I just want the Minister to know that those experts do not even go for a strike if they want to leave, but just come to the office to give say their farewells because they are in demand somewhere. That is my submission under this Ministry, but my main worry is on the infrastructure development where such projects which had already been initiated this time are not allocated any funds. Thank you.

HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I thank the Hon. Member for the contribution regarding the budget for this Ministry of Higher Education. On the unfinished projects, we have actually allocated some budget. For example, at NUST we have allocated $12 billion, but also on the accommodation at NUST, the issue seems to have been solved because there is a wonderful project that I encourage Hon. Members to go and see, that was done through a partnership between IDBZ, the Motor Industry Pension Fund and Old Mutual. So, it is kind of a PPP and they have produced an incredible facility right across the road. At NUST, we are going to build a bridge and I hear that students are already taking occupation of that facility. So, I think accommodation at NUST is being dealt with, in addition to 12 billion for that student’s centre.

Also, at Lupane State University for example, an innovation hub is being supported also at Gwanda, Manicaland State University and Marondera – 16 billion has been allocated to those innovation hubs. I think we have taken care of that and right across the board, I see some decent budget allocation to other institutions. It is a list that I have here – it is two pages of tables of where we have made allocations per infrastructure development. I thank you.

The other amendment that I want to propose Madam Chair, is saying, I propose that we increase the budget for this Ministry by another ZWL7 billion. We would like this to go towards infrastructure for disabled learners so that they access education facilities. So, another ZWL7 billion will then increase the budget to ZWL2 362 379 810 000.00, that will be the new figure of that budget.

The other amendment is on the naming of programme where it should be named Programme 3: Science, Technology and Innovation for Industrialisation and Modernisation. 

Vote 16 – Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, as amended put and agreed to.

On Vote 17 – Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development – ZWL188 136 704 000.00;

*HON. MAKAZA: I would like to thank the Minister of Finance Economic Development and Investment Promotion for the additional allocation to the Ministry. Thank you, Hon. Minister. Should the funds fall short; you will see us knocking at your door once again.

HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam Chair, to buttress the point that was made by the previous speaker, may I take this opportunity to thank the Hon. Minister for his consideration for reviewing the Ministry’s budget upwards in view of its complexity mandate and responsibilities. This move will indeed ensure that the Ministry will leave no one and no place behind as we move towards Vision 2030.

Nevertheless, Madam Chair, as much as we applaud the noble move by our very able Hon. Minister, we will continue to knock the doors of your esteemed offices for further reviews.  To cater for women’s financial needs and the ever-growing informal sector which is now the second largest in the world, second from Bolivia, once again, thank you Hon. Minister for being a listening Minister.

HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I thank the two Hon. Members, Hon. Chikwinya and Hon. Makaza for their positive comments towards our budget allocations for this Ministry. For the record, again I propose that we add an additional ZWL20 billion towards this Ministry. This will then move the budget to a total of ZWL208 136 704 000.00, I thank you.

 Vote 17 – Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, as amended, put and agreed to.

On Vote 18 – Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage – ZWL3 931 884 366 000.00;

*HON. MAHACHI: Thank you, Madam Speaker Ma’am. I would want to appeal to the Hon. Minister to consider increasing allocations to this Ministry to facilitate construction and renovations of officers’ accommodation.  For example, in Manicaland, the provincial office for Manicaland at Murahwa was recently condemned and declared unfit for inhabitation.

In addition, may members of the police force who do not have own accommodation be considered for increments to cater for rentals?

HON. GANYIWA:  Madam Chair, we also want the Hon. Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion; if we look at the issues of police services especially in rural areas, there are no sufficient personnel and police stations. Some people travel as far as 30 to 40km to go and make a police report of which some cases will be GBV related and other related cases. So, I think there is a desperate need to increase the budget in order to improve the operations of the police service as well as to enhance the citizens when it comes to going to nearby police stations to report the cases.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I thank Hon. Mahachi for his comments on accommodation for the police force.  I just want to leverage what we discussed earlier that perhaps we need to be creative here.  There are so many institutions with large amounts of resources being pension funds that if they were accorded prescribed status for their projects, they could then invest in this accommodation for cantonment areas.  I think I am persuaded to go that route because they are looking for investment.  They have the resources all we need is a stock of a pen-type decision and I call them prescribed asset status.   I take on board that we need to do something but I think that in the financing moral, I would like to propose this partnership with the private sector.

         On the number of police stations, perhaps police points especially in rural areas which was beneath the focus from the contribution of Hon. Ganyiwa again, I am not sure what quantum of police stations ought to be built so that everyone can access police services.  I thought that one issue was that of mobility of police in their capacity to respond to areas of need and therefore, we need motorcycles which are not very expensive.  For 2000 USD per motor cycle at most should be adequate to carry two officers to respond to a crime scene or area of need.     Maybe a combination of dealing with mobility in the easiest way possible, several police stations is a way to solve this access to police services issues.  I think it just needs more planning and conversation between ourselves and the Ministry of Home Affairs.  I thank you.

         Vote 18 put and agreed to.

         Vote 19 – Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – 1 078 000 019 356 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 20 – Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services – 122 360 000 100 000, put and agreed to.

         On Vote 21 – Youth Empowerment, Development, and Vocational Training – 210 207 260 000:

         HON. MUSHIPE: Hon. Speaker Ma’am.  I would like to thank the Hon. Minister of Finance and His Excellency in particular for creating the new Ministry for Youth Empowerment Development and Vocational Training Centers.  It goes a long way in showing the commitment of the Government to empowering youth all over the country.

         However, Madam Chair, looking at the current allocation towards the Ministry of Youth Development, Empowerment, and Vocational Training Centers.  The bid that the Ministry had put in place was going to be able to construct at least eight vocational centers across the country but the bid allocated only allowed the Ministry to construct one vocational center.

         So, if we are looking at statistics that go back as far as 2022, looking at students who wrote A-level exams amounting to about 183 584 in particular. Statistics show that only 53 169 passed those exams meaning that we have a deficit of 130 415 youths that are supposed to be channeled to vocational training centers.

         As a new Ministry, I would have hoped that the Minister would have looked at the fact that we have youths there who are idle and in particular are prone to drug and substance abuse.  As a country and as the President has alluded to, this has become a national disaster.  Therefore, most of our youths need skills to be trained so that they are not idle and susceptible to this scourge of drug and substance abuse.

Therefore, I was imploring the Hon. Minister to look at the budget allocated at the Ministry or to have the Ministry be able to construct at least half of what they had targeted.  If there are eight vocational training centers, at least four across the country we can close the gap of the statistics that I am talking about.

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Member what is your proposal?

         HON. MUSHIPE: I propose that the Hon. Minister reconsider the budget allocated for vocational training centers under the Ministry of Youth, Empowerment, Development, and Vocational Centre so that the Ministry can construct at least four.  However, considering the fact we are sourcing our resources internally, maybe a ring-fenced fund will be ideal for the consumption of alcohol.  As I perceive alcohol to be tax lodged according to the percentage of the beverage where it is ring-fenced towards the construction of vocational training centers and also drug abuse rehabilitation . That will go a long way in helping our youth around the country to have activities in vocational training centres and rehabilitation around drug and substance abuse.  I submit Madam Chair. 

         HON. S. SAKUPWANYA:  Madam Chair, I just want to highlight that the Youth Ministry, besides being a new stand-alone Ministry, we have to consider that they deal with what are formerly known as the youth officers that are the ward development coordinators.  It is also known that the ward development coordinators are not enough because at times, you find one ward development coordinator having to deal with more than 10 wards which then defeats the purpose of them being called a ward development coordinator.  I would implore, through you Madam Chair, that the Minister of Finance considers that the Ministry is given adequate funding so that they have representation of ward development coordinators, at least one in every ward.  In that way, the youth projects that are handed out or done can effectively be recorded and addressed by the Ministry.  I thank you. 

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I want to thank the Hon. Members for their contributions.  Initially, of course they were happy that the Ministry was created to focus specifically on youth issues.  I think that we are all pleased with this development.  It is the right thing to do.  Hon. Members are arguing that we need to increase the budget to support the development of VTCs and also to support the development of idle youth and so forth.  I must say that on the issue of increasing the budget, I propose that this budget be increased by 50 billion to support the development of VTCs and other programmes so that they will increase the total budget to $260,207,260,000.  I just propose that we amend the title for Programme 2 to read Youth Development and Empowerment.

         Let me continue with further comments on the issue of idle youth.  I think that there are few things that are not sitting in this budget which I would like Members to take into consideration.  First of all, we have an incentive for companies that employ youth.  We have said that any company that employees a youthful member for at least a year or so should receive a tax rebate which amounts to the salary of that youthful employee.  When they employ a youthful person, as we pronounce with the disabled person, they should not fire an older employee and replace with the youthful person.  This must be additional employment.  We have that incentive in place, but we just need to do an audit to see whether companies are making use of it or not.  That is one benefit to the youth to make sure they get jobs which will impact on this issue of idle youth. 

         Hon. Speaker, that is my first comment, but we also have a youth bank and also the Hon. Member who made a contribution talked about the youth fund.  We have a youth bank/fund that is meant to support youthful entrepreneurs.  This also is something that we fully support in this budget.  It will go a long way in making sure that our youthful entrepreneurs can be supported.  We are going to extend prescribed assets status to the youth bank so that it can partner with pension funds to increase its capital base. 

         Then there is also the issue of venture funds, part of whose portfolio is also supportive of entrepreneurship activities from this youth.  These two is yet another arrow in our quiver that will support the activities of the youth in the area of entrepreneurship.  The Hon. Member also suggested that perhaps we should target the resources raised from the alcohol sin taxes towards the issue of drug and substance abuse, I agree and welcome this.  It is always good to target sin taxes for specific issues and align that tier up.  I accept that proposal, but in the main, my proposal was to increase the budget in the way that I pronounced. I thank you Madam Chair.

         The Minister of Youth Empowerment and Vocational Training having indicated that he wants to make a comment.

         THE MINISTER OF YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING (HON. MACHAKAIRE):  Thank you very much Madam Chair.  My contribution is related to the submission made by the Hon. Minister of Finance.  I would want to appreciate his additional funding towards the youth empowerment and development. Nevertheless, I would also want to thank the Hon. Members in this House for their firmness towards supporting the youth budget.  I really want to appreciate, nevertheless Madam Chair, the cry goes on and on.  As the youth, we have got a very big responsibility considering the fact that we are the ones that are responsible for the vocational training centres whereby it comprises of skills development and a lot of things to do with youth empowerment.  I would also appreciate if the Minister can increase the amount just a little bit, it is important for the Ministry. 

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:  Thank you, I was thinking that the Hon. Minister of Youth was going to ask the Hon. Minister of Finance to put more funds towards drug abuse programmes. 

         Vote 21 – Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training as amended, put and agreed to.

         On Vote 22 – Energy and Power Development - $90 082 790 000;

         HON. MAPHOSA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Ma’am.  My proposal is that the Minister should add more money to energy because each and every minute people need ZESA.  I am also worried about Bulawayo Power Station which is out of grid and Munyati which needs to be resuscitated.   If the Minister of Finance can put into consideration this issue.  We have a shortfall of about 570 megawatts in the country.  Yes, we are talking about Kariba, but we do not have enough water there.  We have got abundance of coal in this country.  Let us try to resuscitate Bulawayo Power Station and Munyati.  So, I submit.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I thank Hon. Maphosa for his intervention regarding the budget for this ministry and in that case, you need more to support ZESA. ZESA is well supported and let me explain. In the last three months, we have increased tariffs for ZESA by as much as six cents. The average tariff right now is 16.88 cents per kilowatt hour. It is quite a hefty increase. I do not think that the Central Government directing resources towards ZESA. It should be having enough resources right now. 

         For general power consumption and production, as Government we are promoting independent power producers as well, those who use their own resources, their own capital to invest in power generation. We have improved our government implementation agreement and support for independent power producers by making sure that there is an economic tariff. Certainly, a tariff for 16.88 cents is the economic tariff, but we are guaranteeing access to foreign currency and currency compatibility for those who have used loans to invest in their IPP projects, be they solar or otherwise.

         We are also prepared to extend government guarantees to selected IPPs who deserve it. That is a government guarantee towards the power purchase agreement so that ZETDC cannot pay for the electricity. Government will step in and pay on behalf of ZETDC. So, supporting IPPs is really a good way to proceed in addition to the tariff increases that we have afforded ZESA. I think those two will be able to ameliorate our power challenges.

         On the Bulawayo and Munyati facilities, Bulawayo as I know that it is due for decommissioning because it was found that the cost of producing electricity from these thermal power stations was huge. The sources aimed at Bulawayo Power Station should be directed for further investment in Hwange where the coal is close to the facility in the first place. Some of the details, if the Hon. Member can assist so that we can dig up the details so that I can be more precise. That is what I have understood from the Ministry of Energy.

         On Munyati, I am aware that there is a new investor who is turning this investment into a renewable energy investment. They have decided to go solar as opposed to coal fired power station. Those are some of the developments around these thermal power stations. More details can be forwarded to the Ministry so that I can share with Hon. Maphosa. I thank him for his contribution. I really believe that the budget is adequate, given that we are now pushing IPPs. ZESA has given adequate tariff increase and by the way that tariff increase we made sure that we protect farmers so that they continue with their current subsidised tariff and also protect the ferrochrome sector. We are protecting their tariff at eight cents per kilowatt hour which is a subsidised tariff. I thank you Madam Chair. 

         Vote 22 put and agreed to.

         On Vote No. 23: Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services - ZW185 280 612 000.

         HON. GANYIWA: Thank you Madam Chair. I know Hon. Members are tired and they want to go and sleep, but when they wake up, they will still need to go back to their constituency where there are no networks. We expect the Hon. Minister to add some money towards the Ministry of ICT. The reason being as we speak, in order to bridge the gap between the marginalised communities as well as the urban set up which are able to have an access of good communication frequency, the Minister need to add some funds, specifically for rural infrastructure development towards the ICT coupled with the improvements as well on the network that include to migrate from 3G, 4G to 5G for speed purposes.

         The other thing you may need to know why I stand to beg for additional funds is that as we speak, there are so many areas and constituents that are using foreign mobile telecommunication service provider. There is a violation of our space as these people are not regulated by our laws. These mobile users that use foreign mobile service providers, also transact to some extent to transacting mobile transactions.

         If you go to Chiredzi, they can transact using eco-cash system, but when they are using South African mobile telecommunication companies, which is a violation to our monetary policy regulations in Zimbabwe. So there are so many other things that we would want to see. The ICT Ministry embarked on that, including further digitalising the Government departments. I spoke about the good initiative…

         THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your proposal Hon. Member?

         HON. GANYIWA: Yes, I am getting there. I know we are both tired, but like I said, this is a real thing.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-

         THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. You may proceed Hon. Ganyiwa.

         HON. GANYIWA: Thank you for protecting me from my own brothers and sisters. Madam Chair, this is a serious issue, the e-Government that we are talking about requires a lot of money and the ICT…

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: How much do you want the Minister to allocate to e-Government?

         HON. GANYIWA: At least if the Minister can add $2 trillion on top of what he allocated, given that the Ministry cuts across other ministries, that is the reality. They have got a burden as well to make sure that we reduce also the crime by human kind when we digitalise and securitise the departments of Government.

         *HON. MUNEMO: Thank you Hon. Chair.  I have a small issue.  I request for additional funds to the Ministry of ICT. As it stands, children that are in the rural areas and those that are in urban areas learn the same stuff but the rural pupils lag behind because of lack of network, computers and cellphones.  If the Ministry of ICT is allocated enough resources, it will enable them to upgrade boosters in rural areas so that children in rural areas also access what is accessed by children in urban areas. 

         Network is a major problem but there are many base stations yet they do not cover in rural areas.  They concentrate in urban areas where they realise high amounts.  If you look at all the departments which are represented in here, all rely on ICTs.  Therefore, I request the Minister to increase the budget of ICT so that the whole country has network coverage.  Even if you look at the budget, they were allocated $185 billion, they have a debt of $35 billion with TelOne and they will remain with a balance of $140 billion, which is not adequate enough to fund the projects for the Ministry.  I appeal to the Minister to add more resources to this Ministry so that no one is left behind.  I thank you.

         HON. CHIKOMO: Madam Chair, I am humbly requesting the Minister of Finance to urgently fund ICT, especially in rural areas where at the moment, for example in Mwenezi, there is only one booster in one ward, which has over 33 000 people.  It is very difficult to communicate with leadership, considering that there is also an animal reserve there.  There are lions, elephants, et cetera, and in cases of emergency, it is difficult to communicate if someone is attacked by animals.  You will not manage to call for assistance urgently because of network problems.  Therefore, I appeal to the Minister to increase the budget of ICT so that digitalisation is everywhere. Also, broadband infrastructure and also more boosters are needed if we want to move with real technology.  I thank you.  

         HON. MARUPI: Thank you Hon. Chair.  Without over-emphasising the need to spread the boosters evenly across the whole country, I would like to emphasise funding for these boosters that also enable people, especially those in the periphery of the country to be able to watch and listen to foreign radio stations that I believe is making  it difficult for them to be in sync with what is happening in Zimbabwe.  This makes this country to be retrogressive in everything that it is doing.  Thank you.  

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE:  Thank you Hon. Chair.  Once again, I thank the Hon. Members for their contributions.  Starting with Hon. Ganyiwa but I think it cuts across.  Hon. Munemo as well, Hon. Chikomo, Hon. Marupi, I think they are making similar points regarding this issue of boosters.  They are all for more base stations in rural areas so that we can access signal and count out the foreign signals which people are now able to access.

         On base stations, I agree that we should have more budget for that but we already have a programme, only that it is not reflected in the budget.  The programme has been running, we are now in phase three where we have been accessing resources through the Chinese Government, working with a company called Hawaii Symophia, they make mobile phones and have been building base stations across the country.  We now want to move further with them to phase four so that they can then build further base stations.

         The reason why we use this approach is because this sector is a commercially viable sector in the first place.  So, it needs to be funded through commercial structure such as the one we have arranged, which is actually a loan structure as opposed to just tax payers’ money.  There is a difference; in some returns that we expect, you use debt as opposed to a mere grand or equity approach funding.  So, I agree with increased budget but proposing a different funding model, which we are in phase three already.

         On the foreign signals that Hon. Ganyiwa mentioned, I do not know how they get across, how we can pay using Ecocash for an MTN signal in South Africa but look, it is happening.  I think this is something for the regulators to look into it within the ICT Ministry.  May be POTRAZ should look into this, we will alert them on this issue.  May be there is a way to deal with it but at the same time if we are not providing the signal ourselves, then they are going to access someone else’s signal. Maybe we need to do our part as well as Hon. Members have said, to build base stations.

         On the e-Government project, we have an ongoing project that has started in earnest, of Government digitalisation, working with the Government of the UA.  They had a team here; I think about three or so weeks ago.  They came here and explained how this could work and we have an MOU with UA Government.  We are working with them.  We believe that one opportunity is to use the TelOne platform to build the e-Government system because we are still manning on how best to do it.  We did not quite set aside a budget for the whole project but it is still underway but then we need to then clarify the business model for it and TelOne is a potential platform.

         I actually went to UA myself about three months ago and I was able to see the system they use in Dubai.  It is remarkable, that is why I walk away feeling may be TelOne is the platform to play e-Government system.

         Hon. Munemo again wanted the budget to increase but he heightened the issue of the TelOne debt.  The debt by the way will be dealt with directly through Treasury settlement and not from the budget for the Ministry.  We use it different for that; I can assure Hon. Munemo that we will not impact the budget of the ICT Ministry.

         From Hon. Chikomo, again the issue that she raised is to do with signal and boosters.  She highlighted the area of Mwenezi where there is only one booster.  Clearly, we have to do something.  Hon. Marupi had a similar point.  Let me comment perhaps on Starlink which is a satellite service coming out of Mr. Elon Musk. Those in Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya are able to access signal from that satellite service. We as Government have begun a process to examine whether we should also allow citizens to access it. I am aware that Zimbabweans are already buying small satellite dishes and boxes to decode the signal. They are buying it from South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and so forth. They are paying for the service out there. We are saying as Government perhaps they should pay for the service here so that we allow Starlink to operate without challenges. We are looking into that as Government. When that happens, this signal can be allowed to be used in rural areas on some of the schools that we were talking about where this signal can be accessed.

         Vote 23 put and agreed to.

         Vote 24 – National Housing and Social Amenities Z$352 980 547 000.00, put and agreed to.

         On Vote 25 Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Z$221 787 745 000.00

         *HON. T. MURWIRA: My request is that there are war collaborators that were vetted and others that were not. I am requesting the Hon. Minister to increase the budget so that the members who are coming on board can be taken care of in terms of their welfare.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE: I thought we had done a decent job in allocation for this budget. As I said earlier that the Ministry has got several companies that must start to produce something. If you have 21 gold claims, it is a lot of claims. They have hunting concessions, 6 farms and all these should be productive assets. We will try hard to empower the Ministry in terms of productive assets. We want to help them to bring these to being productive. We feel that we have done quite a bit in the budget for the Ministry.

         Let me say something on the funeral assistance for war veterans. I must say I looked again and it is actually covered under Programme 2, under social security benefit for war veterans. We have covered that issue and we have an allocation of Z$81.5 billion for that programme. What I can suggest as well is that we consider increasing the allocation, perhaps we can do this under what we call the Constitutional and Statutory Obligations. These are below the line and it is not something for appropriation. I would like to propose and we will make sure that when the Blue Book is amended accordingly, that allocation of Z$4 billion is reflected. That is what I propose to make that increment via the statutory and constitutional obligations. I thank you.

         Vote 25 put and agreed to.

         On Vote 26 – Tourism and Hospitality Industry Z$71 071 785 000.00

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): I would like to propose, arising from the contributions of Hon. Members, that we increase this budget by another Z$10 billion so that the new budget will be Z$81 071 785 000.00

         Vote 26 as amended, put and agreed to.

         Vote 27 – Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Z$136 233 110 000.00, put and agreed to.

         Vote 28 – Skills Audit and Development Z$43 045 197 000.00, put and agreed to.

         On Vote 29 – Judicial Service Commission Z$274 035 502 000.00:

         HON. DR. MUTODI:  Thank you Madam Chair.  Our concern as a Committee on Justice was on the issue of judges’ vehicles.  Hon. Minister, you need to understand that our judges are using off-road vehicles to go to the High Court, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court and using a Land Cruiser to go to court does not associate well with the profession of judges.  It is actually taking away the glamour that is associated with the profession.  We made some calculations Hon. Minister and we found that only 35 billion is required for the 73 judges to get their middle range Mercedes vehicles.  I do not know due to the time value of money, how much money would be required by the time you can avail payment towards those cars, but it is a small addition Minister, to the budget that could boost the judges’ moral.  If the moral is boosted, we also hope it will work towards fighting against corruption in the judicial service delivery.

         When they came to address the Committee during the Post-budget period, they made an outcry of this issue.  They really need the Mercedes Benz and they say it is befitting their profession.  I would be happy Minister if you can make a slight adjustment, maybe by saying for the year 2024, you can buy for 10 judges and then the following year until all of them are serviced.  I thank you Madam Chair.

         HON. PROF. MTHULI. NCUBE:  I thank Hon. Dr. Mutodi for that contribution regarding judges’ vehicles.  As Government, we thought that we had solved the issue of transport for judges.  We bought them four by fours and they were driving them to court.  That is okay, but I hear him when he says that the image is such that we need a Mercedes Benz.  I think we will look into the issue. 

Frankly, we thought we had solved the problem as per request from the JSC just like we solved the problem for their housing.  So we have been responsive quite a bit, but I hear him.  Maybe we need to relook the issue and see if we should issue them with new additional vehicles that are appropriate for court duties.  I thank him for that.

         Vote 29 put and agreed to.

         Vote 30 – Public Service Commission – ZWL 1 428 094 811 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 31 – National Council of Chiefs – ZWL 39 938 939 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 32 – Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission – ZWL 42 117 768 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 33 – National Peace and Reconciliation Commission – ZWL 56 007 629 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 34 - National Prosecuting Authority – ZWL 98 272 646 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 35 – Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission – ZWL 56 642 465 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 36 – Zimbabwe Electoral Commission – ZWL 116 600 573 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 37 – Zimbabwe Gender Commission – ZWL 48 535 060 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 38 – Zimbabwe Land Commission – ZWL 52 937 840 000, put and agreed to.

         Vote 39 – Zimbabwe Media Commission – ZWL 34 929 514 000, put and agreed to.

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): I want to conclude and thank all the Chairpersons of the Committees for their contributions.  I therefore, move Mr. Speaker, that the motion be adopted.

         House resumed.

         Main Estimates of Expenditure reported with amendments.

Report adopted.

Bill ordered to be brought in by the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion in accordance with the Main Estimates of Expenditure adopted by the House.

FIRST READING

APPROPRIATION (2024) BILL)

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, to give effect to the report of the Committee of Supply on the main estimate of Expenditure adopted by the House, I bring in a Bill to apply a further sum of money for the services of Zimbabwe for the year ending 31st December 2024, the Appropriation 2024 Bill [H.B. 6, 2023], I move that the Bill be read the first time.

         Motion put and agreed to.

         Bill read the first time.

         Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee  

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEKER

NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

         THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that I have received a non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Finance Bill 2024, [H.B. 7, 2023].

SECOND READING

FINANCE (2024) BILL [H. B. 7, 2023].

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Mr. Speaker I move that the Bill be now read a second time.

         Mr. Speaker, we presented a budget before this House of the order of 60 trillion Zimbabwean dollars in order to finance Zimbabwe’s development agenda and create the right platform for us to achieve the 2030 vision that of an upper-middle income society by year 2030.  I believe that what we have before you as the august House is going to create such a platform and the theme is of consolidating economic transformation.  It is the transformation of the economy that we will deliver vision 2030.  In presenting this budget, we have been able to also come up with accompanying revenue measures which we believe will be adequate in supporting the expenditure. The august House will notice that the budget does have a very strong element in supporting the social sector and is therefore a pro-poor budget. In that respect, it is really trying to make sure that we will certainly not leave no one behind, no groups behind.  I therefore, move that the Bill be read a second time. I thank you.

         Motion put and agreed to.

         Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.

COMMITTEE STAGE

FINANCE (2024) BILL [H. B. 7, 2023]

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 5 put and agreed to.

On Clause 6:

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Mr. Chairman, I propose an amendment to Clause 6 on the wealth tax. On page 7 of the Bill, delete 2022 and substitute it as follows: ‘The wealth tax chargeable in terms of Section 36 of the Taxes Act shall be calculated at the rate of one percentum of the value of a dwelling other than the principal private residence, if such value exceeds USD250 thousand, provided that the maximum liability for wealth tax on any one taxable dwelling shall be USD50 thousand per annum’. I thank you.

Amendment to Clause 6 put and agreed to.

Clause 6, as amended, put and agreed to.

Clause 7 put and agreed to.

On Clause 8:

 THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Mr. Chairman, I propose an amendment to Section 36 (g). This pertains to the Zimbabwe Gold baked digital token. In the Bill that was circulated, we have referred to the ZiG as a currency. It is not a currency. It is a digital investment asset. I would like us to amend it as follows: The Zimbabwe gold-backed digital token or ZIG is a digital investment asset (issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 7(d) (i) and 47(3) of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act.  One unit of which represents one milligram of gold of 99% purity. 

Amendment to Clause 8 put and agreed to.

Clause 8, as Amended, put and agreed to.

On Clause 9:

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE):  I propose an amendment to Clause 9 to make sure that we are clear in that the primary residence of an individual is not subject to wealth tax. Secondly, we want to make it clear that ZIMRA should be collecting this tax but is free to elect an agent that can be a local authority for example.   I propose the following amendment to Section 36(o) of the Wealth Tax and this is paragraph 2, which should read: there shall be charged, levied and collected throughout Zimbabwe for the benefit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and Wealth Tax paid by the owner of any taxable dwelling, that is to say any dwelling that is not his or her principal private dwelling.  Then the subsection in 3 of that Clause 9, I propose the elaboration of the Section as follows;  that the collection of the wealth tax shall until such time as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is capable of collecting this tax shall be delegated to the local authority in which a taxable dwelling is located or to such collection agent as the authority, with the approval of the Minister may appoint by notice in the Gazette either generally or for any particular local authority.  I thank you.

Amendment to Clause 9 put and agreed to.

Clause 9, as Amended, put and agreed to.

Clauses 10 to 38 put and agreed to.

         On Clause 39:

         HON. CHIDUWA: I just wanted clarification on the establishment of the Mutapa Investment Fund which was done through Presidential Powers, and the Presidential Powers will only last for six months. I wanted to find out what will then become of the Finance Act once the Mutapa Investment Fund is incorporated into the Finance Act but then it expires after six months?

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMEN AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): I thank Hon. Chiduwa for that clarification. The reason why we have incorporated the amendments of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Act that were done through the Presidential Powers Statutory Instrument into the Finance Bill is to regularise the amendments that were put forward by His Excellency. So, we are doing the correct thing by inserting these amendments in the Finance Act. That will make sure that the creation of the Mutapa Investment Fund is enshrined in law because the Finance Act is actually amending the Sovereign Wealth Fund Act of Zimbabwe and renaming the Mutapa Fund. So, this is actually the regularisation process that is needed. If this had not been done, then the S.I would expire and the whole Mutapa arrangement would come into difficulty given that His Excellency has already pronounced that it is something that should be done. I thank you.

Clause 39 put and agreed.

Clauses 40 to 57 put and agreed to.

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE):  Mr. Chair, I beg your indulgence Sir.  My staff have just alerted me to a couple of errors that we need to correct.

         On Clause 20, this is the new Clause 20 that we amended, because there was also an error in numbering.  The date there should be January, 2024 and not January, 2021 – I do not know whether you have seen this. So that should read, ‘with effect from 1st January, 2024’. 

         The amendment for Clause 9, when we changed the threshold for a taxable dwelling to one with a value of at least USD250 000.00, but in the definition of taxed dwelling, we just omitted making that clear.  So I take you back to Clause 9, Section 36.0 for the Wealth Tax – it is at the end of (i). Taxable dwelling means any dwelling, the ratable value of which exceeds USD250 000.00 in the year of assessment concerned.  Let us make that amendment, I thank you Hon. Chair.

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MACHINGURA):  I shall now report the Bill with amendments.  Sorry, Hon. Members, just to take you back for the record.  Let us go back to Clause 9 which has just been amended by the Hon. Minister.

         Amendment to Clause 9 put and agreed to.

         Clause 9, as amended, put and agreed to.

         On Clause 20:

         THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MACHINGURA):  We checked the date to be 1st January, 2024.

         Amendment to Clause 20 put and agreed to.

Clause 20 as amended, put and agreed to.

         House resumed.

         Bill reported with amendments.

         Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER

NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

         THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, thank you for your patience. It is nearly quarter to one in the morning.  I have received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Finance (2024) Bill, [H. B. 7A, 2023].

         Consideration Stage: Forthwith.

CONSIDERATION STAGE

FINANCE (2024) BILL [H. B. 7 A, 2023]

                  Amendments to Clauses 6, 8, 9, and 20 put and agreed to.

         Clauses 6, 8, 9, and 20, as amended, put and agreed to.  

         Third Reading: Forthwith.

THIRD READING

FINANCE (2024) BILL [H. B. 7 A, 2023]

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): I move that the Bill be now read the third time.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read the third time.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER

NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

         THE HON. SPEAKER: I have received a non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Appropriation Bill: 2024, [H. B. 6, 2023].

SECOND READING

APPROPRIATION BILL (2024) [H. B. 6, 2023].

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Bill be read a second time.

         Motion put and agreed to.

         Bill read a Second Time.

         Third Reading: Forthwith.

THIRD READING

APPROPRIATION BILL: 2024, [H. B. 6, 2023].

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Bill be read the third time.

         Motion put and agreed to.

         Bill read the Third Time.

         On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI NCUBE), the House adjourned at Eleven Minutes to One o’clock a. m. until 30th January 2024.

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