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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 14 MARCH 2024 VOL 50 NO 36

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 14th March, 2024

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

THE HON. SPEAKER: I have a request on some point of national interests. The first Hon. Member is Hon. Matambo.

Hon. Matambo not having been in the House.

THE HON. SPEAKER: The Chief Whip, where is Hon. Matambo?

HON. HAMAUSWA: He is supposed to be here. I am not sure what happened. You can go to the next one.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Why did you put him when he is not available?

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. On Tuesday, I had also requested a point of national interest and Madam Speaker had promised that today, I would be given the chance to deliver my point of national interest.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Did you contact your Chief Whip?

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:  I contacted my Deputy Chief Whip.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Deputy Chief Whip!  Can you come and do your housekeeping here?

HON. NKALA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for the opportunity. I am rising to raise an issue on the challenge of peace and reconciliation. Zimbabwe has a historical case of breach of peace in the country…

THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you start from the beginning?

HON. NKALA: I said, I am rising to raise my issue on the peace and reconciliation.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Peace and reconciliation what?

HON. NKALA: The Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Perhaps, let me hear you.

HON. NKALA: Thank you. We note that Zimbabwe has a historical case of breach of peace as a country. There are so many issues that are raised by the NPRC as a Commission that was sanctioned to look into the issue of national peace and reconciliation. We note that NPRC was established in 2013. It started on a very good note by engaging stakeholders with the view of developing a roadmap to reconciliation, more-so of the Gukurahundi victims, survivours and the perpetrators. That would have led to the lasting peace in our country. The recent NPRC annual reports have been deafeningly silent on the issue …

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, if you want to critique the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission as far as its work is concerned, you can come up with a motion. Is that alright?

HON. NKALA: Noted Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Also, the Constitution does not mention about one of its responsibilities as to deal with Gukurahundi. Nowhere is that mentioned in the Constitution. So, you must stick to the facts as they are in the Constitution.

HON. NKALA: Noted Mr. Speaker Sir. Thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you.

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:    Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of national interest is that March is the month of women and I would like to say something about the very important people of this nation who are the women of Zimbabwe. Am I accorded?

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Yes.

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:   Mr. Speaker Sir, recognising that …

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order. Hon. Member, the celebration was on the 8th of March and it should have been on that particular day where you should have mentioned your statement. Today is the 14th.

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:  Mr. Speaker Sir, it is the whole month of March.

THE HON. SPEAKER: When I read my calendar, it says 8th of March. It does not say commemoration on Women’s Day from the 8th of March until the end of March.

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:  The 8th of March is only the day that we celebrate the day. If you keep on researching Mr. Speaker Sir, you will see that the whole of March is the Women’s Month.

THE HON. SPEAKER: No, no. My calendar says 8th of March, not 8th of March to the end of March.

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:  Mr. Speaker Sir, having been born of a woman and being looked after by a woman and have daughters, may you, with your indulgence, allow us to say something about the women of this country. – [Laughter.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER: You want to remind me that I was born of a woman – [Laughter.] – You know Hon. Nyamupinga, unless there was some constraint on that particular day, or there were so many of you discussing the matter and it was deferred accordingly, I would understand. Was that the situation? That you were so many contributors to the day and you were not given the opportunity. Is that my understanding?

          HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:  Mr. Speaker Sir, to lighten this burden of talking about women, I think let us not go back to what happened on that day.  Let us talk about the women today, about your mother, and the women who brought us here. What they have done for us. 

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  I cannot ask the Hon. Deputy Speaker what actually happened, but the good thing is that all those who wanted to speak on the 8th of March on celebrating Women’s Day should have done so on that particular day. 

          HON. TSHUMA:  On a point of order……

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Tshuma, where is your tie and jacket, please go and dress properly. 

          HON. TSHUMA:  It is a presidential shirt Mr. Speaker.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  You must have read the Standing Orders, until we change the Standing Orders, we cannot do that. Can you be dressed accordingly please?

          Hon. Tshuma left the Chamber.  

          The Hon. Deputy Speaker having approached the Chair. 

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Nyamupinga, the Hon. Deputy Speaker has explained what happened.  I indulge you, please go ahead – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] –

          HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  Recognising that this month of March ……

          Hon. Tshuma came back to the House without a jacket.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:   Order! Hon. Tshuma, can you see the Chief Whip, I do not want a circus here.

          Hon. Tshuma left the Chamber and came back properly dressed.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Sorry Hon. Nyamupinga, please take the floor.

          HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  Recognising that the month of March is dedicated to celebrating women around the world, I rise on a point of privilege to reflect and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women to the socio-economic development of Zimbabwe.  Women as pillars of strengths and resilience, have played a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s progress and prosperity.  I cannot over emphasise their centrality in ensuring that the vision of our President, His Excellency, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, of living no place and no one behind comes to fruition – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]  Their dedication and tireless efforts across various sectors from agriculture, education, health to entrepreneurship, have been instrumental in driving this positive change. 

          It is therefore essential that we recognise and appreciate the roles that women undertake daily often without receiving any recognition they deserve.  However, while acknowledging the strides made in advancing gender equality, it is crucial for Parliament to proactively champion measures that further empower women.  We must be deliberate in ensuring equal opportunities for women in political and other spheres.  In doing so, we not only honour the principles of justice and equality, but also harness the full potential of our nation. 

          Hon. Speaker, above all, as we reflect on the international Women’s Day that was on the 8th of March, we must focus on creating a conducive environment.  An environment that values and supports women’s participation, thereby amplifying the collective strength of our society and paving the way for a more equitable and prosperous Zimbabwe. 

          As I commemorate this women’s month, I would like to salute my mother, Martha Nyakudya who gave birth to me and my grandmother who nurtured me and women of Goromonzi West who voted for me to be in this House.  It is my humble request to allow this House to debate about the women who bore then.  The women who looked after them and who made them make it into this House to add their voices to these important people who gave birth even to our Speaker who is sitting in the Chair, who makes this House proud because we have a Speaker who supports women and has always been behind women – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you very much for nailing me on the cross. 

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. TOGAREPI:  Mr. Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 6 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 7 has been disposed of.

HON. C. HLATYWAYO:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

CONDITIONS OF SERVICE TO IMPROVE THE PLIGHT OF

COUNCILLORS

          Seventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the need to address the conditions of service for councillors.

          Question again proposed.

          *HON. ZEMURA: I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me the opportunity to add on to what has already been said by other Hon. Members regarding the perception that people have of councillors. I am just adding on to what has been said. Indeed, they have a big responsibility in terms of building Zimbabwe. Their responsibilities in our surrounding areas is quite big. With the current drought prevailing in our country, some councillors will be insulted, despised and some might even be bewitched for not writing down the names of those in need of assistance. Despite all that, they continue standing firm.

I want to appreciate that His Excellency, the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, saw it fit to encourage the participation of women in local authorities. Even whilst they are new, you will find that they do not have enough tools. So, my desire is that they should be given tools of trade and other facilities which will help them to discharge their duties because councillors should be familiar with their areas of jurisdiction. Even for school children to be on the BEAM programme, councillors should indeed know that these children are listed in the database of those who are under the BEAM programme.

Councillors’ responsibilities are quite extensive in development issues. Councillors receive all visitors and donors who come to the community and host such visitors. Councillors should indeed be given ward offices so that they can coordinate their activities. Councillors are living as destitute. We sometimes see male councillors with a torn suit and that is a sign that they work so hard yet they get so little. If I look around in this august House, I can see that some Hon. Members once stood as councillors. At one point, I also stood as a councillor but I will not say what happened for me not to get that position. Those who are councillors compete day and night for them to get their council positions. When they win those council seats, they are despised because they are just given allowances. Allowances are just incidental monies which they use for buying refreshments.

I was happy indeed when I heard a number of Hon. Members concurring that councillors should be given a decent salary which comes every month-end. I support that and my desire is that they should be given perks similar to those given to Members of Parliament like cars, allowances and fuel coupons. I believe that councillors should be given motorbikes and coupons for fueling their motorbikes because wards are quite big and it is a daunting task to coordinate activities on foot. In other areas, councillors are given motorbikes but they sometimes beg for fuel because they cannot fuel their motorbikes. Bicycles cannot cover the whole ward because you need to put a lot of effort in riding a bicycle.  Even at my age, if I am given a bicycle, I cannot ride it. I will just give it to my children.

I believe that many Hon. Members supported the issue that councillors should be given cars. Nowadays, there are small cars like Toyota Vitz which will assist them to discharge their duties in their wards. So, we all agreed in this august House that councillors should have their conditions of service reviewed.

Looking at female candidates who won through the quota system, some may come home late and this may lead to domestic violence and their husbands may say that you were not at home the whole day and you came late. So, they must be given cars so that they discharge their duties diligently. I thank you.

HON. MHURI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Let me start by thanking you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this important debate. I also want to appreciate the motion moved by Hon. Jere. Much has been said, including explaining the meaning of marginalisation by fellow Members of Parliament, and I will therefore try to avoid repeating for the sake of time as well as avoiding duplication of effort.

I concur with the previous speakers and the mover of the motion that, indeed, councillors are the real foot soldiers in the various wards and constituencies as they are the engines that drive all our developmental programmes and projects for the benefit of our people to which we are accountable as Members of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013, as amended, under Chapter 2: National Objectives in Section 9: good governance says and I quote:

  1. " The state must adopt and implement policies and legislation to develop efficiency, competence, accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity in all institutions and agencies of Government at every level and in every public institution and in particular
  • appointments to public offices must be made primarily on the basis of merit
  • measures must be taken to expose, combat, and eradicate all forms of corruption and abuse of power by those holding political and public offices
  1. The state must ensure that all institutions and agencies of Government at every level in particular, Commissions and other bodies established by or under this institution are provided with adequate resources and facilities to enable them to carry out their functions conscientiously, fairly, honestly and efficiently"

In the same Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013, as amended, Urban and Rural Councils where our respectable councillors belong are recognised under the Tiers of Government i Section 5c (i) and (ii) where councillors and council staff have an obligation under this to manage the affairs of people in urban and rural areas within the districts into which the provinces are divided.

It is therefore important, in my view, Mr. Speaker Sir, for the Government to create a conducive environment for councillors to go about their duties without much or any challenges as dictated by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Fellow Members of Parliament did justice, and I thank them dearly, challenges faced by our councillors, especially when they gave an explanation of how much they are getting and the environment which they are currently operating in. It is therefore reasonable, Mr. Speaker Sir, to acknowledge their input without spoiling their well-researched contributions.

It is however important for me to mention the expectations of the public with regard to our councillors. Mr. Speaker Sir, the public expects councillors to be always available in the respective wards, be it for a funeral, wedding and even during divorce proceedings. Furthermore, they expect councillors to push for developmental projects in the Ward, give feedback and updates on the work of council and other Government departments and agencies. The list goes on and on.

It is my respectful view that councillors deserve various packages proposed by fellow Members of Parliament so as to be able to deliver on their mandate as well as on other expectations from the people and avoid being involved in corrupt activities. Some of the packages involve, but not limited to housing stands per each term, school fees exemption in the district of operation, especially in council schools, reasonable airtime allowances, medical insurance, funeral insurance and motor vehicle loans.

As I conclude, Mr. Speaker Sir, it is also important for our councillors to appreciate the entire governance system so that they understand their role as well as the role of other key players including Members of Parliament. Going forward, our people expect competent councillors who assume offices based on merit. This is important, especially in line with Visio 2030 which calls for the crafting of good policies which will move our people from poverty to prosperity.

I have trust in the vision of our President, His Excellency Dr. E.D.  Mnangagwa and his Government that in the not-so-distant future, our councillors will get packages which enable them to deliver on their mandate to the nation. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. MAKOPE: Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise in support of the motion raised by Hon. Jere, on the welfare and remuneration of councillors in our country. While Zimbabwe has made strides in decentralisation and local governance, a shadow falls upon the efforts of those at the very core of this system: our rural councillors. These individuals, the closest representatives to the needs and aspirations of millions in our countryside, are too often unseen, unheard and marginalised.

The marginalisation and isolation of our councillors is a pertinent

issue that requires us Members to act swiftly upon. Councillors in general are vital cogs in a representative democracy, acting as a conveyer belt between citizens and government. A Ward councillor is a significant actor in the governance and administration of a local authority in both rural and urban areas.

Allow me to digress from the probable debate of urban councillors and speak on the welfare of rural councillors who are the foot soldiers of this economy. Before I delve into my presentation, let us consider the following statistics.

Zimbabwe has a population of around 16 million people. Of this population, 55% to 65% live in rural areas. To date, we have 60 rural district councils whose mandate is guided by the Rural District Council   Act 29: 13. If two thirds of this population is in the rural set up, it is imperative to then revisit those who are the face of the Government and the champion of development.

          The following are the duties of our councillors which include, but not limited to the following;

  • Respond to their people’s queries and investigate their concerns,
  • Communicate council decisions that affect them,
  • Know your patch and be aware of any problems,
  • Know and work with representatives of local organisations, interest groups and businesses, and
  • Represent their views at council meetings.

Marginalisation of Rural Councillors takes many forms, and if we

compare to their expected duties, it remains clear that there is a need to improve their lives;

Limited resources: Budgetary constraints often leave rural councils starved of funds, hindering their ability to deliver basic services like clean water, sanitation, and infrastructure development. If we could as Hon. Members, avail things like motorcycles for our rural councillors for easy access of their communities.

Inadequate training and capacity building: Limited access to information and communication; Information silos and poor connectivity leave rural councils out of the loop, hindering their ability to participate effectively in decision-making processes. With that regard, let us consider the following in improving the rural councillors livelihood.

  • Increased budgetary allocation: Prioritising funding for rural councils is crucial to ensure they have the resources needed to deliver on their mandate.
  • Enhanced training and capacity building: Equipping councillors with the knowledge and skills they need to advocate for their communities and navigate administrative processes is essential.
  • Improved information sharing and communication: Bridging the digital divide and ensuring access to information is vital for informed decision-making and participation in national discourse.
  • Non-monetary benefits

In conclusion, let us be reminded that our rural councillors are

not just representatives; they are the engines of progress in our countryside. The plight of rural councillors in Zimbabwe is a complex issue with significant ramifications. By acknowledging the challenges, they fac and actively working towards solutions, we can empower these crucial representatives to become effective agents of change. Investing in rural councils is not just about supporting individuals; it's about fostering development, strengthening communities, and ensuring a brighter future for rural Zimbabwe. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. GUMEDE: I rise in support of the motion on the welfare of councillors as this is a crucial aspect of effective governance.  As the backbone of our citizen towns, they shoulder an immense responsibility from managing essential services like sanitation and water to spearheading development initiatives.

However, it is undeniable that challenges exist regarding their well-being and this has a direct impact on the quality of service delivered to our communities.  Whilst we acknowledge that the work that they do is regarded as voluntary work, we cannot ignore firstly the magnitude of responsibility that these elected officials have.  Councillors are community mothers and fathers who are the ones on the ground doing various tasks daily.

Secondly, they oversee huge budgets of local authorities which are bigger than Econet, Delta and so on.  Thriving cities need thriving leaders, councillors who are well compensated, well resourced and have access to proper training and better equipped to tackle complex issues.  This translates to improved service delivery, efficient resource allocation and ultimately, a higher standard of living for all residents.

Limited remuneration indicates that the financial compensation that they receive does not adequately reflect the demands of the job.  The lack of resources within the council makes them struggle to provide councillors with necessary tools and support staff to perform their duties effectively.  Remuneration packages must be reviewed by exploring options for competitive salaries and benefits that reflect the time and dedication required.  We must also enhance resource allocation through equipping councils with adequate budgets that guarantee councillors have the necessary tools and support to function effectively.

We must be cognisant that as a Government, we have a duty and responsibility to make collaborative efforts and identify funding streams as well as implementation of national policies that support local governance.  I therefore believe that in prioritising the well-being of our councillors, we invest directly in a brighter future for our cities.  We should work together to create an environment where our leaders feel valued, empowered and equipped to serve our communities effectively.  I thank you.

*HON. NHARI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to add my voice to the issue regarding councillors.  Councillors should be given pensions after serving two terms because this will help them upon retirement.  Most of them become destitute after they lose their positions.  They should be given decent salaries which will make the Ward successful because a councillor has many responsibilities.  Sometimes they are woken up at night by the people, even during weekends; they work throughout the week.  Some approach them at night, some saying their wives are not feeling well.  So, they should be paid decent salaries.  Their children should be educated for free in council schools.

A councillor has a very important job which is more demanding than the job of traditional leaders, like village heads and chiefs.  When a councillor works hard, a ward prospers.  If he does not, that ward will not succeed.  That is why I am proposing that councillors should be properly remunerated so that they work hard.  Councillors should work in a conducive environment because they have many responsibilities.  I thank you.

HON. MAZHINDU:  I would like to add my voice on the debate to do with the remuneration of councillors.  The reason why councillors are being neglected, I think people are choosing not to become councillors because they are not – aah let me speak in Shona.

*I would want to talk about the welfare of councillors and indeed for them to be given decent salaries – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - 

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! In terms of our Standing Orders, you are supposed to stick to one language.  Do not switch from one language to another. If you start in one language, you must carry on until you finish your debate. Please proceed.

*HON. MAZHINDU:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  We normally talk about service delivery in this august House because our councillors are not being properly paid.  A Councillor’s position is not attractive, that is why no one wants to be a councillor.  We anticipate that if councillors are properly remunerated, then the post will attract lawyers, doctors and other professionals because if this happens, it means that they can engage at an intellectual level with other intellectuals as well as business people in the communities.  If we value the position of a councillor, you will discover that the educated will also desire to be councillors. 

In urban local authorities like Harare, councillors earn less than US$5.  This is the money they use for traveling, calling and other responsibilities.  This discourages people from being councillors. The other issue is the Urban Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act.  What is in the law is normally written by the Minister.  Sometimes it takes time for the Minister to review salaries and allowances.  So the Rural District Act and the Urban Councils Act should be reviewed so that it becomes all-encompassing because the Minister has Executive powers, but residents expect service delivery from councillors.  There is also the issue of corruption.  There is a lot of corruption in councils because councillors are responsible for valuable assets, yet they do not earn much.  They employ the Town Clerk and sometimes Doctors and Engineers whilst they do not benefit directly and that is why some are influenced in making decisions which favour those who have money because they do not have anything.  So councillors should be at a certain level intellectually and socially in terms of allowances and remuneration.  They should be allowed to buy cars that are duty free.  Councillors are people who were voted for just like MPS, the President and other positions. After elections, no one thinks about them, but before elections, they will be busy campaigning and preparing for elections.  So they should be paid just like other public office holders such as the Executive and the Legislature. 

In conclusion, I want to say that councillors are people who work with the communities on a daily basis and they should be different from the people they work with.  It does not auger well if they represent people, and at times they are destitute without money.  They should be given decent salaries so that they are able to attend meetings.  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHITANDO):  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  I wish to thank Hon. Members who debated and contributed to this very important motion on the welfare of councillors.  On the 1st November 2023, His Excellency launched a Blue-print, a Call to Action and No Compromise to Service Delivery, which, to a large extent, compels and gives guidance to all the 92 local authorities to move in sync with Vision 2030.  That Blue-print; councillors play a very crucial role in the implementation of the blue print.  I must state that from the contributions made by Members this afternoon, I acknowledge that councillors play a very key and pivotal role in their work, which is defined in the Rural District Councils Act, and the one which governs the Urban Councils.  I also concur that it is important that their welfare be recognised.  On 27th February 2024, the Ministry sent out a circular outlining the allowances for councillors and it is that circular that resulted in the precipitation of a motion for a further review of the Councillors allowances.  I acknowledge and take note of the contributions made on allowances and conditions of service for councillors.  These will be reviewed and an appropriate announcement will be made soon.  I thank you.

HON. JERE:  I move that the motion be adopted.

Motion that this House:

CONCERNED with the marginalisation which our society exhibits towards our Councillors whereby some sections of our population perceive them as volunteers despite the unwavering patriotism and devotion to their national duties;

FULLY APPRECIATING AND ACKNOWLEDGING that Councillors are the real foot soldiers in the Constituencies as they are the engines that drive all our developmental programmes and projects for the benefit of the people to whom we are accountable as Members of Parliament; 7

APPLAUDING the highest levels of responsibility, custodianship, unflinching loyalty and dedication of our Councillors who are also the caretakers of multimillion-dollar assets and yet they still remain as the unsung heroes in our quest to develop the nation;

NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon the Ministry of Local Government and National Housing to come up with competitive conditions of service in order to improve the plight of our Councillors so that their livelihoods can be sustained with dignity which is commensurate with their dedication to duties and responsibilities to the nation, put and agreed to.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TOGAREPI:  Mr. Speaker, I move that all Orders of the Day on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day Number 2 has been disposed of.

          HON. HAMAUSWA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION ON THE 2023 HARMONISED ELECTIONS

Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on the 2023 Harmonised Elections.

Question again proposed.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Elections are a cornerstone of our democracy. Our Constitution is elaborated on the importance of elections as enshrined in Section 67 which provides for political rights and Chapter 7 which dictates our electoral systems and processes. To entrench and enhance this democratic process, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was established in Chapter 12 of the Constitution. Amongst other functions, the Commission has the mandate to prepare for, conduct and supervise elections to the office of the President and to Parliament. They also have a sole mandate of registering voters.

As a constitutional requirement, for the sake of transparency and accountability, the Commission is required to submit a report to Parliament on the conduct of every election and every referendum. For this reason, we have the ZEC Report on the 2023 Harmonised Elections which has been debated by this august House.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to thank Hon. Members for the lively debate. The debate raised pertinent issues. Hon. Members noted positive and negative issues with regards to how the elections were held. Amongst the positives of which are many, Hon. Members noted that elections were peaceful, free and fair, observers were accredited and that voter education was balanced as well as gender and culturally sensitive.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the fact that elections were peaceful, free and fair is not a phenomenon. His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa was consistent during and after elections that we want a peaceful election and Zimbabweans took heed of this message. Principles of electoral systems as enshrined in our Constitution are clear in that elections must be peaceful, free and fair and should be free from violence and other electoral malpractices. Section 67 of the Constitution gives every Zimbabwean citizen the right to free and fair elections, the right to campaign freely and peacefully for a political party or cause and to participate in peaceful political activity.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the country is transparent in its democratic processes hence observers were accredited by ZEC to observe our elections. As noted in the report, in terms of the Electoral Act, the Government of Zimbabwe invited foreign observers and 46 countries as well as 17 continental and regional bodies. Fifty-one embassies were invited and nine consulates were also invited, which was a departure from the previous arrangement where only diplomats accredited on a full-time basis observed polls. This was deliberate approach to enhance our transparency.

Hon. Members commended ZEC for balanced voter education as well as gender and culturally sensitive. Indeed, this was a commendable job by the Commission which was done in terms of Section 239 (h) of the Constitution as read with section 40 of the Electoral Act. Voter education sensitised the electorate on the importance of participating in electoral activities. It also informed the electorate on the election date, documents to take to polling station and so forth.

Mr. Speaker Sir, as it is around the world, there is no perfect democracy. All electoral systems have shortfalls and ours is not spared. However, it is important that we improve our system as we learn. Hon. Members criticised ZEC for late delivery of ballot materials. It is the function of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure that elections are conducted efficiently. Most importantly, the Commission has the function of designing, printing and distributing ballot papers. On the 23rd of August 2023, we witnessed a shortfall of an electoral system as the Commission faced challenges in the production and distribution of ballot papers for a few constituencies and wards emanating from the unprecedented number of court challenges that it faced.

Mr. Speaker Sir, as detailed in the Report, 107 post nomination applications were filed in the Electoral Court and the High Court of Zimbabwe. Due to the large amount of court challenges and late determination of the same, the ballot papers could not be designed and printed without confirmed candidates. This resulted in the time to design, print and distribute ballots being affected. The Commission had calculated ballot papers to be printed per polling station based on population per each polling station. It had also projected when it expected ballots to be produced. This information was submitted to the printers who were working on the said projections but the actual printing unfortunately had to be stalled pending outcome of pending court cases.

The Commission adopted a production and distribution strategy which prioritised the remote and more distant provinces to ease the distribution challenges against limited timeframes. For this reason, it should be noted that delays were largely experienced in Harare because the printing and distribution was done last due to the province’s proximity to the printer. Mr. Speaker Sir, in a few reported cases of Bulawayo and other areas, delays were occasioned by the need to reprint ballots after it had been observed that there were errors on the ballots that had been sent to the affected polling stations.

Madam Speaker, in mitigation of the said challenges, efforts were made to ensure that no voters were disenfranchised. The Commission requested the President to consider exercising his powers under Section 38 (4) of the Electoral Act and alter his earlier Proclamation so that voting could be extended to the 24th of August 2023 in those areas that had been affected by the delays. As a result of these efforts, a statistical analysis of the average voter turn-out by polling station showed no significant difference between affected and non-affected polling stations. Madam Speaker, to avoid a similar situation, as recommended by the Commission, it is incumbent upon Parliament to legislate time limits in the legal framework for the proceedings, hearing and determination of pre-election applications that were filed at the courts in order in order for matters to be completed and court decisions rendered well in advance of the election day.

          Still on the delays, Hon. Murombedzi mentioned that the Commission did not provide the litigation list.  Annexure 6 to the Report had a list of cases related to the harmonised elections. 

          Madam Speaker, Hon. Members raised that Presidential elections per polling station are still unpublished. There is no law that required the Commission to publish the breakdown – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] -  However, as correctly put by Hon. Mugwadi, all results from a polling station are displayed at the same polling station as V11 forms and people are free to access them for whatever use except announcing the results. 

          Hon. Karenyi mentioned that ZEC should look into assisted voting which is being abused.  As the Hon. Member correctly cited, Section 59 of the Electoral Act allows a voter who is illiterate or physically handicapped and cannot vote in the way Section 57 states, to request for assistance in voting.  Our Electoral Act is always amended in order to improve our electoral systems.  It is again incumbent upon Parliament to change the law if there is a mischief. 

          Once again, I would like to thank Hon. Members for the robust debate.  I would want to urge the House to consider the Commission’s recommendations. 

          I move that the motion on the 2023 ZEC Report on Harmonised Elections be withdrawn on the Order Paper.  I thank you.

          Motion with leave, withdrawn   

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. TOGAREPI:  Madam Speaker, I move that we revert to Order of the Day Number. 1.

          HON. HAMAUSWA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to. 

MOTION

REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PEACE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2022

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): Thank you Madam Speaker.  I rise to move a motion that this House takes note of the Report of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission for the year 2023, presented to this House of Parliament in terms of section 253 and 323 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. I thank you.

          HON. MUTOKONYI: I rise to debate and comment on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission report. The report is quite detailed and we have seen that a lot of work was done by the Commission in as far as enhancing peace in the country is concerned. I will start by one of its mandate. The Commission’s mandate is to unite all Zimbabweans for sustainable peace by resolving the past, the present and future potential conflicts. This is mentioned in Section 252 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The Commission gave us a report that they did over 138 cases and in that, there were various cases including the political conflicts where 47% of those cases were political. In that 47%, 27% of that came from Masvingo Province. The Commission actually mentioned that a lot of such was well to do with electoral conflict where they had to come up with programmes to ensure that there is voter peace, education, political party engagements, publicity messages as well as election observation.

The Commission did mention that a lot of issues which rose in the report were well to do with the electoral conflict, however, it is also very clear from their report, the Commission did quite a lot of work to ensure that they reduce the conflict in as far as conflict early response detection is concerned. Also, in the report, the issue of human and wildlife conflict is mentioned where humans and wildlife were conflicting in as far as space is concerned. The report came up with various strategies to ensure that there is less of such conflict.

From the report, we have seen that there are aspects well to do with the electoral Gender-Based Violence. There are issues of sexual harassment where the report actually recommended on the various laws that can be looked into to ensure that there is less of such issues which would create more conflict in the society.

As part of their campaigns, we have noted that they did quite a lot in terms of their target. They targeted awareness campaigns of 40 and they had 66, which means we can see the work which was done by the Commission through the just ended 2023 Harmonised General Elections where peace was witnessed throughout the electoral process up to the announcement of results.  This is where we can see the impact of the work that was done by the Commission to ensure that peace prevails in the society.

The report did mention some challenges, particularly on the socio-economic challenges where there are issues of drug and substance abuse in schools and they had to do quite a lot of awareness to ensure that we see a massive reduction. In the same report, it highlighted the issue of marginalisation where areas like Matabeleland South Province and Kariba were not very much accessible for them to carry out the works due to poor road network. It is stated on page 32 of that report. This then becomes an issue of concern so that as parliamentarians through the relevant various Portfolio Committees, we also need to look into such issues to ensure that the mentioned challenges of marginalisation should be dealt with so that the Commission gets access to all various corners of Zimbabwe.

I also noted in the report that the Commission raised an issue of resources. They are faced with financial challenges but I have also noted that the structure of the Commission is somehow top heavy where the total complement of staff is 87 and of that, 30 are in managerial position. This then gives a challenge for the Commission where it has 17 managers which is quite heavy for a complement of 87 people. I am sure the Commission should look into that and reduce to ensure that they get more resources from within by trimming staff.

Our President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa always spelt out that peace begins with you, peace begins with me and peace begins with all of us. His language made us as all Zimbabweans heed the call for peace and we have witnessed peaceful elections.

In the Bible, Philippians 4 verse 7 states that “may the peace that surpasses all understanding”, guide our minds, our hearts as we take our country into the future. I thank you.

THE SPEAKER’S RULING

RULING ON RATIO USED WHEN DEBATING

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, you will remember last week I deferred a ruling on the matter which was raised by one Hon. Member from the opposition concerning the ratio which we are using when giving Hon. Members the chance to debate. My ruling on that matter after making some consultations is; it should be two is to one – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.].

          HON. MAMBIPIRI: Thank you very much Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to discuss the Peace and Reconciliation Report that is before the House. I would like to appreciate the work done by the Commissioners and the employees at the Commission in working in our communities as well as in putting together the report.

The Commission was set up for a ten-year tenure, starting in 2013 and therefore, their tenure and term of office expired in 2023. What you then see in the Executive Summary of the report is a clear cry for help by the Commission Chairperson in terms of their working capacity as well as direction. The fact that the tenure of the Commission expired, which is highlighted in the report, has in a way hindered the work and the Commission. No wonder why in the report, you see cases and complaints of very high staff turnover, and you also notice that from the recommendations given in the report, there is no forward thinking in terms of what must be done.

Reading the report, I could pick four worrying issues that I need to discuss before the House. The first one is that whereas peace and reconciliation are very important matters of national interest, what you observe as you go through the report is that the Commission deliberately shied away from dealing with the hot issues that disturb our peace and reconciliation effort, and dealt a lot with what I consider to be soft issues like drug abuse, conflict between humans and animals. It did not address the elephant in the room, which are the issues of political violence.

Deliberately, the Commission failed in the 138 cases that were reported to them to solve conclusively the issues of political violence, and in the report, they highlight much on the work they did around ethnic conflicts as well as Gender-Based Violence which I think, with all due respect, is a misnomer. They also bring to the fore a very important issue about the lack of trust that exists in Zimbabwe today between law enforcement agencies and the communities that we come from.

At often times, this point has always been raised again and again, that in the communities, the people entrusted with peacekeeping who are the police officers, are not doing their duties diligently, and therefore are not trusted by members of the community. This Madam Speaker, calls for this House and the Executive to also look into the conduct and work of police officers to make sure that they are always professional and available to communities in non-partisan ways to make sure that communities will always call on them whenever there are problems.

The second issue that is scratched on the surface in the report is the issue of the role of the State in political violence. Often times when you go through peace and reconciliation reports that focus on Zimbabwe from the academia and other institutions, it is plainly put that the State is the biggest sponsor of political violence in this country. It is a misnomer when then we have a report from this Commission that does not discuss –

HON. GANYIWA: I think the Hon. Member must withdraw that statement that the State is the one that funds violence with immediate effect.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mambipiri, do you have evidence on what you are saying, and is that in the Peace and Reconciliation Commission Report?

HON. MAMBIPIRI: What I have said is in the report that the –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: That the State is the big sponsor of what you said?

HON. MAMBIPIRI: Let me put what I said in context. I said the report scratches on the surface, mentioning the political actors who have participated in political violence and I contrasted that with reports from the academia and other civic society organisations who go a step further and highlight that the State is the biggest sponsor –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You must withdraw – [HON. MAMBIPIRI: I am debating and putting this into context] – You must withdraw that because you do not have evidence, and it is not written in the report.

HON. MAMBIPIRI: What exactly must I withdraw?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What you said that the State is the biggest sponsor.

HON. MAMBIPIRI: I did not say so, I said in reports from the academia and other institutions.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are we debating reports from academia? Please, may you withdraw that? – [AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of order Madam Speaker.] – No, I am not talking to you. May Hon. Mambipiri withdraw what he said – [AN HON. MEMBER: It is a point of order Madam Speaker.] – No, I am not taking that. Withdraw what you said, you are misleading.

HON. MAMBIPIRI: I withdraw the reference to the academia who have said that the State is biggest sponsor of political violence in the country.

Another point to note Madam Speaker is a worrying trend in terms of the complaints that the Commission received. In 2023, the Commission received 105 cases on top of the 30, or cases that they already had and what you notice is that they received cases and complaints from all other provinces minus Bulawayo. This speaks a lot to the character and integrity of the Commission and its work within Bulawayo and Matebeleland that the people of Bulawayo had to shun approaching the Commission when in everyday life, they have complaints which must point to something that is wrong within the Commission and must be rectified.

The fourth and final point that I observed whilst going through the report is the role of the Commissioners who are members of this particular Commission. You will realise that some of the Commissioners are out of step with their mandate and the message that they seek to portray. When you check on the list of Commissioners that are put there and their portfolios, you will realise that some amongst them are actually political zealots who have gone out and caused chaos, provoked communities and members of different political parties, thereby fanning political violence…

HON. TOGAREPI:  On a point of order Madam Speaker. The Hon. Member must respect that we do not give comments or inferences that appear to derogate people who cannot answer for themselves in this House.  For him to call some members zealots, perpetrators and so forth, when they cannot answer back; I do not think it is fair.  We do not use this House to derogate others.  

HON. MAMBIRIPIRI:  I have just highlighted because the Commissioners’ photographs and names are in the report.  Wherever they went, there are photos that tell the story.  I am just responding and answering to that story that these messengers who are supposedly messengers of good hope are rotten apples in the society.  I do not see any wrong in just mentioning that – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, you must debate what is in the report and not to denigrate persons or Commissioners. 

HON. MAMBIRIPIRI:  The name Commissioner Obert Gutu is in the report.  The work done by Obert Gutu is put in the report.  Therefore, when we question…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, I do not think that is fair.  You must not denigrate other people who cannot come to this House and defend themselves.  Debate the report and not the Commissioners.  We are here to debate the report (Peace and Reconciliation) and not the Commissioners.

HON. MADZIVANYIKA: On a point of order Madam Speaker…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No!

HON. MADZIVANYIKA:  But you are giving others a chance, with due respect, that is not fair – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am not giving you the chance – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- Hon. Mambiripiri, have you finished?

HON. MATEWU:  On a point of order. In terms of Order No. 97 which says, “Upon a question of order being raised, the Member called to order must resume his or her seat, after the question of order has been stated to the Chair, as the case maybe, by the Member raising it…”.  I ask that we adhere to the Standing Rules as given in the green book.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Matewu.  It is fine Hon. Member, you can raise your point of order.

HON. MADZIVANYIKA:  My point of order is derived from Section 5 of the Privileges and Immunities Act of Parliament.  Members of Parliament are freely allowed to debate without any variation or control.  If anyone is affected, he will be given the chance to debate and correct the position than to say when someone is speaking, they are always stopped and asked to withdraw….

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are wrong Hon. Member.  May you bring that part of the Act you are referring to.

Hon. Madzivanyika approached the Chair.

HON. MATEWU: On a point of order Madam Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Matewu, you are a seasoned Hon. Member of this Parliament. Why are you standing on top of another point of order?

HON. MATEWU: Just listen to me Madam Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  No, according to our procedures, that is very wrong.

HON. MATEWU: Can you indulge me Madam Speaker.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please take your seat.

Hon. Mambiripiri, you may proceed but you are not allowed to debate or attack people who cannot come to this House and defend themselves.  Debate what is in the report.  If you continue with that, it will not go down well.

HON. MAMBIRIPIRI:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  As I conclude, I just want to dwell on two recommendations.  The first one is about the tenure and term of office of the whole structure of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

What we note from the Executive Summary is that the Chairperson is crying for help or a lifeline from the Parliament and Executive.  Given that peace and reconciliation issues are at the core of our function as a nation, I would want to recommend that they be given more time to work in our communities and our societies.

The second and final recommendation is that whenever Parliament and the Executive consider Commissioners like in this case, they must also try and check for people with probity. What we have currently among the Commissioners is someone with political biases.  Someone who is not trusted by the community is therefore not trusted by the communities.  I thank you. 

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 19th March, 2024.

On the Motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI), the House adjourned at Eight Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. to Tuesday 19th March, 2024.

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