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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 15 DECEMBER 2022 VOL 49 NO 8
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 15th December, 2022
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir, for allowing me to raise a point of priviledge. Hon. Speaker, I am worried about the disregard of the Urban Councils Act in our communities. Hon. Speaker, there is an illegal mushrooming of the unlicenced housing and structures informally planned suburbs. Of late, land has been allocated on greenway spaces and infills. My prayer today is that communities like Mabelreign in Harare West and also other areas like Cowdry Park in Bulawayo are being invaded.
I want to pray that the Hon. Minister of Local Government should come and give a guarantee that the allocation of greenway spaces and infills must stop and that the land that has been allocated to date must be reversed.
This is a matter of urgency especially in view of global warming, overcrowding and potential of diseases in our suburbs. I would also want to add that the Zimbabwe Republic Police must enforce the law as is expected. This is a time bomb in our communities. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: We will capture your observations and bring this to the attention of the Minister of Local Government. However, as Members of Parliament from your respective constituencies, must engage the local authorities themselves because that is their first port of call in terms of managing their areas of jurisdiction.
HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I have already done that.
HON. GONESE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise on a matter of national public importance which is predicated upon the provisions of our Constitution, in particular, Section 56 which provides that no one should be treated in a discriminatory manner, that persons are expected to have equality before the law. It therefore follows that we should not be having selective application of the law.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am concerned that we are increasingly seeing cases, situations where it appears that these principles are not being upheld. We have the case of Hon. Job Sikhala who has been incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. The principle of our law is that we have a Harare Remand…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order!
HON. GONESE: It is not about bail Mr. Speaker – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! I am saying order; you cannot say order. Please take your seat. Can you switch off your mic please? Hon. Gonese, a learned lawyer, you are aware that any matter that is before the courts is subjudice and there are procedures and avenues for raising such issues by the concerned Hon. Member and that due process needs to be followed outside this House – [HON. GONESE: Inaudible interjections.] – I have ruled – [HON. GONESE: I am not talking about Hon. Sikhala.] – I have ruled, can you sit down – [HON. GONESE: No, no Mr. Speaker. I think you are not being fair. I was talking about principles of selective, I am now not going to refer to that one. I am talking about the administrative justice.] – Order! Can you sit down?
Hon. Gonese having approached the Chair.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I said I ruled before. Do not approach the Chair. Can you sit down – [HON. GONESE: Inaudible interjections.] – I ruled that nobody should approach the Chair. Can you sit down – [HON. GONESE: Inaudible interjections.] – Sergeant-at-Arms, take him out! Hon. Gonese, can you leave the House!
The Sergeant-at-Arms escorted Hon. Gonese out of the House – [HON. HWENDE: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Hwende, this is not shake-shake House, alright! Withdraw that statement. Do not bring to disrepute this august House, withdraw that statement – [HON. HWENDE: I withdraw.] – Please take your seat.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My point of national interest dates back to August when we requested from the Minister of Home Affairs, regarding the issue of the Registrar-General, officers going around registering the people with no IDs. That was in August. He promised this House that by the end of September, the project would be completed. It started in April. He promised the House he would return and you ruled that it was a directive from the President to leave no one behind and no place behind. I stated there were over two thousand people in Hatcliffe and over five hundred in Borrowdale who were not registered. He promised us that he would come back after that programme. Nothing has happened. When I raised it the third time, he promised us a statement. It is now four months and there has been nothing – no statement, no one coming back and no help from them. My question is, we are now approaching elections in six months’ time approximately, does that leave these unregistered people unable to vote now because it is taking so long? My question Mr. Speaker falls unfortunately on Parliament. Why are these things not followed up? When a Minister tells us he is going to give a statement and he does not, why do we not follow it up? It is continuing. Thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. Hon. Member, do not wait for four months to elapse. If two weeks, three weeks have elapsed and the House is sitting, raise the issue and action should be taken accordingly.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Mr. Speaker. As I said, when I raised it the third time, he told us he would give us a statement. This is now the fourth time and still nothing has happened. That is my frustration.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Clerk, can you make sure that this does not happen. Thank you.
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that we have received Non-Adverse Reports from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the following Bills and Statutory Instruments:
- Electoral Amendment Bill [H. B. 11, 2022],
- Prisons and Correctional Services Bill [H. B. 6, 2022],
- Statutory Instruments Nos. 187, 188, 189, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 2001, 202, 203 and 204 published in the Gazette during the month of November 2022.
PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM THE WOMEN’S COALITION OF ZIMBABWE, CHILDREN OF ZIMBABWE NATIONAL LIBERATION WAR VETERANS ASSOCIATION AND THE DRIVERS ASSOCIATION OF ZIMBABWE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that on Tuesday, 6th December 2022, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, beseeching Parliament to amend the Trafficking in Persons Act, Chapter 9:25 to incorporate a definition of trafficking in persons consistent with the relevant protocols, to prevent, punish and suppress trafficking in persons especially women and children. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services.
I also have to inform the House that on Thursday, 1st December, 2022, Parliament received a petition from the Children of Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, beseeching Parliament to amend the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act, Chapter 17:12 to include the Constitutional provisions of respect, honour and recognition and clearly define and operationalise aspects of these provisions. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
I further have to inform the House that on Tuesday, 6th December 2022, Parliament received a petition from the Drivers Association of Zimbabwe, beseeching Parliament to enact supporting legislation that will professionalise driving so that it becomes compulsory for employers to employ drivers who are members of the association as they will be competent and ethical in their profession. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I move that Order of the Day, Number 1 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 2 has been disposed of.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
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. MUSHORIWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to start by thanking you for giving me this opportunity to debate on this particular issue. I want to start my debate by stating that the 2023 budget is the fifth budget that the Hon. Minister has presented before this House. I want to look into the history of the past four budgets presented in this august House. One key attribute of all the budgets that have been presented before this august House by the Hon. Minister of Finance is that they have always fallen short of the assumptions that have been made by the Minister continuously for the past four years. He has always been over the mark. The Hon. Minister has failed in terms of his projections when it comes to inflation and even the exchange rate and as we speak, if you look into the budget for 2023 and analyse the assumption that underlines the budget, it tells you that something is amiss. The Hon. Minister for instance, will propose that one of the pillars that underpin his budget is the continued supply and stability in power supply yet we know we are in a crisis. What that means is that this budget is totally off even before it has started.
The other issue which has become so problematic with the Hon Minister’s budget is that for the past four years we have got ministries and departments that have been underfunded - including Parliament, to the extent that the figures that he presented here, he does not mean them because four years without exception, you find ministries and departments like the Auditor General never getting even 50% disbursement. You cannot be off the mark four years continuously and even right now in the fifth year; you cannot expect anything more which is different from that. Mr. Speaker Sir, you are aware that one of the major challenge that we face in this country is that we are using both the US dollar and Zim dollar but one of the things that has become so clear in the market is that a huge population is now using the US dollar. The only limited people are the ones getting their salaries in Zim dollar like the civil servants, local councils, but the majority of the people have now migrated to the US dollars.
The credibility of presenting a budget in RTGs raises a big challenge and once it is certain, given the history of the Hon. Minister of failing to tame inflation and the exchange rate fluctuations, it means that by the time we get to June, this budget will actually be worthless.
I also want to specifically talk on the document that he presented before this august House in his budget. He gave us a booklet on the SDR funding. Mr. Speaker Sir, the Budget and Finance Committee has been…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon Member can you be specific. Are you talking of the Blue Book or the Budget Statement? What are you talking about?
HON. MUSHORIWA: When the Hon Minister brought his Budget Statement, amongst the papers that he laid on the table which had to do with the three year strategic plan on the use of SDR funds, I want to bring to your attention an issue that has been before your Committee on Budget Finance and Economic Development. We have queried and asked the Hon. Minister to come before the Committee and twice they have come and we have asked them to give us disaggregated data pertaining to how the SDR funds have been used. One of the things that have become so critical is that the Hon. Minister came into this august House and boasted saying that we had used our own resources to fund our COVID vaccines as well as reconstruction of the Masvingo road.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, I object to the use of the word boast which the Hon. Member is using. I do not think that is the right word to use.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Hwende, I am admonishing you for the second time. Can you sit down! I have not said anything on what has happened.
HON. HWENDE: Ok, you are going to state something about what the Hon Minister did.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Hwende, can you withdraw - you are going to state something about what the Hon Minister did.
HON. HWENDE: Ok, I withdraw whatever you want me to withdraw.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you leave the House!
HON. HWENDE: Why?
THE HON. SPEAKER: You are being very sarcastic to the Chair. Can you leave the House!
HON. HWENDE: No, Why?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Leave the House!
HON. HWENDE: No.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you leave the House! Be parliamentary and leave the House.
HON. HWENDE: You must be specific on what I should withdraw.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I told you that - [HON. HWENDE: Inaudible interjection.] - Order, order, order, order, leave the House, I do not have to repeat myself. Order, leave the House, can you leave the House!. Order, order, can you leave the House, can you leave the House! - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible Interjections.] - Order, order can you leave the House! Leave the House, can you leave the House! Leave the House please! Shadow Ministers must behave.
Hon. Minister, if you have something to say you raise a point of order. You do not stand up and then press the button as you speak. I am sure that is taken. Hon. Member, you state what the Minister said. Do not value-add what the Hon. Minister said. So the word ‘boast’ should be withdrawn.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I withdraw the word ‘boast’ and quote verbatim what the Hon. Minister said. The Hon. Minister, when we were asking about the COVID virus and dualisation of Masvingo Road, he said that ‘zvakarongeka’. He was saying that he was using resources from the budget but check Mr. Speaker Sir, if you look in the SDR; he now claims that he used SDR funds to procure vaccines. He also claims that he used SDR funds to do the road to Masvingo.
Mr. Speaker, you cannot have an Hon. Minister who comes and addresses this august House and say that no, we are funding our COVID vaccines worth US$100 million from our own resources and he goes and does double dipping. Something is not clear or right and we have asked the Hon. Minister and the Ministry of Finance to come clean and simply say what he used. Remember the Hon. Minister would come here and say we used this from the surplus he got from the budget. That Mr. Speaker creates a problem.
I just want to touch briefly on the issue pertaining to the overall assumptions the Minister has actually put. I want to look into the taxation aspect. The Hon. Minister, in his budget, has now come and said, look at the SADC region - the average VAT, ours is at 14,5% and we need to increase it by 0,5%. What the Hon. Minister does not state in that proposal is that in the SADC, it is only Zimbabwe that charges 2% IMTT. What it means is that Zimbabwe is double taxed. You increase VAT from 14, 5% to 15%. If the Hon. Minister wanted to make sure that it becomes average or the same with SADC countries, then the best way was to say I increased by 0,5% to 15% and reduce the IMTT or even remove it. The minimum we expected from you Hon. Minister was to reduce it to 1, 5% or alternatively do the right thing and remove it.
The other issue which in our view does not make economic sense, during the supplementary budget, we had an argument with the Hon. Minister when we were discussing the Finance Bill pertaining to the payment of royalties. We argued that we need to make sure that the royalties percentage should be increased to somewhere around 10%. The Hon. Minister comes before this august House with a marvel way of collecting royalties and said that 50% has to be in minerals. This is 2022 getting into 2023; I do not understand how the Hon. Minister could actually think that proposal would actually work. What we expected from the Hon. Minister is to come and simply say I believe that we need to tax these miners, let us increase the royalties to around 10% rather than to have a way of trying to hide the non-increase of royalties by coming up with a novel way of trying to do the taxes.
During the supplementary budget, again we explained to the Hon. Minister that he could not charge forex transactions at 4% IMT and for the first time, I think he listened. I think sense knocked into the Ministry of Finance and they have actually reduced, which is actually by the way, the only positive thing that I could actually talk of pertaining to the budget statement presented by the Hon. Minister. Tied to that Hon. Minister, talking of getting sufficient funds to the budget, do you know Mr. Speaker if you go out into town, the majority of people are now charging in USD cash. There are few that would want you to transfer your USD from Nostro accounts or even RTGs.
What it means is that most of the businesses that are charging in USD are not paying IMT. What we did not find in the budget is what are the mechanisms or measures that the Hon. Minister is going to implement to ensure that the tax net can actually net as many people as possible. We had suggested when we presented the report on the budget that ZIMRA needs to be well capacitated and also retain 3% of the revenue that they collect so that ZIMRA officials and as an institution is capacitated to do its work in a proper manner. In any event, the 3% is well-articulated in the ZIMRA Act and we do not understand why the Minister of Finance is dithering on doing something which is already contained in a piece of law.
Lastly Mr. Speaker Sir, I just want to buttress that one of the key issues that we believe needs to happen. In this country we now have many people that are so rich. I think you now know the term mbinga, the mbingas of this world. If you go to the taxmen, they do not even have any tax record. They pay nothing to the fiscus and do nothing but they live a luxurious life. We need to make sure that we introduce a wealthy tax. A wealthy tax targets these people who drive luxurious vehicles, living in mansions but without a single tax return to support that this person is actually paying tax. Wealth tax is now the way to go and it is better to make sure that we tax those rich people big time and protect the poor people in Dzivaresekwa, Epworth and the whole country. That is what we expect the Hon. Minister to do and we still urge you Hon. Minister, even as we go towards the Finance Bill, to probably consider making sure that we come up with something in respect of taxing the rich so that we can get as much money into the fiscus. I thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: I will start with infrastructure for the purpose of growing our industry. If I look at the measures that the Minister intends to take on making sure that our infrastructure is compatible with, especially the digital economy that we are now in. We are in an industrial revolution where emphasis is now on digital economy. What is happening on the ground does not speak to what the Minister is saying.
We now have our roads especially in our industrial areas; if you drive around Harare in the industrial areas, you would regret having started that particular journey. We are talking of dualisation of the roads and the song is Harare – Beitbridge and Harare –Mutare up to Plumtree but in our industrial areas, you try to go with your Mercedes Benz, you would prefer getting out of that car, feeling sorry for it and start walking. This means that it is now not enjoyable to drive around the industrial area especially in Harare. Because of that, the kind of the business people we are now attracting in those areas – the quality is now pathetic. Go to Conrad Road in the light industry where we used to have companies that would manufacture electronic and telecoms components; people would manufacture some spares but those areas have now been turned into tuck shops. The whole road up to the end, you find plastic ware and pots. There is no industrial growth anymore Mr. Speaker. This is evident from the empirical data that we now have from the census where we have Zimbabwe from our own esteemed organisation saying that we have 74% unemployment. This means we only have 26% of people gainfully employed. It points to the fact that we are not developing industry at all. We are not growing at all. Where we have got people trying to do manufacturing, the infrastructure is not being developed.
I can give a typical example of what happens to Glen View Area 8 in Harare where we have got young people manufacturing furniture. We have experienced fires year in year out and no one has ever thought of that to grow that industry. This place houses more than 3000 artisans and we have experienced fires year in year out. What needs to be done there is to build clusters – industrial cubicles like where each person is allocated his or her own place where you manufacture from and identified, and graduate as a formal person. We are not doing that. It is not only in Harare. There is nowhere in Zimbabwe where you will find housing development area where you have an industrial area where you would build such things where you afford manufacturers proper housing. That is the only way you can collect even revenue. You must collect revenue from places that can be identified or people who can be identified. If you are not providing infrastructure for these people, you are not growing industry. Because of the fact that they do not have places to operate from, no one cares about issues like manufacturing. You cannot build a country where you only produce raw materials; you mine your minerals and you do not value add. You produce your cotton and you sell it as it is; you harvest your tobacco and sell it as it is too. That is why we now have more than 80% unemployment because we are not creating employment.
The issue of electricity is another thorn in the flesh. You cannot expect the Minister to collect revenue in a country which is now almost a dark city, even in the rural areas where there was rural electrification. I was in Masvingo over the weekend, there is a young man who built a service station there and he was telling me that in a week, you only get electricity two days. The whole infrastructure is run by a generator. This makes the product expensive. The moment you have expensive products, you become uncompetitive. Even the Africa trade area that we are talking about, Zimbabwe will not be able to compete because the cost of the products that we are going to produce makes them uncompetitive.
When the Minister talks about the additional 600 megawatts from Hwange 7 and 8, he forgets that 1 to 6 are down. This means that these 600 megawatts that we have increased are only trying to replace probably the 400 that we were producing. Effectively, this means we have gained only 200 megawatts from Hwange. We are not going anywhere. For anyone to then have his projections and take them seriously, it becomes very difficult. Whilst you were away, we could not watch the world cup because we now do not have electricity from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. in the morning. That is on another day. On the other day, electricity goes at...
THE HON. SPEAKER: May you please address the Chair.
HON. MADZIMURE: Through you Mr. Speaker Sir.....
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, address the Chair.
HON. MADZIMURE: Through you Mr. Speaker, whilst the Minister was away, this is what we have been experiencing. More than 8-12 hours of non-availability of electricity, which means whatever he expected to get from IMMT transfers is not going to happen because cell phones will be off – there will be no transaction hence you will not get that money.
The Minister also talks about house delivery. This is contrary to the ZANU PF manifesto where it promised two million houses from 2020-2025. He is giving us 450 000. He will have to explain what really went wrong as far as the building of houses is concerned considering that the population is high and we have got a lot of people who do not have accommodation.
One area that I am passionate about is the issue of youth, sport and culture; there is nothing that is there in the budget that gives hope to our young people. Our young people do not have stadiums. They do not have tracks to run; they do not have swimming pools for them to learn how to swim. Sport has become a serious business. In Zimbabwe right now, we do not have stadiums or playground in our constituencies anymore but we have a fund. I do not know how that fund is used. We have a fund that should be used to develop rural sporting facilities and there is no single member here who has ever said he benefitted from that fund. That is not the only fund that we have; we have got 87 funds under the purview of the Minister even though they reside, some of them in the various ministries. Out of those funds, we rarely see Ministers coming here to explain how those funds are used. These are targeted funds.
We have the water fund but we have not heard anyone coming to this House to report on the use of these funds....
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, why have you not called the Ministers to account in various committees?
HON. MADZIMURE: As Budget and Finance, we have tried to do so. We also have an aerial view of what happens in other ministries. We have got a situation where you see transfers from a fund back to a Ministry instead of the money getting out of the fund and going to its intended purpose. On that, the Minister has got an obligation to explain how he has been monitoring the use of those funds. Whenever you pay for fuel, there is money that goes to ZERA and EMA but at the end of the day you do not see reports explaining how those funds will have benefited the people whom it must serve. We have a number of those funds and I would want the Minister to explain.
This is why we have never seen a lot of Ministers complaining that their budget is too low. It is because they know they have somewhere to get funding. When we pay shop licences there is money that goes to a fund. I would want the Minister to pay attention to that and also for Ministers to account for the use of those funds. Those funds are known and they can do us wonders. I would like to implore Hon. Members to understand the funds that are administered by their various ministries so that they would also ask the Ministers to account.
On the issue of education, we now have a crisis as far as education funding is concerned. If I look at what is allocated for the Ministry of Education, I cannot see Government funding the sector like what is being talked about, which is free education starting next year. We must also take into cognisance that there is money for school development that is also paid by parents. We still need to cushion the people. I cannot see a situation where we will be able to have free education next year. If we are going to have it, then it must be inclusive so that pupils get value for money. I would want the Minister to review some of his targets because the Minister’s budget has not been performing. We have a tendency of allocating a lot of money but come end of year, the money that will have been disbursed from those appropriations is pathetic and that is evidenced from stagnation of the economy that we are seeing.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon Togarepi, I am chairing Hon. Members on my right and left. Why is it that there is no contribution from Hon. Members on my right? Nobody is standing up.
HON. TOGAREPI: They did debate. Hon. Members on the left side refused to debate in the absence of the Minister of Finance. We still have some who want to debate.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I cannot be seen to be recognising Hon. Members from the left as if this House is left handed –[AN HON. MEMBER: Havana zvekutaura]. I understand the explanation. I was not aware that the majority of Hon. Members on my right did debate. As Chairperson, I get concerned when I do not see a balance in debate.
HON. MASOKA: I want to buttress three points. Firstly, it is about tax on the welfare on some members of our society. That is long overdue because we have many members of our society that are living large and are doing very well but if you go to the tax side, they are not paying anything to Government. I feel that is something that the Minister of Finance needs to look at and look at very seriously that this bracket of people in our society brings back something to Government.
Secondly, ZIMRA needs to retain the 3% so that they are capacitated and when they are capacitated they need also to go to the informal sector because in our society right now, 80% of our people are informal. They are making a lot of money but there is no one who is taxing them. ZIMRA is not capacitated enough to follow on these people. That is why we need that 3% to be retained with ZIMRA so that they can be capacitated and they can then be able to follow up on the informal which is the bulk of where the money is right now.
Look at Leopold Takawira Street in the CBD where there is wholesaling that is going on. That is like the heartbeat of Zimbabwe right now and there is a lot of money that flows there that is not taxed. Most of the people that are there are foreigners. There is need for ZIMRA to go and fiscalise those people and bring back the money.
My last point is on the different funds which I counted up to 11 or so. There are ministries that are dipping into the pot like three or four times because some of these funds go directly to them. I feel that the Ministry of Finance should consider that to say those that have funds and dip into the pot like three or four times, there is need to review their budget. Some of them get a lot of money but they have these other funds that they are getting money from. Those are some of the areas that the Ministry of Finance can look at. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Biti, only yesterday you said we were putting on ties, we are not liberated in our minds – so you have joined the club today?
HON. BITI: Hon. Speaker, I was in court and a High Court judge said you cannot put on a dressing like those. Fortunately, I keep a suit in the office.
THE HON. SPEAKER: It is appreciated.
HON. BITI: Thank you for allowing me to join in the debate of the 2023 budget. Before I go into the merits, I want to express my disappointment with the Minister of Finance, my colleague, for being absent for two weeks. The budget is a national document and it is the only statement by a Minister that is actually defined mandatorily in the Constitution of Zimbabwe in Sections 302, 303, 304 and 305. In other words, it is a constitutional obligation that the people of Zimbabwe have placed on the Minister and I think the Minister should not undermine his own budget by doing what he did.
At the same time, there was an Article 4, IMF Mission in the country which has been here from the 1st of December, 2022. They have just issued their interim financial statement which I am going to refer to that he also abandoned that Article 4 because that Article 4 is so important because you are giving an input and you know Mr. Speaker that we are suffering under debt unsustainability and therefore it is important to narrow the gap between us in the IFIs and that Article 4 Mission was very important.
Mr. Speaker Sir, when you read this budget, you get a sense that the Minister was in a hurry. Maybe it was because his mid-term statement was in September and then the budget was in November. I have compared this budget and his previous budgets, some of the passages are just cut and paste. The only thing that is done is to modernise the figures. I think he needs to take time when preparing the budget because it is a national statement. I do not think he afforded it the same concentration and quality of attention that is required in what is clearly a cerebral process. So there is a lot of cutting and pasting and he bears final responsibility because he is the Treasury. He is the Minister as defined by Section 7 of the Public Finance Management Act.
Our economy is facing serious structural problems. If you read the World Bank country report of October, 2022, it speaks of 65% of our population being in the informal sector. That is a frightening figure and that report says that for this economy to attain the vision 2030 being espoused by the authorities, our economy needs to grow from 2023 by a figure of 15% per annum and we are limping at around 1%/2%. Eighty-nine per cent of our people are living in extreme poverty. People are wallowing in poverty. These are serious things.
One of the things that are most worrying in that World Bank country note is the fact that out of 17 countries that they examined, we are second from last in terms of productivity. This economy is not productive. These are some of the things that we thought the Minister would address. I want to come to the actual budget. The first thing that I want to deal with is the credibility and legitimacy of this budget. In an economy that is now so dollarized to the extent that 72% of the transactions that are being done in Zimbabwe right now are being done in USD; the USD is on a cash economy. A credible and legitimate budget could and should have been expressed in USD.
If you look at the 2022 budget, we made the same point that the budget should be expressed in USD. The Minister did not listen to us and the net result was that by mid of 2022 in July this year, he had come with a supplementary budget that was 200% bigger than the original budget. His original budget was for ZW$700 billion. We increased a supplementary budget of 1.9 billion, almost 2 billion dollars. So for the sake of legitimacy and credibility, the budget ought to have been expressed in USD.
The second thing on credibility is the growth projection of 3.8% and I want to echo what we have said in the Budget Committee that your assumptions do not support the 3.8% growth rate. Moreso, in light of the fact that the regional economic outlook produced by the IMF of September 2022, predicts that...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Order. There are two people who are taking an audio of what you are speaking – please stop it. If you want to follow what is being said, you can always check in the Hansard.
HON. BITI: So that regional economic outlook says that the economies that will do well in sub-Saharan Africa, the growth will be around 1.5%. It is hard to imagine where the 3.8% is going to come from particularly in light of reduced agricultural output acknowledged by the Minister in his budget, the absence of power which was one of the anchors of his macro-economic assumptions. The third thing around credibility is that the budget is a ZW$4.5 trillion yet the growth rate is 3.8%. Theoretically, the budget must grow and the revenues must grow by 3.8% of the 2022 budget which was ZW$1.7 trillion.
So the growth of the budget from ZW$1.7 trillion to ZW$4.5 trillion is not supported by the 3.8% growth rate which he is targeting. This means that this is a budget that implicitly accepts that the inflation rate of this country will remain at above 200%. The growth of the gross figure of the budget from ZW$1.7 trillion to ZW$4.5 trillion can only be supported by the inflation figure of over 200% and that is most unfortunate when a Minister has to budget for such growth levels of inflation.
The fourth thing on credibility is on disbursements. If you read the supplementary budget, by September of 2022, the average disbursement was a mere 36%. We acknowledge as we do in our statement from the Budget Committee that there are four ministries that have overspent. There are four ministries that have gotten the lion’s share but the rest of the ministries, the budget outturn has been 36%, meaning that what we are doing is just a waste of time because money is not going to be disbursed except to those four privileged ministries.
Number 5 on credibility is that we come here, we approve this budget but there is a parallel budget that operates somewhere. There is parallel expenditure that operates somewhere and as I am talking to you right now, there are taps that are open somewhere that we will see two/three years later. As I am making these submissions, we have before this august House two Financial Adjustment Bills. The first Financial Adjustment Bill is for USD10.6 billion. We have not approved that Financial Adjustment Bill.
In other words, over and above what we agreed on, Government went on to spend USD10.6 billion. As I am talking to you, there is a second Financial Adjustment Bill of 100 billion dollars and six billion to make 106 billion dollars in respect of the financial years 2019/2020, meaning that what we are doing again is exercising self delusion because there is a parallel budget that is being run oblivious to this august House and that undermines our work and credibility.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I have referred to the Article 4 Mission that was in the country. They have just issued their preliminary statement and they make four fundamental points that we have been making to the Minister which this budget ought to have addressed.
The first point that they make is that the exchange rate should be liberalised. We have been arguing with the Minister for the last four years that you cannot de-dollarise as he tried to do in February of 2019 when conditions for de-dollarisation did not exist and we know that de-dollarisation has failed and the Government itself is the first character to acknowledge the failure of de-dollarisation. All Government charges, without exception, are now expressed in USD terms, whether it is passports, fuel, birth certificate, death certificate, licencing, number plates for vehicles, et cetera.
So, the biggest undermining of the de-dollarisation process has been the Government itself but we said you can use the Zimbabwean dollar, there is no problem but float the Zimbabwean dollar. Let the Zimbabwean dollar be floated, let it find a natural mark in the market; that did not take place and as a result, what we saw is massive arbitrage. The same budget will tell you that since June of 2020 to now, the auction system has disbursed USD 3, 6 billion but the economy has nothing to show for that. It is a lot of money.
The elites have been accessing cheap USD for two years at an average exchange rate of 1:83 but the parallel exchange rate in the streets has had a premium of 200 to 300%. People have made money out of speculation on the Zimbabwe Dutch Auction System, which is why as a Committee, we have recommended that there should be the introduction of a Wealth Tax so that we can net these speculators who have taken advantage of this loot and booty of the Dutch Auction System.
Another recommendation that is made by the same Article 4 Missions, today, namhla, khathesi, you must abolish the gold coins. We have made the same point that for a country with a weak currency like ours, for a country with a weak current account like ours, do not take the figures he gives in the figures; the reality of the matter is that we have got a negative current account, capital account; he will tell you otherwise that the import pressures of this country are too much we need to import fuel, food, electricity, so there is no way we can have a current account surplus. However, that is an issue for another day.
My point is; in a country with a weak currency, we need to keep our gold, to preserve our gold but instead we are now minting that gold and selling it at a price which is 200% less than the true value of that gold. The going price of an ounce of gold right now is USD1800. We are selling that gold in its currency form at USD1200. We have spent over 18 billion USD printing gold coins but what we have gotten in return is around nine billion dollars. Who does that - no sane, objective person does that.
The third thing that the IMF recommends which we have also made to the Minister is that you must live within your means, you must eat what you kill, and you must maintain a fiscal consolidation. That has not been happening. The Government has been printing money, the Reserve Bank has been printing money, and quasi-fiscal activities are now at least 20-30% of GDP. If you look at the budget itself, I think it is paragraph 93, it will tell you that between January and September of 2022, broad money which economists like Hon. Prof. Mashakada there will tell you, grew by 400%. In other words, we generated hot air of 400% into the economy.
Mr. Speaker, when too much money chases too few goods, you have a crisis of over accumulation. Like in 2008, we all became trillionaires but trillionaires who could not buy a bottle of soda water. Your Members of Parliament, we earn ZWL 200 000 per month but we cannot pay rent Mr. Speaker. The salary we earn cannot fill even a fuel tank to go to Dotito to plant maize. That is the crises of over accumulation. We have made arguments in the past that there is need to rationalise the activities of the Central Bank, the Article 4 Mission also makes the same recommendations.
However, I want to come to the real economy Mr. Speaker Sir. Our economy needs to deal with certain fundamental structural issues to move forward. The first one is the issue of debt; the debt levels produced by the Minister shows that we are around 18 billion dollars. That is not the real issue; the real issue is that our debt as a percentage of GDP is now around 102%. The acceptable threshold, the SADC convergence threshold is 60%, so we are way above. Debt puts a premium, a tax on future generations and our debt and the obligation to deal with our debt is a developmental issue. We defaulted way back in 1999. However, because we have got huge arears around two billion to the World Bank, around 600 million dollars to the African Development Bank, five billion dollars to the Paris Club of Lenders, we need to deal with these arears so that we can access the huge amounts of developmental funds that are sitting at the African Development Bank. Resolving our debt crises de-risks Zimbabwe, lowers the risk profile of Zimbabwe.
So, I am disappointed personally, that when you read the Budget Statement, there is no plan for debt. As a Committee, the IMF Mission yesterday, one of the things we raised was, when are we going to get the next Staff Monitored Programme (SMP) because it is both quantitative and qualitative? It at least tries to show some track record of performance. We do not have that since the collapse of the last SMP in April of 2020. So we are doing nothing, we have spent five years doing nothing; at least Minister Chinamasa tried his Lima process in October of 2016. It may have failed but at least there was effort, so you give him two out of 10 for the effort but my brother, you cannot give him anything - so, that is sad.
The second structural issue I want to deal with is agriculture. We have mismanaged agriculture and one of the reasons why we have mismanaged agriculture is the unsustainable interest rate of 200%. If you want the economy to raise an interest rate of 200% which interest only benefits bankers, there is no savings rate of 200%; in other words, if you put your money in your bank, you are not going to get 200% but if you lend, you are going to be charged 200% plus charges. It means the effective lending rate in Zimbabwe is 280% and that is not sustainable.
So, we are going to shrink this economy, output is going to decrease; in my own calculation, if you get 1, 2% growth rate, you will be very lucky. Thanks to that punitive interest rates but it is killing agriculture, and as I am speaking to you right now, a bag of 25 kg of maize, whether Mbizi or Mbada is 90 USD. A bag of compound D is USD45 or USD50, a bag of ammonium nitrate is USD70; if you find it. Where I come from in Chiendambuya, they add USD80. How can you plant anything? A hectare you need USD600 yet we are USD 600 if you look at us kudhara kudhara, we have no money. So agriculture is being killed. What we suggest Mr. Speaker, is that if you look at the budget, the Minister proposes to give special certificates to Model A1 and A2 farmers which are bankable, why play around with these fancy instruments that have no legal basis? Why not simply introduce title deeds to farmers on Model A1 and A2 farmers? That is what the Constitution says anyway in Chapter 16, so that farmers can go and borrow cheap money. If a farmer is going to borrow at anything more than 5%, he might as well shut down. That is why Mr. Speaker right now, if you go to places like Gokwe, throughout the country, you will find Command Agriculture inputs being sold on the streets because it is cheaper and more profitable to sell the inputs than to put a badza or a gejo in the field and to plant.
The second structural issue Mr. Speaker Sir is the energy. We had the Minister of Energy yesterday, the esteemed Hon. Zhemu Soda. We have a crisis Mr. Speaker. If you listen to him carefully, his only answer is ‘I hope to import more’. He is hoping to import 500 megawatts from EDM in Mozambique and from the SADC power pool but there is a deficit in the entire region. Eskom, South Africa has a black-out – welcome to Zimbabwe, Zambia – same thing. There is a regional deficit. If the strategy of the Minister is to import when everyone is in a net deficit position, it is a disaster but this economy cannot move Mr. Speaker without addressing the issue of power.
The third issue is the issue of mining. Mining can transform this country. This country can be a $200 billion economy purely on the basis of mining but we have to do certain things right. Firstly Mr. Speaker, we cannot give away our mining rights as if they are cakes at a wedding. Anyone who wants, we give him a lithium mine. Anyone who wants, we given him iron ore. Anyone who wants, we give him diamonds. Anyone who wants, we give him platinum. Manhize is sitting on 43 billion metric tonnes of iron ore – the biggest in the world. We gave them for free. I was very hurt Mr. Speaker by a company called Karo Investments or Tharisa. They got a special mining lease. To get a special mining lease, in terms of Section 139 of the Mines and Minerals Act, you must show the authorities, Minister of Mines, Hon. Chitando that you have got USD100 million. So they came here with nothing then they list on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange some bonds to raise money to mine our minerals. They raised $34 million. Are we that foolish Mr. Speaker with great respect? We give away our mining concession for nothing, then we allow that same person kuti korokoza tumari twedu twatinatwo muhomwe and we say we are governing the country.
Mr. Speaker, it cannot be right. Let us get our mining right. The issue of licences and leases, let us auction them. They should go to the highest bidder. We get our qualified economist, lawyers, accountants and they do the cadastral surveys, evaluate and get best price. We call sharp people from South Africa, Botswana with experience and we auction our mining rights. How much money do you have? What are you going to do in the next five years? Mr. Speaker, we are giving platinum licences but there is no single refinery in Zimbabwe. One of the things that my esteemed friend has done in the budget is to introduce, through S. I. 89 of 2022, the payment of royalties in alternative minerals. How does it work Mr. Speaker? Take platinum, it has got six to ten PMGs derivatives and you do not know what is in a tonne. The soil you extract, it has to go to a refinery and we do not have a refinery here. So it will go to South Africa where they tell us whatever they have found because we are not there. Then we are now expecting them to drive lorries to bring the 50% of the royalties – to drive them where Mr. Speaker? It does not work Mr. Speaker. I can understand gold because it is fungible. It is like oil. I can understand a law that says 50% of our gold royalties should be paid as gold because it is fungible and it is a reserve but what about coal, what about platinum, chrome? It does not make sense. The point I am making is that if we get our mining right, we can transform this country.
The fourth issue is our model of accumulation…
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. With your indulgence, Hon. Biti is not only a former Minister of Finance, he is the shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance in this country. Therefore, I plead with you Mr. Speaker that he may be given an extra 10 minutes to exhaust his points.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order. Why do you not make your request without embellishment? In terms of our Standing Order – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order. When you speak you do not have to clap your hands please. Use your voice. In terms of our Standing Orders, you are allowed extra five minutes Hon. Biti, if you may please wrap up your contribution?
HON. BITI: I will wrap up. So Mr. Speaker, we need to start afresh. Mining can change our country. Mining can transform our country. I had started talking about our accumulation model. If you look at the structure of our economy, our economy is designed to extract and export. The two major activities in our economy are mining and agriculture. If you take agriculture, it is designed for export. Ninety per cent of the tobacco that we produce in this country goes out of Zimbabwe. Tobacco like cocoa, the farmer gets 2% from the value chain – he gets nothing. I live along Enterprise Road, everyday there are literary hundreds of small little trucks full of women and men from Mutoko selling tomatoes. They have been doing that for the last hundred years. The more they sell, the poorer they become and the reason is because of our accumulation model.
I have said before, if you wake Cecil John Rhodes today he will not get lost because Zimbabwe, 44 years after independence is still structured like Southern Rhodesia, like Rhodesia. It has not changed because we are still exporting raw materials. I urge the authorities, the Minister, to ensure that there is value addition in this economy, to ensure that there is manufacturing in this economy, to ensure that there is beneficiation in this economy. Countless trade policies have been written which speak to the same thing but nothing has been done.
One small point on agriculture Mr. Speaker Sir, the marketing of agricultural goods is killing the farmer, earning the farmer RTGS76 thousand for maize and USD90 when you have spent USD300 does not work. I urge the Minister to have the courage of introducing a commodity exchange so that the person who sells maize is in the same position as the person who sells tobacco. He goes to the market, gets his money and goes back home. The marketing model needs to be changed.
I want to come to the taxation review. One of the problems I have with my friend, the esteemed Minister of Finance, an approach to taxation from the point of view of government coffers, just getting money. Tax used wisely is a tool for progressive social intervention. This business of increasing VAT is not only cruel but it is uneven and unequal because the person who stays in Borrowdale will pay the same 15% as the person who stays in Buhera, Chiendambuya, Dotito, Tsholotsho or Nkayi. The same applies to the Intermediated Money Transfer Tax, we do not need that. We are one of the few countries in the Sub-Saharan African region who has that. The IMTT punishes the small person because it is the small person who goes into a bank and at the ATM but rich people do not do that Mr. Speaker Sir. So why are you punishing the poor? IMTT must be scrapped Mr. Speaker Sir.
Now I want to make the following recommendations to the Minister through you Mr. Speaker Sir:
- Express this budget in US dollars. It is clear that your budget was US$4.5 billion. So just say it as it is.
- Make timeous actual disbursements to ministries.
- Pay special attention to education and health as these are drivers of the nation. Speaker, when I went to University in 1986, the esteemed Minister was my senior. He was doing his Masters when I was doing my first degree. I know for sure that if he had not gotten the education that President Mugabe gave him, he would be herding cattle somewhere in Tsholotsho.
- Scrap the auction. I read something on the Reserve Bank talking of opening the auction on the 9th January 2023. Please scrap the auction, scrap the US dollar and pursue fiscal consolidation, the issue of debt and issue of title deeds to people. Reduce and scrap VAT and the IMTT.
- Lastly, please respect the budget.
I thank you very much Mr. Speaker.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon Speaker. From where I come from, a budget is supposed to be a tool that seeks to remedy social and economic ills of a society. Any budget projections should be anchored on prevailing macro-economic environment especially that environment which has to do with social and economic well-being of its citizens. In that regard, a good budget is one that is aimed at improving the income capacity of the majority of its citizens and social infrastructure capacitation. The majority of our income earners in this economy find themselves in the Public Service and in the informal economy. I am not saying that budget should therefore exclude the formal sector but I am arguing that with almost 80% of income earners being housed in the public service and in the informal sector, it is important that any budget takes cognizance of those two sectors before it is passed.
A budget that strengthens these two consequently has downstream effect on the entire economy in the sense that it improves aggregate demand of the population. Aggregate demand by its nature, stimulates economic growth. The budget therefore should be aimed at improving the buying power of the public servants who constitute the majority of income earners in this economy and also improving the delivery of social services such as education, health and the pensions of our pensioners. The improvement of purchasing power of civil servants has a huge impact on economic growth as indicated, while a stable and growing informal sector impacts positively on productivity. The question therefore is; does the 2023 budget address these two issues? To answer this question, one has to look at the projected allocations by the Hon. Minister. What is it that has been allocated towards the wages and salaries of the public sector? Hon. Speaker, you will realise that it is negligible and therefore in terms of impacting on aggregate demand in this economy, there is nothing that is going to happen; therefore, economic growth cannot happen with a population that is not able and capable of purchasing from its own economy.
We also have to look at the allocations that have been made towards capacitating the small scale sector, the informal sector of this economy. Hon. Biti talked a lot about it. I will also touch on the infrastructure development which is a necessary condition for any sustainable economic growth. However, not every infrastructure development leads to economic development and I will repeat that Hon. Speaker, not every infrastructure development leads to economic development. The way our infrastructure development is being prioritised leaves a lot to be desired. Hon. Speaker, it is my submission that when we are prioritising infrastructure, we target high impact infrastructure rather than any project that we may think of. We have chosen projects on the basis of political and regional expediency rather than on the basis of economic impact of a project. I will give you an example, we know that the current Government is always going around saying we are building infrastructure but the question is where is that infrastructure being built and what value is it adding in terms of the GDP of this country. So, in terms of priorities of infrastructure development, I believe that this budget has simply continued with the existing trend where we simply pinpoint that we want to do Masvingo highway but without really measuring how much impact that highway is going to add in terms of our economic growth. It is high time we prioritised projects that will have huge and immediate impact on the GDP for example if we want to build highways like Hon Chinotimba once said; why do we go to put tar on top of another tar. Let us go and open up areas that need opening up. Let me give you an example – if we were going to do the Karoi, Gokwe, Binga, Victoria Falls Road, how much impact would that have on the GDP? Let us open up our rural areas because those are potential economic growth areas rather than us concentrating only in these traditional urban areas that we have always been concentrating on in terms of infrastructure development. So, the problem associated with the infrastructure development besides the element of choice and how we choose which infrastructure to build is the issue of cost inflating, disbursement delays and corruption that ends us up not getting the value that we are supposed to get from the infrastructure. So, the 2023 budget in my view and as Hon. Biti has submitted, lacks credibility. If we look at the assumptions that this budget was drafted or crafted on, one of them was that we will have constant power supply and before the voice of the Hon. Minister’s presentation of the Budget Statement had drowned, we gotten ourselves into a crisis of power. Therefore, what does that mean to the budget that we are currently debating when the assumptions that this budget was build on, most of them are actually lacking in terms of credibility.
So, the budget in my view Hon. Speaker, we are already debating a budget which is astray if we are going to look at the assumptions that it was based on. Therefore, it is clear that the growth projections that have been made will not take us anywhere. These are my proposals that we need to see in this budget policy measures that are meant to capacitate the small scale or informal sector because this is where our production is going to come from as an economic.
I also propose that we have a significant increase in the wages of the public sector. Why the wages of the public sector? Because that way we are going to get aggregate demand which is going to stimulate the economics whilst at the same time improving the welfare of our people.
My final submission and suggestion to this budget is that let us increase the budget on social services and the infrastructure that is attended to social services. I thank you.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: I want to add a few issues that I have and to add on to what Hon. Biti said concerning our budget. I want the Minister to know that the budget, when we look at farming which is the mainstay of the economy, but right now, I do not know if the Minister is aware that we are actually facing a year of drought and hunger. I saw because right now we are facing challenges with the banks which are not giving us funding. The big farmers such as A1 and A2 farmers do not have farming implements but farmers have a lot of fertilizers. I think the Minister should go back to the programme where they gave Agritex or Ministry of Agriculture fertilizers to give to the farmers.
In terms of fertilizer, the farmer is not getting anything because the farmer is only getting very little. The loan that was taken to engage in agriculture is taking all the money. The farmers are basically farming for the banks and not for their families. Once this happens, the banks increase the interest. An example is that fertilizer is manufactured here in Zimbabwe. Compound D is manufactured in Dorowa here in Zimbabwe. It is not imported but it now costs US$60 which is equivalent to diesel. Our diesel is very expensive. Why do the prices not go down?
If you go to Zambia, diesel is $110 but here in Zimbabwe diesel is $160/170, but the diesel going to Zambia passes through Zimbabwe in transit. We are drawing from the same producer. The same thing happens with fertilizer. A child who is in Buhera where fertilizer is manufactured is forced to pay $70 for Compound D fertilizer yet these are resources found in their communities. We once said that communities should benefit from their natural resources. Fertilizer comes from Dorowa and taken to industries here in Harare, and is sent back and they are forced to pay the high prices. If the Minister is not aware of the hunger that we face this farming season, he should look into it.
The A1 or Pfumvudza inputs that we are giving, very few people are farming using Pfumvudza. Even the President knows that fertilizer is being sold and he gave a statement that whoever is found selling fertilizer from the Presidential Input Scheme will face the music. The President cannot say that without being knowledgeable of what is happening. So, the A2 farmers are left without any option. My request is that the Minister should divert some money towards A2 farmers so that they can engage in farming and that will take care of the food security in our country.
The third point that I want to talk about Mr. Speaker is that this country is blessed with a lot of minerals. We have chrome, lithium and other various minerals. Chrome is used to manufacture the block for the vehicles but we do not have engineers or even one university that we have said the Minister of Finance should fund to say Zimbabwe University, this is the money we have and we want an engine here from this funding. There is no university that does that. All we want is to drive vehicles from Japan or South Africa, these Toyota cars. Even electricity, I remember at one time, people made a laughing stock of Chingoma when he built his helicopter. Instead of supporting and financing him to make his dream come true, we actually made him a laughing stock and asked him to remove his helicopter from one point to the next until eventually he took his helicopter to various places and he still has it.
As a country, we have educated people. In Africa, the engineers in Zimbabwe are there just to manufacture burglar bars and windowframes as well as doorframes because we were denied the opportunity to learn about some of the engineering fields. Our minerals are being used to manufacture weapons but as Africans, we are forced to go and buy these in China yet we have the raw materials. We enjoy being the bosses and we are happy importing things from outside the country. Let us get duty where people buy from us and we export. Let us also capacitate our universities.
I am deeply pained by the fact that lithium - I was happy yesterday when the President said that we do not want lithium to be exported but this is coming after a long time whilst there was illicit flow of lithium. Neighbouring countries always say if you want USDs, go to Zimbabwe because this is where the USD is mostly found. There are diamonds as well but we have not seen a diamond value addition plant where rings are made. We have not seen where diamonds are used in Zimbabwe but we are selling them raw. Eventually, we do not have money to remunerate people like Hon. Biti and then we go to auction.
I think the Ministry of Finance should re-consider who should be availed funding because this is no longer viable. Everyday people are making money. Individuals have money – that is why we see the whole country has filling stations. There are no cranes to show that there are industries but only filling stations. The most profitable business in Zimbabwe is to invest in filling stations. Mostly, it is the big people of my status - they are the ones who own these filling stations. These stations will continue to generate more money because they are owned by top officials.
I remember one day that the former President Mugabe said the price of diesel should go down after the price had shot up. He said this when he had just disembarked from a plane coming from a foreign trip. The price immediately went down. There are repercussions. The Minister said that people are stealing diesel – instead of the diesel coming through the border, it is being smuggled into the country.
One Hon. Member said we should increase salaries for civil servants – that is very sensitive. Once we do not do that especially the police – they will make sure that smuggling continues. The Ministry of Finance then bears the brunt of the effect and it remains without money. Civil servants work for the country and they should be considered because their paymaster is the Ministry of Finance. When I spoke about the salaries of the armed forces and police, I was in trouble with the teachers who said that I only defended the police and armed forces salaries; all I am saying is that the increments are done in stages.
Let us see where we have money. Maize harvesters should be manufactured in Zimbabwe. All you need is a blower and cutter but we find ourselves exporting those harvesters from Japan and Italy whilst we have our people at the University of Zimbabwe who are being educated to produce windows and door frames. Why are these engineers at the university?
Those are the two issues I wanted to speak about; the issue of farming and engineers. Do not listen to some Hon. Members. We are not here to come and sleep. We have come here to defend Zimbabwe and the Budget so that the country does not collapse further but we develop the nation. We have a lot of money in this country but our money is being lost as we sell our raw materials. Let us tighten screws through our legislation to ensure that we keep our raw materials and engage in value addition. When we want the Ministry’s money here, we begin to fight with Hon. Mthuli. I think we need to strengthen our legislation. Universities should be given money for their innovation hubs. The Minister should then say I want an engine tomorrow, here is the money and we get people to assist. For example, we buy a vehicle block in SA yet we have chrome here in Zimbabwe. These are the few words that I wanted to add. I thank you.
HON. PROF. MASHAKADA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to air my views on the 2023 National Budget. Before I proffer my observations and recommendations, I wish to pay tribute and acknowledge the contributions by the previous speakers especially on two issues; the question of wealth tax is something that we have to keep on hammering. We need a wealth tax and I think we cannot over-emphasise this point. I thought I should pick from that point. The issue of value addition and beneficiation of our mineral resources is something I also want to build my argument upon. I thought I should pick from these two fundamental matters raised by my fore speakers.
Coming to my own debate and observation, I notice that the total expenditure envelope is ZWL 4.5 trillion, but juxtapose that against the total request or bids of ZWL 21.8 trillion –there is a huge gap. ZWL21.8 trillion requested by all ministries and only 4.5% allocated. What is the significance of that? The significance of that is that the delivery of public services is being compromised because of the resource envelope and fiscal space. The Minister has got to juggle around with the little resources that are available and thereby end up only allocating 4.5 trillion as opposed to the bids of 21.8 trillion and look at the revenue, only 3.9 trillion. My first point is that we must address the issue of fiscal space. I think my colleagues have also touched on that issue of how to raise revenue. I will not go into those areas because I think they have ably spoken about means of raising additional revenue to support our purse because without raising additional revenue through domestic resource mobilisation, we will continue to have a weak budgetary system where ministries are demanding money but the money is not there. Not only is the money not there, the disbursement will continue to be late. Could the Minister take note of that point?
I must also hasten to observe some positive spin offs that I was listening to when the Minister was reading the Budget. Clearly our current account balance is doing well. In this Budget there is a surplus of US$320 million. Our current account balance is doing well - of course, riding on mineral exports but all the same, I must record that it is a positive development in the economy compared to many years of trade deficit that we had experienced.
I also notice that there have been some positive developments in the growth in mining, consumer service, agriculture to some extent and infrastructural development. I want to acknowledge the infrastructural developments that are happening in the country. If you look at Masvingo-Harare-Chirundu Highway, it is something that we must take note of. I want to acknowledge the expansion of the airports. I want to acknowledge the expansion of Gwayi-Shangani projects. I want to acknowledge so many infrastructural developments that are taking place in this country using our own resources. That is why at times I do not want to cry about sanctions because what has been happening on the infrastructural projects shows that we can go it alone. I want to commend Government and the Minister for putting the resources where they are needed because infrastructure is an enabler of growth.
Having noted those spin offs, I hasten now to look at the downside risks associated with this Budget which I want to draw the Minister’s attention. The first downside risk is the simmering inflationary pressures that continue to bear in the economy. I notice that inflation has marginally declined from 285% to 268% which is still in its hyper inflationary region. You are an economist and you know hyper inflation is 50% and above. We cannot celebrate an inflation rate of 268%, it is still high. That is why people are complaining about the cost of goods and services in the economy. It is because of this high inflationary pressure. This inflationary pressure is coming from food prices as well as oil prices and the effects of the Russian-Ukraine war are also being felt in our own country. The Minister must reign in on inflation especially the inflation tax on civil servants’ salaries, fixed incomes, and pensioners. Inflation is a tax to the poor. That is one down side risk to this Budget.
The second downside risk is the exchange rate volatility. I know the gap between the official exchange rate and the parallel market rate has significantly narrowed but from time to time, the parallel market tends to bear its ugly head especially around January and February during school fees time. You find that the gap again widens. The Minister must keep an open eye on the exchange rate management issues.
The third downside risk is money supply growth. In the Budget, he admits that money supply growth has upped to 425% and this will also increase liquidity in the economy and create inflationary pressures coupled with interest rates which Hon. Biti was talking about.
The other downside risk is of course the electricity shortages which my colleagues have already talked about. It is a serious downside risk with implication on growth and social economic development. The other downside risk is the development of a dual economy. I have always talked about a dual economy. We are focusing on a Zimbabwe dollar budget when the whole economy has dollarised as my colleagues have said. How do you plan for a dual economy? Which sector is benefiting from the macro-economic policies? Is it the Zimbabwe dollar sector or the dollarised sector? We must harmonise our policies and bear in mind that this economy is dollarising fast. In fact, the market is dollarising.
Unemployment is another downside risk. You need to create jobs and aggregate demand to push supply in the economy. If you have long term unemployment, how do you do that? I have already talked about the fiscal space and the mining resources case.
I come to my recommendations. The first recommendation is that there is need to strengthen social protection. Civil servants’ salaries must continue to be reviewed upwards. We now risk losing teachers because the UK has opened up to Zimbabwean teachers. Rwanda has opened up to Zimbabwean teachers. So we risk losing our critical mass of trained teachers to UK and other countries if we do not remunerate them efficiently.
The funds for BEAM have to be paid. In fact, the BEAM budget has to be increased. Those vulnerable groups in our society have to be protected. So, social protection continues to be key. You touched it in the budget but we need to up the game when it comes to social protection and the upkeep of civil servants.
The other recommendation is that there is no need to remove the rebate on basic commodities. There is no need. People were surviving on importing goods from South Africa and Botswana. The cross border traders, women and youths are surviving on that. If you remove this rebate on basic commodities, what do you want people to do when things are so expensive in the shops? I urge the Minister to reconsider retaining the rebate on basic commodities. The other recommendation is to revise the VAT to where it was, to 14.5 because this is an unequal tax as my colleagues have ably said. The VAT is a major source of taxable income but it is quite uneven to the society.
So I beg the Minister to revert to the original level. The other recommendation is timely disbursement of these allocated resources. If you are going to disburse 80% to ministries during December, what do they do and yet next year you look at the execution rate and you reduce the allocation based on what you disbursed in December or November. There is not much time to use those funds. The Minister must improve on the disbursement.
I am also talking about the efficiency in tax collection. Our tax collection is porous. Let us improve tax management so that we collect more. I also urge the Minister to reverse the de-industrialisation that is taking place. Capacity utilisation in industry is hovering at around 45% to 50%. There used to be a strategy of import substitution which is strategic. I know we are part of COMESA and the arrangement on reciprocity, but we must also do our best to introduce tactical targeted import substitution to avoid wholesale de-industrialisation. I urge you to continue to promote transparency and accountability in the implementation of this budget.
Everyone needs to monitor the implementation of this budget and you need to come back and give us timely quarterly reports, credit reports on the implementation of this budget especially with the Budget Committee. Most importantly, we must continue to build inclusiveness and a sustainable economy. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to give some proposals to the Minister of Finance in so far as it relates to how we can grow the revenue base and what it is that you can find out of my debate in order to bolster your revenue. The issue of transport and aviation in particular, grows economies, the tourism sector and according to the Aviation (AITA) Chairman Tim Taylor of 2010 - he says aviation grows economies and I think it does. It is also an enabler of other facets of the economies. It is my thinking that it should be looked at, its growth by the way, it grows other economies.
Therefore, there is reason to support aviation in the same manner like the British Airways during the COVID period, how they were supported by bail-outs and how other airlines like China Airways was also supported by its nation in terms of making sure that it can take, not only carry its citizens but...
HON. MATEWU: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. I think the rules are quite clear in this House, you cannot debate twice on the same motion. I do not know why Hon. Nduna is being allowed by the Clerks to debate when it is clear that from the Hansard he has debated this motion. He must give others that are waiting and have not debated a chance to debate on this motion. Thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. M. KHUMALO): Hon. Member, our records show that he has not debated. Can you proceed Hon. Nduna.
HON. NDUNA: You need to take notes as I debate. The aviation sector can help bolster the revenue base by the support from the fiscus. First and foremost, if the aviation sector is supported, it is not support that is gone to the dogs. It is support which is well meaning and that can also support the industry. Zimbabwe, for argument’s sake, is landlocked and we can use the aviation sector as a pedestal and as a platform to enhance the growth of our economy.
It is my thinking Hon. Speaker Sir, as I take you to my proposal as to how the aviation sector can have some taxes revitalised in order that there is something that goes to the revenue base. Other countries have taxes such as the airport handling fees and the baggage handling taxes. In light of that, some of these taxes need to be increased. There is what you call air bridges in our aviation sector such as what you see in Victoria Falls Airport. The enhanced Victoria Falls Airport that is now able to handle 2.5 passengers per annum and the current R. G. M. expansion project is going to see us handling about five million parks per annum.
Those air bridges that you see which are a link between the airport infrastructure and the fuselage or the body of the aircraft – that aero-bridge, you need to actually encourage companies to advertise on the aero-bridges so that you get revenue from the aero-bridges. The current set up is that they are like white elephants. No one is advertising on them, we are not getting any revenue on them but we have spent money to establish them. So you can use that as a revenue generation mechanism.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue to consider is the VAT on ticket sales. You also need to consider like I have said, the airport tax, air travel and security charge, the passenger service charge. This could enhance our infrastructural maintenance at the airports. So you do not need to perpetually give money for airports and aviation expansion but you can drive revenue from that, as I have alluded to.
If we look at the successful economies, especially the G20 countries, the national airline is one of their key priorities. I have spoken of the British Airways; I have spoken about the Canadian, Singapore, and China and so on. If you look at how they are crafted and how they get bail out, you would know that there is a lot that you can derive from aviation especially if only it is a once off bail out that you give to them and there is spin offs that come out of the aviation sector in terms of revenue generation.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue that I want to also touch on, Air Zimbabwe has got large bodied aircrafts that are becoming second or third generation aircrafts, some of which are the Boeing 777, Boeing 737, Boeing 767, Boeing 200; those can be relegated to cargo aircrafts as opposed to passenger aircraft. Some of the aircrafts that we have and which are in the hangers are not moving. Mr. Speaker Sir, when an aircraft is on the ground whether you are in the air or on the ground there are components that you still need to replace even if it is on the ground for five years; they are lifespan bound, there is need for replacement.
It is my thinking that for the aircrafts that were not utilised, it is time to sell those and bring in modern aircrafts, small compact aircrafts; the ERJ 145 for argument’s sake carries 55 to 60 passengers and it costs, second hand about $5 million but you can turn around the economy of this country using aviation and those aircrafts, modern but very effective, efficient and they have a way of giving us the Yamoussoukro Declaration of the Open Skies Policy and the Continental Free Trade Area Africa Trade in our continent without going outside but enhanced by our own aviation sector.
Mr. Speaker, if you want to go to Mozambique, we have to go to Europe in order to come back to Mozambique because there was no link between Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Now it is time that as long as it is in Africa, let us have our aircrafts going to these countries in the manner that Air Zimbabwe is going to Tanzania and such like. Let us not go to Europe in order to come back to Africa; you have to go to South Africa in order to go to Burkina Faso and such like. You have to go to Europe in order to come back.
I remember we went to France one time with Hon. Maboyi in order to get to Morocco; we went to Morocco but we did not land - there was fog and three times the aircraft aborted the landing and we had to land 400 km away just because we could not access an airline that could take us to Morocco from Zimbabwe. It is my thinking that if you support aviation we can curtail, avert, avoid and completely annihilate the issue of going to Europe in order to come back to Africa.
The issue of mining, I was elated when His Excellency spoke about lithium, raw lithium non-export. At some point we were supposed to export raw chrome to the tune of three billion dollars if I am not mistaken. The Second Republic brought that to a screeching halt. What that does mean is, we can value add, beneficiate and make sure that we get 10 times the value for our minerals.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of platinum, the PGMs, I propose that the Minister puts in measures to stop the export of raw chrome. As much as you are getting taxes in terms of minerals, in terms of royalties, he needs to go further. It takes about a maximum $5 billion dollars to establish a refinery and for you to beneficiate or value add an ounce, it is about 950US an ounce of platinum beneficiation. The spin-offs, the catalytic converters that we then benefit out of that is not only Zimbabwe that needs them, but assuming our all weather friends, the Chinese, they can put in a production line of catalytic converters here en mass. All vehicles have a catalytic converter and it is only just right, it is urgent that we establish a refinery Mr. Speaker Sir.
As Chairman of the Affirmative Action Group in Mashonaland West, I will be putting in members to crowd-fund in order to establish a refinery for our platinum so that we curtail the export of our raw platinum.
Coming to beneficiation and value addition of our minerals, there is an urgent immediate reason to beneficiate and value add our uranium. We are under sanctions already - why should we fail to value add our uranium because somebody thinks we are going to have a nuclear weapon, so be it we are a sovereign nation. If we have nuclear weapon, so be it but we need to just a little borrow for uranium will solve our power situation, our energy situation.
South Africa next door does have uranium powers, why should we not value add our ubiquitous amount of mineral resources. Coming to the issue of claims held for speculative purposes, ZIMPLATS and all other conglomerates, Pickstone Peerless where I come from is a gold mine and is a second largest gold reserve in the whole of Africa and they are listed on the London and Australian Stock Exchanges, premised on the value of the minerals that they have embedded in our soils; some of the claims that they are holding for speculative purposes.
So, it is within this context that I ask that you let these big or large scale miners to shed off some of these claims that they are holding for speculative purposes so that we can immediately extract our resources from those places in a structured manner. The small scale artisanal miners have no rights to those claims, they will get what they can and can what they get and there is haemorrhage in terms of pilferage and minerals that are currently finding their way out of Zimbabwe. I can tell you this Mr. Speaker Sir that in Zambia, for you to export gold or chrome products whether to Qatar or to Dubai. It is easy. You just go and get a licence, you put on FedEx and your gold is gone to Dubai easily. So there are a lot of our minerals finding their way to Zambia. They get a licence, they export their minerals. So the issue of Minerals Marketing Corporation and like companies, we have a lot of bodies that have gone to sleep because of our laws that are archaic, moribund, rudimentary, antiquated and medieval to some extent sometimes. We need to make laws for the good order and governance of our people in order that we benefit from our minerals. Currently, we are not because our artisanal miners – in my place I have got more than 500 000 artisanal miners but a lot of that gold is not finding its way to your coffers, it is finding its way out of this country. Some of it is finding its way to Rand Refinery in South Africa. They are refining our gold and exporting it as theirs, whereas it comes from Zimbabwe. So it is my clarion call and fervent view that at least you can ameliorate that scenario by giving those claims to the artisanal miners. Register them. You will get a lot of spin offs from that and a lot of advantage from that.
Still on mining, you need to revoke the copper licences. Currently the people that are holding copper licences are mining on our ZESA cables and our transformers. Why should we continue to issue out copper licences and trade in copper when Mhangura Copper Mine is still defunct and it is still closed? It is my thinking that immediately, we need to revoke copper licences. We cannot continue to issue out copper licences as we continue to hemorrhage the country. So in the mining sector please, can you revoke the copper licences? We have spoken about this times without number.
On the issue of title, in particular land, I want to go to section 295 of the Constitution that talks about compensation to the land that has been taken from our erstwhile colonisers in order to make sure that we capacitate the formerly marginalised black majority. It talks so vociferously and voluminously about compensation. It is very clear and it takes us to section 72 (7) (c) of the Constitution that says the people of Zimbabwe should be enabled to assert their right to land. I come before you now in order that we deal with the housing backlog. All along our highways, there is need to look at the compounds or the former farm workers’ dwellings and because we have got a global agreement with the farmers where you are paying about US$3.5 billion, it therefore means all the properties in the farms they are for the President because he is paying compensation for them.
Here my clarion call is that the former farm workers should be given title to those compounds. An example will be you have given A2 farmers 50 hectares of land. Part of the 50 hectares is 7 hectares that belongs to that compound. The 7 hectares should be surveyed and should be given title so that the former farm workers can use that farm compound as collateral or as property to get collateral in the banks. We do not need the former farm workers chased, as they are being done, to come to town without any benefit from the land that they were producing at. They are being chased from those farm dwellings by the new farm owners. So it is my hope that you can bring that to a screeching halt and give them title and also make sure that when you go to His Excellency, request that there is title all along the highways and people get to be given that land - 200m2, 400m2 for free but they get to have title and use that for collateral to get money from the bank.
Lastly the issue of buses and mass transport system - I spoke in the Eight Parliament about the 5% that you had given for importation for buses. I ask that you continue on that trajectory because if you do not do that, if they buy the mass system buses, for argument sake, Inter Africa and they register that bus in Botswana, they would have taken with them 300 jobs to Botswana. As long as you see Inter Africa with number plates that are exotic and not indigenous, it means that they have registered in another country because they are avoiding paying duty and taxes during importation of those buses. So it is my hope you can even zero-rate the importation of buses so that we have a robust, resilient, effective and efficient mass transport system in our country.
Those would be my proposals in your budget Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development and I would like to thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me this opportunity to vociferously, effectively and efficiently debate on this 2023 budget as the people of Chegutu West would have me debate, in particular the following: Sarah Chikukwa, Lameck Nyamarango, Majory Ruzha, Patricia Nyamadzawo, Million Daniel and a lot of other members in the districts, branches and in the cells. Mr. Speaker Sir I want to thank you for that opportunity.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, let me begin by thanking you and Members of this esteemed House for their contributions, input, questions during this robust debate.
First of all, let me really express my gratitude to the Chairpersons of the Portfolio Committees who kicked off this debate last week. They made certain recommendations and in my response, I will try to respond to those or deal with those, then the esteemed Members themselves in their individual capacities and as a follow up. They also made some very valuable contributions.
I want to start with an issue that was raised by the Portfolio Committee Chair for Budget and Finance, Hon. Nyashanu. This pertains to public debate. It was also raised by other Hon. Members in this august House. Zimbabwe’s total public guaranteed debt including RBZ debt stands at ZWL$10.97 trillion as of end of September 2022. This is just a Zimbabwean dollar translation of both United States dollar debt and Zimbabwean dollar debt. If you look at the external debt that amounts to close to 70%, we also have blocked funds as well. Domestic debt is about 2, 2 trillion Zimbabwean dollars and includes the bulky of the debt pertaining to the compensation for the former farm owners of 3, 5 billion USD.
So, when you see this large figure of trillions and so forth, it is the translation of USD debt into domestic currency. So basically, you will find that 98% of our debt is denominated in hard currency. So, you can imagine what happens when we have a depreciation of the currency, that means that debt then balloons in Zimbabwean dollar terms, hence you see this large figure.
I now want to come to an issue on credibility of growth projections raised by the Chairperson of the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee but also, I recall the contribution from Hon. Biti, Hon. Mushoriwa and others. Basically, they are questioning the growth projection of 3, 8% in GDP for 2023. I must say that we are alive to this growth projection having considered the key factors that are driving economic growth.
First of all, we will get the projection for global economy; that global economy is slowing down, the outlook is certainly headed downwards and in some countries, you might end up in a recession – so we took that into account already.
The second factor we took into account is the commodity prices for our mineral commodities. A key important factor there is the growth in the Chinese economy but of course other economies too, India and so forth that absolved the bulk of our minerals. We see China growing at about 4% next year and increasing in 2024, India growing in the order of 78%, probably the fastest large economy globally. So again in terms of our assumptions, according to our models, we feel that this will hold up commodity prices in the mining sector which will grow next year above the growth rate of 10%.
It has been raining Mr. Speaker Sir, even in my absence, now this augurs well for the agricultural sector and we again, on the back of this, should be able to have a good season but we are aware that in some of the areas, rainfall has been patchy but in the bulk of areas, it has been a good season so far.
Looking at the issue of monetary policy and fiscal policy, again I recall a comment by Hon. Biti and other Hon. Members who talked about the high interest rates that this time the monetary policy is likely to slow down economic growth. We took that into account, even if we look at our growth projection for the manufacturing sector, it is just above 2% which is due to the fact that we feel these interest rates will choke the demand for credit towards that sector and among other sectors, therefore slows down economic growth, so the 3,8% GDP growth rate includes that.
The other assumption is that we are committed to continuing with the multi-currency regime which is basically a dual currency between the domestic currency and the USD, both of which are circulating in the domestic economics. So, in the back of these assumptions, we are very comfortable about GDP forecast of 3, 8% in 2023.
I now turn to tax policy issues; here I am referring to the policy recommendations from the Committee Chairperson, Hon. Nyashanu. The first one is on the operationalisation of the levy, new cellular handsets. The Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development requested an update on the operationalisation of the levy on new cellular telephone handsets which was presented in the 2022 National Budget. Mr. Speaker Sir, consultations have been held with service providers and the responsible line Ministry and it has been observed that the providers are yet to invest in infrastructure necessary for the implementation of the policy but it does not mean that the policy should be abandoned. Once that infrastructure is in place, the implementation of the levy will commence and will keep Parliament updated.
Let me turn to an issue regarding the re-introduction of the 3% retention for ZIMRA, again it was raised by various members of this august House as well as the Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development. A proposal was made by the Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development and other Members of Parliament, for Government to re-introduce the 3% retention for ZIMRA in accordance with the Revenue Act to help finance its operational and infrastructure development.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to correct Members of Parliament on this issue by informing this House that the Revenue Authority Act does not provide for retention of 3%. Section 26 (1) (2) of the Revenue Act which governs the annual budget of ZIMRA states as follows:- “on or before such date, before the beginning of every financial year, as the Minister may direct, the board shall prepare and submit to the Minister for his approval a budget showing the expenditure which the board proposed that the authority will incur in respect of that financial year”. Secondly, “during any financial year, the board may submit to the Minister for his approval a supplementary budget relating to expenditure which was not for good reason provided for in the annual budget or was inadequately provided for in the annual budget due to unforeseen circumstances” - it is very clear. Where the Minister is very happy to augment the budget of ZIMRA as needed.
HON. MUSHORIWA: On a point of order! Mr. Speaker Sir, I think the Hon. Minister is actually misleading the House. It is common knowledge that the Committee on Budget and Finance had a petition from ZIMRA workers and hearings were done. We even asked the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to come before the august House represented by Mr. Kunaka who has now been transferred and the three chief directors.
The finding was that it was agreed and the Ministry of Finance agreed with the findings and a report was tabled in this august House. If the Hon. Minister had the view that he is trying to take, he is actually due to bring Treasury Minutes in response to that. Therefore, it is wrong for the Hon. Minister to try to mislead this august House to say that the Revenue Act does not allow that. It is actually clear that it states that and it is in black and white. The relevant section that he is quoting is not the proper reading of the law and I think it is wrong and a resolution by this august House cannot just be ignored like that.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: In relation to retention, Section 27 of the Revenue Authority Act states that “the Minister shall cause the authority to retain sufficient monies from the revenues collected to meet the expenditure which the authority proposed to incur during that financial year as shown in the supplementary budget approved by the Minister in terms of Section 26 for the financial year. The retention therefore relates to the quantum of the budget as approved by the Minister, which is not pegged at any level. Introduction of the clause entail the amending of the current Act which however we think might cause volatility on ZIMRA revenue; as revenue will fluctuate in line with economic activities. In addition, the Government has adopted programme based budgeting which is implemented at Central Government level and being cascaded to State owned enterprise and local authorities which should be the basis of budgeting. Each programme should have various activities which have been costed and that inform the budgetary process.
I now move on to the Sovereign Wealth Fund, ring-fencing of mining royalties towards Sovereign Wealth Fund. Again, this was proposed by the Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development which recommended that Government should ring-fence 10% of mining royalties towards Sovereign Wealth Fund. This proposal is noted for consideration and Government has already spelt out that the policy objective of building national savings in the form of mineral reserves is something that we want to accelerate. This will also assist the country by hedging against fluctuations in international mineral prices but also to deal with issues of inter-generational equity. This is a proposal that we will study carefully and see how best to carry it forward.
I now want to respond to the issue of the introduction of a wealth tax which was raised by various Members of this House. I think I recall Hon. Mushoriwa, Hon. Madzimure and Hon. Biti as well. The Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development chaired by Hon. Nyashanu raised this issue as well. To properly consider this proposal, there is need to undertake an extensive research on this subject including learning from other countries which are already implementing this type of tax. Again, it is a welcome proposal. We will study it carefully and we will be happy to look into it going forward but I must hasten to say there is a small portion of sort of wealth tax payment upon death where there is the usual levy of 5% in terms of transfers of property if the property is not the primary dwelling. If it is the primary dwelling there is no levy of 5% but there is 5% levy if it is the second property. So upon transfer from the names of deceased to those who are surviving who are entitled, such as a widow for example but of course there are exemptions as well in terms of pension savings. We will consider this in full going forward. We hear the Members of Parliament loud and clear.
There is also a proposal from the Committee and among other Members that this half percent extra increase from VAT from 14.52 to 15% perhaps should be ring-fenced for supporting the Ministry of Education and basic education. I think this is a good idea, we can ring fence it but you see, money is fungible frankly, but we are very happy to ring fence it for that purpose. Maybe it can be tracked carefully and we can report it as we progress.
There is also a request that there should be exemption of local authorities from paying the IMTT tax. The Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing recommended that local authorities should be exempted from paying the IMTT tax. Mr. Speaker Sir, the IMTT tax has over the past years generated substantial resources that have enabled Government to support various infrastructure projects including responding to shocks such as COVID-19 and other climate shocks that the economy has experienced. The proposal to exempt local authorities will erode our revenue base but besides, these local authorities at that level are also benefiting from the devolution budgets to deal with infrastructure developments at that local level. We feel that it will erode the revenue base but we will examine it going forward and try to see whether we can proceed with this kind of proposal but for now we feel there would be major impact on revenue erosion Mr. Speaker Sir.
There is an issue which was raised again regarding allocation back to at least 5% retention to the CVR, VID and RMT. A proposal was made that Treasury should allow CVR, VID, RMT to retain and spend 5% of their collections. As you may recall, retention funds had contributed significantly towards complementing budget resources, however the lack of accountability which was raised in this House is undermining the efficient utilisation of these public resources. We wanted to uphold the principle of transparency and accountability in the utilisation of public resources, Government ministries and departments are now required to remit all revenue collected into the Consolidated Revenue Fund for appropriation by this august House. Some Members requested that at least some reports should be produced by the line ministries working with myself Minister of Finance, to report back to this august House how these funds are being utilised and I agree with that. We are not in favour of the 5% retention request for that reason.
I now turn to the issue of expenditure allocation Mr. Speaker Sir, on budget allocations. I have listened carefully to all presentations by Portfolio Committees. There is not a single Portfolio Committee that has not expressed that their budget was for their line Ministry that they supervised. They all said it is inadequate and that is what it is frankly. It may be inadequate but we have to live within our means. You will notice I presented a Budget of ZWL4.2 trillion but the bids were three times this figure. Clearly, we cannot support that kind of expenditure request. We just do not have the resources. The resources that we can reliably generate is just over ZWL4 trillion.
Also we are very sensitive to the level of debt Mr. Speaker that we have always said, in terms of the Public Debt Management Act, we should not go above 70% of GDP and we are straining ourselves not to breach that because the higher expenditure means that we have to borrow more and we end up breaching the hurdle and that is not good for us.
On budget disbursement, Portfolio Committees, almost without exception, and Members also raised a legitimate concern on none and late disbursement of budgeted resources to ministries and departments. Mr. Speaker Sir, the cash budgeting system we are implementing entails Government spending is restricted to revenue collected. You can only spend what you have collected. Some put it as you will eat what you have killed. You cannot eat more than what you have killed unless you borrow someone’s skill and again there is a limit as to who wants to give you that. We have to do this with no recourse to the Central Bank. What used to happen before was, Treasury or Government would borrow from the Central Bank and we know it is not a good idea and we stopped doing that on the 1st January 2019 to bring sanity to public finance management. We will live within our means. We run the quasi cash budgeting system and you can only spend the cash that you have collected. These delays in implementing, budget commitments have to do with the availability of that cash but we will strive to improve as we go forward. In fact, what we have been noticing for what it is worth Mr. Speaker Sir, is that since our insistence on the principle of value for money we are getting more efficient disbursement process taking place because prices are now within reasonable ranges. Before, prices were wild and so forth and contracts were inflated. And that obviously just put more pressure on the cash that is available but now we are seeing reasonable contracts coming through and the disbursements have actually improved.
Then on comments from individual members, let me start with the comments from Hon. Togarepi who raised concerns that the budget does not provide for free basic education. I have said earlier that provision of free education is a process hence the budget increased allocation to the sector by 2.1% from the previous year’s level. Let me take this opportunity to advise the august House that already Government is the main funder of basic education and that is from paying of teachers, construction of schools, provision of teaching and learning materials, supporting public examinations access, payment of fees for some schools and learners such as the BEAM programme. Government is already doing a lot in terms of making sure that there is better education access indeed education is free. To fully transition to total free education, we have to undertake a thorough evaluation of requirements, identifying gaps to debate and implementation of activities that broaden coverage for education to every child. So, this is a process, we will get there because we have started but we are already doing a lot in terms of education access.
Some Hon. Members raised the need to tax the informal sector. We have already started and I think when you look at what we have tried to do using the IMTT tax, for those in the informal sector who use electronic means to beat their liabilities, they are paying that tax. So, that is inclusion of the members of the informal sector. We also introduced a location tax where landlords of members of the informal sector who operate under their premises were designated as agents who will collect taxes on behalf of Government. A presumption tax is being paid. In fact, as I speak, ZIMRA is on a blitz in the informal sector ensuring that members of the informal sector are paying their taxes and landlords are collecting and remitting that tax. So a lot is happening but we will continue to do more and continue to learn from other countries as we do so and we stand ready to take advice from members of this august House.
I now turn to comments and input from Hon. T Mliswa. The Hon. Member raised a number of comments and suggestions that I take very seriously. Let me respond to some of the issues that he raised. He questioned the rationale behind the increase in the number of war veterans from about 34000 to 142000. I will endeavour to check with the line Minister on these figures but that was what we were given as Treasury and I have made use of these figures in my budget statement. There was also a blitz in terms of registration of beneficiaries in that war veterans’ umbrella and I suspect those numbers are coming from there and we will endeavour to find out more.
The Hon Member also insinuated that Government was doing nothing to stem the depreciation of the local currency and the rising inflation. We are doing a lot. The measures we have taken in the last few months, in the 3rd and 4th quarter and we have maintained those measures, are aimed at exactly that and that is why you are seeing stability in the domestic currency, the narrowing of the gap between the official and parallel rate. We are also seeing month-on-month inflation beginning to fall followed by year-on-year inflation. So the policies are working and the positive real interest rates are working and the fiscal tightness that we have been practicing is working.
The introduction of the gold coins which are also assisting in mopping up liquidity while being a social value preservation for investors are all contributing to deal with inflation and currency volatility.
The Hon Member also indicated that the budget may overshoot owing to issues of financing elections. We have made a provision of 74.7 billion in the unallocated reserves and some of these resources will be used to deal with any shocks that arise from budget overruns in our election budget though we feel that the amount that we have allocated is adequate and sufficient to handle elections. I think we have learnt a lot from supporting the by-elections in terms of the budgets last year. We were also able to finance the population statistics drive, and that was an expensive exercise which cost almost US$100 million. On top of that, you add the cost of the by-election. I think we will be able to cope with any shocks. The Hon. Member also bemoaned the low allocations to institutions responsible for fighting corruption. This comes back to the issue of availability of resources. It is also my desire to give all NDAs, ministries and departments adequate resources to ensure they are well equipped and can undertake their mandates. This also applies to failure to meet international benchmarks such as the Abuja and the Maputo Declarations among others. It is just an issue of resource constraints but we believe that within the current resource envelope we have done a lot in terms of allocating resources to the institutions that are fighting corruption. There is an issue regarding the allocation to the Health and Education sectors that this budget is perhaps skewed towards recruitment expenditure especially employment costs. The two sectors are naturally labour intensive in the provision of services. Health expenditure is skewed towards employment costs. This does not mean there are no capital projects underway but the budget statement and estimates of expenditure both highlight some of the capital projects being supported under the 2023 budget. For what it is worth, in the last 12 months, we have managed to begin to construct over 270 schools under the devolution budget. We are also finding now that the issue of delivery of physical infrastructure such as schools is being spread between the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and devolution funding. That is what is going on. That is a good thing and we are not too worried where the schools are coming from as long as we get to the school. Hon. Mliswa also raised an issue around the arrears clearance and debts relief and restructuring strategy that why do we continue to borrow. Countries will always continue to borrow from time to time for one reason or another. So, we cannot stop borrowing but the issue is can we service the debts? We have started the process of servicing some of our debts.
I now turn to comments by Hon. Raidza. He also questioned the status of the retained funds being brought under the Consolidated Revenue Fund. I have already dealt with this issue and we need to make sure there is order in our budgeting process. We need to put everything under the CRF and there must be accountability. He also called on the review of agricultural products, particularly maize. We share his sentiments as alluded to in my budget statement. The thrust is to allow the development of a strong commodity market anchored on the Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange. We have already launched this market. I recall Hon. Biti arguing that we need to launch the agricultural commodity markets, we have already done that but I also must allow it to work and that has been done. Overtime, we will make sure that it works and begin to the source of the price discovery within the sector so that we do not have too much disparity between market prices and Government dictated prices.
The Hon. Member also called for consolidation of all empowerment financial institutions to enhance their impact on the ground. The proposal is well noted but requires stakeholder consultations before adoption in order to do the consensus on the issue. He also emphasised the need to complete the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act, I concur. He also raised an issue around the completion of State enterprises reform, again I concur.
On the proposal to introduce 20% tax on third party insurance, what we are trying to do here Mr. Speaker was to use this 20% of revenue to support the health sector infrastructure, buy ambulances and station them at tollgates and so forth but we have received some advice from experts in the insurance sector. They said Minister, if you receive 20% of premiums, it also means that you have to be ready to cough up 20% of claims. Once you receive a premium, you also have a liability of claims as well. It cuts both ways. I said to the team let us pose and analyse this and that is why you will not find it in the proposed Finance Bill. I took it off because I could sense that there was an issue that we needed to sort out. We will be back at some point because it is important but we just need to get it right. It is just a legal conundrum for now.
The comment from Hon. T. Moyo who referred to full dollarisation but I also had similar comments from other colleagues, we have allowed the USD and ZWD to circulate and be used freely. So, anyone can pay in USD and receive USD. I would not even use the term dollarisation; both the ZWD and USD are our currencies as of now. There is no issue of overuse of the USD or underuse of the ZWD. We are using both those currencies and that is a policy that we said we will maintain because of the peculiarity of our situation – [HON. BITI: Inaudible interjection] –
I will come to that. I should not respond like that but I have been tickled and if you can allow me to respond to what Hon. Biti, but I was going to respond later on floating the ZWD. You will have noticed in the last few weeks or months perhaps that the gap between the official rate and the parallel rate has narrowed. If you believe that the parallel rate is a freely floating rate which has narrowed the gap with the official rate, surely that tells you that the official rate is as close to freely floating as possible. That is what it tells you. So, I think I have responded ahead of time on that one – [HON. BITI: The parallel rate is at ZWD1000 today.] – We have a different figure.
I now turn to Hon. Banda. He called upon the budget to support interventions that support the growth of the economy. Well, in the budget, I have said we are supporting the 14 pillars of the NDS1 strategy. Each of these 14 pillars basically, are supporting growth of the economy because they are targeting infrastructure, incentives for mining sector investment, retooling the mining sector and then we can see its impact. Even import substitution, our companies are beginning to put a lot of products on the shelves up to 80% in some shops. So, clearly the budget is focused on growing the economy because it is targeting the pillars of growth in the first place.
Let me turn to additional comments from Hon. Mushoriwa. He went into some history, the budget falling short, projections not met and so forth. In 2019, we suffered a nasty shock; the drought, cyclone and so forth and that took us off course. You recall that I actually came back to this House in 2019 for a supplementary budget because of that. That shock actually caused us to come off course. In 2020/21, we went straight into COVID, yet another unprecedented shock. We have been living under serious pressure in terms of external and some internal shocks. I think we have done very well in managing those shocks and each time we have come before this House to seek permission, either for a supplementary budget or whatever and I did so again this year. There is nothing wrong with coming back to this House for a supplementary budget. That is what it is; I should come here and request that. There is no issue there at all. I would like my friend Mushoriwa to be a bit more relaxed.
On the issue of underfunding that we are not giving ministries what they request for, ministries are always requesting for three times the revenue that economy can generate. This economy is stuck somewhere at around 80% of the GDP in terms of revenue to GDP ratio. That is all it can afford and you cannot extend beyond that 80% of GDP. It is not even underfunding. We are funding what we are able to fund with the resources we have. Hon. Mushoriwa also makes the comment that most people are now using USD, so maybe we should also budget in USD. Look, as I said earlier, both USD and ZWD are currencies that we are using and basically we can choose any currency that we want to budget in, better still if it is the ZWD.
On SDR usage, we have been very transparent on that. I am told but I will try to verify but I am happy to take the credit that we are the first country to produce an SDR Usage Report. No one else has done it and I presented it before this Parliament. It is very clear how we have used resources. We have been very transparent. We will put it up on our website as well. We have been transparent about this. On the issue of vaccines, Hon. Mushoriwa should be very happy that he was vaccinated. He should be so pleased, not whether I used SDRs or the budget. Akabaiwa and we have the resources to bring those vaccines and I do not know what his problem is. He should be so happy and smiling.
I wrote here assumptions but I think he was referring to the VAT issue, the 15% where I argued that this 15% is in line with the regional average. Actually, the regional average is higher, it is at 16% and at 15% we are still 1% below. If you recall, we took it down from 15% to 14, 5% because of the shocks from COVID and so forth and we wanted it to be part of the stimulatory package to stimulate the economy and that is what we did. We feel right now it can go back to 15% and it is only half a percent. Besides, we have agreed that let us ring-fence that extra half a percent for education and I think that is a good thing.
On the issue of royalties, Hon. Mushoriwa mentioned that we should be at 10% but now the Ministers come up with a clever thing of 50% cash. No, no and if you recall last year Mr. Speaker, I had proposed for PGMs that will move from 2, 5% to 5% royalties. Members ferociously argued that no Minister, it should be at 10% and I said let us compromise, can we meet halfway then we noted 7%. The royalties are actually at 7%. This should be split between the hard mineral and cash - basically (50% each) I think that is good, going through we can review later and see if we should go up. I know that Zambia is higher than 7% - we can review. Let us not move too fast so that we kind of discourage investment in the sector.
Hon. Mushoriwa was positive about the drop in the IMTT in USDs from 4% to 2%. I thank you very much - you find some silver lining there. The majority of Zimbabweans are paying USDs cash - how do you manage that? We are trying to deal with this informality. You then came back to the issue wealth tax – I think this is something worth considering. We will study it and come back to the House on that.
I will now turn to Hon. Madzimure; he mentioned the importance of investing in infrastructure, digital economy and the state of roads in the industrial sector – I thought roads are under municipalities and not central Government, unless there are specific ones that are under central Government. –[HON. MADZIMURE: Municipalities get money from ZINARA….] –
With your permission Hon. Speaker, may you allow him to explain that point so that I understand the issue?
HON. MADZIMURE: Minister, ZINARA now collects every cent paid by motorists on licensing and insurance. ZINARA is expected to give money to local authorities to develop and maintain roads. Of late, ZINARA has not been doing that. It decides on who to give and how much; as a result, local authorities are left with nothing. The devolution funds like in Harare – the Minister of Local Government has decided to give the money to the Pomona people and this means that nothing is left for Harare to develop its road. The Government is now deciding on behalf of the people of Harare on how to use their devolution funds. That is why we are asking for the Act which governs the use of the devolution funds to be brought here in Parliament. Do not expect any roads to be maintained in Harare. Minister, try to drive around the industrial areas and you will be shocked with the state of the roads.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I thank you for that clarification. Now I understand the issue. I will endevour to engage the Minister of Transport and the parastatals to make sure that they do timeous disbursements to local authorities for the maintenance of these roads.
On the issue of employment and youth, we still have that incentive in place – we are busy evaluating how effective this programme is and to see whether we should be using other strategies for incentivizing companies to hire more workers, especially the youth. I think Hon. Madzimure will agree with me that we cannot really say that people who are successful in informal sector players are not employed; they are self employed and they are earning an income. Actually they are very profitable. I have been to Mbare of late and I see and know what goes on there. I realised that some formal businesses are actually sourcing some of their finished goods from places like Mbare where there are door frames – companies like Mohamed Mussa, that is what is going on.
I look at these businesses and say - are we saying that these people are not employed – that cannot be. Surely they are self employed. Sometimes I see these figures of 70% – [HON. MADZIMURE: They do not have medical aid..…] – I am sure that is not how you want us to have the conversation but he is raising important issues. They are self employed but going forward I think we need to come up with ideas of how to develop some social security systems for them. I have listened to his auxiliary comments carefully. On these informal sectors, we have tried IMTT tax in terms of letting them in and also the location tax and we continue to do more.
On the issue of electricity and power, of course this is a challenge to the economy and Government is doing everything it can. I am happy to report that we have thoroughly concluded on the structure and framework of what we call the Government Implementation Agreement to support investment from the independent power producers (IPPS). It will cover three areas – an appropriate level of tariffs; Government guarantees on the power purchase agreement and also guarantee currency compatibility. They have asked for these three things and we have put three of the projects on pilot. We are now satisfied that we can as Government support GIA to cover those three areas. Monday next week, we will make a formal announcement and this will go a long way in the medium term in dealing with the power situation. We also have intervened in terms of emergency resources to support both ZETDC and ZPC to the tune of USD34 million for them to be able to source power from outside. Unfortunately, that is the best we can do immediately and this is being processed over the next seven days.
I have noted his comment about the delays in rolling out Hwange 7 especially that 300 megawatts. There has been a delay and the Minister has been before this House to explain why these delays took place. There are technical reasons behind that in terms of testing the system and so forth. It was our hope that in the first quarter, Hwange 7 is up. There is a lesson from it which I think will hasten the commissioning of Hwange 8 so that we have the full 600 mega watts eventually.
On housing, the Hon. Member referred to some figure (2 million); I urge Hon. Members to go by the Budget. We are not discussing the manifesto in the budget. Can you imagine if I had to go through every manifesto? We have got a budget and it is forming 50 000 houses and we think that this target is achievable. Houses are being delivered by both the Government in terms of institutional housing or near institutional housing but also by the private sector responding to incentives provided in the sector. We are pleased with the progress in the housing sector.
On youth, sports and culture, he would have wanted to see a bigger budget. The envelope always has a challenge. He also mentioned education which I have already gone over.
For youth, there was an idea that was proposed I think it was Hon. Temba Mliswa two years, that in terms of some of the sports facilities, perhaps we need some kind of partnership between the schools and the universities. Who has sport facilities by the way and the youth who are outside those institutions who can then make use of these facilities on some kind of arrangement. I think that is a viable option and we should explore it together.
From Hon. Masoka on the issue of wealth tax, I have dealt with it, we will look into it. On the retention fund, here I am not yet convinced. I think you heard my answer earlier. I stand ready to give ZIMRA additional budget on a supplementary basis as they require it. There is no issue there. On informal sector taxation, we are trying our best but we will study what other countries are doing as well. I am sure we can do more. On the issue that ministries need to account for the earmarked sector funds that they manage, I fully agree with it.
Hon. Biti, I have already tackled maybe one or two of your comments that 66% of the population is in the informal sector. As I said, the informal sector is a form of employment and it is not a bad thing. On the issue that I should present the budget in US$ - no, no, I chose to present it in ZW$ and that is fairly in order, given our currency regime. On growth projections, he argued that the budget is about $4.5 trillion and the growth rate is 3.8%, so perhaps the numbers do not add up. These figures are always in nominal terms. We have not made an assumption about inflation. It is what it is. We are using year-on-year inflation. We will see month-on-month declining but year-on-year will still remain high. That is what we are picking here and it is fairly clear.
On disbursements to September, that the budget utilisation is not fast enough - as I said, it has got to do with the availability of cash and also the utilisation rate and absorption capacity of the ministries themselves. Some of them are absorbing their budget much faster like the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Defence, President’s Office – Ministry of Finance not quite. You will find that it is mainly the infrastructure ministries that are the fast burners of cash. The contractors are pushing that they want to get paid for their contract. So we understand and we have to pay them.
Hon. Biti then makes a comment about parallel budgeting and why we always come for condonation. Look, I have come to this House to seek condonation and that is how it works. That is not breaking the law. I have come to present supplementary budget and you have been so kind as an august House to allow me to have a supplementary budget. That again is within the law. That is how it works. So there is nothing wrong in coming to this august House to seek condonation. Nothing wrong in coming to this House to seek permission to have a supplementary budget and it is in order.
I think Hon. Biti went overboard on the IMF statement. Let me assist. I have it here with me and I approved it because they cannot release it without me approving it. When I read this, it is not as negative as Hon. Biti purports it to be. For what it is worth, let me just read one or two paragraphs. It says here, at the conclusion of the IMF, Mr. Ghura who is Mission-in-Chief issued the following statement, “ the Government provided a swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic supporting businesses, livelihoods and the health sector resulting in real output growth of 8.5% in 2021 under scoring the economy’s resilience, renewed domestic external shocks such as inflation surge, erratic rainfall, electricity shortages, Russia-Ukraine war are however adversely affecting economic and social conditions, real GDP growth is thus expected to decline to about 3.5% in 2022” That is their figure. Mine is 4%. 3.5% is still very good.
“These multiple shocks will continue to weigh on Zimbabwe’s growth prospects, currency and price pressures which emerged earlier this year largely owing to a spike broad money growth and the official exchange rate misaligned with market fundamentals and so forth”. The IMF Mission notes the authorities’ efforts to stabilise local exchange rate market and lower inflation. In this regard, the swift tightening monetary policy along with the greater official exchange rate flexibility - we moved to the willing-buyer willing-seller basis – and a prudent fiscal stance are policies in the right direction”. We are being commended. My learned friend, I am highlighting that he should not be selective. He should be balanced and the statement is very well balanced. It is quite positive and complimentary. While he raises issues one should always listen when colleagues raise issues. I think his projection of that statement was slightly selective.
On the issue of gold coins, someone said they should be banned, no I disagree. We should not ban gold coins. They have been very useful in mopping up liquidity and tighten monetary policy. It is a good thing. Hon. Biti makes a point that the IMF statement says we must live within our means, that is exactly what we are doing. We have been living within our means as far as budget is concerned. What happens from time to time when you have a surge in money supply, this is largely driven by the depreciation of exchange rate because some liabilities are in US$ and when you translate the impact of that depreciation, you have a surge in domestic liquidity and then it impacts the currency naturally. It is not that we have decided to increase budgetary expenditure, no. it is just the impact of currency depreciation at play.
Hon. Biti insinuated that we do not have a debt arrears clearance plan, we do. If I can challenge him - when he was Minister of Finance, he did nothing about clearing our debts. He did not do anything. I am not aware – [HON. BITI: Zimbabwe rejoined IMF]- Hon. Chinamasa tried to do something and then he was blocked. I am trying to do something. I think he should be more sympathetic. He had certain constraints which I am aware of which I will not say in this House but I am aware of them because I travel out there. I know what he was told out there because they tell me. The same people that he met, I also met them. So, we have a plan and if I can remind this House and him, we have agreed that Adesina can be our champion and we are very pleased that he is a champion for arrears clearance. We held our first high level meeting on 1 December with IFIs, the preferred creditors as well as the Paris Club Partners to discuss our roadmap. We have also roped in the former President of Mozambique, Mr. Chissano to also help us deal with some of the governance reforms. President has been very transparent, he has been leading from the front on this issue and we have a plan and a document which I am happy to share with anyone. I will gladly give him a copy.
On agriculture; that we have got high interest rates – we are aware of the impact of high interest rates on agriculture. We are making use of the medium term facility with a lower interest rate to support the sector but we are aware of that impact. That is the thing about interest rates – they can be a necessary but blunt instrument in dealing with credit extension. We are aware of this and that is why we have selectively decided to lower the interest rate for agricultural facilities.
On the issue of introducing title deeds and so forth, we have to move in steps. First order of business, make sure that those who need offer letters get their offer letters. We are giving them and now we are converting those offer letters into securitised documents with a bit more stronger sense of title better than an offer letter which can be forged. He talks about title deeds; we need to move in steps. Even before that, we need to strengthen our 99-year leases and that is what we are working on. So we are moving in steps and he should be patient but it is a proposal that he would want us to move faster.
On IMTT, I reduced it from 4% to 2% but total scrapping not yet. Hon. Sibanda talked about public sector wages that it should be increased. There is a rule in budgeting that you do not want your recurrent expenditure, further wages to be above 50% to 55% of your overall budget. It is a bad idea. It should even be much lower than that. So when you talk about just increasing wages, what are you going to do about public sector investment? You need to invest in schools and roads and that is where growth comes from, so that supply side is critical and not just the demand side. I would like to request Hon. Sibanda to be more balanced in his analysis that it is not just about demand but it is also about investment and supply.
He talked about an uneven distribution of infrastructure investment not in all regions, which regions and so forth. That is why we also introduced devolution and we are saying let us target social infrastructure, schools, clinics, hospitals, buy grades in every district, deal with your roads, buy a drill and drill boreholes – that is the infrastructure that is game-changing if done properly. This way development can be even. I think he should make use of his devolution funds. In fact, I would like to talk to him about that.
On power supply – this is a point we made and we are acting on it. We have immediate interventions as well as intermediate and long term interventions. Increased budget and social sectors, that is what we have done and that is why you see that the budget for education is the highest. Look at the health sector budget but also Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, we tried to do something and again the package on social protection is very clear whether we are looking at BEAM or we are supporting the elderly and so forth.
Hon. Members should not forget that the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme is what you call a productive social protection programme. You have to throw it in there as part of the social protection measures. So that is ZW$77 billion dollars on its own. When you do that, you realise that the social sector, we really tried to support it.
Hon. Chinotimba also talked about the cost of locally produced fertilizer. When fertilizer is produced in Zimbabwe, it does not necessarily mean that it will be cheaper. That is one thing I am realising but locally produced fertilizer can be expensive. This is an issue of subsidies and so forth but the cost of production is not necessarily low just because it is locally produced. I understand where he is coming from.
On Pfumvudza inputs being sold, I have heard about this that people are selling inputs ,which is not nice and he suggests that we should divert some of these inputs or budget from Pfumvudza and support the A2 farmers. I will engage the Minister of Lands on this one to see what he thinks about this proposal. Hon. Chinotimba made a very important point on the need to support innovation, research and that is what we have tried to do with our universities. All of them now have innovation hubs and they are making various products, incredible research and so forth. So we have taken that route of supporting research and innovation. He is right that we should be making more of our own weapons, tractors and so forth. I agree with him.
Hon. Prof. Mashakada came back to the issue of wealth tax. It is a very popular proposal and so we are taking it seriously. We will do our research and we will come back to this august House. Thank you for commending us on the infrastructure development using domestic resources. I think we have tried our best on this one. The inflation pressures are still an issue and he is right but month-on-month inflation is going in the right direction and so we are happy. What is also there Hon. Prof. Mashakada is a base effect because the index level was low last year.
So you are now calculating inflation as changes in the index year-to-year on the back of that low base. So it slows down the rate of decrease of year-on-year inflation. It is a statistical phenomenon and that is why we need to focus on our month-on-month inflation; that is what we should be following in terms of our story on inflation.
Let me turn to the issue of money supply – I have tried my best and this is being driven by exchange rate depreciation. You talked about social protection, we really tried on this one and then civil servants and salaries, the reports I am getting is that even bonus that we paid last month and then this month in USD have been well received by civil servants. We will continue to do more to support them. The rebate on basic commodities expired, that Statutory Instrument expired. It is a fine balance act. If all basic commodities have no tax at all and there is no protection for the formal sectors, you start losing jobs as well. That is the complaint that I was receiving. So it is a balancing act when you are a Government.
We are watching whether prices will start running away again and if they do, we will reintroduce the policy and that is what I said in the statement. We will not hesitate again to make sure that our citizens can import basic commodities without any duty. We will reintroduce it but we thought that for now, let the Statutory Instrument expire and we analyse and see what is going on. It is a fine balancing act.
On promoting import substitution Hon. Prof. Mashakada, there are so many domestically manufactured products on our shelves in the shops that tell you that there are some import substitution. I do not know where you have been shopping. Mr. Speaker Sir, I vouch there are so many domestically produced goods on our shelves. If you compare what you see now to five years; 10 years ago, there has been a major shift and clearly there is import substitution taking place. I would urge Hon. Members; seeing that he is an economist, I am very happy if he comes and works with my staff in Treasury so that we can analyse this together, so that in future he should not have any doubts.
Hon. Nduna, thank you for your very detailed contribution on proposals regarding the aviation sector. This is really appreciated. I actually think that to do not justice to your proposals, I will propose that maybe you visit Treasury and spend time with my staff; our analysts and that you go into these in detail. I think you just need time to do it properly because you are raising some very interesting issues here. For example, it is something as simple as adverts on bridges; the L bridges, VAT on airport sales, aircraft which should be moved, put to use as cargo carriers rather than carrying people; all these are interesting strategies. I really appreciate that. So, I am inviting you to spend time with our staff. Let us digest what you are proposing properly.
Then the ban on export on lithium, yes we actioned on that. You said chrome, well even chrome is banned but what happens is that companies come forward with very compelling reasons as to why they should be allowed to export a portion of the raw chrome. Usually it is a specific tonnage which is bonitary by the Ministry of Mines and that permission is for a specific period. Usually it is 12 months. So we allow that because the company has specific issues.
I know a couple of companies that we approved recently. They had external loans and they were burning, they needed to pay off their offshore loans. So, the Government said hang on, should we allow this investor to go under or rather they should galang to pay off their loans from proceeds of the raw chrome. So, we allow them to export but it is also banned actually.
Finally, we should establish the mining companies, I agree with you. They know the law that they ought to establish refineries. On uranium, I agree with you this is another source of power. Of course we need skills too – we can partner others. They can partner us to exploit this resource. The issue about mining claims, big companies holding on to mining claims depriving the smaller player and all that, I think this is a point well made.
Revoking copper licences; I have had a conversation with the Minister of Home Affairs who deals with these licences to say, Cde you see we have trouble in this sector and maybe we should revoke these licences. It is a proposal.
In terms of farmer compensation and then the properties on the farms that workers should be allowed to inherit this property, again these are proposals which again, we put forward to the Minister of Agriculture but I suspect the new farmers also want those properties. Let us see how that works in the end. I will put this to Hon. Masuka.
Then the issue of importation of buses; again on this one Hon. Nduna, we should allow for some importation of buses but there is also fine balancing if we have to value addition locally. Deven Engineering as of last year had assembled 20 buses or so. I think there are about 20 buses, I might be off by one bus or so but it is a nice figure like that. That is a good thing because it is creating jobs, retaining skills and so forth. So let us balance the value addition locally with bus imports for us to win in reference to more prices in terms of imported buses but create jobs on the other hand by supporting Deven Engineering and others.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that leave be granted. I thank you.
Hon. Markham having wanted to debate after the Minister responded.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO): You do not further debate after the Minister has responded. Further debate would come in the Committee Stage.
HON. MARKHAM: On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, in the National Budget Statement, the Minister stated categorically that the Government conversation in September, 2022, laid an offer of settlement on the GCD, which was accepted by the former owners through a referendum. That is total false statement. There is no agreement. The offer is on the table but there is no agreement. We are talking of $3.5 billion and the Minister is trying to bulldoze those farmers into agreement by putting a statement in the National Budget. This is nowhere near what is happening on the ground. It is a false statement…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member. I think you would have an opportunity to bring that issue during Committee Stage. – [HON. MARKHAM: I will have the opportunity in Committee Stage but I would like it in the debate, publicly noted that this statement is false. The Minister should withdraw that statement, it is false.] -
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
FINANCE (NO. 2) BILL [H. B. 13: 2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT presented the Finance (No. 2) Bill [H.B. 13, 2022].
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to Parliamentary Legal Committee.
COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY
MAIN ESTIMATES OF EXPENDITURE
Third Order read: Committee of Supply: Main Estimates of Expenditure.
House in Committee.
HON. BITI: We do not have the Appropriation Bill.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. M. KHUMALO): Order Hon. Members. I am informed that the Appropriation Bill was circulated together with the Finance Bill – [HON. MEMBERS: No!] –
HON. BITI: I went to the Papers Office and only the Finance Bill was there. In fact, there are two Finance Bills. One has the departmental draft and the other one which was gazetted. There was no Appropriation Bill.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: The Administration is saying it was there. Bills are sent via e-mails.
HON. PROF. MASHAKADA: I can confirm that the Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill were sent on our e-mails on 13th December, 2022.
House in Committee
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, we are dealing with about 35 Votes. We wanted today, when we are doing the Appropriation Bill, to have some other Cabinet Ministers in this august House. There are only two Cabinet Ministers. I do not know whether it is an issue of Cabinet Ministers not having an interest in the National Budget because part of the Appropriation Bill, there are certain issues that the Hon. Minister should not answer. We also need other Cabinet Ministers to also discuss. Leader of the House you should tell other Ministers.
Vote 1 – Office of the President and Cabinet – $161 735 813 000.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Chair. My debate on the President’s Office is not necessarily on the figures as presented by the Hon. Minister but it is actually on DDF. DDF, if you check in the Auditor-General’s report, they have been getting qualified reports and we are aware that if for instance you ask them to come and drill boreholes in your area, they actually charge. There is no accountability in terms of the funding so that we will not belabour you with questions because we will be asking; we have got quite a number of fund accounts and retention across the ministries. Most of these ministries are actually digging into these funds and there is no...
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: You are not connected Hon. Mushowira. - [AN HON. MEMBER: It is no longer connecting, the network is down.] –
HON. MUSHORIWA: My plea is that I am simply asking that the Hon. Minister, in future, we need a statement on fund accounts. I mentioned the DDF because it is on number one. Apparently, if you then check all the fund accounts, they are not performing as they are supposed to. I will possibly dwell on it much when I deal with the Justice Ministry because the Hon. Minister is here. Hon. Minister, DDF should have a mechanism, seeing that if there is no accountability, we should have a way to have the mechanism that the Ministry should actually punish errant entities like DDF. That is my suggestion, otherwise the figures themselves will not change much because I know that on Vote 1, they will feed the budget anywhere.
HON. MADZIMURE: On DDF, I think, I do not know may be I might be giving instruction to the Executive. For it to remain in the President’s Office, they are taking advantage of that as DDF because it becomes less accountable and taking the excuse that they are under the President’s Office, I think DDF must be removed from the President’s Office and be a stand-alone so that they become more accountable.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Madam President, I think the points made by the two Hon. Members are really valid that the Office of the Auditor-General is issued with an audit statement and highlighted certain difficulties in a specific MDA, and then we should follow up and make sure that certain sanctions are imposed on them. It is not just DDF, it is also other entities, so I will actually endorse that and that is something that I will look into. I thank you – [HON. MADZIMURE: Inaudible interjection.] – He is right on the issue of moving DDF out of the President’s office to some other MDAs. It is a proposal so I have taken it on board and I will socialise it with my bosses and others to see if that is workable. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Chair, DDF presides over 700 kilometers of road network in the farming and mining areas. I propose that Section 13 (IV) of the Constitution comes alive, which says the minerals or the resources should benefit the localities from where they are mined. I request that there be a section or a provision in the budget that actually implores the miners to seed part of their production. I will propose 10 to augment and complement DDF meager monies so that they can go to rehabilitate the roads in those areas.
I have spoken about the more than 700 kilometers that it presides over and I have also spoken about the section that is sui generis citing subsection IV and I have proposed the 10% issue that should be a provision that can go and complement the efforts of the gold finger, the Minister of Finance.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam Chair and I thank Hon. Nduna for that proposal Madam Chair. Again, I think we will put it on our agenda for discussion when you visit my office Sir and I have invited you.
HON. NDUNA: I thank you.
*HON. CHIDZIVA: Thank you Hon. Chair, my issue was on Vote 1,
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Chidziva, you are not properly dressed, please go and dress properly – [HON. PROF. MASHAKADA: NdoMandelaka iyi.] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Chidziva, can you please leave the House and go and dress properly.
Hon. Chidziva walked out of the House.
HON. BITI: Munosarudza, dai ari Mliswa asina kubuda.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: In terms of decorum, we cannot accept that, we can do that in terms of any other rules but in terms of our Standing Orders, in terms of decorum we act like that.
(v) *HON. CHIDZIVA: Thank you Madam Chair, let me use the virtual platform. We have noted that last year this Vote was allocated an excess amount and this resulted in them paying bonuses. They must have allocated excess monies to other ministries; they ended up paying bonuses because the money was in excess. Has the Hon. Minister rectified this problem now so that the all ministries get a fair share?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you. The budgets for salaries and bonuses are allocated in each Ministry. They are not allocated in each Ministry so that they sit with the President’s office and then they are allocated from there. That is not quite correct. So the bonuses and salaries for staff within the Office of the President is in there. It is in their budget. For the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, it is in our budget. For the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, again it is similar. So that is the budgeting process.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MAVETERA): Minister, may you please connect.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I am saying that the budget for salaries and bonuses is allocated for each MDA. It is sitting in each MDA. It is not sitting in the Office of the President as a budget in a vote. What is in there is just salaries and bonus provisions for employees in that department. So I just wanted to correct the Hon. Member on that one.
Vote 1 put and agreed to.
Vote 2 – Parliament of Zimbabwe – ZWL$47 820 193 000:
HON. MATEWU: Thank you Madam Chair. I want to turn to the Constituency Development Fund which has been appropriated ZWL$4.8 billion. If you divide that by 210 constituencies and further divide that by the current prevailing rate of 650 you will get something like US$33 500. I remember when the Minister stood here in September.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Can you please connect so that you can be heard.
HON. MATEWU: Madam Chair, I was saying if you look at the appropriation that has been given to the Constituency Development Fund of ZWL$4.8 billion and divide that by the number of constituencies, which is 210 and divide that by 650 you will get something like US$33 500. I am talking of the official rate, let alone the parallel market rate, but you still get US$33 500.
The Minister stood here when he was giving the supplementary budget and also made a solemn promise and also when he was giving the Budget Statement, that CDF would now be US$50 000 from next year. So that is the first point which needs to be corrected in the Blue Book.
The second one, obviously we are going into an election year where you will have new Hon. Members. Some here might be lucky to come back and so forth. There is also the issue of the vehicle scheme. So Hon. Members who are coming next year, the appropriation of ZWL$8.4 billion, if you add together with the Senate members to make it 350, that money adds up to US$37 000 per Hon. Member and in the last budget it was I think US$80 000 when we came in 2018. So that needs to go back where it was to US$80 000 and this one, the CDF needs to go back to US$50 000.
You have got also the Parliamentary Constituency Information Centres which we have been promised and I think it is atrocious that many Hon. Members have to work in their cars. It is really not on and this has been appropriated ZWL$100 million for 210 constituencies. I think this is ridiculous. So that needs to be really looked at and my suggestion would be that if Parliament managed to rent offices in every constituency so that there is parity. In some constituencies, like my good Hononourable friend here, Marondera East, there is a Constituency Information Centre but most constituencies do not have that. So I think it is only imperative that, that is included in the budget and every constituency rural, urban, whatever it is, does get an information centre where people can come and talk about their concerns and know more about the Bills that are going in Parliament and get every information that they need because the current state of affairs at the moment is that many people in constituencies do not know what their Member of Parliament does. They do not appreciate the role of the Member of Parliament because there is nowhere to see them. They have to go to their homes yet if we are talking about local authorities they can simply walk to their council offices but when it comes to Parliament they cannot come to the august House, here. So we need these offices to be operational from next year and we know we have been lied to for the last five years, but please let us correct that in this budget so that next year those offices can actually be operational. Thank you.
(v)HON. BRIG. GEN. (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: Thank you very much Madam Chair. Related to that on Vote 2, I see a glaring omission there. Where I seek clarification of the Minister is the issue of accommodation for out of Harare Members of Parliament. As it is now, I am actually on virtual in my constituency because I cannot go to Harare since there is no accommodation. The Minister undertook that he was going to be paying us accommodation in advance. I do not think that this budget that he has for Parliament actually provides for that.
Secondly, the issue of constituency staff - we have been talking of this for the past four years that we are paying the administrators or the clerks in our constituency using our own personal funds and this is not fair for the Members of Parliament to be expected to subsidise Parliament in that manner. So could the Hon. Minister please clarify how he is going to cater for that? Thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Chair. Minister, a number of Hon. Members have found no value in them applying for the CDF because it adds to their problems. They are accused of corruption and misusing the CDF because it is insignificant. If you are an MP who has 12 wards, you are given equivalent to US$17 000. What kind of a project would you do in a ward that would be significant for people to appreciate what you would have done?
Therefore, the US$50 000 that was there was quite well thought. We do not have any interventions coming right now from Government, to be honest, where a Member of Parliament can point to and say I have caused such a project. Secondly that same amount of $17 000, you are expected to run around, to do all the administrative work and it is a Member of Parliament who is supposed to do all that. The moment you engage a team to run around for quotations and other things, it is a cost that you will have to incur. You can even spend all the money on administration only.
Hon. Minister, where you have managed to do a single project, people appreciate and it causes significant difference. I can give an example in my constituency, I managed to do combined basketball and tennis court. The excitement that is there! Right now there are battles of these teams, the basketball team wants to use the court, and the tennis team also wants to use the court and because of that, that court is overused. Within a period of three months, it is already worn out, the small stadium that I have and I am lucky, in Harare, it is almost the only stadium left, the majority of them, people have parceled them out for building and doing residential stands because they were dilapidated, abandoned. If you go to that small stadium today, at an average you find 500 youths in there, so, it really makes a difference. It is also helping Government to have something in the constituency and it is entertaining a lot of children and adults who come to support their children. So you may not understand the impact of these small projects, it is doing a lot, so do not think that you are losing money in CDF.
There are two things that you need to consider, the issue of administration which takes me to the issue of a constituency office. Hon. Minister, right now if I want to meet people from my constituency, imagine you have got two women representing a club that want to talk to the Member of Parliament, where else can you meet them other than in your car? However, if you come across and find your wife in my car, what are you going to say? It becomes complicated.
Therefore, the issue of accommodation for a Member of Parliament is so important and this is something that you do once. You build a constituency office, probably a three roomed, where you have got a bigger one as the reception, then an office that you may use as a Member of Parliament and then have another one where you keep some documents that people may want to come and refer to. That thing may cost basic building, a small building of boundary panels that is plastered inside can be a perfect office but as far as disbursement is concerned will be another issue. We need these facilities, it enhances the work of a Member of Parliament, it also helps a Member of Parliament to have at least one person in that office whom people will meet in the absence of the Member of Parliament.
Therefore, Hon. Minister, seriously consider increasing the CDF because the intervention that Members of Parliament can do in Constituencies can mean a lot. Take a constituency like Rushinga where you have one school, that is one block, one house, if a Member of Parliament comes there, adds another House probably of six rooms, you will have teachers in those rooms, it makes a lot of difference. So, if you can consider increasing that money and help us put together infrastructure that makes it easy to administer the CDF. We do not want to be accused of corruption, we want to be accountable but make it possible for us to be accountable.
(v)*HON. CHIDAKWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to contribute on Vote 2 that when the Hon. Minister is allocating monies to Parliament Vote, may he also consider the welfare of staff of Parliament. Parliament staff should be given decent salaries and allowances due to the nature of their job and the status of the institution, one of the three arms of the State. Parliament staff should be allocated enough resources in order that they continuously improve themselves in terms of education so that when they deliver their work, it will be to best practice. I thank you.
HON. BUSHU: At the start of the Ninth Parliament, we were allocated 80 000 dollars for our vehicles as Parliamentarians, we got the facility and got paid up to 50 000, so there is a difference of 30 000 dollars which Government indicated that will be available to us. What I would like to ask of the Hon. Minister is for that to be provided for in the 2023 Budget.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Minister, my suggestion is that could you increase the CDF allocation from 4, 8 billion to around 7,4 billion and this is actually on a matter of principle. You know very well that it has always been 50 000 and we are simply saying, if you put it at 7,4 billion using the current rate, it goes back to 50 000 USD. So to me that is important so that at least there is consistency. That is my humble submission.
HON. TOGAREPI: Madam Chair, my issue to the Minister on the Parliamentary Budget is that many times we hear that Parliament has been given ZWL47 billion but when it comes to disbursement or exercising their right to spend the budgeted figure, it is not there. Can we not ensure that Parliament is given three months upfront of its budget so that it operates more efficiently and effectively? As we stand, we have a situation where Members of Parliament have lost their dignity in hotels. They are chased up and down, stay in the cars until we get some approval from some director who is in UK and things like that. It is because Parliament does not have the money. They rely on monthly requests. If this is what you have given Parliament, can it be released upfront, may be not the whole amount but for them to be able to manoeuvre within the budget that they have been given. Thank you.
(v)+HON. O. SIBANDA: [Part of speech not recorded due technical glitch.] – Our MPs cannot even buy shoe polish. Comparing their salaries with black market rates, it is equivalent to USD210. I ask the Hon. Minister, where are we going with such salaries? I am saying that after the Budget has been allocated, it should be quickly disbursed to Parliament because we do not want it to appear as if the Parliament Administration and staff are the ones who are failing. The Administration does not have money. They are not doing anything wrong. The budget allocation to Parliament should be increased. The Hon. Minister should also note that he is a Member of Parliament too and as such, he should make sure that the Hon. Members are well paid. The salaries should compete with those of the Service Chiefs and Judges because we are also part of the arms of the State. My wish is that an MP should be a happy person because he is responsible for the law making. My wish is that the money that is allocated to Parliament should be disbursed to Parliament in time so that if there are other programmes which need to be partaken, it should be done in time. It is really difficult to be an MP in this era. We want to work with the Minister in good faith and people to respect us as Hon. Members who are representing the President and the nation. I thank you Madam Chair for the opportunity you have given me. I really wished to be part of the seating but I failed to travel because of fuel and accommodation challenges.
*HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Madam Chair. I would like to present my debate in line with Vote No. 2. The Members of Parliament are losing their dignity and respect especially in light of the remuneration that we get. An MP gets ZWL200 thousand which is equivalent to USD150 to USD200. If you are to see my payslip, the whole country will laugh at me. For that reason, we hide the payslips in our wallets. The public will laugh at you for earning USD200. The same can be said for the staff of Parliament. Their salaries are very low. I am requesting that the Minister of Finance looks into the budget for Parliament and increase the allocation for us to be able to discharge our duties.
I also want to talk about the fuel that we get to our constituencies. I go to my constituency once a week and my constituency is large. It stretches from Gokwe South to Binga and I use 80 litres every weekend. If you work out 80 litres x 4, we are talking of 320 but we are getting 120 litres of coupons. I am requesting the Minister of Finance that he increases the allocation that we get.
The other major issue that is of concern since October is that Madam Chair, I went to Victoria Falls as the Chairperson of Primary and Secondary Education. When I got to Bulawayo, there was no accommodation. I had to use my own money to pay accommodation at Rainbow Hotel. When I got to Victoria Falls, I had to pay again. I then went to Lupane State University and Gwanda and I used my own money and that has not been reimbursed. That affects the dignity of the MPs and respect. On Sunday when I came, I could not get accommodation and I slept in my car. I went to Crown Plaza and my name was not there. I thank the Chief Whip who was able to get me accommodation on Monday. Where is the dignity of the MP when we are suffering like that? We request the Hon. Minister to consider this matter so that our dignity is restored. I thank you.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Hon Chair. I just want to also add my voice to the issue of accommodation as alluded to by my fellow MPS. The issue of accommodation has become problematic but I do not see any provision for the construction of flats or accommodation within the life of Parliament. If you could build something each year for the five year session you will have covered ground in terms of accommodation for MPs. Every MP would just get keys for the allocated flat until such time when he/she leaves Parliament.
The other issue is of transport as we go out for outreach programmes. We continue to hire and we are using a lot of money to do so. I do not know if they are not your companies. So, I am thinking that if we buy our own buses we will not continue wasting money hiring. The amount you have budgeted for transport hire should be used to procure our own buses. I hope you will take my submissions into consideration. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Hon. Chair. On the budget for Parliament, all I ask is what is called front end loading. This is the gatekeeper for all your resources. We oversee the Auditor General and she was lamenting that if she could get all her budgetary support she would definitely police the pilferage and hemorrhage of the meager financial resources. I ask that let there be front end loading for the budgetary support for Parliament. It is going to help you police all the other finances that you are allocating to ministries and other government and quasi-government departments. In my view, if the money that we have debated is released upfront, Parliament is able to use it for the purposes that have been outlined. I am sure you mean well in terms of protecting the money that you are giving to ministries, departments and the commissions. I think to police that money, use Parliament to do it for you but without the resources they have a challenge.
The other issue that I want to come out clearly is that you have done very well in supporting Parliament Administration staff. I see they are moving around in brand new vehicles. We have been talking about the welfare of the staff of Parliament and some of them had gone for two to three terms without getting their terms of condition vehicles. I think you have come out guns out blazing in the Second Republic gold finger Sir. You need to be thanked for that. If no one else is going to thank you for presiding over this and making sure that Parliament Administration staff is well catered for, I am going to thank you from the bottom of my heart and from the people of Chegutu West Constituency. So my issue is, please front end load and peg our salaries. Let it be known how much we will be paid at the bank rate. If it is going to be US$2000, let it fluctuate whichever way. Pay us in local currency but let it be known how much we are getting. Sometimes there is $200 000 in the account. We do not need that money for ourselves but to carry out our mandate seriously. Also the money for CDF, let the money be there. You put in your application and you are told the money is not there but the electorate is expectant. If there is one institution you need to front end load, let it be Parliament. We will help you to help the budgetary support. You can suspect the Hon. Members like Hon. Caston Matewu and others, but not me. You know I mean well. I really ask from the bottom of my heart that if you support Parliament you have supported yourself but if you do not do so, you are cutting your nose to spite your face. We want to be the gatekeepers. The ex-officio Member of Parliament, the Auditor General will be assisted if we are given the resources. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Members, order. I was kindly asking that for our debates to be more meaningful and constructive, I was thinking that we have got our Appropriation Bill with some allocations, let us revert to those so we are able to have a conversation with the Hon. Minister. I know we have a lot of welfare issues that we wish to discuss, but I think the most appropriate thing is to go Vote by Vote and debate whether the allocation needs to be increased or you are agreeable with the figure. What we are trying to do here is to have a decrease or increase on the amounts which are there. We need a debate which is more constructive so that we are appropriate and specific, for example we have a figure for PCICs. Let us argue about it and not just generalise and tell the Hon Minister what we are looking forward to. I think then it is more social than it is economic. So may we please be more economic and speak of figures so that the Minister can respond accordingly.
*HON. PETER MOYO: Thank you Madam Chair. I am appealing to the Minister to increase the Parliament budget by at least 20% of the current allocation. I say so because we have been talking about the issue of Parliament staff where if we go out for outreach programmes and come back late around ten or eleven in the evening, MPs will retire in their hotel rooms while the staff of Parliament are requested to go home. We asked how many they are that they cannot also be accommodated in hotels and they are only two or three. How much would it cost the country to accommodate them so they can also rest and not travel to their homes late? Our elders used to say that the stomach of a visitor will not empty your granary. It means that they have only but very few. How many, there could be two or three. How much is the country going to lose than risk going to Chitungwiza and Ruwa, and we will have slept and these young people will still have to travel during the night.
Secondly, we were thinking when you consider civil servants; Parliament staff should also be given money. Also give Parliament staff bonuses that you are giving to the Public Service. While I observe the workers in the Hansard Department, there is a certain Hansard staffer who went to SADC and produced debates and she was the first one in the region to do that, meaning we have high standards. We should be retaining such experienced personnel because they are skilled and exceptionally good. We should be concerned about the welfare of Parliament staff.
Members of Parliament used to get $2 000. It is better to give each Member of Parliament a million RTGs and it will be a done deal. Without belabouring the point, I would want to reiterate that when we are on official duties, Parliament staff should be accommodated in hotels and should not go home during the night. That is not proper, thank you.
(v)*HON. R. R. NYATHI: What is important is that we should appreciate people when they are still alive and not when they are dead. We want to thank our Chief Whip Hon. Togarepi for the manner in which he handles welfare issues for Members of Parliament.. He showed us our problems as Members of Parliament which should be catered for in the budget. He struggles and hardly sleeps as an Hon. Member. I would want to reiterate the words that have been said by Hon. Sibanda.
I would also want to thank our Minister and if you go to his office, he takes his time to listen to what you will be presenting before him. A Member of Parliament should be able to tell how much money they are going to be earning and understand the words you said that we should not talk about the welfare of Members of Parliament or Members of Staff but we should touch on the hot spot. What I wanted to say is that he is the Member of Parliament, the face of Parliament and also the face of the political party. The Member of Parliament who works with the community –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Nyathi, we have a long night ahead of us, please go straight to the point. I will now urge people not to wander about but go straight to the point.
(v)*HON. R. R. NYATHI: The crux of the matter is that the budget should be increased and money should be timely disbursed.
(v)+HON. MOKONE: I would want to thank you for the opportunity to add my voice on the issue concerning my constituency. Most of our provinces especially for us proportional representatives, the constituencies are very big for one person to cover. The second issue is that the Minister should look into our salaries because the areas where we come from, we need to have burial societies and medical aid. If anything happens, we will be able to assist in the communities that we come from. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank the Hon. Members for the intervention. Basically, if I can summaries the intervention they want an additional budget. So, I propose that we take $1, 5 billion from the Unallocated Reserve and direct it towards the Parliament budget. My proposal is if we could target increasing the budget for CDF from the current $4, 8 billion plus $1, 5 billion to take it to $6, 3 billion.
I must also hasten to say we are really struggling on the Unallocated Reserve. If we keep taking more and more for other ministries and so forth, we will have a real problem. You can only allocate if you have got the revenues as well. So if at supplementary stage which is mid-year, there are no revenues coming through, there is nothing to supplement so there must be something to allocate, I would say $1, 5 billion for now. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for a supplementary next year but if we can work with that for now.
On the issue of the three months’ buffer which was raised by Hon. Togarepi, that is a point well taken of frontloading as Hon. Nduna put it. Again, we will make sure that happens and we will look into that. There is the issue of constituency offices and information centres; we have an allocation in 2022. There was a budget set aside for that and I need to check with Mr. Chokuda and others on the progress when it comes to information centres. How many Members of Parliament have constituency offices? I do not know what happened to that budget but there is a budget line for it in this year’s budget.
HON. PETER MOYO: You did not respond to Hon. Bushu’s request that you have our $30 000 which you are supposed to avail to us from the $80 000 for the Ninth Parliament and also you did not respond to the request that I made to you to say can you also accommodate Parliament staff when we have these outreach programmes when we arrive here in Harare.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: It is administrative.
HON. PETER MOYO: Yes, it is administrative but we have to say it because we are the ones who travel with these kids, you know. When we travel with them, it is so painful to take a young girl and say go home and I sleep in a hotel as the Chair, it is not pleasing to me.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Minister, may you respond to the first one, the second one is an administrative issue and is dealt with by the Clerk.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Absolutely. On the first one we said that the $40 000 loan that is being offered at the moment, you have a choice. You can use that to acquire a stand or a second vehicle. So, going into next year’s budget, we will then accommodate the second issue whether it is a stand or a car. We have performed. I do not know what alphabet you are but you will get. We intend to clear these payments by the 27th. We have been under pressure from the bonuses of civil servants but through this staggering process, 27th we want to clear all the payments.
*HON. TEKESHE: The Minister did not respond as to what actions he will take on the issue of accommodation for Members of Parliament that is so stressful when we come for sittings.
(v)HON. MARKHAM: The Minister said that he does not know what happened to constituency offices, has he allocated money to Parliament for these?
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: He said it is in the 2022 Budget.
(v)HON. T. ZHOU: What is the position with regard to stands for Eighth Parliament? Was there any allocation...
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: That is administrative Hon. Zhou. It is not part of the Budget.
(v)HON. T. ZHOU: It is about funding the project. It looks like once MPs do not come back to Parliament, no one represents them on outstanding benefits.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: It is still administrative Hon. Zhou.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I will start with Hon. Zhou. First of all, this issue is administrative. The resources for servicing the stands have already been allocated and Ministry of Local Government will deal with the matter. We allocated this in this year’s Budget. I do not have the exact figures allocated for servicing the stands. We can get the information and supply it to the Hon. Member, may he be patient.
Hon. Markham spoke about the amount allocated for Constituency offices – I do not have the figures with me but there is an amount. You can check with Parliament and Treasury. There is an amount which was allocated in this year’s budget but it is clear that no draw-downs have been made because no one has a Constituency office. The last time I checked there were issues around procurement and so forth but clearly resources were allocated for this purpose.
On the issue of the welfare of MPs and accommodation, again this is an administrative issue – we agreed that the amount per day is USD and that should be given to you so that you get your own accommodation. We agreed on that modality and it is just implementation.
(v)HON. NDIWENI: The Minister talked about an increase to the CDF budget of 1.5 billion dollars. What does it translate to a constituency because we had a figure already for the CDF?
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Ndiweni, I think we can do our Maths on that. May you please get your calculator and calculate.
Amendment to Vote 2 put and agreed to.
Vote 2, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Vote 3 – Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare – ZWL$91 620 309 000.00:
HON. MUSHORIWA: I have just been looking at the figures pertaining to the salaries for civil servants. I just want to find out from the Hon. Minister the trajectory that the Ministry intends to do pertaining to remuneration. Are we going to be continuing with increase in RTGs salaries or any discussion for salary negotiations for civil service and public servants will now be done on the USD amount? I say this Hon. Chair primarily because my worry is that should there be a spike in inflation, either to the current power outages and other unforeseen circumstances, we may actually have an uphill task within our civil service.
On this particular Vote, it is one Ministry where we have got close to about eleven funds that are administered by this Ministry. They have got the training centre, the Children on the Streets Fund, the Child Welfare Fund, Community Recovery Fund, National Drought Fund and so on. The problem is that there is nowhere within the lines that you see anything that is said about these funds. We would like to avoid a situation where we have got ministries that do double dipping and that is the reason why we were hoping that if these Ministers were here, they could have helped you in terms of answering some of these questions because there are certain amounts that we may feel they are getting more money because ministries tend to complain that they are getting fewer dollars than they require yet others have other funds that they put their hands and dig outside the knowledge of Treasury. I thank you.
HON. MATEWU: For me, it is on the Social Welfare on two budget lines. Firstly, support for elderly persons. Increasingly we have a lot of elderly people who are actually wallowing in poverty. Just to give some statistics, we are actually number 15 out of 16 in terms of absolute poverty and inequality - the gap between those who have and those who have not. Most of those who have not are actually pensioners or elderly people who cannot cater for themselves. The allocation here is ZW$400 million, I think that is too little if we want to be serious in terms of social protection to the most vulnerable in society.
You also have ZW$1.4 billion being appropriated to people living with disability. I think that is also far too less for what they need. I think they have made their case a lot of times on outreach and everywhere they need the support of this Government. In this Budget we must show that we are actually putting more money into the most vulnerable people in our communities.
I would propose to the Minister that for elderly persons, maybe ZW$2 billion and ZW$3 billion for people living with disabilities. I thank you.
(v)*HON. E. NCUBE: I would like to request the Minister to increase the budget of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare because it is one Ministry which looks after the welfare of employees. Everyone looks up to this Ministry when there is drought and in need of food assistance. So I would very much appreciate if the budget of this Ministry is increased significantly. I thank you.
(v)*HON. MAGO: I am requesting the Minister to increase the vote for this Ministry since they also cater for the young ones in children’s homes. Most of the children’s homes operate on a shoestring budget which is not enough to cater for the needs of these homes. I thank you.
(v)*HON. B. DUBE: My contribution is that the salaries of the civil servants should be pegged at US$500 or its equivalent for the lowest paid worker so that the nation can curb the brain drain that is obtaining in the country right now. Most civil servants are breadwinners but they are not winning anything because they are bringing nothing home.
HON. BITI: I want to make representations to the esteemed Minister of Finance on the issue of safety nets under this vote. There are vulnerable people that I want to speak on their behalf. The first ones are people living with disabilities and I think they have been allocated ZW$1.2 billion. The second ones are the elderly who have been allocated ZW$400 million. I do not see cash payments and cash grants which you will recall Minister you introduced in your interventions on COVID-19 in 2020. I urge the Minister to take ZW$2 billion from the unallocated reserve and allocate it to social safety nets. Our people are suffering. There are various reports on the statistics of people living in extreme poverty. There are some reports that put it at 89%. Some reports like the recent World Bank Country Note puts it at 49%. The fact of the matter is that we know that our people are suffering. Look at street kids, you know them; you find a disabled parent being carried by a child and so forth.
Cash grants are a fashionable way of dealing with the demand side of economics. Through cash grants, the Minister gets his money back anyway because the marginal propensity of the vulnerable is very high. If you give them ZW$50 they will go to a supermarket and you get the money very quickly as VAT. I urge the esteemed Minister to take ZW$2 billion and virement the social safety nets, including people living with disability, the elderly and people living on the streets. I thank you.
(v)*HON. KARUMAZONDO: My request to the Minister of Finance is for Treasury to release funds timeously to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Recently, I was at the Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre and I discovered that the home had just run out of food for the children. You will also find out that most of the children at these homes spend a lot of time doing nothing as they do not have enough resources for their practical skills. I thank you.
(v)HON. WATSON: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this chance to address the Minister on the issue of the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Vote. On the issue of social welfare and vulnerable groups, the biggest problem with his budget is the budget allocation. I want to support the Hon. Member who raised the issue of children’s homes. They are also old aged groups which have not received any social assistance from Government for a very long time. These institutions are in dire need. They are old people and you cannot call them pensioners because they do not get a pension and they do not get money from anywhere. He really needs to extend his budget and issue social grants to these people because they are suffering interminably. They cannot get healthcare, they cannot do anything and sometimes when I listen to him and I see this Appropriation Bill, it does not take cognizance of what was said in the Committee Report. One of the points raised by the Health Committee is that the Ministry of Health and Child Care is called Ministry of Health and Child Care but ‘child care’ is not really catered for specifically either to those social welfare sectors of the public service appropriation of the health appropriation Bill and children are honestly citizens of Zimbabwe who are not cared or catered for. He seriously needs to look at this allegation. Thank you.
(v) HON. MAKARI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to plead with the Hon. Minister for the Ministry of Social Welfare especially for constituencies that might be in urban areas but are peri-urban in all terms and purposes. I am referring to a constituency like Epworth. We have challenges where people do not get food allocation like our rural constituencies because they are seen as constituencies in urban areas. My plea is let us increase our budget allocation to cater for these peri-urban constituencies and to disburse the money on time. Some children have been out of school because they rely solely on BEAM and they are not being catered for. Thank you.
(v)+HON. MAHLANGU: Thank you Hon. Chair. Looking at the fact that this Ministry is an important Ministry because it caters for different people in the country which include the children and the elderly and health workers; I appeal that they should increase salaries for health workers, including these incentives that they are given quarterly. They are supposed to be incentivised because they perform a great task. They work as the immediate nurses in our communities but they are not rewarded. We were kindly asking that the Ministry increase the budget that is given to the health workers. This is my prayer to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Thank you.
(v)*HON. E. NCUBE: I think the Hon. Minister should look at the lives of people. It is the Ministry that ensures that when there is drought, people are given food. If they are orphans, it is the Ministry that is responsible for housing them. The Ministry should be given adequate funding and such funding as he has stated that what he has budgeted for is what is there, we plead with him to timeously disburse the funds to the Ministry so that the relevant ministries are able to utilise the funding so that when they cry that the funds have been unable to sustain them, then the Ministry would have used the majority of its budget. At the moment the Ministry has no motor vehicles to monitor what is happening in their districts because the funds have not been released. They used vehicles offered by donors. We cannot be reliant on donors all the time. That is my plea as the majority of the issues have been raised by my fellow Members of Parliament. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I want to thank the Hon. Members for their interventions. They have been very helpful. I propose that we add another ZW$1 billion to deal with the issue of the elderly and the disabled. That is my proposal. –(HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear):
Amendment to Vote 3 put and agreed to.
Vote 3, as amended put and agreed to.
On Vote 4: Defence and War Veterans Affairs; ZW$331 143 086 000.
HON. BRIG. GEN. (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: I just want to bring to the attention of the Minister - it is unfortunate that when the report was read, he was not in the House. The Hon. Minister needs to understand that the perpetual underfunding of security forces has created a serious national security risk that we are looking at and that would visit this country in the next five to ten years from now. Defence Forces are not security guards. We cannot have a defence force that feeds on sadza and vegetables and we cannot have a defence force that sleeps on the floor. There must be an attention to address the quality of life of the defence forces. Efforts were made to construct the hospital and we commend the Minister for the efforts. Almost 90% complete but on the accommodation side, only about 25% of the works have been done for the Dzivarasekwa, Mbizo and other camps within the country. That is the sad state of affairs because there you have defence forces members who eat, live and travel in conditions that are worse than the rest of the public. How do we expect those members of the defence forces to be perceived by the members of the public? We are talking of people that cannot negotiate for their salaries. We are talking of people that cannot go on strike, we are talking of people that always have to obey the orders whether the orders are good or bad. These are people who cannot say no to any orders. These are the people that at any disobedience of the order, it is death when they are convicted and we continue perpetually to disregard their welfare. When it comes to a stage where these fellows stand up saying kusiri kufa ndekupiko,this is why we are finding so much indiscipline. I think the Commanders must be commended for doing so much to curtail and control these disgruntled defence forces. The budget that was allocated for 2023 is far inadequate to address especially provisions and accommodation.
Then the veterans of the liberation struggle, I think at barest minimum, Minister, the veterans of the liberation struggle should be given something equivalent to the poverty datum line in USD. These are people who are not asking for favours. These are the people that paid me and you and everyone else in this country to live in Borrowdale Brook, to live in Gunhill, to live in Mount Pleasant, to construct and so much wealth to go and watch football matches outside the country. They sacrificed their lives so that everyone else – just like in the Bible, you will find that the Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed his life so that you and I enjoy going to heaven. This is exactly what the war veterans did but they are ridiculed, you saying that they are demanding too much. They are only 30 000 of them that are left. I am talking of the war veterans themselves. Give them some decent living wage, at least a poverty datum related welfare and look at their ventures; ventures that they were given by His Excellency the President. They need to be capacitated. They need to have money so that those ventures actually bring money into the welfare. That is the best domestic resource mobilisation that will make them earn decent salaries.
Most of the war veterans are over 60 years and they cannot even work on those ventures and expect them to do it for themselves and have a decent life. That is my contribution about the defence forces. Equip them to get the tools that they need to carry out their duties. You cannot have a defence force that is worse than a Fawcett Security Organisation. Without vehicles, without food, without uniforms, without accommodation, no Hon. Minister, please just revisit that issue on institutional provisions. After all, this is a constitutional requirement. I rest my case.
HON. TOGAREPI: Minister, I heard that you are going to give $391 billion to the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans. My issue is, we have the army, defence forces; we also have the war veterans and the other categories like ex-detainees, restrictees and war collaborators. We cannot disaggregate the figure so that we know because their expectations are different. Some have already been approved of what they are going to get monthly as incomes, schools fees for their kids and so forth. We also have categories whose reasonable expectations have not been defined. When are you going to do that in your budget? What is it that you are going to give war collaborators because they have got a process which has been completed?
We have restrictees whose process has not been completed but they will be bunched in the whole figure. Is it going to be used by salaries, how would we know? Have you really factored in the expectations of these different categories of the liberation struggle?
HON. MADZIMURE: Minister, there is only one area that I am concerned with, the issue of those war veterans who were injured during the war. We still have quite a number of them. Those people are suffering, if I can say. Some of them have got permanent disabilities. So they need like crutches, some have got limps, some have those injuries that require them to see doctors now and again. Those people require constant attention. Some of them have been deteriorating, so they require treatment now and then but they do not have the resources for that to be done. Minister, can you consider a fund, specifically for those so that whenever they go to the doctor or to the hospital, they can have some sort of facility, because of technology they can have special medical cards that can always be accepted in those places where no money will be expected to be paid.
I say this because I have associated with those war veterans who were injured during the war from 1980 because I have a brother who is a war veteran. He has been poured napalm bombs, and because of that, whenever the weather changes, he experiences so much pain. We think it is even worse because he has some fragments within his body and a bullet in his other leg. Sometimes when he is walking, he can actually freeze in the middle of the road. It is quite dangerous for him.
When he needs any attention, I tell you, sometimes I also have to help. He is not the only one, those with limps, you know what happens, they also expire. Those with crutches also have the same problem. So I am of the opinion that you have a special fund for those people. They are not many because they are already in the registers. They are well known. If you can help on that one, I think on their last leg of their lives they can at least spend it in a more comfortable way. Yes, we have betrayed them already because we have not done much for them. At least at this last part of their lives, if they can rest peacefully, instead of us then declaring them district, provincial heroes or even national heroes, let us help them whilst they still survive.
*HON. CHITURA: This is a programme which was done openly, where people were vetted. Did you include this process in your budget so that the programme of vetting war collaborators, ex-detainees and war veterans who were not vetted before is completed? I thank you.
*HON. CHIBAGU: I would also want to make an addition that in Mbire, all the people involved in that exercise, especially ex-combatants, detainees, restrictees and children of war veterans are facing a lot of challenges. Inasmuch as I am trying to assist them, we do not have any hospitals in our area. I am quite grateful on the issue of the ex-combatants and the war collaborators who suffered during the war. In my area in lower valley in Kanyemba, people are dying. My vehicle goes to Katondo and Zambia to assist those elderly people, ex-combatants and war collaborators. There is no medication. That is why we are asking for a district hospital at Mushumbi. Can the clinic at Mushumbi be upgraded to a district hospital? To transport a patient from Mbire to Karanda, approximately 220km, you only get there when the person is already dead. If you go to Katondo, everyone recognises my vehicle. If it goes to the Zambian side, it is easily recognised. That is the duty that my vehicles are performing. We ask that if it goes according to plan, this would assist a lot of people. People in my area fought for the liberation struggle. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you very much Madam Chair for this debate on Vote 4. I will start with Hon. Mayihlome regarding the welfare of the defence forces. I agree with him that on the issue of accommodation, we will accelerate the development and building of institutional accommodation. It has already started but it is a multi-year programme. We cannot do everything in one year.
On the issue of vehicles, we are taking a very swift action. We have sourced USD 60 million which will cover the Defence Forces, the police, as well as prisons in terms of transportation vehicles and so forth. So we are onto it. On the hospital, we will certainly support it to completion. I can assure you on that.
On the various categories of war collaborators and so forth, we can finance this but in the Blue Book, we have not broken it down to show exactly what is allocated to each category. Hon. Madzimure, on those injured war veterans, he proposed maybe a fund so that they can be supported with medical support. I must say that for this one, it is actually a statutory appropriation below the line, so we have allocated $2.87 billion for that, so there is some resources for it already.
On whether there is extra budget for vetting, here we have been driven by the Ministry responsible for war veterans. We did the first round then they sought an additional budget and we approved it. I think we have to wait for them to also trigger us. I was not aware that this was an ongoing exercise. Frankly, we have not been sensitized as Treasury. I do not even know where we will get the budget for it because we have not been sensitized.
Hon. Chibagu, the issue of a district hospital in Mushumbi; yes, this is a very important issue. We will coordinate with the Ministry of Health to see if we can progress this project. I thank you.
Vote 4 put and agreed to.
On Vote 5 – Ministry of Finance and Economic Development – $185 196 838 000:
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam Chair, I propose that we skip this one for now and we do it at the end because we have been virementing the unallocated reserves.
Vote 5 deferred.
On Vote 6 – Office of the Auditor General - $9 858 381 000:
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, the quantum of money that has been allocated is very little. More-so considering the challenges that the Office of the Auditor General is facing, we have always argued that the best practice is to allocate 1% of the Budget to the Auditor General’s Office. We did a report here in the House which was adopted by this House, pertaining to the plight of the Auditor General’s Office. We were expecting the Hon. Minister to supply us with Treasury Minutes which has not yet been done.
My suggestion Hon. Minister, I think we need to allocate an additional $2.2 billion to this Vote. The reason why I say this is that we have realised that most of the audits that are pending is primarily because most of the auditors under the Auditor General actually do not have laptops, smart phones and vehicles. I was shocked when I went to attend one parastatal’s annual general meeting. The reason of the delay was primarily the Auditor General’s failure to send personnel. The other problem is that we now have another big challenge facing the Auditor General’s Office. Most of the qualified personnel in the Auditor General’s Office are no longer remaining within the office. We are now using the Auditor General as a training ground and people move on to greener pastures. If we continue to do that it becomes a problem.
The reason why I think an additional $2.2 billion is necessary, you know Hon. Minister that the Auditor General audits all the line ministries, local authorities and parastatals but now there is an additional job, the devolution funds also need to be audited. I think we need to look into this. I now ask you to put it at 1%, you may not probably have the flexibility to move but I want to really ask you Hon. Minister that for the sake of oversight role played by the Auditor General, let us try to increase this budget by $2.2 billion so that the Auditor General’s Office can actually function well. I thank you Madam Chair.
HON. TOGAREPI: Madam Chair, I want to concur with the Hon. Member who spoke before me. The Auditor General’s Office is very critical for accountability, for checks and balances, for our ministries, Chapter 12 Commissions and everyone else. If we do not give these people money, we are exposing them to corruption. They will end up doing shoddy work; I really know that the Minister may have a very tight budget where he is operating from. I do not think it will be harmful to your budget if you can really deliberately - whatever you are going to increase to target the welfare of the auditors. They need to be paid well; a chartered accountant at the Auditor-General’s office must not envy what another chartered accountant who is out there in the private sector is getting.
We must keep skills within the Auditor-General’s office, it should be an area where every auditor would want to be employed and once we have people like that in that department, then we are assured of the audits and follow ups. At the end of the day, we will have very strong checks and balances existing within our Government. I do not know what you have in your back pocket after moving some funds to other requests but I think adding it to – if it is $9 billion, why not round it off and we will have $10 billion? The extra amount must be targeting the welfare of the auditors. I thank you.
HON. BITI: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Can I appeal to the Minister of Finance to take $2 billion from his pocket of $74 billion under unallocated reserves which is now slightly less because he has been generous to give money to social safety nets and to Vote number 2. Zimbabwe to be a strong country, it needs strong institutions. It is strong institutions Hon. Chair that protect our country as a modern democratic State and as a call at the core of strong institutions accountability and accountability is fostered by the Office of the Auditor-General.
We have been inadequately funding her in the last few years. She is losing staff, staff is hemorrhaging, she does not have modern instruments to help in her work, computers, software and so forth. She does not even own an office of her own. They do not have adequate vehicles; they have to outsource a lot of their audits because they cannot do their audits on their own. The quality of their work is being compromised. If you look at the quality of their 2020 report, it leaves a lot to be desired, I do not know whether it is the staff and I do not know whether Ms. Chiri is in her last term, I do not know. That report does not measure up to the same standards as to our reports. I urge the Hon. Minister to provide $2 billion to this important Vote.
The people who work in the Auditor-General’s office like officials in the Ministry of Finance, they develop high skills because they have got a global micro-view of the entire economy. They are very attractive to the private sector and other sectors of the economy. So naturally they are the high skilled personnel that is why you find the big private audit companies Delloite and Touche, Ernest and Young of this world, they porch from the Auditor-General’s Office. Let us give the Office of the Auditor-General a fighting chance by empowering her with resources so that she can carry out her job. Her job is also vital to this Parliament; Section 119 says our function is to oversee other institutions. Section 298 says we follow wherever resources go and we cannot do our work particularly the public accounts Committee if we do not have her audits.
So empowering her is also empowering us so there is also a selfish element but the real issue is she is part of nation building and accountability, let us empower her with resources. I thank you.
HON. BUSHU: Thank you Mr. Chairman, I would like to buttress the argument that the Auditor-General deserves an additional 2.5 billion dollars. In the last 4 years, we all can testify that there has been a significant impact on the performance of Government in general because of the reports coming out of the Auditor-General’s Office even if she was under resourced. What we are saying is we have also, as a Public Accounts Committee, argued that an appropriate allocation of 0.01 percent of the budget must be given to her. We understand the budget concerns and we also appreciate the fact that the Hon. Minister had adjusted the Auditor-General’s budget to a level that was better than the previous years.
We think that her performance will get better if an additional 2.5 billion is given to that office. It is critical that just on the basis of performance that the Auditor General be empowered, be resourced and we will see better results going forward. I thank you.
*HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Hon. Chair, on the issue of the 2.5 billion being added to the Auditor-General’s budget, if we are to look at people’s expectations currently as they await the Auditor-General’s report, are quite extensive. The Auditor-General has become popular to the extent that people want to know how public funds are being used and they look forward to that report by the Auditor-General. If you want to know how Parliament is working, you need to wait to hear from the Public Accounts Committee and that Committee is informed by the Auditor-General. If you look at the offices of the Auditor-General and for you to imagine that the reports are coming from such an office, you will be embarrassed. If you see the Auditor-General’s offices when benchmark visits are done, you will realise that the Auditor-General has become the first employer in terms of auditors - [technical fault] - if you look at the account that they have to do, we are talking of fund accounts that add up to 87 and you look at the ratio of the work that they are supposed to do, the people of the Auditor-General’s Office, with the limited resources that they have, is a sorry sight. Even increasing the allocation by 5%, we can save a lot out of the performance of the Office of the Auditor-General. So they need to be given resources to enable them to perform their work. My request Minister is that disbursement and increasing the allocation should be considered at a higher level for the Auditor-General and people will begin to understand what you mean when you say you want resources to be used efficiently.
The Public Accounts Committee appreciates the work of the Auditor-General and she is doing a fantastic job. We want to be able to attract another good person again to take over that position when she gets to the end of her term.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I think Members have been eloquent in saying perhaps we should increase this budget so that the Auditor-General can do their work, they can source vehicles, improve capacity and look after the auditors. So I propose that we increase this budget by ZWL$500 million. I thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: …[Technical fault] You see the rationale. We did not want to pull you to 1%. The truth of the matter is that for some of us who work with the Auditor-General’s Office on a day to day basis, the situation is pathetic. I can tell you that it is now difficult for an auditor to do work. It is just like asking a policeman to go and arrest a multi-millionaire and you expect that they will do a proper job. We now have a situation. Look at the 2021 Auditor-General’s report and if you see the number of ministries that were not audited and the problem is primarily that the office is actually functioning at probably around 37% performance level and ZWL$500 million; Hon. Minister, we do not want to do it just as a token. I think on this one, we really need this office to function.
I know your Permanent Secretary, George Guvamatanga paid a visit to their office. He can bear testimony that the situation – I went there. I happened to move from the first floor up to there not by lift. I was even afraid to use the lift because I thought that lift may not function. The situation is bad Hon. Minister. So I actually think that ZWL$500 million is just too little an amount to add. At least add something significant.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Hon. Mushoriwa. The thing is, colleagues, we will run out of unallocated reserves I am telling you at this rate because I have been quite generous in responding to very persuasive advice and the truth is, if they need more money, if they have run out of money in the next six months or whatever, we are always there as Treasury to support them if we have the resources.
So really we have tried hard. If you look at the level of increase from last year to this year and we just added another half a billion. We are trying to support them as much as possible, but at this rate, I think that we are going to run out of unallocated reserves if you ask me and then the whole Government is under extreme pressure. So I think that ZWL$500 million is a start. If they run out of budget, we could always find a way to support them. I thank you.
Amendment to Vote 6 put and agreed to.
Vote 6, as amended, put and agreed to.
Vote 7 – Industry and Commerce – ZWL$15 630 381 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 8 – Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development – ZWL$362 520 603 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 9 – Mines and Mining Development – ZWL$12 987 529 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 10 – Environment, Climate Change and Hospitality Industry – ZWL$14 199 197 000 put and agreed to.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Member, you are not properly dressed. May you please leave the House!
Hon. Munetsi left the House.
Vote 11 – Transport and Infrastructural Development – ZWL$144 571 220 000 put and agreed to.
On Vote 12 – Foreign Affairs and International Trade – ZWL$81 864 071 000:
HON. SHAMU: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Firstly, I should start off by thanking the Minister for having taken on board the issues we raised during our discussions with regards to the need to review the budget. In saying so, I think it will be important for us to note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has most of its transactions being carried out in foreign currency.
Now, if you go back in history you will find that fluctuations have been devastating, as we stand today with the current position, the overall budget has a shortfall of 34, 74%, which really means that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is going to find it very difficult to carry out its engagement and re-engagement agenda as emaciated by the President. I am saying so because if you go back to the year 2022, the exchange rate moved from USD1:150 to USD1:649. This went on again to be affected in the same manner as the exchange rate continued to rise.
Therefore, if the Minister is not going to agree to allocate the Ministry in USD, maybe we can make an appeal to the Minister to consider giving us our full request and that will only mean a request of about 28 billion dollars. If that could be done, it would assist us in carrying out our mandate.
As we speak, Hon. Chair, we were in India last week and now India is going to take over chairmanship of the G20. This was a development that was not on our table when we first presented our budget, which means there are changes every day in the world. There is a demand for the Ministry to be present and therefore, we cannot double prong the role, not only of making sure that we continue to inform the world about what Zimbabwe is doing, our image and so forth. We also have to respond to developments in other countries and I have just given one example. I am sure that the Minister who has been very positive in terms of our request before, will give our current position a very positive response. I want to thank him in advance because I think that he will appreciate our position. I thank you.
HON. C. MOYO: When I read the report of the Portfolio Committee of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, when my able Chairman was not around, the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development was smiling when I put the request that we needed more money. I said we are not going to focus much on achievements because there is year 2023, we need to achieve more and he smiled again.
So, here is our request; surely if you look into NDS1 there is the issue of image building and international cooperation. For you to build the image, you need to have money, it is very clear. So if you do not give us 110 billion as our request, it means the image of our country will remain in tatters but if you give us that, then we will say you have achieved the targets which are very clear in our NDS1.
If you talk of international cooperation which is the other complaint again in NDS1, we need to make sure that ZIMTRADE will do wonders on the global arena. For us to do that, it is just a matter of acceding to our request of 110 billion which is not much. I know you were giving 500 million to other ministries, surely Foreign Affairs is also appealing to you. Thank you in advance.
HON. MATEWU: Thank you very much Hon. Chair. I just want to concur with the previous speakers who talked about the importance of re-engagement as a country but I want to applaud the Minister for appropriating, just in comparison to last year, an amount of money that you have done to Foreign Affairs this time. I do not believe in putting too much money in this area because I think this is an area where we need people who are very competent in terms of putting out a good image and of course luring investors and enabling the Diaspora to play its part as we go. So, I would like to thank you for the budget that you have given us, thank you very much Hon. Minister.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Hon. Chair. I thank the Hon. Members who have contributed on the debate on this Vote especially the Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Shamu. I also take note of the contributions from the other two colleagues.
Colleagues, our strategy for support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade is a multi-year one, we actually agreed that over a three to four year period we are going to make certain progress. We started with the issue of vehicles because there is a time when diplomats could not move around, they had no vehicles. So, that was the first round at the end of 2019.
In 2020, we kept making progress, back then the backlog in terms of unpaid salaries and other allowances was as high as 80 million USD. I am happy to report that we have been dealing with that backlog, that legacy debt, it is now down to about 14 million dollars and will extinguish soon.
We then moved on to phase three which was infrastructure development targeting the Botswana Chancery, I actually saw the work on the facility in Johannesburg and then from New York, we said we were going to do it as a public-private-partnership, so we are waiting for that. Then there is Addis Ababa as well. So this is the infrastructure development and we have been systematic. We have drawn the line to say that for current salaries, support and other allowances we must be current and we are current. The only issue is the $14 million which we will clear soon. My view is we have a multi-year approach. We will get there. We did a lot this year in just moving the budget where it is, the $81.7 billion. It was a huge jump for the Ministry and feel that we are going the right direction. If I could persuade Members of the Committee and everyone that just be patient with us, we will sort out the Ministry. Then in terms of forex payment, actually every month we give Ministry of Foreign Affairs hard currency of between USD6 and USD7 million because we know that they have to pay the diplomats in hard currency. In fact, my complaint has been why are diplomats and staff out there not getting bonuses and I am still waiting for an answer because my expectation is when we approve bonuses for civil servants, they too ought to be included. I think this is something that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the Public Service Commission, should look into so that our diplomats also receive annual bonuses like everybody else. We do not have the space but I would really want to support Hon. Shamu with another $28 billion but I do not have the money. If you can be persuaded that we adopt the multi-year approach, we will get there. We will do a lot already with the $82 billion that we have allocated this year. I thank you.
Vote 12 put and agreed to.
On Vote 13 - Foreign Affairs and International Trade – $81 864 071 000 (a)
HON. MATEWU: Thank you Chair. I have got three points on this one. The first one is, I sit on the Committee of Local Government and this is something that was very pertinent from the Ministry officials, I think Churu, whom you worked with at Ministry of Finance. They are very clear on the procurement of Government buildings. As you know, if you go to some district and some provincial offices across Zimbabwe, you will find that some buildings are so dilapidated. Some of them have cracks and Government is in the process of trying to purchase some buildings. The money that you have appropriated is $1.8 billion which I think cannot even buy anything. I think you will need to increase that a little bit so that you can buy a building. I do not think there is any building that cost ZWL1.8 billion. You need to look at that one.
Secondly, in terms of the Local Government strategy, we want urban regeneration. Most of our towns were built in the Smith era and like someone says if Cecil John Rhodes was to wake up today, he will probably find the same buildings still there. If someone who died in 1971 comes to Marondera today, they will probably will not get lost because it is very much still the same. So we need more money.
Lastly, can we please be very strict next time in 2023. Let us not give money to the Ministry of Local Government for devolution without the Bill. There is no formula that the money is being disbursed to various provincial authorities. In fact, there are no provincial authorities to talk about yet it is in the Constitution. What is happening is that you give money and we do not know how it is being used. I would implore Treasury that without the Bill, do not give that money for devolution to the Ministry of Local Government. We need that Bill to come in first so that it can tell us how the distribution of the Constitutional 5% should be spent. I do not think that should be given unless and until there is a Bill in terms of the Constitution. Thank you.
*HON. RAIDZA: My issue is pertaining to ZUPCO in relation to the mass transport system. We are all aware that if our economy is to develop it is dependent on an efficient mass public system. Currently the ZUPCO buses are limited and cannot serve the workers. So my request to the minister is to come up with measures to address this to improve on our mass public transportation system. We also hear that the ZUPCO workers have not been paid for the past two to three months. This is all hinged on the money that we appropriate and also subsides to ZUPCO. Did that money improve the operation of ZUPCO or we are going to continue facing this challenge as a nation? My request is that the Minister considers this sector and provides adequate support in order to have a viable mass transport system. We cannot live without that Madam Chair.
HON. BITI: Thank you Madam Chair. I have no problem with the allocation that has been made by the Minister. My point is a constitutional issue. The Constitution makes it very clear in Section 301. I believe that the Minister of Finance, on a formula, shall allocate at least 5% of the budget to provincial devolution structures set up in terms of Chapter 14 of the Constitution. That shall be done on the basis of an Act of Parliament. That Act of Parliament is not there. Chapter 14 then says there shall be provincial councils elected in the following manner: there shall be metropolitan councils for Bulawayo and for Harare. This is the Fifth Session of the Ninth Parliament.
Madam Chair, in the absence of the Act of Parliament envisaged in Section 274 of the Constitution, the one setting up these provincial councils and in the absence of the actual actualisation of these provincial councils, making the disbursements as the Minister of Finance has been doing to the Minister of Local Government Mr. July Moyo, has simply amounted to the provision of a slash cross mafia fund to Mr. July Moyo which he has used; simply amounted to the provision of a slash cross mafia fund to Mr. July Moyo who has used those monies subjectively, illegally and sometimes corruptly. I refer to his payment of a controversial contract connected with Pomona dumpsite where the contracting authority, the City of Harare, in May of 2022, cancelled the contract, which is costing the citizens of Harare US$22 000 a day. Hon. July Moyo, in his wisdom or more appropriately, lack thereof has paid more than US$15 million to Georgenix for the collection or our own dump. So, I suggest Madam Chair that we resolve that the appropriation has been made but the disbursement Hon. Minister, should not be made until the Act of Parliament has been passed by this Hon. House. I need to bring your attention to the fact that there are High Court judgements that have ordered Minister July Moyo to come up with an Act of Parliament. He is in contempt and he will be in contempt until he dies because he wants to protect that sludge fund. So, we cannot be accomplices to crime, we cannot aid and abet Hon. July Moyo’s insatiable appetite for our resources. I say nadha macomrades nadha, taramba. Minister, do not disburse until the Act of Parliament setting up the Provincial Councils in terms of Chapter 14 has been passed by this august House. I thank you very much Madam Speaker Ma’am.
HON. MADZIMURE: Madam Speaker, listening to Hon. Shamu’s plight and we are now faced with the Local Government budget; as we debate this budget, we must also look at the revenue generation. Sometimes we generate revenue through making sure that whatever we get is used appropriately. In this case, you are quite aware of the controversy of the Pomona deal and at law, that deal must not see a cent coming out of the money that we have allocated to the City of Harare without the approval of a well constituted body, which is known as the Provincial Council. You are aware of that but because we have a Minister who has the latitude of using the money that will have been allocated to a fund that is not supported by law, he will continue doing so. Of late, we have been waiting for the fire tenders from Belarus. Those were paid for by devolution funds. Of all the local authorities in Zimbabwe, including those who did not need those fire tenders, the enquiries have proved that not a single council sat down and made a resolution to buy those tenders.
Hon. Minister, if we allow the allocation of money to continue, we will also be an accomplice because it is affecting the operations of local authorities. Right now everybody else is talking about the failure of the Fire Brigade to attend to problems. Also, the amounts used to purchase those fire tenders are alarming all because we do not have bodies that are supposed to ensure amounts allocated to this fund is used to the best interest of the locals. So, we can save money from there and even give it to those legitimate ministries like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where you expect people to convince people that they can do business with Zimbabwe and we can have investors coming to Zimbabwe. But to be honest Hon. Minister, it will not be appropriate to continue disbursing devolution funds without the legal framework. Hon. Minister, with the assistance of the Minister of Justice, you can tighten the screws because the Minister of Justice is fully aware that there is a legal gap there and he can help you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Hon. Chair, I want to thank all the Hon. Members for their contributions. I will start with Hon. Matewu, regarding the three points that he outlined; procurement of government buildings, $1.8 billion. Hon. Chair, I really do not have room to increase these amounts. I think if the Ministry feels this is low, they should think about how we can virement within their budget envelope. If they can come up with those ideas, I am very happy to listen but we do not have extra budget to throw at this specific item from elsewhere other than from within the Ministry itself.
Then on urban regeneration, I am aware that there was a programme for regeneration, for example of Mbare, Makokoba as well as Sakubva. This was a PPP arrangement in terms of funding, working with various banks which would then extend loans, which would be serviced by the residents who would have taken accommodation of those newly constructed apartments. Perhaps this is one way to progress and ensure that the commercial sector also participates in urban regeneration, which is not just something the Government directly invests in but there is so much out there, for example pension funds resources and banks that can also be partnered with.
On the last issue which was also raised by Hon. Biti and Hon. Madzimure regarding constitutional issues, I would advise that with the process of disbursing the five percent devolution funds, it is within the law and that is what I have been advised by our experts within Government. Then maybe the Hon Members can assist in speeding up the approval of this Bill so that I should throw it back at them and say let us work together and speed up the approval of this Bill that we establish provincial councils. It will be very good if we did that.
Then on Hon. Raidza regarding ZUPCO, public transportation, as you know, ZUPCO no longer has a monopoly because we opened up that a few months ago. There are other players now in the market providing transport and that is the way to go. We have also received a few proposals regarding the development of some metro rail, mono rail system and others and that is the way to go going forward.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I think the Hon. Minister when it comes to the devolution funds, yes the Constitution says you have to appropriate at least 5% of the budget for devolution but you cannot disburse the funds without the legal framework and secondly, there are no legal councils – [HON. ZIYAMBI: Wazviwanepi?] – Hon. Minister of Justice, you should actually be helping the Hon. Minister of Finance. You will recall that Hon. Markham took the Minister of Local Government to court and a judgement was made. When the first judgement came, do you know what the Hon. Minister did? He brought –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order, Hon. Mushoriwa. You are now misleading because these are now issues to do with the legislative agenda.
HON. MUSHORIWA: No, it is actually about the devolution funds which are part of the budget.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: No, but for us to continue debating on that, I think let us be clear on the economic issues which we talked about.
HON. MUSHORIWA: No, this is actually an economic issue.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Go straight to your point.
HON. MUSHORIWA: We want that money to be put in the Unallocated Reserve until such a time we have got a Bill before this august House. What we want the Hon. Minister to do is very simple. We are saying that money should be taken away and put in the Unallocated Reserve. It is not disbursed. Keep it until we have passed a Bill because 5% cannot just go.
(v)HON. P. D. SIBANDA: I want to follow up on what my brother Hon. Madzimure was saying and I was disturbed by connectivity. However, my issue is, we are talking about budgetary allocations and appropriations that are being done by Parliament of Zimbabwe to different ministries and these are public resources. The Hon. Minister has answered that he is advised that the allocations are within the law but the major question that I would really want the Hon. Minister with assistance of those who advise, and I want to assume it is the Minister of Justice who is the Leader of Government Business in the House, to really articulate under which law it is that they are distributing and disbursing the amounts of money that they have been disbursing to local authorities for over two to three years now. How do those funds become accountable without a piece of legislation that is specific on how these resources are supposed to be utilised? Hon. Chair, without that specific action I think for us as Parliament, that will be negligence of our duty and obligation that we can allocate resources whose accountability is not based on any legislative platform. That becomes a problem Hon. Chair.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: It is clear that this issue of the legal aspect is quite controversial. As I said earlier, I have been advised appropriately I think within Government. I have understood the contributions from the Hon. Members. They are not objecting to the appropriation and we are here to debate the appropriate. So disbursement is another issue which is operational and on that, so far I have been advised by the legal experts to say it is okay to disburse. However, as I said earlier, if members can assist us in expediting the approval of this Bill but I am pleased that they support the Vote appropriation. Thank you.
Committee of Supply to resume: Friday, 16th December, 2022.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the House adjourned at Twenty Minutes past Nine o’clock p.m.