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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 15 FEBRUARY 2022 VOL 48 NO 20

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 15th February, 2022

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM MESSRS SAMSON MUGWAGWA, CLEMENTS GONDE AND PETER MASHAYAMOMBE AND SANITARY AID ZIMBABWE TRUST

        THE HON. SPEAKER:  I have to inform the House that on Tuesday, 14th December, 2021, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from Messrs Samson Mugwagwa, Clements Gonde and Peter Mashayamombe of Mutorashanga, requesting Parliament to guarantee the protection of Mutorashanga Green Pools from the damage arising from mining activities in the area by ensuring that the tourist attraction is placed under protection of the Protected Places and Areas Act [Chapter 11:12] or The Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27].

        The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs, Defence and Security Services; Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Mines and Mining Development.

        On 11th January, 2022, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust of No. 9 Hillview Drive, Borrowdale, beseeching Parliament to craft a Free Menstrual Products and Services Act which makes it a legal requirement for all underprivileged women and girls to get free menstrual products and services.

        The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education.

INVITATION TO A ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH SERVICE

        THE HON. SPEAKER:  I also wish to inform the House that there will be a Catholic Church Service and a talk on the SYNOD, tomorrow 16th February, 2022, at 1145 hours in the Senate Chamber.  All Hon. Members are invited.  Non-Catholic Members are welcome.

          HON. T. MOYO:  Good afternoon Mr. Speaker Sir.  I rise on a matter of national importance.  Mr. Speaker Sir, the situation obtaining in our schools is a cause for concern.  The industrial action by teachers and subsequent suspension of educators by the Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education has imminently violated Section 75 (1) (a) that speaks to education as a fundamental basic human right Mr. Speaker Sir.  Teaching and learning activities have been disrupted. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, we want to appeal to your esteemed office to ask the Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to come to this House and give a Ministerial Statement.  We want to suggest that the Hon. Minister can attempt to bring harmony and efficiency in schools as we recommend the establishment of a Teaching Profession Council that will professionalize teaching.  This will not only lift the status of teaching and consequently its personnel, but codifies behaviour and management of teachers.  It is also prudent to pay the educators specific allowances for posts of special responsibilities such as Head of Departments, TICs and acting allowances.

          Finally Mr. Speaker Sir, it is important for the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to expeditiously implement and meet all the promises that were made by the Government, particularly monetary and non-monetary incentives should be paid to the teachers.   These include housing stands and payment of school fees.  If all these are done, there is going to be harmony in the teaching profession. 

          (v)HON. MUCHIMWE:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker!

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Muchimwe, I have not responded to the point of privilege raised by Hon.  Moyo.  Can you wait?

          (v)HON. MUCHIMWE: Thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you very much Hon. Moyo for raising this matter.  We shall advise the Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to present a Ministerial Statement on the issues that you have raised just now. Hon. Muchimwe, you can go ahead.

          (v)HON. MUCHIMWE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  May the ICT Department improve on their systems. We have a problem of connectivity, we can hardly hear what is taking place in Parliament.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Muchimwe, may you try to be present physically, you may be having problems from your side.  . However, we shall check from this side as well.

          *HON. NYABANI:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity.  Good Afternoon.   Since we are just returning from holiday, I would like to speak about a few things that are happening in our country.  There are illicit alcohol brews such as mutoriro, musombodhia or tumbwa.  These are destroying this country. If possible, may you get in touch with the responsible ministries such as the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Home Affairs. Our people in the rural areas are being destroyed by those cheap alcohol brands. The people are now concentrating on drinking beer. Even school children are no longer going to school and that is why I decided to come to you Mr. Speaker Sir, to look into this because our country is being destroyed by these illicit beers. May the Ministry of Home Affairs ascertain whether these are allowed because they are being sold everywhere? This is a big problem and I decided to come to you so that you help because it is destroying the rural communities.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you raised a critically important matter, which I think will require a substantive motion – if you can move it in this House so that it is fully debated and the nation can hear what the Members of Parliament are saying on the matter.

          The gentleman there, are you from ZBC?  I want to warn you and advise you that the House sits here immediately after two o’clock p.m. So, you must come and set up here at 1:45 p.m. Tell your colleagues. Either you come or you do not. You must respect this institution. Do not start setting up when we are in the middle of our debates. [Cameraman having retreated.] Handisati ndapedza, uri kuenda kupi? Mira! We value the role of the media. It is very important that what happens in the people’s institution Parliament, is heard all over Zimbabwe and the world at large. So, you play a very important role in disseminating what takes places in the House here, the House where we make laws that governs us all in Zimbabwe. I thank you.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. TOGAREPI: Compliments of the season Mr. Speaker Sir.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: I thank you and I reciprocate the same to you and all other Hon Members.

          HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 9 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 10 has been disposed of.

          HON. MPARIWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS, NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES ON AN INQUIRY INTO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF DEVOLUTION

          HON CHIKUKWA: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works, National Housing and Social Amenities on an inquiry into the implementation of devolution in Zimbabwe.

          HON. RAIDZA: I second.

          HON. CHIKUKWA:

1.0    Introduction

1.1    The Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works, National Housing and Social Amenities conducted an inquiry into the implementation of Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe on devolution.  The 2013 Constitution, in Chapter 14 established a devolved system of government in Zimbabwe. However, between 2013 and 2018, there was little to no traction in the operationalisation of devolution. The New Dispensation emerged as the champions of implementing devolution. Despite the absence of a legislative framework, this firm commitment was heralded and buttressed by the inter-governmental funds’ transfers (herein after referred to as devolution funds), to all local authorities which were meant for the implementation of devolution programmes. Bearing this in mind, the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing resolved to conduct an enquiry into the implementation of Chapter 14 of the Constitution on devolution in Zimbabwe.

2.0    Objectives

The objectives of the enquiry were:

2.1    To assess the implementation of devolution and the utilization of devolution funds in Zimbabwe.

2.2    To understand the challenges faced in the implementation of devolution by local authorities.

2.3       To recommend action for the speedy implementation of devolution.

3.0    Methodology

3.1    The Committee first had an opportunity to engage the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works at a workshop which was facilitated by Silveira House on the implementation of devolution in Zimbabwe on 22 April 2021.The Committee then conducted fact-finding visits to selected local authorities. The Committee was divided into three teams with Team A visiting Mutasa Rural District Council (RDC), Mutare City Council and Nyanga RDC.  Team B visited Gweru City Council, Gokwe Town Council and Kwekwe City Council.  Team C visited Kariba Municipality, Karoi Town Council, Bindura Town Council and Epworth Local Board.  The Committee visited Marondera Municipality and Marondera RDC. The visits were conducted from 2 to 6 May 2021. 

4.0    Committee’s Findings

4.1    Workshop on the Implementation of Devolution and Utilisation of Devolution Funds in Zimbabwe

  •         Shumba, the Chief Director in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works presented on the status of the implementation of devolution. He highlighted that the Constitution in Section 5 of the Constitution established the three tiers of government; the National Government, Provincial and Metropolitan Councils then local authorities. Further in Chapter 14, the government established the devolution framework, outlining the tiers of government, their constitution and their roles and responsibilities. Section 264 of the Constitution provides for the devolution of governmental power and responsibilities. Section 265 provides the general principles of provincial and local government. Central to that provision is that provincial, metropolitan and local authorities must within their spheres ensure good governance, assume functions conferred on them by the Constitution or an Act of Parliament and cooperate with one another. The objectives of devolution were drawn from the Constitution. In terms of progress made in implementing devolution agenda, Treasury had disbursed devolution funds to local authorities for implementation of capital projects since 2019 and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works had submitted to Parliament the much awaited Provincial Councils and Administration Bill which was published in the Gazette on 31 March 2021.
  •          Bopoto, the Legal Officer in the Ministry, presented on the legislative and policy framework undergirding devolution in Zimbabwe. The presentation, in addition to Section 264 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, identified pieces of legislation that govern local authorities namely; the Urban Councils Act, the Regional Town and Country Planning Act, the Rural District Councils Act, the Provincial Councils and Administration Act as well as the Traditional Leadership Act. She further highlighted that the Ministry was in the process of reviewing and realigning the various Acts of Parliament to the Constitution of Zimbabwe. She pointed out that the Bills would be submitted to Parliament by June 2021.
  •           Nhamo, the Chief Accountant in the Ministry, explained that Section 301 of the Constitution provides for Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers from Central Government to provincial and local tiers of government.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Did you say 2021?

HON. CHIKUKWA: That is what they had said but remember they later withdrew.  That is what she said unless they made a mistake also.

THE HON. SPEAKER: But as a Committee, you must have raised that.

HON. CHIKUKWA: Yes Sir.

HON. SPEAKER: Unless if this report was written last year, somewhere in March 2021, otherwise the date there is a bit misleading.

HON. CHIKUKWA: It was last year when we went to Gweru.

THE HON. SPEAKER: You do not recall the dates.

HON. CHIKUKWA: I think it was 2021, sometime in September, I am not very sure and I do not want to mix the dates Sir.

HON. SPEAKER: It is either this report is ....

HON. CHIKUKWA: I know I was supposed to present it last year.

THE HON. SPEAKER: This report is very old and our understanding is that within two weeks of your outreach programme, the report must have been tabled.

HON. CHIKUKWA: True Sir, the problem was beyond our control.

HON. SPEAKER: Please, next time you must raise that with your Chief Whip and the Clerk of Parliament, otherwise what you report might not make sense.

HON. CHIKUKWA: The problem was not with our Chief Whip, it was a problem with the secretariat because it went back and forth before it was approved.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Approved by who?

HON. CHIKUKWA: The problem was within the secretariat not the Committee because we had done it.  Remember when the Committee finishes, we take it up the line.  It is within that period that it was delayed.

THE HON. SPEAKER: As the Chairperson of the Committee, the Standing Rules and Orders state that the Chairperson is responsible for the report and not the support staff.  So, in terms of timing, the responsibility lies with the Chair.

HON. CHIKUKWA: I agree totally Mr. Speaker Sir, I am not arguing but we followed the procedure. We even spoke to Mrs. Nyawo., May be in future we have to put more pressure like what you are saying but for it to be completed, it took some time.

THE HON. SPEAKER: In future when you have problems with staff, can you raise that with the Clerk of Parliament.  Otherwise the staff concerned does not deserve to be there.  They should be disciplined.  I will allow you to proceed.

HON. CHIKUKWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

(V) HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you allow the Chairperson to proceed, you will raise your point of order later.

HON. CHIKUKWA: Let me continue Mr. Speaker Sir. However, an Act of Parliament must provide for an equitable allocation of capital grants among provincial, metropolitan and local authorities.  The provincial councils and local authorities allocations were distributed using an objective and transparent formula that had three components; namely population, poverty prevalence and infrastructure deficit. Local authorities were expected to utilise transferred resources on the serviced areas recommended by council such as schools, clinics, roads, plant and equipment, water, waste management, social amenities, electrification and facilities that promote tourism. The 2019 Circular pointed out that devolution funds were capital funds which were not to be used for recurrent expenditure and transfers were to be done in batches to fund approved projects. Further, it was highlighted that there was need for local authorities to have a dedicated bank account and Provincial Development Coordinators and District Development Coordinators were to monitor project planning and implementation. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), each year provided an estimate for devolution funds and each local authority was advised of the estimated allocation for budgeting purposes.  The Ministry disbursed the devolution funds as per Treasury Circular No. 3 of 2021 which required local authorities to provide stage of completion certificates/invoices and progress reports on projects being implemented.

4.1.4 Mr Jaji, the Provincial Development Coordinator for Mashonaland West Province, explained to the Committee that identification of projects was done by local authorities through budget and stakeholder consultations. He emphasised that devolution projects and programmes identification and prioritization should be a product of extensive consultation from village level upwards and that the process was a bottom-up approach. He informed participants that most local authorities implemented water and sanitation, road rehabilitation, health and education facilities projects from 2019.  Urban local authorities prioritised water and sewer rehabilitation and rural local authorities concentrated on purchasing of water drilling equipment and equipment for road rehabilitation.  The purchase of equipment was done in accordance with Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.

  •      Fact-Finding Visits to Selected Local Authorities

            Tour of Mutare City Council

4.2.1 In Mutare, the Committee received presentations from the Finance Director, Mr. Chafesuka on the implementation of devolution by Mutare City Council. He highlighted that the council received ZWL36 257 785 as devolution funds from Central Government between 2019 and 2021. These funds were used to implement a wide range of projects and had benefitted four wards out of a possible 19. The Engineer, Mr. Mtetwa, mentioned that the council used ZWL2 million for the rehabilitation of the Sakubva Stadium and this project focused on renovations of the changing rooms and construction of the tunnel. Of concern, the Acting Town Clerk, Dr. Mutara, mentioned that the council had been instructed by Hon. Machakaire, the Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation to use devolution funds for the rehabilitation of the stadium.

  •         It was highlighted that the devolution funds had been used to rehabilitate the square tank which was leaking and leading to high non-revenue water. Through the funds, the council introduced the Geographic Information System (GIS) to detect non-revenue water. The pilot project was implemented in Hobhouse and had been rolled out in Dangamvura. Part of the devolution funds were used in the Dangamvura Pipeline Project which had been lying idle for the past two decades. Additionally, the council managed to rehabilitate manholes and sewer lines in Sakubva which, due to their old age, had posed a great threat to public health and safety. The council further managed to calibrate two flow measuring devices to enable them to measure the amount of water produced and that which is going to waste. Furthermore, in a bid to improve water quality, the council purchased in-line water chlorinators to eliminate any pathogens that may cause enteric infections.
  •         Mutare City Council undertook a solar lighting project with two solar traffic lights installed in the CBD, a tower light to improve public lighting at Chikanga Extension and 22 street lights in various wards. It was reported that Mutare City Council received ZWL12 million from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works for the rehabilitation of the Mutare Infectious Diseases Hospital (MIDH) which the Committee had an opportunity to tour. Of concern, it was highlighted that for 2021, Mutare City Council had not received any devolution funds despite follow-ups to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Further, the Committee learnt that the council did not have a monitoring and evaluation unit to monitor any council programmes. Instead, the council was using the Accountant and the Project Management Officer to oversee the implementation of devolution projects. In terms of identifying priority projects, the Committee learnt that consultations were done through the budget consultative process where residents would identify priority areas. There were no consultations specifically directed towards devolution.

Tour of Mutasa RDC

4.2.4 During the meeting with Mutasa RDC, the Engineer, Mr. Danana revealed that the RDC had received ZWL14 million as devolution funds. They had used ZWL13 million on various rehabilitation, recapitalisation and they had a balance of ZWL1.5 million. The RDC used part of the funds to purchase a high-powered server that will enable them to digitise their licensing database. They installed a biometric system for enhanced security at the council offices. This was the only local authority that the Committee visited that had deliberately moved towards digitising their systems. The RDC used the funds to rehabilitate the community hall that had been destroyed by the torrential rains. At the same site, the council constructed improved sanitation facilities. The market stall at the bus terminus was rehabilitated. However, there was limited uptake of the bays in the market stall because most of the vendors preferred to conduct their business along the highway where there is a high volume of traffic. Additionally, it was highlighted that very few buses made use of the bus terminus as most of the buses loaded and off-loaded along the highway.

  •          The council had rolled-out the Mutasa District Service Centre (DSC) Causeway Project. The project, when completed will provide a link between the low-density areas and the service centre. The council was utilising labour from the community to construct the causeway. The Engineer reported that they had used devolution funds to refurbish the old people’s home in Mutasa. The RDC pursued a massive recapitalisation project and had managed to purchase a front end loader, a tractor and trailer and a large truck. The Engineer reported that they had purchased a refuse compactor which was in Harare awaiting delivery. The equipment was clearly labelled that it was bought using devolution funds. The council indicated that for consultations, they utilised the budget consultative process as well as VIDCO and WADCO meetings to determine the priority areas.

Tour of Nyanga RDC

  •         During the presentation, the CEO of Nyanga RDC informed the Committee that, to date, the council had received a total ZWL10 980 000.00. Table 1 below summarises the disbursement by month and year of the funds received by Nyanga RDC. In 2019, the local authority received ZWL7 342 000 (24.5%) against an allocation of ZWL30 000 000. In 2020, the council received ZWL5 700 000 (3.7%) against an allocation of ZWL153 000 000. In 2021, council had not received any devolution funds.
  •        The funds were used in the implementation of various Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), education and health projects. Table 2 summarises the projects and cost thereof of the various projects implemented by Nyanga RDC.

The RDC managed to repair their two motorised graders using the devolution funds. At the time of the enquiry, it was reported that the two graders were down. In light of the frequent breakdown of the graders, council indicated that there were plans to purchase new graders in the 2021 budget. The Committee sought clarity on the rationale behind continuously repairing the old and worn out graders instead of purchasing new equipment, to which the DDC responded by highlighting that the council had included that in their 2021 budget. They had prioritised the purchase of drilling rigs that will aid in the efficient provision of water service to the communities. Of concern however, the DDC reported that the graders they had received from ZINARA only worked for about three months and were now in need of repairs.

  •         The RDC entered into partnership with World Vision for the completion of the Fombe Clinic where council constructed the staff houses at a cost of ZWL563 731. At the time of the enquiry, `the council had committed ZWL2 million for the construction of staff houses at Mapako Rural Clinic, despite the high cost of implementing the project. The DDC highlighted that the contractor was charging about ZWL4 million for an F14 structure.
  •          The council highlighted that it did not have an independent monitoring and evaluation unit within its structures. As a result, monitoring and evaluation of projects was done by the technical department which continuously engaged the contractor at every stage of the project and payment was only effected after the job was completed. It was indicated that monitoring was done by the local councillors and health committees when it comes to health projects. In relation to community participation, it was indicated that communities were constantly engaged in both project selection and implementation. This was done through budget consultations in addition to local structures such as VIDCOs and WADCOs. The RDC recruited local labour during project implementation.
  •          Kusena indicated that there were no clear guidelines on how or when a local authority can receive devolution funds. He asserted that the RDC had received communication from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, that funds would be released after a project had been implemented. However, when council met the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in Mutare, it was indicated that there was no such directive yet the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works insisted that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had issued the directive through Circular 3 of 2021. This is contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act which stipulates that a contractor cannot be engaged without funds.

Tour of Gweru City Council

  •          In Gweru, the Committee was informed that Gweru City Council had received ZWL28 909 036.02 to date. In 2019, the council received ZWL9 349 036.02. This was followed by ZWL13 030 000 in 2020 and ZWL6 530 000 in 2021.The Committee was further informed that in 2019, the city was facing acute water shortages following the decommissioning of Gwenoro Dam due to low water levels. The alternative water source, Amapongokwe Dam, had no treatment plant, hence the need to extract raw water from Amapongokwe Dam to Gwenoro water treatment plant arose. It is against this backdrop that the city of Gweru resolved to utilise the devolution funds to procure four low lift pumps and other equipment to extract raw water from Amapongokwe.

4.2.12        The Committee was further informed that the city had presented its predicament to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and this resulted in the identification of a South African Company, AGRICO (PVT) LTD, which was prepared to supply four low lift pumps at a total price of ZAR6 510 000.00. The city was advanced a loan amounting to USD455 000.00 which was paid direct to the supplier. However, due to the volatility in the exchange rate at the time, when the money was eventually cleared by the bank, it was now ZAR6 376 227.00 leaving a shortfall of ZAR 133 773.00.

  •          Additionally, the Committee was informed that the purchase of the low lift pumps exposed the need to replace the obsolete high lift pumps which had proven ineffective in pumping water to the city. There arose a need for an additional three high lift pumps to fully capacitate the plant to deliver adequate treated water to the city. AGRICO (Pvt) Ltd was engaged to supply three high lift pumps and these were quoted at USD516 000.00 or R7 418 577.00. It was highlighted that the Central Government had released another ZWL7 000 000.00 which was termed a water grant and this constituted an additional devolution grant. The amount was used to purchase foreign currency amounting to USD340 404.70 required for the procurement of the three high lift pumps. This amount was paid directly to the supplier.
  •         In 2020, the council informed the Committee that they received ZWL19 560 000 and this was used to purchase an additional three high lift pumps from AGRICO Pvt Ltd. The three high lift pumps were delivered in early January 2021 and have since been installed but could not be commissioned due to technical challenges. It highlighted the urgent need for a transformer to add more power to the station in order to power the new pumps. The plant experienced burnt motors and pumps due to inadequate power for the treatment plant.

Tour of Kwekwe City Council

  •         In Kwekwe, it was highlighted by the Finance Director, Mrs. Maweni, that to date, Kwekwe City Council had received a total disbursement of ZWL19 824 000 between 2019 and 2020. In 2021, the council was allocated ZWL111 125 442 and at the time of the enquiry, the council was yet to receive any disbursement. The funds received in 2019 were used to upgrade Mbizo 7, construct the New Farmers Market, Prince Park as well as the implementation of various WASH projects and the refurbishment of the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH). In 2020, the devolution funds were used to purchase PVC sewer pipes, procurement of solar street lights and the refurbishment of the Garandichauya IDH. Additionally, the funds were used for water works and road rehabilitation.

Tour of Gokwe RDC

  •          In Gokwe, the Committee was informed that in 2019, the council received ZWL2 846 000 and ZWL6 659 000 in 2020. The council was allocated ZWL9 505 000 in 2021 and it is yet to receive the funds. The funds received were used to construct Mapfungautsi and Sasame Clinics, installation of solar street lights, the purchase of Town House furniture, procurement of a tow grader, tractors and a tipper truck as well as a refuse trailer and tractor.

Tour of Kariba Municipality

  •         In Kariba, it was highlighted that the local authority had received a total of ZWL20 000 000 as devolution funds. The funds were used to construct two large flea markets for the vendors in the resort town. It was further mentioned that the delay in the completion of the flea markets was due to the lockdown imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tour of Karoi Town Council

  •         The presentation in Karoi highlighted that the town had received a total of ZWL7 725 000 from 2019 to date in devolution funds from the government and has utilised ZWL5 768 124.05. A total of ZWL92 500.00 was used to purchase solar street lights (Kabinet-Petrotrade area). A further ZWL294 601.25 was used on solar lights around the Petro trade – police. The town financed the Zuva filling station and ZESA area street lights to a tune of ZWL110 040.
  •          Additionally, the local authority bought TAFE 75HP power tractor at a cost of ZWL499 000. The equipment was functional at the time of the enquiry. The local authority procured a tar baby with hand held spray at a cost of ZWL64 515.00 to benefit stakeholders and was currently functional in the town as intended. Cognisant of the many vendors in the town, devolution funds were channeled towards the construction of two flea markets projects at a cost of ZWL 3 851 819 and the construction works were in progress. Finally, the council dedicated ZWL314 886 towards the construction of Westview Primary School and the construction works were in progress. The balance of the total devolution funds of ZWL1 956 875.95 was earmarked for the construction of the clinic and flea markets.

Tour of Bindura Municipality

  •          In Bindura, the local authority acknowledged receipt of the devolution funds but was not able to present the exact amount received. The presentation however pointed out that two tractors were procured in 2020 using the devolution funds. The funds were used to construct Brokdale Primary school block (pictured below) at a cost of ZWL2 205 975. Furthermore, it was highlighted that some of the funds were utilized in the construction of their central stores at cost of ZWL540 738; a project which the Committee was not convinced was a priority for the residents. In determining the priority areas, the municipality indicated that the council conducted extensive consultations which included ward-based consultations on WhatsApp. The local authority implemented the Bindura Water and Wastewater Rehabilitation Project which cost ZWL10 219 799. This project included the procurement of high lift pipes, valves and raw water pump sets. In addition, it constructed office space for the Housing and Health Departments in Chipadze at a cost of ZWL180 617.80. Below is the office block that was constructed.

Tour of Epworth Local Board

  •         In Epworth, the Committee learnt that the local authority received a total of ZWL14 746 359 since 2019 as devolution funds. From the funds, the local authority managed to sink two boreholes in each of the seven wards which comes to a total of 14 boreholes. The local authority had adopted a three-phased approach in the restoration of street-lighting and in that regard, it had installed forty-three solar street lights and an additional ten were being installed. The local authority further procured a tractor and the twelve skip bins to aid in waste management.
  •         The funds were again utilized to complete Mabvazuva clinic which was equipped with a solar power system. The funds were used to erect the perimeter fence at the newly constructed Adelaide Secondary School. The local authority constructed Munyuki Market for the vendors in the area (pictured below). They further installed and established two solar powered piped water schemes in a bid to enhance water service delivery. The local authority constructed two state of the art model public toilets and financed the construction of four classroom blocks at Glenwood which was still to be completed. Below is the Munyuki Vendors Market in Epworth.

Munyuki Vendors Market (Epworth)

Tour of Marondera Municipality

  •         Marondera Municipality highlighted that between 2019 and 2021, the local authority had received ZWL27 441 525 as devolution funds. The bulk of these funds were earmarked for the implementation of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Project. The local authority managed to do emergency water repairs at Wenimbi Dam, purchase new chlorinators, fix and supply of new gate valves, purchase of new taper bearings as well as the purchase of a new aluminum injector. Further, the local authority managed to install a solar system and sink boreholes within the community. These projects were implemented in 2019 at a cost of ZWL4 600 426.47.
  •         In 2020, the local authority prioritised the implementation of various WASH projects. This included the procurement of water bowsers, rehabilitation of water tanks, sand filtration units, solar street lights, new Rufaro water pump, new electricity transformer, fencing off Hokoyo-Ngozi (Quarry Pond). This was done at a cost of ZWL22 106 289.97 and at the time of the inquiry, ZWL21 723 173.78 had been paid to the contractors.
  •         Gundo, the CEO of Marondera RDC, highlighted that the local authority had received a total ofZWL12 860 000, receiving ZWL7 160 000 and ZWL5 700 000 in 2019 and 2020 respectively. In 2021, the local authority was yet to receive any devolution funds.
  •         The RDC constructed Chakadini Clinic at an estimated cost of ZWL3 591 680. It commenced the implementation of the Mandoga Primary School and Grand Chase Secondary School and the rehabilitation of the St Anna Sadza School at a cost of ZWL6 477 112. They managed to install solar street lights in Mahusekwa at a cost of ZWL783 840 and the procurement of equipment (8-tonne lorry, towed grader and the dumper truck) at a cost of ZWL1 827 368. As with all other local authorities, it utilized the budget consultation process in soliciting the views of the residents in prioritizing projects. They pointed out that project selection was guided by the Marondera RDC strategic plan (2018-2020), ward and district profiles and stakeholder engagements. The CEO further highlighted that the local authority did not have a stand-alone monitoring and evaluation unit to continuously monitor the implementation and utilization of devolution funds.

5.0    Challenges in the Implementation of Devolution

The following challenges were highlighted by the local authorities visited:

5.1    Disbursements from the central government were unpredictable and this affects the timely planning and utilization of the devolution funds. This further affects the procurement processes since prices keep changing. Before the introduction of the foreign currency auction system, foreign currency exchange rates were volatile and this made procurement further complicated.

5.2    The lack of a devolution legislative framework has resulted in widespread bottlenecks in the operationalisation of devolution and the subsequent utilisation of the devolution funds.

5.3    The councils bemoaned the lengthy procurement process which has negatively impacted on the pricing of goods and services. In most cases, the local authorities highlighted that after receiving invoices from the suppliers, it is sent to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development which has to approve the purchase and then disburse the funds to the local authorities for onward payment to the suppliers. This process as it was highlighted, may take over a month.

5.4    Devolution funds are not exempt from Intermediated Money Transfer Tax. Resultantly, with each IGFT received, council has to pay 2%.  This is on top of other taxes and services charges which in most cases amount to 6% of the disbursement to the local authorities.

5.5    There were widespread delays in delivery of imported equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

5.6    Local authorities bemoaned the lack of capacity by local contractors to produce or provide the various goods services. Resultantly, the local authorities have resorted to procuring the goods and services from foreign contractors who require payments in foreign currency yet the local authorities cannot access the foreign currency.

6.0    Committee’s Observations

6.1    The absence of a devolution framework had resulted in the lack of clear directives or procedures in the implementation of devolution by local authorities.

6.2    There were marked differences in the understanding of devolution among the different local authorities. Resultantly, there were disparities in the implementation of devolution as well as the utilisation of devolution funds.

6.3    The formula currently used to determine the allocation of devolution funds is not fair as it did not take into consideration other factors of development such as the vehicle population in urban areas.

6.4    The lengthy procurement process as well as the delays in the disbursement of the funds had greatly militated against the efficiency of local authorities in implementing their projects. In most cases, the local authorities were either overcharged or had to restart the procurement process.

6.5    By May 2021, some local authorities were yet to receive their 2021 devolution funds allocation which is nearly six months into the fiscal year.

6.6    Local authorities were not exempted from paying the IMT Tax (2% Tax) and as a result, they were losing a large part of their funds to tax. For example, in the case of Gokwe Town Council which received ZWL6 659 000 in 2020, ZWL133 180 went towards the IMT Tax which is an amount that could be channeled towards supporting a project. This tax is charged on every other transaction that is carried out by the local authority.

6.7    Some of the local authorities such as Mutare City Council and Kariba Municipality were ill-prepared for the engagements with the Committee. Resultantly, presentations lacked detail and even after they were tasked to send a comprehensive report, the report particularly in the case of Kariba Municipality, lacked detail on the utilisation of devolution funds.

6.8    The Committee was concerned by the limited number of projects implemented by Kariba Municipality following the disbursement of the devolution funds.

6.9    In most of the local authorities visited, there was little to no civic/community participation in the determination of projects to be carried out using the devolution funds. In most cases, the local authorities mentioned that they used budget consultations as the basis for project selection. There was no differentiation between the normal budget consultations and those for devolution funds. Moreover, in some local authorities, consultations were conducted through the existing Village and Ward Development Committees (VIDCOs/WADCOs) but these are largely dysfunctional.

6.10  The Committee bemoaned the lack of an efficient system of monitoring and evaluation of the utilisation of devolution funds. This, as the Committee notes, goes against the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability.

6.11  The Committee was impressed by the projects in Epworth. It however noted the high level of the donor community involvement in the implementation of various capital projects in the area. There was a likelihood of attributing projects being implemented by partners to devolution funds.

7.0    Committee’s Recommendations

The Committee therefore recommends the following:

7.1    There is need to realign the laws that govern procurement to ensure that there is clarity in the procurement process by June 2022.

7.2    The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should efficiently and timeously disburse funds to local authorities for use within the budget year.

7.3    All local authorities need to be capacitated on how to utilise and account for the devolution funds utilized by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development by December 2021.

7.4    Local authorities should establish a framework for engagements and consultations with the communities in the utilisation of devolution funds by December 2021.

7.5    There is need by both the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and the local authorities, to establish and strengthen their monitoring and evaluation units in a bid to ensure value-for-money when utilising the devolution funds by December 2021.

7.6     There is need to come up with a devolution framework that outlines the devolution financing model and this should exempt local authorities from the IMT Tax by June 2022.

8.0    Conclusion

8.1    In conclusion, devolution has played a significant role in the recapitalisation of local authorities coupled with the widespread stimulation of infrastructure development in most areas. More importantly, devolution has provided a platform for civic participation in shaping the overall development agenda in any jurisdiction as envisaged in Section 264 (2a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Additionally, predictability in terms of disbursements from Treasury is key in ensuring effectiveness and efficiency in the implementation of projects. I thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Chikukwa for your detailed report.  May I also urge you again, to make sure that such wonderful reports are timeously presented to the House?  Thank you. – [(v)HON. T. MLISWA:  Mr. Speaker Sir, may I come in with my Point of Order which is brief?] -

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Yes, I had not forgotten Hon. Mliswa.

          (v)HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, thank you very much for bringing up that point that reports seem to come in late.  May you indulge the Clerk to also look at all the reports to just review them if they are up to the current situation?  Most of these reports are re-instated without due diligence being done.   May your good Office implore the Clerk to go through all of them so that we do not waste time?

          Some of these reports are overtaken by events like you mentioned.  I cannot over emphasize your point but maybe the Clerk can help by going through these reports so that they are up to speed when they are brought before Parliament.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you very much for your observation.  We will also ensure that we take into account the exigencies of COVID-19 that also delayed the sitting of Parliament but that should not be a total excuse at all. 

          HON. RAIDZA:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir and complements of the new season.    I rise to second the motion of the Report of the Local Government Portfolio Committee regarding the issue of the visit that the Committee undertook on devolution.

          Indeed, devolution came in at the right time, in the coming of the Second Republic.  We always hear and have been hearing our President, His Excellency Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, emphasising the issues that are enshrined in Chapter 14 of our Constitution of giving power to communities when it comes to decision making on issues that affect them.  Since 2019, we have been seeing devolution funds being given to local authorities so that they carryout infrastructural development as per the national Constitution.

          However, Mr. Speaker Sir, during the tour that we undertook as your Committee, we realised that there are a number of issues that need to be corrected and attended to.  Before undertaking the tour, some time from 2nd to the 5th May, 2021, we had an opportunity to engage with officials from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.  In the engagement, several issues came out of the engagement as has been alluded to by the Hon. Chairperson, Hon. Chikukwa.  Even the Ministry officials were also not clear on a number of issues.

          One of the issues that they were not clear on is about the framework on how the money is being allocated to respective local authorities. They were not very clear about the formula as to how it came about.  As your Committee, we found out that even the local authorities were not aware as to why they we allocated different amounts from the other local authorities. 

          Our recommendation Mr. Speaker Sir …

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order!  Hon. Member, can you push your gadget slightly away from the mic?

          HON. RAIDZA:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  As your Committee, on our engagement with the local authorities, we found out that we really need a law or framework as Parliament that will guide the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works or the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on how these funds can be disbursed to local authorities so that we can achieve the desire of our Constitution to have equity in terms of our distribution of these national resources.

          In our engagements with the local authorities, we found out that as of May, some of the local authorities had not yet even received a cent but others had already received two, three or five disbursements.  Then we were wondering as to what type of formula was being used by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to say, let us give these three times and let us not give the other one.  I think it is very important that, as Parliament, we take note of these serious issues because we want the whole of Zimbabwe to be developed.

          The other issue, from our engagement with the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works officials, was the issue of the Devolution Bill that was supposed to be in Parliament.  They also were not very sure as to when this Bill is going to come to Parliament.  We realised, in our tours, that some of the problems that we are finding in councils are caused by the lack of the Devolution Bill or the devolution law that is expected to be there in terms of our Constitution.  All these issues that we hear about monitoring and evaluation that is supposed to be conducted on monies that are disbursed to local authorities are not properly happening because of the lack of this legislation.  I want to encourage this House that we also need to move with speed to make sure that this law is in place so that, at least, this good initiative of empowering our communities is fully realised.

          However, Mr. Speaker Sir, with the little that has been happening, there is serious progress in our local communities in terms of the funds being disbursed.  We hear that they have been buying a lot of road equipment, wash equipment; all these are positives that are coming out of these devolution funds that are being disbursed by our Central Government to local authorities.  However, our concern as a Committee is that some of these local authorities as they were being given these funds, they were focusing mainly on acquisition of the machinery and they were also not looking into the low hanging fruits in some of the smaller projects that they could have been doing that could bring benefits to our local communities.  Some of the local authorities that we have visited, we have realised that they have some unfinished clinics, schools and a lot of dilapidated infrastructure.  Our suggestion to them was that they could have just used part of that money to bring some quick gains to our communities because we were not happy with the buying much of the equipment instead of carrying out work that was going to bring quick gains to the communities. 

          I also want to touch on the issue of PRAZ - on our engagement with the local authorities, we have realised that the process that is currently being carried out when people are procuring the goods and services was too long for the devolution funds to have a meaningful impact in our communities because the process is long.  If you look at the stages that the entities take whenever they want to procure something, the whole process was taking plus or minus sixty days.  With what is happening in our economy, if you decide to buy something today and you wait for other processes to happen and they finish after 60 days, we know the effect of changing of prices and all these others elements. 

          Mr. Speaker, I want to encourage that we look into that area so that we realise the full value of the intention of releasing these devolution funds to these communities. I want to look at the issue of public consultations.  We have realised that these local authorities, not even one of them did consult the public as per the expectation of the Constitution.  They were not consulting. What they were doing is that they were getting the money, as soon as they got the money, they got back to their strategic plans and the priorities that they might have as officials, then decided on what to do with the money. 

          On this tour, we had an opportunity to engage the local communities to find out if they were aware of the devolution funds and we discovered that the majority of the people do not know.  We did encourage the local authorities that they must take it upon themselves to make sure that their communities are aware of the efforts of the Central Government, the efforts of the Second Republic in terms of empowering the communities.  I can give an example like the one in Kwekwe.  At one time our Vice President Dr. Chiwenga went to inspect an infectious clinic in Mbizo.  It was a good initiative that the Council turned a bar into a clinic and renovated it but as we were consulting around, they did not know that the good work was done by the devolution funds.  We instructed the local authority that it should put a signage to indicate who was doing the good work.  We are very happy that they also heeded our advice and have put a notice board to indicate which fund was used to carry out such a noble project. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, these are some of the issues that I want to raise so that they can push forward for an enhancement of our framework to make sure that the devolution funds are properly used and the citizens of Zimbabwe benefit.  As soon as we deal with that, I believe that a number of issues that we are raising today will be dealt with in that note.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  I made two observations from the Chair.  The seconder speaks about lack of legal framework but in your recommendation you did not raise that important aspect that a law must be in place that will give legal framework to the devolution.

          HON. NDUNA:  They did in the conclusion.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  The conclusion is not a recommendation, there are six recommendations and out of that conclusion, 7.7 should actually give some timelines to the Ministry that by such and such a day, that law must be in place and not under conclusion. Secondly, I hope the Committee has the devolution copy, have you seen a copy – [AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.] - did you discuss it as a Committee?  I am asking this deliberately because in that policy, it gives guidelines on how the provincial councils should be put in such a way that there are committees, for example, economic committees and planning committees that will discuss the issues of the funds arising from devolution.  If you read that policy, it gives you clear guidelines on how the structure should be put in place in terms of Committees under the Office of the Minister of State and Devolution.  Please revisit that policy attentively and you will be guided accordingly when you investigate further about how we can improve the issue of devolved funds from Central Government.

          HON. T. MOYO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this very important debate on the significance of devolution.  May I also add my voice on a motion raised by Hon. Chikukwa and Hon. Raidza.  Devolution funds were a culmination of the 2013 Constitution but it must be observed that in terms of implementation, credit must be given to the Second Republic, headed by His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa. You can calculate the number of years that were spent before devolution funds were sent to different provinces. From 2013 up to 2019, it took us almost six years before implementation was done. We need to commend the Government for a job well done.

          The new dispensation introduced the issue of devolution funds as a game changer. The impact of devolution is prodigious or great. Devolution brought about sustainable economic development and even now, the impact or effect of these devolution funds is being felt in various regions, especially in the marginalised districts where I come in Gokwe North where we are beginning to realise that the funds are very important, particularly for the livelihoods for the majority of Zimbabweans especially to be better.

          The devolution funds have the potential to propel development in Zimbabwe and that will lead towards an upper middle income economy. As engines for economic growth, the devolution funds will undoubtedly lead towards poverty eradication. We must take note of the fact that since the introduction of devolution funds, a number of projects have mushroomed in both urban and rural areas. Some of the projects that we have witnessed include construction of schools. We have seen a number of schools that have been constructed in our rural areas. In my constituency, I can name schools like Gura Primary School which was constructed as a result of the use of devolutions funds.

          The people who were employed by the companies that were awarded tender to construct those schools ended up being employed and that became an advantage of on the use of devolution funds. A number of clinics were constructed and are still being constructed throughout Zimbabwe. This is also very important because the distance from people’s homes to the nearest clinic should not be too big just like the distance from home to the nearest school should not exceed 5km. We have seen that the devolution funds are very important, especially in trying to reduce the distance that school learners walk to their nearest school. That has been very important, particularly in trying to reduce the distance covered by our students.

          We have also witnessed some marketing places also being constructed as a result of devolution funds. However, we must mention that there are challenges associated with the disbursements of these funds. The Ministry of Finance sometimes delays in terms of the payment of these funds and in an environment where there is inflation, some of the projects that would have been prioritised may not be adequately covered. It is our clarion call for the Minister of Finance to expeditiously release those funds so that the people who are responsible for procurement are accorded the chance before erosion by inflation takes place.

          Some of the challenges associated with these funds is the issue of rural personnel who work for RDCs who are not properly qualified to handle these funds. There is no proper consultation that is done. Sometimes we have seen equipment that is obsolete being bought. I will give an example of what is happening in Gokwe North. Sometimes we are told that we have just bought this for you before even Hon Members are consulted. There is need to involve everyone from the grassroots, even the ordinary person should be consulted on what projects are being prioritised so that people are not shocked when they see machinery or equipment that is obsolete when it is bought. If you go to Gokwe North today at Nembudziya, you will see some earthmoving machines which were bought but are not very important, particularly for the people in those areas. It is necessary to engage everyone so that people agree on what should be bought and what should not be bought because people would be facing a number of challenges like water. So it is better to prioritise drilling of boreholes because that is the major challenge which will be faced by the people.

          Another problem concerns those people who are called Provincial Councillors. They were voted into power in 2018 doing nothing. Provincial Councillors are not even receiving their salaries. I think it is because of the problem that has been mentioned by Hon. Raidza, that we need to align the issue of devolution to the Constitution because we cannot elect people who are not effective. The ordinary councillor in charge of a ward, his/her roles are known but what about the provincial councilor - we do not see their roles.  They do not know what to do because the clause on devolution has to be aligned to the Constitution.

          Finally, the challenge of COVID-19 which inhibited procurement processes to be done in time. I really appreciate the importance of devolution funds in trying to bring about sustainable economic development. We have to move with speed as an august House to ensure that the clauses associated with devolution are aligned to the Constitution. With those remarks, I thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: In order to balance our debate, so far it is one side that has been debating. So, I need to have a stew of debate. I will call upon

(V)HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir, for allowing this motion to be moved by Hon. Chikukwa and equally supported by Hon. T. Moyo.  Mr. Speaker Sir, the issues that have been brought are issues of a serious nature. You are aware of the number of times that your Parliament brought this up to the relevant Ministers, the Minister of Finance in terms of disbursement of this fund, and not only that, but they even went as far as engaging the Minister of Local Government because the Minister of Finance exonerated himself by saying that his job is to release funds and the onus is upon the responsible Ministry to ensure that there is an Act of Parliament which must support this.  I remember, you equally mandated the Minister of Justice to talk to the Attorney General together with the Minister of Local Government on these issues. As usual, they did not report back as to what the outcome was.  This has led to the issues which have been raised by the Hon. Members of Parliament in terms of accountability, transparency, monitoring and evaluation.   

When the Constitution speaks to the role of the provincial council being able to monitor and evaluate, Hon. Chikukwa was very clear that the missing link in all this was the aspect of evaluation and monitoring of this fund.  As you see, the legislator was quite aware of the fact that he needed a superior person to be able to see this.  Mr. Speaker, can you hear me?

THE HON. SPEAKER: Proceed. 

(v)HON. T. MLISWA: So, the legislator enacted a law which allows the Members of Parliament to also be part of it. Unfortunately, while this initiative was excellent the Second Republic has seen it fit to reverse that.  The aspect of oversight is not on us being in Parliament. These are Government funds and we must be able to monitor them. 

Hon. T. Moyo was very clear in saying that even us Members of Parliament do not know about this. The reason why we do not know about this is because this has become a plundering, looting and corrupt vehicle on the devolution funds, the intention being good but it has been spoiled by us.  Allow the Executive to do as it wishes. It is on record and because of that, it now leaves me with one issue, which is, what is the motive of the Executive not wanting Parliamentarians to be part of this devolution fund which is State fund which we can monitor like any other funds. It is because of the corruption which is rampant in the country.

The report spoke about how the disbursement of funds is not that equal. One rural council is given this little bit of money and the other one is given this little bit of money and so forth.  Why then the disbursement is not done at once because there is inflation? We are in an inflationary environment and it only makes sense for money to be disbursed at once timeously but it is done piece-meal. Whoever goes on their knees and they patronize the responsible authority which gives money then they are given the money.  It is as if you are only giving money when it is a favour that if you give us money we will be able to give you a certain percentage.  It only leaves us to now wonder why it is that there is piece-meal distribution in the manner in which money is disbursed at the end of the day. 

The Second Republic has been very clear about wanting to see development happening. We have seen development in many ways but it cannot be the cost of tax payers’ money despite all the infrastructure that is being built.  The next question is - at what cost, who cares?  If it is the public that pays then there is no accountability and there is a problem. The aspect of accountability has got to happen and I am glad that the Committee itself behaves as more or less like an Auditor General’s Office. The Auditor General’s Office has been very clear on all these issues.  Recommendations have come through from the Auditor General’s Office; they are never implemented by the Executive at the end of the day.

The Executive believes that they have a right to do as they wish but this report does not do the Executive any good.  I want to commend, despite this report being late; a lot has been exposed and a lot more is happening. That outreach programme, which happened enabling that within two weeks there must be a report  because time passes and it is overtaken by events, this is a job well done and these are the very same issues we brought up from the beginning and up to now, the Executive has not been able to come before Parliament with a Bill.  Hon. Members and local authorities do not even know what they are doing Mr. Speaker.    How can you honestly as a Parliament know when your Members do not know what is happening at the end of the day? Fortunately, you have a Parliament with some Members like Hon. Chikukwa seconded by Hon. Raidza,  who know what they are doing and I say it is a good statement to people that we as Members of Parliament,  are quite on top of the situation and the Executive is behind it. It has been exposed to answer to these issues.  The law enforcement agency must move in.  The recommendations must be pretty clear on what should happen to any money that has not been used for its purpose. 

If a company is being recommended to do a good job at a much lesser price, what is the motive of you picking a company which is higher, which is not able? It has been exposed that the companies which have been given contracts, most of them have not been able to do anything.  The ZINARA graders only lasted for three months. An enquiry needs to be put into place on how they were bought. Was due diligence done?  What did they cost? Three months Mr. Speaker Sir, the graders are still parked.  Who made money and who is going to pay for the money; it is the tax payer, it is the public, we must defend and protect the public.  That ZINARA issue, we all celebrated and we are tired of going to these occasions where we all sit, look at the equipment which is before us yet this equipment is fake and it only works for three months.  The roads have not been done and we are constantly behind on maintenance and so forth. That cannot be allowed to continue. These ZINARA graders, we need whoever was the Minister that time to account how they brought about these graders that only lasted for three months. Right now, they are parked, they are white elephants on tax payer’s money. 

Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude by saying it is a very enlightening report, well done to the Committee.  Your Auditor General’s recommendations must be implemented. The Committee’s recommendations must be implemented; they must go further to ensure that the Anti-Corruption Commission does not have to be invited to this. No one needs to report; you are part of this country, it is an institution that looks into corruption and as a result, it must carry on with their mandate, so is the ZRP and again the Prosecutor General’s Office must not be just an office with all these files before them and not being able to investigate. 

The other issue is that corruption continues in these local authorities because no one has gone to jail yet the case would be clear.  Most of these cases are clear. Mr. Speaker, being a lawyer yourself and an Advocate, you can actually see a prima facie case.  This must go to trial and it must go before the courts. We are not seeing any of that. You are letting down the law enforcement agency; the Anti-Corruption Commission does not prosecute.  The Prosecutor Generals’ Office prosecutes such atrocities and the entire judiciary which is a package for the arresting authorities, the Prosecuting Authority and the Judiciary at the end of the day.  I want to leave others to debate but I just want to thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir, for being part of this session with the devolution fund.  It is very important.  A lot more needs to be done and we need to pull up our socks and ensure that we account.

 Mr. Speaker Sir, finally, before the Constitution is amended, why are we not sitting as Members of Parliament for those provincial councils?  I have asked that before and it is only when a Constitution has changed or an Act comes through saying that we are not supposed to be there that we can stop.  We are not even being paid our allowances yet provincial council members are being paid allowances.  How do you explain that to anybody?  It is not that we want their money but the Constitution says that we must be part of the provincial councils.  Why are we not part of the provincial council because they know that you have men and women who are capable of asking questions on oversight to monitor and evaluate the resources of the State?  May we sit on these committees and may we do our job until the Constitution speaks otherwise.  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you very much Hon. Mliswa.  I just checked with the Clerk of Parliament, the Provincial Councils Act was gazetted on 31st March 2021 and that is why I had said in the recommendations, the recommendation that should have been there should have been recommendation 7.7 that the Provincial Councils Act be tabled before this House immediately because it has been gazetted already since March 31, 2021.  I hope the Committee will be able to summon the Minister and find out why there is delay in tabling that gazetted Bill.

HON. S. BANDA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for affording me this opportunity to stand before this august House.  Mr. Speaker Sir, compliments of the new season.  I will avoid the temptation to discuss what has already been discussed and I will go in a slightly different direction. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, the report, I think, did not specifically specify that 5% of funds which are approved in this budget are supposed to go towards devolution, so we wanted that to also be captured by the vote to say 5% is supposed to be set aside.  Then that is when we now go into the issues of disbursement where we are urging the Hon. Minister responsible to indeed ensure that the 5%, as a minimum should be provided towards devolution.

As an opposition party, Madam Speaker, we are convinced that devolution is the way to go.  So we want to commend the Government for taking the devolution route because that is what Baba Tsvangirai used to cry for.  That is the legacy that he left with us that we should move towards devolution.  So I am glad that is being done and I think he may even be smiling in his grave saying that is a brain child I was responsible for and it is proceeding very well.

Madam Speaker, while at that, I also want to thank the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and even the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.  There is a road called Connaught Road and King George which are now in a better situation.  They have now been repaired and rehabilitated and we are very happy and excited about it.  It gives me a wing to fly that come 2023 I, at least have something that can make me be elected again.  I now also ask those Hon. Ministers to do something about Teviotdale or Alps Road as promised.  I think it is in an even worse situation than the one that has just been rehabilitated.  So I am expecting that in 2022, in this quarter, Madam Speaker, that road will also be there. That way we can be smiling together again in 2023 when I will be here standing in this place.

When we also go to devolution, Madam Speaker, I think the national law is supposed to be in touch with the local by-laws set up by municipalities or councils, wherein the money that is collected at a specific point, let me say in my constituency in Mt. Pleasant, the money that we collect at Mt. Pleasant branch at Bond Street office, at least 25% of that money should remain there. That way we will be able to repair things like potholes because for now, if you are approaching that office, there are a number of potholes around.  If we are unable to repair potholes that are near the office, how about those which are further.  So I am also asking that the law that is being proposed should take into consideration that 25% of the money that is receipted by councils should remain at that particular collection centre so that it can work around that area.

Madam Speaker, there is also a contested issue, the issue of vehicle licence fees.  I am of the opinion that maybe part of it should be devolved back to local councils so that they can be empowered to produce more through devolution.  Potholes are now, especially at this point in time when there are a lot of rains, all over and some of them…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA):  Order!  Hon. Kapuya you are out of order.  May you please stop screen sharing.  Thank you, you can proceed.

HON. S. BANDA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I was just referring to the issue of vehicle licence so that at least they can also be devolved.  We have got potholes due to rains and legacy issues, so we would like to make sure that devolution funds go towards the roads and then we can be able to have a better Zimbabwe.

Finally Madam Speaker, it is almost at the end of the term and your MPs, are all learned.  So I think there were supposed to be efforts for them to be devolved around the country so that this outstanding issue is resolved with urgency.  I will not go into other welfare issues which I wanted to speak about.  I think I will speak about them at the relevant time but it also concerns Parliament staff, your own MPs, and even the generality of the civil servants, but for now, I will not go into that.  The devolution, because we hear that there is a surplus, I think part of the devolution funds should go towards those areas so that once these institutions are happy, you find that the country will start to flow and will be in very good agreement and the Government will be able to work properly without having problems with anyone.  I thank you for affording me this opportunity Madam Speaker.

HON. DR. MURIRE:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Compliments of the season to you Madam Speaker and all fellow Hon. Members.

Madam Speaker I rise to add my voice to the report presented here by Hon. Chikukwa, Chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government and her team. Madam Speaker, from all that has been said; from my understanding and experience interacting with people who are dealing with devolution, it appears that there is a lack of understanding of  devolution by most people who are tasked to implement that provision of the Act. We are here concentrating more on the devolution funds  as disbursed by Treasury but it is my belief and understanding that devolution as envisaged in the Act, goes beyond the funds that are allocated constitutionally by Treasury.

          So the Committee should encourage Central Government to come out clear in terms of the concepts in policies. The policy is there but the concept of devolution is not understood. Even Members of Parliament, if asked what exactly we should be doing with regards to devolution, there is little understanding. Therefore, I believe Government should put programmes to ensure that all those who are supposed to be involved with this devolution have a clear understanding and ensure that the proper monitoring mechanism is effective. That goes the same with other Hon. Members who have observed issues with regards to legislative framework. We have got the Traditional Leaders Act and the Rural District Councils Act...

          (v)HON. NDEBELE: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I am wondering if IT could assist – there is a lot of echo, as a result we can hardly hear what the Hon. Dr. Murire is saying. He is a solid debater and we would like to benefit from his wisdom. There is a lot of feedback and echo on our side. Thank you.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): Thank you for that note Hon. Ndebele. I am sure that is going to be fixed just now. I am being advised by the IT specialist that Hon. Murire needs to move his gadget away from the microphone because it will have that feedback. If you can just push it away a little bit, I am sure we will not be able to get the feedback.

          HON. DR. MURIRE: I was now on the promulgation of the relevant legislative framework as alluded to be my colleagues who spoke earlier. I was saying the Traditional Leaders Act and the Rural District Councils Act play a significant role in terms of delivery and implementation of devolution. If you go on the ground and see what is practically happening, these pieces of legislation are not operational. As a result, the communities who are supposed to be the drivers of the devolution are left out. Devolution is supposed to be from bottom up but it is from top down at the moment because it starts with allocation by Treasury of funds that are supposed to go to communities. Communities are not asked to say which areas they want the funds to go to.

          For example, in 2021 we gathered in our provinces and Treasury came down with priority areas that they had already made in their offices. MPs, provincial councillors, rural district councils and local authorities were called in and all they were asked to do is to say you should plan along these priorities – that is priorities that had been determined by Central Government which is not the spirit of devolution. I am sure that the new Act that is going to be tabled before this Parliament will take into account the need to speak to the Traditional Leaders Act and the Rural District Councils Act and other statutes that guide rural district councils in their operations. Also, there is lack of appropriate structures. 

          At the moment, devolution is being implemented but there are no appropriate structures to ensure that the funds are efficiently managed. Right now at provincial level, we now have provincial development coordinators and other supporting staff – those are the structures that have been put in place without the relevant legislative framework. My worry now is how those are synchronised because it is supposed to be the law first and then structures later.

          The impact of the devolution – we commend Government for having budgeted for those funds but one thing that is there is in my district, the impact of devolution is not noticeable. It is not noticeable because the whole amount that was allocated to Chipinge Rural District Council, less than 10%, was released and yet when we come here we are told that Government does not have the surplus. If we are serious in ensuring that we observe constitutional provisions, I am sure the 5% that is supposed to be released if we collect all revenue that is budgeted for, it means that 5% should be wholly released by year end, but that is not the case. Therefore the impact from 10% is very insignificant. 

          I know that for the two years that we have gone, Chipinge Rural District Council has managed to build one clinic, one classroom block, repair one clinic and buy a tipper truck. To me, if all the funds had been released, the council could have done a lot and it could have had impact on the ground. What we are saying is that the community is not seeing the impact of devolution because of the non-release of the funds that would have been budgeted for. I encourage Government to ensure that by year end, all funds that are allocated for devolution as a constitutional provision are released in full.

          On the issue of inter-departmental coordination, we have got mono-agencies of Government that are involved in community development. DDF is one such agent that is responsible for roads. The RDCs are also responsible for construction of their own roads and the department for State roads, but if you go to rural communities, most of the roads belong to DDF. Rural District Councils own very small stretches of roads and when it comes to prioritisation, you will see that most of the roads remain unattended to because the money that is allocated to Rural District Councils cannot go to road maintenance or development because those roads do not belong to that particular agency.

          We also have Central Government coming into rural development. Last time in our constituency, we experienced a situation where Ministry of Education was coming in with UNICEF to drill a borehole at a site. DDF and RDC were all coming to that same place. To us it reflects lack of coordination by these agencies for the same purpose. There is need therefore, for all Government agencies in terms of devolution provisions to coordinate so that there is no duplication and that also will ensure that fraud and corruption are prevented.  Assuming that the Ministry has come to drill a borehole, then funds allocated under devolution to a Rural District Council are used for other purposes, but on the books they will indicate that they have drilled a borehole.  When audit comes, they will be shown the borehole that has been drilled by UNICEF, hence we are saying it facilitates fraud and corruption.

          Madam Speaker, I commend the job that has been done by the Committee and urge them to closely look and enforce compliance on the promulgation of appropriate legislation and alignment of those that are in existence, ensuring that the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing coordinate with sister departments so that there is proper synchronization of activities with regards to implementation of devolutions funds.  I thank you.

          HON. MUSAKWA: I would like to add my voice to the motion brought to the House by Hon. Chikukwa, seconded by Hon. Raidza on the issue of devolution and the tour they had which went on to prove that devolution is a great step forward. However, there are things that we need to learn as it is the first time that such an innovative programme has ever been implemented.

 We have noticed quite a number of positive changes around the country based on devolution, but I think we need to improve as highlighted in the report that the issue of IMT tax      which was raised by the Committee that the IMT tax, if levied on the implementing agency for the devolution fund defeats the purpose because the same money has come from Treasury and then it is taken back to Treasury again.  So I think there must be a way of making sure that such processes are exempt from IMT tax to avoid recycling of the same funds which then creates a lot of unnecessary accounting processes. 

The report also raised a very important and pertinent issue on timeous disbursement of the funds - a lot of Hon. Members have raised the fact that in the current inflationary environment, it is very important that funds are released on time. At the same time, there is also the notion that when these funds are released, the public must be consulted and all the stakeholders must consult before projects are implemented.

At the same time, we have noticed that when these projects are implemented throughout the country, there is lack of technical standardization.  You  may find that a clinic  built in  one province maybe under the same commercial environment which is prevailing in the country might cost 10 million and you go to the next province, the same one or even bigger one, has costed seven million.  So you wonder what has happened.  I think there is need now as we improve on the devolution, to standardize designs of common infrastructure like classroom blocks, clinics, houses and things like that.  Also, standardize even bills of quantities to make sure that one building in Matabeleland North uses 300 bags of cement and one in Mashonaland East might use 200.  Therefore, there must be standardization so that monitoring and evaluation becomes easier even in terms of strength of infrastructure; this becomes standard.

However, in a nutshell, devolution is playing a very important role like in my constituency Bikita West, there are quite a lot of projects that are going on.  We have classrooms being constructed; we have a second classroom block being constructed at Musiya Primary School.  We have got a clinic at Dungu being earmarked for devolution, Chivaka and others, there are so many to mention.  We are moving in a positive direction.  We only need to tighten screws here and there just to make sure that things flow in the right direction.

The cumbersome procurement procedures should be streamlined to make sure that there is timeous implementation of projects.  We have noticed that some councils end up being shortchanged by unscrupulous people who, after being allocated tenders, demand pre-payment, and they then disappear with devotion funds.  Some of these loop- holes need to be closed up and tighten the process.  I thank you.

(v)HON. MOKONE: Compliments of the new season Hon. Madam Speaker.  I would like to thank Hon. Chikukwa for such a pertinent report being supported by Hon. Raidza. 

Madam Speaker, given that devolution funds came in 2013, through the Constitution Amendment (No. 20) of 2013, up to now there has been no clear legislative framework to that effect.  Yes, we applaud the Government for disbursing devolution funds but this is not enough. A million dollar question that is arising is - who is monitoring the funds that are being disbursed? We have seen a lot of corruption that occurs in the provinces. Madam Speaker, we all know that where there is money there has to be accountability and transparency. I would suggest that there be audits in the provinces and whoever is found on the wrong side of the law be brought to book.

Madam Speaker, another issue is that these funds are also being disbursed late. Some provinces complain of the amounts that they are receiving. For instance, the province where I come from in Matabeleland South, the amount that this province has been receiving is very little and we wonder how the Ministry arrives at such a figure that he has always allocated to our province. Lastly Madam Speaker, we have provincial councillors who are receiving allowances to date yet they have not been sworn in. When are these provincial councillors going to be sworn in? This is a cause of concern. With these few words, I rest my case.

HON. NDUNA:  Thank you Madam Speaker. Compliments of the new season!

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you and same to you.

HON. NDUNA: I want to applaud the report by Hon. Chikukwa and I urge all other chairpersons of Committees, the 20 Portfolio Committees and the seven Thematics in the Senate, to take cue from Hon. Chikukwa. She has been doing an excellent job in her Committee. There are other complementing committees which have not been doing the same. I cannot shy away from this because during my time in the Eighth Parliament, I was robust, resilient, effective and efficient chair of a Committee in the mould of the Committee on Local Government.  I applaud her for taking over from where she left off in the Eighth Parliament. Madam Speaker, I also applaud Hon. Raidza for having seconded this noble motion.

I now zero in on applauding Government for disbursing devolution funds even in the absence of legislation. I think it was just, it was right and it was a positive gesture that was supposed to be done and seen to be done. I applaud the Second Republic for having disbursed those funds even in the absence of legislation. Madam Speaker Ma’am, as a student of law, I want to say the law is law, just or unjust, it is still law. I applaud the Speaker of the National Assembly for having recommended that I take up that subject at the University of Zimbabwe.

There is need to bring the law on devolution so that we can safeguard as the Speaker says, make it a safety net so that there is no illicit outflows, no revenue leakages and there is optimum, effective and efficient use of the meagre resources that would have been disbursed by Government. The devolution funds, as they speak to and about the issues of Chegutu West Constituency in particular and the other local authorities in general, they speak of augmenting and complementing the pittance amount of water and infrastructure, both housing, water and sewer reticulation.

Madam Speaker Ma’am, a lot of perforated use of funds in the local authorities is premised on the Urban Councils Act non-adherence to it. Section 137 (2) where you would see that in the absence of a Town Clerk, there is need to fill the void of that position using the Chamber Secretary who by his nature is a lawyer. An example would be Masvingo City Council. A report will be tabled by the sub-committee Public Accounts on Local Government in this House. It is chaired by yours truly. You will find that in Masvingo, there is a void on the position of Town Clerk that was filled in avoiding Section 137 (2) Madam Speaker, which the legislature contemplated when he made that law, that there was supposed to be someone filling those shoes. Humongous, big, gigantic shoes who is schooled at law so that they can have safety nets in management of funds and also dealing with delinquent behaviour in terms of other workers and other avenues who would otherwise misuse funds.

The way that position was filled Madam Speaker, avoided all those tenets. So you will find that local authorities are avoiding the Act that Parliament has put in place for them. As a result, there is abuse of funds in the local authorities. The other local authority would be Chitungwiza, which also followed the tracks of Masvingo. This is my view that to the letter and spirit, the Acts of Parliament should be observed and adhered to, the ethos and the values. Madam Speaker, we cannot spend time here putting up laws for the good order and governance of the people of Zimbabwe, only to be ignored at implementation stage in the local authorities, in particular in the local authorities, in particular in urban local authorities, which are infested by opposition antics and all that which is anti-Government values.

Madam Speaker, I have spoken about adherence to the law but when it comes to devolution funds, they came at the right time. Where I come from, we are supposed to be using 22 mega litres of water per day. We are treating 10 mega litres per day. The design capacity of our water treatment plant is 12 mega litres. What is getting to the end user is three mega litres because of perforated, disused, dilapidated, deplorable, old, archaic moribund, rudimentary, medieval pipes Madam Speaker, whose design capacity was not meant for the number of people that are currently in the area.  The design capacity of water and sewer reticulation was for 4000 households whereas we do not have more than 25000 households.  So this is where I say the devolution funds are greatly applauded and I thank the Second Republic for expeditiously disbursing these funds.     

          At the treatment plant, they are treating 10 mega litres. We have an off-take area called Pool Dam on the weir with Mupfure River.  We have got three pumps and a 1.6 MVA transformer, so it is done there with ZINWA and we can push our water 400 metres to Clifton Dam; that is Pool Dam off take area, we can pump our water to Clifton Dam.  When we are at 25% at Clifton Dam, we can have what is called 400 to 500 days’ worth of water for Chegutu West Constituency.  I want to give this brief narration so that you can see where the devolution funds can take us, if closely monitored – like the Hon. Chair has alluded to, monitoring and evaluation after research and development. 

 

We can actually augment the water supply using what we have to get what we want because we have copious amounts of water especially in the rainy season.  When we started pumping more than three weeks ago, we were on 25%, meaning we had 400 days worth of water.  If we get to 50%, in Clifton Dam, we will get more than 600 days of water, which is more than two years’ worth of water.

What I would require that the devolution fund help us with in Chegutu in particular, is the laying of the pipes.  We have already received the devolution funds and we have laid pipes to the tune of USD1.7million, so this is applauded.  We have seen the results of the devolution funds in the absence of legislation.  I go on to lament the issue of lack of cohesion, it is said in vernacular musha idare, where there is no meeting of minds with the residents as to how this money has to be utilised, there is bound to be misuse of the said funds. 

I recommend and also add word and voice that there is need for councillors to come together and have a meeting with the residents in order to get what we want from what we have.  This issue of a one-man band oriented scenario, you end up using these funds for other issues that it is not meant for without making sure that we have the optimum water that we require Madam Speaker Ma’am.

In the water treatment plant, we have clarifiers; I have given you a narration from Clifton Dam pumping the water to the water treatment plant in Chegutu – more than 15kms from Clifton Dam.  What we have are eight clarifiers, six sedimenters and they were built in 1959 to 1979.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, there is need for money from Treasury as a grant to the tune of USD15 million to complement the devolution funds.   Last year we were supposed to get about ZW$104 million but we got 50% of that, about ZW$43 million.  This year we are meant to get USD216 million from devolution funds. 

It is my prayer that if all this money is given and disbursed, it will go a long way in making sure that we annihilate the scourge of cholera and typhoid which once hit Chegutu West Constituency in 2008/9, killing over 400 people and affecting over 4000 people. It is key to my heart.  When it comes to the welfare of the people of Chegutu West Constituency, ‘my heart is on the right hand side,’ Madam Speaker Ma’am – [Laughter.] – I care for them to bits so when it comes to the right to have and right to water, I speak so vociferously. 

Given an opportunity by the Chairperson of the Local Government Committee to stand on the pedestal and platform of the devolution funds, I pray that there be a separate grant, either from PSIP Project or from the Government itself to the tune of USD15 million so that we can duplicate the current water works or water treatment plant and add 10 more clarifiers.  Clarifiers are those pot-like items that catch and hold solid material from the river or dam water, including the mud.  This is where we put in our chlorine and so on.   We have six Sedimenters  and if we can get 12 more – those are called slow sand filters; they then take us to the high lift pumps which then feed the water to the location, to DRC, Forit, Kaguvi Phase 1 and 2, Hintonville, Chestgate and other areas. 

I have four by-elections in my Constituency and I am going to take this debate and show them that I have already treated their concern in terms of the requirement for water, so they have no other reason to vote for anyone else except for that one who is coming from the Second Republic, from ZANU PF where I come from so that they can now get what they want from the devolution funds and from monies being given by the Government from the grant to duplicate the water treatment plant.

Madam Speaker Ma’am, I say this because we have a master plan for Chegutu, which has about 12 farms that are waiting to be given to Chegutu Municipality for urban expansion.  Having said that, Section 72 of the Constitution is key as to how the agricultural land has to be managed.  In the same vein, I want to align the Urban Councils’ Act, Section 205 (1), which has three parts, to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Section 72 (7) (c) which states that the people of Zimbabwe should be enabled to assert their right to land. 

This is where the devolution funds can be utilised to actually create a safe landing space for the people of Chegutu West Constituency.  We have a backlog of 25 000 households – we have 1 500 hectares of land currently waiting to have houses built on it.  If at the rate of 200m2 each, we can have more than 75 000 houses being built because of the land that we have.  I ask the subsistence of the devolution committees and devolution funds that we aligned back to the Urban Councils Act, the Rural District Councils Act (RDC) and a plethora of other Acts that are Town and Country Planning and all those that border on any issues to do with local authorities to the main supreme law of the land.  Mind you, if I take you to Section 2 of the Constitution, it says “any Act of Parliament that is ultra vires the Constitution and it is inconsistent, should be repudiated to the extent of its inconsistency”.  So, it is my clarion call and fervent view that these Acts that border on the local authorities should definitely be aligned, for effective management during this devolution mantra.

          I want to thank the Second Republic, in a very short time, we have the Roads Act that speaks to and about the issue of…

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): You are left with five minutes.  Actually, I am being told that your time is up.

          HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  Can I be given the five minutes, according to what you had said?  It is standard procedure for you to notify me that it is five minutes left before you tell me it is time up.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: It is okay Hon. Nduna, you can proceed.

          HON. NDUNA: Madam Speaker Ma’am, the Roads Act speaks to the issue of routine maintenance and periodic maintenance.  I see His Excellency the President in the Second Republic has given life to ERRP (Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme).  He has given it four phases and I applaud him because where I come from, there arenumerous roadworks taking place.  Previously, unimaginable because we have in the whole country, more than 20 billion US Dollars worth of road-works that are due because our roads have passed 25 years which is their sale by date.  So I applaud the Second Republic for giving us these funds to make sure that we have a robust and resilient roadwork second to none.  Having said that, I want to applaud you for giving me this opportunity to vociferously and effectively debate on this motion that the people of Chegutu West Constituency have asked me to come and debate and add their voice, according to the Constitution. I thank you.

          HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  A very good afternoon to you and compliments of the new season to you, and the rest of the Hon. Members.  Let me begin by thanking Hon. Rev. Chikukwa, the Chair of the Committee on Local Government and her seconder, Hon. Raidza for the very good report which has been tabled eloquently before this House.

          Madam Speaker, I did not intend to take the floor but on second thoughts, it provokes the mind in terms of what this report actually entails the House to do.  You notice that it is titled ‘inquiry into the implementation of devolution in Zimbabwe’.  What does it mean?  Devolution is all about equal development in the provinces, districts and everywhere, so that we improve the lives and the comfort of those that are the recipients to the various projects of Government.  Proper infrastructure development improves the lives of the communities, so I was really provoked when I heard of the developmental activities and projects that have been highlighted in the report.

          However, you will notice that a number of the projects that have been touched by the Chair involve communities that will benefit in terms of their lives.  Thus there is need for proper information dissemination to the communities and proper consultation.  Involvement of stakeholders where they are because when development has actually come to the people, they need to be involved, consulted and make an input that we need these particular projects.  I want to applaud and appreciate that at least something is happening, without even the law having come to the House. 

          Accountability – my favourite subject.   Mind you, this is tax payers’ money, where there is need for quality assurance, quantity verification, monitoring and evaluation (M & E) on whether these projects actually have benefited the communities. Also accountability on whether the resources that have been put to use have been accounted for properly.  If we say 1000 poles were bought, were they really bought and the quality and quantity is correct, so that when the Auditor General comes to audit the projects, it is according to the book.  I really would want to think that when the Minister comes with the law in this House, that will actually enhance the proposals and recommendations which the Committee has mentioned.

          I strongly feel yes, the report has taken long.  It was written last year but I think it was not by design that this report has been tabled today.  We know very well what has been happening in the past.  We could not sit in the House.  We could not attend Parliament.  So it is not even by design that the Committee actually has found the opportunity of coming to the House and present this report.  Having said that, I would want to believe that there are a lot of very good recommendations from this report which if they remain unanswered and the Minister not responding to this particular report, the good work would have gone to waste. 

Therefore, I strongly feel and recommend as follows: that the Minister has to come and respond to this report.  The Minister has to come and respond to the recommendations that the Committee has put forward because it is not too late.  This is the first report on devolution.  Before he makes the law, I think he has the opportunity actually to have some takeaways out of the report which has been presented to this House.  Madam Speaker, this report will encourage good work from the other Committees.  I think if we can continue saying this report has been good, we cannot overemphasise. I want to associate and appreciate that this report is one of the very many good reports that have been brought by Hon. Chikukwa into the House.  I thank you.   

          HON. TOGAREPI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Like my colleagues, I am really moved by this well-articulated report.  The report was well done and has enough information for us to look at the performance of the devolution fund in our various communities where it is supposed to be deployed for the good of our people. 

One major area I feel must be looked at as we look at devolution, is the segregation of council projects from the devolution projects.  When you go to our communities, you may not tell where devolution funds have been deployed and where council funds from contributions by the communities and business people have been deployed.  We may find a situation where devolution activities which have played a very important role have been deployed.  It is very much obscure because of corruption and other vices that we must really curb.  I think devolution funds have come at the right time and the Second Republic, despite the fact that the Act delayed to come, realised that we should do something.  The Second Republic has done its part to ensure that funds and resources are well distributed and go to the needy in the communities to improve roads, build clinics and schools out of the devolution funds.  Audit reports that we have seen from various local authorities have shown that there is rampant corruption, so we are scared this money can then fall prey to these nefarious activities.

Madam Speaker, I also want to touch on the issue of devolution funds being a source and the driver of employment in various communities where this money is deployed.  For example, if a clinic is being built, you then find that money being enjoyed by somebody coming from very much afar.  The skills that are needed can be found locally and local communities are not given that chance.  Somebody comes from afar and does a shoddy job.  I have a good example in my own constituency where I have seen somebody who was employed and I went there to see the beautiful clinic that we envisaged but to find that the contractor was a street builder; not in the real street but somebody who claimed to be a builder and he is not a builder.  My request is, devolution should also cut across all the activities from deployment of funds, employment creation, et cetera.  Whatever benefit that is created must accrue to the members of that community. 

Madam Speaker, I would like to see communities being consulted before even the funds are released by Government.  The provincial councillors, chiefs and everyone in those communities should go there and come up with their wish list for that year.  Then we say from the funds that we have, we are going to prioritise 1,2,3 and complete the activities so that people can actually say this is what devolution has done to us.  However, you will see that one project that is being funded by devolution goes into another financial year.  It means it is going to be getting funding from another budget.  What happened to the previous budget, only God knows, then we create an environment for those who are corrupt to take advantage of funds from the previous year and misuse it.  It is very critical that we have the communities involved and they know that devolution has come; it is going to do 1,2,3 for them.  It is completed and declared and they know all the monies allocated to their communities were used for their purpose. 

Government is doing its part.  It sends funds to the local authorities but communities are not part of the decision making. The Chairperson of the Committee has done a good job.  I think it is important that we request you to further interrogate how local authorities work with this money.  It should be separated that we have projects for devolution and there is no council money there.  For council projects, there should be no devolution funds so that we know who is performing.  Government is doing its part.  Allow Government to shine.  Local authorities with their corruption, let them be seen that they are corrupt, misusing rate payers’ monies and are not performing.  I thank you. 

HON. TOGAREPI:  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. MPARIWA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 16th February, 2022.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. TOGAREPI:  I move that we revert to Order of the Day, Number 11.

          HON. MPARIWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to. 

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE ON THE 2021 FIRST QUARTER BUDGET PERFORMANCE REPORTS FOR THE MINISTRY

          HON. SVUURE:  I move the motion standing in my name;

That this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce on the 2021 First Quarter Budget Performance Reports for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE:  I second.

HON. SVUURE: 

INTRODUCTION

The Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates Parliament to have oversight of all State revenues and expenditure in order to ensure financial probity in the utilization of public resources. Parliament is required by Section 299 of the Constitution to “monitor and oversee expenditure by all State institutions in order to ensure that all revenue is accounted for, all expenditure has been properly incurred and any limits and conditions on appropriations have been observed”. This is further buttressed by provisions in the Public Finance Management Act [Chapter 22:19] which regulates the management of public resources. Sections 32, 33, 34 and 35 of the PFMA compel ministries to submit monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements and accompanying reports to their respective portfolio committees. The purpose for these provisions is for Parliament to monitor use of public resources in line with its financial oversight functions.

 

REPORTING FRAMEWORK

The Ministry, when reporting to Parliament is expected to comply with a reporting guideline that Parliament approved in 2016. The reporting guideline spells out the content of performance reports with particular emphasis on performance budgeting, which has been the missing component. It had been observed then that Ministry reports were largely financial in nature with very little information provided on outputs, outcomes and impact arising from the financial resources expended.  The Ministry is therefore, expected to address the five processes which form a chronological sequence and the ineffective implementation or weakness of one process has a knock-on effect on other processes, resulting in the weakness of the overall system.

The five processes are -

  • Strategic planning and resource allocation which informs resource allocation on the amount and area where resources are needed.
  • Expenditure management wherein there is tracking of expenditure in the context of fiscal discipline, efficiency, effectiveness and value for money.
  • Performance management which focuses on implementation of planned activities in an effective, efficient and responsible manner wherein officials perform their responsibilities and supply products and provide services in conformity with interests of satisfying citizens’ needs and rights.
  • Public Integrity Management wherein during process 1 to 3, effective measures should be carried out with the objective of identifying and preventing conflicts of interest and any other act of corruption in the use of public resources and implementing corrective measures to deal with poor performance and abuse of public resources.
  • Oversight which is the more comprehensive of all as it ensures verification of conformity of acts, documents, legality, and efficiency of all other processes and thus is happening throughout the cycle.

 

The Committee on Industry and Commerce (Herein after referred to as the Committee) received the first quarter reports of 2021 from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and analysed them, with technical assistance from the Parliament Budget Office. The Committee noted with concern the reluctance by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to report on performance and expenditure information using the format in the 2021 Estimates of Expenditure (Blue Book) and linking them to the NDS1 targets. The Committee was also concerned with the Ministry’s lackadaisical attitude towards adhering to the regulations and procedures on submission of monthly and quarterly budget performance reports.

In this regard, the Ministry consistently submits the aforementioned reports only upon several requests by the Committee instead of adhering to the dictates and demands of the PFMA reporting standards. Additionally, the Ministry also tends to submit scant information on expenditure and performance management as exemplified by the information submitted during the quarter under consideration and only submits detailed information following repeated follow-ups by the Committee through letters and oral evidence sessions.

COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS FROM THE REPORTS RECEIVED

The Committee noted that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s policy priority areas for 2021-2023 augur well with its mandate and dovetails with the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1, (2021-2025). These are:

  • Resuscitation of industries;
  • Creation of new companies;
  • Implementation of value chains;
  • Realisation of export earnings;
  • Realisation of investment;
  • Registration of reserved sector;
  • Enactment of the Economic Empowerment Act;
  • Establishment of the Consumer Protection Commission; and

Development of the Consumer protection policies and regulations.  The Committee also noted the Ministry’s policy priority areas for the year 2021 which are of pivotal importance towards the re-industrialization drive and the attainment of Vision 2030 of an upper middle-income economy which are as follows:

  • Facilitate an increase in capacity utilisation of NPK fertiliser production by 32% (Jan -March), 38% (April-June), 43% (July-Sept) and 43%(Oct-Dec)-ZFC (Harare)
  • Facilitate an increase in capacity utilisation in Ammonia Nitrate production, Sable Chemical (Midlands)
  • Facilitate increased production of sanitisers by 80%, Chemplex (Harare)
  • Facilitate the company’s efforts to increase capacity utilisation to 80%, Deven Engineering (Harare)
  • Facilitate the operationalisation of the Pole Treatment Plant, Hunyani/Nampak (Mashonaland East)
  • Facilitate increased capacity utilisation of battery production to 30%, Central African Batteries (Mashonaland West)
  • Facilitate the modernisation of the plant which is expected to increase capacity utilisation, Bulawayo Metal Founders (Bulawayo)
  • Facilitate increased capacity utilisation for stock feed production, Bascom Pvt Ltd (Mashonaland Central)
  • Facilitate the refurbishment of the plant and increased capacity utilisation, Zimchem Refineries (Midlands)
  • Facilitate increased capacity utilisation of Simbi Pvt Ltd (Masvingo)
  • Facilitate new investments and commencement of production to achieve 10% capacity utilisations at David Whitehead (Mashonaland West)

The Committee noted with satisfaction the inextricable linkage between the Ministry’s first quarter budget performance report and its Strategic plan, which is an overview of its planned activities and targets for the year. The relationship between planned activities to the ongoing broad macroeconomic policies such as the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), Sustainable Development Goals and other cross cutting issues such as gender among others is very clear. The alignment of Ministry’s planned activities/objectives to the NDS1 and SDGs will add impetus to the overall government’s effort to achieve the macro-economic development objectives. The Ministry’s Strategic Plan was achieved after wide consultations of key shareholders, clients and other social interest groups. The Ministry complied with Section 194 (1) (e) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe on the involvement of citizens in policy making.

The Committee also noted that the Ministry was allocated ZWL$2. 345 billion in the 2021 Budget.  The resource allocation is for three programme areas namely; Policy and Administration (9%), Industrialisation (76%) and Consumer Protection and Quality Assurance (15%). The Committee noted with concern that though the Industrialisation programme which defines the core mandate of the Ministry was allocated more resources than other programmes.  The funds are insufficient to make a significant impact on the economy in as much as re-industrialization is concerned.

Source: Blue Book, 2021

The Committee noted with concern, erratic releases of the allocated funds especially for programme 2 which impedes the ability of the Ministry to deliver its mandate as indicated in the table below.

 

 

 

PROGRAMME

2021 FIRST QUARTER % RELEASE

Programme 1: Policy and Administration

10.6%

Programme 2: Industrialisation

0.47%

Programme 3: Consumer protection and quality

8.8%

Ministry

2.7%

 

Programme 2 (Industrialisation) received a miniscule share of the

disbursed funds with most of the disbursed funds going towards employment costs. This impedes on the ability of the nation to re-industrialize. The Committee is further concerned with erratic and imbalanced release of funds according to programme by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Programme 2 has a cumulative release of 0.47%% by 31 March 2021 while programme 1 and programme 3 have 10.6% and 8.8% respectively.

The Committee is concerned with the variances between releases

and actual disbursements which borders on failure by Treasury to honour payment runs by releasing the actual cash. Of the ZWL$ 223.3 million that was supposed to be released by Treasury in the first quarter, only ZWL$ 44.4 million was disbursed.  In addition to the budget releases not linked to cash availability, the Ministry also encounters delays in delivery of goods and services due to cash constraints, accumulation of arrears and payment runs which are reversed at the end of the fiscal year. As such, the Committee attributed the Ministry’s failure to accomplish its targets to the combined effects of inadequate and erratic release of funds coupled with the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Further to the above, due to erratic disbursement of funds by the Treasury, most of the Ministry’s planned targets for the first quarter were missed with a huge margin, thus derailing the Ministry’s overall plans for the period. These include, but not limited to, facilitate an increase in capacity utilization of fertilizer production by 32%, facilitate resuscitation of ZISCO Steel, facilitate 80% increased production of sanitizers by Chemplex, facilitate Deven Engineering’s effort to increase capacity utilization to 80%.

The missed targets did not only impact negatively on the Ministry’s annual targets but also adversely affected the economy especially on failure to enhance import substitution which culminated in a humongous trade deficit due to increased imports on fertilizers, steel products, batteries, sanitizers among others. Therefore, the Committee proposed that the Ministry should consider revising its targets for the year in order to circumvent the cumulative effects of the force majeures that arose during the first quarter as a result of erratic disbursement of funds. 

The Committee noted that the Ministry’s financial transactions

were carried out in adherence to the Public Finance Management Systems. This shows that the Ministry’s internal financial controls and accounting systems are very efficient.

The Committee commends and appreciates the progress made by

the Ministry in addressing the issues raised in the 2018 Auditor General’s report. The issue of lack of documents to support the ZWL99 200 expenditure was addressed. Also, that the Ministry’s control systems have been put in place to avoid recurrence of such issues. In this regard, Accountants have been trained to correctly process payment vouchers as per requirements of the instructions and regulations.

          RECOMMENDATIONS

The Committee recommends the following;

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce should timeously submit monthly and quarterly budget performance reports without waiting to be reminded by the Committee.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce should adhere to the reporting guidelines and procedures when submitting monthly and quarterly financial reports on expenditure and performance management as per the second quarter report going forward. Also, to submit detailed and relevant information to the Committee for enhanced oversight.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should timeously release budgeted funds to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in order for it to fund its mandates in a more efficient and effective manner as erratic releases impede on the Ministry’s ability to achieve its intended objectives.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should yearly increase the budget for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s programme 2, Industrialization, to bolster the country’s manufacturing sector which is pivotal on import substitution as well as attainment of Vision 2030. Also, that the budgeted funds should be timely released for them to have significance impact on the economy as far as the industry in concerned.

Treasury should adopt a system of quarterly releases of operational budget after a Ministry has satisfied all reporting and acquittal requirements by December 2021. Where possible, capital releases should be once off so as to enjoy economies of scale.

CONCLUSION

In light of the above, it is clear that with regular and consistent oversight of the executive, sustainable resource utilization can be realised. This has been witnessed in the improved reporting and submission of the Ministry’s financial performance reports. It is therefore imperative that Parliament continues to invest in capacity building of its members on budget oversight to ensure effective and efficient budget execution.  I thank you.

          HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE: Madam Speaker Ma’am, I rise to second this very important motion given by Hon. Svuure on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce. The issue related to industry and commerce has been bedeviling our country for a long time before the new dispensation. We are actually seeing a lot being done to make sure that we resuscitate industry. 

          It is very encouraging to see that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is trying by all means to ensure that there is good resuscitation of our industry in Zimbabwe. However, I actually have observed from this report that industry and commerce is being disturbed in terms of what they are supposed to achieve because of inadequate funding. It has been given in the report that there are erratic releases of funds by Ministry of Finance and such a situation cannot see our industry moving with the times. It is very incumbent that our Ministry of Finance needs to support the Ministry of Industry and Commerce so that such industries like the ones that had collapsed in Bulawayo where we had many of our industries, we want to see these industries coming on board and this can only happen if funds are going to be provided for in time and adequately by Ministry of Finance.

          It is also not encouraging to observe that there has been some reluctance on the part of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to submit the necessary quarterly reports as per given Statutory Instruments. When reports are not given in time, you will find that there will be a lot of suspicion, guess work and people will not be knowing what is happening in good time. It is a good move that the Committee has been pestering the Ministry to provide these quarterly reports.

          Our Government through the President, has adopted a performance based approach in terms of trying to ensure that we are going to get good results. This approach emphasises timing. Time has to be observed and if the time is not observed, we are not going to yield what we are supposed to get at the end. We have Vision 2030 which is a time framed programme which means when we want to achieve that, we must also be doing our things considering time so that we are going to produce the results as required.

          Failure to comply with the provisions of services in time is actually a breach of the necessary Statutory Instrument that will be in place. We have to make sure that our oversight role as legislators is not going to be derailed when the reports are not given in time. I want to congratulate the Committee on Industry and Commerce for the work they are doing to ensure that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is going to improve its performance and continue to encourage that the Ministry of Finance should be coming in time so that the activities are achieved in good time. I thank you.

          HON. RAIDZA: I have two issues to add my voice on the motion that was moved by Hon. Svuure and seconded by Hon. Sithole regarding the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s quarterly report. My first issue is on non-submission of these quarterly reports on time. The law is very clear in terms of our Public Finance Management Act that it is the expectation of the law that each and every Ministry is expected to submit these reports on time. What is disappointing from what we heard from this report is that the Committee ended up pestering the Ministry to get these reports which is a statutory obligation. We want to encourage this Ministry together with other Ministries that these reports help us as Parliament to make sure that we carry our oversight role effectively as per our Constitution.

          The other issue is that these Ministries particularly this one, they expect us as Parliament to support them during the budget process but when it comes for them to be accountable for the resources whether little or more, you find that they do not want to comply with some of these mechanisms that are in our laws that helps Parliament to provide that oversight. It is a give and take situation where the Ministries are supposed to do their part and us as Parliament we also do our part. I want to encourage the Ministries to make sure they do submit these reports on time. I thank you.

          HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. MPARIWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 16th February 2022

On the motion of HON. MUTAMBISI, seconded by HON. MPARIWA, the House adjourned at Fifteen Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.

 

 

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