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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 15 March 2016 42-45
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 15th March, 2016
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
CREATION OF E-MAIL ADDRESSES FOR MEMBERS OF
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that the ICT Department has created e-mail addresses for all Hon. Members which will enable them to receive mail and documents electronically from Parliament. Passwords will be configured at an ICT Desk which will be stationed at the Members’ Dining Room from today until Thursday this week, between 12 noon and 16:30 hours this afternoon. Order, Order!
Hon. Member, take your seat?
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.
Question again proposed.
Hon. Mandipaka having been making noise.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mandipaka, are you listening to the Chair or you are busy there addressing your comrade?
HON. MATUKE: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. NDUNA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 16th March, 2016.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MATUKE: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 2 and 3 be stood over, until Order of the Day, Number 4 has been disposed of.
HON. PARADZA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE VISIT TO ZIMBABWE EMBASSY IN
HON. PARADZA: I move the motion standing in my name
that this House takes note of the Report of the visit to Embassies of the Republic of Zimbabwe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the
Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs from 16th to 19th November, 2015.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I second.
HON. PARADZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise to give a report on our joint trip to Addis Ababa and Gaborone. The
Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs had two delegations that
toured the country’s embassies in Ethiopia and Botswana from 16th to 19th November, 2015. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, I, Hon. Paradza led a delegation that travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the other Members were Hon. Mlilo, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Hon. Makunde and Mr. Gandiwa was the clerk – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! I said order, four times now. I think I shall name and ask the named Hon. Member to leave the House.
HON. PARADZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Hon.
Marumahoko led another team that went to Gaborone, Botswana on a fact finding mission to our embassies in these two countries.
Hon. Marumahoko’s delegation included Hon. Zhou, Hon. Mpofu and Hon. D. P. Sibanda, with Mr. Manhivi as the Clerk.
In view of the depressing observations made, the Committee resolved to Christian this report the term of a forgotten child. It must be emphasised from the onset that Ethiopia is the hub and capital of African diplomacy, while Botswana is host to our regional economic grouping SADC. Your Committee chose to visit these two hubs simply due to the legitimate expectation for us to appreciate the challenges being faced by our diplomats in multilateral diplomatic stations.
Your Committee observed with serious concern that our men and women serving at our stations in Addis Ababa and Gaborone are working under extremely difficult conditions and we were convinced that nothing except the call of national duty and deep patriotism is compelling them to stay put and soldier on.
In short, it is no longer attractive to serve in the Foreign Service, Save for the human capital therein, our embassies in these two capitals are at an advanced state of disintegration, such that there is need for immediate intervention by the highest authority here at home, if the image of this great nation is to be salvaged. We have been in touch with most of our Ambassadors around the globe, and the story is the same, with our two emissaries in Maputo and Dar-e-Salaam having abandoned their official residences due to structural dilapidation and other ancillary defects.
A Brief Background
A brief background, the visit to Ethiopia and Botswana were actuated by the need to gather information on the operating environment at our missions abroad. As you may be aware, our 42 Embassies and Consulates located in various jurisdictions are extensions of the
Government of Zimbabwe as they exist to represent the interest of Zimbabwe as a sovereign nation. All these embassies are beneficiaries of public funds and resources. As such, they are accountable to this Parliament as the supreme representative oversight and legislative body in Zimbabwe.
In more specific terms, Section 299 (1) of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe provides that ‘Parliament must monitor and oversee expenditure by the State and all Commissions and institutions and agencies of Government at every level, including statutory bodies, Government controlled entities, provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities, in order to ensure that-
- all revenues is accounted for,
- all expenditure has been properly incurred; and
- any limits and conditions on appropriations have been observed’.
Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 20 (a) of the National Assembly directs
Portfolio Committees “to examine expenditure and administration and policy of Government departments” while Standing Order 20 (b) further compels each Portfolio Committee to, “monitor, investigate, inquire into and make recommendations relating to any aspect of the legislative programme, budget policy or any matter it may consider relevant.” Therefore, those provisions I have articulated above place the embassies through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the direct oversight jurisdiction of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs which enjoys exclusive competence on overseeing policy implementation by the same.
Objectives of the Visits
The principal objective of the visit to Ethiopia and Botswana was for the Committee on Foreign Affairs to understand, on location, the operational challenges affecting the staff manning our foreign missions. This was instructive in view of the fact that Zimbabwe is the immediate past Chair of SADC which is headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana and also the immediate past Chair of the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hence the identification of embassies of Zimbabwe in Ethiopia and Botswana as our first port of
The other objective was for your Committee to appreciate various ways in which our foreign missions are assisting Government’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investment for rapid expansion of the economy as visioned by ZIM ASSET.
Methodology and Operational Strategies
Mr. Speaker Sir, to enhance the objective acquisition and mobilisation of relevant facts and information, the delegation that visited Addis Ababa held meetings with diplomats at the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Ethiopia. Two meetings were held with Ambassador A. R. Chimbindi and all his key staff. Pursuant to the need to add a comparative dimension to the process, the delegation also visited the Embassies of Malawi and Gambia. My delegation also carried out on site inspection of the facilities at the Embassy of Zimbabwe as well as ground frothing of the land which is relatively ‘owned’ by the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Ethiopia.
The Gaborone delegation with Hon. Marumahoko as the team leader used an assortment of information gathering methods, which included meetings with Ambassador T. Mandigora and other senior embassy officials. The delegation also held meetings with officials from other Government Ministries’ departments represented at the Embassy, that is, attachés’ from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,
President’s Office and the Ministry of Defence. The delegation also conducted a physical tour of the chancery and residences of embassy official. The delegation also met with the UNDP resident coordinator in Botswana, Mr. A. Pederson and a Member of Parliament of Botswana to exchange information and ideas.
Observations by the Committee
Mr. Speaker, the observations we made were both revealing and humbling, but we had a shocking experience as well. The Committee noted with profound sadness that the embassy buildings in the two countries are in such a deplorable state of dilapidation to the extent that they are actually unsuitable for human habitation and occupancy. At both embassies, visitors are greeted by cracked and crumbling walls which at best resembled an abandoned building. In diplomacy, there is an adage which says “perception matters”. Everyone who gets to these embassies comes face to face with the reality...
HON. MUNENGAMI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. THE HON. SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
HON. MUNENGAMI: Whilst he is debating, we need to
understand those pictures. We want to know whether that is the embassy or if we can have someone who can help us in explaining so that we know what those pictures are.
HON. PARADZA: Thank you. That is what I am talking about.
That is the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Addis Ababa. –[HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- Just look at the pictures please. You will appreciate what I am saying. Mr. Speaker, everyone who gets to these Embassies comes face to face with the grim reality that these properties have not been given much attention for a good number of years. An illustration in Fig. 1, the entrance to the reception at our Embassy in Addis Ababa depicts a depressing picture of crumbling infrastructure. I think you can see that. That is the entrance.
As seen from that picture Mr. Speaker, the roof at the Embassy is leaking and monumental damages being inflicted to the electrical cables. The carpets have been severely damaged by water which leaks from the roof during rainy seasons. The general state of the buildings at our Embassies does not augur well with the dictates of portraying a positive image of the country. What your Committee saw especially in Addis Ababa can best be described as reckless abandon and gross neglect of the Chancery by the responsible authorities here in Harare.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the state of our Embassies is a gross indictment on our part as a country. This negligence of the infrastructure points to a serious infraction on the damage of our country.
Further to the above, it is instructive to note that by virtue of our President, His Excellency the President R. G. Mugabe, being the immediate past Chair of the AU, our Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr.
Chimbindi, was the Chairperson of the Permanent Representatives
Committee of the African Union during President Mugabe’s tenure as AU Chairperson.
Mr. Speaker, it was sad to note that other ambassadors would come to pay courtesy calls on Mr. Chimbindi at the Chancery, which was in such a state. The Addis Ababa embassy has no boardroom to the extent that all official meetings are held inside the office of the Ambassador.
Meanwhile, office furniture at the embassy in Gaborone is obsolete. Mr.
Speaker Sir, there is no doubt that such a state of affairs has a strong impression on the perception of our country. This, in our own opinion, is a serious scandal within the diplomatic community, considering that small countries like Rwanda, Gambia, Malawi, Chad and Equatorial Guinea have managed to build new state-of-the-art double-storey embassies in Addis Ababa, at an average cost of US$600 000.
Let me just give you some statistics, Mr. Speaker. The source is the World Bank. Chad, which is in Sub Saharan Africa, its GDP is US$13.9 billion; Rwanda, its GDP is US$7.8 billion; Malawi is at
US$4.2 billion and its population is 16.7 million; Gambia, its GDP is
US$900 million and population of 1.9 million and Zimbabwe…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Did you say the population of Gambia is 1.9 million or 1.9 billion?
HON. PARADZA: The population of Gambia is 1.9 million. Zimbabwe, GDP is 14.2 billion and the population is 15.2. These are the latest World Bank figures. With Equatorial Guinea; those who saw the
President when he went to Addis Ababa for the last summit, he went to the Equatorial Guinea embassy. They were opening their embassy there.
Its GDP is US$15.5 billion and its population is at 820 000.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee noted that the buildings housing our Embassies now pose a clear danger, not only to the staff but to visitors as well. In view of the centrality of the need to portray a positive image of the country and to pursue a vibrant policy in both aesthetic and substantive terms, the Committee recommends that:-
- The Executive must urgently release funds towards the construction of new Embassy buildings or the maintenance of the deteriorating physical infrastructure, technical and office equipment.
- The Committee further recommends that Treasury should liaise with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs for the creation of a retention account with an agreed percentage of the revenue collected by foreign missions and use this money in the maintenance of the country’s properties abroad.
A presentation of various Embassies was shown
An analysis of genesis of the challenges to the maintenance of the chancery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Mr. Speaker, the Government of Zimbabwe has an MOU with the Federal Democratic Government of Ethiopia in which the two sovereign states agreed to provide, on reciprocal basis, Chanceries for their respective embassies. The two Governments explored the possibility of swapping the two chanceries. To enable the process to be actuated it was agreed that the two respective properties should be evaluated.
While the Ethiopian Government valued its property in Addis Ababa at
US$270 629.51 and that in Harare owned by the Government of Zimbabwe at US$115 853.65. However, the Government of Zimbabwe has up to now not carried out its own independent evaluation of the two properties to verify the authenticity of the two figures.
The Committee was informed that despite numerous requests to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing until today, no evaluation of the properties has been done by the
Government of Zimbabwe. In this regard, it is difficult to dispute the figures being claimed by evaluators from Ethiopia without putting our own figures on the table.
In view of the foregoing, the Committee recommends that a team of qualified and competent evaluators from the Ministry Local Government, Public Works and National Housing should urgently conduct a quantitative evaluation of the Chancery in Addis Ababa and
Harare so that an expert opinion on their true values can be ascertained. It is further recommended that the evaluation must be done before the end of April, 2016.
Acquisition of land to build the Official Residence and the
Chancery of Zimbabwe in Addis Ababa.
In 2005 the Government of Zimbabwe was offered 2000 square metres of land gratis, by the Ethiopian Government to build its Embassy. The Government then requested an additional 2000 square metres to make a total of 4 000 square metres. The additional land was valued at US$63 678.37. In 2005 the Zimbabwean Government paid a deposit of US$37 844, leaving a balance of US$25 807.37. The transfer of the land was to be finalised upon full payment.
Mr. Speaker, the Committee learnt with shock that the remaining
US$25 807.37 was only transferred to our embassy in Addis Ababa in 2012, seven years down the line. To-date, 10 years later, the 99 year lease agreement has not been signed as Addis Ababa City Council is now reluctant to conclude the deal due to the lapse of time. We were told negotiations were now underway between the two governments at ministerial level in a bid to salvage the situation.
The Committee observed with concern that all the properties surrounding the piece of land have now been fully developed while our stand remains at Ministerial level in a bid to salvage the situation. The Committee observed with concern that, all the properties surrounding the piece of land have now been fully developed while our stand remains the odd one out with overgrown grass as shown by that picture. (showing projected picture on the wall screen). The building you see in the background is the Embassy of Chad which has already been completed.
The construction of the Chadian Embassy was worth US$600 000.
Meanwhile Mr. Speaker Sir, our Embassy continues to rent the official residence for the Ambassador at a cost of US$4 500 per month, totalling US$54 000 per year. In Addis Ababa alone, monthly rentals for the 10 houses occupied by diplomats is US$27 300 per month or US$327 600 per year. Rental arrears stood at US$89 400 as at 31 December, 2015. This means that our diplomats are now in danger of being evicted from these rented premises. This will further damage the image of the country and possibly the morale and work ethics of our diplomats. In the process, this will threaten our national security.
Financial disbursements to the two embassies during the year 2015
Mr. Speaker Sir, during the 2015 Financial Year, the two embassies requested a total budget of US$2.1 million to cover salaries, recurrent and capital expenditure. Of this amount, the embassies had, by the end of September, 2015, only received US$402 000, which was 24% of the requested amount.
The mission in Addis Ababa has two vehicles, a representational and utility vehicle purchased in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Your delegation observed that the vast scope and magnitude of the work in Addis Ababa require two additional vehicles to service the transport needs of so many delegations arriving in Addis Ababa from Harare for either meetings or conferences at the African Union and United Nations Agencies. By its nature, Addis Ababa is a multilateral station where efficient mobility is required on the party of officers, most of whom end up using their own personal vehicles to transact official business.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the situation is even worse in Gaborone where
Ambassador Mandigora’s utility vehicle was bought in the year 2000 when the current Hon. Vice President, P. Mphoko was then Ambassador to Botswana. The Embassy also has a minibus which has been in use for over 18 years. It should be noted that, these utility vehicles are now antiquated and very expensive to maintain.
Whilst the embassies have the option to hire vehicles in extreme cases, the cost of such a choice becomes prohibitive when one does not have financial resources. The vast scope and magnitude of the work in both Addis Ababa and Gaborone require new vehicles since the two countries are multilateral stations when efficient mobility is required on the part of officials.
In view of the foregoing, the Committee recommended that;
National Assembly Foreign Affairs Recommendation Number
3/2016, “at least two utility vehicles be purchased for use at both embassies in Addis Ababa and Gaborone. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development must make provisions for this, either through the supplementary budget or the 2017 National Budget.”
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee also noted with disbelief that the two embassies have antiquated IT equipment which is used by diplomats and is shared with locally recruited staff. The two embassies require five new desktop computers each, six laptops, two photocopying machines, filing cabinets, office furniture and two shredding machines.
The Committee believes that the security of information at the Embassy is compromised owing to lack of secure ICT infrastructure as well as filing cabinets. A lot of files are unsecured owing to a shortage of filing cabinets.
Two additional officers to each of the two missions, preferably legal and economic experts are required to enable the missions to cope with the requirements of the AU, SADC and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in bilateral issues.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the missions’ salary arrears date back from April to August 2015 and as far back as February, 2015 for some officers. The salary arrears for our diplomats in Addis Ababa amount to US$258 195 while those in Gaborone are owed US$242 503.
However, following a new Government directive, salaries for diplomats, with effect from September, 2015, were paid into their
Zimbabwean bank accounts through the Salaries Service Bureau (SSB).
This move has greatly improved the financial position of nearly all our diplomats abroad, most of whom now access their salaries through credit cards.
Security at the Embassies
The Embassy in Ethiopia is not secure as there is only a wire fence. The Embassy employs two guards who mann the area 24 hours, a development not in sync with the Labour Laws in Ethiopia and the International Labour Organisation standards. In Botswana, the situation is almost the same; the CCTV is no longer working.
In this regard, the Committee recommends that:-
National Assembly Foreign Affairs Recommendation Number
“CCTV should be installed around the chanceries so that there is enhanced security. The digitalization of security should be accompanied by the procurement of ICT infrastructure for the embassies. The
Committee recommends that this be done by 30 June, 2016.”
Visits to other Embassies
Mr. Speaker Sir, the team that went to Ethiopia visited a couple of other embassies there in order to get a feel and appreciate what other African Governments have done to improve the general infrastructure at their embassies. Visits were conducted to the embassies of the Republic of Malawi and the Republic of Gambia. At this juncture, it is suffice to state that we had a humbling experience through the visits as we noted that these countries have constructed state of the art chanceries.
The Embassy of Malawi in Addis Ababa is owned by the
Government of Malawi. It was constructed in 2012 at a cost of
US$1million. The complex houses living quarters. The Government of The Republic of Gambia owns the property which was constructed at a cost of US$500. 000. In addition, five apartments were also built within the complex and each apartment has four bedrooms. The five apartments were constructed at a cost of US$600.000 in 2012. Thus both the chancery and the four apartments were constructed at a cost of US$1.1 million.
13.0. Lessons for Zimbabwe
Mr. Speaker, the Committee would want to applaud the Government for our chancery in Gaborone. However, as has already been alluded to, in Addis Ababa, we are paying rentals amounting to US$327.600 annually for the official residences. The Committee is of the view that we are losing a lot of money on rentals.
Your Committee therefore recommends that the Executive must urgently consider providing funds for the construction of apartments for diplomats serving in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A comparative analysis with costs from the construction of similar structures in the Bole area of Addis Ababa showed that US$1.2 million should be adequate for this urgent exercise. In the long run, a lot of savings will be made as we are assured of a permanent stay in Addis Ababa as long as the seat of African Union remains in Ethiopia.
14.0 Investment Promotion
Mr. Speaker Sir, your Committee gathered in line with ZIM ASSET, that diplomats in our foreign missions have adopted a thrust to promote conference tourism here in Zimbabwe.
It was highlighted that many bilateral and multi-lateral organisations were keen on holding their meetings and conferences in Zimbabwe. In other jurisdictions, there is a Directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which spearheads relations with the diaspora community as citizens living abroad can be a source of significant investment funds.
The Committee noted that because of its widespread coverage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through our Embassies dotted around the world, may play a significant role in attracting foreign direct investment. This may require the appointment of dedicated officers to spearhead this initiative.
Your delegation Mr. Speaker Sir, submit that our Embassies abroad should balance between traditional political diplomacy with the emerging trend of enhancing commercial diplomacy. It was observed that Ethiopia has a thriving leather and horticultural industry. Ethiopia also has a vibrant aviation industry which is the envy of many in the region and beyond. Zimbabwe could benefit from such success stories and we believe our mission in Addis Ababa should intensify the identification of potential investors who may be interested in pursuing investment options in Zimbabwe. My team noted that our diplomats in Addis Ababa and Gaborone had solid investment ideas that if pursued, were most likely to benefit this country.
Let me just read you a letter from our ambassador in Canada, Ambassador Chideya. We had a meeting with her when she came with a delegation.
2nd February 2016
Chairperson of Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Committee
After a whirlwind tour of Zimbabwe by the Canadian Delegation, who included our country on their Zambian League, I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank you for guiding the dialogue which took place between yourselves; Hon. Harold Abrich and Mrs.
Abrich, Hon. Elias Mudzuri and Hon. Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and the role you played as Chairperson of Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Committee.
It was also very interesting for the delegation to witness the parliamentary democracy as is practiced in our country. Quite far from the prevailing megaphone mindset in North America, the visit has already started to bear fruit in various circles. The dialogue helped greatly in buttressing the fact that Zimbabwe is a peace loving country an experience they repeated over and over again.
Secondly, as you noticed that through the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association, much can be done to reinvigorate tourism between Zimbabwe and Canada and reignite the flows of yester year.
Parliamentary delegation with the capital dates to 2007 besides the International Parliamentary Union in Quebec in 2013. New efforts would go a long way in nurturing and enhancing bilateral relations.
With warmest regards,
This letter was copied to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, the team that visited Gaborone commended
Botswana’s legislative and policy reforms. It is persuasive that
Zimbabwe can draw lessons from Botswana’s reforms to improve its investment climate. In Botswana, all those investors who demonstrate capacity to add value and invest in priority sectors generally enjoy more tax and other investment incentives including Value Added Tax (VAT) exemptions on all imported raw materials, 100 percent write off on research and development costs, five to seven percent reduction in corporate income tax for firms whose exports are worth at least US$3 million, duty exemption on equipment and a favourable accelerated rate of depreciation of 50 percent in the first year.
The present Khama administration also offers grants and special access to credit to investors who set up shop in rural areas. There are no import quotas for investors.
The law in Botswana also protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of all property rights. Investors involved in commercial agriculture have leasehold titles and are able to secured property titles if necessary. Botswana is also a member of the African Regional
Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and is currently working towards harmonizing its legislation with WTO trade related aspects of intellectual property.
Here in Zimbabwe, the Legislative and Policy reforms can be instructive in the implementation of ZIM ASSET as the country only managed growth rates of 3.4% and 3.1% in 2013 and 2014 against set targets of 3.4% and 6.2% respectively. This will see the country failing to meet the target average growth of 7.3% during the plan period
(October 2013 – December 2018).
In this regard and in light of the importance of promoting Foreign
Direct Investment, the Committee recommends that:-
National Assembly Foreign Affairs Recommendations Number
“…the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conjunction with other relevant arms of the State, should urgently consider the appointment at all Embassies of a dedicated Diplomat who will lead the process of identifying potential investors and investment opportunities for Zimbabweans. The expert should also be mandated with the official coordination of Diaspora community most of whom may want to pursue investments options at home.”
Further, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that of Finance and Economic Development must follow up on all existing or outstanding trade protocols and have them implemented without delay.
15.0 Courtesy Call on the Ambassador of Malawi
Mr. Speaker Sir, the team that visited Addis Ababa paid a courtesy call on the Ambassador of Malawi in Addis Ababa. The Ambassador emphasised the need for diplomatic missions to promote trade and investment. The Ambassador also paid tribute to the then Chair of the African Union, His Excellency, Cde R. G. Mugabe. He revealed that President Mugabe’s Chairmanship was one of the most successful in the history of the African Union. He pointed out that under the chair of Zimbabwe; the African Union had regular review meetings that added value to the AU business.
The Malawian envoy said that President Mugabe led a successful campaign against Ebola and the fight against terrorism especially in East, West and North Africa. Furthermore, it was during President
Mugabe’s tenure that the AU organised a very successful Indo-Africa
Summit, the first such indaba and which was attended by a historic 31 Heads of States and Government. This had never happened before and was the largest gathering of leaders of this continent outside Africa. The outcome of this was that an additional US$10 billion was pledged to assist Africa in its developmental programmes over the next decade. Mr. Speaker Sir, your delegation was also informed that under the chairmanship of President Mugabe, the AU was for the first time also involved in organising the Sino-Africa Summit, which was held last
December in Johannesburg.
The Malawian envoy also told your delegation that many SADC priority programmes were placed on the AU Agenda owing to the chairmanship of President Mugabe. As a parting shot, he highlighted that the Chairmanship of President Mugabe, which led to the launch of
Agenda 63, will always be an enlightening epoch in the history of the African Union.
Following a glowing account of the achievements of the African Union Chair, President R. G. Mugabe, the delegation concluded that more than ever before, concerted efforts must be made to revamp the face of our Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This particular Embassy should be polished in order to protect and enhance the image of this great nation.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker Sir, the visit, on location to the Embassies of Zimbabwe in Addis Ababa and Gaborone were an eye opener to Members of my Committee, most of whom came face to face with the harsh reality of the state of infrastructure at these chanceries.
The challenges are too numerous to mention such that one is left with no option but to conclude that our Embassies resemble “…the tale of an abandoned child”.
Notwithstanding these numerous challenges, our Ambassadors and their staff were jovial and displayed great competency in outlining measures that have been put in place to defend national interest. Mr. Speaker Sir, let me take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the United Nations Development Fund and its partners, SIDA and the European Union for funding this trip. I also wish to thank you personally Sir for authorising these trips and also the Administration of Parliament for flawlessly coordinating the visits to Ethiopia and Botswana. As a Committee, we certainly learnt a lot from the visit and there is no doubt that the visits and the information gathered will enhance our capacity in conducting our executive oversight functions. I thank you.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much
Mr. Speaker Sir, and let me thank my chair for that report. As you may have noticed when some of these pictures were being taken, I was the only female member in the delegation but I also only had two pictures of me taken because I have never been in a place where I was so demoralised like I was when we were in Addis Ababa. I could not believe that as a nation that has been independent for so long, we could have reduced ourselves to the level that we did reduce ourselves when you look at the embassy.
I want him to go back to our embassy pictures and I seem to have missed the kind of computer that we found at the embassy in Addis Ababa. You know those computers that have a tummy at the back. That is the computer that we found in Addis Ababa. My chair has gone into good detail about what actually happened and there is nothing that he says that did not happen.
However, let me speak to these things. We as a nation as
Zimbabwe pride ourselves for being pan Africanists. We pride ourselves for being this ultimate African person who speaks around issues of sovereignty and pride that we should have in our being African and yet on the other hand we are so bad that we show a picture of an African that is completely and totally not there. I say so because, yes, he is right about the visits that we did to the embassies. He is right about the comments that they gave about the President, however this is the sad part. The sad part is even as I looked at these Ambassadors saying so, I kept going back to the space to which they were visiting our own Ambassador. That is not a place where you have pride. That is not a place that says you are the best African. That is not a place to which you can put together what President Mugabe says about being independent and you go to a place like that.
If you walk into the embassy, it is full of this musty smell. In fact many of the embassy staff were saying they actually feel sick because from where we are centred and where the embassy is, naturally Ethiopia is high up that it makes people have problems breathing anyway. Naturally, for people that are in Addis Ababa, they are asked over time to get out of Addis Ababa so that they can breathe to get their lungs functioning. In our situation, it is so bad that you cannot breathe properly when you get into that particular embassy. The sad part is that you have such committed staff. I have not seen such committed staff like the ones that I saw when we went to these embassies. There is form of patriotism that speaks to slavery and abuse. It is not patriotism.
Patriotism is about respecting individuals and acknowledging their humanity as human beings that need to be treated with respect. What we saw in those embassies is not any form of dignity.
Mr. Speaker, as you walked to the door of the Ambassador, I do not know whether you have been to our grave sites where we have those zvikwangwani, those things that you cut-off and write born: 1975 and dies: 1986. That is what they got and put it on the door written the
Ambassador’s Place – [HON. MEMBERS: A-ah!] – I am not exaggerating. We pictured a whole lot. The difference and that is what is sad about this report in this House because that entire delegation, when we were in Addis, we all appreciated that this was totally unacceptable. There was no excuse for it and it will be a sad day if we sit in this House and we have a person who thinks that we can excuse the kind of behaviour that we saw in Addis Ababa. We cannot excuse it in a number of things.
Anybody who claims to love President Mugabe will not do what we have done in that Embassy because you know you are exposing him to ridicule. In fact, when I saw that Embassy I said, whoever said we should run for the African Union Chairperson position should be fired because when you are poor and you cannot organise yourself, the last thing is to avoid exposing yourself. You do not invite people to your house – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – so that at the end of the day they can see your poverty. Culturally in our families, the person that has the least in the home when it is Christmas time, they cannot even say come and spend Christmas at my house because you are not going to be able to provide for people that are coming. You find that those that have are the ones that always invite those that do not have. In Zimbabwe, we have nothing but we keep inviting people to come and see our poverty or how poor we are.
There is no way you can do to a person that you love, which is why I keep saying that those that purport to love President Mugabe, do not love him. If you did, you would have gone and said, now that you are going to be the Chairperson of the African Union, at the very least, let us make this place look livable because we are going to be the ones that
will be accepting and receiving people that will be coming. Our own Ambassador is the Dean. When somebody comes into Ethiopia, they have to make a courtesy call to our own Ambassador. Look at our Embassy and look at the Malawian Embassy. You will go there, there is a small table by the corner and then there is a small little file somewhere and that is our own Ambassadors. When you walk into the Embassies of Malawi and Chad, you can tell I am getting into a professional space.
You cannot talk of investment when somebody walks into a place like the place that is there. If I am an investor, the first thing I look at is to say, no these guys are not serious and I walk away. Due to the issue of regional integration, people are not forced to deal with Zimbabwe because there is no benefit, particularly in just working in Zimbabwe. You can go to Zambia, Malawi and Namibia. So, if I am outside and the face of what I am going to find in Zimbabwe is the image of what I find in Addis Ababa, I am not being serious. So, in my opinion, there is no excuse for having a situation like that because the places we visited are the places that are at the centre of Africanism and ourselves. We can forget about all these other places but at the very least, we should have done something about the place like Addis Ababa because that is the place that defines our Pan Africanism. That is the place that defines what being an African is and if what being an African is that, then a lot of people will choose not to be African because it does not make sense.
Mr. Speaker Sir, as we made our conclusions and they were very small things, you saw the ceiling that is falling apart. I kept looking at it and kept saying, how much would it take to, perhaps just patch that ceiling. I am not talking about removing the corrugated iron that covers it because there is no proper ceiling or tiling, it is corrugated iron. What will it take to just cover that place and make it livable? It probably will take $10 000. Let us look at the gentlemen that come and sit at this front seat (referring to the Ministers). Let us look at what they have. I understand they have an SUV which is at a cost of about $345 000, a second car in the form of a Mercedes Benz S350 at a cost of about
$145 000, each director has a Range Rover and a secretary.
The reason why things never function in this place, which is one thing which the Chairperson missed because they said they had sent staff back home and never got responses. So, Embassies write and say there are opportunities here. There is a market for goats, for example. Get your women to organise themselves and get goats. No one comes back and sets that up, yet our ministries are clogged with every other director you can think of who has a secretary and personal assistant. You ask yourself and say, if we were to look back – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections] – Yes, I created a Ministry of Regional Integration, talk to me outside if you want me to give you the story of what I did.
If you take just one vehicle, not two from each of these ministries and give them to the centres of your embassies, we would make a difference – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – But, no because we have become such a greedy nation, it is about me, me, and me. Am I driving a new car, new off-roader, travelling business and first class, do I have my own computer and that has killed us? It is not an issue of us not having resources.
I refuse Mr. Speaker Sir, to acknowledge the fact that we have no money. We are not buying that argument. We have money but just have our priorities in a wrong place. What we think is important is not what is important, and we prioritise things that do not matter. The numbers of delegations, which is really what upsets us. You go to Addis Ababa for example, ask what that Embassy staff does on a day to day basis. They spend most of their time at the airport receiving visitors and delegations that are coming from Zimbabwe, finding hotels and lodges for people to go and stay. That is what takes three quarters of their time instead of doing proper chancery work. They are working to service delegations that are coming from home.
If you ask yourself Mr. Speaker Sir, why we have large delegations travelling each time when they are going away when we have an Embassy like that, it makes absolutely no sense. The last time when we debated the issue about the Executive and the Members of Parliament, we were saying ourselves and we accept it because we have said to ourselves, this is the economy we are in. When we are going as Members of Parliament, we will be dragging our little bags and going to the cattle class. What will you find in Business Class, permanent secretaries and directors sitting in business class flying back and forth and being entertained by people who can hardly take their children to hospital when they get sick? We had harrowing stories about people in these embassies who were saying that they could not afford to take their children to hospital. More so, one of them almost shed tears as they were talking to us. They narrated the ordeal of their children going to school and being told on getting to school to go back home because their fees was not paid up. These children have had to be removed from the international schools where most of the other embassy staff take their children. When they realised that they could not be moving their children from one school to another because of none payment of school fees, they decided to take them to public schools. Can you tell me what you are saying about that person? You however, expect Ambassador Chimbindi to be chairing, as the dean of this meeting, when last night he was talking to his child who was sent away from school.
All I am trying to say today is that as we find solutions to this issue; let them be solutions that are workable. We need to cut our cloth to fit where we are. If we cannot deal with 46 embassies, let us reduce the embassies. In the meantime, let us create fewer embassies, cut down on delegations and also reduce the things that we want those embassies to be doing. Let us identify the priority embassies, and if we are true to the African spirit and African-hood that we have, let us prioritise those places where we have African embassies, if we are talking about regional integration and African trade. We cannot come and insult the Americans and the British when we are spending money trying to pay pounds, in a place where we cannot be EU members and yet, we are failing to prioritise Addis Ababa. Without Addis Ababa, you cannot shout at the Americans and the British because they are not the ones who are sending you to create a place and humiliate yourselves. Do something that will make you a good African and then deal with the issue of the Americans later on. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
*HON. MAKUNDE: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to debate. I was part of the delegation that went to Addis Ababa. I know that what has been said is very painful but I think we should be a Parliament that changes things. As a delegation we agreed that when we return home, we should assist each other so that the people working in Ethiopia will be happy. Before I go any further, I want to thank the Chairperson Hon. Paradza and Hon. Misihairibwi-Mushonga for the groceries that they bought with their own money to take to the children out there. When I saw them buying mealie-meal and juice, I was very surprised but because they have travelled before, they know and they are aware that our people out there cannot get these commodities. The luggages of these two Members were quite huge and I want to thank them once again.
As a delegation, we agreed that when we get back home we should help one another and not point fingers at each other as Ministries for the situation obtaining in Addis. Rather, we should work as a Government.
What we saw was that the staff’s morale was full of zeal in the way they conduct their business despite the challenges that they face, ranging from the place they live in, the environment they work in and the antiquated machinery that they use. They still dispensed their work diligently.
What I want to say is that Ethiopia is the capital city of Africa. It is also now the capital city of all challenges. Enemies and thieves are found there and if our enemies are there they are also observing us. So, our Government should be resolute and focus on changing the situation of our people in Ethiopia. Even our security that visits Ethiopia cannot get transport to go to hotels to attend meetings. I think it is very important for our security working out there to be well resourced with cars. Here we have a lot of Ford Rangers. Why not send one Ford Ranger to be used by the security personnel in Ethiopia so that they are able to give us enough protection when we go out there.
We want to thank our Ambassador in Ethiopia for availing his Mercedez Benz to his officers to use when there are delegations at the embassy. He then uses public transport and whilst we were there, we travelled with him in public transport. A person referred to as: His Excellency is of high esteem but as we were travelling, he would reduce himself to our level. He told us that our embassy has no resources as compared to the embassy of Malawi. The Malawian embassy welcomed us and provided us with fruit juice and tea, which we did not get from our own embassy because they had nothing. In the Gambian embassy, if the ambassador is coming in, you will see by the way the people behave. The security will be alert and a lot of respect is accorded to their Ambassador. They have enough space and sufficient personnel to do all that is required to be done. Even his arrival is announced. If we were to emulate such things, that would bring back our dignity.
At the time that we went there, we were the Chairman of the AU. So, we went with authority to the Headquarters of the AU and we were very much respected. All the people who were there, representing the various embassies wanted us to remain the Chairperson of the AU, as already articulated by Hon. Paradza. Our Ambassador was the one who was chairing the other meetings of Ambassadors. Even up to now all the embassies respect and love him. They had very good reports about him.
The house that accommodates our embassy is not ours but it belongs to Ethiopia. Here, they are also using our building. What was not clear to us was whether we should repair the building in Ethiopia or repair the one here. I think that has to be clarified. I think it is up to us to vacate that place and build our own building. We realised that the building cost is very low in Ethiopia. The house is a double storey and some of the floors are not occupied.
The other thing that we learnt is that they are very efficient in tax collection. Even if you visit a Barber, that person will pay tax from the charge. We need also to improve on our revenue collection. I heard that our Minister of Finance and Economic Development visited Ethiopia and learnt something. Therefore, we hope that we will be efficient in revenue collection.
In conclusion, we should unite in our Government. We should not point fingers at each other. We called the Minister of Foreign Affairs and updated him on what we had seen and he also updated us. What I realised is the staff who work at our embassies are too many. I think those who can source equipment like computers should source and send them there. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. ENG. MUDZURI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I am a
member of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs. I did not visit Addis Ababa or Botswana, but I want to appreciate the report which came from the Committee. From what we read and what we understand, there is a serious level of negligence – HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]–
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Please take your seat. Can the Hon. Member be heard in silence?
HON. ENG. MUDZURI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. From the
report, it is clear that the dilapidated state of the Chancery in Ethiopia shows serious negligence. The previous speaker said anyone who has allowed the AU to run in that manner has no love for President Mugabe but I also think that the President must be aware of such things. It is not only the Ethiopian Embassy. The Zimbabwean Embassy in America is in a similar state. There is the situation of Botswana, Brazil and many countries but what does it mean when an Ambassador is called Your Excellency?
When an Ambassador is called Your Excellency, it means he represents a President of a country; he represents Zimbabwe and he represents whatever Zimbabwe means. I hear a lot of people grumbling and start to applaud when it is only the President who is being said to be good but all of us, including myself look so bad when we talk about these embassies. The law says if you are a Member of Parliament, you must come through your embassy. When you come through your embassy you find out that in those embassies, the officials are demoralised, they do not serve you properly; they do not feel they are at home and that embassy is called Zimbabwe in any country. So, when you come into Zimbabwe in a foreign country and discover that you are not at home, it is like you have been thrown out in the deep end; in some rural road which has so many potholes.
That experience which we find in Zimbabwe should not be found in foreign countries. When we talk of the ten point plan which the President presented to us, to say this is what we should do to resuscitate our economy and come to a scenario where we have that one-stop-shop and people can get ease of doing business. How do we do ease of doing business in Zimbabwe when we have got an ugly face abroad? I want to urge our Ministers to say whenever they are doing their work, they must do proper due diligence and advise Cabinet correctly, because the Minister of Foreign Affairs has a responsibility to advise correctly in Cabinet to the extent that the face of Zimbabwe must look well.
The meanness of our Central Government is seen by its failure to pay our foreign missions. Our foreign missions, some of them have been in arrears for more than three/four months, and that meanness is even seen by refusal to give these Hon. Members of Parliament diplomatic passports as if it costs them anything. That will only show that they are part of Government; they are the third leg of Government. It is so difficult for this Government to offer a simple diplomatic passport to Members of Parliament. So, the meanness should not be taken into embassies. The meanness must remain here. You can see that the meanness of the Central Government comes even in not looking at the state of affairs of our trading levels in the country.
You go to our border posts, you discover that there is serious meanness in just allowing foreigners to come in and go out freely, including Zimbabweans. When you get to Beitbridge border post, you find out that there is serious meanness that the Executive alone is allowed certain free passages but the rest of the citizens do not find themselves free. If you go to Beitbridge border post, when you are crossing on your side you might be ill treated, the moment you go to South African side, you are a Member of Parliament. They start respecting you. So we should change that attitude and make everyone a diplomat. We should change everything and start organising ourselves abroad. We should change everything and make sure that the one-stopshop we talk about in Zimbabwe is done in every embassy and we should change our attitude and ensure that all embassies are properly funded first before we fund ourselves through the luxurious cars we have. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. CHASI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to start by thanking this Committee for a detailed and picturesque report which helped all of us to understand precisely the state of affairs at our embassies. I think the issue is very simple and straightforward. We should not as a country tolerate mediocrity such as what we are seeing on those pictures. I think the report that was given was extremely depressing in all respects in terms of the architecture structures that we use as Embassies, in terms of the welfare of our staff. The report simply helped to confirm the rumours that I think all of us have heard before from relatives and friends that are employed across the world at our Embassies.
I think it is important that things should be said as they are. I think that the management...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, can the Hon. Member be heard in
HON. CHASI: Mr. Speaker, the management at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs is responsible for the state of affairs at these Embassies. I believe that it is incumbent upon the Ministry to ensure that it streamlines personnel at the Ministry and the number of Embassies that we are presently shouldering as a country. It is my fervent belief that each Embassy must justify its existence. I think it is in order that at some point, this House be favoured with details and statistical reports as to what precisely is being done at each and every Embassy.
From the picture that we can see on the wall, it is quite clear that instead of putting the country in a good state, our Embassies are portraying a very bad impression of this country. To make matters worse, I understand that that building is not our building. I think there is an element of serious irresponsibility in looking after somebody’s property and leaving it in that state. I think that we should as a matter of urgency, make funds available, if not for selfish reasons, but simply to ensure that we are not being discourteous to the people that have allowed us to use these premises.
I want to say that when one interacts with our Embassies and talks to the individual staff members as the Committee did on its various visits, the very personal stories that one hears are even more depressing, when our staff are not able to take their kids to school, hospitals or generally to look after themselves, I think it puts us in a situation that is very sad and bad. I wonder whether senior people in the Ministry actually go to those premises and see them physically. If they do so, what view do they take on the situation of accommodation?
I want to wholeheartedly complement the Committee for the detailed report and I fully support the recommendations that have been made. As a country, we need to relook at the distribution of the Embassies, justify the existence of each one of them, and look at the numbers that we employ in those Embassies in order for us to ensure that we have a rational approach to our Diplomatic service. I thank you.
HON. MANDIPAKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My debate is going to be very short. Allow me to congratulate your Committee
Chairperson Hon. Paradza, for this motion which was also seconded by
Hon. Misiharabwi-Mushonga. It is not far-fetched to point out that this Committee did some wonderful work to come face to face with reality. I want to congratulate this Committee too, for being brave enough and courageous enough to point out what they actually saw, witnessed and what we condemn in the strongest of terms in this august House.
Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon. Chasi who has just spoken has said this House cannot allow mediocrity. I would want to echo the same sentiments that as Zimbabweans, we are a proud nation, proud of ourselves, very educated especially our Executive and we cannot as a nation accept sub-standard work. My first recommendation would be that the Minister responsible for this Ministry should appear before this august House and explain the state of affairs. –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]- If it is not one Minister, if there are 10 or 15 Ministers responsible for those Embassies, they should appear before this august House and explain the state of affairs. –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-
Mr. Speaker Sir, our Embassies play a pivotal role in portraying the best possible image that we will ever want as a nation. Once we have Embassies that have dilapidated buildings, Embassies where officials are not paid for six or more months, Embassies where the welfare of our citizens, brothers and sisters that are out there are not being catered for in terms of salaries, I think that will not be well for this nation. As a country, we need to portray a positive image. We appreciate the economic challenges that we face as a country, but from an African way of life, you always would not want to clean your dirty linen in public.
Allow me Mr. Speaker Sir, to divert a little bit and speak in Shona.
Makare kare waiti ukasvika pamusha pasina magumbeze akakwana, vabereki vaitogona kutora mamwe magumbeze vachipa vaenzi, vana vorara vakashama kuti vaenzi vasaone kuti pamba apa panga paine magumbeze mashoma. So, we should do exactly that with our
Embassies. Yes, economically we are poor but let us make giant efforts to make sure that our Embassies are beefed up and we give the proper and correct image of our country.
We want to congratulate the comments by the Malawian Embassy. We are told in the report that our Committee visited the Embassy and they made very good comments about His Excellency, the President. We want to congratulate the Malawi Embassy for that. The Committee came face to face with reality and I am glad that we have other members of the Executive that are here listening. I think there is need on the part of the Executive to move with speed and ensure that we correct this sad state of affairs. From the presentation by the Chairperson that our Embassies have been forgotten, it is the tale of a forgotten child and this has to be rectified immediately.
I would also want to congratulate the Speaker for authorising this Committee to pay such a visit and those that assisted or donated to ensure a smooth travel for the Committee, which Committee has unearthed an urgent matter that needs urgent attention and where we need the Minister to just explain, so that we can at a later stage, ask questions. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order please!
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER
SIGNING CEREMONY FOR A PLEDGE TO PROTECT THE GIRL
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I would like to inform the House that tomorrow, 16 March, 2016, there is going to be a signing ceremony for a pledge to protect the girl child. The ceremony will be held in the court yard between 1300 hours and 1600 hours. Thank you.
HON. CHAMISA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir. I rise to also add my voice to this very important discourse on the table.
Firstly, I want to congratulate Hon. Paradza as the Chairperson and also Committee members for such a detailed report and informative report about the state of affairs in our embassies. What is clear is that the pictures that we have seen are but a reflection of our true image. What is clear is that the dilapidated buildings that we are seeing in the Embassies dotted around the capitals of the world are indeed, a clear indication of our internal state of affairs.
Do not just look at these dilapidated buildings without attaching meaning to who we are also governing ourselves. If you go to Ethiopia, an Embassy is a portal of a country, of government and people to the world. If you go to Washington, an Embassy is supposed to be a badge of honour of a country and a people. What you then see when you go to Ethiopia, what you see, Hon. Paradza, is who we are, is what we are. Thank you for being innocent and honest. You have told us who we are as a people and what we need to correct. We need to go and stand in front of a mirror and say to ourselves, what is it that we need to correct?
Part of the way to resolve our problems is to be fair to ourselves and what I am going to say, Hon. Speaker Sir, is not because I love the Minister less, but because I love Zimbabwe more; like what Brutus said about Julius Caesar. You may remember and recall that of all the
Ministers, we have a Minister who has become truant. He hardly comes to Parliament and he tells us he will be busy. Minister Mumbegegwi you are busy, but you are busy doing what when all the embassies are like what they are?
He has been a Minister since 2005. He has been one of the permanent features of our Government, but if you look at the output, this is the sort of Minister who is supposed to be fired immediately. If Minister Mumbegegwi cannot be fired by President Mugabe, we need, as Members of Parliament, to collectively come together and fire him. I do not know, the Vice President is laughing, but this is a serious matter. We need to deal with truant Ministers. Minister Mumbegegwi has just been truant for too long, yet he has nothing to account for his absence in Parliament. He has nothing to account for his absence from duty. These are serious issues. I have seen the grass in Ethiopia at our Embassy, perhaps, they are taking after the style of our Minister when he keeps his beard.
This is not a joking matter Hon. Speaker Sir. We need to be serious about the state of our Embassies. We need to be serious about how we look to the world and before the world. If you just look in Washington, as an example, just recently I got information that our phones were cut off. They cannot even communicate. In this modern day and age you have that kind of a situation, but what it is, is that it is symptomatic and reflective of the Government’s attitude on its people. This is the same treatment you are finding Members of Parliament receiving. This is the same treatment you are finding civil servants also receiving. The Government is just in an I do not care mode.
This is the same situation you will find even in the rural areas where people are starving because of drought. So, what you are seeing at an Embassy is a reflection of what we have failed to do as a
Government and as a people. Our plea, Hon. Speaker Sir, is for us, as Parliament, to forget about our different parties, come together, unite and say enough is enough. We need to restore our honour, our pride and dignity and our patriotism as a people. The only way we are going to restore our patriotism is when we are then able to say to certain people who are undermining the sovereignty of the country, who are undermining the patriotic flavor of our country like Minister
Mumbengegwi, you must simply be relieved of your position.
That is the way to go. We cannot have a Minister who has been in office since 2005 and yet he is not showing anything for it. Look at what is happening in all these embassies? Things are falling apart at the embassies, things are falling apart within the Ministry, and things are falling apart within the country. It is all on account of the behaviour of our Ministers. As if it is not enough recently, he took the President to a meeting which has no respect whatsoever in India. I think there were some little councillors there and non-designated people. Yes, this is a fact, Hon. Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Chamisa
mind your language. State what is factual.
HON. CHAMISA: Thank you very much. I will mind my language, but I am glad you have said I should also state what is factual. It is a fact that there are certain things that have not been done properly and we need to deal with those issues. Hon. Speaker Sir, allow me to
say the best way to attract investment for our country is when we invest unto ourselves. When we are able to spruce up and refurbish our Embassies. That is the only way we are going to be able to then attract investment, to then build confidence and honour and to then say to those who want to come to Zimbabwe, this is our face. You have seen us at that face, at that portal. Please, come and visit us so that you are able to invest in our country.
Now, when they see the kind of offices that we were being shown, there is no way, Hon. Speaker Sir, there is going to be investment in that regard. We need to make sure that we deal with certain issues within a short space of time. What are we supposed to do Hon. Speaker Sir, so that I do not waste time? The first thing is the restoration of love within Government. When we love our people, we will love our work, country and the things we do. Once we restore the love, we are going to then see the king of leadership that we require at Addis Ababa level, the kind of leadership that we want to see in Gaborone and the kind of leadership that we would want to see in all the other embassies.
I have no doubt in my mind that the first thing that we need to do is to expunge and extinguish the kwashiorkor of leadership within Government. We need to deal with the kwashiorkor of direction and vision within Government. How do we do that? We must remove embarrassment within Government. Ministers who are not performing must go, but if the Government fails to perform in total, it must also go.
That has to be the direction that we take as a people and as a Parliament.
Secondly, I believe that we must not waste resources. Let us cut down on embassies. We have 49 out of 189 countries. It is still too much. Let us cut down and focus on commercially viable embassies.
The third aspect is for us to zero in on building the United States of
Africa. Let us take the direction of building a United States of Africa.
We may not need all these embassies. Once we unite the states of Africa, once we start talking about the African Union, there may not be any need for all these embassies that are in Africa. We cut down on the resources and expenditures that we also have.
Hon. Speaker Sir, I also believe that it is time for us to look at the whole gamut of our foreign diplomatic relations. Let us go back to the Commonwealth. Why are we shunning the opportunity presented and provided by the Commonwealth? Let us reengage with the whole of the international community. Look at the European Union, let us reengage. The only way we are going to reengage with the European Union is when we stop doing things like we have done with Dzamara, unaccounted for disappearance. We need to respect our media and our war veterans, not to throw war veterans into disarray by throwing teargas unto them. We need to respect our human rights and those who fought for the liberation of this country. No country is ever going to be taken seriously without taking the freedom fighters seriously. Those are the issues we need to address, the Government matrix.
Hon. Speaker Sir, we also need to make sure that we build, within our country, think tanks of international relations and diplomacy so that we are informed on the policy positions that we take as a country. Right now, if you look at the decisions we take, they are not informed by economic priority, efficacy in governance or what is supposed to inform a modern day State.
Having said that Hon. Speaker Sir, I want to say, this is a very important motion, let us take this matter seriously. This is what has to get to the Executive and I am glad the Vice President at the highest level is here. We are asking our Government to take the matter seriously. Let us restore our pride at our embassies, in Parliament, in the capitols of the country and in the villages. How do we do it? We do it by showing a serious exit door to those who are not performing, making sure that we show leadership where it is required and a unity of purpose. Let us forget about MDC and ZANU PF, let us think Zimbabwe. Let us unite our people and take our country forward. Let us do that with the understanding that our people are suffering. The state of the embassies you are seeing is the state of the economy, the state of our social fabric, education and our health system.
How do we restore ourselves? Let us not begin by refurbishing buildings alone. Let us refurbish our minds and our hearts. Let us be focused in providing leadership to this country. Thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER
CANCELLATION OF ZANU PF CAUCUS MEETING
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MARUMAHOKO): I
have an announcement to make. All ZANU PF Hon. Members who were supposed to attend a Caucus meeting tomorrow are advised that the meeting has been cancelled. You will be informed of new dates in due course.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to add my
voice to the report by Hon. Paradza. I also want to congratulate him for bringing his report so that we can get to know what our face looks like and look at the mirror and say; is this what we want to look like. As I debate this report Mr. Speaker, I want to give you a quotation by an author called Niccolo Machiavelli, who said; “The end justifies the means.” Why do I say so Mr. Speaker? The issue that is currently bedeviling our embassies and all other Government and quasi Government departments is of an economic nature. It cannot be approached in a half-hearted manner, using historic means of dealing with present issues.
We need to use our present day resources, advantage, technical ability and our youthful resources in terms of manpower to use what we have in order to get what we want. Mr. Speaker Sir, as I debate this motion, I would like to say that we should do everything possible to put our best foot forward. As the President was commissioning the Harare Airport Road, he said it was our face to the international community, so is our Airport at Victoria Falls.
More-so Mr. Speaker Sir, our embassies in the far off lands are our face to the international community, that is our best foot forward. How are we going to spruce up those embassies? We cannot be seen to be sparing any effort in our conduct in terms of sprucing up our embassies in order to make sure that the staff live in the comfort zone. This will ensure that their duties are conducted in an optimum manner.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we have to get what we want from what we have.
Time of procrastination and casting aspersions is over. In Chegutu Mr. Speaker Sir, there are more than 49 gold mines and we have got 46 embassies. The end should justify the means, let us make sure that whatever resource is exploited from all these gold mines, at least each of them, goes to each embassy Mr. Speaker Sir. The reason why we should put in the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is for audit purposes and optimum resource distribution.
If we continue to say we want to get the resources, economic emancipation and resource mobilisation through archaic means; where we have Corn Textiles opened at that time, it is going to take us time to get to that. Recently COTTCO was taken over by Government. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development has said he is giving seed to cotton producers for the next three seasons. That is futuristic, yes, we applaud it. What is not futuristic is the optimum resource mobilisation from the exploitation of our God-given minerals.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I might not make sense now, but the end will justify the means. Our embassies cannot go on like this. I went to Zambia once Mr. Speaker, the embassy staff there conduct themselves here in Zimbabwe forming little clubs where they buy a cow, inspect it, slaughter and dissect it, and then sell the meat for their own upkeep. Is this the embassy that we want? If they do that during the time that they are supposed to be engaging other embassies for the good of the country, what time will they indulge in optimum business operation for the good of this nation? Is this the modus operandi that we want? One day, I shall make sense.
Take over those mines and give them to the embassies. Why do I say so? Some of the owners of these mines are erst-while colonizers who are listed on the London Stock Exchange. ACR is one of them. Vast Resources is another. Break Ridge is the next. They make us a laughing stock whilst they call for sanctions in foreign land and yet we are looking so dilapidated.If we were having our embassies back home, taigona kurara nemukaka but not in foreign land.
As we are represented outside our borders, let us leave the duty of the embassy staff to concentrate on their core mandate not of selling peanuts for their own upkeep, not of dodging ZESA in foreign land or ZESA officials there using their diplomatic immunity in order to circumvent statutory obligations so that they can cover the face of our nation. The end will justify the means.
I also add my voice and support the notion that, let us get the Minister to come and give us a ministerial statement because this is of national importance. We need to know what we can do to help him in his endeavors. The economic problems are currently bedeviling the whole nation. However, we should not use our historic, archaic and moribund ways of doing business to try and make sure that we optimally conduct our economic emancipation in this day and age.
I ask and pray that we use this God given finite resource. It is finite in that as it is being excavated, exploited and illicit outflow flouted, it is not going to grow back in the ground. Let us optimally utilise it now and use it for the benefit of this country and our embassies, otherwise we cannot justify the existence of our embassies.
I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity and I say long live Zimbabwe. Long live Zimbabwe with our God-given resources.
Long live artisanal miners. Long live President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. In these problems, we are going to find ourselves and we are going to come out of this economic doldrums because of our God-given resources that we have got.
*HON. MAPIKI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Firstly, I would like to thank the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the findings they made from touring our embassies outside the country.
It shows that there are some people who are not doing their work because if there is a Minister of Foreign Affairs and we have this state of affairs – he should be invited to make a ministerial statement. Our embassies out there are like Mbare Matapi flats.
When we are looking at foreign direct investment from other countries, people will not trust us. This Committee came up with a lot of things. In parastatals, we have directors who have company cars and houses. Their children are sent abroad to do their studies. We are looking at an ambassador who is representing our country out there but he is using an Ipsum and he cannot send his children to school. It shows that things are not well. I think the Minister should be invited to give us a statement. Our ambassadors out there are representing our country. They are the ones who bring us synergies with investors. If they are not taken care of, it is very painful.
I am suggesting that these ambassadors should earn as civil servants and get their salaries from their bank accounts. It is not fair for someone to go for five months without a salary. This will make ambassadors end up being sell outs because there is nothing they are getting in return for supporting their country. They should be able to send their children to school. Five months for their wives without anything new is not proper. They will also not do their work properly. There should be a specific date for their salaries because we are now earning in US dollars. This will assist their families and relatives.
When their relatives die in Zimbabwe, they will not have money to come and attend the funeral. This is not good at all.
We also visited our Embassy in China that period when our Members of Parliament got stranded in China. The building was also not impressive. It was also like Matapi Flats. Our Embassies are not in a good state. Our Minister should be able to investigate that so that we have a good standing in Zimbabwe. We can say that Zimbabwe does not have money but there are some companies like Metalion Gold who are doing mining. They are externalising a lot of funds.
In Zimbabwe, we can use whatever skills available. Metalon gets a lot of grams for example, they can mine 90 kgs but they only remit 50 kgs. Where does the 40kgs go to? Zimbabwe is a very wealthy country.
We can rehabilitate our embassies outside. If people want to invest in
Zimbabwe, they first look at embassies especially in Ethiopia or Malawi. That is where they get the confidence of investing in Zimbabwe. I think it is very pertinent that we should channel our resources towards rehabilitation of our embassies.
If we look at diamonds, Chiadzwa was closed down. The first time Chiadzwa was introduced, we were very happy because we thought we were now going to realise a lot like US$2bn worth of diamonds. We realise that a lot of stealing was going on in Chiadzwa and we only realised it when it was too late. We know that in Zimbabwe our national budget is about US$4bn but with the way we were getting diamonds, we could have done so much as Zimbabwe. When I talked to the people they said the left over’s that we have, we can sell them and the way the money is coming in, it means that we can survive as Zimbabwe. I think that our challenge is that of prioritising. We cannot prioritise our things properly and we cannot manage our things well.
For us to rehabilitate our embassies, it will not take us a lot of money because companies that are coming here – there are a lot of things going on and we do not know what is happening. We do not know the partnerships that we are getting into and then later on we hear that these people are stealing our gold. I think from now onwards we want
Ministers who know what they are doing and stand on their own feet so that we do not involve other nations because if you look at what happened in the diamond industry and what is happening in the gold sector, it means that we have a lot of challenges because if you look at the British companies - what they are getting and remitting to Fidelity Refineries shows that there is a challenge. So, we really have to think seriously.
When it comes to offices, people should not sit on papers. You see a lot of people in organisations with a well structured hierarchy but there is a lot of bureaucracy in these offices. If you look at the salaries that they are getting, you find that a job which can be done by one person, there are a lot of people who do it. When you look at the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, there is an inspector who is supposed to be in charge of one district but these days, there are a lot of people who are doing that job which was done by one person.
We should be well organized because we are losing a lot of money which we should channel to our embassies because they help us in attracting investors into our country. What we see is that our priorities are wrong. We should revisit our priorities because there are a lot of people, especially in these parastatals who are not working but just getting money. I want to support the report of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs that the Minister should come and give us a statement and we should also criticise each other properly. We should accept constructive criticism because this is our country. I thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): I rise to give some information because I hear that most of the Honourable Members who have intervened on this motion are worried about the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Currently he is out of the country attending the SADC Council of Ministers meeting in Botswana. That is where he is. Most importantly I would like to give some information relating to this particular debate.
The way of payment at all our embassies changed. All embassy staff receive their salaries at the same time as civil servants receive their salaries. All diplomatic staff receive their salaries every month and they are not in arrears in relation to their salaries. What is problematic and a challenge is the issue of administration funds from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not from the Public Service Commission to deal with administration of embassies, maintenance and so on.
Fortunately this afternoon in Cabinet, we were seized with the matter of the state of affairs of our embassies worldwide. In that discussion we resolved to begin with Ethiopia so that we change the face of our embassies –[HON MEMBERS: Hear, hear]- The concern expressed by Honourable Members here is quite legitimate because it is the correct status which is there. You are not happy with it but as the Executive we resolved to attend to that issue. You are aware that we have gone through difficulties and the state of embassies did not just begin to deteriorate yesterday or one year ago or two years ago, it is over a period, but now it has been resolved that we do so.
There is one Honourable Member who spoke about the importance of Addis Ababa and it is for the same reason that we are going to begin with Ethiopia to change. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is away and I felt that I should give this information. If he was here he was going to do it but I have done it on his behalf.
Let me assure you that the question of investment – what attracts investment into a country is not the status of buildings but it is the return to capital, investment climate and the ease of doing business which the investor looks at in the country. Those are some of the issues that an investor will take into account before they invest in the country. Most important Mr. Speaker Sir, I would want to assure Honourable Members that we are as concerned as themselves on this issue and as I have said just today, a few hours ago it was a debate which we had in Cabinet and we concluded that we must address this issue and we begin with Ethiopia. I thank you.
HON. NDEBELE: On a point of order. I want to bring your attention to the fact that we have no quorum.
HON. MARIDADI: Thank you Madam Speaker and thank goodness for the quorum. Apart from thanking the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, I also wish to thank the Hon. Vice President for the information that you have given us. It is very helpful but Hon. Vice President, you tell us that you had a Cabinet meeting this afternoon which resolved to spruce up the image of our Ethiopian building. I am saying, Government is about processes and procedures. That is how Government is run. You cannot have a whole Cabinet to determine when you are going to refurbish buildings. That must come as a matter of routine because it is about processes and procedures – [HON.
MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Today, Cabinet is going to sit and decide to refurbish Ethiopia, and three months later another Cabinet meeting is going to resolve to refurbish Mozambique. How do you run a
Government like that – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – [HON.
MUTSEYAMI: Beats the benches.] – [HON. VICE PRESIDENT MNANGAGWA: Inaudible interjection.] -.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member
(referring to Hon. Mutseyami), you are making a lot of noise. If you want, you have to clap your hands
HON. MARIDADI: Hon. Vice President tells me here that it is a question of priorities. You rightly say Hon. Vice President, that this dilapidation did not start yesterday or in 2014, it started long ago and should it honestly take 31 Cabinet Ministers being chaired by a Head of State with two Vice Presidents in attendance to discuss such mundane issues which are operational. Cabinet is there to discuss policy of how to run a Government and the country and not how to refurbish buildings – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Again, you tell us that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is attending a SADC Ministerial Meeting wherever he is attending it. For me, that is not priority. The Minister attending a Ministerial Meeting is routine and is not priority, especially with the state of our economy. We cannot afford to fly a minister to foreign lands everyday with the state of our economy. I am going to leave that aside and go back to my original debate.
What you saw in Ethiopia as Members of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, you showed us pictures and if I take those pictures to Mabvuku or if I show the pictures to people who are vending outside, they will say, so what is surprising, chinoshamisa ipapo chii? Is this not a mirror of what our country is like? Just last week the President said, $15 billion was stolen from diamond minesand we do not even know where that money went to. How do you want to spruce up images of buildings in foreign lands when you cannot look after God-given mineral resources worth $15 billion and they disappear just like that?
Fifteen billion dollars is not small change.
In other jurisdictions, if $15 billion disappears, the following day headlines would say ‘President Resigns’, ‘Vice President Resigns’ or
‘Minister of Finance Resigns’. The whole Cabinet should have resigned – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – How do you continue to run a country when $15 billion disappears under your watch and you behave as if it is normal? It is not normal. This country’s budget is $4 billion …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, please
address the Chair.
HON. MARIDADI: Our budget was supposed to be $4 billion and it was revised downwards to about $3, 7/3, 9 billion. Our GDP, Hon.
Paradza put it at $14 billion but I think it is $12 billion. In the same country $15 billion disappears Madam Speaker, and Ministers continue to come to Parliament driving vehicles worth $300 000 for each, as if nothing happened. Madam Speaker, today Zimbabwe has a population of about 13 million. If you divide $15 billion which His Excellency said disappeared, with 13 million people, each Zimbabwean is entitled to $1 157.86 cents. What it means is that the person who stole that money, if you count that we have here about 75 Members of Parliament including the Hon. Vice President. That person has stolen about $76 000.000 from us here in Parliament as we are seated.
If you say $15 billion disappeared as a Head of State, you must in the same breath be able to say how you intend to recover the money and to bring to justice those that have stolen the money. You do not say $15 billion disappeared and you drink water and you go to sleep as if nothing has happened. It does not happen like that.-[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]- Madam Speaker, that building in Ethiopia symbolises the leadership in the country. –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- That building symbolises the leadership that we have in this country ...
HON. MUKANDURI: On a point of order.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order Hon. Mukanduri?
HON. MUKANDURI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I think the
Hon. Member should stick to the motion. He is attacking the leadership... –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. I want
to hear what he is saying. You are not presiding, I am the one presiding and so I have to hear what he is saying.
HON. MUKANDURI: He should attack the mistakes that have
been made if there are any but not to attack the leadership. I think that cannot be taken lightly. –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-
HON. MARIDADI: Madam Speaker, I would have wanted to
respond to him but I am not going to respond because I do not have very kind words for a person of that caliber. So, I will not respond.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Ah, ah, order Hon. Member.
You are out of order now. Can you please withdraw what you have said?
HON. MARIDADI: I withdraw.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you please proceed
with your debate.
HON. MARIDADI: Thank you Madam Speaker. if you go to my
house today, what you see reflects on me. If you go to my house today and you see my wife with blue eyes because I punched her last night, it is a reflection of who I am. If you go into my bedroom and you see one of the legs to my bed broken and one of my blankets is so small that my wife and myself cannot fit in there when we sleep at night one is uncovered, it also shows the kind of person that I am ...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member. Would
you please concentrate on debating on the issue of the report of the Foreign Affairs Portfolio Committee, not about your house and your wife?
HON. MARIDADI: Madam Speaker, last year the Deputy
Minister of Foreign Affairs, who then was Hon. C. Mutsvangwa said, and this is on record and can be verified, that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is hopelessly incompetent. This is on record and I am not manufacturing. I said to myself, why would a Deputy Minister say that about his boss? Looking at what we have seen today, it is a reflection of incompetence and nothing else. So, what it means is that, with hindsight Hon. Mutsvangwa has just been vindicated and he is having the last laugh. –[HONB. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-
Madam Speaker, when you talk about the situation in Zimbabwe, and you talk about the situation in our Embassies, you are talking about two things. These are the state of the economy and the state of leadership. There is a dearth of leadership in this country and there is no question about that. This is why today I cannot explain to my son who is 19 years old what it means for a country to lose $15 billion and no one is held accountable.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you please avoid
HON. J. TSHUMA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
HON. J. TSHUMA: Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member keeps on
getting lost in the debate that he is supposed to be talking about today. Please, can you make sure that he does not waste our time and stick to item number 4 which is talking about the Embassy in Ethiopia, not his house, children or whatever?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Madambanadzo, you
had a point of order?
*HON. MATAMBANADZO: Yes, thank you Madam Speaker,
for according me an opportunity to raise a point of order. I think the
Hon. Member was saying it in English, but I have heard what he was saying. I think at school, you always laugh at me...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is our point of order?
*HON. MATAMBANADZO: What you should do is to blame
the Minister not the President. What wrong has the President done or the Vice President. You have your President Tsvangirai, why did you not remove him. You can start from there. That is why you are a party of so many factions because there is...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Member, we
have heard your point of order. I think the concerns of the Hon. Members are on the attack on the President. Can you please proceed with your debate and please avoid what you have already said.
HON. MARIDADI: Thank you Madam Speaker. When we were shown those images, they were the images of the Embassy of Malawi, Chad, Rwanda, Gambia and then the Embassy of Zimbabwe. We want to say of those five countries whose images we saw, Zimbabwe has the highest GDP, literacy rate, and was once the bread basket of Africa and yet, those images show the reverse of all that. When you see the Embassy of Malawi, do you want to say is it by accident that they have a building like that or there is somebody who knows what he is doing in Malawi for them to be able to construct such Embassies? In the same breath, when you see our Embassy like that, you say is it because God is punishing us? Is it a coincidence that our Embassy building is like that or there is somebody not doing what he is supposed to be doing?
As Hon. Matambanadzo said in his point of order that I must not blame anyone but blame the Minister who has failed to work, I have already blamed the Minister. The solution now is not to just blame and attack but you must also proffer solution. Here are my solutions: Firstly, we must not have Embassies in all the countries because we are Zimbabwe. Let us have Embassies where it is necessary, where there are measurable outputs. That is what we need to do. Ministers should be accountable to Zimbabwe through Parliament. Ministers should have measurable deliverables and I think the state of our Embassies in Ethiopia and in Botswana are a reflection that the Minister is not capable of doing what he is supposed to do.
As such, my other recommendation is that His Excellency the President must ask the Minister to give him the opportunity to appoint someone else who will do a better job. Failure of which, I think this House, through the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, must then ask the Minister kindly, to come and give evidence, after which they must give a recommendation that the Minister must just resign on his own and avoid the embarrassment of being fired. Because the way I see it, everyone who is in this House, including the Vice President, has realised that the Minister is not capable and as such he must step aside and then give us an opportunity to have someone else who is capable. I think this is the way to go.
Thirdly, Madam Speaker, this country must start to take its people seriously. We cannot have an Ambassador because an Ambassador, unlike what people believe, is representing the country. The ambassador first and foremost, is representing the President because he is appointed by the President. That is why an Ambassador, apart from the President himself, is the only person called His Excellency. One is called His Excellency because we are saying you are not capable of making a mistake in a foreign land. That is why our Ambassador in Ethiopia cannot be arrested.
For the Ambassador in Ethiopia to be arrested or even to be fined, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia will talk to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Zimbabwe and the Ambassador is probably sent back home. He is never arrested because if they arrest the Ambassador in Ethiopia, it is tantamount to arresting the President of this country. So, the Ambassador is a very important person, but that is not how you treat an important person. What it means is that the Government is not caring. It is not even caring about its own President. Our Government is uncaring.
Madam Speaker, an uncaring Government – the way we treat our Ambassador is exactly the same way we are treating our vendors out there. It is exactly the same. The way the Ambassador is being treated is exactly the same way we are being treated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has put so much energy into denying Members of Parliament Diplomatic passports. If he had put such energy into running foreign embassies, I am telling you, our Ambassadors would be sitting in glass houses.
If you write a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs at 2.00 p.m. this afternoon asking for him to give you a waver and get a diplomatic passport, the Minister will respond by 2.30 p.m. and he will deny it and will give you a whole list of legislation and reasons. He will sign the letter himself. Even if he is in a foreign country, they will fax to him, he will sign and will send it back by fax. He is a man who puts energy in the wrong things. So, we cannot have a Government which employs people who put energy in the wrong things. I want to say it loud and clear that when you have been appointed by a person, that person cannot always come after you and say what is going on. If you show those images to the President, I am sure he will faint and he will say vaMbegegwi what is going on? I was Chairman of the AU. Is that what you did to my image? Because those images destroyed the image of His Excellency the President completely and totally. For the same person who has been responsible for destroying the image of the President to then go to SADC purporting to be representing Zimbabwe and the
President, it is a traverse of justice and it must not be allowed to happen.
In conclusion Madam Speaker, I wish to say I am glad the Vice
President is here and I know the Vice President is a man of action.
HON. NDUNA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member is now saying in conclusion. He has brought about three issues that he believes are a solution to this issue. I was listening and I thought he would add the two that I need to say. This is what he needs to say. He should make a clarion call. He should ask this House to make a clarion call for the removal of sanctions on this country. The countries he spoke about are not under siege because of sanctions. He should also call for the criminalisation for all those that called for sanctions on this country. This is the reason we are in the current state. I thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Maridadi please
continue with your debate.
HON. MARIDADI: Madam Speaker, I am glad the Hon. Member attempted to raise a point of order which you have ruled not to be a point of order. He talks about sanctions. Madam Speaker, I want to get into that debate of sanctions.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You cannot get into the
debate of sanctions because of the point of order.
HON. MARIDADI: No, in the context of my debate. It is not sanctions which made US$15 billion disappear, it is not sanctions which are supposed to repair a building in Ethiopia, it is not sanctions which put on the agenda that the Cabinet should discuss about sprucing up a building in Ethiopia. Madam Speaker it is not sanctions that people are not paid on time, it is not sanctions that we have 22 000 people on the civil service salary bill who are not supposed to be there. Today,
Madam Speaker, the Hon. Mariyawanda-Nzuwa said the reason we have a bloated Cabinet is because we have too many Ministers who are employing people without going through the Public Service. That is not a result of sanctions, but it is as a result of Ministers who do not know what they are doing.
Thank you Madam Speaker, my time is up, but I think I have made a clarion call and I want to reiterate that Minister Mumbegegwi must go yesterday. Thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Matambanadzo, would
you please resume your seat please.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA: Madam Speaker may I appeal to Hon.
Matambanadzo not to feel offended. You will continue tomorrow to debate the motion. Because of other commitments I had promised last week in this House that I would reply to the motion on child marriages.
So, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 16the March, 2016.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 5 to 25 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 26 has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
UNLAWFUL PRACTICES OF CHILD MARRIAGES
Twenty Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on rampant unlawful practice of child marriages in Zimbabwe.
Question again proposed.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS: Thank you Madam
Speaker. I rise to give response to the motion raised by Hon.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga on unlawful practices of child marriages. Madam Speaker, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga raised a very salient motion, touching mainly on the need to:-
- Amend the Marriages Act, Customary Marriages Act, Criminal
Codification and Reform Act and Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, such that child marriages are criminalised and the age of sexual consent be 18 years;
- Review the Children’s Act to ensure that the rights enshrined in the
Constitution are apparent and iii) That Government, civic society and the Church adopt and implement a systematic programme of education around issues of child marriages, sexual abuse and patriarchy in Zimbabwe.
This is in compliance with the Constitutional Court judgment in the case of Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi vs the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Others, CCZ12/2015.
Madam Speaker, I will hasten to say that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was not merely waiting for a judgment outlawing child marriages in order to act. The new Constitution, as mentioned in the judgment, set the minimum age of marriage at 18 years. The Ministry has since identified all pieces of legislation requiring alignment in this regard.
For the benefit of the concerns raised, I will give a summary of the proposed statutes to be amended in compliance with both the Constitution and the Constitutional Court judgment.
This section provides for solemnisation of the marriage of a minor with the consent of the guardian or of the High Court. This section should be repealed as it is contrary to Section 78 of the Constitution.
Section 21 – Marriage of minors without consent voidable but not void
This section provides that a marriage of a minor which was solemnised without the consent of the guardian or the High Court may be declared to be void by the High Court. This section should be repealed for the reason mentioned above.
The judgment makes specific mention of Section 22 of the Marriages Act as being unconstitutional. Section 22(1) of the Act provides that no boy under the age of 18 and no girl under the age of 16 shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage except with the written permission of the Minister. This subsection should be amended to provide that no person under the age of 18 years shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] - Subsections (2) and (3) which envisage that the Minister can give permission to persons under the age of 18 to marry should also be repealed – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –
- b) Customary Marriages Act
Age of marriage
The Act is silent as to the age of marriage. The Act should be amended by insertion of a provision that no person under the age of 18 years shall be capable of contracting a marriage in terms of the Act –
[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –
Section 3 – Marriages not valid unless solemnised
The section provides that a marriage contracted according to customary law shall not be a valid marriage unless it is solemnized in terms of the Act. (Although we are all aware that an unregistered customary law marriage is recognised for numerous purposes which include inheritance, adultery and incest). This section should be amended to provide that, notwithstanding the invalidity of the unregistered customary law marriage, no person under the age of 18 years shall be capable of contracting an unregistered customary law marriage.
Unlike the Marriage Act, the Customary Act does not criminalise the making of false representations or false statements or the solemnisation of a marriage officer in contravention of the Act. The offence of the solemnisation of a marriage by a marriage officer in contravention of the Act of making false representations and false statements should be created in the Act. The Act should also make it an offence for a guardian or other person to enter into a lobola agreement – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – or other customary marriage arrangement or ceremony in respect of a person under the age of 18.
c) Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act
Section 70 – Sexual intercourse or performing indecent acts with young persons.
In terms of the Act, it is an offence for any person to have extramarital sex with a young person. This section should be amended to remove the reference to extra-marital sex so that it becomes an offence in all cases to have sex with a young person – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –
Age of consent for girls
The judgment does not require the legislature to take any action as regards the age at which a child can consent to sex. Indeed, it is the Courts’ view that pregnancies of girls below the age of 18 were a social issue. Any changes to the age of consent would therefore require prior and extensive consultations with the public.
Despite the fact that we have identified the sections that need to be amended, it would be noble to conduct consultations to analyse the consequences these amendments would make on children who are already part of child marriages. It would be fundamental to provide for protective measures in order to cater for scenarios like guardianship rights for minors who have children whilst under age, property rights, inheritance rights and locus standi in marriage for children who are already victims of child marriages. Further consultations in this regard will enable the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to get concerns from stakeholders and map the best protection provisions.
Madam Speaker, I would also like to mention that extensive work on the Children’s Amendment Bill is already at an advanced stage. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services, in collaboration with the Inter Ministerial Taskforce on Alignment of Legislation to the
Constitution has already come up with a draft Children’s Bill. In that Bill, a child is defined as any person under the age of 18 years. So, anybody who is under 18 years is regarded as a child. However, we have persons already married away by their parents who are under 18.
As we amend that section, we would want to benefit from Hon. Members on how they want us to treat cases which are already in existence. The Bill will also incorporate the children’s rights as enshrined in the new Constitution.
Madam Speaker, on the need to adopt and implement a systematic programme of education around issues of child marriages, sexual abuse and patriarchy in Zimbabwe. I am happy to advise the House that Government has made great in roads in raising awareness in those issues. A two pronged approach has been adopted namely; raising awareness through the advocacy programmes conducted in all the country’s ten provinces and
Secondly, the Ministry has initiated partnerships between the
Ministry, civic society and church based organisations. The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, in partnerships with UNICEF and ACPDT produced summarised versions of children’s rights in English, Shona, Ndebele and Tonga and these have so far been distributed in Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Matebeleland South, Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. Capacity building workshops with small groups of children have been conducted under the same programme.
As soon as the consultations are finalised, which I believe that the advocates in this House will also bring amendments and come forward to us and give us their views on how to deal with the current situation where people are already in that situation. The Ministry will instruct the Attorney-General to promptly work at the aforementioned amendments once we are told and agreed on how to move forward. I will conclude by mentioning that the Government remains committed to ensuring that all the Constitutional obligations are carried out diligently and without delay in particular, where we have to protect our young persons. I thank you.
HON. GONESE: Madam Speaker, I think it is within my constitutional right to debate on just one issue – the age of consent. I want to do it when the Vice President is here –[HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections]- I appeal to my brother, my core-pilot the Chief Whip for Hon. Members on your right just to bear with me. I think it is an important issue for all of us.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, like what he is saying,
just one issue.
HON. GONESE: Thank you very much for your indulgence Madam Speaker. I also wish to thank the other Hon. Members for their understanding.
The reason why I stood up is firstly to thank the Hon. Vice President particularly in regard to the amendments which he has promised to bring to this august House. Be that as it may, I believe that on the age of consent, there are just a few points which I wish to make. I do understand and appreciate where the Hon. Vice President is coming from when he talks about the issue of consultations. However, my fear is that there are a lot of people who have been taking advantage of the lacuna in the law.
I believe that for all of us, when we look at the people below the age of 18, whether it is a boy or a girl, we must all appreciate that these are children. They have no business being fathers and mothers. They should be in schools. We would want all our children to proceed to tertiary education. We all know that there are a lot of children who have had their education cut short because if it is in the case of girls, they have fallen pregnant. The point that I want to emphasise is that in the majority of cases, it is because of elderly men who have been taking advantage of these young children. I think that the mischief that we want to deal with when we talk about amendment of Section 70 is the mischief of the older people. I know that there are a few occasions where sometimes we can have elderly women taking advantage of young boys. Those are just minuscule if we compare with the situation where young girls are being abused by elderly men.
I believe that it is imperative for this august House to call upon the Vice President to bring an amendment to that particular Section so that it criminalises having sexual intercourse with a person below the age of eighteen, whether it is a boy or a girl. These consultations should come when we already have a draft Bill. That is the reason why we go for public hearings. The portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs will then move around with that draft Bill.
I am calling upon the Minister to bring the draft Bill now and not tomorrow or next year so that we can deal with that particular problem of the age of consent. We do not want people to have excuses because people have been saying time and again that what is going to happen to those girls who fall pregnant when they are above the age of sixteen and below the age of eighteen. That is what we want to deal with now.
We can only deal with it effectively when we amend the law and criminalise having sexual intercourse and when we are going to have a mismatch between the age of consent and age of marriage. What it means is that everyone is free to have sexual intercourse with a girl above the age of sixteen but below the age of eighteen. It is going to be very difficult to deal with that particular situation. This is the reason why I am saying that we do not want to waste any more time.
If we are going to do any consultations, let us do them when we already have a draft Bill. I do not see what should be the problem. All the adults in this august House, whether it is the Hon. male or female members, I do not think any one of us if you have got a child at home; if you have got a child at home – I have got a fifteen year old daughter, I cannot imagine why anyone would want to look at my daughter as a potential wife at this point in time. Right now she is doing form three.
When she gets to the age of seventeen, she will only be doing form five.
We believe that no one should even contemplate taking someone who has not gone for tertiary education as a wife. For that reason, I am imploring the Hon. Vice President not to delay any further coming up with a draft Bill.
If we do the consultations, let us do them on the draft Bill and not on the issue of the principle. I rest my case.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): I am surprised that my learned brother did not understand the issues of a learned brother.
We are criminalising any sexual relations between any young person or anybody, boy or girl who is below the age of eighteen. Where I said I will seek consultation in the Bill is in relation to those girls who already have kids or who are already married. Are we going to have retrospective application of the law or not? That is the area I am consulting.
My learned brother slipped in understanding matters of legal standing. I thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 16th March, 2016.
On the motion of THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER
OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA), the House adjourned at Twenty Five Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.