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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 16 DECEMBER 2022 VOL 49 NO 9
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Friday, 16th December, 2022.
The National Assembly met at Half past Nine o’clock a.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Members. Please can we take our seats?
COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY
MAIN ESTIMATES OF EXPENDITURE
First Order read: Committee of Supply: Main Estimates of Expenditure.
House in Committee
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. M. KHUMALO): Order Hon. Members. When progress was reported yesterday, the Committee of Supply had under its consideration the Main Estimates of Expenditure for the year ending, 31st December, 2023.
On Vote 14 – Ministry of Health and Child Care - $462 086 163 000:
HON. WATSON: Thank you Hon. Chairman for this opportunity to debate the allocation to the Ministry of Health. I would like to point out to the Minister that as we are debating here, there is a huge crisis at Ingutsheni Hospital in Bulawayo. They were left budgetless, foodless for the patients they have an outbreak of pellagra. Pellagra is a disease which equally makes you mentally unstable. So patients who are really mentally unstable are now likely to be worse.
The very fact that this budget allocation has gone in mere terms down, from USD1.1 billion equivalent to USD730 million equivalent is likely to mean that long before the mid of next year, when you can come to this House for a Supplementary Budget, patients in Government institutions would have no choice but to be there, given their mental condition, many will be starving yet again. The fact that the per capita spending has declined from USD71.66 down to USD48.78 is an indication of absolute understaffing in the health sector and that it will be left in a more dire position than it has been this year, which is being bad enough.
I seriously believe that having read the Health Committee report, you may have decided prior to this debate on each Vote to actually relook at the Health Vote, because at Abuja they said 15% of nothing is nothing. Per capita spending in USD terms is ultimately what counts. We are well below the World Health Recommended figure and we are likely to find our health institutions severely incapacitated and severely underfunded. I thank you.
(v)HON. NDIWENI: Thank you Hon. Chairman for giving me the opportunity to talk about the Ministry of Health Vote. The Ministry of Health Vote, the problem that we are facing is that of disbursing money. There is very late disbursement and the state of the health sector at the moment is not pleasing at all, mainly due to lack of disbursement of money.
Mr. Chairman, I want to draw your attention to places like Parirenyatwa Hospital, this previous year, 2022, have had zero disbursement on their capital budget. What that means is even if there is a bulb that blows out - I think you remember at one stage there was a ceiling they were showing that was falling apart at Parirenyatwa Hospital. The truth is there was no money, zero was released for capital budget at that central hospital.
So we plead with the Minister that whilst the money cannot be enough but the little that had been budgeted for should be released timeously because we look at our ordinary people; the only interface they have with Government is hospitals, the health sector. So if you do not put anything to the health sector, the only interface that our people have got with Government, will be deplorable. People are not going to be happy with the Government because this is the only time they meet the Government. This is the only time when they are ill that they feel that the Government should do something about them. I plead with the Minister that please, we know that this year, the amount allocated to Health is even less than last year in terms of the Abuja Declaration, that 15% allocation of the total budget should be reserved for health. We know it but if you give it 2% or 10%, then release that money timeously.
Look at the brain drain that is happening in the health sector. Some Municipal clinics here in Harare are closing because there are no nurses, why, because there is no money to pay the health workers. So I plead with the Minister that let us not play around with the Health budget. Of all the budgets that we have, let us release whatever money is allocated to the Health Ministry timeously and save our people. I thank you Hon. Chair.
HON. GONESE: Thank you very much Hon. Chair. I rise to make a contribution on this very critical Vote. I am cognisant of the fact that the resource envelope is already stretched. I am alive to the fact that there are so many competing interests but I rise on a matter of principle. I really want to say that as a nation, we have made some progress in terms of achieving the target which we as a nation willingly and voluntarily acceded to when we signed the Abuja Declaration.
I am concerned that we are retrogressive because I believe that at one time we had gone to 13% but when you look at the current allocation, it is not even that. It is around 9%, which I think is a step backwards. I would like to get clarity from the Hon. Minister of Finance as to why we are moving forward and then we move backwards. Having acknowledged that some adjustments have already been made, I submit the importance that the Health Vote is to our nation. If we do not have enough medication and facilities at our hospitals and people dying all the time and we have our health workers not satisfied with their working conditions, we will continue losing lives that could have been saved. I therefore request that notwithstanding the difficulties and the challenges that we have, that we seriously reconsider this particular Vote. I urge the Hon. Minister to increase it. I would have loved it to get to the 15% of the Budget and I think that would be the position that we should strive to have. In the event that we are not able to achieve it this year, we must take steps to ensure that at the next Budget, we get there. For now, I would submit that let us get at least to 14% so that as a nation, we are seen to be serious. It is not just about the target. It is also about the impact, effects and the consequences of not increasing this Budget. It is for these reasons that my contribution is that, please Hon. Minister, let us increase this particular Vote, ideally to where it should be which is 15% of the Budget. I so submit Mr. Chair.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. M. KHUMALO): May I remind Hon. Members not to debate. Please bring new ideas, do not debate.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Hon. Chair. I have got two issues. The first one has to do with motor cycles that were supplied by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is now four years after these motor cycles were donated and to date, they are not working. So, we have got 100 motor cycles that are lying idle that were donated some four years ago. The reason is simple. They are saying they do not have money to train health workers who are supposed to use those motor cycles. If you divide the 100 motor cycles by 10, it means each province will have 10 motor cycles for the health workers. This will make a big difference. In other countries, for those people who are diabetic, HIV positive, high blood pressure, they supply medicines using motor cycles. We have got 10 motor cycles lying idle because the staff that is supposed to use them cannot be trained.
The second one Hon. Chair has to do with a hospital in Matobo. When we were doing consultations, it was submitted that the hospital was actually condemned and if you visit the hospital, it is in a sorry state. You do not have accommodation for the pregnant women. Even those who will be in the wards waiting to deliver may be shifted when rains come because the roofs are leaking. So, there must be a line that deals with that particular hospital because that is the only hospital that they have. As a result, you find people crossing into Botswana or South Africa to deliver. It is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Thank you Mr. Chair.
(v)*HON. CHIDAKWA: Thank you Hon. Chair for giving me this opportunity to add my views. The Vote for the Ministry of Health should be increased so that hospitals are capacitated. If you go to major hospitals like Parirenyatwa, the service that you receive immediately is BP and temperature checks but it takes time for patients to get assisted. This is due to the fact that there will be few doctors and the doctors do not have the necessary tools to use. Food that is being served to patients is not good due to lack of funding. Hon. Chair, some hospitals do not have medical equipment to do Xray and scan. The other cause for shortages of drugs is failure by the Ministry of Finance to disburse the allocated funds to the sector. Let us increase the budget allocation to this Ministry. I request that funds should be disbursed timeously in order to avert the health challenges that we are facing as a country. For a nation to progress, its people should be in good health. I thank you Hon. Chair. I thank you.
HON. CHINYANGANYA: Thank you Mr. Chairman, I would like to speak on the Ministry of Health’s budget. The Health Ministry is one of the critical ministries that we have because it concerns the lives of people and as such, it deserves to be allocated a budget that will be able to cater for the purchase of medicines and the hospital infrastructure as well. If you look at it right now, most patients in border towns are going across the borders to access health care. Victoria Falls, they are going to Zambia; in Beitbridge they are going to South Africa and in Mutare they are going to Mozambique.
We used to be one of the most advanced and most equipped countries when it comes to healthcare. Right now, our health system is in the intensive care unit. So we kindly ask the Minister of Health to increase the budget so that our people can have proper healthcare facilities. As we speak, the situation at Parirenyatwa, Chitungwiza Hospital is dire. At Kadoma General Hospital, there is no medication and there is no critical medical equipment. The Minister can increase sim tax to fund the Ministry of Health budget, and I think that will go a long way in trying to serve our people. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Members, may I remind you that you seem to be repeating what has been said already by other Hon. Members. Can we move forward?
HON. I. NYONI: Thank you Mr. Chairman I will try not to repeat what has been highlighted. My contribution on the Health budget is, I am looking at the National Blood Transfusion Service. We know that blood plays a major part, particularly in the festive season where we are expecting to have a number of accidents on the roads. Blood plays a major part in the maternity ward in various hospitals. I will give an example in the Southern region; we have UBH, Mpilo Hospital and other hospitals in the region.
At the moment these various blood transfusion stocks are very low and the reason is that they are not paid on time by the relevant Ministry because of inadequate funding. It is very important that adequate funds are allocated to the Ministry of Health so that you are able to meet funding on this particular important part of health, which is blood and that is life.
Currently, we are facing inadequate blood supplies because the National Blood Transfusion Services are not able to fund their services on a daily basis. Therefore, my clarion request to the Minister is to ensure that there is timeous release of funds. There must be an increase in the allocation to ensure that the National Blood Transfusion Services are well catered for. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Members, I repeat again may you summarize your suggestions. I will end up not giving other people time to debate.
*HON. T. ZHOU: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. If the Ministry of Health is awarded an additional budget, I am pleading with the Minister that disbursements must be done on time. I will give an example whereby you allocated an amount amounting to 250 million to Mberengwa District Hospital. All the processes were done but on disbursements, that fund was not disbursed. They had planned to build the OPD Department but they did not manage to build it, they have only managed to put up a foundation only this year.
In next year’s budget there will be no allocation to that effect. We just promise people but we do not disburse the money. I am pleading with the Minister that all projects must be completed and for this year’s uncompleted projects they must be carried forward to next year’s budget. I thank you.
(V) *HON. NYABANI: Thank you Hon. Chair. Where I come from in Rushinga, we value the well-being of people. The Hon. Minister must allocate more funds to Health because there is no medication in Rushinga clinics. The clinics do not have vehicles like ambulances and other vehicles. Rushinga is near the border and there are a lot of diseases like malaria and so on. People travel long distances to go to the clinics. Rushinga must be given more money so that they do not have to travel long distances to access medication.
My son was not well and I tried to take him to hospital but by the time I got to the hospital at around 6p.m. it was closed. A lot of hospitals and clinics must be solar powered so that even if they work late they will not have any difficulties and people will be helped.
Mr. Speaker, in Rushinga even if people are involved in car accidents and I once helped accident victims by taking them to the hospital, they were only given cards because there was no medication; they were expected to buy their own medicines. My plea is that people be helped when it concerns health issues. People in rural areas are suffering, they do not have money. If only we had companies in this country that manufacture medicines instead of importing from other countries. This will ensure that we have enough supply of drugs for our hospitals so that our people can be treated using these drugs. I thank you Hon. Chairman for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Hon. Chairman. I want to emphasise on the points made by the previous speaker, Hon. Nyabane. The main issue is that our rural hospitals do not have drugs, even drips and people have to buy for themselves. These people in rural areas do not have the money to buy drugs. If they visit the hospital and they are given a prescription, the next thing is that they go straight home without the required medication.
So I appeal to the Minister. The funds that have been allocated to the health sector are too little. The health sector should be given more funds so that hospitals are well equipped and they have enough drugs and even ambulances. In the rural areas, there are no ambulances to ferry the sick to hospitals. If there is an accident, people die because there are no ambulances. Well wishers end up ferrying the injured to the hospital.
Nurses used to be searched when exiting hospitals but that is no longer being done because there is nothing for them to steal. If this Bill passes in this House, please allocate enough funds to buy drugs and medication. Members of Parliament are now taking it upon themselves to buying medication for some of the less fortunate people in their constituencies. Thank you Hon. Chair.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Members, there is vehicle AFX1475 which is blocking other vehicles.
(v)HON. BRIG. GEN (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: Thank you Hon. Chair. My contributions are very few. The first one Hon. Chairman is about district centres that do not have hospitals or rural health centres. May the Ministry also consider these places that have been identified and presented in the citizens’ budget as not having adequate rural health centres?, Esigodhini was identified together with Shamva five years ago that it was the worst hospital in the country but no allocations have been made in the past three years.
Secondly, the issue about cost recovery in hospitals - it is my proposal for domestic resource mobilisation. We are saying instead of giving the wrong perception that we are offering free medical services, people find that there is nothing. It is better if people were charged at least for paying subsidised rates and then they find that x-ray machines, scans and diagnostic equipment are working. You go to renal clinics, you find that the renal clinics at Parirenyatwa out of the 17 that were operational, only three are operational now because the equipment is just degraded and run down and we are saying these non communicable diseases, you have to address them because these are very expensive and very real problems that people face. Renal patients have not much else to do besides living through that dialysis. So if only the Minister can consider equipping Harare, Parirenyatwa, Mpilo and UBH hospitals with renal equipment at least 10 for all of those hospitals.
Finally, the issue of Ingutsheni Hospital - honestly those people are sick enough already to be at that place. For them now to go without food, I think really as a society, as a nation that cares, we do not seem to be taking Ingutsheni Hospital very seriously. We are seeing letters flying all over the place. They are begging for food. Why are they begging for food when we are saying everyone else in the country has sufficient food? Where is the Ministry of Health and Child Care, where is the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and where is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development? Ingutsheni Hospital is circulating letters asking citizens to subsidise it on food. It is not fair. Let us have a budget that addresses the immediate plight of people who are sick. Everybody one day will fall sick. I thank you Mr. Chairman.
(v)HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I also want to add my voice on this Health budget. What I have seen in hospitals is women who are giving birth cannot be operated unless and until they buy things that are supposed to be used during the operation like injections to put someone to sleep and even gloves for the doctors. There is absolutely nothing in hospitals. So I am saying as a woman myself, the women are doing a service to the nation by giving birth to Zimbabweans and truly speaking, they must be looked after especially in time of giving birth.
Most of our women are from the rural areas and they do not have the money to buy these things for them to have an operation because the hospitals are not equipped enough and the disbursement of funds are not even adequate. From what was given to our hospitals, they cannot even buy things like gloves and paracetamol and we are talking of a woman who is giving birth to a child who belongs to the nation. So I am saying can the Minister look into this matter to add more funds to the health sector, to disburse the funds timeously and to disburse everything that has been allocated to the Ministry.
Sometime this year, what was allocated to hospitals was not disbursed, not even half of it. So how do we expect hospitals to run if they do not get the allocation that has been budgeted for them? Can the Minister look into this issue? Again not women giving birth only, everybody who goes for an operation must buy whatever is needed for that person to go through an operation. Also the machines in hospitals are not working. Private doctors are bound to make more money because the doctor will say well, the machine is not working in hospital but you can go to this clinic in town and you will get assistance.
Why should we go that far? Why can we not equip our hospitals with machines that are working and what are we saying to the district hospitals that do not even have these machines? They are supposed to be transferred to bigger hospitals like Parirenyatwa, Mpilo and UBH, but also in these big hospitals, these machines are not working. So as a Government which is saying we do not want to leave anyone behind, I think we are doing the opposite; we are leaving a lot of people behind. As it is, people no longer go to hospitals because they do not have confidence in these hospitals anymore. Can the Minister look into this seriously?. I propose that the monies must be disbursed by the first quarter of 2023 so that ministries including the Ministry of Health and Child Care can start buying things that are needed for the hospitals. Thank you.
(v)*HON. MANGORA: I want to add my voice to the Health budget. My request to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is that he should add a lot of funds to cater for diseases like cervical cancer that are detected often too late because of unavailability of facilities at primary healthcare level. By the time one needs that medication, it becomes too expensive especially in private hospitals. We need to have such facilities in public hospitals so that people can be treated earlier. If you are supposed to go for chemotherapy, not so many people can afford that especially people who earn low salaries. For hospitals that cater for mental health hospitals, we need to have a lot of funds allocated there because sometimes they end up becoming violent and some of them escape because of hunger. There is need for a lot of funds to be allocated so that they get enough. I do not have much to say but just to say funds must be availed to those hospitals that cater for mental health as well as for the procurement of ambulances. I saw patients especially paralysed ones failing to get into an ambulance because they were not user friendly, so we need funds to be allocated for that. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MAVETERA): Hon. Members, I am closing this debate, all of you are repeating the same things. We are closing this debate. Can I have the last one.
(v)HON. TOFFA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Without having to repeat what others have said, I would like to add the fact that in rural areas – [HON. NDUNA: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order, Hon. Nduna, order please!
(v)HON. TOFFA: There is no medication, they have got no X-rays and I will give a typical example of Filabusi where we were attended to and we were to share a cube of tablet. Hon. Speaker, I would also like to talk about Ingustheni Hospital, just to add and I know it has been spoken about. It is important because it looks like as a country, we do not look at mental health as something important. I think we need to take that very seriously. I would like to make a recommendation; as we have done public hearings and moved around, I have noticed that at most hospitals, there are broken down cars. I would urge the Minister of Finance to have all these broken down vehicles collected and sold. You can actually raise money for the Ministry of Health instead of letting the cars rot at the hospitals and all the other Government departments. Thank you Hon. Chair.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Hon. Chairperson for the comments from the various Hon. Members, which I really appreciate. Let me start off from the comments by Hon. Watson; she has left the House. Basically, the Health sector budget is actually split into two; the first part is what we appropriate from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and this amounts to about ZWL470 billion; that is what we are debating. Then we have an additional ZWL232 billion from development partners. They support Health directly and they are very clear about that; they run various programmes. The total that is going to the Health sector is ZWL702 billion. That is what we should be looking at. If we look at the draw-down in terms of budget utilisation for the Health sector, up to now it is 65%. Also, there is the donor funding that is also being drawn-down in parallel as well.
The issue about this sector is not so much that of using adequate funding, but it is about the speed of disbursement and it is a push and pull issue. If we look at other ministries such as Transport, they have actually run out of budget; Agriculture has also run out of budget. They are high expenders and they real push for their budget release. We feel that perhaps we could improve the absorptive rate so that they can get their funding faster. At the same time, you have competition between donor funding and also domestic funding where you are quite aware that in some sub-sectors, officials prefer to work with donor funding because they are getting hard US dollars for that. We have all those challenges as well.
Hon. Chair, also there is something else, I do not know whether you have noticed that we have got private hospitals mushrooming everywhere, every other corner of Harare, there is some private hospital coming up - I am dramatising. It is quite clear that this is a growth sector. If you go to those private hospitals, you will find that there is adequate medicine and there is equipment and quality personnel. Also we have found that some of the drugs that we buy for public hospitals disappear very quickly and how come these private hospitals always have medicine, what is going on? I think there are a lot of issues that I think we need to deal with within the sector including perhaps finding a way for the public sector and the private sector to work together on a public-private-partnership. Maybe we need to find a way to subsidise our citizens for them to access the private hospitals. Really at the end of the day, it looks like access is the issue but there are quite a lot of private hospitals around us.
Hon. Chairperson, I want to mention something else - some colleagues – and here I am not going to be specific mentioning the issue of cancer. In the last year’s budget, we have created a fund for non-communicable diseases where we have taxes from sugar drinks and should be ring fenced to deal with subsidising drugs for cancer, hypertension, diabetics, UNCDs; so this needs to be operationalised. In addition to that, I am going back to the resources again. We have been borrowing to also support the Health sector. Some of you have seen the clinics that have been built through the MNS arrangement, the one in Harare South and the one in Cowdry Park is as good as done now. The one in Mataga in Zvishavane has started and then we move on to Chimanimani, I heard Hon. Mayihlome mentioning Filabusi- we are eying Filabusi to build again a polyclinic there. We will build about 30 of these polyclinics around the country and that is based on our borrowing activities, not even from the budget but borrowing to support the sector.
The way we see it, we feel that the sector in terms of resources that have been allocated, there is adequate resources but the issue is draw-down, competition between donors and Government funding. We also need to find a way for the public and private sectors to work together so that they can improve on access to our public citizens.
Therefore Hon. Chairman, I do not think there is room to maneuver here; let us just work on disbursement so that the Ministry can also receive funds as fast as other ministries such as Agriculture, Transport, Office of the President and Cabinet and so forth. I thank you.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Hon. Minister, how do you reconcile the issue of you indicating that for part of your Health budget, you are relying on development partners at a time that this country is pushing a Bill that is literally going to restrict the operations of development partners through the PVO Amendment Bill –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. TOFFA: Thank you Hon. Chair – [HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Inaudible interjection.] -
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order! Hon. Sibanda, that is unparliamentary.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Is the Minister’s conduct Parliamentary; he sits there as an arbiter, be independent, do not be sided in your opinions. Is his conduct parliamentary - that is nonsense!
THE TEMPORARY CHAIPERSON: Order, order! Hon. Sibanda, may you withdraw that word.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Listen Hon. Chair, how does he interfere and say the Hon. Minister should not answer when I did not direct the question to him? Okay, I withdraw nonsense.
HON. TOFFA: Thank you Hon. Chair. My point of clarification is that whenever the Minister responds or even when he responded today with regards to the timeous disbursement of funds, particularly to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, he says it is a draw-down and the Ministry’s fault but as a Minister of Finance and we are always asking the Minister about this issue, what mechanisms have you put in place to correct this? What is it that you are going to do to make sure that the Ministry of Health gets the funding on time? If they are not drawing down, the people in Zimbabwe and in the hospitals in particular, are not getting medication and are not being capacitated and yet you say the funding is there sitting in the coffers waiting to be used. What is it that you are going to do to remedy this mischief?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank very much Hon. Chair. I really thank Hon. Toffa for asking for mechanisms that we should put in place to improve the disbursement. I am glad she asked that. What we have done with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Transport is to set up coordination process where the technical teams meet every week to track progress on disbursements and programmes. It has worked very well for those two ministries, so again I would suggest that we follow a similar approach because it has worked. It is not yet in place but we will put that in place and in some occasions the Ministers also get involved. So for example for Transport and Agriculture, some of the meetings I attend with Hon. Masuku and Hon. Mhona. So the same thing will apply to Health - that is what I propose Hon. Chair, I think it will work going forward.
Vote 14 put and agreed to.
On Vote 15 - Primary and Secondary Education – ZWL631 279 722 000:
(v)HON. S. BANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My concern on the Vote for Primary and Secondary Education emanates from sanitary pads which were given just $1.5 from $1.3 billion this year. I thought the Hon. Minister could maybe double that, like what is happening to other situations given the inflationary pressures. So I just want the Hon. Minister to increase that figure and take it from the unallocated reserves.
(v)HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Chair. I just want to express my displeasure. Your ICT is playing games today. I cannot believe it. I was vouching for them to get better remuneration yesterday. I withdraw.
Madam Chair, the issue of the third party insurance is key. I ask that the money be taken to fund the education sector. I say that because you are now on the Education Vote but it would have made sense if we were still on the Health Vote that disallowed me to contribute. There is more than USD100 million coming from third party insurance annually and it is not benefiting the end user. It is my hope that, that Act gets to be repealed and we get to have that third party insurance going into the central revenue. I will give you an example, every seat in the bus of an 85 seater bus pays $15 per seat, which translates to about $4 500 per passenger insurance. It is my hope that this money can be out towards education for our citizens.
There is also what is called a comprehensive insurance Madam Chair. This is the only insurance that maybe the citizens are benefitting from. This is the only insurance that should remain in force. The other insurance where the Minister of Finance previously in the year 2022 budget, has taken 20% transit fees and all that to finance the health sector, in particular at the tollgates or the procurement of ambulances for the tollgates; he should continue to take from all insurance sectors to finance the Health and also the Education Votes.
The last issue that I want to contribute on is the issue of the school feeding programme. Madam Speaker, I continue to say Section 13 (4) of the Constitution says let the resources that are extracted in the localities that they are extracted benefit those localities. It is my hope that the Minister of – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order. Hon. Nduna, can we please be specific to the Primary Vote. You need to understand the environment that we are now.
HON. NDUNA: It is the Vote for Education, is it not? I am basically saying you should find ways to extract monies from the miners in those localities to finance education and the issue of the school feeding programmes. The pupils are getting school feeding from the pittance from Government whereas in the private sector, there is a lot of money that the Minister can tap from. This is my clarion call Madam Chair and I ask that your ICT department behaves like normal people that are employed by Parliament. They should not be used to pick out Members from virtual and to mute Members unnecessarily. I thank you.
HON. WATSON: Thank you Madam Chair. I wish to raise one point only and that is the budget allocation for sanitary pads to schools for young girls. This budget has dropped by 80% in USD terms down to USD2.32 million from USD11.64 million. That means essentially young girls in school who have not been receiving the sanitary pads according to the education Committee, will most certainly not receive them. That means a lot of young girls will not attend school. I hope the Minister got that. Thank you Madam Chair.
HON. MUCHIMWE: I rise to wholly support the credibility of this budget. Really, the Minister and his staff did exactly what is called realistic performance. I say this because throughout his budget allocation to all entities, he insisted on our local currency. No country can grow distinctively while using other countries’ resources. We may only employ the tactic that engagement and reengagement. The problems in budget presentation will be forgotten in the future if the Minister supports agro-based projects. The fundamental principle of developing is to provide irrigation facilities in communal areas. For this to be functional, funds must be allocated to constituencies to enable dam rehabilitation and construction. The Youth Empowerment Bank must receive enough allocation for it to assist the youth.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Members.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Chair, please with your permission, could I ask Hon. Watson just to ask her question again.
HON. WATSON: Thank you Madam Chair. Thank you Hon. Minister. My point is about sanitary pads for girls in schools. The budget has also dropped by 80% from USD11.64 million down to USD2.32 million equivalent. In the Education report, girls were said not to be getting the sanitary pads in any case. This will mean effectively that they will not get the sanitary pads and a lot of young girls particularly in rural environments will not attend school. I think it is extremely unfortunate. Also I am going to support Hon. Toffa’s point that it might be better to use the USD2.32 million within the first quarter to buy machinery to manufacture sanitary or reusable sanitary pads so that these young girls will be afforded the opportunity to attend school. Thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you very much. Madam Chair, the Budget for the Ministry is the largest allocation for any NDA within this year, the 2023 budget. I think if Members feel that the budget for sanitary wear is rather on the low side, why do we not virement because again when it comes to taking money from elsewhere, We have very little room to maneuver. If anyone has a proposal on how we can virement or cut back on one item to increase that budget, I am all ears. Let me explain something; every year we always run out of the UR by June. So, let us virement from elsewhere, that is what I propose. If we run down our UR, we will be in trouble. Already what we want is a UR which is about 10% of the overall budget. We are already down to $72 billion after what I proposed yesterday. We are already so low on the UR that we cannot function like that and we still need to respond to certain exigencies and shocks. So, I propose we virement and if anyone has a proposal, I am happy to accept.
HON. T. MOYO: As the Committee on Budget, we suggested that 0.5% of VAT must be collected and given to Primary and Secondary Education.
HON. TOFFA: Thank you Madam Chair. The suggestion that we had proffered to the Hon. Minister is the fact that we are importing these pads, why do we not use that money to buy machinery to manufacture the pads? I think that way we will have control and we will be spending less foreign currency while creating employment at the same time.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you, I really appreciate that proposal from Hon. Toffa. I think that is the direction to take although we need to figure out who will operationalise the project. We need to find a private sector partner who can work with Government to do the right thing but that suggestion is most welcome. We will explore it as fast as we can so that we can make sure our rural girls are well supported. I thank you.
Vote 15 - Primary and Secondary Education - $631, 279,722,000, put and agreed to.
On Vote 16 - Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development - $156,509,466,000;
HON. MAPHOSA: Thank you very much Madam Chair. I will not belabour this House by going through my report once again but I have got two issues. If we are serious that we want education to change the situation of our country, or should we say if we want education to be a driver to the economic change and to alleviate the burden we have right now, we must be serious about the trajectory that has been taken, which is of Education 5.0. When I was presenting my report, I deliberately did not say what the President, His Excellency Cde Mnangagwa has done to the institution by injecting his monies; I do not know where he is taking them from. So, I implore the Finance Minister to also have the same vision that the President has. I talked to you through the report and I know you are aware of what I am talking about. Firstly, the issue of work for fees that I talked about, we all know that we do not have grants anymore but we have banks giving out loans which are not easily accessible by students. We cannot do away with poor children. The institution has tried to make ‘Work for Fees’ work and I gave you a lot of examples of what these children are doing so that they also graduate. I am therefore imploring the Hon. Minister to allocate the $580,000,000 that was asked for by the Ministry specifically for that so that at least no student is left behind.
Secondly, I will only talk of Gwanda State University. I know there are shortages in some institutions but at least they have got something while we have zero budget for Gwanda State University and like I said, the President laid a foundation stone for infrastructure for the innovation hubs and the laboratories. Right now, I should be in Marondera where he is also laying a foundation of another infrastructure but we have no budget. So, I am pleading with the Finance Minister to at least add the budget for Gwanda State University and the Work for Fees Programme. I thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: Madam Chair, we now have incubation hubs at universities and some are doing very well. I however think that we have not established a system where we account for the monies that we raise through these programmes. My suggestion is that a fund be established that the Ministry should know and the fund should be retained by the university so that it is used for assisting children from poor families learning in these faculties which are doing more work in the incubation hubs. So, if the Minister could tell us how he is going to deal with that particular issue because we may end up in a situation where a lot of money is raised but it is not accounted for well.
(v) HON. S. BANDA: Thank you Hon. Chair. I just have one issue. There is a problem of electricity in the universities particularly for lecturers. So, if you are going to pass the amount that is there now in the budget, it would not necessarily ensure what is needed to happen. I was going to propose the equilibrium system to be completed so that the Hon. Minister can quickly fund that aggregate. I thank you.
(v) HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Chair. I request that there be an allocation for reverse engineering to document the recent satellite launch into space that we did as Zimbabwe. It is applauded and to bolster that, I request that there be an allocation for reverse engineering. The other issue is that of having the right people in the right places and not square plugs in round holes. We have a recent issue that occurred at the University of Zimbabwe, Law Faculty it does seem that we have the wrong people as Deans in the right places. It is incumbent upon the Ministry to also start directing to put the money where his mouth is, where he actually directs so that we have people with credibility of probity so that we will not have, say, examination papers leaking or otherwise because of their deficiencies and inefficiencies. These are the issues that I want to make so that the Minister can actually take unallocated monies so that it can take us forward as a nation.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Chair. I was going to ask my colleague to sit with me for a minute so that I can show her the Blue Book regarding Gwanda State University. If you have a copy of the Blue Book, on page 351, under Gwanda State University we have $100 million for the rehabilitation of infrastructure, $150 million for some lecture block, $10 million for a mining laboratory, $150 for innovation fund as someone mentioned about supporting research and innovation, there it is, $80 million for industrial park and $20 million for innovation hub equipment and that comes to about $660 million rounding off quickly there. There is something there if you check but thanks for raising it; we have not forgotten Gwanda State University.
On the issue of work for fees; I do not have to virement. If there are ideas that I can do this, it will help to see where we can take funds and apply to this programme because we are really running out of budget. Things are really tight. On the comment about supporting innovation and so forth, I did not hear you applaud when we launched the satellite. This is where I started in 2018 if you remember and I said let us launch a satellite that will stretch our research. It has done that and we are doing a second one now.
That is just an example but we have done a lot in terms of research and innovation in our universities. Every university has an innovation hub and they are doing something. So many patents have been patented from the research that is coming from academics. We just need to upgrade the model around commercialising entrepreneurship ideas coming out of these innovation hubs but it is a process. It starts with the knowledge, its commercialization and then eventually you roll it out so that you may start making money out of it and it is sustainable. So colleagues, overall I really feel that we have done our best to allocate adequate budget to this Ministry.
This Ministry is also very efficient at using their budget, especially for infrastructure development. We are very happy with them. They tend to use their own building brigades to put up buildings. They do it very quickly and cheaply, usually it is about 25% of the cost of what we are experiencing for other ministries. We are very happy with this Ministry in terms of efficiency in the use of the budget. We feel that this budget will go a long way. They always deliver and use every dollar properly. Please let us support it as is.
Vote 16 put and agreed to.
Vote 17 – Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development – $18 541 814 000 put and agreed to.
On Vote 18 – Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage – $293 009 806 000:
HON. NGULUVHE: I just want to bring this to the attention of the Minister concerning this department. The issue of the legacy bills in ZRP and Registry; we are all aware that we had voter registration across the country. People were engaged to carry out that exercise and a lot of people were not paid. There is an outstanding bill of about RTG$15 billion of people who took part in that exercise. We are still to do a mop registration of voters as we move towards the 2023 elections and therefore, there is a need that those outstanding bills, the people should be paid. We should also continue to register our people. So as we move towards 2023, the election funding gap for the Registry and ZRP should be taken care of. I propose that we move that Registry bill to about $70 billion.
We also have an issue that some departments like Museums should be allowed – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Thank you. You will find that Hon. Minister, I know that you collect all the funds but you might have to reconsider the issue of retention funds for some of the departments under Ministry of Home Affairs.
My last point is; we take care of our National Heroes Acre well but if you go around the country and check where our provincial heroes are buried, and some of those victims are buried; outside or inside the country, the shrines are in a bad state. So, I appeal to you to consider that department also to be given additional funds. Thank you.
HON. I. NYONI: My contribution on the Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage is on the police services. I am sure most Hon. Members here usually help the police with full and transport. At most police stations, they only have one vehicle and a good example is in my constituency. We have two police stations where they share one vehicle but police a very big area. I recall the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs did go around checking on the challenges that were faced by the police and some of those that were identified when the report was presented here in Parliament was transport, accommodation and uniforms.
However, we are also aware that during the patrols, police no longer do the normal patrols in the areas because of this kind of incapacitation. The patrols are usually done by neighbourhood watch committees and this leaves members of the public exposed to thieves. We have cases whereby ZESA cables are stolen regularly because there are no police patrols because of this kind of incapacitation. I suggest that the Vote be increased to a reasonable amount – say about ZWL$300 billion.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: I propose that the Minister goes around police camps to view the state of accommodation for police officers. They live like vagrants, especially those in border towns. They are supposed to be paid travelling and subsistence allowances but they are not. This causes them to be corrupt. This Vote should be increased in order to ensure that police officers are capacitated and there is no corruption.
(v)*HON. RAIDZA: May the Minister allocate more funds on the department of flora and fauna at the CID because there is a lot of illicit financial leakages since the police officers who are doing that work are incapacitated. We need to curb mineral pilferage in our country. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Hon. Chair for the debate on Vote 18 – Ministry of Home Affairs. I really feel that we have done a lot in supporting this Ministry. If we look at the three areas around police, there is the issue of mobility – [HON. MEMBES: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Members. You are making a lot of noise. I do not think we will progress with what you are doing. We can hardly hear the Hon. Minister. Let us keep our voices low. I know you have got a lot of caucuses because of elections and all – [HON. MEMBES: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: In terms of support to the police force, there are three critical areas, one is mobility, then the other is cantonment or institutional accommodation and the third one is on rations. On the issue for mobility and as I mentioned yesterday as with the Ministry of Defence; we have sourced US$60 million for purposes of purchasing cars as well as motor cycles for the police including four helicopters. That procurement is underway now and they will receive their cars and will be mobile.
On the issue of institutional accommodation, that is a multi-programme. We have tried hard. Looking at Tomlinson Depot facility, in fact this year alone, we budgeted 230 million and it should be complete. This was adequate budget. For 2023 there is no budget and this should be done this year. We just need to check how far this has gone. We have 50 million allocated to Buchwa Police Camp for example. We also allocated a budget for ZRP clothing factory for the making of uniforms and another 150 million for the head office for drilling boreholes to provide clean water. We also allocated 300 million for the Dotito police station and another 30 million for the Hwedza police station. We have been targeting various police stations and upgrading the quality of facilities.
If we look at the area of registration, we have been supporting offices in Insiza, Goromonzi, Kadoma and Murehwa with resources for a district level for registration. I really feel that we tried hard to support the Ministry in all the key areas where we kept budgetary expenditure up to now – the Ministry is about 80% at the moment and has 20% to go. They have not spent the entire budget. Wait until the mobility programme has been fully rolled out to really see whether our police are supported or not because that has been the major impediment – motor cycles and vehicles. I thank you.
HON. HAMAUSWA: I just want to make a suggestion to the Minister in terms of police officers accommodation. If you check our police stations, there are those wooden houses that are very nice. Wood is readily available here in Zimbabwe. Why can we not come up with a programme that is along that line that will really make sure that those wooden houses have been there for more than 25 years now. In Warren Park, they are there. They are very nice even looking to other low cost housing materials which we can then roll out. We then engage our polytechnic colleges; they can be partnering police stations or Government departments to roll-out low cost housing systems to our police officers and other Government departments. In Zambia they are taking PVC material which was displayed at Harare Show, it is actually cheaper and very strong. It can go for up to 100 years. It was displayed in 2014. We tried to engage the then Minister of Local Government but we do not know why our systems are not transforming. That is another way you can actually help the police force.
The other important issue which is missing out is - can you increase to the Police Service, a budget that will take care of the disabled persons? Persons with disabilities are not being handled well because there are no facilities that will really cater for the persons with disabilities, starting from hearing impairments. It is difficult for those who cannot hear for them to give their statements. There is need to really look into that issue of persons with disabilities. It is a very critical issue Hon. Minister which we cannot pass this budget unless you can actually increase something to the persons with disabilities.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I thank the Hon. Member for a wonderful suggestion regarding wooden houses which are cheaper than the brick houses. I will certainly take this up so that as we construct these houses, we make use of wooden material. That is a great suggestion. From what I am hearing from the others, they are saying these houses are durable. They can last at least 10 years. That is really helpful.
On facilities for supporting the disabled, as they come in to report their cases and so forth, this is part of the infrastructure programme within the Ministry which we will have a budget for as we support the Ministry. I do not think we need to be that specific but we just want to say that the buildings and equipment should be supporting our disabled people and be compliant with the rules. I do not think there is an issue but we will allocate a specific budget and then increase. We will deal with it within the current budget. I thank you.
Vote 18 put and agreed to.
On Vote 19 – Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – ZW$120 333 701.000;
HON. CHINYANGANYA: The current state of our prisons and the state of prison wardens’ accommodation is in a very bad state. I am suggesting that the Minister of Finance looks into it and increase the budget for the Ministry of Justice so that these issues can be addressed. Also our ten Commissions are critical in the affairs of our nation and they need funding so that they can render their duties in a way that is progressive. I propose that their budget is increased. I thank you.
HON. MAVETERA: I was kindly asking especially on programme number 3 concerning prison services. I was asking if we can then increase the amount, especially on the ZW$79 million which was allocated. If you look at the state and the amount that is going for issues concerning food, we are talking of an amount which is going for ZW$93 million. Considering that we have got a whole year and that we have 25 000 prisoners across the country, we are kindly asking if we can then be able to increase that budget. If you can increase just a little concerning prisoners, I think it will really work on programme number 3.
HON. BITI: I am making a strong appeal to the Minister of Finance that you revisit the issue of prisoners. The condition of prisoners is pathetic, deplorable and sad. I am hoping that you can take from your pocket; we know it is a bit strained. You can take at least ZW$2 billion and add it to prisons. Prisoners do not have adequate food and clothing. The cells are infested with lice. I am requesting that our prisoners be looked after very well.
I was in Harare Central Prison very recently when I was interviewing death row prisoners, it was shocking to see that most of them were malnourished and starving. I am appealing to the Minister of Finance to consider the plight of prisoners. If you are locked up at Chikurubi Prison weighing 105kgs, by the time you come out, you will be so thin like a cockroach due to starvation. I am requesting that you take Z$2 billion from your back pocket and increase the budget of prisons.
The salaries of the prison guards are very low. In fact, prison guards earn far less than teachers and soldiers yet they are all civil servants. I am asking that you increase the budget of the prisoners and the prison guards. I thank you.
*(v) HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Hon. Chairman for giving me this opportunity. The Minister should take note of providing funds to the Judicial Service Commission because matters at courts are now being dismissed since the witnesses are not forthcoming reason being they are not being given their witness expenses when they come to testify. The witness is not an accused person, therefore they should be provided with lunch and accommodation. Thank you Hon. Minister.
+ (v) HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you for recognising me Hon. Chair. I want to add my voice to this debate. I appeal that the Ministry of Finance increases its budget allocation to the Judiciary, especially to the prisons. First of all, prisoners are going around naked and secondly, they do not have enough blankets. They just have one blanket. Thirdly, all our prisons in Zimbabwe are congested. I appeal that the Ministry of Finance increases its budget to the department of Prisons and Correctional Services. Inmates are dying because of poor hygiene and continuously infecting each other with diseases due to overcrowding. It is better for you Hon. Minister to also put these prisons in order because no one is immune from being arrested; you can find yourself being imprisoned one day. I thank you.
(v) HON. S. BANDA: Thank you Hon. Chairman. I have got three issues and the first one is; there is a misrepresentation in terms of junior officers who are earning more money than their seniors. So I urge the Hon. Minister to look into it and make sure that the responsible officers like the Officer in Charge and the Superintended are given their appropriate allowances so that at least the junior officers do not seem to be like they are now the senior officers.
The second issue that has also been discussed is pellagra which continues to develop in our prisons. I urge the Hon. Minister to take it from what Hon. Biti said that there should be the minimum of ZW$2 billion in prisons so that we can look at the welfare of our prisoners.
Lastly, I would also want to urge the Hon. Minister to also go and visit one of our colleagues who is in prison. He is also not just an Hon. Member of Parliament but a friend of the Hon. Minister. You can also go and see Hon. Sikhala. I thank you Hon. Chair.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank the Hon. Members for their impassioned presentation. I can react to a couple of things and I can say in this sector, our approach has been to deal with the issues of accommodation. Chikurubi was mentioned but we allocated for that prison. For example, we have Ntabazinduna and Army Prison which is also included. Staff College and Anju Farm houses, I also allocated a budget to them. Khami houses and Chikurubi actually got the highest Vote at 116 million. We have Hwahwa Prison, and other prisons in Mutare. Marondera Female Open Prison also was allocated a budget. In Mutare farms, I also allocated a budget.
The reason I want to emphasize the issue of farms is that prison services have got the farms and I would like to know if they are using these farms to produce food. They should use these farms to produce food. The last time I visited Chikurubi Prison and we handed over 20 tractors to various prisons so that they could make use of the farms. The idea was that they should put these farms under the Command Agriculture Programme so that they could be supported.
I think they should be able to use these farms effectively and internally but I will say something at the end. We have also budgeted for Tsholotsho Prison, Plumtree, Gwanda, Marondera, Ridikita and then Hurungwe, Chinhoyi , Karoi and Kadoma. So it is quite a lot that can happen here in terms of institutional housing and farm support. In addition to that, I talked about this USD60 million that we have sourced for the entire defence security sector. The Prison Services are also included in terms of vehicles for the officers but also vehicles for transporting prisoners to courts and back. That is also included. You will see a change in this regard.
I am also aware and I went to Harare Central Prison; what I found there was very impressive where the prisoners were making window frames, door frames, doors and they also have a clothing facility where they learn how to make uniforms. So I just got a sense that perhaps the more we support those activities, the more we do not only give skills to these prisoners but also the prisons could generate extra income and this reduces the demand from the fiscus. These are some of the things to consider.
Let me deal with the issue raised by Hon. Banda on allowances. I reviewed the allowances for prison officers, Ministry of Defence, the soldiers as well as the police. There is a risk factor and the risk factor principle is that it is COVID Military Salary Concept, that the officer who is on the frontline, the private soldier should get a higher allowance as a percentage of his/her salary than the boss. The scale cascades upwards and the General is the least paid in terms of risk allowance as a percentage of his/her salary. That is how it works. So it is a risk factor.
It is not surprising therefore that junior officers and prisons are getting a bit higher allowances than their bosses. That is exactly how it works. That is exactly what we want to incentivise, we want to deal with the restripes. Having said this, I therefore propose that I still add half a billion Zimbabwe dollars ($500 million) to support our prisons services.
HON. HWENDE: Thank you very much Hon. Chair. I just have one small point on the political parties’ allocation. What I wanted clarity from the Minister is why there is $2.5 billion for political parties and I wanted to find out why these funds are not being audited. The Auditor-General is supposed to access all the funds that we disburse from here but these funds are not being audited. I think we must make sure all funds that are appropriated from Parliament are audited. I am sure you are aware that before we became CCC, we became the first party to audit the last grant that we received when we were still in the old party. It is a culture that we must encourage everyone and by law also all political parties must audit and publish their accounts for the money which they received from the tax payers. Thank you very much. That is the only point that I wanted to make.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I agree with him. Every dollar that is extended by Government to anyone should be audited, why not. I agree with him.
Amendments to Vote 19, put and agreed to
Vote 19 as amended put and agreed to.
On Vote 20 – Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services – 8.619.877.000.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): For the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, I would like to move this budget to at least $10 billion. So I propose that we allocate an additional $1.5 billion, to take it just above $10 billion. This is the Ministry that sells the brand of Government. If I had a way of taking money from every Ministry to make up that $1.5 billion and put it there, I would have done that. I will take it from the UR.
Amendments to Vote 20, put and agreed to.
Vote 20 as amended, put and agreed to.
Vote 21 – Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture, $25,136, 050.000.
HON. MAVETERA: Thank you Hon. Chair. I was kindly requesting the Hon. Minister; I have got three issues. First one is on the Empower Bank. Empower Bank was given $3 billion. Since it was given $3 billion, the amount which is needed from Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) just for capital requirement is $5 million, which means that is already – if I am looking at the official exchange rate, we are looking at an amount which is more than $5 billion there. Then again there is the issue that we have got some workers who left their jobs and after leaving their jobs, they started suing the bank because they did not manage to get the service vehicles they were supposed to be given. Already that shows that there is a challenge when it comes to service vehicles.
Again, Hon. Minister, if we look at the amount which is there, it is $3 billion, let us say we are not going to look at the computers that are being needed; there is need for them to be going technological and also being able to start recapitalising in terms of making sure that they look at ICTs which they are supposed to do. The amount which is needed there is going to be about $2 billion. So we are saying, if you look at the $3 billion, it means there would not be any money that is supposed to be given to the youth for them to be loaned out.
I feel that it is important for the Empower Bank to actually be able to work and be operational like any other bank so that capital outlay is very important for Empower Bank. If you look at that amount again, the amount that the youth will then be able to be given, it will be able to benefit – if we say a youth is going to get USD1000, that means that amount, without looking at salaries; without looking at capital; without looking anything, we are looking at 3000 youth benefiting. If 3000 youth benefit, considering that the youth are 5 million, It therefore then becomes a problem.
The other issue, when you come out from the Youth Bank. I think there was a proposal which was given to say why we cannot house the Empower Bank at the Ministry of Youth. If you look at it, it is quite capital intensive, when it comes to the amount that they pay in terms of rent. So, I think it is quite important that we can then be able to see how best we can deal with that so that it is housed at the Ministry of Youth. This was suggested by Hon. Togarepi.
In conclusion, I also feel that there is the amount which was given last for the Art Fund, which was $100 million. Now, there is no figure like that. It is not there. There is an amount which is there, which is $8 million, which is for the National Arts Culture Centre, yet there was a requirement which has been requested for $200 million. Again there is acquisition of studio equipment, which has been allocated $24 million, yet there was a requirement of $310 million. Again, we also have got a national sports stadium, of course the requirement was $15 billion but they were given $900 million. There that shows a lot.
I am just saying that, if you look at it, next year we have got Africa games in Ghana. If you look at the Budget, there is no budget for that. Also again on the National Sports Stadium, it is a bit minimum. On the National Sports Museums and National Sports Academy, there is no funding. Even for the National Youth Day, the 21st February that we always celebrate as the youths, we do not have a fund for that. That is one event that the Ministry of Youth actually gets to connect with the young people. Hon. Minister, I was kindly requesting if you can bear with the youths. The five million youths out there are basing on you because we know you are a youth centric leader who always goes on to listen to the plight of the youths. We know you will definitely understand us very well. Hon. Minister, please just try to do something. I thank you.
HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Hon. Chair. My take on the youth is; are we really serious that we would want youths to be funded. If we are serious, then what we budgeted for the youth given their demographic numbers, must reflect in the quantum of what we put aside for the youths. One area that worries me is the Youth Bank is stationed at Tendeseka Park, a very expensive place. Many banks have run away from that place. Ours is there yet it is not capitalised to do what it was designed to do. Government has got buildings in Harare or anywhere in the country. If we want to help this institution function, why can we not donate buildings so that all the money that we give should then look after the salaries and go to the youths?
The other thing is, this same bank when it is giving out loans, youths struggle to get that money. They are asked to come up with collateral security and all those stories that impede the youths from getting the money. When this idea was mooted, it was to look after the most disadvantaged youths who could not raise funds for a business. It was mooted that youths do not have collateral security but they have got ideas. Their ideas are the collateral security. At this stage, we have an institution that is not giving youths the attention that we want. I will definitely recommend – I do not know where the Minister will get it from but I think anything below $10 billion to support the youth cause in the Empower Bank and the Ministry itself is not going to give value to the biggest segment of our population. I really pray that you look for money from somewhere, virement from anywhere else and look after our youths. Thank you.
*HON. CHIDZIVA: Thank you Hon. Chair. I want to add a few words on the Vote for the Youth Ministry. I would want to talk on the topical issue, the issue of drug and substance abuse. As we look into this budget, when it was formulated and the analysis that was done shows that there was no money budgeted for awareness campaigns in the Ministry. Maybe it rests with another Ministry and not the Ministry of Youth. It is the youths who are carrying out these awareness campaigns.
I also observed that on drug and substance abuse, the money is put either to the Police, Health or Social Welfare in dealing with the victims. It is not talking about prevention measures, creation of awareness and ensuring that in youth development, sport facilities are attended to and people have proper recreational facilities. People tend to do drugs because they will not have sufficient funds. Youths are not accessing any money from the Empower Bank. If the youths were doing certain projects, they would be in a better position and drug and substance abuse will be minimised. I thank you.
*HON. MUCHIMWE: I also support the issue of Ministry of Youth getting more funding. Youths are the mainstay of the country. They still have the strength. They are the ones that do the farming. I thank you.
HON. SVUURE: Thank you Hon. Chair. I will not say much. I was just going to say if as a nation we are really serious about the future of our country and any nation in that matter, I think it is determined by how much investment we put towards our youths. My colleagues have already spoken about what we find our young people doing, the drug abuse and everything. This all comes from the fact that they have got nothing else to do.
I will touch very quickly on the Empower Bank. Besides just the name, the bank is so poorly funded. If we look at what the Minister of Finance has budgeted for it, $3 billion will not do anything. So I would want to echo the appeal that we increase the funding towards our Empower Bank so that they will be able to access funds and do things. Our Vocational Training Centres (VTCs) which are scattered across the country, they have got nothing. They have got no equipment or anything, so if we equip our VTCs across the provinces, we will make sure that our young people will find somewhere to spend their quality time being empowered and having skills that they will develop and apply for the furtherance of their own economic life. I would like to appeal to the Minister to increase the budget that they have put to that Ministry, particularly targeting the Empower Bank which is where we all believe that our young people should access funding and equip themselves and progress. Thank you so much. I just felt I needed to echo that because to me it sounds quite critical and very important.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you. Hon. Chair, I am on the issue of the Empower Bank. I feel the proposed $3 billion should be allocated per province so that the 10 provinces should receive $30 billion for the youths. I say so because in Manicaland Province, if we look at the numbers, the youths and the women are the majority of the people in this country, so we cannot have the majority of people who are unproductive. As other Hon. Members have said, it does not work. They will end up abusing drugs and in the end it will become a national problem, they will become border jumpers. They will be assaulted – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Chinotimba, please proceed.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Our Zimbabwean people are being burnt alive because we are not funding them. If we fund our youths they will never leave Zimbabwe to go and be burnt to death in South Africa.
*HON. JANUARY: Thank you Hon. Chair. I want to contribute on youths; youths must be given a lot of money because they will have some projects to do. If these young people have nothing to do they will end up using illegal drugs like a case that happened in Trojan; the mother was killed by the son. This shows that the youths will be idle, so I say Youth must be given money.
*HON. MAGO: Thank you Hon. Chair. I am worried about the Empower Bank; if it does not have adequate funds then the Reserve Bank is not seeing it as a befitting bank. My worry is; if this bank for the youths is not befitting, will our youths get anything? Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe requires that a bank must have five million but Empower Bank has only three million. My plea is that Empower Bank must be given funds. The previous speaker alluded to the fact that if youths are given money they give 3000 youths 1000 each. One thousand dollars is nothing and this will divide the youths because the amount is very little. Empower Bank is a good bank if it was capacitated, they once called us to an Indaba at Monomotapa Hotel, and we found out that it is not all youths that fail to return the money to the bank. Some are more successful than grown up people. Some are into pharmacy, retail, construction, and there was someone named Kwateri who is in rural areas and the project is very successful. Empower Bank must empower more youths so that we avoid the problem of idle youths who end up abusing drugs. They also engage in immoral activities resulting in the births of unwanted babies.
I touch on the issue of stadiums; they are given inadequate funds, why not concentrate on one stadium at a time so that we finish with one stadium and then move on to the next? We cannot have many stadia that are below standard, I think this is a waste of resources. On recreational facilities, children do not have anywhere to go for entertainment and sports facilities. Some of the recreational facilities have been turned into residential residents. We must not forget that our children need recreational facilities.
(v)*HON. SHUMBAMHINI: Thank you Hon. Chair. I want to add on the issue of youths. I want to thank the Government for encouraging banks to give youths loans. The problem is of interest rates that are so exorbitant that are ranging from 150 to 200 percent. The project proposals that are being done by youths, it is not possible that they will be able to pay back the money with interest. They must reduce the interest rates. I thank you Hon. Chair.
(v)HON. SANSOLE: Thank you Hon. Chair. While I recognize the importance of this Empower Bank just like the Women Micro-Finance Bank which writes of quite a significant amount of loans, there is need, whilst I support this, to place measures to ensure that these loans are actually repaid.
HON. MUSAKWA: Hon. Chair, some people are repeating and I have never been given a chance to speak.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Who is this one?
HON. MUSAKWA: Hon. Musakwa.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Where are you, I cannot see you in the House, come.
HON. MUSAKWA: On the issue of capitalization of Empower Bank. I think we are spending a lot of money on capitalization of Empower Bank, Women Bank – can we not consolidate them into one bank and capitalise one institution and the youth can be a department of that bank, women a department, small and medium enterprises a department of that bank and then we cut also on bureaucracy. So we owe them US$5 million, instead of looking for US$15 million for capitalisation. We then use US$5 million for capitalising one bank and the other US$10 million can go to lending. That is my suggestion to the Minister. I think we are spreading ourselves too thin.
(v)+HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Hon. Chair for giving me the opportunity to add my voice on this debate. I want to talk about children that are on the streets and those that are abusing alcohol and other forms of drugs. The youth do not have sporting facilities. They do not even have clubs to go to. I would suggest that the budget allocated to the youth be increased so that they can be useful and have functional sporting facilities and other recreational facilities.
I will zero in to the Gwabalanda issue. There are no football pitches in Gwabalanda. We want more of such facilities. We have sporting facilities and clubs which need to be serviced and revamped because they are not functional at this present moment. So that the youth by the time they attend such facilities, they can be able to perform their various talents in these places.
Some are talented in arts, some are talented in sports however, the facilities that are currently present do not support such activities to be conducted because they need to be revamped and be serviced. We need football and netball pitches which are up to date then we can have clubs and other areas of clubs to be serviced also. If there are swimming pools which are present, they need to be serviced also so that the youth can be able to utilise these swimming pools so that we can be able to take our youth away from the bridges and other drug and substance abuse that they are falling trap into and they can develop and also be successful sports men that exhibit their talents in various forms. I thank you for this opportunity.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank Hon. Members for their contributions. Let me start with the comments from Hon. Mavetera regarding, I think the Empower Bank then the Arts Fund and the general budget.
On the Arts Fund, actually we have allocated US$150.8 million. It is there in the Blue Book. I think maybe it is an issue of presentation so it could not be read easily by Hon. Members, but we have done that allocation. It is a very important issue to support our artists.
Then on the issue of Empower Bank which was raised by several Members, let me say two points. Firstly, you see Empower Bank is a deposit taking microfinance institution. So as a deposit taking institution, it must now take deposits and then those deposits should be deployed on the other side of the balance sheet as loans which earn interest. That is how it works. So it is clear that perhaps it had not done very well in deposit mobilisation, but they are a deposit mobilising institution.
Secondly, there are other institutions that complement it. If I recall one Hon. Member said look, why do we not amalgamate them. You have the Women’s Bank and again members of the youth could approach this bank and then you also have the National Venture Fund as well which is also supporting start ups from the youths. Not just the youth but youth are included. So there are other institutions also which could support the youth, but having said this and also having explained that it is a deposit taking institution, I still propose that we allocate an additional ZWL$200 million towards the Empower Bank.
There are other areas such as infrastructure development, stadium, sporting facilities and so forth. Colleagues, we are short of budget. I think that really if we target our youth, we have got various vocational centres or rather youth development centres that are being proposed here that have been funded. We have done a lot for the youths, but I am also aware that when it comes to sporting facilities private sector players are also keen to partner Government revamping stadiums, but also we could share some of the facilities for schools, universities, sporting facilities that is. So really the need then to spend a huge budget on sporting facilities is therefore kind of ameliorated by the availability of other facilities for which partnerships could be struck profitably. I thank you Mr. Chairman.
Amendment to Vote 21, put and agreed to.
Vote 21, as amended, put and agreed to.
Vote 22 – Energy and Power Development – ZWL$15 468 309 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 23 – Information, Communication, Technology, Postal and Courier Services – ZWL$17 386 696 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 24 – National Housing and Social Amenities – ZWL$27 679 072 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 25 – Judicial Service Commission – ZWL$37 940 833 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 26 – Public Service Commission – ZWL$107 473 955 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 27 – National Council of Chiefs – ZWL$4 150 000 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 28 – Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission – ZWL$4 740 600 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 29 – National Peace and Reconciliation Commission – ZWL$2 957 230 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 30 – National Prosecuting Authority - $11 341 414 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 31 – Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission - $7 378 820 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 32 – Zimbabwe Electoral Commission - $2 320 900 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 33 – Zimbabwe Gender Commission - $3 485 660 000, put and agreed to.
Vote 34 – Zimbabwe Land Commission - $10 372 281 00, put and agreed to.
Vote 35 – Zimbabwe Media Commission - $2 616 446 000, put and agreed to.
On Vote 5 - Finance and Economic Development - $185 196 838 000:
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): On Vote 5, we want to be precise with figures. During the debate for various Votes, we reduced the Unallocated Reserves by a total of ZWL4, 7 billion. We are therefore reducing the UR component within that budget by that amount. Therefore, the total budget now for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development comes down to $255 203 008 000.
Amendment to Vote 5 put and agreed to.
Vote 5, as amended, put and agreed to.
Main Estimates of Expenditure reported with amendments.
Bill ordered to be brought in by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in accordance with the Main Estimates of Expenditure adopted by the House.
APPROPRIATION (2023) BILL [H. B. 14, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE) presented the Appropriation Bill (2023) Bill [H. B. 14, 2022].
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I have to inform the House that I have received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Finance (No. 2) Bill [H. B. 13, 2022].
Second Reading: With leave, forthwith.
FINANCE (NO. 2) BILL [H. B. 13, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
FINANCE (NO. 2) BILL [H. B. 13, 2022]
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 and 2, put and agreed to.
On Clause 3:
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Chair. My submission in respect to Clause 3 is, I have a challenge which we need to deal with. Firstly, I have no problem with the Commissioner-General having accounts in various financial institutions where for instance we do not have the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. But what I find practically impossible is the view by the Hon. Minister that the financial institutions should ensure that they submit the revenue collected on behalf of Government within 48 hours. I think it is practically very difficult and will create a lot of administrative hurdles. To make it even worse, if you look at No 4, the penalties being proposed by the Hon. Minister that if within the 48 hours, a financial institution fails to remit the amounts they are supposed to be charged interest of 15% per annum in case of US dollars or 200% if it is Zim dollars, I think that is problematic. In any event, we should always leave room for administrative justice. There could be a reason or rationale why there was a delay. So, you cannot just come up with a clause that seeks to be punitive. I suggest that you amend Clause 3 by removing the 48-hour period and replace it with 96 hours and then No 4 should be amended as follows “an institution that delays without valid reasons” – there should be a leeway so that no punitive action is taken where the delay is beyond what the institution can do, for example technical challenges.
HON. BITI: I think there should be a provision in this section that allows the financial institution to be penalised if it does not have a valid reason for late remittance. So, suppose there is a power shortage, the penalty should come if there is no valid reason for the delay. Yes, we accept they must remit quickly but there should be leeway for a valid reason beyond the control of the bank.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I thank Hon. Mushoriwa and Hon. Biti for their interventions. On the first issue of that sub-clause 3 about the 48 hours versus the 96 hours that you propose, really they have no reason to hold on to the money. They should remit within 48 hours. Actually when we were discussing, we were thinking of 24 hours but then we put it to 48 hours which we are comfortable with and they should be able to do it. However, I propose that we amend that sub-paragraph 4 to read as follows: “that an approved financial intermediary that delays to comply with sub-section 3, without a valid reason, becomes liable to the Commissioner….” I thank you.
HON. BITI: Clause 4(c) is an extremely dangerous provision which seeks to give the Commissioner-General power to convert all indebtedness due to ZIMRA which was in RTGS to be converted to US dollars in an effort, I suppose, to hedge against inflation. We lost money in 2019 when Government converted our US dollars amounts into ZWL and did the tax returns at the interbank rate. The Commissioner-General is being given power to convert at the parallel market rate. I think if the debt is in ZWD, it must remain in ZWD and if it is in USD it remains in USD. This provision is pretentious, not fair and we must not allow that.
HON. I. NYONI: I also want to contribute on 4 (c). There are instances where the Government will owe some refunds to taxpayers. I am looking at duty refunds, VAT and other refunds of some sort. It takes usually quite some time for the taxpayer to be refunded. Apparently, this amendment is only looking on one side. It will only be fair that we look at both sides. If the amendment has to be made, it should also make sure that the taxpayer’s money has got value when it is refunded. By this I mean by the time when you claim your refund in ZWD; well it takes time to refund but it should also be converted to USD and when you are refunded, it has to be refunded at the rate of exchange that is applicable at that particular time, to be fair to both sides.
HON. BITI: We cannot continue undermining our own currency. We are the ones who dollarised through S.I 33 of 2019. We enacted S.I 142 of 2019 and we enacted the Finance Act No. 2 of 2019 and said the Zimbabwean dollar is now official currency yet through the back door, we continue clinging on to the USD. We have argued some of us that de-dollarisation was premature, let us stick to the USD but we cannot continue to be eclectic. We choose what we want which punishes the citizens but what benefits the citizens we do not. If we are going to put such a clause, then compensate us for the pensions and monies we lost in 2019. This is a very hypocritical, dishonest, mendacious and nicodemus provision.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I have consulted my experts on this one, 4 (c) including the Minister of Justice, an expert in law and legal precedents, and not tax to be clear. Therefore, given that this could open some Pandora box and so forth, I propose that we expunge paragraph 4 (c).
Amendment to Clause 3 put and agreed to.
Clause 3, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 4;
HON. MUSHORIWA: I think the Hon. Minister might have forgotten to revise the figures. You are aware Madam Chair that the inflation rate is more than 200% as we speak today and you are also aware that the low tax threshold of $900 000 is the amount that we agreed to when we did the Supplementary Budget but things have moved. To then want to stick to $900 000 as we go to 2023, I think it will not be right. I am aware that the Hon. Minister would want to get every cent if possible to boost his revenue. So, I propose Madam Chair, that up to $1,5 million should actually attract zero percent and that the table should then be adjusted accordingly, given the hyperinflation that we are currently in, also, bearing in mind that the same people that we are charging this PAYE are also the same people who will pay the IMTT from this money. I suggest to the Hon. Minister that let us put the amount up to $1, 5 million at zero percent and we adjust the table accordingly.
HON. BITI: I recall vividly and I have a memory that remembers things. When we debated the Mid-term Supplementary Budget in September in the year of our Lord, 2022, our good brother the esteemed Minister of Finance made a concession that increased the tax free threshold from $300 000 to $900 000, which comes to $75 000 a month. He also then took the commitment that because we have just a few months to go, and I remember it was Hon. Mpariwa. Hon. Mpariwa came with the proposal that the tax free threshold should actually be $1, 2 million. The Minister in principle, actually did not have a problem with that and Hon. Chinotimba, you were part of the debate. The Minister said ‘let us just give it a few days because we are in the last quarter of the year. We are in September and the 2023 budget is coming very soon in November’. We are now in December and I would have thought that at least in his draft, he would increase the tax free threshold to what in principle we agreed in September, which was $1,2 million then you then hear the wisdom of Dr. Mushoriwa and increase it to $1.5 million and we make the consequential adjustment. My reminder to the Minister is that he is an honourable man. Can you at least stick to the agreement of $1.2 million then because he is such a good man, he listens to Dr. Mushoriwa and then goes to $1.5 million? Our people are suffering Madam Chair. You come from a constituency where people cannot buy baby formula and diapers - I represent...
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MAVETERA): That is noted Hon. Member.
HON. BITI: I represent Tafara in Ward 46, 13 year olds are getting pregnant because of poverty. Let us just give them a Christmas present and we go to $1.2 million as a starting point then we listen to Dr. Mushoriwa.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank the Hon. Members for their passionate contributions on this matter. Colleagues, two things have happened, we approved these tax bands to be effective only in August and that is a few months ago. What has happened is that inflation has been dropping month on month and year on year. Now we are saying that perhaps we should raise these thresholds to $1.2 million at least for 0% and then everything just accordingly – I think what we will do is, we will end up contributing to increase demand that will militate against our desire to push down inflation. I am really worried about this.
Secondly, we have just approved an Appropriation Bill, now we are going to start losing revenue if we adjust these bands. Are we saying that we should go back and cut our budget? I do not think that is what we want to propose – please bear with me and we stick with this for now. We will have another opportunity in six months’ time in the Mid-Term Review to make some adjustments maybe during the supplementary budget stage. To make adjustments now will be counter intuitive for those reasons that I have given.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Minister, I do not think you will lose much. Infact, we are very cognisant of the Appropriation Bill that we have passed and this is the reason why I had actually said to him – we know that you want to collect as much money as possible but the effect of raising the band to 1.2 million will also increase demand and people will spend the money. The Hon. Minister will then get more money in terms of IMTT and VAT. This cancels each other. I do not think there will be a problem. I think the Hon. Minister should consider this but more importantly, Hon. Biti has put an important issue. The Minister made a commitment in this august House. Everything that we say in this House is recorded and you do not want people to say our esteemed Minister of Finance is not honourable enough to keep his word.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: The rate of inflation is always rising and workers need to be cushioned. The Minister should keep his promise by increasing the threshold. That is what we agreed on in this House.
HON. BITI: My family sent me to a supermarket the other day and I went to Food Lovers Market in Borrowdale. I had a swipe card. I literally bought five things; chicken, lamb, cooking fat and this cost ZWL 200 000.00. There was no mealie-meal, rice or bath soap. I asked the teller if this was the correct figure and she confirmed. This $1.2 million is just ZWL100 000 and when the bread basket is now 800 000 - this is absolutely nothing.
*Madam Chair, if you go out with your three friends at Meikles, that money will not be sufficient. I checked the price of a turkey and it costs ZWL40 000.00; ZWL100 000.00 is nothing. If you convert it at the parallel market rate it is US$100.00. It is nothing. The Minister’s fear is that you will lose revenue. You do not lose revenue because hundreds and thousands is low income and you know better than I do – you are the economist and I am just a pretender. The marginal propensity to consume for the poor is high – this money will go back to Chigumba Cash and Carry, OK, Bon Marche or Choppies. You will get your money back. Besides there is IMTT, there is no RTGs that will move without the bank cards – we will swipe and you get back the money. Minister, please go back to $1.2 million, that is what we agreed on after Hon. Mpariwa proposed. I thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Those who are in the low income bracket tend to spend on the basic consumption basket, buying basic commodities which are already zero rated in terms of VAT. There is no VAT that is paid. So, basically one man has argued that if you increase the minimum threshold to a higher figure, we will collect more in VAT may not pan out because they are spending on goods that are zero rated. That is our fear that this revenue impact via indirect tax might not materialise in fact. We will lose revenue. This is what the numbers are showing us. We did a quick calculation and my staff are saying let us wait until mid-year of 2023. I will be happy to look again and see where we are and we can have some adjustments. For now, we are fearful because the revenue loss is clear.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I think the Hon. Minister is not being fair to this august House. Do you know that one of the things that we need to uphold in this august House is that whatever we have said, even his statement to say I want to look at it maybe next year, no one can trust that word because he said something in September and he said he was going to look at it. I want to debunk the myth that most of the goods that the poor will take are zero rated. It does not necessarily mean that the extra Z$25 000 on top of ZW$75 000 - others would decide to buy beer while others will decide to buy cigarettes. There are a number of things that people can actually do with the additional expenditure. I can argue that this one will not have a dent on the income for Treasury. Hon Chinotimba was correct, the expectation that we build when we do these budgets and when people hear that we came up with a compromise when we came with ZW$900 000, I actually remember on that day even Hon. Mliswa had to come and sit with you until we had a compromise on ZW$900 000. Hon Minister, you cannot today renege on that undertaking, I think it is not right. We had actually communicated to our constituents when we were doing feedback that the Hon. Minister had said that ZW$900 000 up to end of December and thereafter we are going to review the amount upward. How can I go back and face the same people and say no, the Hon. Minister decided to say no, I cannot do that when he had made an indication? There is need for the Hon. Minister to make sure that he moves. It is important for our people that are suffering out there.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Every year has its own requirements. Last year’s budget is not the one that we are debating right now. There is no reason why the Minister should stick to ZW$900 000 threshold because it is as if we are supposed to go back to the budget that ends this year on 31 December. As leaders of workers, there are things that we see affecting workers. All we want is for the Minister to own up to what we agreed, that we should stick to what we agreed. Let us focus on the next year’s budget and proceed with the 2023 budget.
What I am saying is that it is no longer viable for us to stick to ZW$900 000. Let us go back to ZW$1 200 000 that we agreed. The Minister must be fair. If only the Minister could compromise that would be understandable. I do not think those technical people from his Ministry seated at the back are fair. Maybe they are getting a lot of money because why do they not want to move an inch. Our people are suffering. Yesterday we were discussing that anyone who earns ZW$75 000 cannot buy fertilizer. They cannot even afford sugar. We are not saying this should be our personal benefit but things are tough out there. I kindly request that the Minister understands us.
*HON. HWENDE: I rise in support of what Hon. Chinotimba has said. When we come to this august House to debate this budget, we expect you to own up to the promises that you make because we are here to represent the constituencies. After each sitting, we go back and give feedback to the people out there. Have you ever pondered about what workers are going through? I once asked you Minister whether the salaries that you are giving to the workers are adequate.
A lot of people depend on their salaries out there. My appeal is that let us be reliable on what we say because you are the Minister of Finance who is in charge of the national purse. I was very happy to see you campaigning for a Central Committee position in your province. Now that you are in politics and as a politician, if you do not fulfill your promise, the people will not vote for you.
HON. BITI: I want to contest the Minister’s contention that low income people consume zero rated goods. School uniform from ENBEE is not zero rated. The beef that we buy from the butchery is not zero rated. The washing powder such as OMO or Surf that we buy from the supermarket is not zero rated. These goods are taxed. Do not look down upon us as the poor people and say these goods are zero rated. If we go to Pick-N-Pay supermarket situated at the corner of Second Street and Jason Moyo, you will see that all the things that are there are taxed. Let us not patronise on the working people of Zimbabwe. His answer is patronising the working people of Zimbabwe. We are making a simple request, you Hon. Minister you agreed to ZW$1 200 000 after Hon. Mpariwa had moved it in this august House. If you were not there, it is not our fault. Hon. Mpariwa moved to 1.2 million supported by everyone, including Hon. Chinotimba and other Hon. Members. He then said ‘I have no problem but let us just push to December because in December, we are coming for the 2023 budget’. That is exactly what happened. Zvokwadi naMai Dzororo that is exactly what happened. So let us honour the ZW$1.2 million. I thank you very much.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Madam Speaker Ma’am, we have been working out the numbers and I am trying to work out the losses, revenue and so forth. There will be some losses but I propose that we move this 0% threshold from ZW$900 000 to ZW$1.1 million. I thank you.
Amendment to Clause 4 put and agreed to.
Clause 4, as amended, put and agreed to.
HON. BITI: I hope the Minister will understand what I am about to say that because you have pushed to ZW$1.1 million, it then affects the other provisions. Thank you.
On Clause 5:
HON. MUSHORIWA: I think given that the Minister had agreed on Clause 4, then it follows that Clause 5 also needs to be amended accordingly.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam Chair, having amended Clause 4 and Clause 5, they go together; one is in words and the other one is in actual numbers and bands. Thank you.
Amendment to Clause 5 put and agreed to.
Clause 5, as amended, put and agreed to.
Clause 6 put and agreed to.
On Clause 7:
HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Minister, may I know how much money we have in the Strategic Reserve Fund since we have been collecting this money for some time now starting from the NOCZIM days? I am just wondering because the disclosure is not coming up and we do not know how much money we have? I think by now we should be clocking more than USD20 billion judging by the number of vehicles that we have on the road. It is just a question of saying we need disclosure so that people know that this money is being kept for purely strategic purposes?
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Hon. Mushoriwa has made a good suggestion that from time to time, I should come before Parliament, myself and the Minister of Energy to explain as to how much is in our Strategic Reserve Fund, obviously in the form of the commodity itself. I agree and I am happy to do that but I just want to say that in the last year or so, with the fuel price hikes we have had to give up a lot of taxes under the strategic reserve to cushion citizens from the hiking prices. So we have not been accumulating much but going forward, once we have stability in the fuel prices over oil price, we should be able to accumulate the reserves a lot faster. I thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I just wanted the Hon. Minister, probably to advise this august House, what mischief does this amendment seek to fix? We just need an explanation, what is it that you intend to fix by coming up with such a clause?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Hon. Chair. I would like to thank Hon. Mushoriwa for the intervention. Basically, the issue here is like this; most countries have stopped giving special economic zone status to the mining sector because there are challenges with revenue leakages through sub-process. Minerals which are exported and so forth; royalties which are rather low, so I am sure that by extending special economic zone status, we are just giving away more revenue to that sector. We want more revenue from that sector to be retained locally. That is the mischief that we are trying to cure. I thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, I think I understand where the Hon. Minister is coming from in respect to the issue of people having fiscal invoicing and the need of having a fiscalised electronic register, but I have got some challenges that Hon. Minister has to explain to this august House.
First and foremost, the Hon. Minister, we have not heard mechanisms or measures that the Ministry is taking in terms of ensuring that our small scale business people and the medium business people that do not have the capacity to buy the electronic register, what are we doing to make sure that we empower them? Secondly, I also have got a challenge in respect to this clause, primarily because I have a feeling that we are going to end up excluding a number of businesses that will hide behind this clause and simply make sure that their payment of taxes, VAT and other taxes, they just decide not to pay.
So, I am just wondering whether this one is accommodative enough. Rather Hon. Minister, I want to find out whether the problem that we are trying to solve will not create even bigger problems for the Treasury. I thank you.
HON. BITI: Thank you Madam Chair. What the Minister implies is that the Commissioner General shall not accept for the purposes of tax deductions ,any receipts other than one generated by fiscalised machine. In a country where 65% of the people are in the informal sector, we do not have fiscalised receipts. You only get a fiscalised receipt when you go to Pick and Pay; when you go to TV Sales and Hire. So, if I go to a doctor, a doctor does not have fiscalised invoices. He will give you a receipt that is written.
I am a pig farmer and I am constructing pig sties. I buy my marata, my wood, nemapranga ezvikwere zvangu pamagaba, there are no fiscalised receipts. Are you saying that I cannot get deductions for the purposes of my trading account because there is no fiscalised receipt? I said yesterday that the World Bank Country Report of October, 2022 said we are 65% informalised. This does not work. You are creating a danger to the innocent, honest businessman who is going to Glen View to support the informal sector; who is going to Magaba to support the informal sector. You are now forcing us to go to one market but the economy is not sustained by that market. This economy is being run by the informal sector. The biggest tax collection bracket is VAT, it is not income tax, it is not corporate tax. I think we are not yet ready for this provision and we will suffer under the law of unintended consequences. It is a bad law and we cannot make law to benefit the Halsteads of this world, the Power Sales of this world, the Electro Sales of this world because that is exactly what we are doing. It is not our business to make laws that benefit the elite only. I thank you very much.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam Chair. I thank Hon. Biti and Hon. Mushoriwa for their contributions. Madam Chair, this clause is meant to encourage formalisation, even of the informal sector. It does not exclude anyone. I think we are so advanced and also ready technologically. We would be able to do this because even if you do not have a fiscalisation machine, you can do it virtually and we have a clause again to deal with that. Virtually means that you can use a mobile phone. We are ready for it, we have the technology. Almost everyone has a mobile phone, including those in the informal sector. We will have no difficulty at all with virtual fiscalisation. I thank you.
HON. HWENDE: Just a small contribution. Just like what other Hon. Members said, we should not have laws that seek to punish the poor, just like what we are doing with the salaries. Even your assertion that everyone has got a phone, have you been to Magaba? If you go to Magaba, 80% of the people there do not even have smart phones, vane twumbudzi twuya twuya. So our appeal, yes we want them to formalise but not now. We are not saying your idea is out of question but the country is not ready now. The majority of our people are not ready. That is our appeal. Vanhu havana mari, chimbouyai timboita tour pamwe chete Minister nesu timboshanyira kwatiri kutaura mumboona zvinhu zviriko Minister, so that you have got a better understanding of the reality on the ground. Thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Speaker. There are several other better ways of trying to formalise our informal sector. We cannot then jump to go to the end of the process of formalisation. Minister, whilst you may understand this better but the people whom you intend to use this law are not yet ready. They are not prepared, so if we start off by punishing them, the net result is that you are going to see a lot of resistance. People will not comply. People cannot comply with things that they cannot understand. People will not comply with things that they do not have, even the gadgets to do so. Let us work on the system; perfecting our systems first, whilst we are receiving income the same way we have been receiving income. Madam Chair, I have listened to the Hon. Minister’s explanation. My suggestion Hon. Minister and I think we should actually do it as a compromise is, could we change and amend this so that we say with effect from the year of assessment beginning on 1st January, 2024 so that we allow the market to adjust and work towards that because to just do it abruptly, it will create a problem. I actually feel that the best way is to then say we push it, give the market notice and also allow time for adjustment. If we do that Madam Chair, I think it will be a better compromise.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Madam Chair. I thank Hon. Mushoriwa for that suggestion and the comments from other colleagues that we can perhaps compromise on this and investigate further, buy time to allow the system to adjust. Therefore, I agree that this clause should be effective 1st January, 2024. Thank you Hon. Chair.
Amendment to Clause 10 put and agreed to.
Clause 10, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 11:
HON. BITI: Madam Chair, the motive and intention of formalising the economy; no one can question that. However, if you look at Clause 11 and the proposed Section 25 (a), this clause needs redrafting. The law must be simple and straight forward. This clause is mumbo jumbo. It says, “registrable taxpayer means a person earning income from trade who by reference to the turnover of his or her business in the last quarter of the calendar month before registration or the average number of employees employed by him or her in each of the four quarters of the calendar year ending with the quarter immediately before ….” It goes on and it is mumbo jumbo. What we simply need to say is that if you employ X number of employees or you earn your gross income X, then you must register. Let us say it instead of saying, if before this quarter your grandmother was this one, you do not go before that quarter and that quarter. The law must be simple and effective. I appeal to the Minister of Justice to help us.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I have been consulting with my staff at the back, including our Chief Legal Drafter and everyone concurs that this is rather convoluted. Let us simplify it. What I propose is that we skip this clause Madam Chair. We will come back to it once they have come up with a suggested text, a simpler text. I thank you.
The Hon. Chair having put the clause to vote.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, we have put Clause 11 in abeyance until the drafters have looked at it.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MAVETERA): We will put it in abeyance. We will then come back to it.
Clauses 12 to 16 put and agreed to.
On Clause 17:
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, I want to implore the Hon. Minister. When the Hon. Minister reduced the VAT to 14.5%, he cited issues of COVID. The issue of now raising it up – I raised it in the Second Reading of the Budget Statement to simply say, for our Zimbabwean taxpayer, there is 2% IMMT. You are then asked to pay an additional 0.5% VAT. We need also to ask ourselves, are we really outside the threat of COVID. I said this given the fact that most of us are vaccinated by the Chinese vaccine and if you have followed what has been happening in China in respect of COVID-19, you will actually see that no country at the moment can claim that they are out of danger. This is my view that maybe the timing of increasing VAT to 15% may not be now. I think we are still in trouble and I think most businesses and most houses have also not recovered from the effects of COVID-19 and they still need Government to help them.
To that extend, my view on this is that if possible could the Minister try to probably retain the 14.5 per cent VAT for some foreseeable future.
HON. MARKHAM: I have an issue here; if you buy and bearing in mind that most of the electronic transfers done on the phone are done by the poor, I have a problem with VAT which is at 14.5% and is now going to 15%. As soon as you do the transfer, on your receipt you get a US100 bill and you are paying 14.5% of that in VAT to do that tax collection or to pay that tax, you are actually paying 2% on your tax again. Does that make sense? We pay 14.5% VAT on a grocery bill but then you charge the 2% on that because the VAT is in the bill. I have to pay 2% transfer fees on that as well. So to collect your tax, I have to pay 2%, I have a problem with that and that is why I have a problem with VAT moving back to 15%. So any electronic transfer money should remain at 14.5%. I thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam Chair. If I could share with the House the VAT rates in the region across Africa; Angola is at 14%, Botswana 14%, and these are the lowest, DRC is at 16%, Lesotho 16%, Madagascar 20%, Malawi 17%, Mauritius 15%, Mozambique 17%, Namibia 15%, Seychelles 15%, South Africa 15%, Eswatini 15%, Tanzania 18%, Zambia 16% and proposing Zimbabwe to go back to 15%.
Madam Chair, it is clear that we are not at the upper end of our peers, we are in the middle and in fact we are below average. The average is actually 16%, Tanzania is 16%, so when you look at Madagascar at 20%, that is quite higher and those are our peers. So I feel that Hon. Members are really fighting to make sure we do not over tax people and so forth. I believe that 15% is a fair level. I did drop it by half percent full on account of COVID-19 to deal with the shock that citizens were experiencing. I think it is fair to say that now we have gone back to normal, we are not going to shut down the economy anymore and cause a lot of pain that way, people losing jobs and so forth; that is not going to happen going forward.
We have learnt to live with COVID-19, people should just get vaccinated. Besides we agreed that half percent should be ring-fenced for dealing with education issues so that we can probably be true to this issue of free education as we go forward. So this half percent is for the education sector as agreed, I thank you.
HON. MARKHAM: I just like the Minister to read those figures again but add 14.5 % VAT plus 2%, it is now 16.5%. The Minister is very clever at cropping figures to suite his argument. All those States do not have IMTT taxes, so I have just said the poor people who use the mbudzis to pay their bills and ecocash are the main users, the poor people, that is why I am saying on electronic transfers VAT should stay at 14.5% because you are already paying another 2% in transfer tax.
*HON. BITI: Thank you Madam Speaker. The rule of VAT is not that good on ideology; this is bad because money is taken from the rich and power. It is an unprogressive tax. Coming to the issue of who is paying this tax? We find that it is the poor people. The structure of our economy is that 65% of the population is not employed formally. So the person in Glen View is the one who is paying this tax like what Hon. Markham said that we have IMTT that other countries do not have. We have other problems that other countries do not have. We are the only country in the region where you put your money and the bank manager phones you to say your money has been eroded by bank charges.
All these other countries have got savings accounts. In Namibia, you get rich by keeping money in your savings account. When we grew up, we used to have what are called PUPS - paid up permanent shares. We knew that when you deposit money in POSB green book, you earn interest and our parents opened these accounts when we were still as young as 9 to 10 years.
We are pleading that the Hon. Minister have mercy on us because we are tired of paying taxes. Our Income Tax Act, 40% is the highest in the region. The Minister yesterday was mentioning the ratio of our revenue to GDP which he said was 18%, but what he has not said which is very important is that the ratio of our taxes to GDP is 33%, every other country Uganda, South Africa is 15%, so we are literally doubling tax than the average region.
Picture Zimbabwe a huge load and the tax payer, a poor thing, tax payer is carrying that tripod shaped load on his shoulder. Taneta nemutero. Madam Chair tirikukumbirawo the esteemed Hon. Minister of Finance to have mercy on us; 14% and we enjoy our Christmas. I plead Madam Chair, Hon. Prof. Ncube, may the Lord have mercy on you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Can I say that Hon. Mushoriwa, Biti and Hwende sound very persuasive today and Hon. Markham as well. Let me say something, other countries as well have got some kind of IMTT tax but they call it with different names. They call it mobile tax, digital tax, it is there, we will do the research for you and we will show you, we have got the figures. You are not the only ones who have got IMTT tax; other countries also have it. Then number two, when you pay ZIMRA into a ZIMRA account there is no IMTT tax on that. So I would be surprised Markham, that this is happening, that you are paying tax twice. It needs to be investigated. We will investigate. There should be an exemption. If you are right, we will investigate. It should not be the case that you are paying double, both the IMTT and then IMTT on the VAT because the VAT is being paid to ZIMRA. There should be an exemption on the IMTT for that. So we will check on that.
Then coming to whether we should move at all for 15%, I heard what Hon. Biti said. You know what colleagues, we are hard up for revenue. Things are not easy and there is very little room for maneuver. We need this revenue. We in fact agreed, the principle, my staff have been taking notes that this extra 0.5%, let us tuck it in the education sector and that is a good thing, I thought. So to move back to 14.5% and stay there, I think that we will really suffer revenue-wise colleagues. Let us leave it for now. We are not the highest in the region. We are even below average. Thank you.
Clause 17 put and agreed to.
HON. BITI: Hon. Chair, can I come back to Clause 13? [technical fault]
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: May you please approach the Chair.
Hon. Biti approached the Chair.
Clauses 18, 19, 20 put and agreed to.
On Clause 21:
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, in September when we were doing the supplementary budget we had actually suggested that the rate on royalties should actually move to 10% and with the Hon. Minister, we had come up with a compromise to say let us move it upwards, but the new way the Hon. Minister is bringing to say that the 50% is now paid in kind and the like, does not make sense. What we want the Hon. Minister to simply do and to simplify this clause, is to simply say that with effect from 1 October, 2022 we should actually increase royalties to 10%. That would make sense.
Hon. Mushoriwa briefly stopped debating as the Minister of Finance and Economic Development was conversing with Hon. Biti.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair when the Hon. Minister debated the supplementary budget, we had an understanding that we were going to increase the royalty rate to about 10% and we ended up I thinking moving it from 5% to 7%, but what the Hon. Minister now proposes is that out of that 7%, 50% of 7% should now be collected in kind. I actually think that does not work in this modern world. The best way in my view, is that we should just simply increase royalty rate to about 10% and then that could actually help.
I do not understand how you can actually collect royalties in kind. The administrative forces of doing that are totally unbearable and I do not think that we have got the capacity to do that. The best way, we want money, we want revenue let us just put it at 10%, if we have got a problem in terms of saying the platinum group of companies are benefiting a lot, then maybe we need to come up with other measures like the measures that let us make sure that all the minerals’ refineries should be here in Zimbabwe rather than the continuous exportation of raw minerals out of this country. So in my view, I think we need to simply put it that royalties are now 10% and forget about this ‘in kind’ and other stuff. I thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: I just want to add on to what Hon. Mushoriwa was saying. Everything that we have to put in place must be backed by a system that works. How and what point would you say this is the 50% in kind. If it is platinum, at what stage do we say this is the 50% that we are going to get as royalties – you open up for corruption, discretion. You cannot really pin down anyone who would have committed any act of misconduct or being dishonesty or corrupt.
So I totally support Hon. Mushoriwa’s proposal that if we want to raise more money, then let us look at that 50%, how much could it be and in percentage form then we raise the royalties by the equivalent percentage. Tt becomes easy and for anyone to comply with the law, it is also easy. So we remove the opportunity or the chances of anyone using his or her discretion to determine the royalties.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank the Hon. Members for their contribution on this clause where we are proposing that 50% of the royalties be paid in the physical metal. What motivated this? Basically we want to make sure that we maximise on the royalty that we are collecting and companies do not under-declare, under invoice and so forth. We want to make sure that we are in possession of the hard minerals ourselves and be able to get the full prize from the market because we believe that there are some illicit activities.
Secondly, when we have got the physical metal in your vaults, it gives you one advantage to realise cash out of that metal. You do not have to sell it; all you need to do is to securitise it so you issue some certificate on the back of that gold in your vaults and then you discount those securities, that piece of paper in the market and receive the cash. It is as if you borrowed from the market on the back of the physical gold but you do that without selling the gold that is the advantage it gives you. It gives you that advantage of leveraging of the hard battle, the physical metal which ordinarily if you have the cash, you just spend the cash. So, we believe that this will go further in supporting us raising additional resources from our royalties.
I understand the argument about releasing the royalty in the first place but I think that colleagues, we raise to 7% in August, they want to do that again now. I am not so sure that the mining sector investors will feel that our environment is stable in terms of the environment for doing business. I think the vetting will be the environment will be unstable.
I would like to urge all the Members to allow us to continue with this proposal, implement it and then ask us again how it is going. If we are having trouble, we will do so and correct it. Who knows we might even change it to something else. However, the thinking was let us leverage off our physical metal, we do better that way rather than just receiving cash. I thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I understand that but the issue is very simple because there is the logistical and administrative aspect to this. Imagine we have got two mining companies, the Ziyambi mining company which is mining platinum and they simply say you want your 50% of the 7%, come and get it, they have finished mining or do you want another company to then say you do deliver it to somewhere else and which institution is he going to deliver to and which is going to administer it.
We would want a situation where people will end up using, because there will only be structure, no legislation and people end up abusing that platinum –[HON. ZIYAMBI: Inaudible interjection.] -
HON. MADZIMURE: Madam Chair, Hon. Ziyambi is even complicating it more. If you want to get 7% as your royalties, you will get 7% instead of splitting it three and half percent becomes the physical metal and 3,5 is in monetary. Are you saying you will be better off selling the metal your selves than getting the same, because you are saying the value of the 7%, you are splitting in half, you want metal, you want cash.
Hon. Minister, before you come in, this becomes even subjective, you need more people physically who must be experienced in all the issue of having the metals, storing the metals. We are again opening another avenue of corruption. Why can we not just get our 7% if we want 10%, we say 10% instead of this splitting. I just want to know from you Minister, has this worked anywhere else in the world? Does it work for you to say we have learnt from this country where it is happening or it is a new thing?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you very much Madam Chair. There are many countries in the world that have designated some of the metals that we have listed here as reserve minerals and these are kept in vaults. It is not new. So, the storage of minerals which are national assets in our vaults is not new, we store gold, we stole diamonds, MMCZ is doing it, RBZ is doing it, there is no impediment when it comes to storage, and we have got the storage. Hon. Mushoriwa was very pointed basically about the other 50% which is in metal arguing whether we can do better at selling the metal.
Actually it is not about selling the metal that is exactly not the point. The point is we want to leverage off that physical metal, be able to borrow against it, enjoy the use of the resources without selling the metal so it gives you leverage. I thank you.
HON. BITI: The arguments that the Executive is making both the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Finance have no problem for gold and to some extent diamonds because gold is fungible, gold is currency and gold can be stored. This country has been storing gold for 100 years but the platinum metals are a problem. Beyond diamonds and gold, you have a problem and the problem is; we do not have a platinum refinery in Zimbabwe. The metals that are mentioned here, platinum, palladium and lithium – platinum is a generic term when we have got ZimPlats which mines platinum. We have got Murowa and Unki that are platinum miners but go to their returns of last year, go to the Budget Statement of last year which had a breakdown of the minerals, the number one mineral that ZimPlats has been mining in the last three years is lithium because when you get that ore, it is then processed and several derivatives come. Madam Speaker, because we do not have a refinery, we cannot determine that. We cannot determine what they are coming up with. If we had a refinery then we could put the army and the soldiers at that refinery. Now that we do not, that is why illicit financial flows are coming out of our minerals. The biggest driver of illicit financial flows in Zimbabwe is ZimPlats. Demanding physical does not work. The solution in the long or mid-term is to build a refinery. We have been arguing for that but in the September budget, he gave them an extra five years. He suspended their obligation to build a refinery now. Go to our Finance Statement (No. 2) of September 2022, only a few months ago, he gave them a further concession, akatovapushira bhora kumberi iye murume uyu, iyeyu Minister of Finance. Madam Speaker, with regards to gold, diamonds, there is no problem but the platinum metals are a problem. It is not practical because we do not have a refinery.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you. The Hon. Member Biti is correct about the medium and long term solution to this issue being the investment in refineries and I agree with him on that. That is the ultimate solution. We will get there but on the suspension of the beneficiation tax, that was only suspended up to the end of this month – December. It comes back in again. I just want to correct that if by the 1st January companies will not have complied, it kicks in again. That will give them encouragement to invest in this refinery that he is talking about.
On the PGMs where the mineral composition is not known, we have to rely on the company to tell us the truth and so forth. We are already losing now. We are not any better off by sticking to the status quo. I agree the refinery is the final ultimate but let us try the physical metal aspect. If they have to refine abroad, which is what they are doing, let them refine and they give us our physical metals.
*HON. BITI: Madam Chair, Bindura Nickel Company (BMC) has got a nickel refinery because nickel is a PMG. That refinery can refine what is being mined at ZimPlats, Murowa and Unki. If our Government is serious about arresting these culprits, let it direct that what is mined at Unki, Murowa and ZimPlats be refined at Bindura because that same refinery has got the capacity but they do not want because they are thieves. What you want to do does not work unless we have deployed Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the Army at the Sun City where their refinery is. This country is losing a billion dollars annually because of elicit financial flows and the chief culprits are ZimPlats and those people who are doing cigarettes including Simon Rudland, let us deal with these thieves.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you. I think he has amplified his argument which I agree with regarding investment, the investment in a refinery including alternatives which already exist. So we agree with him and that is something we should look into very seriously. I thank you.
Clause 21 put and agreed to.
Clause 22 put and agreed to.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam Chair, I move that we report progress and seek leave to sit again so that we complete all the remaining clauses. I think it is Clause 11 that we need to deal with and we have made some amendments. I thank you.
Business was suspended at Twenty Minutes past Two o’clock p.m. and resumed at Eleven Minutes to Three O’clock p.m.
On Clause 11:
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam Chair, we have now amended Clause 11 and simplified it. For what it is worth, the Members of this House who are also trained lawyers have been of great assistance and have concurred with the new simplified wording on this clause. I am going to read – in this part, we define a registrable tax payer which means a person that is carrying on any day or any trait or (b) who has registered a company, trust, pension fund or other juristic person but does not include (i) a presumptive tax payer except such class of presumptive tax payer will be specified in a notice prescribed under Section 25 (b) or
(ii) an employer registered as such for the purpose of the Thirteenth Schedule, except such class of employer as maybe specified in a notice prescribed under Section (b).
Amendment to Clause 11 put and agreed to.
Clause 11, as amended,, put and agreed to.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): In the draft Finance Bill that I presented here in August during the Supplementary Budget, I made a proposal regarding the pension fund access for Members of Parliament, depending on their tenure in Parliament and their age but it was just too controversial. We had to remove it. The Public Service Commission really would want this issue to be resolved, so I want to reintroduce that clause as follows: it is an amendment and it is Clause 23:
AMENDMENT OF SECTION 7 CAP 2 (2)
Section 7 Entitlement to Pension of the Parliamentary Pensions Act 2:2, hereinafter called the principal Act, is amended by the insertion of subsection 2 of the following subsections:
iii) a person who has reached 65 years and has served as a Member of Parliament for the duration of two Parliaments and is still continuing to serve as a Member, shall be entitled to receive his or her pension; the continued services rendered afterwards be non contributory.
What we mean here is that we are trying to support those Members of Parliament who have been so successful at winning elections - 1, 2, 3 and 4 elections and are still winning and they are still serving. We are saying that they should be able to access their pension beyond the age of 65. Otherwise they will continue contributing until they drop dead. All they have done in their life is to be successful Members of Parliament and keep winning elections and they have no benefit from the pension scheme.
It is not a lot of Members who keep winning elections beyond a second term. It is very few. So I implore Hon Members to support me on this one.
iv) If a person reaches the age of 65 years and is still serving in Parliament but they have not yet served as a Member for the duration of two Parliaments, he or she may elect to continue contributing until he or she has served for the duration of two Parliaments. It is a very simple request. I thank you.
Amendment to new Clause 23 put and agreed to
New Clause 23, as amended, put and agreed to.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I also wish to recommit Clauses 4 and 5 for the record. I thank you. Let me read Clauses 4 and 5 that we are recommitting:
Section 14, Income Tax Periods of Assessment after 1.4.88. Section 2 (a) of the Finance Act Chapter 23:4 is amended with effect of 1 January in the year of assessment beginning 1st January 2023 by the repeal of items (i) to (vi) and the substitution of -
- So much as does not exceed ZW$1 100 000;
- So much as exceeds ZW$1 100 000 but does not exceed ZW$3 840 000;
- So much as exceeds ZW$3 840 000 but does not exceed ZW$6 576 000;
- So much as exceeds ZW$6 576 00 but does not exceed ZW$9 312 000;
- So much as exceeds ZW$9 312 000 but does not exceed 12 million dollars.
(vi) So much as exceeds twelve million dollars;” That is the end of Clause 4. I thank you.
I now proceed to Clause 5 which is the schedule or table.
5 Amendment of Schedule to Chapter I of Cap. 23:04
The Schedule (“Credits and Rates of Income Tax”) to Chapter I of the Finance Act [Chapter 23:04] is amended with effect from the year of assessment beginning on the 1st of January, 2023, in Part II by the deletion of the items relating to the level of taxable income earned in Zimbabwe dollars from employment, and the substitution of the following:
Level of taxable income
Specified Percentage %
14 (2) (a) (i)
1 100 000
14 (2) (a) (ii)
1 100 001 to 3 8140 000
14(2) (a) (iii)
3 840 001 to 6 576 000
14(2) (a) (iv)
6 576 001 to 9 312 000
14(2) (a) (v)
9 312 001 to 12 000 000
14(2) (a) (vi)
12 000 001 or more
That is the end of Clause 5. I thank you.
Amendment to Clause 5 put and agreed to.
Clause 5, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 23:
HON. TOGAREPI: Madam Chair, the issue on Clause 23 on pensions of Hon. Members, I want to persuade you to reconsider the area of coming up with a non-predictable pension to Hon. Members when they leave Parliament. In other sectors, they would say 100% of what is given to a sitting Hon. Member, some will say 75%. If you go to the Army, if a Major leaves employment today, he will be paid two thirds of an active member. Vice Presidents get 100%. So we are saying 100%. So when we are saying for a Member of Parliament we expect a defined benefit. Largely, our pension scheme is defined and so if it is a defined benefit, if we must predict, when I leave, what should I predict; what would be my income?
HON. MUSHORIWA: I also just wanted to buttress on this Clause 23. Hon. Minister, when you say 100% but the amount of money that a seating Member of Parliament gets include the salary and includes the other allowances. When you then talk of 100%, you are only talking of the 100% of salary. So we are not asking a lot. In fact, the amount of money that the person will get, you find that if you do the proper calculation, it is probably around 40% or 45% of the amount the sitting MP will be getting. It is not like we are asking for 100% of the whole amount. It is just what is defined as salary minus all the other allowances. So it is fair for us to ask that and I support what the Hon. Member has said.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam Chair, I am being persuaded by the Hon. Members and I also express that I should agree to the 100% because effectively, it could be a third or 25%. So I agree. - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -
Amendment to Clause, 23 put and agreed to.
Clause 23, as amended, put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO): I have to inform the House that I have received from the Parliamentary Legal Committee, a non- adverse report on the Appropriation (2023) Bill [H. B. 14, 2022].
Second Reading: With leave, forthwith.
APPROPRIATION (2023) BILL [H. B. 14: 2022].
.THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I move that the Bill be read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
APPROPRIATION (2023) BILL [H. B. 14, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I move that the Bill be read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. M. KHUMALO): I have received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Finance (No. 2) Bill, [H. B. 13A, 2022].
Consideration Stage: With leave, forthwith.
FINANCE (No. 2) BILL, [H. B. 13A, 2022]
Amendments to Clauses 4, 5, 11 and the New Clause, 23 put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, adopted
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
FINANCE (No. 2) BILL [H. B. 13A, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, I now move that the Bill be read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, may we revert to the Third Reading of the Appropriation Bill. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
APPROPRIATION (2023) BILL [H. B. 14, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (PROF. M. NCUBE): Hon. Chair, I move that the Appropriation (2023) Bill [H. B. 14, 2022] be now read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that Order of the Day, No. 2 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day No. 3 has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
PRIVATE VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 10A, 2021]
Third Order read: Consideration Stage: Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [H. B. 10A, 2021.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Speaker, we want to debate this Bill – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Speaker, this Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee. After the Committee Stage; there is no debate because all the clauses were put and agreed to. I am not sure what he wants to debate because the debate was closed. The process for debating was closed; we then referred the Bill to the Parliamentary Legal Committee. What is outstanding now is the Third Reading of the Bill. Hon. Mushoriwa cannot say he wants to debate, which stage of the Bill does he want to debate?
HON. MUSHORIWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, the last time if you check in the Hansard when Hon. Advocate Mudenda was on the Chair, when we adjourned the debate, we were debating on the Third Reading, there is no provision that says that Third Reading you cannot debate, we do have to debate and we have got quite a number of issues, there is no way that you can try to hijack. The best thing is let the Hon. Speaker come on board - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – What is there in the Standing Rules that says you cannot debate Third Reading? Hon. Speaker there is no quorum, that is the first thing – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
PRIVATE VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 10A, 22]
Amendments to Clauses 2 (b), 3(a), 4, 5, 6 (a), 6 (b), 6 (c), 6 (d), 6 (e), 9 (a), 9 (b), 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 and 35, put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, adopted.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
PRIVATE VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 10A, 22]
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Bill be read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the House adjourned at Five minutes to Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 24th January, 2023.