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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 16 June 2016 42-67
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 16th June, 2016
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ZIMBABWE
PARLIAMENTARY CONSERVATION CAUCUS
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House
that Parliament of Zimbabwe would like to establish a multi-part conservation caucus to champion the realisation of the ideals of sustainable development conservation as well as ecological preservation and management. This is in line with our zeal to meaningfully take part in various international programmes that promote sustainable management of our heritage and natural resources base. Therefore, all
Members of Parliament who wish to join the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Conservation Caucus should approach Hon. Wonder Mashange, who together with the secretariat of Parliament is coordinating this initiative.
LEAVE TO MOVE ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE ON A
DEFINITE MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: ZIMA’S
DECISION TO DEMAND CASH FROM PATIENTS
HON. MARIDADI: Thank you Madam Speaker. In terms of Standing Order Number 59 (1), I seek leave to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance relating to the announcement by the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA); that starting from 1st July, 2016 their members will not be accepting patients on medical aid insurance.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I consider the motion to be the one contemplated by Standing Order No. 59 (1) and accordingly call upon
Hon. Members who support the motion to rise in their places.
All Hon. Members rose in their places.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think you can take
your seats. As no fewer than 25 Hon. Members have supported the contemplated motion, I declare the leave of the House to discuss the motion to have been duly granted. The matter will be stood over until a Quarter-past Five o’clock p.m. or sooner on
MATTER OF PRIVILEGE
CRITERIA FOR SETTING UP PUBLIC HEARINGS
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I rise on a matter
of privilege. This is in connection with public hearings that the
Portfolio Committee on Local Government is currently engaged in. I want to refer you to Section 18 of our Constitution which provides for issues about fair regional representation. It provides that the State must provide the fair representation of all Zimbabwean regions and all institutions and agencies of
Government at every level.
Madam Speaker, you must note that ‘must,’ is preemptory and therefore does not give anyone an opportunity to decide on whether they may or may not. If you go to the section that provides for issues of equality, it also provides on issues of nonediscrimination. It is unfortunate that as the Portfolio Committee is going to do public hearings, you will find that all the provinces have been covered. In fact, I understand from the advertisement that was in the newspaper that provinces like Harare and
Mashonaland East have two and three public hearings respectively.
It is of concern Madam Speaker that if you look at the geographical area of both Matebeleland South and Matebeleland North provinces, you would have expected more hearings in those areas than in other provinces. This is because, if you go and conduct a hearing in Gwanda, you would still need to have another in Insiza North for example. My understanding is from reading in the newspaper, so I want to hear from you Madam Speaker whether there has been a move to allow the Portfolio Committee to go and conduct public hearings in Matebeleland South and Matebeleland North. However, I am raising it as an issue of principle, that if we are setting up public hearings, we should have a criterion to do so. The fact is that anybody would have thought that it was alright to have public hearings on such an important subject and not include two provinces that are in Matebeleland with the knowledge of issues surrounding marginalisation as provided in the Constitution. We should make sure that those provinces which have previously been marginalised are not marginalised any further. I raise this Madam Speaker, firstly to get a ruling from you on whether it is indeed true that we are going to have hearings conducted in Matebeleland South and North. Secondly, I would like to perhaps ask that we have to have a criterion on public hearings so that this issue is not repeated again.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon.
Member. I hear you and note what you are saying. The issue is being addressed. Public hearings on the Local Government Bill will be conducted in Matebeleland North and South on Tuesday and Wednesday next week – [Hear, hear.] –
Hon. Chinotimba having stood up to raise a point of order
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon.
Chinotimba, what is the point of order.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I
want to – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, why are
you making such noise. Hon. Members you need to be quiet when someone is giving a point of order. Hon. Chibaya please may you respect what is happening here.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: I want to support what Hon.
Misihairabwi was talking about. This issue disturbs me because it is now…
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, have
you stood up so that you can support a point of order?
HON. CHINOTIMBA: No, I…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have given a ruling, it
is over and you cannot debate on that one.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: What I wanted to say may be
supporting or not supporting. However, I am disturbed by a situation where when public hearings are being conducted in other provinces – we conducted public hearings in provinces such as Matebeleland North and South and Bulawayo but no one spoke on the Portfolio Committee on Defence, no one indicated that it was one-sided. So, what I wanted to say is that why is this one special…
Hon. Holder having stood up to give a point of order
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No point of order whilst
someone is giving a point of order Hon. Member. Hon.
Chinotimba, you heard what Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga did? If there is such a complaint, you can bring in your point of order on another day like what she did not to stand up to complain. If you want to complain, you can bring it to the House. Do not be disgruntled, calm down and take your seat – [Laughter.] –
*HON. HOLDER: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Hon.
Chinotimba is wearing something that is protruding from his back and we do not know what it is – [Laughter.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon .Member, it maybe
his bag – [Laughter.] – Hon. Members have their bags –
[Laughter.] – as Hon. Chinotimba shows off his bag.
PAN AFRICAN MINERALS UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE
AND TECHNOLOGY BILL (H.B.10, 2015)
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second
Reading of the Pan-African Minerals University of Science and
Technology Bill (H.B. 10, 2015).
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. J. N. MOYO): Madam
Speaker, I rise to thank the Hon. Members for their contributions. I am most grateful for the interest that the Hon. Members have shown in the Bill as well as their support. In particular, I am indebted to the report of the Portfolio Committee of Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development. I want to place on record the excellent work that Hon. Mataruse’s
Committee does for which we as a Ministry are very grateful for.
Madam Speaker, Hon. Members are aware that already, there are two Pan-African Universities in the country which are non State Institutions. One is Africa University which continues to distinguish itself as a centre of excellence in a number of fields.
The other is the Women’s university in Africa, which holds the promise of breaking gender barriers as part of its teaching, research and community service. With the establishment of the Pan African Minerals University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe will now have a third Pan African University, which is a State institution thus bringing to three, the number of Pan African Universities in the country. It is important to note that PAMUST will be a postgraduate institution. I am aware that out Portfolio Committee had an issue with this but it is an important and strategic consideration because the post graduate status of the university will facilitate and promote high level research and linkages with the mining industry in Zimbabwe and in Africa. For it to do that well, it does need to be a postgraduate institution.
As a Ministry working with the Attorney General’s office, we are studying the very useful and quite substantive recommendations of the Portfolio Committee to identify which of those recommendations require amendments to the Bill.
Now, turning to the contributions of Members, I wish to thank Hon. Nduna for highlighting the importance of artisanal mining, not just in Zimbabwe but across the continent. It is indeed legitimate to expect PAMUST to include artisanal mining in its postgraduate teaching and research. Hon. Nduna also expressed an interest in the location of PAMUST. He seems to want it to be in
Chegutu. While I understand his sentiment, the truth is that PAMUST already has a home here in Harare. Homes and locations of new universities are identified and decided on as part of the work of the Universities’ Foundation Committee.
Hon. Muderedzwa made some useful contributions for which
we are grateful. In particular, I would like to thank him for highlighting the important fact that PAMUST will be a key strategic institution to foster both regional and continental integration as part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. I now turn to the contribution by Hon Mudarikwa. I am most grateful for his support of the Bill, not only in the national interest but also in the Pan African interest, which are both above the partisan interest.
In particular, I appreciate Hon. Mudarikwa’s point that PAMUST should investigate and modernize mining systems based on indigenous knowledge. This is a well taken contribution and all efforts shall be made to incorporate that thrust in PAMUST research agenda.
I am also grateful to Hon Mutsvangwa. I thank him for reminding us that the real story about Great Zimbabwe which extended over eight centuries is about mining and in particular, gold mining. As he indicated, people used to come from India,
Egypt and the Middle East among other places in search of gold in Zimbabwe. This is indeed how the Great Zimbabwe civilization was built. With PAMUST, people will come from across the continent and elsewhere, this time not to buy gold but to learn how to mine, process and market gold as well as creating new Pan African opportunities for industrializing and developing Zimbabwe and Africa.
I would also like to thank Hon. Gabbuza, who like Hon. Nduna expressed concern about the location of PAMUST, which he sees as an expression of what he said was the bambazonke mentality of Harare. While his concern is noted, I am sure he also knows that there is no province in Zimbabwe that does not have a State University as we speak. Since PAMUST is a Pan African University, its location in Harare is justified not least on grounds of the convenience of access. Otherwise, Hon Gabbuza’s point that research is field based and not desktop based is indeed correct. Locating it in Harare will not prevent PAMUST from doing field research in various mining places or regions in Zimbabwe and indeed elsewhere in the continent.
Madam Speaker, I am also very grateful to Hon. Mapiki. We thank him for his contribution, especially his spirited call for PAMUST to be located in Shamva. That call is an instructive case of excellent representation of his constituency, which I have no doubt will be appreciated in Shamva. Also appreciated is his highlighting of the key role of technology in mining and mining research. We agree with him that this will be an important task for PAMUST and that is why technology is part of the university’s name. I am also very indebted to Hon. Holder. We thank him very much for his support. I appreciate that Hon. Holder spoke as a true miner who clearly knows what he was talking about. I thank him for making the point quite eloquently about the advantages of locating PAMUST in Harare, to enable easy networking while also providing access to various mining fields. In the same way as he indicated, Hon. Members are able to go to all corners of the country from Harare on their committee business without hindrance. ‘If they can did it, PAMUST can also did it.’
Let me also thank Hon. Mukwena for supporting the Bill in general and in particular for supporting its location in Harare. Hon. Mukwena is right that there is nobody in or out of the country who would have difficulties coming to Harare because Harare is a true Pan African location. Madam Speaker, I am most grateful - beyond description to Hon. Maridadi for his highly charged contribution which, in my view reflected his interest in Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development in the country. That is a good and exemplary disposition and we welcome it because it helps to keep us not only on our feet but also our heads.
Hon. Maridadi, while making his very useful contribution, also made some false assertions that must be corrected in the interest of intellectual objectivity, a cherished and jealous regarded principle in Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology sector. This is the principle which is cherished, the principle of objectivity, also cherished in this Hon. House. So, I want to make some corrections Madam Speaker for the record. Hon. Maridadi said that Zimbabwe currently has 20 universities, that is not correct, Zimbabwe currently has 16 universities, ten State and 6 non State.
Secondly, Hon. Maridadi said Zimbabwe has three science and technology universities and he named Harare Institute of
Technology, Bindura University of Science and Education and
National University of Science and Technology. He left out Chinhoyi University of Technology and of course the University of Zimbabwe. Also, as Hon. Members are aware, there are three upcoming universities in Manicaland, Mashonaland East and
Matebeleland South whose Bills have been approved by this Hon. House, which will also have biases towards sciences and technology to add three more.
Thirdly, Hon. Maridadi asserted that the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe is not admitting students for the next three years. This is false and I consider this falsehood particularly wicked and harmful to the public that listens to live broadcasts, or follows reports of debates in this Hon. House and believe those broadcasts and reports. Madam Speaker, the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe now has two programmes; 1, the conventional or full-time programme; 2, parallel or part-time programme. The conventional programme enrolls students as usual in the regular manner with annual intakes. There has been no change to that programme whatsoever, with regard to its admission of students. It has not stopped admitting students as alleged or implied by Hon. Maridadi.
The claim therefore, that the Faculty of Law is not admitting students for the next three years is not correct, which is why - for obvious reasons or implications I find it to a wicked falsehood. As is widely know, there is also now a new parallel part time programme that the Faculty of Law started in October, 2015. In the main, the programme caters for mature entry students but does also include straight entry from ‘A’ level. The Faculty of Law has explained and did so upfront that the intake for this programme will be when the current part-time group which started in October, 2015 is about to complete its second year, in order not to disrupt the conventional full-time which has annual intakes.
Madam Speaker, Hon. Maridadi also used the opportunity of his very useful contribution to make some rather gratuitous comments about myself and other Ministers who are students in the part-time programme – [HON. MUDZURI: Obvious, vangakufailisa iwe uri Minister.] – Hon. Maridadi wondered about my admission to the programme and made insinuations to the effect that because I am the responsible Minister for the sector, not for the university, the university is an autonomous institution run in accordance with the University of Zimbabwe Act which was made by this Hon. House. He suggested that because I am a Minister, this might cause difficulties for the Faculty of Law to mark my work and he even made an astonishing suggestion that they might not be able to fail me.
Madam Speaker, I just want to make some very important clarifications in light of Hon. Maridadi’s contributions which are on record. Firstly, regarding my case, I decided to enroll for a law degree at the University of Zimbabwe in honour of my late daughter who wanted to do law after her first degree at the University of Cape Town. I made the decision to do so on the evening we received the tragic news when it was brought to my attention that a parallel programme had been started, and in fact was in operation but was still enrolling. That is the only reason I did take this decision, it was not because I want to become a lawyer or because I am not happy with my current qualifications that I am very, very proud of. But there is a special meaning and a special connection with my late daughter.
Hon. Maridadi – [HON. ZWIZWAI: Zvakwana, chiregai mwana]…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Zwizwai,
what is wrong with you?
HON. PROF. J. MOYO: Hon. Maridadi’s suggestion that
the Faculty of Law can somehow be affected by the status of its students is only useful as a hyperbolic statement. Otherwise, it is not different from some ridiculous statements we have heard that for example a judge or a Prosecutor General cannot face justice in Zimbabwe before Zimbabwean courts and that they would rather prefer to appear before foreign courts.
Madam Speaker, for the record, the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe has very high standards and these standards are recognised around the world. If anyone has some doubt about the standards that the University of Zimbabwe’s
Faculty of Law has, they should ask a former Member of
Parliament, Mr. Job Sikhala.
Madam Speaker, there are four other public officials who are current part time or full time students at the Faculty of Law. These are:
|Status||Fulltime / Part-Time|
|Moyo Jonathan N.||MP and
|Kasukuwere S.||MP and
|Zhuwao P.||MP and
|Dziva T.||MP||ZANU PF||Current||Part-Time|
|Madiro M.||Official||ZANU PF||Current||Part-Time|
|Speaker of Parliament||ZANU PF||Graduate Student||Full-Time|
Madam Speaker, I have to mention this in his absence but it is a well known fact that Hon. Advocate Chamisa is a distinguished graduate of the Faculty of Law and did so on a full time basis, while he was a full time Cabinet Minister.
If Hon. Maridadi wants to join the distinguished class of students at the Faculty of Law and believes he qualifies for admission must apply.
HON. MARIDADI: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I
think it is well and good that the Minister is presenting his response to our debates in Parliament. However, I do not think that it is in order that the Minister can start casting aspersions at my person. I do not think that is in line with the decorum of this House.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is the complaint?
HON. MARIDADI: The complaint – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members!
I want to hear what the Hon. Member is saying.
HON. MARIDADI: The complaint is that the Minister can
respond to my debate in response to his presentation to the Bill. I debated in response to the Bill but the Minister may not cast aspersions at my person, like what he is saying that “if he thinks he qualifies.” I take great exception. If the Minister wants to engage in a debate, I will be happy to engage in a debate after he is done with his report.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, as far as
I understand what happens when Hon. Members debate on a Bill and so forth, it is the duty of the Minister to stand up and respond to the debate which was done. So, I do not see if there is anything wrong.
HON. MARIDADI: Madam Speaker, absolutely there is nothing wrong but my problem – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members.
This discussion will help you in future. Can you please listen and hear where it is going.
HON. MARIDADI: The Minister is allowed to give a response to my debate like what he has done, but what I am taking great exception to is the Minister becoming personal. If the Minister gets personal, it means he wants to engage in a personal debate – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order! I hear you Hon. Member.
HON. MARIDADI: I think the Minister must withdraw the
statement, “if he believes he qualifies.”
HON. PROF. J. MOYO: Thank you very much Madam
Speaker. It will be irresponsible of me to withdraw a factual position that you can only be a student at the Faculty of Law if you qualify. That is, if you are interested, you must also qualify.
Madam Speaker, on the basis of the record of the debate, which is in the Hansard, the Hon. Member cast aspersions as to whether we can pass. He said if you fail, the Faculty of Law will not register that. I did not take it personally at all. I took it as his contribution and I am similarly responding to his contribution.
Otherwise Madam Speaker, we take note of the fact that Hon.
Maridadi’s main argument is that he opposes the Bill and believes that the Pan-African Minerals University of Science and
Technology (PAMUST) must not be registered here in Zimbabwe. We note his opinion but strongly disagree with him on that. We thank the rest of the Hon. Members who agree with us.
Madam Speaker, I would like to also thank Hon. Chamisa for his contribution to the Bill. His contribution was distinctively nationalist and it is pleasing that we have as a country developed to this level where nationalism is a common bond among us as
Honourable Members. It is indeed the case as pointed out by
Honourable Chamisa that PAMUST represents a bright future for Zimbabwe and the continent and that the future of the two is intertwined – inextricably so.
We share Honourable Chamisa’s view that through
PAMUST, Zimbabwe will be the hub of mining technology. In
Honourable Chamisa’s wise words, “when people think of education and mining on anything, let them think Zimbabwe”.
These are the wise words of Honourable Chamisa.
I would like also to thank Honourable Machingura for the support on the Bill and active participation in the Portfolio
Committee along with other colleagues. We take to heart
Honourable Machingura’s view that in the end, it does not matter where in Zimbabwe PAMUST will be located because what should make all of us happy is that we are going to have a strategic Pan African University in Zimbabwe.
I would like to thank Honourable Mandipaka for his support of the Bill. As he pointed out, it is indeed the case that Zimbabwe is endowed with a rich mineral dowry, and this means that our nation stands to benefit from the intellectual and technological resources that will come through PAMUST. That really is the fundamental strategic point for this august House to appreciate and we thank Honourable Mandipaka for making the point as robustly as he did.
I would like to thank Honourable Majome for placing on record that Zimbabwe is without doubt well known for putting Pan Africanism in the thick of our policies because we take Pan Africanism seriously. We appreciate her welcoming the Bill and her support of the very positive and substantive report of the
Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and
Madam Speaker, I note with appreciation Honourable
Majome’s concerns on corporate governance issues in higher education institution. As a Ministry, we are currently reviewing various issues on the mandates and governance structures of these institutions to deal with issues such as those raised by Honourable Majome.
Lastly, regarding her sentiments on having His Excellency the President as Chancellor, I wondered what rule, maxim principle or presumption you used to inform your sentiment. I wish to draw the august House to the following principles behind the arrangement: -
- Universities in Zimbabwe are established in one of two ways:
- Either via an enabling Act of Parliament for State Universities as is the case with the Bill before the
- Via a Charter from non State Universities.
- In both cases, the Chancellor of the university comes from the responsible authority and represents that authority. Five of our six non-State universities are church related institutions and they have Chancellors who represent or who are selected by those churches. One is set up through a trust and its Chancellor represents that trust.
- In the case of State Universities, His Excellency the President is the Chancellor by virtue of the fact that he is the Head of State. State universities are established by Acts of Parliament administered by a Minister, appointed by the President to whom the Minister reports.
- It is important to note that Chancellors – whether it is State or non-State universities are ex officio and non executive. The executive functions lie with Vice Chancellors (VCs). They are the ones who do the work of the universities. That is why we will never have a situation where one person is Vice Chancellor of more than one university which was the basic issue of concern raised by Honourable Majome.
- The everyday policy function of State and non-State universities is not done by the Chancellor but by a Council headed by a Chairperson of Council and each university has one Chairperson of Council. You will not have a situation where one person is Chairperson of Council of more than one university. Again, that effectively addresses the issue raised by Honourable Majome.
- This system that we have for the Head of State being the
Chancellor of the State Universities is not unique to
Zimbabwe, a good example is the University of California (public university) system with 10 campuses or universities run by 26 reagents and out of these, 18 of them are appointed by the Governor of California. More interestingly, unlike in our situation, the Governor of California sits in the Board of Reagents as does his deputy and the Speaker of the State Assembly. We do not have anything like that here. It would be like having you Madam Speaker, sitting in the Council of the University of Zimbabwe and that would raise eyebrows.
- The fact that PAMUST is a continental university established through NEPAD process, makes it particularly necessary that His Excellency the President and Head of State be the Chancellor. This will ensure that the university gets the support from Government that it needs and it will also get the high level representation that it needs.
We, as Honourable Members pointed in the most appreciated contributions, must be proud of the fact that out of the various countries that competed for this honour, it fell on our country to be recognised and this recognition is an expression of our critically acclaimed high education standards and the fact that we are King
Solomon’s country, endowed with gold everywhere. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: Tuesday, 21st June, 2016.
HON. CHAMISA: Madam Speaker, just a point of appreciation…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is that now, I just announced for the Second Order of the Day.
HON. CHAMISA: I just want to appreciate you Madam, we are allowed to appreciate the Hon. Speaker. I just want to thank you for this opportunity as you superintend over the chairing of our House and just to say, the attitude by the Ministry and the Minister is what we really appreciate. There is an effort to respond to Hon. Members contributions.
We may not be agreeing entirely with the Minister but just the fact that they take their time to come and respond is something that we really appreciate. We hope that all other Ministers are going to take Parliament seriously because we do not represent ourselves. We carry the collective mandate of the full extent of our citizenry and for that reason, we just want to appreciate and also the Deputy Minister for listening to our contributions throughout the debate. We really appreciate and hope that there is going to be osmosis of that goodness for other Ministers who are still in the region of lower concentration to appreciate that there is merit in respecting Parliament. I thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS:
Hear, hear.] –
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. J. MOYO): With the leave of the House Madam Speaker, I move that Order of the Day Number Two, be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. RUNGANI: Madam Speaker, I move that Order of
Day Number Three, be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the
Day have been disposed of.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
Fourth order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the
Question again proposed.
HON. RUNGANI: Madam Speaker, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. T. KHUMALO: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL
DEVELOPMENT ON THE OPERATIONS OF AIR
HON. NDUNA: I move the motion standing in my name
House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the operations of Air
HON. ENG. MUDZURI: I second.
HON. NDUNA: 1.0 Introduction
1.1 The Portfolio Committee on Transport and
Infrastructure Development resolved to conduct an inquiry into the operations of Air Zimbabwe. The Committee was concerned with the perennial operational challenges faced by the airline and resolved to investigate the matter with a view to propose possible solutions to mitigate the challenges. Your Committee wanted to know whether the airline was still a viable entity in view of the fact that air transport should be efficient, safe, dynamic, reliable and profitable. This can only be made possible provided the airline is run on a professional basis and with qualified, experienced and competent personnel.
2.1 Your Committee received oral evidence from the Board of Directors and Management of Air Zimbabwe, the then Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Hon. Dr. O. Mpofu and the Permanent Secretary, Mr. M. Munodawafa in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
3.0 Committee’s Findings
3.1 Your Committee established that Air Zimbabwe
Holdings was facing operational challenges arising from a number of factors ranging from high operational costs, low load factors and an accumulation of a cripplingly huge financial debt. The Hon. Minister, Board and Management of Air Zimbabwe acknowledged that the airline had been running losses over the years. They further informed your Committee that there was need to urgently develop and implement a robust strategic plan that would be geared towards ending operational challenges. They submitted that the strategic plan should seek to transform Air Zimbabwe to a vibrant entity. Sustainable profitability could only be possible through a three phased approach. Each of the three phases required capital injection, either from the shareholder or through identifying sources of finance that included Private Public Partnership (PPP).
3.2 Your Committee was informed that the Phase 1 approach was an immediate plan which was meant to have been accomplished by December 2014. I am sorry Mr. Speaker that I have to read this report today, but some of these challenges bedeviling the entity could have been resolved has this report been presented to you timeously by December 2014. This Phase was meant to improve the status quo, thereby generating revenue enhancement and implementing cost reduction strategies. The airline had targeted December 2014 as the date by which it would have joined the Internet Booking Engine (IBE) and IATA Clearing
House. Your Committee also learnt that Air Zimbabwe needed US$2.6 million to rejoin IATA Clearing House. This would enable the airline to serve large numbers of interconnecting passengers to other destinations which the airline had been unable to service by then. The airline also expected that once it had rejoined IATA Clearing House, there would be a possibility of a potential increase in its revenue by approximately up to US$105 million. Your Committee sought to know from the Board and Management of Air Zimbabwe the progress made in the implementation of phase 1 since their last appearance before the Committee on 16 March 2015. However, your Committee was disturbed to learn that the $2.6 million which had been expected was still not yet secured although some initiatives had been made towards establishing the IBE. The Phase II approach also involves the acquisition of new aircraft and the settlement of salary arrears and allowances amounting to US$35.8 million. Your Committee noted with concern that Air Zimbabwe was already failing right from the onset to implement what they had proposed as a strategic plan to mitigate the financial challenges. The question as to whether Air Zimbabwe was a viable entity kept coming. The Hon. Minister, Board and Management of Air Zimbabwe felt that the Airline has a future provided resources were made available or sourced from elsewhere.
3.3 Phase II which was a short term strategy to be implemented in 2015 focused on growing the revenue streams through domestic and regional network expansion. Your
Committee was informed that Air Zimbabwe had introduced Harare-Kariba-Victoria Falls route as a way of expanding its domestic routes. Phase II would also see the introduction of Buffalo Range-Masvingo route which would use the MA60 aircraft. Lilongwe and Lusaka route would also be introduced before the end of December 2014. Your Committee noted that the deadline set for the commissioning of the two routes was December 2014. However, nothing had materialized at the time of compiling this report. Your Committee was disturbed by the apparent lack of seriousness and competency on the part of the Board and Management in addressing financial and operational challenges at Air Zimbabwe. They were failing to implement what they set out to do. It is your Committee’s considered view that Air
Zimbabwe Board and Management needs a complete overhaul. Personnel with requisite skills should be appointed to critical positions to solve the challenges at Air Zimbabwe.
3.4 The Phase III approach was expected to be a medium to a long term strategy. This was to be implemented from year 2016 to year 2018 and would focus on the resuscitation of international routes such as the London, Beijing, Dar es Salaam, Dubai, Cape
Town, DRC and West Africa using the two A320s airbuses, two B767-200ER, two B737-200. In the long run the strategy was expected to see the airline invest in new aircraft like the B737-800 for regional flights and the B787-900 Dreamliner as the ultimate replacement for the B767-200ER. Air Zimbabwe Management emphasized the need to pay off the outstanding US$29.8 million external debt and to avoid the risk of having their aircraft impounded in other countries. The airline needed US$5.304 million for repairs to the eight aircraft at its disposal. Surprisingly, the new A320 airbus on lease already required US$1.5 million in maintenance costs. Your Committee wonders how much revenue has been generated by this aircraft to warrant that much for its repairs. According to the strategic plan document, Air Zimbabwe needed a total funding of US$259.942 million for the implementation of the three phases.
3.5 The strategic plan document submitted by the Board and discussed with your Committee on 16 March 2015 had not been signed by the then Hon. Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Dr O. Mpofu. Your Committee enquired from the Board of Directors and the Management why they had submitted a document that had not been approved by their Minister. In response, the witnesses said that a copy was inadvertently sent to the Hon. Minister without the requisite page for his signature. Your Committee also raised the same observation when the Hon. Minister appeared to give evidence on 18 May 2015. The Hon. Minister Dr O. Mpofu indicated that he had been taken by surprise when the Board presented such a document without space for his signature. Your Committee does not condone such flippant attitude towards work by Air Zimbabwe personnel who are supposed to turn around an ailing company like Air Zimbabwe. To allay its fears on the calibre of personnel running Air Zimbabwe affairs, your Committee requested for curriculum vitaes of Board Members and Management to establish their capabilities to run the Airline.
3.6 The situation obtaining at Air Zimbabwe was attributed to deteriorating operational performance which started around 2004, owing to the use of obsolete equipment, a situation which gave competitive advantage to its competitors, low tourist arrivals, erratic schedule operations, impounding of the B767 in London and temporary suspension of operations between 2011 and 2012.
As at 18 May 2015, Air Zimbabwe operated 5 aircrafts, namely, 2 B767, 1 B737, 1MA60 and 1 A320 Airbus. In evidence before your Committee, the witnesses submitted that the fleet was inadequate for the airline’s operational viability. The airline was making losses, where it was generating an estimated revenue of US$2.65 million a month against an operational expenditure of
US$5.94 million. As at 31 January 2015, Air Zimbabwe’s debt was said to be US$282 million for both foreign and local creditors.
3.7 Your Committee was informed that the airline was overstaffed and its wage bill was US$1.2 million per month. Staff compliment stood at 760 and 234 were earmarked for retrenchment but the airline could not raise funds for their retrenchment package. The Hon. Minister, in his submission before the Committee, indicated that in order for the airline to be viable, it needed at least 3 small jets, 2 B737-500s and 2 B787 which would cost US$770 million. The ageing fleet was said to be expensive to maintain as it used more fuel and was said to be operating noisy engines, a situation which did not attract passengers. A320 airbuses were less costly on fuel and were more attractive and efficient. Air
Zimbabwe’s aircraft were less appealing compared to those of other airlines and this had a negative impact on passenger choice.
3.8 Another critical factor that needed to be considered according to the Hon. Minister was the settlement of US$298 million debt which was increasing on daily basis. This implied that the shareholder had to inject a minimum of US$1.068 billion, provided that the shareholder could afford to do that given the prevailing demands on the fiscus. The Hon. Minister also indicated that another alternative solution would be to look for a strategic technical partner for the airline. He informed your Committee that Cabinet had tasked the Ministry to come up with a list of possible partners for tabling before Cabinet so that further guidance could be provided.
3.9 Your Committee was informed that Air Zimbabwe had no audited accounts despite having requested for unaudited financial statements from 2009 to 2014. Your Committee is of the opinion that some of the financial challenges at Air Zimbabwe could be attributed to lack of financial accountability, probity and transparency. It was disturbing to note that even the unaudited accounts did not make sense as most of the previous year’s figures had a lot of irregularities. Your Committee engaged the assistance of financial experts to help in analyzing Air Zimbabwe’s unaudited financial statements. It was noted that trade receivables and prepayment balances remained similar for three consecutive years. Based on the financial statements from 2009 to 2014, the company’s revenue was seen to be on a downward trajectory. The performance of the airline is appalling in terms of its economic viability. The strategic plan for the company was expected to grow in the local market from 2014 to 2018 but by 16 March 2015, very little had been done towards implementing the set goals.
3.10 Your Committee commended Air Zimbabwe’s
strengths such as its high level technical skills, sound engineering base and excellent safety record. However, the Committee is cognizant of its following weaknesses; debt overhang, weak balance sheet, ageing equipment, thin route network, vacant key positions leading to weak management and absence from IATA Clearing House which easily override the strengths.
3.11 Your Committee was informed that the current fleet had outlived its lifespan and was costly to maintain. Air Zimbabwe was facing a lot of competition from other airlines that operated reliable and modern aircraft. Regional competition further posed significant threats to the operations of Air Zimbabwe and this was also worsened by the emergence of low cost airlines like FastJet and Fly Africa.
3.12 Further threats came from the fact that the company was operating in a harsh economic environment. Air Zimbabwe had no audited financial reports and your Committee was left with no option but to analyze the unaudited financial statements. Financial statements of Air Zimbabwe reflect that should creditors demand payment, the company may not be able to settle its
4.0 Committee’s Observations
4.1 The Committee observed that Air Zimbabwe is technically insolvent and may not be a going concern due to operational losses that have eaten into the company’s assets and increased the debt with each day’s operation.
4.2 Lack of the company’s audited financial reports and internal controls are some of the reasons of the current financial situation. Your Committee noted the need for an immediate audit of books. Without a proper audit and accounting systems, fraudulent and nefarious activities can easily be perpetrated without any detection at all.
4.3 For the airline to be competitive, there is need for cost rationalization and qualified personnel.
4.4 Your Committee also observed that Air Zimbabwe needs to come up with remedies to its high wage bill and to solve labour disputes over retrenchment packages.
4.5 There is also need for the airline to increase its cargo related revenues.
4.6 An analysis of the financial statements indicated that Air Zimbabwe did not have capacity to offer services that were required. There was need for the shareholder to decide whether Air Zimbabwe needed to be rescued by recapitalization or be liquidated.
4.7 There is need for Air Zimbabwe to always issue a press statement timeously responding to allegations, mishaps or any rumours that might damage the image of the airline.
Your Committee therefore recommends that:-
5.1 Air Zimbabwe must review its Strategic Plan in consultation with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
5.2 The shareholder must in future appoint Board Members who have knowledge and expertise in aviation industry and the board must consider the same when appointing members of the
5.3 The Board must appoint the Chief Executive Officer and key members of management by end of May 2016.
5.4 The shareholder should expeditiously finalise the issue of a strategic partner for Air Zimbabwe as the airline critically needs capital injection by December 2016.
5.5 Air Zimbabwe should have audited accounts and a proper accounting system that meet the Public Finance
Management standards by December 2016.
5.6 The Minister should provide a detailed report to the
Committee on the status/condition of Air Zimbabwe’s assets quarterly.
5.7 The Minister should also give quarterly reports on the quality of services both on board and ground at Air Zimbabwe including how often the airline meets its schedules time to avoid speculation by members of the public.
5.8 Cognisant of the fact that information is power, Air Zimbabwe should always issue a press statement timeously responding to allegations, mishaps or any rumours that might damage the image of the airline.
5.9 The Minister should bring to Parliament maintenance records of the airline’s individual fleet which should include all letters and responses for requests of extensions on mandatory services and replacement of spare parts on the airline’s aircraft.
HON. ENG. MUDZURI: I rise to second the report from the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure. It is clear from the report that those who were listening can take up all the technical points and technical problems that bedevil the airline. It is important that the executive – talking about the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure himself, must look into the working operations of Air Zimbabwe since it is a private company under his supervision. The state of the planes at Air Zimbabwe calls for urgent repairs. The number of staff members who are there as already indicated are too many and the institution cannot pay them. There has not been enough capital injection for more than 6 to 7 years. The strategic plan which was shown to the committee showed that there was no agreement between the Minister and his Board. The board was temporarily in existence. There was also a problem on non permanent staff. Most of the staff at Air
Zimbabwe are acting.
So, when looking at the overall report, it looks like the Ministry has forgotten or has put the work on Air Zimbabwe as unimportant. There is nothing that is going on at Air Zimbabwe, just like what is happening at National Railways of Zimbabwe and all these institutions which are key to the development of Zimbabwe and modern understanding of transportation. These need to be revitalized so they are running again.
The issue of IATA has been there for so many years and up to date nothing has been done. The issue of staff members who are still being paid while sitting at home has not been resolved and I want to suggest that since the recommended date of May has lapsed of having permanent staff, at least at senior level, let it be by September this year. We must by then have permanent staff at Air Zimbabwe if we want to get a proper strategic plan. Also, the strategic plan which they are using must be revised since it was not agreed upon between the Minister and the staff. So, it is important that they use their strategic plan as their blueprint towards revitalizing Air Zimbabwe. In their proposed strategic plan, we as Members of Parliament saw it reasonable that since Air Zimbabwe is broke, maybe they should look for a strategic partner who is going to help them ensure Air Zimbabwe comes back to life. This strategic plan might need Government to take over the present debt and allow the partner to start afresh and probably to start recruiting new staff because the big burden is on the staff members who are there. We have had a meeting with the pilots who have also proposed that there is need to revitalize the airline by at least starting with a UK flight, which will be used by a lot of
Zimbabweans in the diaspora. They are currently using Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Air and others. If at least we could run that line with the present 767 then we will go somewhere. But because of our IATA problems, we might not be able to land in the UK.
So, we need the Ministry to take Parliament seriously and look at this entity to ensure that it works. All the recommendations that we have put forward need to come to fruition. To put it on record, there are only three planes running and they are not even running efficiently because of age and other things. The other two Boeing A320 Airbuses do not belong to Air Zimbabwe but are actually leased. I read somewhere where it was indicated that the lease amount is more than what they are making by running one of the planes. So, they are leasing equipment which is not running, thus we need a proper report, hence the reason we suggested a quarterly report to Parliament to ensure that Air Zimbabwe runs efficiently and brings service to Zimbabwean nationals. If it is not going to run, we must be told that we cannot run Air Zimbabwe and be given the alternatives to ensure we have access to different destinations in this developed world. I thank you.
HON. RUNGANI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 21st June, 2016.
ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE ON A DEFINITE MATTER
OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: ZIMA’S DECISION TO DEMAND CASH FROM PATIENTS
HON. MARIDADI: I move that the House do now adjourn.
HON. NDUNA: I second
HON. MARIDADI: Mr. Speaker, earlier on, I moved for adjournment of the House which has now happened in terms of Standing Order No. 59 (1) to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance relating to the announcement by the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) that starting July 1, 2016, their members will not be accepting patients on medical aid insurance.
Mr. Speaker, let me start this debate by saying that the
Constitution of Zimbabwe is one of the most progressive in the region if not in Africa for two reasons. It has a section on Fundamental Human Rights. One of the rights that are listed there is the right to life under Section 48 and the right to health care under Section 76.
This morning Mr. Speaker, when I came to Parliament, I met Hon. Chipato who is having a problem with her eyes. She said that she would want to get spectacles but she has been told to wait until next month. What it means is that she is not able to get the spectacles next month because medical doctors will not be accepting medical insurance. Mr. Speaker, here are the facts of the matter. Zimbabwe has 36 medical aid societies. Of the 36, Premier Medical Aid Society is the biggest; there are about 1.2 million
Zimbabweans on medical insurance. Premier Service Medical Aid Society caters for 874 000 of those members, so the remainder about 400 000 are distributed amongst the remaining 35 medical aid societies.
Mr. Speaker, Cellmed Medical Aid Society, their cheapest rate is about US$14 per month for individuals. Their most expensive is US$321 dollars a month for individuals. What it means is that on an average, they make about US$150 per person. If you look at 1.2 million people and you look at the average amount that is paid by members to the various medical aid societies, what it means is that medical insurance in general is a very lucrative business. Medical insurance in particular, on an average, medical aid societies in Zimbabwe should be making about 70 to 80 million dollars on a monthly basis from contributions of members.
Now, Zimbabwe Medical Association is an association
mainly of general practitioners. It is not a creation of an Act of Parliament; it is basically a pressure group of medical doctors mainly general practitioners. So, when Zimbabwe Medical Association is speaking, they are not talking on behalf of all the health care givers in the country, they are speaking on behalf of a group of medical doctors. They cannot give a statement of all the doctors in the country. We have several categories of medical doctors who have different associations. For example, nurses have their own nurses association; we have surgeons that have their own association. We have dentists and opticians that have their own associations.
So, Zimbabwe Medical Association is a group of medical doctors that does not represent everybody. Now, Mr. Speaker, the reason Premier Medical Aid Society came up with PSMI, clinics and hospitals, was because of disagreements that had existed with medical doctors who were refusing to take their medical aid cards. So, they said to their members, instead of going to practitioners out there, you go to our clinics; that is why they have those clinics.
Now, ZIMA according to the research that I have had, they have always refused to take medical aid cards from Premier
Service Medical Aid Society. So, the question that PSMAS is asking, is which cards are they now refusing to take because they have always been refusing to take our cards.
Mr. Speaker, there is a surgery in Mabvuku which does not take medical aid society cards, they take cash. Their consultation fee is US$5. I went to that surgery and the owner of that surgery told me that he could go for two days without a single patient visiting his surgery because people do not have money. The money is just not available, especially more-so now where there is no cash in the market. Where can a person get US$60 for consultation?
Mr. Speaker Sir, in any case, here is the information that I have. On yellow fever, if you want to travel to countries where they demand that you have yellow fever vaccination, for you to get yellow fever vaccination in Zimbabwe, you need something between US$56 and US$66. I have a friend who travelled to Kenya last week without yellow fever vaccination. When they got to the airport, they were asked to produce the yellow fever vaccination card which they did not have and were told to go to the clinic at the airport and get vaccinated. There was a penalty because they had gone there without yellow fever vaccination. The yellow fever vaccination plus the penalty is US$24 in Kenya and yet in Zimbabwe, it costs between US$56 and US$66. A scan in Zimbabwe, according to Premier Service Medical Aid Society costs US$500. In Kenya, it costs US$100 and in South Africa, it costs US$90.
Mr. Speaker Sir, what it means is that medical care in Zimbabwe is very expensive. It is very expensive to access medical care in Zimbabwe. Three or four weeks ago, when ZANU PF had their Million Men March, there was an accident at
Mabvuku turn-off. A number of women that were coming from Manicaland, I think they were going for the march because they were in ZANU PF regalia and were involved in an accident. Three of them were injured and I happened, to get to the scene of the accident. So, I took those three ladies to hospital and one of them was actually injured, I think she had spinal injuries. She had a medical aid card, but was denied medical attention because I think it was Premier Service Medical Aid Society card.
Mr. Speaker Sir, when I left the hospital, I left my phone number that she could call me later. She said she was denied medical attention because they did not accept the medical aid card. What it means is that, that lady probably contributes US$35 a month to Premier Service Medical Aid Society and she hss probably been contributing for the past ten years; now she is ill, she needs medical attention for about US$250. She is not able to access it and she dies sitting on the bench yet she has been contributing for the past ten years. Here is one of the odd days that she has gone to seek medical attention and she is not able to get it.
Mr. Speaker, 1.2 million people are on medical aid but the announcement that has been made by the Zimbabwe Medical Association makes it sounds as if no Zimbabwean is then able to access medical attention without cash. We are now on our own and yet it is only 1.2 million people. Of those 1.2 million people, I said 874 000 are on Premier Medical Aid. They have their clinics and they are not affected by the announcement of Zimbabwe Medical Association. So, it means it is only these other 400 000 people that are affected but in any case, the Zimbabwe Medical Association does not speak for all the doctors. There are other general practitioners who are not even members of the Zimbabwe Medical
Association because they are a voluntary organisation.
Premier Service Medical Aid Society gets all of its contribution from Government. So, the prayer in this motion Mr. Speaker, is that the Minister immediately must intervene to correct the impasse which is between the medical association and medical aid societies. In any case, the Minister’s response will be that - why should I intervene and speak to a voluntary organisation of 150 people which is trying to hold the nation to ransom? That will be the Minister’s response and correctly so.
Mr. Speaker, other medical doctors have been phoning medical aid societies to say look, why cannot you just ignore what ZIMA is saying and continue as you were doing. This is because when medical aid societies have contracts, they do not contract associations; they sign a contract with medical doctors as individuals. So, medical doctor A goes to a medical society to sign a contract as an individual and medical doctor B goes to sign a contract as an individual. They actually agree on the fees that are supposed to be paid as consultation.
When medical doctors are paid through medical aid societies, it is easier for ZIMRA to trace tax because there is a paper trail. However, when medical doctors are paid cash, it might be difficult for ZIMRA to trace their tax because there is no paper trail. I walk into a surgery today, and medical doctor A charges me $60 for consultation and maybe $200 for his service and might choose not to give me a receipt. So, ZIMRA might not be able to trace that.
Most importantly is that when there is a problem between the medical insurance company and the medical doctor, it is not a member of the public or the medical aid society who should suffer. Why should ordinary people suffer? The person who must suffer is either the company that is deducting money from the employee, which is not remitting to the medical aid society or the medical aid society which is not collecting its money from the employees. The person who is contributing money has nothing to do with the relationship between the medical doctor and the medical aid society.
Hon. Chipato is contributing her $60 a month and all she needs are spectacles. She is not concerned about the relationship between the optician and the medical aid society. She is contributing money because she knows that cash is hard to come by. One day she will fall ill in the middle of the month when she does not have cash to go and consult a medical doctor. She must be able to walk in, produce her medical aid card and get attention.
She should not suffer because there is an impasse between PSMAS and medical doctors. Medical doctors should find a way of getting their money on time from medical aid societies. That has nothing to do with the people who are contributing money. Why should we be held to ransom for the sake of the relationship of these two?
Mr. Speaker, people who are working in Government includes the 874 000 members of the Premier Service who are paying money on a monthly basis. When you get your payslip, it indicates that you have contributed so much to tax, NSSA and medical aid. Therefore, you must be able to walk into any doctor and say please give me a service and you must get it. Whether the doctor is going to get his money from the medical insurance company or not is not your business. Medical aid is a form of insurance and that is why we even insure our cars. You insure your car in the event that one day you will get into an accident. When you get into an accident, you do not want to walk into an insurance company and they tell you that the money that your company was deducting was not getting to us, so we cannot fix your car.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to say, firstly medical insurance companies must pay doctors on time for the services rendered. That goes without saying. When someone renders a service, they must get paid. The payment of money to medical doctors must not have anything to do with contributors or the ordinary people. I do not think Zimbabwe Medical Association must hold people to ransom and make statements which cause despondency in the country. The statement that they put in the newspapers basically says that no medical doctor is going to attend to a patient without cash upfront. That is the import of their statement; no money, no treatment and the statement is factually incorrect. There are some doctors today who are giving service without money. I am on Cellmed and the day before yesterday, I went to see a dentist. I produced my card and I got a service. I am supposed to go back to the dentist in the next three weeks and three weeks will be well into July.
After reading the newspaper and the statement of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, I now begin to think, am I going to get a service or not. When I phoned my dentist, he said no, no, no, I am not even bound by the statement because I am not a member of that voluntary association. I am a member of the Association of Dentists. He said there are other medical doctors like surgeons who are not bound by the statement and they would be very happy to give service.
Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister as the regulatory authority, must intervene and correct that position. If there is anyone who is being mischievous, I think the Minister must call them to order. I sympathise with medical doctors. I must not be construed to say that I do not sympathise with medical doctors. What is happening is that when medical doctors give a service and accept a medical aid card, there is a paper trail. ZIMRA will come and demand tax based on the invoices that have been given, yet the medical doctor has not been paid his money by the medical aid society. Therefore, what it means is that the medical doctor must pay tax for money that he has not received. For example, if a medical doctor is owed
$100 000 by the medical insurance, he must pay tax for that $100 000 before he has received that money, which is unfair.
Lastly, I would like to call upon the Government because one of the issues that have been raised by the medical aid society, especially PSMAS is that Government has not been remitting the money that it is deducting from Government employees. The
Government is deducting money but that money is not remitted to PSMAS. Mr. Speaker, my prayer is that the Minister as the regulatory authority, must intervene and bring normalcy to this industry before people die. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I will talk as the seconder of this motion and I applaud the mover of this motion,
Hon. Maridadi for speaking so vociferously about the need to indulge in information technology and dissemination through the modern day way of doing business. Mr. Speaker Sir, he has quite ventilated a lot of key points in particular that where there is service that is rendered, service needs to be paid for. I also applaud that and allude to that fact.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I will start with the prayer where I believe the referee in this matter, who is the Minister of Health and Child Care should immediately make a Ministerial Statement to allay the fears of those that are contributing towards medical aid, those that are receiving medical attention, those that are giving medical attention and the recipients of payment for those that are giving medical attention.
I also stand here as the Chairperson of your Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development where there are 15 accidents per day and five people are dying each day due to road carnage. In those 15 accidents per day, you have more than 45 people that are injured who require medical attention. In the same vein, I call for Government to expeditiously enact or put in place the Road Disaster Management Fund that is going to cater for those that are injured in road accidents and also expedite the disbursement of compassionate funds towards those that will have been bereaved in these road carnages.
Mr. Speaker Sir, as I talk about those that die in road traffic accidents per day, I am also alive to the fact that they could be contributors to medical aid societies and it means each month, we are removing out of circulation, contributors to the tune of 150 men, women or children that contribute towards Medical Aid Societies. However, one would want or hasten to ask how many of these people get their reimbursement once they do not get the services from these doctors because they would have perished in these accidents. In a way, we need to make sure that we oil and computerise the system so that backward and forward linkages are well oiled in a way that is going to seek reimbursement and seek forward contribution for those that would have survived and bereaved in these road traffic accidents because their remittances get to be cut short as soon as they are involved in this process of bereavement.
Why do I talk of computerisation of remittances and payment systems towards Medical Aid Societies. I am alive to the fact that Statutory Instrument 45 of 2005 speaks to 12.5% remittances to Traffic Safety Council from all insurance sectors that are currently handling insurance for third party insurances. All this money to the tune of US$72m per year was not having the 12.5% being deducted from it until your Committee raised its voice and concern and spoke with passion when they brought before it the Permanent Secretary of Transport and Infrastructural Development to the effect that the Permanent Secretary and his entourage were going to be held responsible individually and severally if this Statutory Instrument was not enforced in its totality.
As we speak, the contributions of insurance and remittances of 12.5% to Traffic Safety Council are now without any impediment because they have been computerised and that money is now going where it is supposed to go. It is now being directed in the manner that it is supposed to be directed for awareness campaigns and maybe in the future, for compensation to those that would have been bereaved and those that would have been injured in road traffic accidents.
As I started my prayer was also that immediately we need to establish a road disaster medical fund so that everybody, irrespective of age, gender or creed who is involved in a road traffic accident can and must be catered for by this money. I am alive to the fact that if you remit about US$72m per year, 5% of that goes to ZIMRA which ZIMRA was not getting before we implemented the system or before we brought before your Committee the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural
Development to make sure they enforce the collection of the 12.5% in terms of remittances to Traffic Safety Council. ZIMRA was not getting that 5% which translates to about US$3m. That is a windfall that comes as a result of computerisation using ICT gadgets for effective enforcement of the Act.
I make a clarion call that if there is a problem remitting the monies to the doctors that would have provided services, let us indulge in the same computerisation mechanism so that we do not have a challenge for those that would be needing medical cover in the event that they are involved in road carnage or they are ailing because of cancer and other ailments.
I need to give you a brief on the cost of medical operations here in Zimbabwe. I had two of my relatives undergo operation on their legs and some implants given to alleviate their plight in their legs. The operations cost nothing below US$3500. They are going to cost the same amount to remove those implants or the plugs that were planted in those knees and legs. What this means is that because of the economic problems that are currently bedeviling this country, we cannot optimally pay for such services using cash.
What it means is that we are paying for these services in advance using medical aid remittances and payments.
What we need is the medical aid societies to shape up or ship out because if they do not pay, they are mortgaging the future of this country. The people that are paid for in terms of medical services and medical insurance range from those that have not been born to those that are old. We are putting the nation at risk by making sure that we are not optimally utilising this medical aid system for the betterment of the health of our nation.
As I conclude, I need to make a prayer that the Minister needs to come in and make a public pronouncement or give a Ministerial Statement to allay the fears because information is power and I shudder to think what my grandmother in Gokwe is thinking about now when she hears over the radio or through media that there is no more allowance or receipt for the medical aid cards. Information is key and there is no publicity which is bad publicity. Let us engage the media so that we inform the elderly people wherever they are that the medical aid facilities are still functional. I thank you.
HON. ENG. MUDZURI: I want to add my voice to this motion which is urgent. From what has been brought to our attention that the doctors are not going to take medical cards, it can cause a lot of problems in the whole country because when people go to get medical insurances or any insurances, it is to prepare for their future. What we need from the Minister of Health and Child Care is to explain to us the link between the insurance company, the doctors and the hospital so that we know their common understanding such that the doctors can claim that they cannot take this. There should be an understanding of these institutions which has been prepared by Government already in our Acts of Parliament or statutes. I am saying we need that clear explanation of why a person who has already had an insurance which is valid is being refused treatment.
Secondly, we need also a proper conversation with our doctors. The doctors are qualified and they have done everything but I think our medical system is too expensive. Honestly, to go and see a specialist who is charging anything between $80 and $120, I tell you that it is refusing the common man medical attention. Today there is no cash and someone is pronouncing that when you come to my office, come with cash. Is that not condemning people to death? Are these people thinking about the common man? Are these people thinking about the ordinary person? I do not know whether there is a way of making sure that while you are qualified, still have your professional certificate and still need to be paid, you still have the ethical behaviour which is expected of any medical practioner to attend to any patient whom you meet. If I fall down here, Dr. Labode has to pay attention to me and not demand to be paid first.
This is what we are praying our doctors look at to say when a patient goes to their rooms, they are looking for special attention.
This is especially so with those who have specialised because you cannot have specialists everywhere. We can get General Practitioners anywhere but we need to look into our laws and ensure that anyone who gets sick gets medical attention. I think our Constitution is very clear that everybody is entitled to medical attention.
We also need to address the problem between parastatals, Government and probably local authorities that have not been remitting their insurances. We need to ensure that when a person gets his/her pay slip, what is done to ensure the money is remitted? Maybe we should change from getting Stop Orders from salaries and have people paying directly to medical aid societies or to whoever is supposed to provide the service. We worked out when we were sitting here to say if each person pays $14.00 per month, there is $14 million collected from one million contributors. Is that not a lot of money to run medical aid societies? How many people get attention? Do we get bills that exceed $14 million in a month especially in basic treatment of just seeing a doctor?
We are looking at all these costs to say $14.00 is a lot because some people pay over $100.00, meaning they cover for the poor. They try to balance with your level of treatment because as you get more elite, you get more fair treatment. We are saying there is enough within the medical aid societies which is being paid to run these insurances and still have their businesses intact. We also think that we need to rationalise the payments with private and specialist doctors. If I need a hip operation, I must pay $10 000.00 and I am from the village. Where do I get $10 000.00 from?
Now you are saying I cannot use the little that I have tried to save just to see a doctor. Honestly the doctors have to be humane, work with their people and also try to fight their war where it is suitable with the medical aid insurances since they are the people with whom they have already agreed to serve. There is already an agreement that is why they are now saying we cannot take these cards. Everybody gets medical aid because they want to access these private doctors and not because they want to go to clinics. You do not need a medical aid card to go to a clinic.
We are saying that the Minister must come and inform this august House on what they would have agreed on within the next few days whether we are still going to use our cards or not. Even to say Premier Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) we need to see a doctor, I do not need to go and look for someone. When I am sick, I do not have time to be ferried to hospital by someone, beg them to go to my medical aid society to get cash and bring it to the doctor. That is unfair treatment to the common man.
Mr. Speaker, this Parliament must rise, stop it and must be able to see everyone getting proper medical attention so that we live. We are a nation. We are so small, we are only 12 or 13 million and must live for each other. I thank you.
HON. MANDIPAKA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker.
My debate is very short, brief and to the point but firstly, I must commend Hon. Maridadi for bringing this very important motion to this august House.
This motion is important because it speaks to the health of a nation. The health of a nation is a very critical phenomenon and I would want to implore the doctors who have given a statement to the press that they can only experiment with certain objects in their laboratories but cannot experiment with the health of human beings. It is very dangerous.
I want to believe that the Hon. Minister of Health should appear before this august House, give us information and clear explanation on what is really taking place. What I foresee is a situation where A is blaming B, B is blaming C and C is blaming Y for not remitting funds. So I think that is to the detriment of the people that we represent. I say Hon. Maridadi tabled an interesting motion because people out there look upon us to rise like Hon.
Mudzuri said and challenge things that we think are not good for them and represent them fully.
This report does not make us happy at all. It brings panic, despondency and will make us fail to have faith in the administration of the health services sector. So, we pray that the Hon. Minister appears before this august House and gives us information on what is happening. Suffice to say members of the public must not, must not, I repeat, be inconvenienced in every aspect. We go to banks, there is no money. You want to be treated, someone says I cannot take your card. We cannot continue like that.
We are a nation with a lot of economic challenges and that impacts badly not on those people that at least get something but the poor, those that we represent from Buhera, Muzarabani, Mbire, Matabeleland South and North. I think it is very critical that the Executive looks at this matter as a matter of urgency and we get information on what is happening by next week. I thank you.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very
much Mr. Speaker. Like my other colleagues, I would like to thank Hon. Maridadi for raising this motion. I am glad that it is an urgent motion and that it was supported by both sides of the
House, which just proves how important it is that we deal with it.
I am going to speak to one or two issues on this particular motion. When we talk about urgency, sometimes it looks like we are just speaking for the sake of speaking. As we talk right now, women that had registered with their medical aid cards and are supposed to go and give birth on the basis of those cards are not going to be able to do so. So we are talking about a majority of this population having a serious problem about this and if somebody does not think this is urgent, I do not know what is going to be urgent. This is not about the money that is not being transferred but about human lives and what is going to happen. Link this process to the fact that there is no cash and it just becomes a real disaster. We cannot have individuals standing up and making a decision about what is going to happen to human lives and Government is sitting there, watching and doing nothing about it.
The Constitution itself defines that there is right to health and this right to health has to be observed by medical aid societies, doctors and Government itself. I am surprised that we are sitting here as Members of Parliament and there are no Ministers on the front bench. I would have thought that the moment there was this crisis, an urgent Cabinet meeting would have been called to say what is it that we can do about this?
This is not a subject of a few of us who are sitting in this
House debating it. It is critical, urgent and something needs to be done. I contribute to a medical aid, just to show you the level we have gotten to as a country – we are saying our economy has gone under deflation – as late as last week, my medical aid agent increased subscriptions by US$20, and this is First Mutual. I said to them does this make sense that at this particular point in time of the economy you are increasing the subscriptions.
This shows you that there is something wrong with our general thinking sometimes in this country. When things are bad, it is as if we are trying to find something that makes it worse. We are already in a very bad situation, how somebody can think that the best thing to do right now is to deny people medical aid I have no idea. As it is, we are faced with the problem of liquidity; we are going to have problems in getting drugs to come into the country. In fact, most pharmacies right now are saying if you have any kind of chronic illness, make sure that you order your medicine for as long as three months or so, so that you have a reserve. That is one problem that is there.
The person who may not be able to get medicine will be stuck and if they were to collapse, they cannot get treatment at hospitals. What exactly are we saying as a nation? I hear my colleagues who are saying we need to get the Minister of Health to come here. However, for me, we need to get at the highest level of Government, somebody who is calling for an urgent Cabinet meeting and looking at how this can be resolved. We cannot have another extra 24 hours coming through. We have road accidents happening and for some reasons, 15 to 16 people are dying at the same time and others are being taken to hospital. Can you imagine that you have a crisis and somebody is being taken to hospital whilst someone stands up there and saying, ‘I cannot treat you because as far as I am concerned, yes you have a medical aid but you cannot be treated.’
If this was happening in some countries, we would be having not a Ministerial Statement but a Presidential Statement. We had people being killed in Orlando and immediately, we were having the State House issuing a statement. The President needs to step up and say this is what is going to happen tomorrow. I am not interested in the Minister of Health anymore. The fact that we have gone this far without a statement being issued by him, speaks a lot about what he is doing. What is the President saying in this particular instance?
I think sometimes we are so used to suffering so much as Zimbabweans that when things happen, we just look and watch and we say ooh so today it is about medical aid, tomorrow there is no water and tomorrow there will be no electricity. We will not have food and that is totally unacceptable. I support my colleagues - in conclusion, on some of the things we need to deal with when we have dealt with the crisis on medical aid.
The issue of the expense associated with treatment. As I speak Mr. Speaker – I have said this before in this House – issues to do with mental illness, any form of depression and anxiety are not covered in your medical aid. So, if you are having problems with depression or something like that, they give you a certain amount of money for your treatment. I am speaking from experience. For the reason that I could not get that treatment, I went to India. If you compare the amount of money that I had to pay in India and what I had to pay here, it is ridiculous. To see a doctor I only paid US$5 and to get my medication I had to pay – it is unfortunate that Hon. Chimedza is not here, at one time when I came back here and he was going to India, I asked him to buy medication for me. He just spent US$20 and paid for medication that I was taking from January up to December. In this country it is impossible to get any of that stuff. Sometimes we are now asking people to go to India to get treatment not as a luxury but because I am able to afford treatment there more than I can here. I pay for my air ticket and go and do all those things – [AN HON. MEMBER: Vanoitorepi mari yekuenda kuIndia?] – all I am saying is that let us do a comparison.
We cannot have other countries charging certain amounts of money and we are asking for large amounts of money. Mr. Speaker Sir, I am bringing a motion around mental illness and depression and I will deal with it in direct forms. I could not resist raising the issues around the cost of getting medical treatment in this country as compared to other countries. It is ridiculous and does not make sense. However, I support the motion that has been brought, but like I am saying, unlike my other colleagues who think we should have a Ministerial Statement, I am not interested in that, can we have the President’s comment on this. Can Cabinet give us a Statement on what is going on because we are losing lives every minute as we speak in this House? I thank you Mr.
HON. NDEBELE: On a point of order. I also wish to be recognised, I have not spoken in this House for a long time –
[Laughter.] – I have a right.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON.
MARUMAHOKO): Order, there is no point of order.
HON. HOLDER: Thank you Hon. Speaker. First of all I would like to thank Hon. Maridadi for moving such an important motion. The same issues that happened to the Hon. Member who mentioned the issue of being unable to be treated because of medical aid also happened to me. There is nothing that is as bad as paying for something and expecting to receive a service but you are told that you are unable to receive it.
Mr. Speaker Sir, there are a few issues that are so important. I will not take time in repeating what has been said, but I want to highlight some of the issues that are pertinent. Section 119 of the Constitution provides that we have an oversight role on the Executive and as a legislator we have three roles to play. One of the roles is representing the people, which is one of the most important.
The reason I am talking like this Mr. Speaker is that there are many people who are unable to speak for themselves – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – and if we do not speak for them, they will be looking and saying, what are we coming to Parliament for. The rate of accidents that have been happening on our highways has been very high. I travel a lot, I am 400km away from Harare and every time I come to Harare, there will be an accident on the road.
Mr. Speaker Sir, when you look at it, the people who are affected are the same people who elected us to come into this august House. The loss of one life is one too many – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] - Mr. Speaker, talking about this, we have third party insurances which, before you even licence your vehicle you are told to go and get your insurance and a third party is meant to cater for deaths and injuries. However, Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to say that it is almost a scam of making money.
We, as Parliamentarians in this august House, from
Ministerial to whatever position from the lowest paid member of Government, contribute towards medical aid. The reason why we contribute is because we know that anything can happen. Mr. Speaker Sir, in life, your health comes first and everything else, whether it is your position, your money or whatever that follows.
With no good health, all that falls away. I am saying all this because we have people like Cuthbert Dube, who took our money and nothing was done to him. He walked away scot free with millions of dollars but when one of our relatives – I mean my wife takes medication every month and without that medication, it is a problem. She cannot sustain it but she has to get that medicine. So, I always have to make sure that I have got extra funds, yet I am paying medical aid.
What more when I am in Harare, in Parliament, busy debating and one of my six children at school need the services of a doctor and they do not accept medical aid. What is going to happen, yet month after month I contribute. Whether the money reaches the society or not, it should not be upon us, especially in Government institutions. We thought that maybe by clearing Cuthbert Dube out of the system, something would happen. Now, we are allowing organisations to make certain statements and to actually say what they are going to do.
Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue and I feel that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development should come and address us regarding this issue. I say that because Treasury releases money and if it is not releasing money, tell us then give it to us to pay for ourselves. But if we say we are up-to-date with our medical aid payments and we have no overdraft on the medical aid but still find that at the end of the day, Holder will not be treated simply because he needs $25. It is not every minute that a person can have money in his pocket. This is why it is important that we need to make sure that on some of the laws, Hon. Members have to put mechanisms in place so that at least a person will be compelled by the law.
We have over 33 medical aid institutions in this country. There is MASCA, CIMAS, and even the insurance companies that used to give life insurance have now moved to medical aid. However, the saddest part about it is that we have our own medical aid PSMAS and it is not accepted. Sometimes as you walk into the pharmacy or into the doctors’ rooms, there is a big sign “PSMAS
not accepted”. So, if it is not accepted, in fact that institution should be closed down.
Mr. Speaker, if we allow organisations to make groupings which harm us, this is like cutting your nose to spite your face. I am saying this because it seems that a lot of issues happen and we have a lot of lives that are lost simply because no one will touch you because you do not have money. Now, the system that is there, where you have to use plastic money yet there are no machines there. The banks give you $100, whether you are a Member of Parliament, a Chief or whatever; it is $100 because law is law. Now, if I fall sick in the afternoon and I decide to go to the doctor and there is this big sign that you have to pay cash and you can claim it back yourself.
If I ask here, out of all the MPs or anyone working here in Parliament, how many people have not received their money back from medical aid, you will see how many hands will come up. It is just promises and promises, the money does not come. Many a times, I have gone to the accounts department and actually wrote a letter to say I would like to withdraw from medical aid because I am not getting a fair deal back. I am being short changed and I feel that if I am being short changed as an Hon. Member, who came in this august House with 18,000 or 30,000 people behind me and if I do not talk about it, what about the people who cannot talk. I feel it is unfair and I believe that the Minister should actually address this. If there is a problem in finance, they need to sort it out on their own without involving individuals.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I can speak the whole day and night and repeat but I would say, please if it is possible, can the Minister address this as a state of emergency because this is unacceptable and totally unacceptable even to the Hon. Members of this august
House. I thank you. - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
HON. NDEBELE: I am almost tempted Hon. Speaker to
say this House, as it rises in unison like this, has come of age. I would like to congratulate the Hon. Members. Parliament can certainly not go about its business as if it is business as usual, as it were. At the face of it, this may appear like a mere health concern but without spoiling the broth, I honestly believe that this motion runs deeper than what appears at on the surface. At the core of issues here, is a reflection of a bigger tragedy, which is the economic melee bedeviling this country. It speaks of a deeper rot because this House finds itself at the cross roads, at this very minute. On one hand are doctors, who are professionals that must be paid, yet on the other hand are people who are unemployed and can meekly afford to pay the same doctors in order to be treated.
It raises important questions about the capacity of our
Government to play the role of adjudicator in this whole debacle. Hon. Maridadi, I may want to differ a bit, whereupon you suggest that Government must be the adjudicator between ZIMA and the medical aid societies, because I have important questions of the same Government. Is the person in the fore front not the very same Minister that was in the newspapers for defrauding PSMAS?
These are rhetorical questions. Is the same Minister not the same
Minister who has never given a ministerial statement in this House? Is he not the same Minister that has even failed to sit in a hotel elsewhere and address his role in the PSMAS debacle? –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
Hon. Speaker, I need your protection.
THE HON. TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You are
HON. NDEBELE: So, who adjudicates? I honestly think that if we keep saying Minister, Minister, the Minister also approaches this question with dirty hands. I therefore move quickly to agree with my colleague Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga, so that I do not fail to pronounce the other one. That if the Minister is not the rightful person as I have demonstrated, is it not time then Mr. Speaker, for this House to fall back on Section 140 (3) of our Constitution which allows for our President who is the Chief Executive of this country to come into this very House to address important questions around matters of health. As I have indicated, this has a link to the economy. We are now into a stage where Ministers have failed to attend to economic problems that we raise here. Companies are closing Hon. Speaker.
Our greatest treasure, the diamonds seem to have disappeared. People have lost jobs, there is no confidence in the financial services sector. The youth are getting restless as you can see through WhatsApp, videos and messages. It is not youths from one political party, it is youths from right across the political divide. It is therefore my prayer Mr. Speaker, that this House falls on Section 140 (4), so that through your office, necessary arrangements are made for Parliament to receive a State of the Nation Address from His Excellency, there can never be a better time than this. This is my prayer. Also to indicate that this motion at the face of it, might look like a health problem but certainly it is an indictment on our Government. Something must be done and must be done urgently. I thank you.
*HON. MAPIKI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, the situation
in the country is what is referred to as organised chaos. The organised chaos starts from people who are importing medication. India and South Africa are promising us cheap medication, but it is the people who decide on the procurement of medicine, they select whatever it is they want. They deny medication from South Africa or India to come into the country. What we want is that there should be a clearance of these medications for our benefit but it takes time for this medication to be cleared at the border until it expires there. We have organisations which are in this country, which are employing people and are deducting monies from employees but fail to remit it to Premier Service Medical Aid
Mr. Speaker Sir, they would rather get that money and give it to the leadership of the company. They do not care about the
lower grades but the Chief Executives are paid as much as US$9 000 at the expense of the poor worker. Some organisations are also buying or constructing expensive buildings instead of giving service to workers. This is also happening in parastatals where the Chief Executives are paying themselves handsomely, nobody cares about the lowest paid worker.
The monies which are remitted again to Premier Service, the Executives again are paid obscenely high salaries and this results in the denial of paying the service provider. Hence, the doctors end up complaining because nobody remits those monies to the doctors who have provided the service. Hence, I urge Government to come to the assistance of the public.
In the past when somebody was a doctor, we knew they had to take an oath and werevery dedicated. The recruitment depended on the calling but what is happening at the moment is that people are taking medicine career just for the sake of getting money disadvantaging the people. What we are saying is, if Government is going to allow these doctors to say they are not going to treat people, it will be to the disadvantage of these other organisations. They will come and say they want to hold the country to ransom because it has started from afar, hence there is need to cut this at its root before it grows up.
We remember the Premier Service Medical Aid saga, Mr. Dube who was the Chief Executive officer was supposed to be arrested and convicted. The Auditor and Comptroller General, Mrs. Chiri, did make any investigation and found that he had a case to answer. There was a prima facie case but this was not taken up and we wonder what will happen next. When these doctors will be providing services to the people, they will be giving services and will have the medication at times because you are paying cash. Medicine will be at a lower price but if you had to buy cash, the cost will be higher. Now, they are saying they will not treat people when they come with medical aid cards. What is happening?
Mr. Speaker Sir, the consultation fee is US$100 to be given a prescription. When you want to get that medication, you are advised to go to a pharmacy and buy on your own but you ask that doctor, where does this US$100 consultation fee comes from. Can you make a breakdown, they cannot explain but the same doctors are now saying if you do not have cash upfront, there is no treatment. We have no money at the banks. People had monies deducted from their salaries to Premier Service but the monies were used for different purposes. This will lead to the death of people. Suppose Hon. Maridadi dies because he has not received medical attention; when we have electricity or water problems, we should prioritise somebody’s health and not prioritise paying our water and electricity bills.
We have problems with the calibre of our doctors, they need to be re-examined. We are calling for a statement from the powers that be because if we do not do that, very soon there will be chaos, each organisation holding the country to ransom. I thank you. *HON. MATAMBANADZO: I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir,
for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution on a motion raised by Hon. Maridadi. This is a very serious case. We have had contributions from other Hon. Members who have called that the President should come into this House. As far as I am concerned the President’s Office is a very high office to come and address this issue. It is an issue that should be handled by the Minister and we are saying no, to ransom by these doctors.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it means as representatives of the people, we are representing all the 14 million people who sent us. Therefore, the President did allow that we have to have associations and we are free to associate with whatever association we want; freedom of association and therefore, we should not drag our President into this mud. This should be done by the Minister. We contributed to Premier Medical Aid or any other medical aid association and we should benefit. They have collected these monies, but they are now turning backs on us and saying we should have cash upfront.
Does it mean that I will lose out despite all the payments which I made. As far as I am concerned, it is the Minister’s prerogativeto handle this issue, but we are saying the Minister should not be chucked out whatever it is done. People are blaming him but we are saying, if he was to blame, he should have been convicted at that time. We are now blaming the Minister because of what the doctors are saying; the Minister has nothing to do with that. We cannot remove a capable man because of such a situation; it should not be accepted.
Let me look at the situation since we are representatives of the people and we are educated. I am a Grade Two drop-out but I am also educated. Let us look at the reason why the doctors are now calling for cash up-front. There is a reason which has made them hold the nation at ransom.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I said this is a very important debate to you Hon. Members and those people whom you represent.
*HON. MATAMBANADZO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
What surprises me is that one of the Members who are heckling is
Hon. Dr. Labode who is the Chairperson of the Health and Child Care Committee. Hon. Members, please listen. I am giving the reasons why doctors have now called for cash up-front instead of them pressurising medical aid societies to give them the monies due to them. The problem is the cash crisis. People are always queuing at the banks and the doctors also want money. We know that people are now selling the US dollars, just like what was happening during the Zimbabwe dollar era, whereby people used to sell US dollars.
Let me give you a simple example. Towards Christmas, we were told that there was a breakdown in the sugar industry or factory and we were told that we were going to have sugar shortages. As a result, sugar disappeared from supermarket shelves because there was hoarding. The price of sugar rose. The problem with the machinery was rectified.
We are now working on the $200 million bond notes and as a result, fear has been instilled in people. People are now withdrawing their money because they have no faith on the bond notes. According to them, they are saying they are afraid of losing their money. The bond note was talked about before it could be printed and introduced into the market. The appropriate thing was to support the $200 million bond note by the US dollar. The US dollar would be withheld by the banks, whilst the bond note is introduced bit by bit so that people would really benefit. Due to the fact that we put the cart before the horse, we now have a problem. People are withdrawing their money because they have no faith in the banking system.
There is another problem which is happening. Doctors now want to have these monies and they know that if they have cash, they can sell it and get 10% profit on the $100 obtained from his surgery. The money is being bought by car dealers. Private car dealers were told that they were not going to receive money to purchase small cars and people who can only receive money from the banks are those who buy buses and lorries. The person who is selling small cars is an indigenous person who is taking money and goes and re-invests it. This person will now collect his cash, go and open an account in Zambia or Mozambique. These people confide in us and say MP, do you know how I am surviving? I am illegally exporting money because it is easy to open an account in Zambia. There we have transactions easily, especially if you want to buy cars. As a result, we are creating criminals of innocent people in Zimbabwe. Our attitudes are really creating these criminals.
Recently, we went to Bulawayo to attend a meeting on the ease of doing business but, is it the ease of doing business when people are held at ransom? The problem is, you said people are not going to be given the money they worked for; you have garnished everything and this really touches me. Mr. Speaker, we are oppressing our people. The person who is oppressing the people is not a Member of Parliament but somebody who is outside the House; just an ordinary member who thinks of this idea, publishes it thus creating panic in the country.
As an MP, I have to bring this to the open because people are saying statements that are detrimental to the survival of the country and this is destroying the country. You have heard one of our Members of Parliament calling for the President to come and address this House on such a small issue which can be handled by the Minister. The people who are creating these ideas are very clever. I am ZANU PF but if I go and knock at the door of a
Minister, I am told that he cannot see me because he has a visiting
Minister from China or Europe. However, if a member of the Opposition visits that same Minister, he is given attention immediately. These Ministers are being given wrong advice and when they come here, they say this is bad. What is happening is that a member of the Opposition gave them wrong advice.
We clapped hands and applauded when Hon. Members said the Minister should resign. They even have the audacity to say the President should come and address us. We need to tell the truth and Ministers should know that when members of the Opposition are approaching them, they should tell them that they are busy because they are giving them wrong advice, which is destroying
Mr. Speaker, we need to urgently look at this rule which is limiting the amount of cash withdrawn from the banks. This is exactly what was happening during the Zimbabwe dollar era. My advice is, the people should be allowed to withdraw the amounts they want. What is happening is, people withdraw the money as it come and withhold it. Thank you.
*HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution. I am glad this motion has been supported by both sides. I know some of us are saying something different from others but you know whenever there is a gathering, there is supposed to be agreement and disagreement.
We have about 1.2 million people who were contributing to medical aid societies and they are now being denied treatment. They are told they should pay cash up-front. My payslip shows that I belong to the pinnacle category. It means this is the highest level of contribution and I should be given the prerogative whenever I go for treatment but if you go along Nkwame Nkrumah Avenue, there is a pharmacy which displays a notice on the Medical Aid Societies that they accept. To my surprise, PSMAS is not included among the Medical Aid Societies which are accepted in that pharmacy and it means we cannot really shy away from the problem which we are facing and this includes Members of
My first question is that the amount which is deducted from civil servants to PSMAS is still existing? How much has been collected? When this money was deducted, was it rerouted to PSMAS because we know that if I have been banking my money at CABS, I can withdraw my money from the bank because I am afraid of bond notes. I know some people are saying the Minister should not come and address us on this issue but this is prudent because none of us have an answer to the question and therefore we have members of the Cabinet who were mandated by His
Excellency to come and address such issues. We also have the Minister of Finance and Economic Development who deducts the money on pay slips to come and explain whether the monies were directed to the Medical Aid Societies. It should be known when the deductions were made whether the money was directed to PSMAS and there should be a detailed account to show how that money was used.
My second point is that when we are talking about health issues, we have people who joined in 2013 and they have never accessed any health care services. We have problems in that deductions are being carried out on your salary and yet when you go for treatment, you are asked to pay cash upfront. Right now the banks are giving $100 a day but when you have an emergency and the doctor asks for $250, what are you going to do? By contributing to a Medical Aid Society, you will be actually investing in situations when you need assistance. This is a matter which needs the Minister of Health to respond to.
A lot of people have unanswered questions concerning the statement that was published yesterday that doctors will not accept medical aid cards. We have been told that there are close to 36 medical aid providers but there is need for clarity on this matter so that we can explain to people in our constituencies. If the Minister fails to give an explanation, he should refer the matter to his principal so that we can get a position on the way forward.
The Minister needs to urgently address this situation and not wait for members of the opposition to ask questions. The Minister should be amenable to receive advice even from the opposition because this is a matter that calls for concerted efforts. We are all Zimbabweans and this is our Government but if people decide to shun advice from the opposition, we will not get anywhere. I thank you.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for
allowing me to air my views to this motion. Like my colleagues have indicated, this is a critical motion that has been raised at the most appropriate time. The criticality of this motion is in the fact that there are social welfare consequences of the decision that was announced yesterday. It is monumental. It leads to serious disastrous consequences.
However, my analysis as I contribute to this motion will be a bit different. I want first to look at the participants of this whole source of the motion. Firstly, there is the poor ordinary man of this country who is meant to be a recipient of medical services who is now going to be affected, not because of their own act but because of the conduct of others. Like every Member has indicated, those that are contributing to Medical Aid Societies are doing so. Every month their monies are being deducted. They are playing their role.
I leave out this participant.
The second participant is the Medical Aid Society itself. On my pay slip, it is indicating that the Medical Aid Society is getting my money every month but when I go to seek for services, I do not access those services. I am not so sure what is really wrong with Medical Aid Societies but I think I will try to make an analysis and point to where the problem lies. Then there are the doctors, those who have said we are withdrawing our services and we will provide them on condition of cash being advanced. There are employees. I sympathise with them as well. I do sympathise with doctors.
There is no way that service can be sustained unless if it receives money. I think we have been receiving complaints for a long time that Medical Aid Societies are not paying money to the doctors and those doctors are also Zimbabweans just like me and everyone else. They need to survive. They have families to take care of. Am I saying their actions are justified, not exactly? It is unethical. Did they really have an option? Should they have acted otherwise? How would they have acted? For a long time the doctors have asked Medical Aid Societies to own up and Medical Aid Societies are not owning up what they owe. Should we expect then the doctors to continue offering services when they are not getting anything in return? I think I sympathise with them.
As much as some of my colleagues where calling for punitive action to be taken against them, personally I do not agree. They are running a business that is meant to make them also to survive. We really need to understand them as well.
Finally, the other participant is the Government. The constitutional provisions that were read about the right to health, the participant which is expected to deliver that right or to satisfy that right, is the Executive. That is where the buck stops. When we look at these other three participants, that is Medical Aid Societies, the recipients of medical services and the doctors, they are all merely victims. When I am angry with the doctors, I am actually a victim who is angry against another victim.
What we are seeing is just one of the many symptoms that are coming out showing what level of economic crisis we have got as a country. This is merely an issue of economic crisis. It is not about the conduct of the doctors or medical aid societies. Yes, some of the medical aid societies have misbehaved but not all of them. Some have tried to manage their finances properly but the economic environment is such that there are no good skills that can be applied for you to run a business properly. So what is the way forward?
In my view, Mr. Speaker … - [AN HON. MEMBER:
Inaudible interjections.] - you can sing that old song forever but it will not change the situation … - [HON. MPARIWA: Taura iwewe
nyaya yako.] – Mr. Speaker, the real issues that we need to address, I know some Hon. Members were calling for Government to intervene and take action but if there is action that this Government has to take is action that redresses the declining of the economy. Once the economy is addressed, I can assure you, we will be able to access medical aid services … - [HON. MPARIWA: Ndipo
pane nyaya!] – Medical aid societies will be able to pay doctors, doctors will be able to live properly and allow people with medical aid to access their services. As long as the economy is going downwards and sinking as it is, there is no miracle that is going to happen.
What we need to do, like Hon. Ndebele indicated, I think the Chief Executive Officer has to wake up and know that this economy is dead and he should resuscitate it. It is his sole responsibility and none other than himself. The President is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the economy of this country runs and where it stands right now, all macroeconomic variables are indicating that there is nothing working in this country. The only macro-economic variables that are increasing are unemployment and poverty levels as everything else is declining.
My recommendations are that when you fail you go out, when you fail you resign and let others do it. I am saying it does not need a rocket scientist to say that the Chief Executive Officer of this country has failed … - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - It does not need a prophet to say that in terms of running the economy of the this country because the primary responsibility of a Government is to ensure that the economic and social welfare of its citizens are catered for…
HON. MATAMBANADZO: On a point of order Hon.
Speaker, we no longer constitute a quorum.
An objection having been taken that there being present fewer than (70) members, the bells were rung for Seven Minutes and a Quorum still not being present, THE TEMPORARY
SPEAKER adjourned the House without any question put at Twenty-Three Minutes to Six o’clock p.m. pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order Number 56.
NOTE: The following members were present when the
House adjourned: Hon. Chibagu; Hon. Chikomba; Hon.
Chimwamurombe; Hon. Chitindi; Hon. Chiwetu; Hon. Cross; Hon.
Dziva; Hon. Kaundikiza; Hon. Kazembe; Hon. M. Khumalo; Hon.
Khupe; Hon. Labode; Hon. Machingura; Hon. Mandipaka; Hon.
Mangami; Hon. Mapiki; Hon. Maridadi; Hon. Mashange; Hon.
Matambanadzo; Hon. Mawere; Hon. N. Mguni; Hon. Mhona; Hon. Mpariwa; Hon. B. Mpofu; Hon. Mudyiwa; Hon. Mufunga; Hon.
Mukwangwariwa; Hon. Musanhi; Hon. D.M. Ndlovu; Hon. Ndoro;
Hon. Nduna; Hon. Rungani; Hon. Shongedza; Hon. D.S. Sibanda;
Hon. D.P. Sibanda and Hon. Toffa.