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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 17 AUGUST 2022 VOL 48 NO 68

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 17th August, 2022

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER

PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM MR. EDWIN MOYO AND SHUPIKAI CHIKAMBA

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I have to inform the House that on 14 August, 2022, Parliament received a petition from Mr. Edwin Moyo of Constan Farm, Plot 1 Karoi, against the Hurungwe District Lands Committee.  The petitioners have not met the requirements stipulated in the Standing Orders and the petition was deemed inadmissible.  The petitioners have since been informed accordingly.

I also have to inform the House that on 14th August, 2022 Parliament received a petition from Shupikai Chikamba of Rushinga Primary School Mt. Darwin requesting Parliament to assist him in getting the dues he worked for whilst he was a Zimbabwe National Army employee.  The petitioners have not met the requirements stipulated in the Standing Orders and the petition was deemed inadmissible.  The petitioners have since been informed accordingly.

VISITORS IN THE SPEAKER’S GALLERY

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I have to acknowledge the presence in the Speaker’s Gallery of students and teachers from Hippo Valley Estates Primary School in Masvingo Province who are on a study tour.  You are most welcome thank you.

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I have a list of apologies from Hon. Ministers and Deputy Ministers who have sought leave of absence from the House.  Hon. J. G. Moyo, Minister of Local Government and Public Works; Hon. A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; Hon. Dr. S. Kanhutu-Nzenza, Minister of Industry and Commerce; Hon. Kambamura, Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development; Hon. Maboyi, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. Machingura, Deputy Minister for Higher and Tertiary Education; Hon. Dr. Ndlovu, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; Hon.  E. Moyo, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.

HON. GONESE:  Thank you Madam Speaker for recognising me.  I intended to move a notice of motion and I actually sent the notice to the Clerk.  I have got a copy.  I followed up with the Assistant Clerk yesterday and today and I was informed that the motion was with administration.  This morning I was advised that the motion was deemed inadmissible but I was not furnished with the reasons on why the motion would be deemed inadmissible.

The notice of motion which I forwarded to the administration through the Clerk of Parliament relates to the recommital of a Bill in terms of Standing Order 160 (3).  As a result, Madam Speaker, I just needed clarity as to why the motion was deemed inadmissible.  In addition to that, I have also noted that after the reading of the non-adverse report on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill yesterday, the matter has been placed as Order Number 32 on the Order Paper.

I am also rising on a matter of privilege because on Wednesday 27th July, Hon. Mushoriwa rose on a matter of privilege pointing out that he had been unable to participate in the debate at the Committee Stage as he was on virtual and he actually made efforts and he was eventually booted out of the platform and we have not heard a report or rather, a ruling from the office of the Chair as to what  the outcome of that particular matter is.  We need clarity as to whether that consideration of the Bill which is under Order No. 32 is going to proceed today.  I believe that it will be inappropriate to do so because a ruling is still pending on the motion raised by Hon. Mushoriwa that Members who were on the virtual platform were unable to contribute and he sought the recommittal of the Bill back to the Committee Stage, which is the same motion on which I had given notice.  I would need that clarification and guidance to enable us to know where we are going.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Gonese, you raised two issues: the first issue about your motion which you said was deemed inadmissible, I am being advised by the administration that you will be furnished with the reasons why it was deemed inadmissible. 

HON. GONESE: If I can have that clarification, the reason being that it is actually related to the second issue that I raised because we must have clarity as Members and the nation needs that clarity as to whether the Bill is going to be proceeded with in light of the second issue which I also raised.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You mean the Bill or the motion?  Your first issue was a motion.

HON. GONESE: That is correct Hon. Speaker.  The matters are interrelated and interconnected.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You will be advised of the reasons why it was deemed inadmissible.

HON. GONESE: My point of clarification was when these reasons will be furnished to me.  I do not know whether I can have that indication for my guidance.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Next week on Thursday.

HON. GONESE: I think it was important for the administration of Parliament to engage me instead of just writing ‘inadmissible’ because this motion is in fact interrelated and interconnected with a Bill which is currently before the House and it is important because that Bill has already been placed on the Order Paper when there is a pending ruling, and it is important for us to know whether the consideration of that Bill is going to proceed before the ruling which relates to it.  I think it is also important for clarification if the Chair can inform me as a Member of Parliament in terms of my privileges and in terms of the provisions of Standing Order No. 72, I am entitled to know. 

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think you know Hon. Gonese that the Bill was put on the Order Paper because it is the process that the Bill be put on the Order Paper in terms of the Standing Rules and Orders.

HON. GONESE: There is a pending ruling which affects the proceeding.  I think that the Chair should be in a position to indicate to the Hon. Members.  Hon. Mushoriwa raised a motion and the Hon. Speaker indicated that he was going to consider the matter and was going to go through the Hansard, through the recordings of the proceedings of the 26th July but up to now we are in the dark as to where we are going because it is important for us to prepare.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You will be advised in due course Hon. Gonese, of the reasons why it was deemed inadmissible.

HON. GONESE: Madam Speaker, I have now gone to the second round of my submission, I am no longer on the motion; I am now on the process which will now follow because there is a pending ruling whereby the Hon. Speaker indicated to Hon. Mushoriwa that he was going to go through the proceedings, he was going to listen to the recordings as well as the submissions made by Hon. Mushoriwa that he was unable to participate in the debate due to reasons beyond his control because he was trying to log in on the virtual platform and eventually he was booted out; he was not physical in the House.  There is a hybrid system whereby Members can participate either virtually or physical - that is where I am.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are saying the Member was not able...

HON. GONESE: He actually submitted that, it is in the public domain, it was raised in this august House and his submissions are on record.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: And the Hon. Speaker made a ruling on that?

HON. GONESE: He did not make a ruling; he said he was going to make a ruling.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: And the Hon. Speaker promised to make a ruling on that?

HON. GONESE: Yes, that is what we are still waiting for. We want to know in the absence of the ruling what is going to happen and what is the effect of the consideration on the Order Paper.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: And he is yet to make a ruling.

HON. GONESE: Yes.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: So you must wait for the ruling.

HON. GONESE: Madam Speaker, we are not on the same page.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Bill is on the Order Paper because it is the process that the Bill must be on the Order Paper.

HON. GONESE: It is the fate of the consideration which is slotted for today. We do not want to be caught by surprise, we need clarity and a clear picture of what is taking place.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Gonese, I am telling you that the Bill is on the Order Paper because it is the process that it must be on the Order Paper.

HON. GONESE: We will cross the bridge when we get there.

HON. MUSHORIWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order? We do not allow points of order on Wednesdays.

HON. MUSHORIWA: No, point of clarity from what you are saying. Madam Speaker, the net effect of the ruling by the Hon. Speaker was that pending the ruling of the Hon. Speaker, it meant that the process was supposed to be actually suspended until the Hon. Speaker has actually made a ruling.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Who told you that the process was going to be suspended?

HON. MUSHORIWA: That is what the Hon. Speaker said. If you read the Hansard, the Hon. Speaker said he was going to listen to the audio and I am just hoping that you also have had the chance to listen to the audio where the Leader of the House denied Members of Parliament to contribute to a debate in Committee Stage of a vital Bill, which is a PVO Bill which Members had debated extensively in the Second Reading. When the Speaker made a ruling, his ruling was to suspend any progress of that Bill pending his ruling unless you are saying the Speaker made a ruling, which ruling has not been made public to us. 

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I hear you Hon. Mushoriwa, on that issue, we will talk about it tomorrow.  I promise you that we will talk about it tomorrow so that today we will not waste time for questions. 

           ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

HON. MARKHAM: On a point of order Madam Speaker.  Hon. Speaker, you have mentioned that eight Ministers are absent and have given their apologies, so people on Zoom are under the illusion that we have the Ministers here when they are not. Can we have the names of the Ministers who are here for the benefit of the people on Zoom?

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Markham, I do not think we have to waste time doing that.

          HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Since Hon. Ziyambi who is the Leader of Government Business is not present, may we know who the Leader of Government Business is so that we know where to direct our questions.   It is important for us to know.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Minister Mutsvangwa will be the Acting Leader of Government Business.

          HON. MASENDA: My question is directed to the Leader of the House. Is the Minister aware that due to high cost of agricultural inputs, many farmers will not be able to make it back to the field for the coming season?  What policy measures are you putting in place in order to ensure that production of agriculture produce is not going to be negatively affected?  Thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  I would like to thank Hon. Masenda for that very important question which is directed to the Minister of Agriculture.  The issue he is raising is very fundamental to food security in our country. He is concerned about high prices of inputs which may actually impede farmers from producing in the coming season.  The policy of Government is to make sure that we produce our own food, not just for Zimbabwe but we want to go back to where Zimbabwe used to be, to the breadbasket of the region.  There is a lot of effort being put into agriculture because agriculture is business and it is being tackled as such.  There is the Command Agriculture which is continuing but it is now under banks. There is also the Presidential Inputs through the Pfumvudza Programme which will make a lot of our households be able to plant crops for us to have food security. 

          Madam Speaker, on the issue to do with current stability, Government is very much seized with it to make sure that it is not just about inputs when we talk about inflation, but it is about price hikes and this is affecting our people in many ways.  Obviously, we are aware as Government and a lot of measures have been put in place to make sure that we stabilise our currency so that at least inflation will be controlled.  I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, order.

          HON. MASENDA:  Thank you Madam Speaker. My supplementary question is, continuing to increase prices of agriculture produce will bring about high inflation.  Would the Minister consider subsidising seed and fertilizers in order to encourage farmers to continue producing at a higher level?  Thank you.

          HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  I want to thank Hon. Masenda who I really think is very much concerned about an issue which every Zimbabwean and Government is seized with - the issue of making sure that we have food security in our country. No Government would sit back when there is no food in the country and there is a lot of work and measures that have been put in place. His question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture about subsidies and on that I would kindly ask him to put the in writing because he is talking about the measures which the Minister is going to take and the Minister can come to this august House and give a statement. The policy is to make sure that our people go back to farming. Thank you.

          HON. T. MLISWA: My point of order is that it is a very critical matter. First of all, the Minister must come with the current maize delivery to GMB and you will realise that not a lot of maize has been delivered to GMB and the next question is why? It is because the price is terrible and the point that Hon. Masenda is bringing up is the fact that we are not taking maize to GMB because the price is low. How then can we buy fertilizer to be back onto the field? So it is a serious matter that needs to be looked into because all the farmers who are serious are hanging onto their maize, which means Government will be forced to import yet people are sitting with maize instead of Government paying the farmers USD280.00 per tonne and then you have dealt with the aspect of food security and you have dealt with the aspect of the farmers going back to the field. Anybody who is a farmer here will agree that we have got a Government that wants to make foreign farmers richer than the local farmers and how can the land reform be successful if the price of the commodities and the products is not up to world standard. The farmers deserve to be given what belongs to them because of the sweat they put in. So, if the ministerial statement can also talk about the current maize delivered, you will see that it is less. People are just holding onto their maize and we need a fair deal for the farmers. Thank you.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Masenda, I advise you to put your question in writing so that the Hon. Minister will bring a comprehensive answer to your question.

          HON. MADIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. My question is directed to the Minister of National Housing. What is the policy on the issuance of title deeds? In this regard, I might also want to know the progress made regarding the issuance of title deeds?

          THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES (HON. GARWE): Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me thank the Hon. Member for the pertinent question. The issue of title deeds is an issue that is work in progress. The issue of title deeds consists of several ministries. We have got the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. What we are doing now is that we have started with identifying areas that require the issuance of title deeds.

          We have got three categories and the first category is the houses where people had houses before independence like Mabvuku, Highfield and Mbare and the second category are people that were settled after independence like Glen View, Budiriro and so forth. The third categories are the informal settlements like Caledonia, Harare South and so on. We are starting with the first and second category because they are easier to deal with and as we speak, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education has finished doing mapping using the geospatial planning and space urgency approach. We have done mapping and we have identified people that are legitimately on the ground and people that are illegitimate. Those that are illegitimate or those that built in the way of schools and other services will be relocated to other areas but it is work in progress. Thank you.

          +HON. L. SIBANDA: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. We are thankful for the endeavours you have taken to rehabilitate the roads. My question is what measures have you put in place since you are now going into the rainy season? The roads have been graded and with the rainy season, it becomes muddy. The roads from Bulawayo to Nkayi and Tsholotsho, if those roads are not rehabilitated, it means that there cannot be any link between Bulawayo, Tsholotsho and Nkayi. I thank you Hon. Minister.

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Madam Speaker.  I would like to thank Hon. Sibanda for that pertinent question. She was making reference to some roads that we are reconstructing. Some of the roads have detours and at the moment they say they are not finding people that are constructing these roads. I am grateful that I have been given this opportunity to say that we now have funding to add on to what the Ministry of Transport was allocated. It means we are going to act with speed to ensure that we reconstruct all the roads that we were attending to.

          Last week I met Provincial Road Engineers and they gave me a list of such roads in all our provinces; the roads that we started, the roads that we intend to construct and those that this august House said should be constructed. From this week onwards, you will see my officials running to ensure our contractors are back on the ground as they ensure that they look into these roads and maintain especially the roads that the Hon. Member has referred to such as Gwanda-Maphisa, Nkayi-Bulawayo and Mkoba. Kadoma, we are also going there. There is one which is Hon Biti’s favourite - Marondera-Musami, we are also going there. Murambinda-Birchnough is one of the roads that we are going to move back on site. I thank you.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: All Hon. Members who are not wearing face masks, may you please go and pick up your face masks – [AN HON MEMBER: Chief Whip havana mask.] -

          HON. BITI: My question is directed to the esteemed Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Hon. Winston Chitando. Since when it is Government policy that mining concessions are now being given in communal lands, irrespective of the rights of traditional and community leaders and some of the concessions and mining rights are actually being given over graveyards, cemeteries and people’s fields in communal lands? When did it become Government policy that the Mines and Minerals Acts will override the Communal Lands Act and the power of traditional chiefs and communities in rural areas? I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHITANDO): I would like to thank Hon. Biti for the question which relates to the issuance of mining title and would like to assure the Hon. Member that all mining titles are issued in accordance with the provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act and if there are any particular cases which the Hon. Member is aware of where title has been issued in contravention of the Mines and Minerals Act, I urge him to approach my office and the cases will be reviewed accordingly.

          HON. BITI: There are cases that are common cause and I give him the examples of mining concessions for black granite that have been given to Chinese companies in Mutoko area. I give examples of mining concessions that have been given to Chinese companies in the Hwange National Park, Dinde area over cemeteries. I give examples again of the Hlengwe-Hlangani land in Chiredzi where again mining concessions have been given to some white interest. The examples are many. My question has not been answered – why is he allowing the Mines and Minerals Act to override the Communal Lands Act?

          HON. CHITANDO: Once again, I would like to thank Hon. Biti for the supplementary question where he cited cases in Hwange, Chiredzi and Mutoko. Firstly, starting with Chiredzi, I am not aware of any cases in Chiredzi where mining title has been issued not following the procedures of the Mines and Minerals Act. The other cases in the Hwange area, definitely being cases of mining title issued not in accordance with the Mines and Minerals Act, there are no cases which I am aware of.

          We have one or two cases in Mutoko which are being reviewed by the Ministry which pertains to some issuance of mining title closer to schools and that is being reviewed. Certainly, I am not aware of any other cases in Hwange and Chiredzi. If there are any other specific cases, he is free to bring the cases to the office and that will be reviewed accordingly.

          HON. NDUNA: I want to preface my supplementary question based on the power that the Mines and Minerals Act has over other subsidiary Acts. In my view, it is ultra vires the Construction Section 72 (2) (c) which says the people of Zimbabwe should be enabled to assert their right to land but the Mines and Minerals Act in its current form is too moribund, rudimentary and antiquated. It is my view however, as I go to the question, that the Mines and Minerals Act comes to the House so that we actually shred it and incorporate issues that are in sync with the Constitution.

My question is; the Mines and Minerals Act, in its current form can actually repudiate the Agrarian Reform Act (2000), which was made to give back the land to formerly marginalised black majority.  When is the Mines and Minerals Act (1951) coming to Parliament so that we can actually shred it and align it to other Acts of Parliament and to the current Constitution, in particular to Section 72 (7) (c)?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHITANDO): Thank you Madam Speaker.  I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  I am sure the Hon. Member may be aware that about two weeks ago, there was an announcement that Cabinet had approved the amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act.  Again, the process is drawn out and hence the amendments come to Parliament under way.  Also suffice to say that in 2018, the amendments had actually been approved by Parliament but they did not get signed by His Excellency, having observed certain issues mostly concerning the administrative justice compliance in the Constitution.  So these have now all been addressed and the Bill will be coming to Parliament in due course.  I thank you.

          HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  My supplementary question emanates from the original question by Hon. Biti.  It is with regards to the strength and conditions that come with Exclusive Prospecting Orders, wherein upon application of Exclusive Prospecting Order (EPO), the applicant now has the right over all that area that he has been applied for.  The whole country has pending applications of EPOs and this is limiting land development by villagers and communal farmers.  What is it that the Minister has in plan so that at least they expedite the processing of EPOs or to give back the powers to the villagers or communal farmers so that at least they can develop their land and not to be disturbed by the applications of EPOs?  I thank you.

          HON. CHITANDO: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  I think the concerns which the Hon. Member has raised are addressed in the amendments in terms of the process in which the exclusive prospecting licences will now be issued, also in terms of once issued, the percentage which the holders have to give back to the Ministry during the tenure of the EPOs.  So, those concerns are addressed in the amendments which will be coming to Parliament.  I thank you.

          HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Madam Speaker.  My question is - what is the Ministry or the Government’s policy on replacing either the infrastructure or the liability in moving people out of  land that have been mined legally or illegally?  I thank you.

          HON. CHITANDO: Thank you Madam Speaker.  In terms of the provisions of the law, once someone is issued with a mining concession, before commencement of mining, one has to get an EIA.  The EIA amongst other things interrogates how the mining process will affect the community and the remedial action plans to be taken.  That is incorporated in the EIA.

          To answer the Hon. Member’s question, when mining activities start, the relocation is done in accordance to the provisions of the EIA which would have been submitted to EMA.  I thank you.

          HON. MATHE: Thank you Madam Speaker.  My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.  I want to know the policy regarding street kids that are all over towns, mainly Harare and Bulawayo.  These street kids affect the traffic, especially during peak hours. People have got a problem of moving because they will be all over and in front of the cars.  May I know the policy regarding those street kids?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Madam Speaker.  Let me thank Hon. Mathe for that important question concerning children who will be living and working on the streets, especially in Harare and Bulawayo.  We have a general policy where we go out, round up the children and try to do two things; place them in children’s homes or safe places where they can be looked after or reintegrate them with their families and relatives or guardians of decent kind. Our biggest problem is that upon reintegration into the family, most of these children find their way back on the streets.  We need may be to collaborate with law enforcement to make sure that as we remove the children, we also remove the adult population that is living on the streets.  The responsibility for the adult population is contained in the Vagrants Act and that Act is administered differently but the Government has a policy to try and place these children in safe places where they can be taken care of and also provided with education.  Thank you Madam Speaker. 

          HON. MATHE: Madam Speaker, while I am supposed to give my supplementary question, it is not possible to give it now because I did not hear what the Hon. Minister was saying in his response.  May he say it in a louder voice?  I thank you.

          HON. PROF. MAVIMA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Hon. Mathe’s question was on Government’s policy on dealing with children that are found on the streets.  I indicated Madam Speaker that we have a policy to find these children and do two alternatives.  The first alternative is to remove them from the streets and re-unite them with their families.  The second aspect is, if we do not find the relatives of these children, we take them into children’s homes.  There is the famous Chambuta, which we have established in Chiredzi where we have taken quite a number of children who were found on the streets of the major cities.  I was also saying Madam Speaker that in many situations, when we take these children to their families, in no time they find their way back on the streets again.  I was actually saying, we may have to deal collaboratively with the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to make sure that we are removing not just the children but we are also removing the adults who are living on the streets who may be the parents or guardians of these children that find their way back on the streets.  I thank you Madam Speaker. 

          HON. MATHE:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  My supplementary question is, what if the child is hit by a vehicle during peak hours.  These children run across cars, selling wares or asking for money.  When the child is hit by a vehicle, who is responsible?  Which Ministry would not have done its job?  Thank you. 

          HON. PROF. MAVIMA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Let me thank Hon. Mathe for the supplementary question.  By saying my Ministry has responsibility to round up these children, I have actually said we have that responsibility of making sure that those children who are destitute, vulnerable and may be living on the streets are taken care of.  Even when such an unfortunate thing happens, we do not abrogate our responsibility.  It is our responsibility to make sure that we have found safe places for children who are living on the streets.  I thank you Madam Speaker. 

          HON. NDUNA:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  My question goes to the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities, Hon. Garwe.  In terms of housing infrastructure development, there is a backlog of more than five million households.  What is Government policy in so far as it relates to bringing down the housing backlog in terms of infrastructure development, in particular, due to the urban expansion that is currently taking place.  Would it please the Minister to espouse on the housing infrastructure development as a policy to bring down the housing backlog?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES (HON. GARWE):  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  Allow me to thank the Hon. Member for that question. Let me start by correcting the Hon. Member.  The housing backlog is not five million but two million.  I needed to correct that.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, Government has come up with the National Human Settlements Policy, which is dealing with the issues that the Hon. Member has raised.  Firstly, no houses or super structures will be constructed before the provision of services.  That policy is now in action.  Secondly, we have got a delivery programme which sees delivering about 220.000 housing units by year 2025 in terms of the National Development Strategy 1.  To deliver those, we have now migrated from the traditional use of brick and mortar to the use of new technologies, which allows us to deliver a minimum of 100 blocks of flats per month per site.  We have already employed some contractors.  It has already gone through tenders.  We are now starting that programme in September and October.  The first phase has got five provinces and we will be delivering 500 blocks of flats every month going forward.  We are on target and we will be able to deliver the 470.000 housing units that were promised by His Excellency before 2030.  I thank you. 

          HON. NDUNA:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. My supplementary question is, what is Government doing with local authorities that are transgressing on building or awarding of stands without the requisite offsite infrastructure being established as the Hon. Minister has stated.  Would he care to apply the sanctions in retrospect to those local authorities that are in transgression of the law that he has espoused?

THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES (HON. GARWE):  Thank you very much Hon. Member of Parliament.  Local authorities fall under the purview of the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.  However, working together with that Ministry, we are bringing into book all those local authorities that are wayward.  We know Chegutu is a case in point, we are dealing with that.  I thank you.

HON. CHINYANGANYA:  Thank you Madam Speaker, I want to thank the Hon. Minister for his response.  My question is - what is the Government doing to convert Government rented houses to being privately owned houses?  I will give an example; we have houses in Kadoma in Munhumutapa, Rimuka and in Mashmavale which are Government houses but they have been rented for a long time, for nearly two decades by people.  So my question is: when is the Government going to make those houses privately owned?  I believe we have so many houses in other cities which are under the same scheme.  I thank you.

HON. GARWE:  Hon. Speaker, I may want to take you back to 1985 when Government offloaded in excess of 85% of its housing to sitting tenants.  Government now has a serious backlog of housing and it is not in a position to be able to continue offloading those houses to sitting tenants.  We are actually in the process of building our stock.  Thank you.

(v)HON. G. DUBE: How does the Ministry intend to achieve that when they are allowing the municipalities to sell the available land to the elite only, those that have got money?  For example in Victoria Falls, a 2000m2 piece of land was sold for a deposit of US$25 000 depriving those who have been on the waiting list for years.  How do they intend to achieve and close that gap when they will only allow those who have got the monies to have the land?  Thank you.

HON. GARWE:  Madam Speaker, I did not quite clearly understand what the Hon. Member was asking.  The little bit which I heard is about local authorities selling land to the elite.  We are not aware of that.  However, I would request the Hon. Member to give us that question in writing so that we interrogate it and give justice to the question.

HON. MARKHAM:  Madam Speaker, my point of clarity to the Minister is - what is the Government policy?  He has told us Government policy but it does not match the figures because his Ministry only got 23% of the budget.  How is he going to pay for all this policy building?  Thank you – [HON. MLISWA: Inaudible interjection.]-

HON. GARWE:  Madam Speaker, can Hon. Mliswa give me an opportunity to respond.  Thank you very much.  Our role Madam Speaker is to facilitate the delivery of housing. We deliver houses through several stakeholders.  The first stakeholder is Treasury which has provided 23% to us and we have already started using that money.  The other stakeholders that are involved in the housing delivery are our base pension funds and insurance companies.  Housing delivery is a collective responsibility.  People should not look at Treasury as the only source of financing for the housing delivery.  I am saying this because this is how I have understood his question Madam Speaker.

(v)HON. J. CHIDAKWA:  Thank you Madam Speaker. My question is directed to the Leader of Government Business.  I would like to understand from the Minister – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – [HON. T. MLISWA: Inaudible interjections.]

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members order, please, go ahead Hon. Chidakwa. Hon. T. Mliswa, why are you doing that?

          (v)HON. CHIDAKWA: Madam Speaker, I would like to know from the Minister regarding policy. What is he doing to digitalise Government institutions as well as its enterprises?  This will help to curb illicit financial flows.  We have seen from the Auditor-General’s report year in, year out that there has been misuse of funds and other anomalies.  What is the Minister doing in as far as digitalising Government and its institutions are concerned?

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Which Minister Hon. Chidakwa? – [AN HON. MEMBER: Finance] – Hon Minister, did you hear the question?

          (v)HON. CHIDAKWA: I have directed my question to the Leader of Government Business Madam Speaker.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. The question by the Hon. Member is on what the Government is doing to curb illicit financial flows. Is that correct Hon. Chidakwa?

          (v)HON. CHIDAKWA: That is not the question Madam Speaker.  My question Hon. Minister is; what you are doing in as far as digitalising Government ministries and its institutions?  All the Government ministries are doing manual work, where are we in terms of digitalising so that accountability and transparency is easy? – [HON. MEMBERS: ICT] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister of ICT. 

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY, POSTAL AND COURIER SERVICES (HON. DR. MUSWERE): Thank you Madam Speaker. I did not quite get the question. What I heard is, what is Government policy in terms of ensuring that we digitalise public finance systems and Government institutions?  Madam Speaker, the Ministry of ICT has come up with a framework to establish public finance management kiosks across the country.  So far we have done about 70 and we are going to establish a public finance management system kiosk at each and every district office in Government.  I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sorry Hon. Minister, you were not connected.

          HON. DR. MUSWERE: Thank you Madam Speaker, I did not really get the question but I am sure what he was trying to say is, what is Government’s position in terms of policy and establishing a public finance management system across Government institutions in order to curb illicit transactions. Perhaps the Hon. Member can ask the question again.

          (v)HON. CHIDAKWA: My question is on digitalisation Madam Speaker.  So many Government departments are still using pen and paper.  We now live in a paperless world; we are not going digital...  - [HON. T. MLISWA: You must come to the House.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members, Hon. Chidakwa, can you please ask your question again.

          (v)HON. CHIDAKWA: My question is on digitalisation; what is Government policy on digitalisation? Most offices are using paper and pen when we are now living in a paperless and electronic world.  How far has the Ministry gone in terms of digitalisation?

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, did you hear the question?  

          HON. DR. MUSWERE: Thank you Madam Speaker, I got the question now very clear.  Madam Speaker, we have taken a number of steps to ensure that there is digitalisation across Government ministries.  The first step that we have done is to review the ICT policy to take into consideration E-Government platforms.  E-Government platforms that we are dealing with in terms of focus, we have got what we call the G2P, which is Government interacting with the private section; G2C, Government interacting with its citizens; G2E which is Government interacting with its employees and G2G which is Government to Government digital interaction.  So far what we have done is to establish the smart Government communication system which is currently fully functional.  In terms of financial management, we are in the process of establishing public finance management systems kiosks across the country so that we ensure that we leave no place and no one behind in terms of E-Government.

          The PFMS kiosks are being established to ensure that there is transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in terms of Government communication.  We have also finalised the national data centre which was commissioned by His Excellency the President and this becomes the brain in terms of E-Government.  We have established the infrastructure, we have reviewed the ICT policies and we are rolling out E-Government programmes across different Government ministries.  I thank you.

          HON. MATEWU:  Thank you Madam Speaker. First of all, I think it speaks volumes that the Minister for ICT does not actually have a gadget and is not connected.  However, my supplementary question is that Hon. Chidakwa asked a very specific question. In terms of the Public Finance Management Act, there have been a lot of illicit financial flows within Government departments.  So, the question is; how are you going to ensure that the accounting systems within the Government departments are digitalized so that we reduce earning money through corruption because everything these days is about paper work, registers and receipts? How are we going to make sure that we have a digitalised system of accounting that ensures that every Ministry is very transparent in terms of its financials.  Thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY, POSTAL AND COURIER SERVICES (HON. DR. MUSWERE): Thank you Madam Speaker, I am sure I have responded to that question but perhaps he wants more details.  We are in the process of establishing the integrated engine which will ensure that there is a digitalisation of taxable and non-taxable income.  The establishment of Public Finance Management System (PFMs) is a huge step in terms of ensuring that we consolidate all Government finances so that we remove the manual systems across Government Ministries.  So far, like I have indicated, we have done 70 of the PFMs kiosks across the country and we intend to continue accelerating in terms of digitalising all Government institutions so that the PFMs are all digital.

          In addition to that Madam Speaker, we have done the National Enterprise Architecture which seeks to consolidate all Government systems so that they talk to each other in terms of inter operability – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]

          HON. MADZIMURE:  Madam Speaker, year in, year out, the Auditor-General’s Reports have reflected that there is no communication whatsoever between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministries.  As far as payments are concerned, we have had several payments that cannot be confirmed which either the Ministry of Finance will have paid on behalf of other Ministries and what other Ministries will also have paid.  The reconciliation has been a mammoth task for the Auditor-General.  Can the Minister explain what he has done so far to ensure that the problem is solved?  This is the current information that we have from the Auditor-General, there are a lot of payments that are done by the Ministry of Finance on behalf of the line Ministries that cannot be reconciled. 

          HON. DR. MUSWERE:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  As Minister of ICT, of course I cannot speak on behalf of the Ministry of Finance in terms of variances but I can assure the Hon. Member that when the President launched the National Development Strategy 1, he identified a digital economy as one of the key priorities that is going to turn around the macro economic landscape of this country.  Madam Speaker, the establishment of the systems that I have spoken about, including the Public Finance Management System which is fully functional, very effective and it has been complemented by the establishment of the National Data Centre which now becomes the central Government repository in terms of information.  Like I have indicated Madam Speaker that we have also developed the National Enterprise Architecture which seeks to consolidate and to ensure that there is an inter-operable digital environment so that Ministries, departments and agencies are in a position to talk to each other in terms of systems.  These are part of the steps that we have taken as the Ministry of ICT. 

          I have also indicated that we have got the smart Government communications system which is up and running.  The journey towards a digital economy is a journey that we have committed ourselves.  It is a journey that we have set and also include the Ministry of Finance in terms of disbursements of finances.  It is a journey which we have taken to ensure that there is transparency, efficiency and inter-operability in terms of financial transaction.  Thank you.

          HON. MATAMBO:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  My question is directed to the Leader of the House.  What is the policy regarding the rights of patients who are non-ambulant and bedridden?  We have seen patients being dragged to the courts to answer criminal charges against them? 

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN.  MUTSVANGWA):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank Hon. Matambo for the question, I hope I got the question right.  The policy of Government when it comes to patents’ rights whether they are bedridden or not is to make sure that all patients are taken good care of, thank you. 

          HON. MATAMBO:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir, my question is regarding the rights to patients.  We still see patients who are still being dragged to answer criminal charges against them when they are in a bad state.  Legally, a person whose is critical, certified sick is not allowed to consent and the same are being brought to the courts.  What is Government policy regarding the rights of patients, for example the case of Mary Mubayiwa-Chiwenga?

          HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir and I want to thank Hon. Matambo for the question.  As I said earlier, the policy of Government is to make sure that the rights of patients are respected at all costs.  If he has got a specific question, that can be directed to the Ministry of Health.

          *HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I think the question that we want to understand as Members of Parliament is that when a person is critically ill, is it the court that comes to the person who is bedridden or it is the bedridden person who is supposed to be wheeled into court?  Thank you. 

          The Hon. Minister having approached the Chair

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. M. KHUMALO): Can the Hon. Member repeat the question.

          *HON. CHIKWINYA: I think the Minister was not listening. I was giving a supplementary question. We would like to know the rights of the sick people. We know that a person might have committed a crime but if the person is seriously sick, what will happen? Does the court come to the sick or the sick goes to the court? For instance, the case of Marry Mubaiwa - was the court not supposed to come to Mary Mubaiwa and do the case instead of Marry Mubaiwa going to the court?      * HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the supplementary question from Hon. Chikwinya. I would like to say the rights of the sick are of importance to us. We do not care wherever you are in hospital or at home but he is asking a specific question which he already knows the answer and that is why I would kindly ask him to put it in writing so that you will be answered well. Thank you.

          HON. T. MLISWA: My question is directed to the Minister of Defence and War Veterans and the National Chairman of the ruling party and member of the presidium. My question is Hon. Minister, are you aware that the Minister of Defence has not submitted accounts since 2020?  I do not know from the Public Accounts interactions, they have not submitted the accounts and as such, the Auditor General is not happy. We would like to hear from you whether that is the position that the Minister of Defence since it is the last line of defence being the army cannot be questioned for purposes of accountability and transparency? Thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Thank you Mr. Speaker. Allow me to thank Hon. Mliswa for the question in which he wants us to assure the House why we have not been presenting our accounts reports. Hon. Speaker, Defence as he has indicated is key in terms of ensuring that good governance is observed and also respected, which means that  we are very clear of our obligations. Every year starting with Parliament, every month we present our statements. I am not aware of the reports that we have not submitted.      If there is the case that we missed one year and the Hon. Member is aware, the Hon. Member can assist us with that information so that we can follow up and make sure that as a Ministry our commitments are met and we will definitely take a move to correct that anomaly. I want to thank you.

          HON. T. MLISWA: My supplementary question to the Minister is that it will be a good culture for the Minister to approach the Auditor General’s office through the personnel which she has so that they can furnish her with more information. There is a company called Rusununguko which was a brainchild of the late S. B. Moyo which would tackle the economic problems of the military. Rusununguko has been given resources in this country so that the Ministry of Defence is not seen to be suffering but is complemented by resources coming from Rusununguko.  Rusununguko is yet to tell us that the resources given to them by Government have achieved how much. We do not know whether those resources are for certain individuals using the name Rusununguko in the army, or Rusununguko is truly an army concern. We have not seen any financial reports so that when we debate on the budget of the Ministry of Defence, the income that Rusununguko makes comes in, the Minister of Finance then takes it on and does not give the Ministry of Defence all the money. We would like to know from accountability point of view how much money is Rusununguko making and where is the money going to because in every area, they are plundering resources in the name of Rusununguko, an army company. The Chinese are partnering with Rusununguko and we would like to know the partnership with the Chinese and how much they are benefiting the army because the soldiers are complaining that there is no money yet there are resources which the army has been given to pay to the soldiers.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: That question is too specific. It requires figures, so I think you need to write it down.

          HON. T. MLISWA: Rusununguko is a vehicle which you ZANU PF Politburo Members are using, Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa to get things. That is the truth. You are abusing it. It is a vehicle which Generals and you senior members are using to steal the resources of the country yet the war veterans and soldiers are suffering. We want accountability. Where is the money Rusununguko is generating going to or else give the resources of the country to the people? Give them to the ordinary soldiers so that they benefit.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Please sit down. -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-

          Disorder in the House.

          HON. MATHE: No, no, no, that is not a question. That is a story. You are story telling. We need a question. [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-. Do not attack the Minister but ask a question. We are not going to accept that.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, please get out of the House.

          Hon. T. Mliswa was escorted out of the Chamber by the Sergeant-at-Arms

          HON. T. MLISWA: Rusununguko icompany yevakuru irikubira masoja mari.

          Hon. Muchinguri-Kashiri having stood up to respond.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: There is no question that arises please. That question Hon. Minister does not arise. You may proceed Hon Minister.

          HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. In the absence - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

          HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of order. The question does not arise because the Hon. Member has been chucked out of the House - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I consulted with the Hon. Minister and there are allegations that were raised – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

          HON. CHIKWINYA: Mr. Speaker Sir, once you have dismissed a particular Hon. Member who was on the floor for being unparliamentary, you have annulled the question. You have annulled the motion on the floor and therefore it is non-existent. You cannot give an opportunity for a rally to the Hon. Minister to address because she is not addressing anyone. By virtue of dismissing Hon. Mliswa from the House, you have annulled the debate and therefore we must move on. Whatever allegations were given, you have annulled them and you have ruled them out of order. So they are not necessary.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: The Minister has the right to address the House. Order Hon Member. I sent Hon Mliswa out of the House because of his behaviour but he had asked a question – [HON MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

          HON. CHIKWINYA: Are you saying if an Hon. Member has been dismissed out of the House and then they go on virtual, do they remain part of the proceedings? We want guidance from you.

          HON. TOGAREPI: Debate is for public consumption.

          HON. CHIKWINYA: Are you saying if an Hon Member misbehaves in Parliament and you rule that they must be escorted out of the House, they are allowed back into the debate through Zoom? Is that your ruling? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order please!  Hon. Members, order please!  I want to make a ruling on this matter.  I want to confirm that when I asked Hon. Mliswa to go out, he was making a lot of noise. Even if he did not go out and sat down there, the Minister was not going to respond.  So I am saying the Minister or any other Minister has a right to respond to a question that is asked – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] – It is not for you to tell me what to do.  Order, order Hon. Members. 

I would want to read Standing Order Number 96 that allows the Minister to respond when a question is raised accordingly – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] -  Hon. Members, the Minister has a right to respond, whether it is Question Time or not.  Hon. Minister, can you respond? – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Members, I will chase you out.  Can you leave the Minister – [HON. ZWIZWAI:  Inaudible interjection.] – Hon. Member, I will chase you out!  Go out of the House please. 

Hon. Zwizwai was escorted out of the House by the Sergeant-At-Arms.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Standing Order Number 96 says, “With the prior approval of the Speaker, a Member may make a personal explanation, although there is no question before the House, but in this case no contentious matter may be brought forward, and no debate must arise.”  So, I will ask the Hon. Minister to give that personal explanation.  She has a right to do that even when there is no debate.  The Hon. Minister can proceed.

THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank you for allowing me to respond to the serious accusations that have been leveled against the Minister of Defence and War Veterans in my personal capacity and also the Ministry as a whole.  The accusations, I will list just a few, the first one being that we are not looking after our soldiers, the second one is that it is only senior officials in the Defence Forces who are abusing the funds which are meant to benefit the soldiers as a whole. 

I want to start by saying these accusations are baseless and unfounded.  These are very serious accusations which we are not taking lightly.  These accusations are coming at a time when we have recently celebrated the great work that our soldiers are doing in order to defend our independence and territorial integrity.  I want also to emphasise that these soldiers are a people’s force who respect the interest of our nation and also protect the people of Zimbabwe.

Last week when we had our Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day, His Excellency shared with the nation programmes which are lined up in order to address the interest of our soldiers.  I will start Mr. Speaker, with the military salary concept which had been abandoned during the First Republic, only to be resuscitated during this Second Republic.  Hon. Speaker, I want to emphasise also that our Excellency– [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]- 

HON. PHULU:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  What is your point of order?

HON. PHULU:  In terms of Standing Rule 96 Mr. Speaker Sir, a personal explanation may be given and I believe a personal explanation is being given but however in giving the personal explanation, no contentious matter may be brought forward and the issues of the First Republic are contentious matters.  So that is my point of order Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-

HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI:  Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, I disqualified your point of order.  It is contentious to you but not to the House.  Can you sit down please!

HON. PHULU:  Rule 96 says a contentious matter may not be raised.  Mr. Speaker, if you are ruling to say the matter is not contentious, so be it but you dismissed me rudely.  Just rule that it is not contentious.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  It is not contentious to the House please. 

HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI:  Mr. Speaker, let me add also that over and above the military salary concept which was suspended, as I indicated, it has also been resuscitated.  So we are very happy that it was not just the salaries but the allowances were also increased and this is across the board.  In fact, we made sure that there were differentiations between the salaries.  We gave much more to the lowest junior soldiers – [AN HON. MEMBER:  How much?]-  I cannot divulge the information– [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-  I also have a right.  Yes, I want to go further and indicate officers’ accommodation which we inherited from the colonial era which we had not rehabilitated, the Second Republic was able to set aside resources to repair most of our accommodation.

Hon. Speaker, as I speak, we have started constructing houses  for our soldiers, we have started constructing 100 flats at Dzivaresekwa where we are expecting 5000 apartments by December.  I want to report that we have completed the rehabilitation of William Ndangana Barracks.  We have also rehabilitated accommodation of our soldiers in Mutare at Gimboki.  We have started constructing apartments at Mbizo Barracks and also maintaining the barracks in Plumtree. We are  addressing the health needs of our soldiers and I want to report that for the first time in the history of our Republic, we have managed to complete a 149 bed hospital at Manyame Base – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – which we have every reason to celebrate and that facility will be  state of the art.   It will also accommodate all Members of Parliament. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, let me state that Rusununguko is a private company which is in partnership with the Chinese and does not benefit from any budget from Parliament. It operates like any other private company.  We have so many companies where ARDA has gone into partnership with the private sector and to single out Defence where every effort is being made by His Excellency to address the social welfare issues of our soldiers is to say the least very, very unfair.  We need to celebrate the efforts that come from this Parliament.  If anything, what we would expect would be an increase in terms of our budget when it is finally presented. 

This is the only way, if we care about our soldiers; this is the only way that we can improve to where we are today.  I cannot say that we have addressed the challenges 100% but we need to congratulate ourselves for the effort that we are making as Government.  Mostly, I want to say that it is speculation, misleading the nation where people do not have facts is an offence, a serious offence.  We should not abuse Parliament by raising issues where Rusununguko cannot come and defend themselves – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

It was very important that we set this record straight to make sure that where people come into Parliament, it is very unparliamentary where people speak without proper facts. So I dismiss the accusations, I say that the Second Republic is doing all things possible to address the challenge facing our defence staff – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of privilege Hon. Speaker.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

HON. CHIKWINYA: My point of order is that the Minister has said what Hon. T. Mliswa said is tantamount to an offence and that removes the right of a Member of Parliament to be protected by the Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act to the point that members no longer feel free to engage with the Minister of Defence simply because whatever we point out to her, she takes this as an offence.  I beg that she withdraws that statement.  We need to be protected as Members of Parliament – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

She cannot say that what Members of Parliament speak in Parliament is   tantamount to an offence; she has to withdraw that – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Chikwinya, the Minister was not responding to the issue by Hon. T. Mliswa, she was giving a personal explanation.  So there is no point of privilege – [HON. MEMBERS: Hon. T. Mliswa is a Member of Parliament.] – Order Hon. Members she was not talking about Hon. T. Mliswa, please sit down Hon. Members.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. M. KHUMALO) in term of Standing Order No.68.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

MEASURES TO ADDRESS PLIGHT OF PENSIONERS

         

  1. HON. CHINYANGANYA asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to inform the House the measures being taken by Government to address the plight of pensioners who are spending more than five days queuing at banks in an effort to withdraw their meager pension pay-outs. 

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I request that questions 2, 3 and 4 be deferred because they overlap with my written response to the Mid-Term Budget Debate which took place yesterday.  I thank you. 

          HON. CHINYANGANYA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question does not really need research, it is a simple and straightforward question which does not need research which he can respond to.  In addition, this question has been on the Order Paper for more than three months.  We deserve some respect from these Ministers.  We cannot keep on having our questions being deferred week in, week out when they are there.  What are they doing in their offices? 

          HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  As I stated earlier, I request that the questions be deferred and I am happy to respond to them later.  I was asked what we are doing in our offices - we are doing a lot as you will see today.  I thank you.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  That is a specific question, he needs to bring the correct answer. 

          HON. MARKHAM:  Questions 3 and 4 are mine.  Can I have a point of clarity please?  Can the Minister confirm he will answer my question before we close this Parliament? 

          HON. PROF M. NCUBE: Again, a request that questions 3 and 4 be deferred and I will deal with them in due course.  Thank you.

          HON. MARKHAM:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker, he has not answered my question.  My question was - will he handle it in this Parliamentary session?  Thank you.

          HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  No, Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  You cannot force the Minister to reply, he does not have the information, he must bring written answers for these questions.

          HON. MARKHAM:  Mr. Speaker, I agree with the Minister - I want clarity, he wants to answer or he cannot.  There is a difference.  Thank you. 

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Members, whether he answers or he does not answer, bring the questions to the Order Paper.

          HON. MARKHAM:  Mr. Speaker, sorry there is an issue here.  I am not being contentious and I hope the Minister does not take this personally.  There seems to be a dereliction of reading the rules because the Hon. Minister here has been given all the time to answer the question, which I agree with.  When I ask as a third generation white Zimbabwean, as a citizen of Zimbabwe if I could own land, the Deputy Speaker closed the House before the Minister answered and said time yakwana.  On the second occasion, at the end of Question Time when I asked a similar question about my wife’s citizenship, she was born in this country but would not be given a passport, she is a citizen and she could vote but you could not give her a passport, they did the same thing, they closed at a quarter past four o’clock p.m. without the Minister answering.  Why are you not reading the same green book for this side like you do for that side?

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Minister, may you confirm the timeframe for Hon. Markham’s questions?

          HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I will respond next week on Wednesday.  Thank you. 

REPAIR OF MALFUNCITONING TRAFFIC LIGHTS IN CITIES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY

  1. HON. TSUURA asked the Minister of Local Government and Public Works to inform the House the measures that have been put in place to repair malfunctioning traffic lights which are causing road carnage and traffic jams in cities throughout the country.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO):   Thank you Mr. Speaker.

  •           Repair of traffic lights in cities is under the purview of urban councils;
  •  Cities have been affected by power outages which render most traffic lights non-functional at critical times;
  •     Rampant vandalism is another challenge being faced by cities, hence malfunctioning traffic lights ;
  •     On maintenance of traffic lights, most cities have been affected by skills flight on the part of electricians;
  •     Furthermore, no significant capital injections have been made by cities due to limited revenue inflows;
  •     However, councils are being urged to adopt solar technologies as back up in cases of power outages;
  •     Councils have been utilizing part of their devolution funds to install new traffic lights and
  •     Local authorities are being encouraged to consult their rate payers to come up with levies for installation of traffic lights.

The Ministry acknowledges with gratitude the support from Ministry of Home Affairs whose police officers are controlling traffic at major intersections whenever there are power outages. Cities have been affected by power outages which render most traffic lights non-functional at critical times. Rampant vandalism is another challenge being faced by citizens malfunctioning traffic lights.

On maintenance of traffic lights, most cities have been affected by skills flight on the part of electricians. Furthermore, no significant capital injections have been made by cities due to limited revenue inflows.

          However, councils are being urged to adopt solar technologies as back up in cases of power outages. Councils have been utilising part of the devolution funds to install new traffic lights and local authorities are being encouraged to consult their rate payers to come up with levies for installation of traffic lights.  The Ministry acknowledges with gratitude the support from Ministry of Home Affairs whose police officers are controlling traffic at major intersections whenever there are power outages. I thank you.

          *HON. TSUURA: I want to thank the Hon. Minister for her response. I heard her saying that some of the tower lights are failing to operate well because of the thieves which are vandalising and stealing. He also encourages the local authorities to use solar panels at traffic lights. Which are the ways which are being implemented to protect the traffic lights since she mentioned that the traffic lights are being affected by thieves? Thank you.

          *HON. CHOMBO: Thank you Hon. Tsuura for the follow-up question. If you look at many traffic lights which are being installed these days, there are many things which have been installed to prevent the thieves and the Ministry of Energy is protecting these traffic lights. Most of the thieves are in need of copper and some of the modern day traffic lights are being manufactured not using copper because copper is the most raw material which was used for the production of the traffic lights, hence many thieves were prying on these traffic lights. Thank you.

          *HON. MADZIMURE: May the Minister give detailed explanation because traffic lights are there to help motorists?

Motorists pay money to ZINARA and can she explain why ZINARA

is failing to give local authorities money to maintain the lights and not to

think that Harare residents or town residents must maintain the traffic

lights whilst the traffic lights are beneficial to motorists. Why is

ZINARA not disbursing money to local authorities so that they can

service the traffic lights?

*HON. CHOMBO: I also want to thank Hon. Madzimure for giving that detailed question. What you have said is very pertinent and we are going to sit down and look into the issue and see how the councils are going to benefit from your contribution. Thank you.

FORMALISATIN OF VILLAGES

  1. HON. CHIDZIVA asked the Minister of Local Government and Public Works to inform the House when Government will formalise villages to put in place kraal heads as is the traditional practice and to do away with party afflicted chairpersons in resettled areas that were once farms.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the question raised. I wish to bring to the attention of the House that Section 29 of the Traditional Leaders Act (Chapter 29:17) provides for the emplacement of resettlement land under the authority of traditional leaders. My Ministry has been seized with the process of emplacement exercise for the past ten years, which is the legal basis for the appointing of the village heads. In some districts, the process has stalled due to boundary disputes and disagreements between and among traditional leaders.

          I want to appraise the Hon. Member that the term kraal heads is a colonial term which was repealed and replaced by the term village heads.

          I also want to bring to the attention of this House that the emplacement exercise is intricately linked to the resuscitation of the abolished chieftainships. Consideration of the claims for the resuscitation contributes to the delay in the conclusion of the emplacement exercise; I wish to bring to the attention of the House that my officials responsible for traditional leaders are under instruction to conduct extensive research on the traditional leaders who were removed from the resettlement areas to pave way for the establishment of the farms by the colonial regime so as to quicken the process. I thank you.

          *HON. CHIDZIVA: My supplementary question is; there are areas which have resettled people in the yester-years. There are still issues of chairpersons and there are no village heads - may you start with those areas and resolve the issues of the village heads first?

          HON. CHOMBO: Thank you Hon. Chidziva for raising a pertinent question. Right now we are looking for funds from the Ministry of Finance so that we can be able to have boundaries. We cannot have placement of resuscitations without the boundaries of places. First of all, we must have boundaries when we receive the funds. When we receive the funds, we will be able to do that so that we can prioritise those areas. Thank you.

          *HON. CHIKWINYA: My supplementary question is to ask the Minister whether she is not lying and that is my supplementary.

          HON. TOGAREPI: On a point of order. The Hon. Member should withdraw that statement. It is unparliamentary to say to a Minister she is lying.

          HON. CHIKWINYA: I am trying to locate the truth in the Hon. Minister’s response with what is happening on the ground. My supplementary question is:  what can the Hon. Minister present to the House to support her response so that we take it as factual?

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Then you have to retract the first one.

          HON. CHIKWINYA: I withdraw the first one and then present the following. Can the Minister present to Parliament the truth?

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You have not asked anything. There is no supplementary question, otherwise you sit down.

          HON. CHIKWINYA: What the Hon. Minister said and what is obtaining on the ground is different because we come from the communities. I am asking her to give us factual presentations which can relate to what is on the ground and therefore I am saying in simple - can she tell the truth.

          HON. CHOMBO: I thank you Hon. Chikwinya for that follow up question. I can present to Parliament the list of resuscitation chieftainships that we are planning and also the areas that need to be demarcated as far as boundaries are concerned and the request that we have made to the Ministry of Finance for funding for such exercises. I thank you.

WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

REPAIR OF SCHOOLS’ ROOFS IN MBERENGWA EAST CONSTITUENCY

  1. HON. RAIDZA asked the Minister of Local Government and Public Works to inform the House when the following schools’ roofs which were blown away will be repaired;
  2. Mapunya Primary School in Ward 8, Mberengwa East Constituency
  3. Ruuraugwi Primary School in Ward 8, Mberengwa East Constituency
  4. Mbirashava Primary School in Ward 3, Mberengwa East Constituency.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Mr. Speaker Sir, let me start by thanking the Hon. Member for asking the question.  However, he may need to redirect the question to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education who are responsible for primary and secondary schools.

VETTING AND REGISTRATION FOR WAR COLLABORATORS

  1. HON TSUURA asked the Minister of Defence and War Veterans to inform the House the measures in place to ensure that the vetting and registration exercise is done for War Collaborators who had their ages reduced in a bid to enable them to be eligible to attend schooling after the liberation struggle.

          THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS AFFAIRS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Allow me to define a War Collaborator as stipulated in Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [Chapter 17:12]. A War Collaborator is defined as any person who had at least attained the age of 16 years by 31 December 1979 and who in the period between 1975 until 29th February 1980 was consistently and persistently closely linked with the operations of the War Veterans through any one or more of the following actions

  1.     Carrying out reconnaissance activities and providing information for the benefit of the war veterans;
  2.     Delivering food, medication and clothing to the War Veterans;
  3.      Carrying war veterans’ equipment from one point to another;
  4.     Fighting as, though not having been trained as a War Veteran;
  5.      Tending or giving sanctuary to wounded War Veterans.

From the foregoing, a War Collaborator is a person who should have been at least 16 years old by 31 December 1979 and was consistently and persistently linked with the operations of the War Veterans.

          The issue of those who were 16 years or older but reduced their ages in order to attend school has been raised in several fora including in this august House. Circumstances leading to this situation are that during the peak of the liberation war, the Rhodesian Government insisted on adults obtaining registration certificates as a way of identifying them from liberation war fighters. Strict requirements were relaxed and individuals could get registration certificates without producing supporting documentation. The dates of birth indicated on the registration certificates were declared by the individuals. In some cases, assumed dates of birth were entered by the issuing officers on the basis of the approximate ages of the applicants.

After Independence, individuals were given the opportunity to rectify their documents through self registration if the dates of birth were not correct. Those without registration documents were also encouraged to obtain them and would be required to indicate their dates of birth. It is at this point that some individuals entered incorrect dates of birth in order to go to school. This was not Government policy at the time since most citizens including old people were actually encouraged to go to school.

Accordingly, our vetting teams during the recent exercise were guided by the official dates of birth as indicated on national identification documents. In terms of Section 9 of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [Chapter 17:12], any person aggrieved at the outcome of the vetting process must appeal to the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board. Given the large number of those that were not successful and their geographical dispersion, the board would be overwhelmed with applications for appeals if they were to be sent directly to its offices. Some applicants particularly those in remote parts of the country could also find it difficult to access the board’s offices. In order to simply the process, the board resolved that all applicants who were not successful for various reasons and wish to appeal, should approach the nearest district and provincial offices of the department of War Veterans Affairs where they will complete an appeal form. The form can be downloaded from the department’s website www.dvls.gov.zw and thereafter submitted to the nearest district or provincial offices they have until 31 August 2022 to do so.

PROVISION OF FOOD ASSISTANCE TO RESIDENCE OF CHINGWIZI

25 HON. MAKOPE asked the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to inform the House when the Ministry will provide food assistance to residence of Chingwizi, Mwenezi East Constituency who have been affected by drought.

          THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF MAVIMA): All the 3 460 households in Chingwizi are on drought relief. The Ministry has advanced 1200 metric tonnes of grain to Mwenezi District and this will benefit the households resettled in Chingwizi starting this month. Distribution has already stared in the district. In addition, the World Food Programme will also assist the food insecure households with grain and pulses starting October 2022.

ADHERANCE TO SAFETY STANDARDS IN MINES

26 HON. CHINYANGANYA asked the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to inform the House on measures being taken by the Ministry to ensure that safety standards are adhered to in mines as a strategy to minimise accidents and deaths.

THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): The mandate  for enforcement standards in mines falls under the purview of the Ministry of Mines. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare plays a complimentary role to the Ministry of Mines through inspectorate services of Labour Officers and Occupational Safety and Health inspectors. The Ministry has revamped its inspectorate services following disruptions occasioned by COVID-19. The Ministry has increased the presence of its inspectors at workplaces through joint inspections which seek to optimise resource usage by the Ministry and NSSA.

The joint inspections are geared mainly towards promotional and technical guidance as well as building capacity of mines and workforce towards increased compliance. Our focus has also been centred on informal mining activities where there are huge compliance deficits on occupational safety and health standards. We have piloted an exercise to train informal miners in Midlands on occupational health and safety issues and lessons leant will be used in cascading the initiative to other provinces where informal mining is prevalent.

In this regard, NSSA is working with the private sector to provide training to informal sector and small scale miners. This has happened in Mvuma, Filabusi, Mberengwa to mention but a few. NSSA has also used its training and promotions team to help small scale miners understand the hazards and risks of their activities. NSSA is also working closely with the Ministry of Mines who currently have the enforcement powers in mines under the current legislation. We however help them with accident and fatality investigations as NSSA is responsible for compensation issues.

The Government is promulgating the OSH Bill which should become law soon and this will ensure all workers including those in the informal sector are fully protected this will mean NSSA can enforce safety measures in all mines including small scale ones.

Questions with Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER in terms of Standing Order No. 68.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Order of the Day, Numbers 1 to 19 be stood over until Order Number 20 on today’s Order Paper has been disposed of

          HON. MUTAMBISI: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FINANCE BILL: BUDGET DEBATE

          Twentieth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion that leave be granted to bring in a Finance Bill.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. PROF. MASHAKADA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. If you can indulge me to remove my mask just for purposes of this debate, I would be very grateful so that I am audible.

          When the Minister of Finance presented his supplementary budget and macroeconomic review statement, we were all looking for solutions to the economic ills that are bedeviling this economy. We were looking for solutions on how to protect the purchasing power parity of civil servants’ salaries, we were looking for solutions on the state of joblessness, we were looking for solutions at the low capacity utilisation of industry, as you know industry is operating at below 35%. We were also looking for solutions on the volatility of the exchange rate and above all we were looking for solutions on the inflationary spiral that is engulfing this country. We were looking for solutions on how to end poverty in the society. Alas, after the presentation of his statement, there was a clear policy paralysis to these issues that I have alluded to.

          I went through the Budget and I did not see any stimulus measures to resuscitate the economy which is in a serious state of depression. That is my first observation. My second observation is that no matter who is in charge of the Ministry of Finance, the perennial problem that this economy is struggling with is the issue of lack of fiscal space. That is the elephant in the living room. All budgets and supplementary budgets are being caused by lack of fiscal space and we have not tackled this elephant in the room in a manner which enables us to grow the economy and  increase domestic resource utilisation.  So year in; year out, we will find ourselves imbedded in supplementary budgets because we are not dealing with the issue of the fiscal space.  What is wrong with the fiscal space?  The fiscal space is being caused because we are chasing what economists call an enclave economy.  The enclave economy is a small economy which is growing vertically and not horizontally.  Therefore, it is leaving a lot of people trapped in poverty.  The enclave economy is only able to collect 20% of revenue from the GDP, yet the taxable GDP in this country is about $25 billion but what is the size of our budget?  That is the nature of the enclave economy and this enclave economy is affected by mismanagement, macro-economic instability, corruption and illicit financial outflows.

          So, we are looking at a small cake.  We cannot grow this economy.  We are just concentrating on a small piece of the cake which cannot accommodate the whole country; the whole economy.  The economy that is being run as of today is exclusive.  It is not inclusive.  We have got a huge chunk of the economy in the informal sector and a huge chunk of the economy in the communal areas.  They are part of the economy but in terms of enclavity, they are not being taxed or at least taxed adequately.

          The presumption tax is not effective.  As a result, the taxable revenues and other sources of revenues which the Minister is collecting is not enough to cater for all ministries.  If I ask the Minister on the rate of disbursement, you will realise that may be he has just disbursed a quarter to each Ministry of what we budget them to have.  That is a perennial problem but we pass these budgets and supplementary budgets but the rate of disbursement is very poor.  Never mind the talk of a surplus budget.  There is no such thing as surplus budget.  It is an accounting concept; it is a book concept.  On the ground, the hospitals have no medicines; the nurses are not being paid, we have got arrears in debt and so on.  The elephant in the living room is the fiscal deficit; the fiscal conundrum that the Minister is failing to tackle year in, year out. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I now go to inflation which now stands at 191%.  Inflation is a dragon which the Minister must slay because it has wiped the income of those who are pensioners.  It has wiped the income of those at the lower end of the labour market.  Inflation is a tax so to speak and we are not able to rein this inflation.  If you look at the cost of food, fuel and medicines, they are being driven by inflation, which in turn is being driven by the parallel market.  That is a problem that needs to be tackled.  Just suppose that with the exchange rate volatility; right now we have got four types of exchange rates.  We have got the auction system, the inter-market, retail exchange rate and so on.  We need one unified exchange rate which responds to market fundamentals.

          If you look at the auction system, the forex that is put on the forex market is drip-fed.  Therefore, there is a huge backlog by importers because they are drip-feeding the forex, yet we are earning close to above US$6 in export.  We are earning about US$1.5 billion in remittances and we are earning about US$600 million from embassies and NGOs.  So the capital account is very healthy.  Ordinarily we would have enough foreign currency, of course not of imports.  We would have enough foreign currency to populate the Nostro account so as to deal with the deficiencies on the auction system but we are not.  Therefore, the auction system has collapsed.

          Therefore, we need to rethink our exchange rate regime.  We need to rethink our monetary policy and develop an exchange rate which is competitive, which can bridge the gap between the official rate and the parallel market rate.  As you know, this gap has been very elusive to tackle and as a result, the black or parallel market is driving prices in the economy. 

The other thing that the Minister needs to tackle is the question of confidence.  This economy is being influenced by speculative tendencies.  That is why when you pay road contractors in local currency, instead of using that money to invest they go on the black market because they do not have confidence.  They are speculating but that is the currency of the day. So the issue of confidence has to be tackled so that market watchers and players believe what Government says and they trust Government policies and you avoid policy inconsistencies.  That is very key to establishing stability and no speculation.

          Now, coming to the issue of gold coins, Hon. Minister, first of all it is a misnomer to call them gold coins because they are not pure gold.  They are bi-metalic coins because gold on its own, you cannot use it as a coin.  So they have to mint it with silver and other stuff to make it strong.  However, there is no law.  I am not a lawyer but lawyers will tell you that you needed a law or legal framework before introducing gold coins.  You cannot just introduce them without a legal framework.  How about if the Government wakes up - typical of its inconsistencies and say no one can own gold after people have invested in those gold coins?  What will happen?   So we need a legal framework to secure the introduction of the bi-metalic coins. I hope the Minister can work on that so that you do not short-circuit the system.

          I come to the issue of the Ukraine and Russian war.  It is easy to blame this war but if you look at the vast tracks of land that we are farming and the inputs that we have given to farmers, do we have an excuse to blame Ukraine and Russian war for any deficiency?    Surely, there are variables that we can control without always scapegoating.  I believe that the Ukraine and Russian war, yes it is a factor on global markets.  It disrupts supply value chains but at least its impact cannot be instantaneous.  Its impact cannot be that automatic.  As an economist, you know that there is a lead time that is required for policies or macro-economic shocks to take effect.  So we cannot talk of the Ukraine and Russian war impact as instantaneous as it were.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, with due respect, this economy requires financial engineering because of the enclavity that I have talked about.  The macro-economic framework is not healthy.  GDP growth has been estimated to decline to 4.6% from an original estimate of 5.5%.  Inflation has hit the 191% mark as opposed to 58% by end of the year.  The foreign debt or the public debt as a whole now stands at US$13 billion.  Money supply growth is now standing at 245% and we know that inflation is a monetary phenomenon in this economy.  It has become a monetary phenomenon that responds to the growth in M3.  It is a vicious cycle.  Even if we stabilise the macro-economic framework, there is no transmission mechanism to benefit the vulnerable, the poor people.  You can even have growth, which is jobless.  You can have growth when poor people are still suffering.  There is no automatic transmission mechanism to make sure that everyone benefits from the economy. 

As MPs, we are all poor.  We are not poor because of our own volition.  We have been impoverished by the economy.  The civil servants are poor, not out of their volition but because they have been impoverished by the economy.  If the economic system cannot provide for the welfare of its citizens, the needs of the private sector, the needs of investors, farmers, women and youths, who is the economy catering for?  If you go in the streets, everyone is complaining.  Business, workers and pensioners are complaining.  Maybe Ministers only are not complaining.  Something has to be done to make sure that the economy delivers.  We do not just talk matrix which do not translate to the welfare of the citizens.  Matrix can mean nothing if they do not translate to the welfare of the citizens. 

Most importantly Hon. Speaker, it is clear that our local currency has been debauched by inflationary pressures and it is now valueless.  It has been debased.  The market has chosen to dollarise.  Once you charge fuel in US dollars, it has got boomerang effect on the goods market, on the services market and all other markets.  You pay a civil servant in RTGS and expect that civil servant to go to the fuel station to buy fuel in forex.  How does that happen?  How do civil servants afford to transact in foreign currency?  The market has dollarised. 

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, you are left with five minutes. 

HON. PROF. MASHAKADA:  Thank you.  This market has dollarised.  Hon. Biti, Hon. Mliswa has been on record and everybody has been giving free advice that the market has dollarised and therefore it is important to follow the market.  Nobody uses the bond note.  If we search our pockets here, including yours Hon. Minister, we will hardly find you with bond notes in your pockets.  It is the greenback because it is a store of value and is being sought by everybody.  Let us not pretend.  That is what is killing this economy.  We are grandstanding and not responding to what the market is dictating.  What the product market is responding to and what the factor markets are responding to is the question of dollarisation. 

I come to the question of the IMF money that was given to this country.  I think for the umpteenth time; this House has demanded to see how the SDRs have been utilised.  The Minister needs to acquit himself on how the SDRs have been utilised.  For example, he told us that part of the SDRs are going to reinforce reserves at the Reserve Bank.  My question is, have we achieved the required three months import cover at the Reserve Bank given those SDRs?  Probably not.  He said part of the money went to COVID.  Which areas of COVID and how much went to COVID?  How much went to agriculture?  These are issues of transparency that he has to deal with in terms of the Public Finance Management Act.  We are the representatives of the people and we need to know where the SDRs are and how they were utilised.  In terms of the Constitution, no amount should be expended without the approval of this House.  Every cent must be accounted for by this House. 

Most importantly Hon. Minister, we need pro-poor policies.  Over the years, we are seeing a shift towards right wing policies, which benefit the rich who are a propertied class and those who have access to US dollars.  It is a right wing economy and a neo-liberal economy.  We need pro-poor policies that are sensitive to the plight of the ordinary person in the street.  My heart grieves for those on fixed income like pensioners.  They lost during the Gono period, they lost value during the 1:1 exchange rate period and they continue to lose value over our watch.  It is important that as Minister, you leave a legacy, a legacy of pro-poor policies, shared growth, macro-economic stability and a legacy to deal with the structural issues that are affecting the economy. 

The most important structural issue is in the mining sector.  We are shipping out platinum in its raw form.  When it is processed in South Africa, it produced ten or more minerals.  So, we are exporting the jobs.  Why are we not dealing with such a structural issue?  If you look at the chrome industry, why are we not value adding or beneficiating?  I can name all other minerals that we are shipping out.  That is a structural issue and that is why we emphasise on economic transformation and not economic stabilisation.  Stabilisation does not lead you anywhere. As we have seen now, we have been trying to stabilise the economy but the fundamentals are still weak. Let us focus on structural transformation so that this economy benefits from its own resources.  We are a rich economy which needs to leverage on what we produce. 

HON. PHULU:  Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Hon. Member’s time be extended by five minutes. 

HON. TEKESHE:  I second.

HON. PROF. MASHAKADA: Thank you.  Because my time is now limited, perhaps I should go to what I think are the recommendations and the way forward. Mr. Speaker Sir, with the exchange rate which has been volatile, we have tried everything.  We have tried a managed exchange rate regime, a fixed exchange rate regime of 1:1, we have tried the auction system, the interbank and it has not worked.  Perhaps this is time to try and float the exchange rate so that it is freely floating so that the market can distribute that resource in an efficient manner.  You know as an economist, there is X inefficiency, there is allocative inefficiency when you do it manually.  I think we have tried the fixed exchange rate regime; we have tried the managed exchange rate regime. Let us try now the free float so that these resources can flow where they have got economic value, where the opportunity cost is zero.  So, let us try that. 

On inflation, we can think around with superfluous issues but production is key.  If the economy is not producing, if we do not have productivity, if we do not ratchet up production, it is very difficult to tame inflation because we will continue to be a supermarket of South Africa and will be hit by imported inflation.  So let us try to ratchet up domestic production and capacity utilisation so that it can edge to 45, 55, 65% and that will kill two birds with one stone.  It will deal with inflation and our currency in terms of anchoring it.  So without production, it will just be chasing the parallel market, going to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe but let us produce.

          The Afrexim funds, this economy has benefited from Afrexim funds but have we done an evaluation of the impact from the Afrexim credit facilities on the private sector?  These are the things that we need empirical evidence on.  I have already spoken about dollarisation for your consideration but most importantly, what this economy lacks is a robust debate on what the problem is.  We are a rich country, and we are educated people.  What is the problem?  Why are we not performing well despite all these resources that we have, something is wrong.  I think what is wrong is that we are not galvanising the human resources of this country and developing important policy matrices that are equitable, productive and efficient. 

In this regard, I am proposing the establishment of a National Economic Council Mr. Speaker.  The National Economic Council will be a broad based council of economic experts, that is, industrialists, labour, business, and academia that will be like a think tank to advise Government or the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on suitable macro-economic policies and macro-economic policy mixes to implement.  So if we have this National Economic Council, we will be able to harvest a wider range of economic thought and economic ideas.  They did it in the United States of America, you know that and in Kenya.  They had a very successful National Economic Council, it will be a robust forum or body, a think tank to develop and come up even with good econometric models on various sectors of the economy – general equilibrium equations and models to make sure that the economy is balanced.  Malaysia did that, all the sub-eastern Asian countries…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO):  Hon. Member, can you wind up your contribution?

HON. PROF. MASHAKADA:  All the sub-eastern Asian countries had a National Economic Council to drive and advise Government on suitable macro-economic policies, not theoretical neo-classical policies that had been discredited all over the world. 

We must not waste this opportunity to right the wrongs and put the economy back on a growth and sustainable path and make sure that we achieve all the 17 SDGs we are obliged to meet under the United Nations.  Thank you so much for your time Hon. Speaker.

HON. MATEWU:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank the previous Hon. Member who has just explained a lot.  I am going to be very brief and only have two points. 

I hasten to say Mr. Speaker Sir, when the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development first came to this House in 2018 wearing his pin stripped suit, I remember, he was looking like those bankers coming out of canary wharf.  He came with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), and his main thrust was that this would be a cocktail of policies that would end or drastically reduce our foreign debt.  I remember at that time it was $7.3 billion.  We are now in 2022, four years later, the TSP had so many austerity measures which meant that a lot of things were cut.  However, we are now in 2022, it has gone and the public debt stands at $13.2 billion.  So mathematically, quantitatively, the TSP was a dramatic failure, a catastrophy, a calamity by the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development. 

Turning to 2022 now, I want to turn now to expenditure.  Why is it so difficult for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to accurately foresee or project financial projections?  Why do we have to come here now and again for this Supplementary Budget which would be almost similar to the actual budget?  It is preposterous because one expects that there would be a few expenditures?  Why is it so difficult for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to foresee, given the last four years, how inflation has been going up?  Why is it so difficult for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to project inflation correctly?

We realise that there was a financing gap; this is my last point, of USD76.5 billion in the budget.  The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development said that some of this came through domestic borrowing and Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).  We were awarded Special Drawing Rights of around nine hundred million, if I am not mistaken, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  According to figures from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, we have spent around USD228 million. Why is it so difficult to utilise the other USD600 million still with the IMF?  I want the Hon. Minister to be very specific on this one.  Are we still able to withdraw from those SDRs?  Are there particular problems in terms of us accounting for the USD228 million that we supposedly spent?  I thank you.

+HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  I would like to add my voice to this Mid-Term Budget that has been presented by our Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.  I have a few issues that I would like to highlight.  I feel it is important to have this Mid-Term  Budget because most of the programmes were on halt because of lack of funding.  Therefore, it was important to have Mid-Term Budget.  We thank the Minister of Finance and Economic Development for coming up with this budget which is so essential, if we look at the infrastructure development that has been on a standstill, I feel the budget came at the right time.  I would also want to find out if the Minister took into cognisance as he came up with this budget that we have pensioners and war veterans who are also pensioners who need cushioning because their money has been devalued.  I am saying this because I met with pensioners and most of them cannot afford to buy anything using what they are getting.

          The other issue that I was looking at in our budget is that it needs to assist us in areas where there was less funding so that we can start progress but there is a great concern that we should look into which is attributing to the loss of value of our currency.  This is the black market or parallel market which is propelled by buying fuel in USD.  I do not know if the Minister considered this that as long people are going to exchange money on the black market in order to buy fuel, this will assist those who are in the black market to continue inflating figures on our currency, leading to inflation.

          I also realised that we have a lot of money disbursed for programmes that we have.  Our Minister is for infrastructure and development, I therefore encourage the Minister to scrutinise the companies that are doing these projects on behalf of the Government because they hike their prices in order to devalue our currency resulting to keeping our programmes at halt. It is my wish that during monitoring and evaluation, such tendencies by companies are scrutinized.

          In conclusion, if we have projects that are underway nationwide, we should take into consideration that the funds for construction of these projects is disbursed on time because the moment we delay to disburse these funds it means these projects will be incomplete. If we are to do this, we will develop our areas.  I thank you.

          +HON. L. SIBANDA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker for affording me this opportunity so that I can contribute to the Minister’s Mid-Term budget.  I will contribute on two issues which the Minister will take into consideration.

          Firstly, for our economy to grow, the Minister should consider the small scale miners who are currently not given financial support for them to do proper mining and take the gold to Fidelity. Is the Minister aware that if you take gold to Fidelity then Fidelity comes up with a single price of which most miners take their gold outside Fidelity because with outside market they will be given higher prices pegged in USD?  Fidelity pays half USD and half ZWL.  Those who buy gold outside Fidelity do not take their gold to the Government but instead they smuggle it outside, which is the reason why our economy is not growing.

          Still on mining, has the Minister realised that the small scale miners are now in short of mining places because of the foreigners, for example the Chinese nationals.  The Chinese have taken a lot of mining area but they are not declaring their dividends to the Government.

  I implore the Minister to increase funding to the Ministry of Transport so that it can finalise the road infrastructure underway to reduce road accidents.  Failure to allocate enough funds to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development will be a disaster as we are now approaching the rainy season.  Someone will get ill in Tsholotsho but will fail to reach United Bulawayo Hospitals because of poor road infrastructure.

I also request the Hon. Minister to increase fund allocation in education, especially for schools in the rural areas like Matabeleland so that they can get ICT equipment.  Our children will at least learn ICT and sciences.

Lastly, I request the Hon. Minister to also prioritise hospitals because right now we are contributing to PSMS but there is no medicine in hospitals.  You should take this seriously because as an Hon. Member, I am contributing through PSMS but when I fall sick I fail to access medication.  The Minister is advantaged in the sense that if he is unwell he can fly out of the country to seek medication instead of going to Mpilo Hospital. The Minister should put more funds to the Ministry of Health and Child Care. I thank you.

  HON. BUSHU: Mr. Speaker, the first thing is that I would like to thank the Minister for coming up with a Supplementary Budget instead of coming up with a Condonation Bill after having spent the money. However, it is critical that we look at what he has presented and say to ourselves - does this make sense and is it okay for all of us? What we have noted is that out of $506 billion collected, expenditure at the time of coming with this presentation was at $539 billion. Obviously what that means is that the monies collected were exceeded by the monies expended.

  What we have also noticed is that there is no area of expenditure that was funded 100%. Now, having said that, we are also looking at a situation where we are going to collect about $1,7 trillion against an expenditure of $1,9 trillion projected. This is an indication of a very serious inflationary environment and this is driven mainly I think by the exchange rate. There has been a lot of debate around how we can arrest the decline of the Z$ value and I do not want to go into that because it will belabour the point.

What I am imploring this House through you Mr. Speaker is to appreciate the fact that we need to arrest inflation. We need to arrest the value of the Z$. If anything, we need to allow some kind of stability or exchange rate to a level that can be predicted over a decent period of time. What I am imploring is that this will then allow planning for anyone and particularly business. No business can plan with an exchange rate that moves any time, is unpredictable and with value that cannot be held over a decent period of time. I must say that the Minister has had a very difficult time and we were all clamouring for funds to be disbursed from the Ministry of Finance but what we are finding out is that the Minister has not been able to collect enough to give MDAs adequate funds to fund their activities.

In that regard, I looked at the Minister’s revenue growth strategy. There are many strategies there but what I would like to say is the most important activity for the Minister is getting budgetary support from other agencies outside our own economy. Let us support the Minister in the following areas;

  • I think royalty on platinum and lithium products. That is important outside us calling for refinery to be done here. As an immediate revenue source, we need to look at that and support the Minister in that regard.
  • Management of Special Economic Zones, I found that interesting and I think it is a very good source of revenue for the Minister to look at. Why, because businesses invariably if they find an opportunity like this, they will go for it and if you do not manage it, they will take advantage of it. Businesses are in what they are doing to make money, so if they can avoid or take advantage of certain provisions in Statutory Instruments or the law, they will do it. So, Special Economic Zones have to be managed.
  • Also the management of illicit cigarette trade; this is also an important area and an area where excise duty can actually be collected in a very big manner. I would like to implore the Minister to look at this and also manage this area and ensure that the State does not lose revenue because of illicit cigarette trade.
  • The management of the IMTT; I think that the provisions suggested by the Minister are good and they will assist in increasing revenue collections in a big way.

Now, the issue of a budget is basically about revenue and expenditure. On the expenditure side, I would not like to go into detail but the critical issue has been generally people’s incomes have been eroded and the Minister provided 53% of what he has requested for towards salaries. If this could be given attention so that we do not have sulking civil service. Even in his statement, the Minister said we would like to look after our civil servants and I am saying please, now that we have provided 53% of the $900 owed billion that you are requesting for, if the civil servants could be looked after. It is the teachers, nurses, soldiers, police force and at the moment, that class of  people have got their salaries and wages adjusted, you will find a lot of responses from many macro-economic elements that will be positive for economic growth. 

The other thing is that I would like to implore communication that is close, sincere and serious with business because business produces what we eat and what we put on.  Invariably, we cannot walk away from business.  So I am saying if the revenue growth suggestions by the Minister are also supported by business and business does not run away and is supportive of this programme, I think the Minister will be successful in coming up with a big purse that is full of money and then the Minister can spend as much as he likes.  I would also call upon the Minister to implement what he has suggested.  I think implementation is key.  There are a lot of good ideas that are in here.  I know a lot has also been criticized but the key thing is that we all agree that maybe 60% of what has been presented by the Minister is good for us.  What we would like to see is implementation of the same and let us see what comes out by the end of the year.  I think that this combined with the Minister’s suggestion in terms of the road map towards the 2023 budget will make a difference to this economy and to our happiness.  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for allowing me to talk.

HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for allowing me to add my voice to the debate following the presentation of the supplementary budget. Firstly, I would want to encourage the Minister of Finance after he highlighted that in agriculture, key crops such as cotton are going to drive the growth of agriculture.  My plea to the Minister and Cabinet is to consider GMO cotton which is now being grown world over.  I know there have been fears in the past of GMOs but we have the Bio-Technology Authority, a Government department which is tasked with research and development of GMO products.  I do not think cotton would be a danger to the safety of the health of Zimbabweans but it is something that is going to help our cotton farmers as Government has been failing to cushion cotton farmers in Zimbabwe.  The adoption of GMO cotton is going to boost productivity of cotton and also will go a long way in providing opportunities for cotton farmers, and it is something that is going to relieve Government of pressure from cotton farmers.  I say so because cotton farmers have been complaining and Government has been taking too long to adopt the GMO cotton unless there are reasons why it cannot be adopted. 

Our cotton farmers will find it difficult to compete with those who are using GMO cotton.  I will give you an example - the hybrid cotton which is now being grown in Gokwe can have a yield of 160 balls which is something that is less than what they can actually achieve through the GMO cotton.  So, it is something that is really important and I urge the Minister to continue and also consider putting more resources to biotechnology authority.  The Minister can also highlight maybe five key products in the agricultural sector which will be the flagship of the economic turnaround in Zimbabwe and provide adequate inputs calling also for private players.  I will give another example of sunflower seed.  We are importing cooking oil and there is an opportunity to say even in those areas where we have cotton farmers, sunflowers can be grown without difficulties.  If the Minister of Finance supports those key agricultural crops, we are going to cut the importation bill and this is something that is going to deal with the unemployment rate than to continue importing cooking oil yet it is something that we can actually grow here in Zimbabwe.  The same also goes for fruits.  We used to grow apples and bananas in Nyanga but those farmers are not being supported.  So, there is need to consider more support to the agricultural sector.  It has to be serious support and this is where we can also see a big turnaround. 

We are proud of saying China is our all weather friend, why then are they not engaging China through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see what kind of food products we can export to China taking advantage of their more than one billion people.  I will give an example, if you are going to export road runners to China, we need technology and that partnership should be clear on the strategy that we would want to have and we show them the support that is tangible and can be understood by any layman in Buhera, Mt. Darwin or Chivi.  They can adopt practical solutions which I think the Minister of Finance can consider. 

The other thing that I also urge the Minister of Finance to consider putting more resources towards is voter education, voter mobilisation and voter registration.  As you know for the past 12 or so months, about 150000 new voters registered and we think this number is way below expectations.  We thought maybe around two million people should have been registered.  There are however challenges being faced.  I want to say that the blitz on voter registration came before the issuance of I.Ds and this calls for the reconsideration of the allocation given to ZEC by the Minister of Finance.  When they implemented the first and second blitz, it was done before the blitz on issuance of I.Ds.  It was an abnormality because they should have started with the issuance of birth certificates because those are the prerequisites for voter registration.  So, we disadvantaged millions of Zimbabweans and we know that last year there were issues with the registry department so it is important to really consider the amount allocated to ZEC.  We are also calling upon the Minister of Finance and ZEC to bring another blitz before December such that Zimbabweans who want to take I.Ds will be able to do so and register to vote.  It will not be easy for those without I.Ds to register as voters and I do not think as we are going for 2023 elections, it would be a good thing to go with over one million people being disadvantaged.  They are not registering, not because they do not want to register but they do not have IDs.  We were told in this House Mr. Speaker Sir that conditions for registration were relaxed but it did not happen as it was proclaimed in this House.  So it is my call that maybe more resources should be given to ZEC.

If you go to Makombe today, you will see long queues and probably they do not have machines.  I heard they are just using one machine and we cannot continue like this. They need to be given more resources to buy more machines so that those who are registering are able to register and they will be able to exercise their right and their duty as citizens of Zimbabwe to choose the leaders they want in 2023 elections.

The other issue that I also want to mention is that as we are also moving towards the examination of the primary and secondary students in Zimbabwe, we also have secondary schools whose laboratories need support.  I will give an example of the only public secondary school in my constituency.  Year in year out they always cry that they do not have the important tools for their science laboratories and with the focus on Education 5.0, it remains a pipe dream if the Government is not really supporting those schools with adequate resources so that our students will not be disadvantaged.  So it is more important Mr. Speaker Sir, for the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to really consider offering more resources to primary and secondary schools.

Lastly Mr. Speaker Sir, I would want to thank the Hon. Minister for increasing the CDF by $9 million.  Unfortunately, we also think it is inadequate.  If there was room to increase it a bit, it was going to lessen the burden on the MPs because the issues we need to cover in our constituencies are too many.  They are too many Mr. Speaker Sir because when you look at the sporting facilities, when you look at roads, street lighting, in fact almost everything that is supposed to be done by the Government and local authorities, there is nothing that is moving in our constituencies.  So if we are going to have more allocation on CDF funds we would be able to go beyond drilling boreholes and also putting street lights using smart methods like solar lights or providing more support to sporting facilities. 

Sporting facilities, I reiterate Mr. Speaker Sir that they are really important because they help us to deal with the issues of drug abuse and sports are actually a form of employment.  We have sportsmen who are outside the country who are making a living and also who are giving back to their communities because of sports.  It is a form of employment, it is not leisure, but the challenge is that we do not have enough sporting facilities.  The sporting facilities that we have, I will give you an example of my constituency.  We used to host division two games in Warren Park but now the sporting facilities are dilapidated and it is even beyond the adequacy of CDF funds.  They are not enough.  We used to have those nice facilities but they are no longer there.  So if the Minister of Finance and Economic Development can really consider giving more allocation to our sporting facilities, it will actually go a long way.  We are losing precious lives when our children are going to some rivers which are polluted and they are swimming there.  Some are drowning.  We found that maybe the Government is still following that separate development that was being applied during the colonial period where those coming from high density areas are not considered as at the same level with those coming from low density areas, which is a tragedy.

So there is need to see how sporting facilities can also help in a long way to reduce drug abuse, to create employment opportunities for our youth and if that is done I think our country will be somewhere in terms of also producing sportsmen who will compete at the world stage.  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank the Hon. Members for a very robust debate and contributions that are most welcome.  Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to express my appreciation to the Portfolio Committee on Budget Finance and Economic Development for constructive comments and suggestions on the Mid-Term Budget and Economic Review and Supplementary Budget Statement.  I also want to commend Hon. Members who made their contributions on the same during the Parliamentary session yesterday and today.  The Mid-Term Budget and Economic Review and Supplementary Budget seem to realign public finances in order to ensure that the objectives of the 2022 National Budget are met.  However, some of the issues raised by Hon. Members and recommendations thereof will be considered going forward, particularly during the 2023 budget formulation process.  As you know Hon. Speaker Sir, in another three months we will have the debate around the 2023 budget, so some of these we need further consultations.

Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me then to deal with some broader issues raised by Hon. Members.  Zimbabwe, like any other country in the world faces high uncertainty in terms of the micro-economic environment chatacterised by the COVID pandemic, climate change impacts and global tensions which have resulted in global supply shocks, rising inflation and tightening financial conditions.  As a result, the ever changing global and domestic environment, assumptions and projections underlying the budget have had to be revised in line with the new global and local developments.  As Hon. Members would recall, global financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank have had to revise downwards there assumptions and projections more than three times in six months this year alone to take into account the elevated global economic uncertainties and local uncertainties.

Economic assumptions therefore are dynamic reflecting changes in the environment. We still believe that the way we undertake our macro-economic projections are still robust and are based on international best practice.  Furthermore, in an effort to improve our projects to 2022 Budget, I presented in this august House on the 25th November, 2021, a section of fiscal risks where we identify risks to the projections and we quantify their impact and we proffered mitigation measures to those risks.   There is a whole section on fiscal risks and projections. 

          Some of the risks which we noted have materialised, unfortunately others such as global tensions, spill-over domestic inflation and domestic economy could not be predicted. With regards to the growths or projection, the major drives of the 2021 growth rate were agriculture which grew by about 33% and the sectors projected declined by minus 5% in 2022 contributing to the downward revision of growth from 5.5% to 4.6%.  The projection is consistent particularly as viewed from the contribution and the impact of productive sectors including agriculture and GDP.  The share of agriculture to overall GDP averages 10.3% with the other sectors such as distribution and retail services at 17.4%, mining at 9.2% and manufacturing at 14%.  The performances of these sectors including other small sectors when combined outweigh that of agriculture.  So the minus 5% dropping agriculture is outweighed by the positive growth in all the other remaining sectors resulting in a positive growth of 4.6% down from 5.5% and 4.6% is very good growth indeed given where the rest of the global economy and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa is in terms of projections for 2022. 

          Mr. Speaker, I have got all the repeat of what is in the Supplementary Budget Statement by sector but I am happy to share these numbers should anyone want them.  I have the whole table; I should have flashed it on to the screen once again to show where the 4.6% comes from.  I noted observations from Members that some ministries had over performed compared to others in respect to the utilisation.  In general, disbursements to respective Votes reflect revenue inflows, readiness to undertake programmes and national priorities.  By its very nature, there will be different vote utilisation, run rates, they cannot be the same, they will be different for those reasons.  It should be noted that the level of utilisation during the first half of the year also reflects procurement levels and activities being undertaken by the line ministries and perhaps failure by even some suppliers to deliver on time.  All those things have an impact on utilisation.  

          Let me turn to the issue of public debt which was raised by a number of Hon. Members.  The validated debt and reconciled public external debt stock stood at US$15.2 billion as at June, 2022.  There were insinuations that the debt could be as high as US$30 billion, that is incorrect.  The correct figure is US$13.2 billion US dollars for external debt.  This is as a result of a regular validation and reconciliation of the public guaranteed debt undertaken by our Public Debt Management Office and its creditors.  Twice a year, I am mandated by this Parliament to come before it and present a report on the state of indebtedness and I have done so diligently.  This debt stock includes called up guarantees while other outstanding guarantees are normally reported in the statement of public debt report to Parliament on Public Debt as memorandum items as these are not called up guarantees but contingent liabilities.  

          Let me turn to some of the issues raised by the Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development.  Allow me to respond to specific issues raised by the Portfolio Committee Report.  The Committee made several recommendations and suggestions meant to improve budget performance.  The first one is on mining royalties, I would like to thank and acknowledge the commendation from the Committee on the move to increase royalty from platinum and lithium, from two and half percent to five percent in line with the regional average.  This will increase the contribution of the sector to the fiscus.  This comment was not just made by Hon. Dr. Nyashanu but other Members of Parliament made a similar comment and basically commending Government.

          On the ZIMRA retention, the Committee recommended that the ZIMRA Act as an interim port authority with responsible Ministry required to set a permanent port authority by September 2023, this is what I recommended.  The Committee further recommended that ZIMRA be allowed to retain 3% of the net revenue collected in order to meet their modernisation drive.  This is a proposal that we will mule over.  There are other proposals including from ZIMRA itself regarding certain foreign currency retentions in order for them to do their job well in addition to this port authority portfolio that we are seeking that it be extended to them.  So we will see how best to support ZIMRA for the hard work that it does. 

          On the intermediated money transfer, the proposal to review upwards minimum tradable amount of the IMPP is noted.  It has already been highlighted in my Mid-Term Review Statement.  Treasury will take advantage rather of the Finance Bill to be presented before this august House to explain the revisions that have been made to the IMPP tax-free threshold which takes into account economic developments. Already we have noted such proposals which I spoke about and we will debate this as we go forward when I present the Finance Bill. 

          On the inter-Governmental fiscal transfers, on the concerns raised by Hon. Members with regards to allocations and disbursements under the inter-governmental fiscal allocation or devolution funds in short – as I alluded to in my Mid-Term Budget Economic Review Statement, it is critical that respective institutions expedite developments of  regular transformation work and clearly defined structures  as well as capitalization of personnel responsible for management of the funds and implementation of projects in order to ensure effective and efficient utilisation of these resources. 

          Treasury will prioritise disbursements during the second half of the year, the impact of the projects is having on local communities.  So, far these projects have made enormous impact on the local communities including the disbursements of CDF.  There are some star performers in terms of districts, local authorities in utilisation of both devolution and CDF funds. 

I now turn to the issue of withholding tax on cross border traders.  I note the Committee’s concern on the proposal to hike withholding tax from 10% to 30% of the value of imported commercial route. Mr. Speaker Sir, why are we proposing this 30% withholding tax - all we are trying to do is to make sure that there is tax compliance; this is not revenue raising nature.  It is to do with compliance, enforcement measure, that is all.  Anyone who complies with it does not have to pay a 30% withholding tax.  It is as simple as that.  This is targeting commercial consignments into the country. 

          I wish to advise the Hon. Members that the 30% withholding tax is only payable by importers of commercial consignments above USD1 000, which are deemed business persons.  That is the threshold for those that do not possess valid tax clearance certificates which confirm their status as a tax compliant business operator. The measure was instituted to improve tax compliance which has declined significantly over the years due, in part, to high levels of informalisation. Furthermore, the measure to improve tax compliance is necessary to support mobilisation of domestic revenues which have become a key source of revenue to fund our domestic aspirations in the absence of sustainable external sources of funding.

          On the matter of SDR usage, I note that I only have about seven minutes or so. So far we have spent USD311.00 equivalent of these SDRs. I must quickly direct Hon. Members of this august House to table 71 of the original 2022 National Budget Statement. It has a full report on how we have used SDRs so far and how we intend to use SDRs in future and this is table 23 on page 71.   I am very happy to come back to this august House to explain exactly how we have used these SDRs. We have only withdrawn on these funds in 2021 and so far in 2022, we have not made a draw down because we felt that it was not yet necessary.

          However, in the second half of this year which is about now, we will make a draw down. Other issues raised by Hon. Members regarding civil servants’ salaries – 53% of the budget is going to be spent on civil servants’ salaries. So we have responded to that and there is a misnomer or rather a misleading contribution from some of the Hon. Members who ignore the USD175.00 that we are paying to civil servants and only focus on the ZW$ question.

          If you include the USD175.00 per month, the average earnings for civil servants come to USD297.00 at the current exchange rate which is in line with the Poverty Datum Line of July which is at USD285.00. So it is perfectly in line with the Poverty Datum Line for July, 2022. Hon. Members have raised concerns on Government living within its means and payments being made to contractors’ fuel exchange rate instability and inflation. Government is living within its means.

          As I speak, we have raised more revenue than predicted and part of coming to this august House is to seek permission to be able to use that revenue to meet the demands of Government and to fund projects. So we are living within our means and I can assure you that the budget deficit once again will be within the target of 1.5% of GDP. Under my watch, I have no intention of going above a deficit on average of above one and half percent GDP during my tenure and I have maintained that since I came into office.  

          On the issue of the 200% interest rates, this is designed to deal with inflation and so far so good. Speculators are finding it very expensive to borrow at 200% to speculate and we are closing the arbitrage gap and these interest rates will remain at an elevated level. Of course, we will do adjustments as we go forward. Every nation in the world is doing the same. They are raising interest rates and they are dealing with inflation. Inflation is not a 40-year high all over the world literally but of course not the US. I note the UK. UK figures have just come out at 10.1% which is the highest inflation level in 40 years. Our situation is not unique. We have to take action, we are taking action, we have raised interest rate and it should be like that until inflation is dealt with.

          There was the issue about whether we needed the supplementary budget or not. That was raised by some of the Hon. Members. We need it and by June, we had spent 55% of our budget. In terms of our prognosis we knew that we needed to have the supplementary budget and permission and is it not proper for us to come before this august House so that we will be most welcome and I think that is a good thing and of course we have variegated run whites in terms of budget expenditure. Not everybody is at the same level but the average is 55%.

          On the issue of IMTT for pensioners – already when a pension payer is paying into the recipient’s account, there is no IMTT tax nor is there IMTT tax when Government pays into the accounts of pensioners. That has already been removed. May be the question around pensioners’ support, I think this came from Hon. Nduna, it had to do with IMTT payments by pensioners as they spend their money. That one will be very messy for us to try to manage but we are already extending support to pensioners in terms of payments into their accounts and removing that IMTT tax.

          The issue of sports facilities has been raised by many Hon. Members and we welcome it and we support companies that are contributing towards building sports facilities so that we can get our youth off drugs and give them another alternative means of living and income to earn a different income from sporting activities. So we welcome this and welcome the positive feedback from Hon. Members. 

          We are dealing with the issue of trans-for-pricing which is never easy by the way. It needs many agencies that we need to collaborate with but we are dealing with it. Mr. Speaker Sir, this concludes what was generally discussed yesterday. I have additional responses of the contributions today and I am happy to continue at your pleasure and respond blow by blow to each Member of Parliament but I am also comfortable to continue tomorrow. I now propose that the debate be adjourned. Thank you.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday 18th August, 2022

          On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE), the House adjourned at Seven Minutes to Seven o’clock p.m.

 

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