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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 17 MAY 2023 VOL 49 NO 40

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 17th May, 2023

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

VISITORS IN THE SPEAKER’S GALLERY

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I wish to acknowledge the presence in the Speaker’s Gallery, of the Zambian Parliamentary Committee on Delegated Legislation led by Hon. Mutale.  You are most welcome Hon. Members. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

THE HON. SPEAKER: I have the following apologies - [HON. MARKHAM: Inaudible interjection.] – Hon. Markham, if you want to have a tete-a-tete, please come around and sit near your fellow Hon. Member.

I have received the following apologies from Ministers: Hon. C.D.G.N Chiwengwa, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care; Hon. J. Moyo, Minister of Local Government and Public Works; Hon. Prof. M. Ncube, Minister of Finance and Economic Development; Hon. O.C.Z Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs; Hon. F. M. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade;  Hon. E. Moyo, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; Hon. K. Coventry, Minister of  Sports, Arts and Recreation; Hon. W. Chitando, Minister of Mines and Minerals Development and Hon. Prof. A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.

Hon. Mhona had sent an apology but he managed to finish his business on time.

HON. MUTSEYAMI:   On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir, it is with regards to the absence of Ministers.  Even though the majority of them who are more likely to be cast in stone in terms of their apologies; they always give apologies week in, week out.  I do not know what it takes for Hon. Mhona and Hon. Ziyambi to be here at all times on Wednesdays whilst we have Ministers who hardly come to Parliament and they do not even attend to any question – even written questions, they do not attend to them regardless of them having Deputy Ministers.  I foresee our Leader of Government Business Hon. Ziyambi and our Speaker of Parliament have so much duty in terms of talking to them so that they come to the House.  It looks like they are not moving at all. What does it take for us to make them move?  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Mutseyami.  I think we will keep a proper record of these apologies and then if we see that there are more than three apologies, then the Hon. Ministers will have to account why they continually send out messages and then we take it from there. We will now keep a register and ensure that those that continue to give apologies in spite of the fact that this is within their rights in terms of Standing Orders, are made to come but I think an endeavor should be made so that they come and answer questions accordingly.

HON. GONESE:  On a point of order…

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I have ruled and there is no follow up.

HON. T. MLISWA:  I would like to follow up…

THE HON. SPEAKER: Is it a different issue altogether?

HON. T. MLISWA: It could be…

THE HON. SPEAKER:  You think I do not understand English.  It is just a follow up.  Just sit down.

HON. GONESE: A very good day to you Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of order relates to a pertinent issue which was raised yesterday by Hon. Biti in relation to an inquiry which was supposed to be conducted by two parliamentary Committees, the Committee on Public Accounts and the Committee on Budget and Finance. Hon. Biti raised the issue that as Parliament, we have the right to inquire into various and different matters but more particularly, all institutions of Government are accountable to Parliament. It is in this context and in this vein that the two Committees referred to intended to conduct investigations into what is colloquially referred to as the Gold Mafia saga. When the issue was raised, the Deputy Speaker was in the Chair. The pertinent issue which was raised was that there was a letter or memo which was purported to have come from your esteemed office.

One of the points for clarification was whether indeed your office had issued such a memorandum to bar those committees from conducting those investigations on the pretext that other agencies of the State were more competent to deal with the matters. This is a matter Mr. Speaker…

THE HON. SPEAKER: What is your point of order:

HON. GONESE: My point of order is that we are expecting that ruling Mr. Speaker because the Deputy Speaker promised that since the memo did not emanate from the Deputy Speaker’s office, the Speaker when he was available would make a ruling or pronouncement as to the correct state of affairs. This is where I am seeking your office to clarify matters, not just for the benefit of the august House of the Members of Parliament but for the benefit of all Zimbabweans who are eagerly awaiting investigations by the relevant Portfolio Committees into the issue which I have alluded to.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. No Committee was barred and the Committees will exercise their oversight, if you read my statement properly. It is there in the Daily News. If you want a hard copy, we will favour you with that. It is still an open question, so read it carefully. We will make it available to you but it is well covered, untruncated by the Daily News. Thank you – [HON. HWENDE: Ko isu tisingagone kuverenga todii?] –

THE HON. SPEKER: Endai kuchikoro.

HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. We have the road construction and rehabilitation exercise which your Ministry is undertaking. What measures have you put in place to ensure that the trucks that are using these roads are according to the weights required. In simple terms, where are the weighbridges for each truck so that the roads are not destroyed? Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me thank my colleague Member of Parliament, Hon. Themba Peter Mliswa for the very important question that he has raised. Indeed, Hon. Mliswa is right. We have seen that on a number of our major roads, we did not have weighbridges. Currently, just to cite an example, for anyone just carrying a wheelbarrow full of lithium, if you were to measure it, it will be in tonnes but by mere looking, you will not be in a position to tell whether the truck is carrying excess load or not.

I am glad to announce to the august House Mr. Speaker Sir, that we are seized with the matter. We have done procurement to have weighbridges along our major highways, especially coming from the mining communities. Precisely, this is what we are doing as a Ministry that we have tendered and procured. Very soon you will be seeing us having weighbridges, especially to mitigate on the issues to do with trucks that are plying mining communities. I want to thank the Hon. Member for highlighting that. Indeed, it is the plan of the Ministry to make sure that we have weighbridges so that we mitigate the issues of continuous degradation of our roads by truckers. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Hon. Minister, it is good you have mentioned that the mining companies are the culprits. What measures have you put in place to make sure that they compensate or they add to that? Surely, these companies are rich enough to contribute to the weighbridges that you require. What measures have you put in place so that they are responsible and they are also putting in money where they are making money and they are damaging the roads?

HON. MHONA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me thank Hon. Mliswa again for the very important follow up question. In terms of legislation, we do not have anything that mandates mining companies to partake in the construction of whether it is roads or weighbridges. I will humbly appeal to this august House so that when we craft our laws, besides moral suasion where we are saying they have to play to the corporate social responsibility, we make it mandatory so that those who are mining in our communities must take charge of infrastructure within their purview.

However, as we speak Mr. Speaker Sir, we do not have something to mandate mining companies to say ‘they must’ but we are appealing to them through corporate social responsibility to also participate in rehabilitating our roads. It would be ideal for the august House if we were to incorporate that after wide consultations.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order. If I may humbly indicate the Hon. Minister that if you could refer to Environmental Management Agency Act (EMA). Sections 98 to 102, part of your concern is clearly stated there and between yourself and the Minister of Environment and Tourism, you might be able to get some way forward.  

HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker, I am sure you could indulge me on this. Minister, can you not bring the law to this House yourself so that we have a law that will…

THE HON. SPEAKER: I knew you would come through the backdoor. That is a question, not a point of clarification – [HON. T. MLISWA: Because he said…] – I have advised the Hon. Minister in all humility and he is guided accordingly.

HON. T. MLISWA: I stand guided Mr. Speaker.

HON. BRIG. GEN. (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: My supplementary question to the Minister is, instead of using moral persuasion to get these companies to construct weigh bridges which will be very counter-productive in the first place because they will not be in a hurry and this is why we have spent 43 years without weigh bridges, why do we not subcontract the  private investors to construct these weigh bridges on a BOT arrangement; people will be bringing in money and it is transferred to the Government in say 10 – 20 years?

HON. MHONA: I will start by thanking you Hon. Speaker, in particular for the guidance relating to the EMA Act section that you have cited. We will look into that and take advantage of that very important piece of legislation. To answer the question that was posed by Hon. Mayihlome, which is very important, maybe Hon. Mayihlome did not get me well when I said moral persuasion. When it comes to the issue of moral persuasion, it is not about the construction of weigh bridges but I was saying in terms of corporate social responsibility.

However, to answer his question, we have actually engaged private players so that they also do the BOT project, which he has rightly suggested so that they take charge of these weigh bridges so as not to burden Treasury. This is something that is underway and as soon as it is done, we will advise the august House of the development. However, I want to agree with Hon. Mayihlome that yes, we cannot continue saying one will come and do construction of the weigh bridges but we have to be innovative. That is what we have done as a Ministry to think outside the box so that we engage private players to partake in the exercise of building weigh bridges.   

THE HON. SPEAKER: Are you from ZBC?  - [ZBC CREW MEMBER: Yes.] – Your Hon. Minister is here and I want to say this in her presence. The parliamentary sessions are important. They need to be covered right from start and there is no excuse at all. Hon. Minister, it has been a habit with some of these crews coming 30 minutes after the event. They must be respectful of what Parliament does as a national institution. I hope you have taken my word. – [ZBC CREW: Mr. Speaker, noted.] – [THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES: Ndimubatsire.] – Aiwa, hapana zvekubatsira apa, vanonoka vanogara vachinonoka.

HON. NDUNA: The railway lines were themselves made for heavy cargo, would it please the Hon. Minister to transfer as was the recommendation in the First Session of the Ninth Parliament that 15% of minerals or cargo from mining houses be transferred to the NRZ as opposed to utilising the heavy trucks on our roads in order first to utilise NRZ and secondly, to mitigate issues to do with the rehabilitation of our roads?

HON. MHONA: Under normal circumstances, excess load must not be found on our roads, that is why we have seen a sorry state of our roads because truckloads were plying our roads, not necessarily using the railway line. I am also happy to appraise the august House that we are seized now in trying to rehabilitate our rail. As you know, we have got close to 2 600 km of rail network in this country and we only have 10% which needs urgent attention. As we speak, we are busy trying to make sure we activate and rehabilitate those cautions. Cautions are as good as potholes when we talk of roads but when we talk of rail they are cautions.

As we speak, we are seized in trying to make sure that we rehabilitate the cautions so that we do not have derailments of our locomotives. So, precisely, we do agree with Hon. Nduna that excess load has to be transferred from the roads to the railway line. We also need to be capacitated through NRZ and it is also my humble plea again to this august House as you then do your budgets, remember the Ministry in that regard. Thank you.

HON. P. D. SIBANDA: What assurance does the nation has that if you bring in weigh bridges the revenue that will come from there will be deployed where it is supposed to be deployed looking at the fact that you put up tollgates but our roads still remain dilapidated?

HON. MHONA: Let me thank Hon. Sibanda for that important question and maybe to correct my fellow learned colleague that yes, the roads are in a sorry state but we have done tremendous work in trying to resuscitate some of them. We know that for over 40 – 50 years, our roads were not attended to or maintained but for the last five years, as much as we are behind Hon. Speaker, we have tried to resuscitate our roads alas the budgetary constraints. We are tapping into the fiscus and we are not getting concessionary loans to rehabilitate our roads. We also have competing factors when it comes to the budget, so the moment we think of rehabilitating the entire nation at the expected and anticipated pace, it might not be to the betterment of my fellow Hon. Members. However, I want to assure the august House that even if we talk of tollgates; we are paying tollgates as we speak and it is not enough to rehabilitate all our roads.  That is why we are now thinking outside the box where we are also appealing to the private sector to partner the Ministry so that we rehabilitate and reconstruct our roads.

 I want to agree and say the roads are in a sorry state but it is going to take time Hon. Speaker.  We were not witnessing yellow machines, the blue machines rehabilitating our roads but of late, we have been seeing that we are busy trying to rehabilitate.

          Once again, to the electorate, yes, Government has got people at heart and we are coming, whether we are doing the trunk roads but we are also extending to the communities that live in the urban centers.

          HON. P. D. SIBANDA: The Hon. Minister has raised points that need further interrogation for example, his argument is that…

THE HON. SPEAKER: You cannot be privileged to ask for a secondary supplementary.  If you want further information, put it in writing so that it can be answered next week – [HON. T. MLISWA: Inaudible interjections.] – who recognised you Hon. Mliswa? You do not open your mouth before you are recognised.

HON. KASHIRI: My question is directed to the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.  I would like to know what is Government policy on the issuance of mining exploration licences on heritage sites.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank Hon. Kashiri for the question on Government policy in terms of exploration licences on Heritage Sites.  The Government does not issue any exploration licences on Heritage sites in order to preserve them, thus there is no policy on mining in those areas.  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Kambamura you are here? My apologies to the Hon. Leader of Government Business, Hon. Ziyambi.   I had not recognised the Hon. Deputy Minister.

          HON. KASHIRI:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  My supplementary question arises from a Government Gazette of 28th April, 2023 via the Mines Affairs Board where a company is seeking an exploration order in Manna Pools Resort Area which is a World Heritage Site.  So, if our Government policy states that there should not be any issuance of such licences, what is the Hon. Minister’s stance Hon. Speaker Sir?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (HON. KAMBAMURA):  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development received an application from the said company.  As a matter of procedure when we receive those applications, they go through the Mining Affairs Board.  Then they are gazetted for public opinion and for the public to also object if they are not in favour of the application, that is the procedure.

          After the gazetting is when the Mining Affairs Board would now sit to deliberate on whether to issue the EPO or not.  So that EPO has not been issued and it is just a matter of procedure that is happening that we put that application in the Gazette.  I thank you.

          HON. T. MLISWA:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir!  Mr. Speaker Sir, I think it is a blessing that we have the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry here as well.  This is an issue…

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  What is your point of order?

          HON. T. MLISWA:  It would also be interesting to ask him why his Ministry did not object to that since they are the custodians of the environment.  If you understand what I am saying that they are responsible for environment, yet these applications are happening and other people do not have the resources to do that.  Why can they not object to that to protect the environment?  This is just what I needed to indulge from you so that …

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you.  The fundamental issue here is the issuance of the licence by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development and he must answer why they allow such issuance of licences where there are heritage sites?  Where people are not allowed to do so.  So the Hon. Minister must answer that. – [HON. T. MLISWA: They ought to protect that, it is their job to protect!] – Order! The fundamental issue is the issuance of licence, please, not the end result of the use of that licence.

          HON. KAMBAMURA:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. As I said before, that licence was not issued.  It is like when one applies for a job and is not yet granted that job but waiting for an interview.  We cannot say just because he applied for the job, he has been offered the job.  We are still going through the processes but all the same, all natural heritage areas are taken as reserved areas.

          When one is applying for an Exclusive Prospecting Order (EPO) or if we are to grant an EPO; those reserved areas are protected areas and we do not issue any licences on such areas.  I would like to urge Hon. Members to allow the Ministry to go through its processes.  As of now, no licence has been issued.  It is still an application to be considered.  I thank you.

          HON. MARKHAM:  Good afternoon, Hon. Speaker.  Hon. Speaker, the Leader of the House answered in his first response that there is no need to answer the question because heritage sites are protected.  There is no requirement for a mining law there because they are protected.  Why are we going through a procedure in an area that is protected by Mining Rights?  The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in his first response answered perfectly and said they are protected.  Why are we now in his own words considering a job application when there is no job?

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Deputy Minister, did you understand the question?

          HON. KAMBAMURA:  Yes.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Proceed.

          HON. KAMBAMURA:  What happened on the application is that it is not fully covering the protected area.  It is overlapping the protected area.  On the area that is not protected, we allowed to issue an EPO; that is why we allowed it to sail through.  Then when it comes back to the Mining Affairs Board is when they will now consider to say, we cannot issue on this protected portion but on this portion that is open.

          We are allowing that process to go through then afterwards we consider the application.

          HON. T. MLISWA:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir!  My point of order Mr. Speaker Sir is that the Hon. Minister is being inconsistent.  I come from Shurugwi and Boterekwa is one of the areas where the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry did not want that to happen.  How they were bulldozed to issuing a mining permit in Boterekwa where I come from, ndiko kumusha, ndiro dzinza redu and madzishe are not happy with that.  The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry had said no but you then issued.  What made you issue that?

          That is another one, if you go to Boterekwa today, it is destroyed and madzishe hakunawo kwaanogona kuyenda kunopira midzimu yavo.  Saka chii chamuri kuita nenyika?  If they continuously do that, then the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) will stop and then they are bulldozed.   Who is behind influencing you to do this, that must be the question?  Who is influencing you to go to these heritage places and issue mining licences?  We cannot destroy our heritage for the sake of money because our culture is fast losing itself.  We are no longer Zimbabweans without a culture, heritage and tradition ndiko kusaka tirikuramba tichingo suffer because muri kupinda munzvimbo dzisingapindwe!

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you.  Hon. Minister, with that clarification, would you like to respond?

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  May I assist the Hon. Minister Mr. Speaker Sir?

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  You want to assist?

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): In my earlier response, I indicated the policy.  What is now following are specific issues that need to be investigated.  I plead with you Mr. Speaker if the follow up questions are now very specific, the first question from Hon. Kashiri was general.  What is the policy as regards to those areas and I duly answered, but if there are issues that emanate from that response pertaining to specific areas, I am seeking your indulgence for that to be put in writing so that a comprehensive answer can be given – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, I have not responded to the intervention by the Leader of Government Business.  The important thing here is that – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order Hon. Chibaya and Hon. Hwende -[Laughter.]-

Hon. Mliswa and others – where it is known that there is an infringement, kindly put your questions in writing for next week so that the Minister can respond in detail.  It should not be Boterekwa only; if there are any other areas, please put them in writing so that the Hon. Minister or Ministry can make some investigation and we take it up from there.

HON. T. MLISWA:  I would like to recommend…

THE HON. SPEAKER:  A recommendation beyond my ruling?

HON. T. MLISWA:  No, your ruling is good.  It is just to support it.  These issues are of national interest and our own chiefs are not happy working together with the Ministry of Environment, can they come up with a lease because we also have to represent them? I know Boterekwa because the chiefs there told me that they are not happy with what happened but there are many of these which have happened and the Minister of Environment said they have issued.  Can they both sit down and come up with a Ministerial Statement in terms of this issue because this is a very important issue in terms of our culture, heritage and tradition?

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, I hear you.  My ruling is not being extended by your statement.  I have said if there are specific infringements on these heritage sites, please ask specific questions for next week.

HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I am still going back to the policy.  The esteemed Minister of Justice says the policy is that if there are protected areas then mining rights cannot be granted but that policy needs clarity from the Minister of Mines.  Currently, before this august House is the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.  That Bill actually allows invasion of those protected sites including cemeteries and our homes.  We need policy clarification and statement that you cannot invade and allocate mining rights to protected areas including national parks.  Right now, as I am talking to you – in Mutoko the homestead of Njapi, the Queen of the Buja people – Shumba Nyamuzihwa is being invaded by Chinese people who are mining in this area.  What is the policy with regards to this? 

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Biti, can you refer to the Hansard of last week.  There is an adverse report pertaining to the Mines and Minerals Bill…

HON. BITI: It does not touch on this aspect.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  It does touch.  Kindly read that adverse report - [HON. ZIYAMBI: Inaudible interjection.]- Order Hon. Leader, ndichiri panyangaka –[Laughter.]-

HON. NDUNA:  On a point of order – in the advent of the adverse report, the current Mines and Minerals Act if not expeditiously dealt with, it has got the prowess of reversing both the agrarian reform programme and all other laws because it superseded all other laws.  It is moribund, rudimentary and antiquated, archaic–[Laughter.]-

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order! Hon. Nduna, we are in the process of refining that Act and the issues you are raising now have been raised by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.  So please, do not flog a dead horse. 

HON. BRIG. GEN.  (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, in his absence, the Leader of Government Business.  What are you doing about the plight of pensioners, war veterans and senior citizens whose little income is being eroded on a daily basis by the depreciating RTGs?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  The policy on review of pension allowance is the same as that for civil servants.  When civil servants’ salaries are reviewed, the pensioners allowances are also reviewed at the same time.

HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, you are flooding the debate today with too many points of order.

HON. T. MLISWA: I do not know, if it is not a valid one you can always ...

THE HON. SPEAKER: Why do you not ask a supplementary question?

HON. T. MLISWA: I think it is in concurrence with the question, which he asked, and if I let it go, it will not make sense.

THE HON. SPEAKER: No, you ask a supplementary question.

HON. T. MLISWA: Okay, I will do so Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. BRID. GEN. (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary question to the Leader of Government Business is, if you consider a retired headmaster earning between an equivalent of USD13 to USD22 per month then you will tell these senior citizens who have built this country to where it is today and who have made us what we are, sitting in this august House and say they should survive on USD22 per month. How far can USD22 take you Hon. Minister? How many hours does that amount of money take you? I think we should not be insensitive to the plight of pensioners because they are powerless and they are old. Then we say we will review when Government is going to review. When is that review going to be done Hon. Minister? I thank you.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The way I understood the first question was the policy as regards when reviews are done and that is what I answered. As to when the exact date, that will depend on the negotiations that are being done by the Tripartite Negotiating Forum. I thank you.

HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary question to the Minister is, since the pensioners do not have representation of their own in the Tripartite Negotiation Forum, what measures is Government going to put in place to ensure that their concerns are considered when negotiations are going through?

THE HON. SPEAKER: Before, I call the Hon. Minister, I think if you listened very carefully to the Hon. Leader of the House, he said their concerns will be incorporated because the review will be across the board, inclusive of these pensioners. I thought I heard the Hon. Minister clearly.

After Hon. T. Mliswa having borrowed a gadget

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, next time bring your own gadget. You are a seasoned Member here.

HON. T. MLISWA: Yes, I will do that. It is quite unprofessional. Mr. Speaker Sir, well and good that the Minister talks about review. Do you factor in inflation when you review and why can you not pay them in USD? I know most people are being paid in USD a portion so that there is disposable income. Thank you.

HON, ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank Hon. Mliswa for the question. Mr. Speaker, the whole basis for negotiation of salary increase is because of inflation. So, it is given that if everything was equal we would not be negotiating. That is the major driving factor of negotiating to say, listen last year we were getting this, because of the factors we are requesting a rise and Government will then say this is our ability to pay and we meet each other in-between. That is the whole basis. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, you are too fast. Your speed is too high. Please sit down. Hon. Minister, the import of the question was that - is there any possibility of part payment in USD?

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My understanding is that part of everyone who is on Government salary; there is a portion of USD. Thus, the understanding that I have. Unless otherwise if he has specific pensioners who are not getting it but I believe the policy is that everyone will get a portion in USD. I thank you.

HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I think it is only proper for the Minister to say he does not know because we have war veterans, they are not paid the USD despite the review. So, I think it is only good to come with a proper answer because it will upset a lot of people. The war veterans’ pensions are not in USD and I think Hon. Mayihlome who is the Chairperson of the Defence Committee can assist and him being a war veteran, are they being given part payment in USD? This is a serious issue. Let us check first because this is a Parliament of records. We are on TV and everybody is seeing this nationally. We must be factual. If we are not factual, then you research and then come back to Parliament and respond.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I thought he was going to challenge me by giving me an example of those that are covered by our general pensions note. The war veterans have their own Act and their pension is administered separately. If there are problems there, they need to go through their relevant Ministry to deal with their issue because their issues are governed by their own separate Act. If that has not been happening, I think it needs to be rectified, that is the general understanding. If you have any specifics of those that are outside the mainstream, you can bring those forward. I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, why do you not also make your investigations and come up with something tangible.

HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you. That is why I have asked Hon. Mayihlome, the war veteran and Chairperson of the Defence Committee to look at that. Are they given USD?

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, I said come up with evidence – [HON. T. MLISWA: Inaudible interjection.] – Order Hon. Mliswa.

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. For those above 65 years of age, they get treated for free in government hospitals. Would it please the Hon. Minister because a lot of our pensioners have died through shock and all due to the bills that are presented to them by local authorities. Would it please the Hon. Minster whilst negotiations are taking place, for pensioners’ bills to be held in abeyance until at least there is enough income to pay their bills in their local authorities and to get stands for free according to the Urban Councils Act Section 152 and 205.

THE HON. SPEAKER: You are now titivating on specifics. Let us stick to policy as asked by the original questioner.

HON. P. MASUKU: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport. What is the Government policy with regard to responding to emergencies within our major highways where we have seen a lot of property being destroyed and there is nothing to assist those that are in that dilemma? Even those that fall in road traffic accidents, what is the Government policy in terms of mitigating towards that area?

THE HON. SPEAKER: What is Government policy in mitigating those who get involved in accidents or what?

HON. P. MASUKU:   There was a case at Chibi turnoff where there was a road traffic accident, a traffic pile-up and they caught fire but there was no assistance in terms of emergency services. That is the question in terms of policy, what is the Government policy in terms of assisting those that fall in that predicament within our highways.

          Hon. Mliswa having stood up on a point of order.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Mliswa. I must spread engagement in this House – [HON. T. MLISWA: But I have a point of order.] – No. – [HON. T. MLISWA: Inaudible interjection. I wanted Hon. Mavima who is now here to respond and he is the specific Minister appointed.] – Order, we have concluded that. Wadya manonoko.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MADIRO): If I understood the Hon. Member’s question properly, as Government, it is true that we have serious accidents, which require urgent attention to victims particularly given the fact that there is what we call “the golden hour”. It is very important to attend to accident victims in time, otherwise if there are delays, we lose lives. As Government, the Ministry of Transport, together with the Ministry of Health is looking into putting together a responsive facility by identifying strategic points along the highways where we put facilities like ambulances and experts to respond to such urgent situation, like mobile trauma centres. This is a matter which Government is applying itself, to make sure that we have those facilities along strategic positions in the highways.

          HON. MADZIMURE: We have had several accidents; fatal ones and the Ministry has been promising to look into the matter including stationing fire brigades or ambulances at tollgates but this has not happened. When is the Ministry going to ensure that happens and can it give us a timeline as to when this is going to be implemented because only last week, we have two accidents; one along Bindura where people perished and were burnt beyond recognition, and yesterday but one there was also another one and several others. So, when is the Ministry going to ensure that we have those facilities?

          HON. MADIRO: The supplementary question from the Hon. Member is very important. The setting of such facilities requires a lot of resources plus expertise. …

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Chibaya, this is a very important question where you need to report back to your constituency. Listen very carefully.

          HON. MADIRO: I was saying the setting up of such centres involves a lot of resources as well as a lot of expertise. We are dealing with lives here, which needs to be saved and it cannot be approached in a lackadaisical way. Our experts in the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Transport, particularly the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe are actually trying to benchmark in terms of what is involved to put such a facility to match world standards. I want to conceive that it is an urgent matter and our experts are applying themselves accordingly.

          HON. NDUNA: I have three proposals in order to fund the Accident Victims Stabilisation Centres that the Hon. Minister speaks about. Would it please the Hon. Minister to repudiate the third-party insurance and channel it towards the establishment of the Accident Victims Stabilisation Centres?

Secondly, there is $15 per seat for public transport which sees public transport paying about US$1 500 to $2 500 per bus towards passenger insurance which needs to compensate US$4 000 for the bereaved and US$2 000 for those injured. Would it please the Hon. Minister to take that passenger insurance money and channel it towards the establishment of the Accident Victims Stabilisation Centres Madam Speaker.

Thirdly, the proposal that I have is for taking our resources according to Section 13 (4) of the Constitution, minerals in particular, in order to supplement, complement, and finance the establishment of the Accident Victims’ Stabilisation Centers.  Would it please the Minister to look into those three aspects and finance the same?

THE HON. DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. DR. MANGWIRO): Whilst the Government is looking for several sources of funding for such programmes, it would be my duty to concede to the Hon. Member’s submission in terms of suggestions of where funding can be sourced.  The suggestions are positive enough and we will be able to be looking at those suggestions as well amongst others.  I thank you.

*HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you, Madam Speaker.  The issue that has been raised by Hon. Nduna is an issue that was once debated in this august House.  The whole House and the Cabinet Ministers agreed that the issue of 3rd part insurance does not assist much; instead, it should be channeled to the Road Accident Fund so that all victims of accidents get assistance.

Madam Speaker, some issues deserve to be treated as matters of urgency. This issue of Zimbabwean roads is a matter of urgency.  Our roads have been declared a state of emergency.  The Road Rehabilitation Programme did not fully address this issue.  The matter is now supposed to be put in the inter-ministerial task force that the Cabinet normally does so that we get feedback before the end of this Ninth Parliament Session.

Every month we are recording a number of accidents and we are losing our loved ones because of these accidents.  May this matter be treated with the urgency it deserves.   At one point we lost a Member of Parliament in a road accident in Gokwe and this issue was debated that something must be done but to no avail. I thank you – [ HON. T. MLISWA: Inaudible interjection.]

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order! Order Hon. Mliswa! Thank you Hon. Hamauswa regarding the important question that you have raised.  I am sure the Leader of Government Business has taken note of that and he will attend to that matter together with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

*HON. HWENDE: My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. He is not present today and he is one of those Ministers who does not attend Parliament.  However, I will direct the question to the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Ziyambi.

What is Government policy with regard to farmers who are selling their products to GMB and being paid a huge component in RTGS?  The RTGS will not enable these farmers to buy inputs for the next cropping season.  

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you very much, Hon. Speaker.  Hon. Hwende did not come out clearly with his question.  The Government has pronounced the maize prices in the country, the prices were clearly spelled out in USD and RTGS.

*HON. HWENDE: My issue Madam Speaker is that even though all of us here know that the money we are getting is very little, farmers are being paid in RTGS.  Why is the Government not considering giving them in USD for all their produce just like what is being done beyond the borders? Right now, the Government is paying farmers RTGS and expects them to go to shops where prices are being inflated.

*HON. ZIYAMBI: What Hon. Hwende is saying in other words is encouraging Government not to pay in RTGS but USD.  The truth is that we cannot stop paying farmers in RTGS.  As a Government, we can only put measures to control and stabilise the inflation rates on the parallel market.  If you look at all the countries around the world, Zambia for example, has once done it  but eventually moved away from that decision and opted for their own currency, the Kwacha.  We have to promote our own currency if we want to control our own economy.  We cannot therefore say we are no longer paying in RTGS, we cannot dump the RTGS because it has lost value and we adopt another currency – that is not possible.  I actually expect Hon. Hwende to come up with sustainable solutions on how we can work around the issue.

          *HON. T. MLISWA:  I agree with Hon. Ziyambi that our money is very important but it has no value, it is a weak currency.  They are buying using United States Dollars but again, our local farmers are being paid in RTGS, they cannot get the same foreign currency, $335 that was mentioned to say was going to be paid to farmers.  What is the percentage of the RTGs?  What is the percentage of the foreign currency to be paid to farmers?  

          Unless they are living in a different country, let there be a provision to say, we are going to use the RTGS to buy farming inputs in the country.  Let us not lie to each other, our local currency has no value at all.  A good example is, if the car is not performing well, we park it, we cannot force matters.  It does not mean that the car is not functional but we are fixing it as we park it.  When the car is now fixed and fully functional, we adopt it but we are being asked to have the RTGS competing with the USD; it is actually being comic.  We must not play politics with reality. 

Let us search all the Ministers in the House to see how many people have United States Dollars.  I have dollars also but do you have the local currency?  As Ministers, they are paid in United States Dollars, that is what they are using and that is what has value.  We are saying farmers should get money in RTGS that has value so that they are able to purchase inputs using money with value.  Even wheat farmers are in a predicament.  We want to know, for $335.00 to be paid to farmers, we have seen that happening in tobacco.  Farmers should be allowed to buy subsidised farming inputs.  The land reform cannot proceed because the pricing is very poor.

We have taken over farms as black people but we continue to suffer, there is no subsidy on the inputs.  I agree with Hon. Hwende, the issue of farming produce should be paid in USD and 15% should be in RTGS.

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. DR. MAVETERA):  May you please ask your question?

*HON. T. MLISWA:  The question is, let us park the RTGS, it is a very weak currency.  Let us adopt the United States Dollar.  The Zimbabwe Dollar is not working, labour and inputs require United States Dollars…

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Mliswa!  He did not ask any question but just gave a suggestion.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – there was no question that was asked! – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order Hon. Members! - [HON. T. MLISWA:  I can repeat the question Madam Speaker!] – I gave you an opportunity to pose your question to the Hon. Minister but instead you were busy giving solutions. 

*HON. T. MLISWA:  What I am asking Madam Speaker is, what is the component of the USD?  What is the component of the RTGS?

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  What is your question really?

*HON. T. MLISWA:  What is the percentage of the USD?  What is the percentage of the RTGS – that is my question.

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Your question is very specific, meaning the Hon. Minister has to go and research, and come back with detailed information.

* HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  The question that has been asked on the USD335.00; 135 will be paid in RTGS Zimbabwe Dollars.

Madam Speaker Ma’am, what I said before is, if you look at foreign currency; if we look at Botswana and Kenya, their currency is stable.  We cannot throw away our own currency as a country.  What we want is Hon. Mliswa and Hon. Biti to come and give their opinions on how we can strengthen our currency, not that he prefers Biden’s currency, that is not a solution. 

*HON. MACHINGURA:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  Our currency is losing value.  Can there be an opportunity given to those working on the issue of currency to come up with a sustainable solution?  My question is derived from what the Hon. Minister said earlier on.  We should give an opportunity to those who are working on the monetary policy to come up with sustainable solutions to this problem.  The Hon. Minister is there working.  How many more years does he need to come back with a solution to strengthen our local currency?  How many more years do they need?

*HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  I also want to thank the Hon. Member for his important question.  I think the Hon. Member is lost with this question.  We started introducing Instruments to retain the USD in 2019, I think that he mixed issues as he was speaking.  – [HON. MUNENGAMI: Inaudible interjection.] – My young brother has now made himself a Speaker.

We should make sure that our currency is strengthened wherever we are.  The fundamentals should remain correct so that our currency remains strong. It is the responsibility of whoever is Governor to make sure that all the fundamentals remain correct and our currency is strong because the best way to attack a country is to attack its currency. 

*HON. NDIWENI:  My question is more or less the same as the one that has been asked but slightly different.  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture. During the last two weeks, Government issued a policy that some of the businesses….

*HON. T. MLISWA:  Madam Speaker, why is ZBC going out whilst you are assuming your seat….

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  You are out of order Hon.  I was hear at 1530 hours and they are now going….

*HON. T. MLISWA: But we still have question time.  Where are they going?  If Hon. Paradza loses elections, ZBC goes there and interviews him.  This is an issue of factions….

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  You are out of order Hon. Mliswa.

*HON. T. MLISWA:  ZBC must cover all the question time.  This is a national event.  Hey ZBC, has the Speaker told you anything?  Makuvadherera. Mukuenda kupi question time haisati yapera?

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  You are out of order Hon. Mliswa - [HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE:  We should have more television stations in this country.] – Order Hon. Members.

*HON. NDIWENI:  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture. During the last two weeks, Government announced that all local companies that sell commodities in foreign currency should keep their money as it is.  Are farmers going to enjoy this benefit when they sell their tobacco? Are they going to be paid in USD since we have this new policy?

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): This question is specific and needs to be directed to the relevant stakeholder so that a pronouncement is made on how the farmers will be paid.

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Ndiweni, may you put your question in writing so that proper research is done.  Your question is specific and you cannot ask a supplementary question.

*HON. NDIWENI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.

HON. MUSHORIWA:  I think we need a definition of a specific question.  When a member asks about tobacco farmers, it is not a specific question.  This is a policy matter and if the Hon. Minister does not have an answer, he should defer it to the relevant Minister rather than to tell the Hon. Minister that it is a specific question.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Mushoriwa.  It was a specific question because what he was asking needs to be researched and brought back to the House.

HON. HAMAUSWA:  The Hon. Member asked about a policy governing issuance of money to tobacco farmers, which is guided by a specific policy which is there and is known.  We expect the Leader of Government Business in the House to be aware of that policy.  How are the tobacco farmers going to get their USD?  It is a simple question, which should be answered, and the tobacco farmers are listening today.  They need that answer.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Like what the Hon. Leader of the House said, it needs to be written down.

*HON. TEKESHE:  My question is directed to the Minister of Mines.  Since independence, we have been speaking about beneficiation but nothing has happened.  We are poor because minerals are exported whilst raw.  How far have you gone with beneficiation so that we do not remain poor?

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  The Hon. Member’s question is not true.  Beneficiation has been taking place and is still taking place. The mining industry is growing and if the Hon. Member does not know that, maybe he is not staying in Zimbabwe.  Unki Mine is beneficiating.  We banned the export of lithium so that we do beneficiation.  The introduction of the Energy Park in Mapinga – that is beneficiation.  We are beneficiating loads and loads of tonnes of gold and if you go to the Ministry of Mines, they can supply you documents relating to beneficiation and the expansion of our mining industries. 

*HON. C. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker. Hon. Tekeshe talked about the suffering of people out there. They said 78% but we can say the entire population is suffering. There are no results of beneficiation and value addition taking place. All we are witnessing is poverty, suffering, the gold mafias and lithium mafias. We need to see the reflection on the results of the beneficiation.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you Honourable. There is no question asked but we thank you for the contribution.

HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: Thank you Madam Speaker. My supplementary question is, apart from mining, can the Leader of Government Business explain where else we are seeing beneficiation? Mining is not the only sector in our economy.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker. The rules of this House do not allow smuggling in of questions. His was specific to mining, he now wants me to respond to beneficiation in general. I submit that he has diverted from the original question. I thank you.

*HON. T. MLISWA: Hon. Ziyambi talked about beneficiation that is taking place and he mentioned that a lot money is being obtained from mining but we are not seeing it on the ground. People are still suffering. Where are the proceeds from beneficiation going? There are no hospitals being constructed. There are no schools constructed and even the lives of people are not improving. There is no development of the industry. The late Libyan leader, Gaddafi used to direct to his people the proceeds from oil. We have several mineral reserves, whom are they benefiting? You have cancelled the Indigenisation Act and you said there is no investment into the country because of the 49:51 percent. Which other law have you put in place to carter for and protect the indigenous people? The foreigners are the only ones benefiting while the citizens are suffering. You say nyika inovakwa nevene vayo but vene venyika vari kutambura nekuti hapana mari iri kuenda kune vene venyika.

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you. The Minister will only respond to the first question where you asked about the proceeds of beneficiation. The second part of the question is now a completely new question. Hon. Minister, may you respond to the first question.

*HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. The question about where the proceeds are going needs all the documents involved including the taxes paid by companies. I cannot do it here right now.  I need to go and investigate and compile the documentation.

HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My question goes to the Minister of Justice and Leader of Government Business. On the 19th of August 2022, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission published three Statutory Statements namely S. I. 143, S. I. 144 and S. I. 145. These being Statutory Instruments to do with fees that shall be paid by candidates and observers in the 2023 general elections. There was disgruntlement in the general population that the fees that were gazetted by ZEC might be violating Section 67 (3) (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. For the benefit of all, it is the right to be voted into office of any Zimbabwean citizen. Those fees that were gazetted are deemed generally by Zimbabweans to be prohibitive. We are about to go into the general elections. What is Government policy to ensure that Section 67 (3) (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is enjoyed by all citizens of Zimbabwe? Thank you Madam Speaker.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam Speaker. The enjoyment of Section 67 is going to be realised when we go for elections sometime in August. I thank you.

HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Mr. Speaker, an election by its nature, is not supposed to be a surprise to any citizen who desires to participate. Therefore, the Hon. Minister should respond to the question. Are we going to get into the elections with these prohibitive nomination fees or Government is going to attend to the revision of those fees so that the rights that are enshrined in that Section are realised? Thank you.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Madam Speaker, Statutory Instruments are passed by this august House. This august House, which the Hon. Member is a Member passed these statutory instruments and is now asking me because of his own preferences, not the majority here, that I should do something about that statutory instrument. The answer is no!

HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: My supplementary question is pertaining to the procedure of coming up with those prohibitive fees. As far as we are concerned, we just heard from the Gazette. What consultation was done in terms of making sure that the fees are realistic in Zimbabwe?

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker. It is surprising that we are approaching the end of the five-year term and Hon. Members are asking questions after the effect. When statutory instruments are published, the Hon. Member was supposed to be on the lookout, raise those questions in here, and ensure that Statutory Instrument does not see the light of the day even after publication. This is subsidiary legislation where you are allowed to publish it. I cannot stand here and answer questions of things that happened and they are a closed chapter. Thank you.

HON. HAMAUSWA: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. My point of order is related to the issue that was raised and I thought it is important that I repeat it again. We requested in this House for the Minister to bring a statement assuring the nation of Zimbabwe that we are going to have a free and fair election without violence and the Minister agreed that the statement is going to be issued in this House.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Member. You are now talking of violence, where is it coming from? Please sit down.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER in terms of Standing Order Number 68,

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

DELAYS IN TABLING THE JUSTICE UCHENA REPORT

  1. MARKHAM asked the Minister of Justice, Legal and

Parliamentary Affairs to explain how much money was used by the Uchena Land Commission and to state when it was paid out.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I did not bring it Madam Speaker and I ask your indulgence to bring it next week.

          HON. MARKHAM: The Justice Uchena Report has been on the Order Paper for a very long time, I have asked for it 27 times.  Today is the 28th time and vanhu ava vanobwereketa chete, they do nothing.

          HON. ZIYAMBI: This is the first time it was referred to the Ministry of Justice, so the other 26 times - I do not know where it was.

          HON. MARKHAM: Can he withdraw that statement. He has responded himself numerous times saying he is coming and he has never come. In fact, this very question was referred to his Ministry first and he deferred it to the Ministry of Local Government who then deferred the same question back to his Ministry – [HON. ZIYAMBI: Inaudible interjection.] – Aa-a kana, wakakotsira – [Laughter.] –

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, considering that the Hon. Member has requested this for quite some time, when do you think the report will be here.

          HON. ZIYAMBI: Next week.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Okay, thank you. The report will come next week Hon. Markham.

CAUSES OF PNEUMOCONIOSIS IN MINING COMPANIES

  1. HON. BITI asked the Minister of Health and Child Care to

explain to the House;

  1. what causes pneumoconiosis in mining companies?
  2. the probable cause of the increase in cancer cases among the artisanal miners in the gold sector.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. DR. CHIWENGA): Pneumoconiosis is a group of lung diseases caused by the lungs reaction to inhaling dusts. In the mining sector, the main cause is inhalation of asbestos, causing a condition called asbestosis: silicon causing silicosis and coal workers pneumoconiosis. Pneumoconiosis is mainly characterised by tight chest, shortness of breath and coughing. Pneumoconiosis can be prevented by wearing masks, protective clothing and safe removal of dusty clothing.

          Gold mining is associated with silicosis and pneumoconiosis and those two conditions can lead to lung cancers. Artisans also have increased prevalence of smoking and alcohol consumption and those two risk factors can lead to many cancers. So it is because of both environmental risk factors like those air particulates from gold mining and also due to behavioural risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and unhealthy diets that can contribute to increase in cancer cases among artisanal miners. There is also lack of ventilation and other amenities.

          HON. BITI: My supplementary is that hundreds, if not thousands of miners, are dying because of pneumoconiosis and the Government knows the reasons but no one is being held to account whether the big mining houses like ZIMPLATS, Unki, Rio Tinto and so on, no one is being held to account. Only a few years ago, the South African High Court granted damages of R5 billion to mine workers who worked in South African gold mines, including Zimbabwean workers who used to go there, what used to be called Wenela. So why is our Government not protecting lives and what measures is the Ministry of Health going to take to protect lives because thousands and thousands of workers are dying. If you hear someone coughing who has got pneumoconiosis, it is shocking, you will think his or her lung is going to pop out - people are suffering. What corrective measures is the government going to take to attend to these terrible lung diseases caused by an unhealthy mining environment?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): The policy or the laws of this country dictate that every mine must have a Health and Safety section and they must adhere to the strict rules of how miners should be treated.  I believe that it is a question of compliance and awareness and ensuring that these rules are strictly adhered to so that the lives of our people are saved.  

          The original question was on the causes but the follow-up question now is very specific to say that this is what is happening in our mining areas.  What is happening? The simple answer is, there is a need to increase monitoring to ensure that those health and safety workers who are supposed to ensure strict compliance do their work properly. 

          As for artisanal miners, they do not have strict formal health and safety structures, and those areas again are one area that we hope to improve on as we go on.  I thank you.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL, AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Nos. 1 to 23 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 24 has been disposed of. 

Motion put and agreed to.

COMMITTEE STAGE

PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES BILL [H. B. 6, 2022]

          Twenty Fourth Order read: Resumption of Committee Stage: Prisons and Correctional Services Bill [H. B. 6, 2022].

          House in Committee.

          On Clause 50:

          HON. BITI: Madam Chair, when we parked this issue last week, the issue was that the board that is being set up here is in fact a disciplinary board.  It is a disciplinary hearing but the language that is used there is that of a prosecution.  So we are conflating instances where a prison officer is being charged for pure employment issues and those issues or instances where he is actually facing criminal charges.  For example, if a prison officer is late for duty or drinks on duty, it is a normal disciplinary issue.  If a prison officer assists a prisoner in escaping, it is a criminal offense. 

          Clause 50 is not making a distinction between normal disciplinary issues and criminal issues.  The use of the word ‘prosecution’ denotes a criminal activity or intention and in that circumstance, proof must be proof beyond reasonable doubt.  As I said last time, it would explain why we removed Clause 49 which we removed and was worded the way it was because it clearly was envisaging criminal prosecution. 

So I will suggest that purely for employment issues, we leave a board without a prosecution, with just a normal disciplinary process with someone who will lead the case on behalf of the employer but with those instances which are of a criminal nature. We separate that - we have a board which is for criminal purposes which will have the power of sanctioning a prison officer even to some period of imprisonment or a fine.  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL, AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon. Chair, the way this is structured in the security sector is that even for those misdemeanours that you are deeming not to be criminal, you appear before a board and this is their prosecutor and not the prosecution that you are making reference to; that happens in our courts.  So, the way it is couched is correct to indicate that trial board, where it makes reference to the prosecutor. 

          It is their own prosecutors within the Prison Service when they are doing - it is the way that they do the formal disciplinary procedures to ensure that they maintain the level of discipline that they so require.  You will find that within the national army, they have something that is similar to this and also within the police force, they have but where we agreed is where we removed 49.  I think we did not need it but this, we need.  Perhaps as we go, we can correct other issues like where they say ‘the State case’, it is not the State case when we get to those clauses but this is exactly the way they format it in the security sector settings to ensure that they deal with their members.  I submit Hon. Chair.

          Clause 50 put and agreed to.

          On Clause 51:

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Hon. Chair.  I want to expunge Clause 51, it is consistent with what we have been doing.

          Clause 51 accordingly expunged.

          Clauses 52 now 51 to 54 now 53 put and agreed to.

          On Clause 55 now 54:

          HON. MUSHORIWA:  Thank you Madam Chair.  Madam Chair, if you look at Clause 55 (2), the right for an individual to speak in a language of his choice, I think should be stated rather than to simply say that the board has the right to decide whether or not this person should be assisted to speak either in Shona or Ndebele.  So, I think that we need a slight amendment on that issue so that we take cognisance of that.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Hon. Chair.  Hon. Chair, this is correct as it is, it does not prejudice anything at all.  I submit that we leave it as it is.  Thank you.

          *HON. MUSHORIWA:  No, but the onus is actually on the board to make that ruling.  Do you know what usually happens when an accused stands on trial?  Some people prefer to represent themselves in Shona and it allows them to express themselves better – [HON. ZIYAMBI: Inaudible interjection.] - No, but how do you know that all the prison officers are fluent in English?  Yes, some entered through sports.

          Clause 55 now 54 put and agreed to.

          Clauses 56 now 55 to 61 now 60 put and agreed to.

          On Clause 62 now 61:

          HON. BITI:  Clause 62 relates to the decisions of the board, yes, they should be in writing.  This provision does not make it obligatory that it is in writing.  The Chairperson can announce, the decisions should be in writing because a member has got a right of appeal, a right of review.  So, all decisions should be in writing so that there is no debate in future about what the Chairperson said or did not say.  It is customary and standard.

          *THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Where is that?

          *HON. BITI:  On Clause 62 (2), all decisions of the board, which shall be in writing, shall reflect that. 

          HON. ZIYAMBI:  Agreed.

          HON. BITI:  Then subparagraph (3), the Chairperson shall read the correct review of the board - shall read.

          HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Hon. Chair, I agree, ‘All decisions of the board which shall be in writing’, yes, we can put that but the second one, no.

          Amendment to Clause 62 now 61 put and agreed to.

          Clause 62 now 61, as amended, put and agreed to.

          On Clause 63 now 62:

          HON. MUSHORIWA:  Thank you Hon. Chair. Hon. Minister, I think we need to put a timeline here because with previous convictions, assuming I get into prison service and commit a crime in my first year or two, then I commit another crime after 15 or so years.  Surely, that repetition of a crime should not be different from someone who has committed a crime, let us say two or three years before. I think previous convictions should actually have a time limit to simply say a previous conviction in the last five years or so because I think it will have a permanent charge in a file for a long time.  I think it is not proper.  

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Hon. Chair.  I think the way this Clause is couched is very good.  It is not prescriptive.  It simply says they have to take into consideration the previous convictions into account.  So, it is not saying they must, but it is very good in any organisation to know the history of those that do some misdemeanors to say what was the nature of that misdemeanor. You cannot give a time line because somebody might have the propensity of doing the same thing over and over again.  Even if the time line is 10 years apart, what is necessitating that kind of behaviour to recur.

          Therefore, the way it is couched, I submit that it is good and we must adopt it as it is.

          Clause 63 put and agreed to.

          Clause 64 put and agreed to.

On Clause 65:

HON. BITI:  On the previous section, Hon. Minister, there is a reference of review then on the appeal to the Commission, it uses the word ‘appeal’.  If you look at Section 65 (3) (b) ‘a notification of the right of the convicted correctional officer to submit a statement on review through the board within three working days of the date of the pronouncement’.  Is it a review on an appeal and why restrict it to three days?  I think the period is too short because even in the criminal justice system, the standard now for appeals is 15 days.

 My first word is the word ‘review’.  I suppose review is incorporating the right of appeal which is fine, but three working days is definitely too short.  You might need to go to a lawyer, you might be in Chakari, and you want to go to Harare.  So if in normal law and I can see Mukoma Jonathan nodding, we give 15 days the right of appeal surely these prison officers, we need to give them 15 days as well.  I might be in Chiendambuya or in Mudzi where there are no roads.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Hon. Chair, I agree that let us change the three to 14 working days.

Amendment to Clause 65 put and agreed to

Clause 66 put and agreed to.

On Clause 67:

HON. BITI:  There is a proviso now, which is very muddled, and it reads as follows, ‘provided no appeal shall lie under this sub-section unless notice of intention to appeal has been given to the Commissioner-General within seven days and the appeal has been lodged with the Commissioner-General within 14 days.’  So, you have got notice of appeal.  Therefore, you express that you want to give an appeal within seven days.  You then file the appeal within 14 days.  It is not clear that the seven days are incorporated in the 14 days. 

Let us do the simple thing – ‘provided that a correctional officer shall have the right to appeal to the Commission within 14 working days through the Commissioner-General’ and then it ends there because as it is now yakango vhiringika vhiringika.

*HON. ZIYAMBI:  Can you repeat what you just said.

HON. BITI:  There shall be a right to the correctional officer to appeal to the Prisons and Correctional Services Commission within 14 days, which notice of appeal shall be submitted through the Commissioner-General.  Perhaps let us remove the proviso.  Let us just have a sub-section (2) that says a right of appeal…

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Hon. Chair, I am proposing amendments to Clause 67 as follows: ‘Subsection (1) appeals to the Commission – An appeal against the decision of the Commissioner-General shall lie to the Prisons and Correctional Service Commission which may confirm, vary, remit or enhance any such sentence and may act upon any such recommendations as it deems fit. (2) Such an appeal shall be filed within 14 working days from the date of receipt of the Commissioner-General’s decision’. Then we say ‘provided that no appeal shall lie under this subsection unless notice of intention to appeal has been given to the Commissioner-General.  We then delete the rest and renumber so that the current (2), becomes subclause (3).

          So this subclause (1) will remain as it is and then we say ‘(2) such an appeal shall be filed within 14 working days from the date of receipt of the Commissioner-General’s decision and then we say a copy of the notice of appeal shall be served on the Commissioner General’ and then (2) becomes (3).

          Amendment to Clause 67 put and agreed to.

          Clause 67, as amended, put and agreed to.

          Clause 68 put and agreed to.

          On Clause 69:

          HON. BITI: Thank you very much Chair. What is the purpose of the suitability board? The purpose of the suitability board should be to determine the physical condition, it is a health issue. If it ceases to be a health issue, then it becomes a fault issue. If it ceases to be a health issue, then it becomes a faulty issue. The problem with this provision is that it refers to two issues: suitability or fitness of a correctional service.  What do we mean by suitability?  If I no longer like a prison officer, I can say he is no longer suitable but what determines suitability?  It is really vague and dangerous.  We should restrict the special board to medical fitness.  Are you medically fit and still mentally corpus?  I suggest that we remove the word ‘suitability’ and restrict this to fitness.  Are you a fit correctional officer because this is a security issue?  Are you still able to run and below 85 kg, can you still see and are you not paralysed?  The suitability component is too subjective.  I can belong to a different faction of the party; I could go because I am no longer suitable.  ‘Suitable’ is too subjective and it must go.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I move that we delete Clause 69 because it is already covered.  What the other board does can lead exactly to the same conclusion and the Commissioner General can do exactly what he wants to do under this clause – that trial process and everything is concluded.

Clause 69 now 68 expunged.

Clause 70 now 68 put and agreed to.

On Clause 71 now 69:

HON. MUSHORIWA:  I have a strong feeling that taking a woman together with her baby to prison violates the rights of that baby.  Here it says ‘any child who is less than 59 months can accompany the mother to prison’.  I am not sure what needs to be done but my view is that if possible that a convicted woman, depending on the gravity of the conviction, may be suspending the sentence would be better then she serves after a certain period after having looked after the child.  Taking a child to prison does affect the child and that memory may take long to be removed from the child’s mindset.  The child will be disturbed for the entirety of their life. 

HON. BITI:  I think we need to revisit it – the section says a child will be kept in prison with its mother until it reaches 59 months but it can be released to a relative or friend at 59 months.  I think we need to say that no child shall be imprisoned with the mother.  The child must be surrendered to the family. If these people are not there, then a Probation Officer must make a decision on the fate of that child.  Does it stay with the mother or got into a State institution but to say the child has to go with its mother, it is a breach of serious constitutional rights; the right of freedom of the child which is codified by Section 50 of the Constitution. It is also in breach of the right to human dignity of that child that is codified by Section 51 of the Constitution, the right of freedom of movement and right to association.  In short, the sins of the mother should not be visited on the infant.  No child should be in detention unless there are special circumstances determined by a Probation Officer who produces a certificate to say that child should stay with the mother.  But as it stands, this is unconstitutional because we are taking away the right of the child.  Remember Madam Speaker Ma’am that Section 81 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe says the best interest of the child is what is paramount and surely getting into prison cannot be paramount. This provision is terrible and is carried over from the colonial regime.  Only black people were arrested.

*HON. R. R. NYATHI: Madam Chair, I accept what was said by Hon. Biti but I think if we could just put a clause that no child shall be allowed in prison together with the mother for the offences committed by the mother. We need to consider that the child might be too small and too young and might need breast feeding. When we talk about the probation officer, he or she might not be in a position to think reasonably and say I do not want this child to be in. That person will not have a right to appeal anywhere and I think we must put a clause which says when the child is still in a tender age, the child might still be with the mother for such a period until that child is weaned, something to that effect.

*HON. CHIKUKWA: Madam Chair, I am touched with this issue. I am not supporting that the child should stay in prison with the mother but at the same time, there is no-one who loves a child more than its mother. I am not encouraging mothers to commit crimes thinking that they will not be taken to jail but I am thinking that when the child is still young it needs special care. I once visited Harare Hospital at the children’s section. I was pained seeing a toddler feeding from its excretion. That shows there was no-one taking care of the child. That is why I am saying no-one loves a child more than the mother.

This is a tricky issue that it is difficult to let the child stay in prison with its mother and it is difficult to wean the child from its mother while it is still at a tender age. Truly speaking, there are few relatives that can take good care of someone’s child. At times you will end up saying it was much better if the child had gone with the mother to jail. All we need is a good law that can protect the child whilst with the mother. We can propose for open prisons for those mothers with children so that the child is not exposed to prison conditions or there can be suspension of imprisonment until the child is weaned.

I usually work with women’s prisons. It is painful to see children in jail with their mothers. There should be play centres and creches for these children so that they experience normal life that is experienced outside the prison. Children cannot be separated from their mothers. At times, the mothers commit crimes because they need to support those children. Mothers should first think of the fate of their children before committing crime. I thank you.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Chair. In our legislative work, the clause is one of the most progressive under the circumstance that we are in. If you look at it, we now have a dedicated clause that speaks to admission of female inmates with infants and admission of pregnant women. If you read it carefully, it says a female inmate may be admitted into a correctional facility for custody with her infant. What we must not do is to read this clause in isolation. Once this particular female inmate is going to be admitted and there is a child, the best interests of the child are triggered in and all those probation officers are involved.

This is now giving a leeway to say, when everything has failed and the best interest of that particular infant dictate that, that infant must be where the mother is, so be it. You must look at it. The Social Welfare will be involved. The correctional officers will be involved. If you read it right through, it even says where (a) and (b) are satisfied before 19 months, you can ensure that the child is removed from prison.

The import of this is, it is acknowledging that there is a problem that a child must not be there, but it is also acknowledging that the best interest of that infant may be saved where that infant is closer to the mother and it is permissive in that it is saying you may then allow that to happen. What we then need to do, like what Hon. Chikukwa has said, have facilities, which is what it says. Where you will have admitted the mother with the infant, it then specifies what must be provided so that the best interests of that particular infant are saved.

If we remove this clause, we will create an administrative chaos. There are certain women where you will not be able to identify anyone where Welfare will not be able to do but in trusting prison and correctional services to provide facilities, supply food, clothing and other necessities prescribed for that infant may actually be the best under the circumstance. Until we realise that level which we are aspiring to Hon. Biti, this clause is one of the clauses that we put in there. I submit to all of us that let us leave it as it is and ensure that we improve our facility. We can ensure that we improve our facility. We cannot guarantee that all the women that go to prison have got relatives. Neither can we guarantee that all the children that will be removed from their mothers and given to social welfare will be looked after better than if they were closer to their mothers. I may submit that if the mother is at our open prison and you take that child to Social Welfare, the child may actually be looked after better by the mother at our open correctional facility.

So, while I hear your sentiments, I submit this clause is very progressive under the circumstances and until such  a time when we can realise that particular level of development, we can then remove it outrightly but for now, I submit that let us pass it as it is and move forward. I submit.

          HON. BITI: We acknowledge the clarification by the Minister but the Minister must answer the question; Section 71 (1) says a female inmate may be admitted into a prison or correctional facility in the custody with her infant”. So, we acknowledge the discretionary non-peremptory use of the word “may” but who then determines whether the infant is going with her mom or not. I submit that when a child is an infant and by infant, I think putting it to 59 months might be too much. I would propose that we put it at 36 months. Within the space of two years, let the mother choose whether they want the child to be out or with her.

I suspect that if a child is like six months and the baby is suckling, the mother will say, regai ndiende nemwana wangu. Can we put safeguards on the “may”? Who is determining where the child is going? I submit that the choice, if the child is an infant, defined to mean 36 months and below, must lie with the mother because sometimes the mother knows that vakasiira mainini Betty ndosvika mwana afa so better kuti ndiende nemwana wangu kujeri. So, let the discretion be not with the authorities but with the mother. Ndozvandiri kukumbira Minister – [HON. ZIYAMBI: Inaudible interjection.] – so, toti Probation officer, with the consent of the mother - [HON. ZIYAMBI: Yes.] – because the mother can say vakaenda kwaChairman who is a businessman, mwana wangu anochengetwa mushe. – [HON. ZIYAMBI: Inaudible interjection.] –  Look it at the way we read it in hear. We read “may” as meaning “shall”. Think now of a Prison officer in a Law and other  department. So, let us put safeguards there.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Hon. Chair, the way it is, it is actually looking at a scenario where the mother has come with that child, meaning that the mother had nowhere to leave the child – [HON. BITI: Aiwa, anenge abatwa achitengesa matomati paMbare saka haana choice or pick-pocketing at Beitbridge Border post so as a mother, has no choice.] – Yes, ordinarily even the police are not supposed to detain a mother and the child. They must release the child into the custody of a relative. If there is no one, this is upon conviction and whatever you are saying.  This is a scenario where a mother walks in and has already made up her mind that the best thing for me to do is to go with my baby.

The authorities now interrogate – [HON. BITI: Inaudible interjection.] – and the police will release them into the custody of their relatives. This is a peculiar case where a mother does not have anyone and that is the reason why it says may admit, because she came with the child and everything else has been looked at. Remember our system is such that our correctional officers will have to interview and get all this information and make a determination. I am saying we are just saying the same thing – [HON. BITI: But zvakaipei kungoti consent yamhamha. Mhamha ndivo vari kuziva kuti kuna mainini Julie, Betty, Chipo kana kuti bamukuru John because kune vamwe ana bamukuru John vanobva vabata vana ipapa.] –

I submit that this one let us leave it as it is and proceed. I think it is very fair and progressive, trust me. We put this as it is – [– [HON. BITI: Saka chibvisai 59 months to 36 months.] – Yes, that we can do so that they can review at 36 months kave kumhanya. Four years dzanyanya.

Amendment to Clause 71 put and agreed to.

Clause 71, as amended, put and agreed to.

On Clause 72;

HON. BITI: Clause 72 is a very good and progressive one. It is long overdue but I suggest that before ‘bedding’, let us put bed/bedding.  So if the prisoner can afford a bed, let us put it there.

          HON. ZIYAMBI: Hon. Chair, the bed is a very dangerous thing to say unconvicted prisoners may take into prison because it depends on the type of bed, I think let us leave it at bedding.  This is a very progressive piece of legislation.  Can you imagine prisoners now being allowed to bring their own bedding?  So we can say food, clothing, bedding, television, or other necessities as the Commissioner-General may from time to time determine. I so submit.

          Amendment to Clause 72, put and agreed to.

          Clause 72 as amended put and agreed to

          Clauses 73 to 86 put and agreed to.

          On Clause 87:

          HON. BITI: Clause 87 talks about inmates being informed of provisions of the Act and applicable rules.  Let us start with the Constitution.  Inmates must know the Constitution of Zimbabwe, then the Prison Act and the regulations.

HON. ZIYAMBI: We can say inmates are to be informed of provisions of the Constitution, the Act, and applicable rules.  So subject to Section 3, the provisions of the Constitution of this Act, and any rule – so we just add Constitution.  I thank you.

Amendment to Clause 87, put and agreed to

Clause 87, as amended, put and agreed.

Clause 88 put and agreed to.

On Clause 89:

HON. BITI:  Mr. Chairman, this provision is very important because it speaks to rights of prisoners.  So, I suggest that we marry this with the rights of prisoners as codified in Section 50 of the Constitution. 

Section 50 speaks to the rights of arrested and detained persons.  I do not think that there is any harm in reproducing Section 50 and putting it there with appropriate modifications because it speaks to these rights.  We propose and the Hon. Minister has agreed that we add additional rights.  One of the rights that the Hon. Minister happily agreed to is the right of prisoners to conjugal rights – [*HON. ZIYAMBI:  I never agreed to that. I said we do not have the facilities as yet.] – No, no, we put the right but we then say, ‘subject to’, because remember conditions are different for those in Open Prisons…- [*HON. ZIYAMBI:  No, those are sent home, they are allowed to go home, so they have them.] – [*HON. MUTSEYAMI:  Just incorporate them!] – Yes, just incorporate. – [*HON. ZIYAMBI:  No, it seems as if you are planning your stay in prison.] – No, it is a constitutional issue… - [*HON. ZIYAMBI:  It seems you now want to enjoy yourselves in prison and not to be rehabilitated.] – It is a constitutional issue.  Sex is not enjoyment, sex is duty – [*HON. ZIYAMBI:  I said that we will look into it.] – then there is the issue on the right to exercise … - [*HON. ZIYAMBI:  It is there.] –  No, it should be incorporated here, hence my proposal to insert Section 50 there.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Let me respond Hon. Chair.  Hon. Chair, we do not have to reproduce the Constitution. If you read the Constitution very well when it speaks to rights - it says, when you are interpreting any legislation, regard must be given to the rights in the Constitution.

So given that, when we are interpreting this, we will give regard to those rights.  We do not have to say in each and every legislation, we reproduce the Constitution.  I submit that it is correct the way it is but in applying this section, the Correctional Officers are enjoined to do that by the Constitution.  We are pretty much correct in doing this.  Even if you look at the Preamble, it speaks to that; to what the Constitution enjoins us to do, to come up with Prison Correctional Services to give prisoners their rights.

So I think it is correct as it is.  Those rights that are already there, it is given.  They can demand them.  I submit Hon. Chair.

HON. BITI:  Yes.  I think if the Hon. Minister accepts that the Constitution is incorporated, then Section 81 should read as follows: - ‘subject to the Constitution, this Act and any prescribed rules, Standing Orders or Administration - so that the Prison Officer knows that there is a superior norm and the superior norm is the Constitution of Zimbabwe.’

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Yes, I do not mind saying, ‘subject to the Constitution, and this Act… - [HON. BITI: Yes!] – Yes, it is alright but we cannot repeat everything. – [*HON. BITI: But on conjugal rights!] –

Amendment to Clause 89 put and agreed to.

Clause 89 as amended, put and agreed to.

Clauses 90 to 127, put and agreed.

Clauses 130 to 133, put and agreed.

On Clause 134:

HON. BITI: Thank you Mr. Chairman.  Solitary confinement is unconstitutional and is inconsistent with international standards.  I failed to find anywhere it is contained in this Bill.  The Clause 134, I suspect it is contained in the regulations but I suggest that we put a specific provision that bans solitary confinement.  Solitary confinement, I talk of some prisoners; death role prisoners, they are only given one hour per day.  They are given 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening to exercise.  The rest of the time, they are on their own.  Solitary confinement creates major psychological impact on prisoners. So, I suggest that we use this provision to actually prescribe solitary confinement.

Also, I have a problem in that if you look at Section 134 (1), you are giving too much power to the Officer in Charge.  The Officer in Charge is given powers of determining solitary confinement.  Why can we not have a small committee; the Officer in Charge or three other Officers because this power is too much and it can be abused?  These prisoners are human beings –[HON. ZIYAMBI: Kusecurity sector hakuna zvemacommittee oku exerciser power.]Why should we secure - what is the necessity of chains because you are solitary confined, leg irons are then put on you?  Some of these provisions are cake hang-overs from Ian Douglas Smith of Shurugwi.  They are not necessary in the democratic Zimbabwe; they are not necessary – [HON. ZIYAMBI: What are you suggesting then?] – I am suggesting that the powers that are being given to the Officer in Charge as one person is too much.  Have a committee that determines whether a solitary confinement is justified.  Also, I do not see the wisdom of both solitary confinement and then leg irons.  We are inheriting these things which are a carry-over from Ian Douglas Smith of Shurugwi.

*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Chairman, when we are discussing, we should have progressive discussions and debates.  Let me give an example of Chidhumo and Masendeke, those people were dangerous.  For us to let them out to the public, they would kill everyone because that is who they were.  Leg irons are not for everyone.  The one who is in charge of that particular prison is able to determine – I will give an example of Mr. Biti.  He could tell that Mr. Biti is so dangerous that if he is left to go out without leg irons, he can be dangerous.  It is just an example.

So, for us to remove the leg irons issue is not good. We are not inheriting Ian Douglas Smith culture; this is for security.  The Officer in Charge should therefore assess the person to check how dangerous he is.  Murderers are very dangerous; they can kill even the Officer in Charge.  For example, murderers who were going to court in Masvingo or Bulawayo, I cannot remember but they jumped out of the truck and ran away.  I agree with Hon. Biti on certain issues but on the issue of leg irons, I totally disagree.  We cannot entertain each other with lies.  I support him on certain issues that not everybody should be under leg irons.  It is supposed to be on the discretion of the Officer in Charge.  Those who are well versed with law, like Hon. Biti, should put it across in a better way but not that everybody should not be put under leg irons.  Dangerous people should be under leg irons. 

HON. R. R. NYATHI: Thank you Hon. Chair.  I wanted to add on the point raised by Hon. Biti on solitary confinement and leg irons.  I had an opportunity sometime to go to Robin Islands where I learnt about certain people who were in solitary confinement.  Some of them ended up being mentally disturbed and others passed on. We should then determine how many hours we need in confinement.  Where possible, if there are psychologists, they should assist.  For us to say purely solitary - a human being cannot be kept from socialising with others because by nature, we are social.  We cannot be totally isolated.    

          HON. MUNETSI:  Thank you very much.  I want to talk about the powers of the Officer-In-Charge.  At times when there is a committee and matters that are crucial are discussed at committee level, it is risky in terms of security.  If information leaks to the inmates, they get information and can easily run away from prisons.  It is very risky.  So the Officer-In-Charge can decide.  Maybe a committee which you are talking about may not be people who are directly involved with the inmates.  That can be a good committee.

          (v)HON. S. NDLOVU:  Good evening to you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I also want to contribute in regards to solitary confinement.  I went to Robbin Island and I was shown the cell where Nelson Mandela was kept in solitary confinement.  Truly speaking, a human being in such a small room for 27 years.  We were told that he would wake up in the morning and speak to himself and greet himself – ‘Morning Nelson how are you today’, all by himself for 27 years.

I think in Zimbabwe, truly speaking, for someone who is a danger to society like murderers, we can do that, but any other person does not deserve to be in solitary confinementJust seeing that room where Mandela was, I had a different picture and said look, in a free Zimbabwe, we do not need that. We can do away with solitary confinement, but I do agree that for those who are a danger to society or a danger to other people, a danger to prison officers, yes, they can be in solitary confinement.  Any other person, please let us do away with solitary confinement.  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.

          HON. ZIYAMBI:  Hon. Chair, the first issue is the powers of the Officer-In-Charge.  This is standard in the security sector.  The Officer-In-Charge gives the orders but he works with his team.  So I think this is in order. We cannot change it.  We cannot now start restructuring the security sector and dismantling how orders are given.  I think within the security structure, the one in charge of that particular section gives orders and that is in order.

Solitary confinement where it is necessary, has to be there.  There are certain very dangerous prisoners who if you put them in the open where there are others and there is anything that they can pick; because they know that in any event, they have been sentenced to death, they can use it to kill anyone.  It does not change their circumstances.  So I think let us leave it as it is.  This is not a very bad clause and I move that we accept it as it is.  Hon. Chair I thank you.

          Clause 134 put and agreed to.

          Clauses 135 to 138, put and agreed to.

          On Clause 139:

          HON. MUSHORIWA:  I wanted to say the establishment of the State parallel board is a noble idea.  It is actually a progressive thing.  My only concern, Hon. Minister is that you see we are establishing it, but I wanted to find out in terms of how it will function, whether it will be effective.  My suggestion was to actually come up with a small clause that there be allowed to set sub-committees to operate, that can be delegated to operate in the various provinces because my fear is that if it is so centralised without some level of decentralisation or some sub-committees working in the provinces to speed up the process; that is my only worry about this board.  If we can actually come up with a sub-clause, simply to say they can then be allowed to form sub-committees to facilitate the board.

          HON. ZIYAMBI:  It is already there.  If you go to that clause, subclause 5, ‘such other staff as is necessary to enable the body to perform its functions and duties under this Act maybe employed in accordance with this Act or the Public Service Act’.  So, it is covered.

          HON. MUSHORIWA:  But those will be supporting staff.  The challenge is that those ones cannot make decisions.  Why can we then not allow the board to have sub-committees too because imagine - if you then go through the functions, if you go to 140 and then 141 when you read the functions of the board, you then understand my reasoning to say that it is important to have sub-committees.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:  Hon. Mushoriwa, I am not shooting down your point but I do not understand the reason you would want to add a sub-committee when there is a board that makes all the decisions.

HON. MUSHORIWA:  My fear is that the very purpose that we are setting this State Parole Board may be defeated by having a centralised situation where everything is bambazonke to Harare and it may take and inconvenience other centres and other provinces.

          *HON. R. R. NYATHI: The idea that is being brought by Hon. Mushoriwa is noble but we have not come across that in any institution. Ministries have to appoint the board but we have not seen that coming. Multinational companies have boards in each and every company but you cannot decentralise boards. That practice will bring a lot of confusion. Thank you.

          HON. BITI: We are calling it a board but it is more than a board. It is a Committee that executes. If you look at the functions of the State Parole Board, it goes into prisons, it interviews prisoners, prison officers and determines whether or not they deserve parole. So it is different from your typical executive board that sits in a board room to make an executive decision. It is different from a corporate board. This is an executive board which spends a lot of time in confined prison environments talking to prisoners to determine whether an individual is deserving of parole. For that reason, this thing has to be decentralised. We have got over 20 000 prisoners in Zimbabwe.

Our prisons are heavily congested of convicted prisoners. Never mind prisoners that are on remand, they are over 100, 20 and 30 people who are currently on death row right now as I am talking to you. The majority of them have been on death row for more than four years. Zimbabwe last executed a death row prisoner in 1995. We have not executed at all and that means all these prisoners are eligible for parole. The board we are talking about, even though we are calling it a board, it is actually an Executive Board. This is a full-time function because they will be going to Khami, Chikurubi, Masvingo and they go to every province where there is a major prison.

We have to decentralise the State Parole Board. We have to have provincial State Parole Boards because the function is of an executive nature and not of a policy nature. I also urge that we need to revisit the composition of the board. In some countries, they put retired magistrates or retired judges. The reason is very simple because when you are sitting as a parole officer, you are making a judgement about the suitability of that person to be allowed back into society before he/she has served prison terms.

There is a quasi-judicial function and I think that we need to revisit the composition and we need to decentralise the State Parole Board because it is an executive board and not a policy board. It does not sit in the office because it spends it’s time in prisons interviewing prisoners and interviewing prison officers saying, is this candidate suitable, yes/no? What has been his/her record? Has he ever beaten a prison officer, scold prison officers, does he/she do her duties well et cetera? It is an executive function. I thank you.

HON. MADZIMURE: I want to agree with Hon. Biti. The functions that we are talking about are so important and need serious concentration. If we are doing this in good spirit, then it means the board must be effective. The only way it can be effective is if it can carry out its duties diligently and thoroughly and this can only be done at a local level so that the Committee at that particular local level, will recommend to the board. I think that will make a lot of sense considering that even as we speak, we have got several prisoners who deserve their cases to be heard by the Parole Board.

As a result, I think we must be able to separate from the policy board that we talk about who will only make decisions on policy issues. Here is a board that is required to act on facts, and for it to be able to interact with prisoners, it cannot be that one board that can be able to deal with the number of prisoners that we have in this country. Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Hon. Chair, I submit that this Clause is okay as it is and urge Hon. Members to pass it as it is. I thank you.

HON. MATARANYIKA: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. My concern is on Clause 139 (2) (c), where the number of members of the board are said to be not more than five. I am thinking that we need to be specific and clearly state the number of members. Apart from the Chairman and the two Vice Chairman, it is saying that such number of members should be not more than five persons, and I am saying there is need for a definitive number so that it is not abused for one reason or another. Let us be definitive in our approach. If the total number of members should be five, let us say five and if it should be seven, let us say seven rather than just saying not more than five. The law should be specific. Thank you.

HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Minister, I think you can understand this. You cannot have a board with five people and you expect that board to be effective to be able to run around all the prisons that are scattered across our ten provinces in this country. My suggestion is that this is a noble initiative and it is a good direction but we cannot start something and we half-bake it. Let us try to come up with a system that is functional. This is the reason why I was saying it is important to have the five members on the board but also allow to have provincial committees that then feed in into the work of this board. The amendment should be very simple in my view because if we leave it like this, this State Parole Board will not do anything.  This is the reason why if you check, not only does it cover 139 but goes on to 149.  It is a huge chunk and a very important board.  Let us not do a half-baked product.  Let us just finish it to its logical conclusion.

          HON. BITI:  The Minister knows the high number of convicted prisoners in the country.  There is no prison in Zimbabwe that is not congested.  That is why even in the context of a constrained budget, the Minister himself has made a proposal to the Treasury for the construction of more prisons because there is too much demand for such services.  The Parole Board is going to be a busy board, seven people are not enough.  Let us find a mechanism of decentralizing this board.  We can do it through the Act.  We can have the board operating with its seven people and then say the function of the board can be done by members of staff who go and interview – the board will then sit and hear this.  To say five or seven people can serve the whole country, we will not be doing any justice to this.  We are killing a noble idea by operationally decapitating its capacity to work because we are understaffing the same.  So we either leave the board as it is and make it a policy board and then have officers who go into prisons - these would include psychologists, criminologists and so on. They will go into the prisons and make recommendations to the board and then to the Minister. This is what happens in other countries and it can work, confining the function to only seven people is not ideal.  Let us make this effective by making sure that it is decentralized at board or operational level. We cannot have a still birth by things that we all know that in Zimbabwe will not work.

          THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MUTOMBA):  Hon. Biti, I do not know whether you have seen the last bullet number 5 which is saying such other staff as…

HON. BITI:  I have seen it Hon. Chair.  The functions of the State Parole Board are in the board and not in the staff. It does not matter – we can have two million members of staff.  If we have got seven people and you are trying to make them do the work of the whole Zimbabwe, it will not work.  This is why I said we can either tweak this Bill by saying the board members can remain seven, then they operate at almost a policy level but the State Parole Board then works through the members of staff.  As it is, the work can only be done by those seven people. If we allow delegation of staff, then it makes sense.

*HON. MADZIMURE:  We cannot pass a half-baked Act like what the Minister is saying.  It has taken so many years to amend this Act.  These seven people are the ones who are supposed to be doing the actual work but their ratio to the number of prisoners who deserve to have their cases heard is not corresponding.  Some prisoners complete their terms without having the opportunity to go on the  board.  For us to expect the prisoners to benefit from this, it is not possible in the form in which we have the parole board – the number and its composition and the fact that it is at that top level and they are expected to go down there and do the interviews and do the rest.  The ratio does not work and it will not benefit the intended people.

*HON. CHINOTIMBA:  There are prison officers who take care of prisoners and these can recommend to the board.  It is not the board that moves around the country but the Officer in Charge of that prison can recommend to the board.

When Andrew Ndlovu was in prison, his brother passed away and we went to the people in charge and asked him to be freed for his brother’s funeral.  We did not ask the board.  Yes, there are a lot of prisoners but to increase the number of people who sit on the board is wasting resources… 

HON. MATARANYIKA:  How many Chairpersons are appointed because here it says deputy chairpersons without saying the number?

HON. BITI: Who does the work, the board or its staff?

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Both.

HON. BITI:  If it is both, then let us make it clear in the Act.  The work can be done and the board can send members of staff.  What Hon. Chinotimba is saying is not parole - to allow a prisoner to go and attend a funeral is not parole.  Parole is when a prisoner committed murder and we want to release him – this is a specialized function. The key question is, are you a danger to the society?  The Commissioner of prisoners cannot do that.  It is now a specialized board that has been trained to say if we put this person on parole, is he not a danger to the society. Officer in Charge cannot do that. Officer in Charge was trained to take care of a person not discharge a person…

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON:  Hon. Biti!

HON. BITI: Mhaaa.

HON. MUKARATIGWA: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I think we are seized with an issue which is both of a technical nature, operational as it may be and perhaps a policy issue. As far as operations of the board is concerned, especially the parole board, we also need to consider what parole is all about. In terms of the technical aspect of it, is it resident in the board? I think in simpler terms, I am a layman, we need to look at it as a day to day thing. In organizational structures, it is more to do with appraisals and it is not an overnight wonder.  What I am saying is what I hear from Hon. Biti, Mr. Chairman, which speaks to efficiency or inefficiency or a backlog that has been created over time. The question is, that is a seasonal aspect that we want to deal with or want to see whether the scenario obtaining here can speak to clearing of such backlogs and in terms of implementation, we strengthen it to ensure that there is efficiency within a system.

When we talk of appraisals within an organization, it takes everyone from lower levels to the highest level. So, it is not an overnight wonder. Officers are involved on a day to day basis. They come up with periodical reports which will feed in this case, in a specific board that deals with parole. Centralizing it may be, there should not be a challenge. That is my take. We need to refrain from causing that board to micro-manage. There is a danger here. I submit.

HON. BITI: We have given parole powers to the State Parole Board. We have made it a micromanager dealing with micro issues. That is what we have done. There has to be devolution either in terms of increasing the number of the board members or devolution in terms of allowing people who to do the work. First, it could be the staff of this creature that we are creating or allowing the prison officer to have a definitive buy-in into the process. At the present moment, the function is monopolized with the board but we have monopolized a function that by its nature, it is has to be democratic by reason of the number of prisons and the number of prisoners we have. It is a drafting issue and a technical issue. That is where we are hammering. I have no problem with what the esteemed Member was saying. I agree with him but that is not what the law is saying. The law has monopolized parole functions with the board. Let us democratize it by these various options I am proffering; allow staff to do it, incorporate what prison officers do on a regular basis. Prison officer must carry out review daily, whether a prisoner can be released or not. At present moment, that Act is not providing a nexus between the exclusive functions of the State Parole Board which have been monopolized with the board and what we all know must be democratized.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Chairman. I move that we report progress and seek leave to sit again. I thank you.

House resumed.

Progress reported.

Committee to resume: Thursday, 18 May, 2023.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the House adjourned at Seventeen Minutes to Seven o’clock p.m.

 

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