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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 18 MARCH 2020 46 36
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday, 18th March, 2020
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
APPOINTMENT TO COMMITTEES
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Phillip Chiyangwa will serve in the Budget and Finance Committee as well as in the Home Affairs, Defence and Security Services Committee.
ADJOURNEMENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO CURB
THE SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS
THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that following the announcement made by His Excellency, the Head of State and Government yesterday on measures to be taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the House will adjourn today to 5th May, 2020 – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - However, Hon. Members should note that the resumption date is subject to change depending on the prevailing conditions at that particular time.
Hon. Members will be advised of such change should the need arise. Consequently, all international travel, Committee meetings and Public Hearings are cancelled with immediate effect. However, approved workshops and field visits may go ahead where the numbers are less than the recommended number of 100. All other meetings will be considered on a case by case basis.
Let me explain that where there is doubt I am advising the Hon. Members, particularly the Chairpersons and those who will be leading some field visits, to liaise with the Clerk of Parliament at all times.
HON. MUTSEYAMI: Good afternoon Mr. Speaker Sir. Mr. Speaker Sir, I am seeking clarity with regard to the presentation that you have just done. It is well appreciated but Mr. Speaker Sir I will need clarity with regard to the consistency in terms of cementing that position. We heard yesterday that there would be no more gatherings exceeding 100 all over the country effectively from today, but as we speak right now, in Nyakomba in Nyanga, the Executive is having a rally– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order!
HON. MUTSEYAMI: As we speak right now the Executive is having a rally in Nyanga North at Bumhira Primary School. In the morning they had a big gathering of 700 people at Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme. How consistent is the position and how are we going to adhere, bearing in mind that the very people who announced that are now abusing the position?
THE HON. SPEAKER: I hear the Hon. Member. The explanation
is very simple. It is that the arrangements were done and were at an advanced stage. Inasmuch as the notice that we have given about our sitting, particularly here in the House where we are so crowded, it could not be a cancellation by notice generally. That is why we said we will accommodate this sitting today. Sometimes you have to rely on some exigencies which are beyond our control just as we are sitting now. We are over 100. We have allowed this sitting by taking a chance and that this would be the last sitting until the question of the Coronavirus is arranged.
HON. BITI: I rise on a point of clarification Mr. Speaker Sir. We have Committees that are behind time in terms of their work schedule; and considering that Committees normally have less that 30 people, we suggest and submit that Committee work, provided it meets the criteria of less than 100, be allowed to continue work because we have
Committees that are seriously behind. I make that submission to you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Biti your point of clarification will
fall into the category of case by case. So you consult the Clerk of Parliament.
*HON. KWARAMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. We heard
what you said regarding the Coronavirus, but the issue is that we want to go home, but we do not have the means of transportation because there is no diesel. We might not find diesel today or tomorrow. What should we do to address the anomaly?
THE HON. SPEAKER: I am advised that the arrangements are being made by administration and also you are not being chased away as from today. You will be staying in your hotels until Friday. It is not that you have to go today – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – Order, order!
HON. T. MLISWA: Mine is not a notice of motion but it is a
point of privilege.
THE HON. SPEAKER: We have to start on your questions
HON. T. MLISWA: I thought that no one was willing to give notice of motion and that is why I got up.
APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have received the following apologies from the Hon. Ministers; Hon. Matuke, Deputy Minister of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Hon. S. B. Moyo, Minister of
Foreign Affairs and Hon. Kazembe Kazembe. He may be late but just in case he does not finish what he is doing and Hon. Muchinguri-Kashiri. I have two Hon. Ministers and one would like to present an Audit Report.
HON. GONESE: Sorry Mr. Speaker Sir. I have a point of order arising from your last announcement regarding those Hon. Ministers who have sought leave of absence. We all know that in the past we have raised the issue that I think the list which you read out has got about four names. When we look at the numbers who are here, it is obvious that there are Hon. Ministers who have neither sought leave of absence and who are not present today. In the past we have raised this issue that we have got Standing Orders which provide that if an Hon. Minister has not sought leave of absence, they are guilty of contempt of Parliament.
We have raised this issue and we have asked the Chair and he has said that as an institution, it is now time for us to bear our teeth and bite. I submit that if an Hon. Minister persistently ignores that directive that should they not be present, they are allowed to seek leave of absence. If they do neither and do not come and seek leave of absence, I am submitting again that time has come for us to exercise the powers which we have in terms of the Standing Orders.
In terms of the Constitution, Section 107, it is very clear that they are obliged to attend. If they fail to attend, our Standing Orders have got provisions. Standing Order No. 26 as read with Standing Order No. 63 makes that provision that they are in contempt. If they are in contempt and persistently so and we do nothing about it, I believe that we are not exercising the powers that we have as an institution and you, as head of this august institution should initiate the relevant processes to bring those Hon. Ministers to account.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much. What is going to
happen is, the Clerk will document all the Ministers who shall be present and then take it up from there from the list that will appear on the Order Paper and we will follow the normal procedure in terms of moving forward, perhaps a motion accordingly. I said there are two Hon.
Ministers who want to make some presentations. The first one is the
Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. Matiza.
TABLING OF REPORTS
REPORT OF NATIONAL RAILWAYS OF ZIMBABWE ON THE
FORENSIC AUDIT MANAGEMENT AND STAFFING
PROCUREMENT SYSTEMS PROPERTY
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND
INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. ARCH.
MATIZA): Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to table two Forensic
Audits. The first in terms of Section 12 of the Audit Office Act Chapter
22 (18), I lay upon the table the Report of the National Railways of
Zimbabwe on the Forensic Audit Management and Staffing Procurement Systems Property, man rail investments for the period of January 2010 to December 2015.
REPORT OF THE AIR ZIMBABWE ON THE FORENSIC AUDIT
REPORT ON OPERATIONS OF THE AIR ZIMBABWE
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND
INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. ARCH.
MATIZA): Mr. Speaker Sir, in terms of Section 20 (12) of the Audit Office Act Chapter 22 (18), I lay upon the table the Report of the Air
Zimbabwe on the Forensic Audit Report on the Operations of Air Zimbabwe Private Limited with a specific focus on Aviation Insurance for December, 2013. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I would like to inform the House that the Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education intends to present a ministerial statement on the examination fees after question time. So, be patient because there were issues that were popping up all the time and
so he is ready to clarify the situation.
ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 14,
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) presented the
Attorney General’s Office Amendment Bill [H. B. 14, 2019].
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
HON. T. MLISWA: Hon. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege to do with the undertaking that you took that you were going to consult the
Attorney General’s office in terms of the disbursement of funds from devolution. I do not know how far you have gone with that.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The consultations are actively going on.
We will report back to the House.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
HON. MADIWA: My question is directed to the Minister of
Finance and Economic Development, in his absence to the Leader of the House. What is Government policy on foreign currency payments to small scale tea growers in light of the statement released by the Reserve Bank and TIMB to pay 50% of foreign currency to tobacco growers?
THE HON. SPEAKER: I am not sure if that is for the Leader of Government business but for the Ministry of Lands in consultation with the Ministry of Finance.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE,
WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON.
HARITATOS): It is in my opinion that it was actually asked to the right Ministry. However, since I have a bit of background knowledge, I may answer a few things that I know.
Firstly, tea production falls within our Ministry. Certainly, we want the best for our farmers. Currently, if I am not mistaken, tea growers receive 20% in local currency and 80% in foreign currency. What we encourage is that all farmers of any exports open foreign currency accounts in order for them to be able to receive their contributions in foreign currency.
HON. MADIWA: That is not the reality on the ground because tea growers at the moment are selling their tea at an average of RTGs 2 a kilogramme. Small scale tea growers are the ones who are growing the best tea that is blending that one that is being produced by the commercial farmers that is making it the best tea. What is the incentive now that this tea is also exported and they are supposed to be benefiting from their exports?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Since there is a query, I suggest that you put that question in writing so that the Hon. Minister of Finance can answer in detail.
HON. NKANI: My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development. In view of the current challenges in the supply of fuel, what is the Government policy regarding the expedition of oil and gas exploration in our country?
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHASI): The issue concerning gas – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, can you reduce your whispers.
HON. CHASI: Government is at this moment in time involved in the process of setting up the necessary policy framework and regulatory framework including the drafting of Petroleum Bill.....
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, they cannot hear you at the back. Perhaps you could raise your voice.
HON. CHASI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. At the moment Government is in the process of putting in place the necessary policy framework for gas and petroleum and so the legal framework is actually under active consideration as we speak and a draft Bill will soon be made available.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, the Hon. Minister of Energy and Power Development will make a Ministerial Statement, so if you could hold on to your questions on energy so that you can raise those once afterthe Hon. Minister has presented his statement.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: My question is
directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. On behalf of the African Parliamentary Network against Corruption(APNAC), we are concerned that perhaps you would need to explain to us what is happening with the issues that have to do with either convictions or asset forfeiture, given that we have seen a lot of high profile arrests and yet we have not seen anything that has come out of it and the public and ourselves are beginning to doubt the seriousness and the political will that Government has on the fight against corruption.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I want to start
by assuring the Hon. Member that as a Government, we are committed to the fight against corruption.
Secondly, indeed high profile arrests have happened but what we also have to appreciate is, an arrest does not mean the person is guilty. There are due legal processes that have to be allowed until a verdict of guilty is reached. What we also have to appreciate is those that are termed ‘high profile’ are people with means that can use every available legal recourse at their disposal. So we would find that in most of the high profile cases, several court applications are made by the accused and that is legal because those processes are allowed. We have also noticed that there is need of close working relationships between the arresting details and the prosecution so that we do not have premature arrests that will lead to prolonged cases whereby there will now be need for further investigations in order to conclude the cases.
Most of the time we have had the accused on remand for a long time because of the need to ensure that they gather the necessary evidence and that is now happening whereby the prosecution and the arresting details are now working together. Once the paperwork is complete then they, can move for arrest.
Secondly, what we found out worldwide is that it is very difficult to prosecute a corruption case and also very expensive. I am glad that this House also passed an amendment to the Anti-money Laundering law so that we have a provision for assert forfeiture. This is an easy route to follow where the onus is on the person to prove where they got the wealth from and if they fail, then those asserts are forfeited to the State. So now we are going to use several avenues to ensure that we deal with corruption cases but indeed corruption cases are not very easy to prosecute as they involve people with means and those people will use every available legal process to ensure that they stall the process. I thank you.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Hon. Minister, perhaps
you could indicate whether there is no possibility of beginning to …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Member, please
address the Chair so that there is no duel between yourself and the Hon.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I am sorry Mr. Speaker
Sir. Mr. Speaker Sir, perhaps the Hon. Minister maybe able to indicate to the House whether we should not be thinking about putting certain timelines within our legal system almost the same as we have done with Electoral petitions.
We know that after an election, you have a specific period to which something comes to court and it is finalised so that at least these things can be finalised. If it is not, the message that is being sent to the people of Zimbabwe generally is that you cannot be arrested for corruption and I think that is a bad way to start the fight against corruption. I thank you.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Our Constitution
is very clear that an accused has to be brought to court and tried within reasonable time. So I think that we will be putting in place a lot of regulations if we start doing that but what is needed is to ensure that we have a system that is efficient in so far as investigations are concerned so that we do not have delays once somebody is either arrested or indicted for trial. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: My supplementary Mr. Speaker Sir, is that the Prosecutor-General according to Section 261 (a) and (b) talks about the independence and impartiality of the Prosecutor General. How can we be assured as a nation if the Prosecutor-General himself has said that,
‘The State has been captured.’ and yet the Constitution is very clear that he must stand-alone independently and take no directive from anyone but he is being in the public domain saying that certainly the independence is not there, the impartiality is not there and because of that, him being the Prosecutor-General of the country has no faith in the system.
So how can the Hon. Minister convince this House that there is indeed faith in the system and that the Prosecutor-General is not telling the truth? It is something that I had asked the Hon. Vice President when he was here but now that the Hon. Minister who is responsible for the Prosecutor-General is here, he could probably respond to those statements by the Prosecutor General.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question. The first thing that I want to say is that the Prosecutor-General never said that ‘the prosecution is captured’. Secondly, the Prosecutor-General believes that he was quoted out of context. Thirdly Hon. Speaker, if I am captured, it does not translate to the Prosecutor-General being captured. As an individual, I am answerable for my own deeds, so if I do some misdemeanors, perhaps that is what the Prosecutor-General referred to but in conversation with him, he believes that he was misquoted and what was reported which is what the Hon. Member is quoting – he was misquoted because they did not take in context what he was saying.
I believe that there is a difference between the office of the Prosecutor-General and the State. He prosecutes for the State so if he indicates that there is something that is happening; he is not speaking per se about his office. I believe that our Prosecutor-General is very independent; our prosecutors apply their minds when they are doing their jobs without any due influence for anyone. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, it is important to understand that the Prosecutor-General has not appointed the Hon. Minister to be the spokesperson – this was on State media. He has not retracted that statement; so may the Hon. Minister then go and talk to the Prosecutor-General to make a statement to the effect that he was misquoted so that we believe it because he is independent and in being independent, it then does not give the credence that the Hon. Minister is talking about of being independent when then the Hon. Minister seems to be questioning him on certain things. He takes no directive from anybody according to the Constitution.
So can there be a statement so that this can then bring closure to this issue from the Prosecutor-General because it was the State owned media that supports the State - it was not the independent media or Star FM. So can we get a statement so that it brings closure to this?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, would you want to
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The Hon. Member with all due respect, if he believes that I am not the spokesperson, then he was not supposed to ask me that question.
Secondly, without referring to the murmurs from the – [HON. BITI: Murmurs! Ukati mamas then you are referring to something else that is completely different.] – Yes from the murmurs but yes, I like the first one – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - I like the first one. Secondly, Mr. Speaker Sir, I believe that being the Minister that administers the Act and being responsible for justice, independent commissions and the Prosecutor-General’s office being one – they do not have audience in Parliament and the Minister tables reports here on their behalf. So I believe that the Hon. Member was not even correct to say that I am not the spokesperson.
I stand by what I said and I believe that there is need for a written statement that I should bring to this august House. I thank you.
HON. DINAR: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question goes to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. I would like to know the policy measures the Ministry is putting in place to ensure that
Section 75 (1) (a) of the Constitution, which provides for free, basic –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
HON. DINAR: I would like to know the policy measures the Ministry is taking to ensure that there is free and State sponsored basic education for all Zimbabweans. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you Mr. Speaker, I thank the Hon. Member for asking the question. Indeed, Section 75 says something to the effect that eventually, when funds are available, the State is going to provide the education that the Hon. Member is talking about.
HON. DINAR: Mr. Speaker Sir, it does not say when funds are available. If you read the Constitution, it states that the Government should provide, State funded free, basic education for all Zimbabweans.
What steps are you taking to ensure that this is fulfilled? – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order. I have checked Section 75 and it clearly says; ‘must make progressively available and accessible,’ that is what the Hon. Minster said.
HON. PHULU: On a point of clarification Mr. Speaker Sir. Whilst we appreciate the point of the Minister, that it is about resources, there is a duty whenever this question is asked, for the Minister to explain what steps have been taken to progressively realise the right.
So, the Minister must present a framework for the progressive realization of the right and say that we have gone up to so much to progressively realise it and we are left with so much. The principle of progressive realisation cannot be answered by merely saying that there are no resources. The issue of no resources must be couched by saying what steps have been taken progressively and what steps remain.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Member for the
HON. MATHEMA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The State is already providing quite a lot towards the education of our children. If indeed the Hon. Member or the august House is interested to know how much we have moved towards that direction, I am prepared to issue a Ministerial Statement to this august House to show how far – because by law, every child in Zimbabwe has to go to school and not just to school but to receive quality education. I am ready to give a full detailed report on how far we have moved forward.
HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I understand the Hon. Minister is going to issue a Ministerial Statement on the issue of the examination fee, but the issue that has been asked by Hon. Dinar – he asked about the steps that the Ministry is taking to find basic education...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, can you sit down. The Hon. Minister will give you blow-by-blow of what has been done so far.
That is sufficient. At that point, then you can ask further questions.
+HON. MKANDLA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Good afternoon
Hon. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Mines and
Mining Development. If he is not in the House then I direct it to the Leader of the House. May the Hon. Minister explain to the House what plans his Ministry has regarding the opening of Kamativi Tin Mine. It has been a long time to be reopened Mr. Speaker Sir; people talk about the history of Kamativi Mine. Kamativi Mine is now inhabited by mice and it is now like a haunted place.
+THE HON. SPEAKER: The question that was raised by the Hon. Member is directed to the Minister of Mines and Mining
Development and that is a very specific question which is specific to a particular company. This question should be written down Hon.
Member, can you submit a written question to the Minister.
HON. A. MPOFU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Health. In light of the outbreak of the Coronavirus, what is Government policy regarding the provision of protective equipment to village health workers who are usually on the frontline of our health awareness campaigns when such outbreaks occur?
Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can the Hon. Member repeat the
HON. A. MPOFU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care. In light of the outbreak of the coronavirus what is Government policy as regards the provision of protective equipment to our village health workers who are usually on the front line of our health awareness campaigns when such outbreaks occur?
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS:
Was it not supposed to be a Ministerial Statement.] – I was not asked to. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to sincerely respect the Hon. Member for the question. The issue of protective equipment is the most essential in this whole exercise and we have made all the plans to get more protective equipment because it shall be on a continuous basis that we will be requiring protective equipment for our members of staff.
HON. MAMOMBE: On a point of order.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for allowing me to give updates on the coronavirus situation in the country.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order. I think it is question time, an update maybe can come later.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Minister. Afterwards the Hon. Minister will give an update.
HON. MAYIHLOME: My question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Local Government and Public Works. In his absence, I will direct it to the Leader of the House, Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON.
MEMBERS: Minister Chombo is in here.] – THE HON. SPEAKER: The Minister is there.
HON. MAYIHLOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question will be directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works. In light of challenges facing Government in the construction of roads why does the Government not utilise the services of the Defence Forces in construction of roads and other Government public buildings? –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Can we have order? The Hon. Member, it is necessary to distinguish which roads we are talking about. If it is national roads it is the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development and if it is roads within local authorities it is the Minister of Local Government. Would you like to clarify?
HON. MAYIHLOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I meant
roads for local authorities and public buildings that are under the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Mr. Speaker
Sir, because there was commotion, can the Hon. Member repeat the question?
HON. MAYIHLOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works. In light of challenges in local authorities’ road construction and construction of Government buildings why does the Government not utilise the services of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces? – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order!
HON. CHOMBO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir and thank you very much to the Hon. Member for the question raised as us as local government engaging the Defence Forces if we fall short of manpower. Indeed wherever we have fallen short, we have engaged the Defence Forces and you can see that when we had problems in Chimanimani we had the assistance of the military. Thank you very much.
HON. CHIZIVA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members on my left, there is no need for praise singing. Let the Hon. Member speak while we listen.
*HON. CHIZIVA: My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development. I want to know what Government policy is regarding those who generate their own electricity because there is no clear policy regarding that – [HON. KASHIRI: Inaudible interjections.] -
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Kashiri! The Ministerial
Statement is coming.
HON. B. DUBE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to find out if the Speaker is privy to the contents of the Ministerial Statement taking into account that, Mr. Speaker, in the past, we have had many Ministerial Statements where we were ordered to stop speaking then you realise that the Ministerial Statement does not address or answer that particular question. Unless we have a guarantee that Hon.
Chasi has a specific answer to Hon Chidziva’s question, we are not comfortable in having this thing going on.
THE HON. SPEAKER: That observation equally applies to the Hon. Member who has just made that statement. You are neither prophetic also as to whether or not it will be included. That is why when the Hon. Minister has given the Ministerial Statement and there are gaps, you are free to question the Hon. Minister at that stage.
HON. KASHIRI: My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture. In view of the hyperinflation obtaining in the country, I would like to know what mechanisms the Ministry has put in place to speed up payments for grain delivered to the GMB.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON.
HARITATOS): We are making every effort to pay our farmers as soon as is practically possible given that we have the funds. If we run out of funds, this is another situation. Up to date, I do not know of any complaints from any farmers. If the Hon. Member has specific farmers that have complaints, I would invite him anytime to come to our offices with specific examples.
On the same note, the mechanisms that we have put in place are that we continuously review producer process. As you know Mr. Speaker, yesterday the new producer price of wheat was announced. The price was as follows; for grade A wheat, Grain Marketing Board will pay $14 143.73. Producer prices are continuously being reviewed. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. KASHIRI: Would the Ministry consider payment in terms
of fertilizer so that people can maintain value?
HON. HARITATOS: His suggestion is duly noted and will be considered.
HON. JAMES SITHOLE: My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. With reference to the recent promotions of primary and secondary school heads, to what extent did the Ministry realise the promotion of more women administrators? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF MAVIMA): I have not received
the number of females and males who have been promoted recently but there is general policy to say we should move towards equalising the representation of both genders in the leadership, of not just our educational institutions but the public service in general. I am still to see the figures from the recent promotions because they have just been done.
I thank you.
HON. CHIBAYA: I will refer my question to the Minister of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Hon. Prof Mavima from Gokwe. Civil servants pension is a percentage of serving civil servants according to defined benefit scheme. Why is it that pension allowances are not being increased at the same with serving civil servants given that we are now living in the hyperinflationary environment? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF MAVIMA): We continuously
review allowances that are paid to pensioners, but I would like the Hon Member to know that we are now moving and we have already started the process of enacting a new Public Service Pensions Fund where it is going to be both defined contributions as well as defined benefits. We think this is going to be in a better position because those resources will be amenable to investment and therefore we will be in a better position to preserve the value of the contributions that the Government is going to make as well as the ones that the employees are going to make. We are in the process of enacting a new Public Service Pensions Fund which will address some of the issues the Member has raised. Thank you.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam Speaker. The import of
the question is around defined benefit scheme. The defined benefit scheme states that the pensioner’s allowance is a certain percent of the serving civil servant. Whilst I acknowledge the response given by the Hon. Minister that there is a scheme being currently drafted, the existing policy is of defined benefits. So why is it that in accordance with the defined benefit scheme at a time a serving civil servants’ salary is increased, it must automatically trigger an increment to the pensioner so that we maintain the percentage? Why are we not simply following our own policy? Thank you.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. To the best
of my knowledge, we have kept to the definition of the benefits that pensioners are supposed to get. The only problem is where we pay lump sum at the end of the serving of a member of the Public Service or the civil servant...
HON. G. K. SITHOLE: On a point of order Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
HON. G. K. SITHOLE: Thank you Madam Speaker. When the
Hon. Minister is answering, he is referring to the best of his knowledge. We want him to refer to the position of the Government and not to the best of his knowledge. Thank you.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Madam Speaker, Government has not
deviated from that legal position of paying based on defined benefits. I have referred to a situation where the value might have eroded because of the factors that he referred to but we have not deviated from the policy position to pay based on defined benefits. Thank you.
*HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I wanted to know
whether the Hon. Minister of Labour has plans to make a cost of living adjustment on pensioners’ earnings. This is because this issue has been applied even to all civil servants. Civil servants have benefitted from the cost of living adjustment.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Madam Speaker,
the august House would realise that sometime in November or December, there was an adjustment to the amounts that pensioners are receiving. I acknowledge that in most of the cases, these adjustments have already been superceded by the inflation and we will continuously review to make sure that we increase in order to cushion the pensioners both NSSA as well as Public Service pensioners. Thank you.
*HON. B. DUBE: My supplementary question – can Government
not copy plans like offering gratuities after three years? This is because these pensions might not benefit anyone. Since early 2000, Zimbabwe has been continuously changing its currency. Right now, we are talking about the bond note which does not have a specific value. Is there a particular reason or maybe it is because we do not have the ability of copying what other countries are doing? Thank you.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member
refers to a very specific suggestion regarding gratuity, but I have indicated here that given the macro-economic situation that we face, we are continuously reviewing to make sure that whatever is being paid to our pensioners is something that can continue to give them some value.
There could be consideration of that specific suggestion but I have said, given the situation we are continuously reviewing and upgrading the allowances or the pensions that are paid to the pensioners. So, it is basically one in the same thing. Thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: It is a very important question and I hope Members of Parliament can pin their ears to this. My question concerns the inconsistency on Government policy on land. There is a section, especially Statutory Instrument 62 of 2020 which is recognising the indigenous farmer owning the land. That is in order. It also talks about compensating the BIPPA farmers – giving back farmers. Is it not inconsistent with the laws of this country, especially Section 72 which I will read out to you so that there is an understanding on this? It reads,
“Section 72 (4) (a) talks about all agriculture land which was itemised in schedule 7 to the former Constitution or (b) before the effective date was identified in terms of Section 16 (b) (2) (a) cannot be taken’. What I am trying to say is, if the Minister intends to give back BIPPA farms, the
Constitution has got to be amended.
He cannot take land which was taken by Government without a constitutional amendment. Why are they going ahead with Statutory
Instrument 62 of 2020? There seems to be inconsistency in terms of Government, in terms of the land. Already, there is an agreement that the white farmers who want to farm can go into a joint agreement and what will happen to those farmers who are already circled on those BIPPA farms if you compensate or you bring back the former farmers? Thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER, CLIMATE & RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON.
HARITATOS): Thank you Madam Speaker and thank you Hon.
Member for the question and his passion with regards to Statutory Instrument 62 of 2020. To be very clear with everyone, all agricultural land in Zimbabwe belongs to the State. That is the first and foremost. Secondly, the Hon. Member is correct SI 62 of 2020 refers to indigenous farmers. It also refers to BIPPA. The Hon. Member mentioned that he is happy with indigenous farmers. So I will comment on the BIPA.
Madam Speaker, theS.I is very clear. Former BIPPA farms that were signed prior to land reform; either farmers will be compensated or farmers will receive their land back but if the land is being utilised or Government feels it is impossible to give back that piece of land, that is when Government will go with the compensation route. We will not uproot people unnecessarily.
HON. T. MLISWA: This is a time bomb. We cannot at all give an option in the S.I. of saying that we will give them back the land when already there are people settled. We can compensate. There is no way that you can remove people who are already settled right now. Where do you take them to? It is important that Government sticks to consistency in terms of policy. Who are you trying to please anyway because this land belongs to the nation and it is for the black people? The white farmers are not excited about being compensated or being asked to come back. They even said how can I come back to a farm that I left 20 years ago. So who are you trying to please and who is your master?
HON. HARITATOS: I will go back to my first point. All agricultural land in Zimbabwe belongs to the State. Therefore if Government feel that respective piece of land was under BIPPA agreement and cannot be taken back, we will either compensate or we will find alternative land that is S.I. 62 of 2020.
HON. T. MLISWA: My point of clarity is let us admit that Government has certainly accepted – the land reform has not happened and why would it be giving land back to the whites whom we took land away from? Why would you? Have you shifted in policy because you took away indigenisation from the blacks and you have given it to the foreigners? Has Government shifted their policy of giving land back to the whites, yes or no?
HON. HARITATOS: Madam Speaker, we have an obligation; if there are BIPPA farms – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members!
– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order Hon. Mliswa.
HON. HARITATOS: Hon. Speaker, can the Hon. Member ask his question again – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. T. MLISWA: My question to the Minister is simple. Government policy was to take land from the whites and give it to the blacks and now you are taking land from the blacks who are settled and giving it to the whites. Has Government shifted their policy and now giving land back to the whites, yes or no?
HON. HARITATOS: Government policy is clear. We are not going back on the land reform - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -
HON. BITI: I believe that the Minister of Justice, as the Leader of the House, as the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, should answer this question. The native fact of S.I. 62 of 2020 is to allow the Government to take back the land it had already given in terms of the land reform programme to its original owners and there are two categories that are mentioned in Section 4 of the regulations. These are indigenous black owners – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I need protection Hon. Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Proceed Hon. Biti.
Order Hon. Members, order! You may proceed.
HON. BITI: The Statutory Instrument identifies two categories in Section 4 of people that must get back their original land. First are indigenous black people whose farms were taken. Second are BIPPA owners- in other words land that was protected in terms of BIPPA. The S.I is saying that land must go back to its original owners but there are two problems Madam Speaker and I would like the Leader of the House to answer.
Land, as the Deputy Minister of Lands said, belongs to the State.
But it only belongs to the State by virtue of Constitutional Amendment No. 17 of 2005 which says that all land that was gazetted now belonged to the Government or State and the land that was gazetted was put in the 7th Schedule of the Constitution. The 7th Schedule of the Constitution puts all land that was gazetted to the State. So in order to take land that was gazetted and give it back to someone, you actually need a Constitutional amendment to take away the land from the 7th Schedule to
Hon. Minister of Justice and the Deputy Minister, you cannot pass S.I. 62 and purport to take away land that was gazetted which belongs to the State without amending the Constitution to actually take that land constitutionally from the 7th Schedule. Why are you doing that which is clearly and patently unconstitutional?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): When the
Constitution became effective on the 22nd of August 2013, the Constitution in terms of Section 295 lists two categories of people that are entitled to full compensation for the land and improvement, that is indigenous farmers and those that were protected by bilateral agreements between Zimbabwe and the other country. Those were entitled to full compensation.
Pursuant to that, we have not been doing that. We have black people who lost their farms through the land reform programme, there was no compensation. This particular S.I. is trying to give effect or to kick-start the process of having that compensation to set it in motion.
Secondly, we have those that are protected by BIPPAs. They are also covered in the Constitution in terms of Section 295 (ii) they are covered. What has been happening is that because it is in our
Constitution, where we were taken to arbitration we have lost dismally. So the Statutory Instrument is trying to say that where the land is lying idle, the best possible thing is to give them the land because it is protected under the Bilateral Investment Promotion Protection Agreement (BIPPA) but where it is not possible, we then discuss the possibility of compensating for both the land and the improvements – that is the net effect of that Statutory Instrument. I thank you.
HON. BITI: Madam Speaker, my supplementary question is that the issue of compensation on improvements does not need a Statutory Instrument because it is in the Constitution. What you are doing which you cannot do is to take away that land because the land is covered in the Seventh Schedule which is part of the Constitution. So if you are going to take away anything that is already in the Constitution, then you have to amend the Constitution.
Secondly and in any event Madam Speaker, the issue of land is so important. Why are you using a Statutory Instrument instead of bringing an Act of Parliament where all Hon. Members can debate fully and where there will be public consultation in terms of Section 41 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe?
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker, I alluded to the
fact that BIPPAs were constitutionally protected and because they are constitutionally protected, we have been taken to arbitration in certain instances to court and we have lost and been told to pay compensation.
Madam Speaker, if you read the S.I, the import of the S.I is actually speaking to what you are saying that, ‘where it is impossible to bring that particular individual on the land, then we negotiate for full compensation’. We have realised that we went to arbitration and the compensation that we are being asked to pay is exorbitant. What we are doing is that we are honouring the agreement and provisions of the Constitution by negotiating with those who were on the farms. So there is no going back on the Land Reform.
The drafters of this Constitution included them because they realised that we hope to honour our agreements with other nations. I thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Vatengesa nyika varume ava!] –
HON. GONESE: I have a point of order Madam Speaker in his response. My point of order rises from this fact Madam Speaker
Ma’am, Hon. Biti specifically referred to Amendment No. 17(2005). However, in his response, the Hon. Minister quoted Section 295 (ii) of the current Constitution and that subsection does not relate to what the Hon. Minister quoted. The subsection refers to compensation and does not talk about returning the land back to anyone.
So in terms of his response, the Hon. Minister is actually misleading the House because his reference to Section 295 (ii) that talks about compensation is not applicable to what Hon. Biti raised which is that the land was gazetted in terms of the Seventh Schedule to that
Constitution and you cannot take it back. Legally, it is impossible and this is the issue that the Hon. Minister is not addressing but instead is actually misleading us by quoting a section that is inapplicable to the point – that is my point of order Madam Speaker. – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Mliswa!
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker. There is
nowhere in the Constitution where it says, ‘if the State acquires land, they cannot allocate it to anyone.’
*HON. T. MLISWA: That is what we are asking Madam
Speaker, Government owns the land. The point is that Government should be clear on whether it has decided to reallocate the land to the whites. This is State land, Government is the one that has the responsibility of distributing land. So Government is saying, ‘come and we will give you land’, instead of saying, ‘come we will compensate you’. So what are you to say when these white people return because some of the white people are saying, ‘we are not returning to vandalised properties’.
So it must be clear whether Government has changed its policy so that we know whether to return our land to the whites – just that.
*HON. BITI: Hon. Speaker, may I have a point of clarification before the Hon. Minister responds? May I have a point of clarification Hon. Speaker before the Leader of Government Business responds?
Madam Speaker, Government has the right to distribute land to anyone using an Offer Letter – this has been done using the 99 Year
Leases and there is no need for any other law but Government put a new S.I. 62 last Friday which states that those white farmers who had their land repossessed are being given back the land. This is a reversal of the
Land Reform Programme, so it must be clear whether there is change in Government policy regarding the repossessing of land?
How does this happen without amending the Constitution of the land? I thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members!
Hon. Members from the Opposition started singing the song,
‘Tengesa uwone mashura!’
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members!
*HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. Hon. Biti is pretending not to understand the Statutory Instrument which was enacted last week, yet he knows the laws but he is trying to misinterpret the law so that it reflects what he wants. What pleased me today Madam
Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
Hon. Members broke into song: Matengesa Nyika.
Hon. T. Mliswa having been speaking at the top of his voice.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa! – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
*HON. ZIYAMBI: Madam Speaker, I am pleased because the Hon. Members agree on one point that land should be given to black people across the political divide. This is an important issue because in the past we were not talking in one accord.
My second point Madam Speaker is that I said that Hon. Biti spoke prematurely because Statutory Instruments are given to the House by the Executive and they go through the Parliamentary Legal Committee and after examining, the Statutory Instrument is brought to the House for debate. If there is an anomaly, then it is the Hon. Member’s responsibility to identify such discrepancies between the Constitution and the Statutory Instrument. These issues will be debated after the Committee has gone through the Statutory Instrument but the mandate of the Government is to make sure that those black people who were dispossessed should be compensated because there are a lot of issues which must be addressed, particularly the Bilateral Investment and Protection Agreement (BIPA) farms that were repossessed. These are issues which can be discussed in this august House because we have the primary legislative role. Thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members.
HON. MARKHAM: Madam Speaker on a point of order. There is a lot of conversation here about white farmers. My question is very simple and the first one is: you took 300 indigenous farms away, now you want to get them back. You are now giving back BIPA farms which were protected by international law. The white people in Zimbabwe, myself being the fourth generation, I want to know clearly from the
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, am I a
Zimbabwean or am I not? I will ask you why; why are you giving other white people farms but I am only allowed to lease a farm – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Am I a Zimbabwean or am I not– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
Hon. Matangira having mentioned Mr. D. Mutasa’s name in his exchange of words with Hon. Mliswa.
*HON. T. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member is
insulting Cde. Mutasa, urikutukirei nyathi. How does he feature in this debate? Why is he insulting him, you cannot insult Cde. Mutasa… THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Oder, order! Hon. Mliswa, may you approach the Chair – [HON MEMBERS: Inaudible
interjections.] Order, order!
Questions with Notice were interrupted by the Hon. Deputy
Speaker in terms of Standing Order No. 64.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): With the
indulgence of the House, since we are closing today, if the Hon.
Ministers with Ministerial Statements can be allowed to present Ministerial Statements and we stand over Questions with Notice.
Motion put and agreed to.
CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 UPDATE
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I give you the update on the Coronavirus. To date there is no confirmed case of Covid19 in Zimbabwe. That is the first statement I want to make…
HON. MARKHAM: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, my
question has not been answered, I want it answered.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Procedurally, we cannot go
back to your question Hon. Markham. May you proceed Hon. Minister. As of the 13th March, 2020, more than 9 500 travelers had been screened at our ports of entry and 278 of those were put on surveillance. Robert Mugabe Airport ….
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker, I think
the issue of Coronavirus is very important. It is a national disaster as explained by the President. I think it is only proper that we all remain silent so that we can hear the Ministerial Statement. We have finished the other issues so it is important that we have order so that we listen to
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members,
may you proceed Hon. Minister.
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Madam Speaker Ma’am, Robert Mugabe Airport had 6 750 travelers who went through it and 103 of those travelers are under surveillance. Victoria Falls had 1 120 and out those 54 were under surveillance. In Victoria Falls Road, 291 travelers went through and two of those are under surveillance. Joshua Nqabuko Nkomo 957 and 182 are under surveillance. Then Beitbridge, we had 128 and 31 are under surveillance. Plumtree 151 and six are under surveillance. On the 13th March, the National Micro-Biology Laboratory tested 14 suspected cases for COVID -19 and all of them were negative. Their samples were also tested at the WHO regional laboratory in South Africa and they came out as negative.
The global picture, there were 153 517 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5 735 deaths which is a 3,7% case fatality rate and this is reported from 144 countries. Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world apart from China. To date, 26 African countries have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 with four of those countries being SADC Member States, South Africa, Eswathini, Namibia and DRC. Of these, South Africa has reported local spread of COVID-19. The other SADC States have reported imported cases which have largely been imported from Europe.
The country situation, the National Response Mechanism for Surveillance and Early Detection of any possible cases was activated and will remain activated until after the WHO has removed the global health alert. Ministry of Health and Child Care has developed and is implementing the National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan guided by the eight pillars of WHO Strategic Preparedness and
Response Plan. The budget to meet the plan has since been revised to US$25 million from US$5,2 million. The plan will be used to resource, mobilise from Government, international and development partners. The launch of this plan by His Excellency has been scheduled for tomorrow at 8.30 am at State House.
With South Africa reporting local transmission, preparedness measures have been stepped up through intensifying surveillance at national, provincial and district level with special focus on mandatory screening at all our ports of entry throughout the country. Some of the measures include the updating of the response plan providing daily written updates from the borders and also from the Permanent
All hospitals have been put on high alert. SOPs have been prepared and we are ready with all those for self-isolation, surveillance, rapid response teams and so on. The scaling up of the risk communication and community engaged through the electronic and print media has also been scaled up and printed materials to be circulated to all rural areas. Training of all health workers with technical support from WHO is being carried out. Work is in progress to strengthen the capacity of identifying more isolation centres besides Wilkins and Thorngrove hospitals.
Last week, we met with the Global Fund Executive Director to discuss funding for the Covid-19 preparedness and response activities. The Global Fund has committed 5% of the US$500 million from the Global Fund grant to Zimbabwe. This works out to US$25 million. We are also grateful to the UK Ambassador who called in to have a meeting with us. Mrs Melanie Robinson and the United Kingdom has committed additional support to our Government to a total of £1,7 million. The World Health Organisation has also provided technical support to the Ministry’s Preparedness and Response Plan.
We have also had support from China and they have successfully been able to give us money for the renovations of our Wilkins Hospital and they will be moving to Thorngrove Hospital as well. Confirmatory tests kits have also been procured and we have also received donations of the same from the WHO, Africa CDC, United Kingdom Government and the Chinese Government. Rapid diagnostic test kits have also been procured. The training of doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists and environmental health officers continues. This also includes the uniformed forces. Identification of additional potential isolation facilities and additional isolation wings to the existing public health institutions is in progress.
Treasury support for strengthening and intensifying surveillance; Treasury has released RTG$20 million. Additionally, Treasury has released a provision of US$250 thousand. This has been set aside ...
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: On a point of order
Madam Speaker, I am sure the Minister knows that one of the things that is being said about managing and prevention is that we constantly have some ventilation. We do not have ventilation now. Perhaps, we could have it for a few minutes just to make sure that air is circulating. Please, we ask staff to put some ventilation.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Your point of order has been
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Part of the preparedness is identification of a company to assist in border control and contact tracing. I was so happy to hear that Parliament is adjourning because definitely like the Hon. Member has indicated, this room is a disastrous area where we can have an easy spread of the virus in seconds – [HON. MEMBERS: Ko kuzvikoro.] –
Risk allowances for personnel working at isolation facilities is also being organised; modification of the quarantine and isolation facilities; personal protective equipment including disease control suits and laboratory supplies is what this money from Treasury is going to be used for. It must be emphasised however, that there is a huge demand and competition for personal protective equipment. All the countries are fighting for this small number of equipment which is available but we continue to explore ways of expediting these and engage local industry to explore possibilities of local production of some of the personal protective equipment including masks, gowns and hand sanitisers.
Cabinet also with immediate effect adopted the following;
- Implementation of the social distancing measures, for example suspension of mass gatherings as the Independence Day
Celebration and ZITF which were scheduled for Bulawayo.
- Immediate suspension of all gatherings of more than 100 people including church gatherings, weddings, burial ceremonies for a period of 60 days.
- Travelers from high risk countries with widespread on going local transmission to be strongly discouraged from travelling to Zimbabwe for the next period of 30 days starting tomorrow.
- All airlines to be advised of the restrictions.
- Discouraging Zimbabweans from traveling to and through high risk affected countries.
- Item surveillance including Covid-19 testing of people arriving from high risk countries.
- Non-essential travel to be discouraged by all sectors and individuals.
- Continue to institute precautionary measures of personal hygiene like frequent hand washing with soap followed by use of an alcohol base sanitiser.
- Avoidance of unnecessary hand shaking or unnecessary physical contact with others.
- Ensure hygiene standards are maintained at high levels by shopping centres, public offices and buildings including
The declaration of the pandemic was done by His Excellency as a national disaster. We are also looking at the launching of the plan itself which I said will be held tomorrow. The plan includes the eight pillars as stated by the World Health Organisation and includes coordination; planning and monitoring; risk communication and community engagement; surveillance, rapid response and case investigation; the points of entry; the national laboratory; infection prevention; control case management; operational support and logistics.
Madam Speaker, this is my report, my update for today. I thank you.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much
Hon. Minister for the Ministerial Statement. My first question is to do with airport surveillance. I was travelling a few weeks ago and I am not sure what is being used for surveillance; is it the travelers manifest or is it when you ask people. A lot of people were just being asked on the queue questions like – where are you coming from? You could tell that some of them were not telling the truth. At what point is that surveillance working because if you say to me where are you coming from, I can just tell you I am coming from Nairobi when I am coming from somewhere else.
Can we have an appreciation of why we still have Ethiopian Airlines coming direct from China to Zimbabwe because most of the countries have since banned airlines that are coming directly from China?
On the schools – why are we not closing schools, particularly as we are aware that many of the schools do not have running water, let alone, the soap that you are talking about? Why not close schools because we are only left with about two weeks?
Training and management; why is it not possible for us to have created a toll-free number so that people can phone in to people that are medically trained like what is being done in the United Kingdom? You merely phone in, indicate your symptoms and somebody tells you whether there is a problem or you do not have a problem. In other words, you are expecting somebody from Tsholotsho to come and explain that they have a cold or something, I do not think that works.
Can we have a system which deals with the issues that are being thrown on the social media, at least beginning to censure or arrest because the kind of panic that is being created around social media posting does not work?
Testing mechanism – do we have enough testing kits to test people in this country given that the developed and bigger countries do not also have the capacity to do the testing that we are talking about?
HON. MUSHAYI: Thank you Hon. Minister for the Ministerial
Statement. When I was doing a feedback meeting with the people from Kuwadzana during the weekend, some of the people that are coming from this constituency work in a factory in Norton and they said that the Chinese who are the owners of that particular factory are travelling in and out. This issue of self isolation is not happening because they are having contact with them everyday even though they are claiming that they are on self isolation. We need to hear a formula from you on how we are going to be dealing with circumstances of this nature.
Secondly, when people are queuing for the ZUPCO buses, they are even more than 100, how are we going to deal with this particular situation in terms of making sure that we have adhered to the recommendation of social distancing? The reality is that there will be over 100 people queuing and when they get into the bus, they will be packed like sardines, back to back. How are we going to make sure that those situations do not in any way encourage passing on of
HON. MPOFU: I am not sure if this point escaped me. I think the Minister made it clear that rigorous testing is obviously going to happen at all our border posts. May we know whether it also means that we have quarantine centres at all our border posts? I thank you.
HON. ZENGEYA: I have heard the Minister talking about suspension of all mass gatherings for quite a while but I would want to know, what is Government doing pertaining to those people who live in highly congested areas like Mbare in Matapi? Eventually, we are going to see there is going to be a high spread of Covid-19.
*HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. On television we
are seeing other countries disinfecting their congested areas like airports. What is the Ministry of Health doing concerning this to combat the spread of infections?
*HON. MABOYI: Thank you Hon. Minister for explaining what
is happening. I want to ask about Beitbridge Border Post. I went there to check what is going on. I found out that there is nothing happening in terms of protecting people. There were a lot of people crossing the border; the testing machines were very few compared to other countries. People are dying in South Africa and their bodies expatriated to Zimbabwe but there seems to be nothing going on to protect people from this disease. The workers at the border had no protective clothes like face masks and gloves. I am worried about this, maybe yesterday something was done but on Saturday there was nothing.
I also went to the Registrar General’s offices and a lot of people were collecting their identity documents, there was no protection.
Officers who were taking finger prints were touching people’s hands without gloves or hand sanitizers; maybe it was corrected yesterday, I would not know about the matter.
HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam Speaker. Can the Hon.
Minister enlighten this House about the state of preparedness in Bulawayo hospitals?
HON. NYATHI: Madam Speaker, my question arises from the question that was asked by Hon. Mpofu concerning the village health workers who are the front line of this country in terms of looking after our sick. My question is, what is Government policy on the remuneration of village health workers? What is it that the Government is doing to remunerate these people given the Coronavirus and the environment in which they work?
HON. KARENYI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I just want to
make a follow up; if you go to maternity wards, they are asked to buy their gloves for delivery. It clearly shows that as a nation, we are not prepared. If we cannot even buy some gloves for the waiting mothers, it shows that in the hospital sometimes we do not even have those gloves.
So, how prepared are we to make sure that if this virus comes to Zimbabwe, we will be able to deal with it because I do not think we are ready. We visited Wilkins Hospital the day before yesterday with Advocate Nelson Chamisa, the state there clearly shows that as a nation we are not ready. Yes, the renovations are happening but right now if we are to have more than 5 or 10 people, it shows that we are not ready.
HON. MATARANYIKA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker
my question is on the ban for gatherings of 100 or more people. How is this ban going to be enforced? Is it going to be self-centered or it is going to be enforced by the police. If so, what is the penalty of breaking the law under the circumstances?
*HON. CHIDZIVA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to
enquire about the referral centres for corona patients. Now we only have Bulawayo and Harare but we are going to have people who will be coming from all over the country, Mutare and so forth. How prepared is Government on increasing or updating the referral centres because at
Wilkins Hospital, it can only house 38 patients. If we have an outbreak, how are we going to deal with this because the one in Bulawayo also cannot exceed this number?
On doctors, the information we have is that doctors are afraid to meet people who test positive for Covid-19. How many doctors are going to be willing to treat Covid-19 patients? On the issue of Mbare Musika, they are over 10 000 people who are doing their normal businesses there. What steps is Government taking regarding those places?
There is a ban on church gatherings but with the way this disease is spreading and without medicine. For us to succeed we need to pray. If you ban churches, how are we going to overcome the disease without prayers?
*HON. P. ZHOU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I want to
ask the Minister whether it is true or how far true it is that black people are not affected by the Coronavirus, they can resist the disease?
*HON. CHIKWAMA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I stood up to thank the Minister. Thank you for the knowledge you gave us that we can go back to our constituencies and tell our constituents. We thank you very much for giving us that information – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order!
*HON. SARUWAKA: Madam Speaker, my question to the Minister is I want to understand, Minister, a few days back, the words which were astonishing, words which do not show wisdom, which were uttered by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans regarding
Coronavirus where she mentioned that the disease was a punishment to America because of sanctions. I want to understand how much this has made your work difficult? Those words were not accepted by the whole world yet we, as a country survive on begging. We do not have enough, we always get assistance. The assistance comes mainly from western countries. I want to understand how these words have made your job difficult?
As the Minister of Health and Child Care, have you taken any care to explain to other Cabinet Ministers about the disease, so that when they are given an opportunity to talk about the disease, they do not end up embarrassing themselves and the country at large because of their ignorance of the disease.
Lastly Minister, people from Mutasa Central are saying this disease, Coronavirus, is it known by Government or Minister
Muchinguri-Kashiri that the source of the disease is China – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –Does she understand that the source of the disease is China and not America?
*HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Hon. Togarepi said the word pfutseke to Hon. Saruwaka when he was asking his question – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Members order!
*HON. CHIKWINYA: I do not think that is Parliamentary language and we do not expect such words from the Chief Whip. I therefore ask that he withdraws that word.
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is it true that you said the word pfutseke.
HON. TOGAREPI: I did not say anything like that but – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: We will check in the
Hansard if he really said those words.
HON. MASHONGANYIKA: On a point of order Madam
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order
*HON. MASHONGANYIKA: Madam Speaker, we were
requesting that the Minister answers the questions. A lot of questions have been asked. We might end up not hearing some answers to certain questions and some questions are being repeated. Thank you.
*HON. CHITURA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Health and Child Care. With the Coronavirus coming, is there anything being done by Government about second hand clothes that are getting into the country?
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Madam Speaker Ma’am, I would like to
appreciate the interest shown by the Members of Parliament on this particular issue of Covid-19. This is very impressive. You cannot come to a debate where we are talking about such a very important subject and you do not get the chance. However, it would be too many of us and there would be repetitions.
The main issue I want to point out before I even start answering any of these questions is that in epidemiology, what you work with is what is called sector control, community control. Everything where there is an outbreak is an issue of control. Whether it is a small town, if there is an outbreak, you isolate and you control that particular area and this particular issue we are dealing with now is no longer just an epidemic, it is now a pandemic – worldwide. If at all we should have been looking at China and isolating it, but it is too late to talk about that now.
What we now have to do is to control and make sure nothing gets into clean Zimbabwe. At the moment, we are clean in Zimbabwe. Whoever wants to challenge that is a follower of misleading information from the social media. Social media will make us die in Zimbabwe if we follow them. We should not follow the social media and whoever wants to challenge my statement is someone who is not progressive, is someone who wants to see Coronavirus in Zimbabwe. We do not want to have Coronavirus in Zimbabwe. We do not want Coronavirus in Zimbabwe and that is the reality. Let us argue sensibly rather than arguing in a manner which does not assist us – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. MAPHOSA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Minister– [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. DR. O. MOYO: We have to be serious just like the questions which were asked. Those were serious questions which is good. The other issues that are coming after that are not relevant. I want to indicate – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! On a point of order
*HON. MAPHOSA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. What
prompts us to rise is because we are worried about what is happening in the country. I would like to ask that the Minister must not be emotional and angry because what we are trying to do is that we understand the nature of the coronavirus, so it is my plea that instead of being angry and emotional the Hon Minister should clarify issues that are bothering us.
*THE HON DEPUTY SPEAKER: I would like to plead with the Minister not to be emotional when responding to questions from Hon. Members. In the same vein, I also urge Hon. Members to stop making noise and listen attentively to the Minister so that you do not repeat the same questions.
*HON. DR. O. MOYO: I have not started answering questions.
All the questions that are being asked are pertinent questions. These are very important questions. However, I spoke about social media which is misinforming the nation by saying a lot of things which are like wishful thinking that Coronavirus should come. Hon. Members are raising pertinent questions. No one asked anything that is negative. Regarding airport surveillance, I said that CONTROL is the key word that I am going to continue repeating. We need to make sure that we have sealed our entry points. In learning how to exercise that control regarding the Coronavirus and as people who are experiencing this for the first time, I would not lie that there are bad things that are happening at the border posts or airports. If you discover such things, you must inform us so that we deal with such issues. I was so glad hearing Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga saying that she went past an entry point and she was not impressed with what was happening. This is what I am going to take and we want to emphasise that we want things to be corrected.
Yes, we heard that the Ethiopian airline is coming but what the President said when he alluded to airlines was that all airlines would be told that Zimbabwe’s entry points have been sealed. This is important information which will be communicated so that more people get the message and they do not just travel. This is a measure which is meant to prevent the permeation of the virus.
Please let us not forget that it is not China but Europe which has become the epicenter of this virus. South Africa in our sub region has a higher number of people who have been infected. We heard the
American President saying that he no longer wants Europeans to go to America. However, as Zimbabwe we are saying that we are going to introduce control mechanisms epidemiology which is scientifically proven and step up as the situation gets worse through scientific study. You will discover that schools were left open because we sat down and deliberated on the issue. Zimbabwe does not have cases of Coronavirus at the moment and as such, our border points should exercise control so that the virus does not come.
HON. S. BANDA: On a point of order. Should we wait until our children are affected so that we close schools when children start dying?
There are 65 children in a class and we are suggesting that schools should be closed like what has happened here at Parliament. It should apply to schools.
*HON. DR. O. MOYO: I was still explaining before getting to the crux of the matter, then the Hon Member interjected. I wanted to allude to that fact of schools. Let me go to control measures, the same control measures that we are putting in place are control measures that are in a clean environment. We need to take into cognizance the fact that schools are left with a few days before closing and we need to work on setting control measures and checks.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, regarding the closure of schools, this is an issue which we analysed. We considered the few remaining days and also the composition of the classrooms, as to how many children are found in a class. The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education is in this House and he knows the issue. He is aware. Headmasters will be taught about hygienic issues. They will be taught that children are not expected to be assembled exceeding the numbers that have been prescribed by Government. To me these are control measures which will be put in place.
We will go round looking at what is obtaining at these schools. This is an open issue. We are operating at different levels. When we experience a particular level, we can determine that schools must be closed. When we see that schools should be closed before the closing date, then schools will have to close. It is not cast in concrete.
We have environmental health officers going around the country assessing these issues that we are debating on, particularly what is happening in schools. We need to look at what exactly is happening.
Control measures are being put in place, training – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - Madam Speaker, I would like to say that...
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Minister. Order
Hon. Nzuma. Hon. Members, can I ask you a question - if you continue heckling the Minister the way you are doing, do you think the Minister will just say okay I have heard you and we are closing schools? Is that proper? You have made a point and the Hon. Minister heard your point. May you take your seats so that the Minister can continue presenting to the House? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- The
Minister has heard, may you allow him to continue?
*THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Let me explain that in every stage when things evolve, there are changes now and again. Even the closure of schools might happen as we analyse the evolving situation. When we determine that the situation is no longer allowing, we will do that. Let me talk about training – there are some toll free numbers that are being used. This is a very good idea which we adopted. We will announce toll free numbers tomorrow when we launch our blueprint.
This is a good development so that when the public wants to ask, they can just call these toll free numbers and there are also other social media platforms like WhatsApp where people can get responses and answers regarding the virus. A follow-up on social media, particularly those who mislead the nation – something happened yesterday. There was a false press release which was saying that the University of Zimbabwe was closed. The person who created and posted such a false communication was arrested. Lying is not allowed. We are going to allow the responsible authority to make a decision regarding that person.
Madam Speaker, there was a question regarding the test kits and the other kits whether they are adequate. I would respond and say no, at the moment we do not have enough kits. These kits are problematic to procure and to get them. So, we are going to continue soliciting for these kits, but we want to save the kits that we have for those who have signs and symptoms that are in line with WHO case definition.
The Norton factory, the question was that there are some people who are evidently ill of different races. Our environmental health workers go to that factory every day to identify and to examine such people. Yes, we have Chinese people who work at the factory. The Chinese authority at that factory is putting those who are considered to be at risk in quarantine. They are being quarantined at that particular facility. We also go as an authority to examine the factory.
The other point is bus queues which exceed 100 people. This is where environmental health officers will play an active role. The police will also play an active role in exercising control. Bus crews are also being educated so that they do not overload their buses. The other thing is tests that are being run at the border posts. We have a temperature check at every border point. A temperature check reflects that that particular person has an ailment. So because of that, anyone with a high temperature is taken to quarantine so that that person is examined.
We identified areas in all border posts and airports so that anyone who gets ill and has a high temperature is taken to a quarantine area. These quarantine areas are there at all ports of entry. We are going to continue increasing these areas and we are also going to establish isolation areas. There is a difference between a quarantine and an isolation area. A quarantine area is a holding area for those who are taken to quarantine.
However, anyone who tests positive will be taken to an isolation centre. Areas like Mbare were a subject of discussion. We are going to target such areas. Environmental health officers are going to go to these places and they will educate the public using public speakers as a control measure. Disinfection of areas – a question was raised whether
Government has plans to do that. At the moment Government can disinfect a building using knapsacks. Government does not have bigger machines like fumigation trucks but we are targeting buildings using knapsacks.
There is the issue concerning Beitbridge border post which is also an area that we are focusing on as Government. We urge our officers to continue. When you feel that you are tired before completing your duty, you must ask your colleague to help you. We are having task forces involve the Immigration, police and other officials. We need to work together so that we address that issue. This coming week, I am going to Beitbridge Border Post personally so that if there are any corrections that must be done, we do those corrections.
Our environmental health teams are going to go to Mbare. You will hear that this coming week we will be having hailers which will be going around announcing and educating the public.
Isolation hospitals in Bulawayo, first we had the Thorngrove Hospital. We are also working on other hospitals like Mpilo, UBH and other hospitals are going to be equipped. We are planning to equip every hospital in Zimbabwe so that one or two rooms are identified for quarantining and isolating suspected cases of Coronavirus.
One Hon. Member alluded to village health workers – yes, these are assisting the communities. They are also working as voluntary workers who get a minimal allowance from NGOs. Government is also working on coming up with remuneration for such people.
Hon. Karenyi spoke about the ‘wait and see’ approach. The control measures are those that I have already alluded to. As a nation, this is what we can do at the moment. We also focus on how China is giving us assistance at Wilkins Hospital.
As a nation, let me also thank churches. We appreciate that churches are continuing to pray for the nation – yes Hon. that is very true but we do not want churches to be sources of transmission of the virus because if one person is infected within thousands of people then the rest of the people will contract the virus. The ban is being enforced through various organs like environmental health workers, the Home Affairs Department and our national police. When police go around patrolling, they would make sure that the law is being adhered to or not.
Regarding health care workers and doctors preparedness to address or to deal with the situation without panicking; yes this has happened. We have been doing a number of training courses on a continuous basis at Wilkins Hospital. Doctors and health care workers converge at this hospital to be trained. They continue coming for training.
Another Hon. Member asked whether this virus affects black people or not; this is a myth which was being perpetuated by the social media but there is no scientific proof to that effect that black people cannot contract Covid-19.
Another Hon. Member asked whether the Minister of Defence’s statement is not affecting the Government’s effort to raise money from other countries – this issue was addressed by His Excellency the President when he said that Covid-19 is not targeted to a particular nation or people but it affects the whole world.
The issue regarding the epicentre – yes, China also has that but it is not only the epicentres but there are other epicentres of the virus. I hope
I have addressed all the questions
Every member of the august House should continue working hard. Let us work together to eradicate the Coronavirus because we might die arguing and heckling instead of working together.
Regarding school children, I said that we should not worry because what has been raised will be deliberated on. It is not casting stone but when we discovered that we need to close schools, that is why we sent environmental health workers to analyse and to study the situation. Right now, they are on the ground. If they indicate that we need to close schools, we are going to close them.
*HON. HAMAUSWA: Since our nation has been receiving
donations like rice from China, are there no donations in transit to Zimbabwe that have been en-route before the announcement of the virus? Are there any measures that Government is doing to make sure that such donations do not come with the virus to Zimbabwe?
Is there any proof that what we are getting as donations is not infected with the virus?
The Government’s measures that were announced yesterday – are there any talks within the ministries regarding the declaration, whether the declaration is binding or not? If anyone violates such a declaration, what is going to happen to that person? It seems as if there is no constitutional backing to the directive that was given? Does it mean that Government did not find any clause or section in the Constitution which supports the declaration because in the past there are some churches which do not take heed of Government’s directives. We want to know what penalties are going to be given to those who are going to violate the directive? It seems as if there is no constitutional backing to the directive that was given. Does it mean that Government did not find any clause or section in the Constitution that supports the declaration?
In the past, there were some churches that we know of that do not heed Government directives. So we want to know what penalties are going to be given to those who are going to violate the directive. Also, the issue that churches should not meet or they meet for fewer or less hours like two hours, I am saying this because whenever we start Parliament, we start by praying meaning that we value prayer. So churches must have reduced hours of praying and worship.
Lastly, let me say that when the Hon. Minister alluded to the global outlook on the Coronavirus, there is an issue that was not addressed by the Hon. Minister but was raised in this House which I believe is an opportunity for the Hon. Minister to explain to the whole country that there is what was said by the Hon. Minister of Defence and War
Veterans that the Coronavirus is punishment from God. The Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care should clarify that so that it is clear to other countries because countries like China that supported Zimbabwe during Cyclone Idai need to understand and be clear after the Hon.
Minister has clarified the point.
*HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am, I
wanted to know about the health workers that the Hon. Minister alluded to. When they are moving around assessing, what do they use that is scientific and on measures, what is happening? Do they collect any samples or they just observe? It is clear that the elderly are the most affected especially when the virus has attacked a particular nation. What is Government doing to prevent the elderly from contracting the virus?
My last question is, is it up to the people not to gather or it is up to the Government using Government directives and authority for example, the point that people gathered in Nyanga today? My question is, is it up to the people or up to Government to allow people to meet or not?
+HON. MABOYI: Madam Speaker Ma’am, I would like to add
onto what has been contributed by the rest of the Hon. Members. We have challenges especially along the Beitbridge-Bubi main road where people have built shacks there doing their cooking and selling businesses along the road. We ask the Hon. Minister to help by telling us what is going to happen to these people who have built shacks along the main road? I thank you.
*HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you Madam Speaker, let me say
that the Hon. Minister spoke very well especially on the use of kits. It is good because we tell the truth when we are in this House and we must understand what is happening.
The Hon. Minister explained the fact that acquiring the kits is a major challenge even in the United States of America, meaning that even us with our economic crisis; it would be difficult for us as a country to access these kits. However Madam Speaker, we represent people and I think that whenever they conduct environmental health assessments where they will be educating people, as Members of
Parliament, we interact with people more - [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] -
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): Order,
order Hon. Members, may the Hon. Member be heard in silence.
*HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you Madam Speaker for the
protection. Madam Speaker, I was talking about Hon. Members that leaders in our communities, it would be good for us to be taught on the Coronavirus outside this Parliament so that we can educate our constituents when we go out there.
Secondly, there is a marked shortage of sanitisers in local shops. There are some rich people who can afford to buy their own sanitisers to sanitise their hands against the virus. What is Government doing to make the sanitisers available in the shops?
Lastly Madam Speaker, this morning, myself as a Member of Parliament, Joanna Mamombe and the Secretary General Hon. Hwende were at the High Court. What surprised me was that hundreds of people enter the High Court on daily basis yet there are no sanitisers or any form of protection against the virus at the court entrances. We are talking about preventing the disease yet our important institutions like the courts where many people gather, there are no sanitisers. We would not recommend for the courts to be closed but there must be measures in place to protect people. Still on the courts, I also want to talk about our prisons where there are more than hundreds of people. What is
Government doing to prevent the disease from affecting prisoners?
Before I sit down Madam Speaker, in different countries that the
Hon. Minister mentioned, the likes of the United States of America, we saw the leaders especially the President, Donald Trump voluntarily being tested for the virus. He was the first to be tested for Coronavirus – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Madam Speaker, I am saying this because I follow news on current affairs and if other Hon. Members are not following the news then it is their problem. The President of the United States of America, Donald Trump came out in the open, led by example and was tested for Covid-19. We are not seeing it in this country.
Hon. Mthuli Ncube even went to Norway where there are several cases of the Coronavirus. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – We want the Hon. Minister to tell us whether or not Hon. Ncube volunteered to be tested for Covid-19 upon his return from Norway. We want these things to be said openly so that other people understand the importance of this disease. As a leader, if you are tested first then those who follow you will be tested too. Hon. Mthuli Ncube should be tested and the results made public. I thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. GABBUZA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I just want to
understand from the Minister of Health and Child Care; I saw that South Africa announced a ban of gatherings of more than 100 people and immediately Zimbabwe did the same. What is the scientific basis of 100? We are a poor country, can we not reduce the number, what is there in 100.
The Minister mentioned a big number of people who are under surveillance, why are they under surveillance, what is the basis? Is it because they have come from countries where they are questionable or they have tested positive or shown symptoms? I have been checking with the nurses from the District Medical Officer up to the village health workers for both Hwange, Victoria Falls and Binga, those are high traffic areas, there is no training that they have undergone but the Minister is talking of training. What is the strategy they are using to train these medical staff because those areas have not received training?
Lastly Madam Speaker, in Victoria Falls, a British tourist came to
Victoria Falls and was treated for malaria but when she went back to Britain she was tested positive to coronavirus. What is the Government doing to check on all those people she was in contact with? This was on
BBC and Aljazeera and it is something which is being talked about. The Minister has not mentioned it. What is going to happen to all the people that the sick tourist has been in contact with? Thank you.
HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. My
question to the Minister was; what is the state of preparedness in Bulawayo? His answer was, there are hospitals, there is Mpilo Hospital, there is UBH and Thorngrove Hospital. I am asking about the state of preparedness because I heard that Thorngrove will be the hospital that will be like Wilkins. However, what has been done, because there is nothing in Bulawayo Minister, that is why I am asking you, that is where I come from. It is a metropolitan city and as I am talking now, people in Bulawayo want to hear what has been done in preparing Thorngroove hospital to be the referral hospital where these patients will be housed.
As far as I know and read from the papers, we had a case in Bulawayo of a person who came from South Africa. Where is that person housed?
We want to know as Bulawayo. Thank you.
*HON. CHAMISA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I heard the
Minister saying that you want to take hailers to Matapi. I do not think it is good – there are many people there, more than 100. The hailer will attract more people to gather. I am requesting that if you have any sanitisers, you give us and we distribute in their homes, many people live at the same home. I see that we have closed Parliament because of this disease and we are looking forward that when we open the Minister of Health and Child Care gives us notes which we will use to address the people. We do not even know what it is, you have not explained it to us, you just said we have to close the House. We want you to assist us, seeing that the Vice President of this country left Wilkins Hospital going to China to get assistance – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to
return to the issue of testing. Can the Minister clearly state to us the capacity of Zimbabwe on what we can test, where and how many test we can do per day and if we are getting assistance from other outside countries to do our current test because in his own words, we have very little. Thank you.
*HON. MAKONYA: Which steps are you taking as the
Government since there is shortage of food in our country. There is no mealie-meal for people in urban areas; people are queuing for roller meal in supermarkets and they will be more than 100 people. These people are in constant contact with each other as they clamour for roller meal. What are you going to do about this?
*HON. MUGIDHO: Thank you Madam Speaker: I heard the
Minister talking about school children that he will speak to headmasters that pupils do not go on breaks. However, looking at these children, the toilets which they use are left in a mess; a child in Early Childhood Education (ECD), how can you stop them to go for breaks. In some schools, they have 4000 to 5000 children. We are requesting that the Minister explain and close schools because it is dangerous for our children.
Secondly, the canons for water, these canons will be spraying people with water during demonstrations. Why can we not put disinfectants in those cars to disinfect areas which are affected because when MDC people gather, these cars are used? We have cars which usually spray people during demonstrations; these can be used to spray in hospital, schools and other public places instead of saying he is going to speak to headmasters when our kids are dying.
*HON. MAFUTA: Thank you Madam Speaker, in other countries
like in Kenya, they were encouraging the use of plastic money and mobile money but in this country it is quiet. What are you saying about money because the virus can be found on money also, what are you doing about it?
*HON. S. BANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker, the first issue is that we request that in places like Mount Pleasant, if you could bring mobile sanitizers. We have seen some people running away from hospitals, a person was caught in Mount Pleasant driving a Fortuner. Lastly, the President of my party developed what is called Zimlog.
There were good ideas which were proffered by president Chamisa – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - if he could look at them and see what he can pick. Thank you.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. Yes,
we should all be wary and fear Coronavirus but you now have to realise that the epicenter has also changed from China. The number of cases in China is much lower than the confirmed cases in Europe. If we have to fear, which is what I want to pacify at this stage that food availability, we have always said we will give way and allow for food to come into the country.
Madam Speaker, the whole world is covered with this virus. So, whatever is coming into the country, we assume that it is perfect. The issue regarding the gatherings of churches, I think what has been stated is what will happen otherwise we will be flip-flopping. Kana tati toita 100 tongoramba tiri pa 100 ipapo otherwise we will end up causing confusion. Yes, the issue regarding the statement which was issued, I think the President was very clear, we all read it in the papers in answer to the statement which was made by the Minister of Defence. I would like to think that that was adequate. We all heard it and most of the embassies I am sure got the President’s response. The President humbled himself and he went to the extent of clarifying that picture.
On the environmental health workers standards, they use the World Health Organisation Standards. That is what we use, wherever they go, they have to assess the particular venue; they have got the checklist. The checklist is what they follow. If there is a restriction of the number of people who are to be at a particular venue, they will check to see the number of toilets which are available. That is why you see for instance there was that instance that all the Apostolic Church gatherings need to have some form of toilets and we calculated for them how many they should be and portable toilets and also blair toilets.
I was very impressed to hear an Hon. Member talking in terms of the elderly. I think that is a relevant question, we must never forget the elderly. They are the most vulnerable in as far as respiratory problems are concerned. They catch these diseases so quickly than young people. So, we are also looking into that aspect. Yes they were talking about inviting people from the old peoples’ homes. We have old peoples’ homes in this country. We will educate them and at the same time as we also go round, we must be able to impart the knowledge to those who are looking after our elderly at home so that they are not affected as easily as they should not be. So, the elderly should be protected by all means. I cannot really recall Hon. Madzimure’s question on zviri kuvanhu here.
*HON. MADZIMURE: I was saying that is it up to the public to
determine whether to gather or not or it is the responsibility of Government to allow people to gather or not to gather.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Madam Speaker Ma’am, we received the
information yesterday and we are now moving with the instruction, naturally we have to alter here and there and take chances sometimes especially this time when we are talking about it. I will walk the talk, do not worry, we will walk the talk and continue doing the right thing. So, it is Government which gives instruction and it is Government which expects those instructions to be followed.
I want to mention that it is the disease which will cause us to change our behaviour. We just have to follow that in order to conquer that disease. We must do everything against what it wants us to do and gatherings is one of those issues. On the issue of shacks which are along the Beitbridge road, that is a long term, where we need to ask provincial teams to visit and educate people. It is a matter of control measures and control measures will come through education and awareness.
On the availability of kits, yes, I cannot claim to say that we are fully stocked with kits to be able to test each and every Zimbabwean, then I will be misleading you. The reality is that we have to utilise the kits appropriately. We have to utilise the kits for cases which are relevant, utilise the kits for all those cases which meet the WHO clinical case definition. At the same time, however, we are trying to source for more kits. We saw the Americans now have a company called Roche which they have chosen to produce kits for them. We are also going to approach companies like Roche and the Chinese companies who are already testing and their testing mechanisms are now going down.
Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member also wanted to know about the actual testing mechanisms. Let me educate you again. We all know about HIV rapid test. That is the way we should be doing things right now. We should be using the rapid test kits for the testing and they take 15 minutes. The rapid test kits, if it comes out positive - it is not necessarily that it is positive. You would still need to go for a confirmatory test which is now the PCR test which is what we are using in Zimbabwe, which takes five hours. That is the gold standard for testing. It is a process. At the moment we have gone for the definitive test, the gold standard because we do not have the Rapid Test Kits. When we say we want to have a full classified testing system, we want to have those two platforms to be in place.
The issue regarding sanitisers, I want to confess that only today I had about 5 – 6 local companies who are manufacturing sanitisers and they are coming out indicating the possibility of them doubling the quantities. What is required is the alcohol base which we can get from the sugar plantations in Triangle and these companies will be able to double up. The universities are also in a position to produce ethanol which is used for these bases. We want to initially ensure that we up the production of the sanitisers utilising the local companies. It is also good business for them. That is the alcohol which they will be producing because the sanitisers - the base is alcohol and the soapy material is then introduced into that.
The courts are classified again. The Hon. Member indicated that they went to court this morning and found there were a lot of people, and they are worried. Yes, you are correct to be worried. We have said all the courts are part and parcel of the buildings and declaration which was made. All the Government buildings - Parliament included, have got to have adequate sanitisers. So, the sanitiser manufacturers are coming at the right time. All those court buildings will also be protected.
You would like the top executive to be tested. We have to follow the case definition, the WHO case definition. We all agree that there are shortages of test kits and we cannot just willy nilly start testing, but if there is a case definition or someone who meets a case definition, naturally they will be tested, whichever category they are. Why 100? The Hon. Member wanted us to reduce the number, but I feel 100 is a relevant number and also helps because if we come down to 50 and we leave it at 50, we feel that 100 is manageable for us to be able to do contact tracing. That is the maximum and anything below that we can be able to contact trace. If we are to go up to 150 or 200, it becomes too much for the purpose of contact tracing.
The issue of surveillance, surveillance in epidemiological terms means following up and looking at a particular incident at a particular parameter and making sure that that parameter is kept within the correct level – that is survellance. Surveillance also entails going out and making sure that what you have put out to be surveyed is being followed. So it is a follow up process, we do surveillance using the thermal detectors and then we do surveillance by following up those people who would have been put up under the surveillance scheme on a daily basis. Like I said we now have 378 cases and we are following them up. We have to follow up and make sure that their 21 days is being followed. As we reach the 21 days, we drop the number of cases and so on and then there will be more coming and it carries on. It is a process.
The issue of training at the provincial and district level, Victoria Falls and Hwange districts. In particular, that is an area where we have also said we are training people and you realise that the people who have been attending to the cases there are already familiar with what they have to do, because they came here to Harare and were trained at Wilkins. What we want to do from what you have just said is we want to enhance training so that it cascades further down. We have no problem with that. We will make sure that is done. It is an instruction which they have to follow because every one, including those in the smallest hospitals to be able to attend to these patients and manage them appropriate.
The issue of the UK case that you were talking about, we talked about it. This is as a result of information which came out of the lodge where this person was staying. They have gone back to the UK and the people in the UK have them as suspect case. It is something which we are following up and we want to get to the bottom of it. Otherwise according to the reports that we have received, we should be getting more information with regards to that particular case.
Our state of preparedness in Bulawayo, the first port of call that we made outside Harare was Bulawayo. State of preparedness starting from the airport, we are in order at the airport. We have identified a quarantine area at the airport. We have also identified an isolation facility at Thorngrove itself. I personally went there and saw the facility. Yes, we need to improve and increase the numbers and that is work in progress. We want to do that for all our facilities anyway. It is not just Bulawayo - even in Harare we need to continue to spruce up our facilities. It is a continuous process and Bulawayo is not forgotten. We make sure that we have the same capability in Bulawayo as we have in
Harare, Victoria Falls, Mutare and all over. You were also talking about the suspect case in Bulawayo - again and that is something that is being followed.
Let me also educate Hon. Members that one of the methods of ensuring that we do not spread and that we take care of the problem is through self quarantine. This is what is happening in most cases in the other countries that are affected. They will recommend someone to stay at home when they have flu. This is what we have also learnt about that - if someone has a flu they must stay at home. Self quarantine will come when we have a situation where we have a case that has been found to have some of the signs and symptoms or flu-like symptoms.
Information pamphlets are very relevant for us to be able to disseminate information. I was just saying to myself we have to find a way of getting all the Hon. Members to get pamphlets so that they can be able to distribute them in their constituencies. This is very critical and we are going to be supplying all the Hon. Members and Senators with that information. We want to also have a situation where we can have Members of Parliament being trained through teleconferencing. We want to plan a teleconferencing facility so that we can be able to do teleconferencing, but at the moment I think we will have to concentrate training on our mobile phones so that we do not have to gather in huge numbers.
The issue regarding our tests – at the moment we can only do the polymerase chain reaction tests which are the PCR which takes five hours to do and those are the gold standards. With regards to having spraying systems, yes, thank you very much for your suggestion Hon. Member. At the moment, in Zimbabwe we do not have that facility to be able to spray wide areas, but we have facilities for using knapsacks. We would also want to improve our systems and be able to come up with trucks for that purpose.
The use of toilets improvement, we are looking at all the issues regarding cleanliness in the toilets. We are talking to the headmasters. I have had so many calls from people talking about schools, so it is an issue which has to be presented accordingly.
The question that Coronavirus can be contracted through bond notes or money – yes, if the Coronavirus is to be detected in our country; we shall continue teaching each other on how to handle some of these things. We also mentioned that touching a door knob when you have contracted the virus will spread it to the others. If you touch your mouth, then you can easily be infected. That is why we urge people to wash their hands, because we are also encouraging people not to touch their faces. If you touch your face, you will touch different surfaces, and chances are high that you will contract the virus. Greeting through shaking hands should be avoided at all costs, let us stop that. I would also like to urge people not hug each other; we can use our feet or elbows to greet each other. This is the time of learning. I even urge people to stop kissing each other, let us avoid a lot of contact through hugging, let us maintain a reasonable distance and give each other space.
Regarding mobile hand sanitizers, this is a good suggestion which should be used. We have to engage those who have mobile toilets so that this spreads throughout the country.
PUBLIC EXAMINATION FEES FOR 2020
THE MINISTER OF SECONDARY AND PRIMARY
SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you
Madam Speaker for this opportunity to make this Ministerial Statement on the public examination fees for 2020. As Hon. Members of this august House are in no doubt, aware that the Zimbabwe School
Examinations council ZIMSEC published the 2020 Grade Seven, Ordinary and Advanced level public examination fees of each examination early February 2020. Following representations to the Minister on the capacity of parents and guardians to afford the required examination fees, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education cancelled the Examination fees circular on the 19th February 2020 and advised that the new fees will be announced after further consultations. On the same date, ZIMSEC notified all examination centres of the cancellation.
Through the Hon. Ministers’ Press Statement and the circular by ZIMSEC, parents and guardians were advised to continue paying the old fees approved in 2015. Members are in no doubt, aware that the 2015 fees were in USD and the same fees obtained even when bond noted were introduced. One bond note was equivalent to the USD; the deadlines for the payment of the examination fees remained the same that is 28th February for the June examination and 27th March for the November examination.
I have since advised all parents and guardians of candidates in Grade seven, Ordinary and Advanced levels that in 2020, Government will be contributing 53% of the examination fees for candidates in public schools while parents and guardians will take up 47%. All candidates from private schools and colleges at Grade 7, Ordinary and Advanced levels will meet the full costs of the examination fees. The public schools were 53% of the examinations fees will be paid by Government
- Government schools;
- Local authority schools;
- Not for profit Mission schools.
I would like to advise Hon. Members that the new deadlines for the payment of examination fees are 30th of March 2020, for the June examination and the 9th April, 2020 for the November examination. Parents and guardians who had paid the full examination fees will be refunded the amount now being contributed by Government.
For the information of the Hon. Members, the contributions from Government and from parents or guardians for the 2020 public examination fees are as follows:-
Grade Seven, amount to be paid by candidate at public school is $125.00 amount to be paid by Government will be $139.00 which will give a total of $264.00. Ordinary level – amount to be paid by candidate at public school, $90 per subject and Government will pay $100.00 which give a total of $190.00. Advanced level, candidates to pay $165.00, amount to be paid by Government RTGS$186 per subject for three subjects, total of RTGS$351. Candidates at private schools and colleges including candidates who are re-sitting for examinations will pay the total examination fees. Candidates who are currently at
Government schools who get Government support for a subject for the June examination will pay the full fees for the same subject if they enter for it again for the November examination. The Government will pay for up to seven subjects at O’ level and three subjects at A’ Level. Candidates who want to sit for more subjects at each level will meet the full fees of those subjects themselves.
May I take this opportunity to register my appreciation for the support Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members of Parliament are giving to primary and secondary education. Let us continue to do everything possible so that our children are sufficiently equipped and prepared to make their contribution to the sustainable development of our country.
As I have said before, getting it right at primary and secondary education level will give the nation the confidence that we are building from a solid foundation. Madam Speaker, I take this opportunity to advise the parents, guardians and the Hon. Members that these fees can be planned for. You can start paying at the beginning of the year, and you do not have to pay all the money immediately. I thank you Hon. Speaker.
HON. MUDARIKWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to
find out what is the basis of saying Government will only assist seven subjects and yet the same Government knows pretty well that students are learning, some of them 10 or 12 subjects. Why have a cut-off point of seven. What is the basis of seven subjects? The child has been learning for four years, 10 to 12 subjects and on the day of examination, we say as Government we are limiting our kids to seven subjects. What it means is, the scope of knowledge of our O’ level students is now narrowed to a few subjects. Hon. Minister, in the interest of the development of education, why not allow children to sit for all the subjects they have got even if they do not have the money and then they will continue paying until the end of the year.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Hon. Minister, let me
start by saying as Chair of that Committee, we are very disappointed because when the announcement for 15 dollars came, I think parents felt very relieved and the justification that you are giving us is problematic in one area. You are saying it was 15 dollars pegged at US dollars. The assumption therefore is to say if you increase it at the rate of the current inter-market, it makes sense except that the same parents are not earning in US dollars. So the money that they have will not be enough for them to be able to pay for the school fees. I just did a quick calculation, without even doing what Hon. Mudarikwa said where he said 7 or 10 subjects, if a parent has a child in Grade 7, a child in Form 4 and a child in Form 6, the total amount that they would have to pay is RTGS$1270, which is impossible. So I think this particular proposal does not work.
I am going to put a suggestion which we put to you as a Committee. We have 400 million, that had been allocated for the piloting of free basic education. We can take that 400 million, pay for this particular examination fees so that parents do not have to deal with this particular aspect.
Secondly, we do have an allocation currently which had been allocated for BEAM. Can we not get that amount of money to pay for examination fees? It does not make sense that a child has been going to school from Grade 1 up to Grade 7 and then they cannot go for examination. I think it makes us all look ridiculous. So for now, because you cannot be telling any parent to save money now, they do not have the money. We know how much civil servants are paying, particularly teachers. With this amount of money, even a teacher himself will teach children but his own children will not go school – [HON. MEMBERS: Address the Chair!] – I am sorry, I am being disrespectful. The teacher himself, given the amount of salary that he is getting, if he has to take his kids to school will not be able to pay this amount of examination fees. So, please I think let us make a decision that for now we pay the examination fees; ZIMSEC is not a parastatal that makes money, ZIMSEC has to be under social protection and I think it is important that we make that decision.
HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE: Thank you Madam Chair, mine is an
appeal just on three things. If we are to give the deadline of 9th April, especially after this confusion that arose, it means we have actually disadvantaged our parents. Right now, some have already said tools down because they had paid RTGS15 and they were saying it is over. If we give a deadline of 9th May, I think it is a bit too early. Why can we stick to the old practice where November examinations deadline was in May and children could go for the holidays, talk to their parents and then they can pay. This deadline is going to discourage them.
There was no clarity on these two practical subjects, which I know at secondary level if you have a child who is doing food technology, that child pays double the examination fees because it has got a practical component. Also building technology, those two subjects, they will be getting not RTGS$90 now but RTGS$180 per subject. I do not know whether Government is also going to subsidise the practical because they have just said they will pay RTGS$100 and yet the practical is double. So a child who is going to write seven subjects may not write the practical one because that practical is not going to be paid for. I overally foresee a situation where we are going to kill the spirit of taking every child to school because we have said no child shall be left behind. I feel we need to reconsider these situations so that our children and our parents will be in a better situation to manage what is taking place.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: In terms of Standing Order
No. 52, for us to allow members to seek clarification, we will vary the time for automatic adjournment from five minutes to extend it to 7.15
p.m. Thank you.
*HON. KARENYI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I wanted to clarify something to the Hon. Minister. We know with what we are going through as a nation, that there is a parent who cannot pay the $190 because they do not even earn the $190 RTGS but they get assistance from other people. My desire is that the reconsiders his position considering such children, child headed families, orphans and those who are vulnerable who could maybe pay $15.
Madam Speaker, the other point that I want to raise is that Hon. Minister, in different schools that are found in our communities, parents are facing challenges with paying their school fees. Some schools have raised their school fees and they apply to Government. Government sometimes says that the monies that they have charged are too much for parents, which means that when parents cannot afford to pay school fees, then Government reduces such fees. If Government can see that fees are exorbitant in this case, how come it does not even see that this is exorbitant? If schools cannot raise their fees, it means even examination fees should also be reduced because Government in this case has set a precedence that Government stands between the parent and the school. When Government stands in the gap for parents, how about in this case regarding examinations?
As Hon. Members of this House, we are saying that Hon. Minister, please feel pity for the people as you stand between the school and the parent so that we do not have many drop-outs from school. The
Government should also reduce the fees and revert to the original $15 so that all children can write their examinations. This is our desire even as parents and as mothers. Minister, we would be forced to come to you as parents to show our solidarity with other parents as we demonstrate so that the fees are decreased. We desire that our children have a better education. These children cannot have all the years they have invested going to school being thrown down the drain. Hon. Minister, please hear our concerns. Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Due to the limited time that we have, I am kindly asking Hon. Members to be able to seek clarification and avoid debating. May you please just make sure we go specifically to the point of clarification that we want.
*HON. PRISCILLA MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker, I
would like to thank the Hon. Minister for his presentation. From my own point of view, the initial amount of $15 was accepted by people throughout the country even in the rural areas. Now for them to hear that they have to pay $190, it would be difficult for them. It is my plea that since there was a mistake in the beginning, may we just continue using that $15 which was announced at first.
Secondly, I would want to add my voice to what was said that when you go to schools to pay examination fees you discover that schools are saying that they do not have the approval letter from the Ministry. When are these schools going to get such letters so that we prepare and know where we are? I thank you.
*HON. MADHUKU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. Let
me raise my concern to the Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, that this situation and the monies that are being charged is against the Education Act which was passed by this august House. This does not tally with the Education Act because it affects children. Many children will drop out of school. The Ministry’s strategic plan which says that no child should be left behind is falling apart and we ask that Government reverts to the original position of $15.
The other point is that Hon. Minister, may you please make a follow up on your schools. There is a problem with policy implementation and supervision. There are some schools which demand for cash. On top of that Hon. Minister, I would like to add that there are practical subjects and science subjects that are being charged higher than other subjects. In rural areas, there are some schools that are charging $500 for examination material. That is not the only money that is being demanded; schools are charging different amounts of monies. So my plea is that the Government should empathise with the people and revert to the original $15.
*HON. MUKAPIKO: Thank you Madam Speaker. I stand to add my voice seeking clarification on the statement that was presented by the Hon. Minister. I think there was discrimination when the Hon. Minister said that only council and Government schools are going to get assistance from Government, leaving other schools behind. Why I am saying that is because when parents take their children to school, it is not just about taking them to school, but other schools that we have in our surrounding areas do not necessarily produce good results. So parents are compelled to take their children to private schools having sacrificed the little monies that they have.
So my view is that there should be fairness and equity on this issue because parents are interested in results and quality in education not completion of education. Thank you.
HON. MATEWU: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to focus on the monetary policy which was issued by John Panonetsa Mangudya in February, 2019. What he did was, he equated all the monetary policy in terms of the United States dollars that we were charging in this country to the new RTGS in 2019, which meant that if you were earning US$90 it was the same as you are earning $90 RTGS. So all the civil servants from then were earning the same money that they were earning in 2018/2017. It meant that if you were charging someone US$20, it was now the same as RTGS and the Supreme Court ruling that said that all debts that you had in United States dollars were the same as in 2017,
2018 and 2019. What is the reasoning of the Minister to say that now he has to compare the old examination fees that was US$15 to say we are now rating?
The salaries of the civil servants are still stagnant and they are still charged in RTGS, increasing time by time. So, I implore the Minister to ensure that no child must be left behind. In terms of the Constitution as codified in Section 75, every single child has a right to education. Can the Minister reconsider putting so many children in my constituency of Marondera Central? I am inundated with parents who are asking me to pay for their examination fees. Please Hon Minister, reason with the people, stay with the people, be with the people. I thank you.
*HON. TOGAREPI: The Hon Minister has brought a very
pertinent issue but I would like to suggest that since there is a budget for BEAM, why do we not use the BEAM money to assist students particularly during examination time because right now there is a lot of confusion. Initially, parents were told to pay a certain amount and later they were told again to pay another amount. We know that it is expensive to have quality education and other things but with the current situation, my viewpoint is that Government did a good thing by establishing BEAM. That money for BEAM should be made to cover the costs of examination fees.
*HON MUSHAYI: The problem that I have with the statement you presented is that at one point you announced that parents were supposed to pay $15 then you came with this statement. The way you presented the increment indicates that we are going to face problems with those who are going to mark the examinations because they will say that now that you have increased the examination fees, may you increase our remuneration also? Had you maintained the $15, you were not going to experience that challenged.
What it means Hon. Minister by increasing this money, you have opened another issue. I want the Hon. Minister to know that after announcing a certain position to parents, the Ministry should not change its position because this worries parents.
*HON SHIRICHENA: I would like to add my voice to this
debate. My point is that this is going to affect the quality of education.
Parents are facing challenges in raising school fees. They make an effort so that their children write their examinations and now you have decided to charge them such hefty examination fees. My plea is that please review the examination fees so that our children are allowed to write their examinations. BEAM should go towards examination fees so that our children write their examinations. I am very sorry Hon Minister, Zimbabwean students might not write their examinations this year.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May we have Hon. Members
that have got new issues. Let us refrain from repeating the same issues. If ever you are going to say an issue which has already been said, it is unfortunate, I will tell you to sit down.
*HON. P. ZHOU: The issue that I want to raise is that the impact of the Minister’s decision does not augur well with the people. I would like to urge you to revert back to the original $15. The point that I am talking about is the impact on the people. There was a policy inconsistency with regards to this issue. The parents are not happy with what is happening.
HON. MAMOMBE: I am rising on a point of inconsistency from
the Minister and the Ministry as a whole. I want to let this House know that Zimbabwe is the only country that still has children who are paying for basic education. This is really unfortunate and it is very frustrating. I want the Hon. Minister to explain why in SADC region, Zimbabwe is still the only country that has its children still paying for basic education.
We have laws and policies that support that basic education should be state funded. We have our Constitution which is the supreme law of this land. We also have the Education Amendment Act that was recently signed by President Mnangagwa. We want this issue to be addressed. Personally, I am saying the examination fees should be scrapped completely and the Government has to fund for basic education.
I want to bring to the fore the inconsistency and incompetency of the Minister because to me when there is this confusion that the Minister is showing, I am saying this with a heavy heart. To me it is incompetence in totality. When you have confusion like this…
*HON RAIDZA: I rise on a point of order that Hon. Mamombe has said that the Hon Minister is incompetent. Minister is incompetent. So, I would like to ask the Hon. Member to withdraw those words and only say her point then the Hon. Minister will respond.
HON. MAMOMBE: Madam Speaker, if incompetence is a wrong word, I therefore withdraw but Madam Speaker –[HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections]- I have withdrawn. Madam Speaker, if the word has caused havoc in this House, I therefore withdraw.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. Hon.
Mamombe, I understand what that really means. Are you saying that you are not withdrawing, because what you need to do is to just say I withdraw, not to add any flesh to that.
HON. MAMOMBE: Madam Speaker, I withdraw that the Hon.
Minister is incompetent. Let me speak about the inconsistency with your policies. Personally, I feel that the Hon. Minister has to explain in this House why there is this inconsistency. If this 53% that he is talking about that the Government is going to support, if it fails, is he going to rise and increase the percentage because there is lack of inconsistency? What is the basis of this 53%? If it fails according to him, he is going on a 70% and even higher to 100%. So there is need to be basic and consistent with our policies.
Lastly, in the recent Education Amendment Act, there is a provision where it states that the Government shall provide sanitary- wear. This is fundamental and we are talking about examination fees. We cannot separate or isolate the challenges that students are facing when they are in schools. An example is a student from my constituency in Harare West. There is a problem that the Ministry does not own up to its promises. They promised that they shall be provision of sanitary-wear in all basic education, for example, the high schools. As of now, there has not been any sanitary-wear. We want the Minister to explain why he is not abiding to the policies and the laws that we have passed as Parliament.
*HON. NYABANI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to add my
voice to the issue of examination fees. Where I come from in Rushinga, people do not even have money for basic livelihoods. They cannot afford to buy a bucket of mealie-meal. There is no food and I am saying where will they get this $90 in Rushinga. Even $50 is a lot of money.
*HON. KACHEPA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I am saying that
the Hon. Minister sat with his Ministry officials and agreed that children should pay $15. In rural areas, all headmasters gave a deadline saying that on the 18th March, every parent should have paid. Some have paid that $15. The Hon. Minister has decided to hike the examination fees. This seems like Government is now a parallel market which just decides to raise fees. This is not right Madam Speaker. I believe that the coming of the Hon. Minister to this august House -he should go back and explain to his employees in his Ministry that this does not work because this is causing confusion in the country. The last point is that this will make people denigrate the President.
HON. MATHEMA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I thank the Hon.
Members for the questions that they have asked and the request for clarification. ZIMSEC wants $500 million to do what it is supposed to do, hence they requested for these monies. In my statement I said we are going to have some more consultations which we did and the Ministry of Finance has since released $150 million to assist ZIMSEC to do what it is supposed to do.
Hon. Members keep on referring to what the law says and the intention of law. As I said earlier on, it is indeed our wish that we have free education like it is happening in other countries and indeed, it is a right of every child in Zimbabwe to go to school. Let me also say the money that I am talking about depends quite a lot on what Treasury has. I have heard some of the suggestions from the Hon. Members. I will go back and look at them and do more consultations and find out what we can do, but that does not mean that what I said earlier on will not happen. –[HON. MEMBERS: What are you saying?]-
What I am, saying is that I have to meet with the Ministry of Finance and I have heard what the Hon. Members are saying. So, let me go back to my offices and look at the whole issue again. The other thing is that we must take care of all those things Madam Speaker. If we were to follow what is said in the Constitution, fortunately for us, the
Constitution now says until Government has the money. The
Government of Zimbabwe is facing sanctions –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- I have taken suggestions that have come from Hon. Members...
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Minister.
HON. MADZIMURE: Madam Speaker…
- [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members.
HON. MADZIMURE: The Minister gave his Ministerial
Statement and Hon. Members across the floor raised their legitimate questions and now the Minister is bringing an issue that he did not even raise – the issue of sanctions. Can he also address the seven billion dollars that is stashed out by members especially from the Government.
HON. MATHEMA: The Hon. Members - [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members, order.
When the Hon. Minister comes here, he will give you responses to what he feels is the position. If he is going to comment on that then do not expect him questions that you have got answers for. Let us allow him to respond.
HON. MATHEMA: Like I said earlier on Members - [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. MAMOMBE: On a point of order. If this Hon. Minister feels that he is failing because of sanctions why did he allow the position of Minister in the first place? He has to withdraw that his failure is because of sanctions. He should withdraw Members - [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Minister. Order.
HON. MAMOMBE: He should resign! He should resign! -
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members, order. I
think we had a good day. We are just ten minutes away from finishing.
May you please allow the Hon. Minister to respond - [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. MATHEMA: Madam Speaker, I thought that the Hon. Members ….
HON. TSUNGA: On a point of order. In all honesty Madam
Speaker maam, the fixing of examination fees is a function of the Ministry in conjunction with ZIMSEC. If we are going to be sincere and honest with ourselves, we may not attribute the fixing of fees to the existence of sanctions. I think that assertion is misplaced. Notwithstanding whatever we may think, we must introspect and be honest with ourselves that the fixing of fees has no linkage whatsoever with sanctions - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. I think
I said it quite well that when we ask question to the Hon. Minister, he will respond the way that he feels that is the position as a Minister. Let us allow him and give him an opportunity to respond. Can the Hon. Minister contribute - [HON. MEMBERS: Hatizvidi, hatizvidi, ngazviende, ngazviende.] – Order Hon. Members, order Hon. Members!
- [HON. MEMBERS: Ngaabviswe mafees, ngaabviswe mafees. Fees
must fall, fees must fall.] –
[Some Hon. Members of the Opposition burst into song]
The House was abruptly adjourned at Thirteen Minutes past Seven o'clock p.m. until Tuesday, 5th May, 2020.