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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 19 JULY 2022 VOL 48 NO 61
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 19th July, 2022.
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that I have received a non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on all Statutory Instruments published in the Gazette during the month of June 2022.
APPOINTMENT OF CCC PARTY CHIEF WHIP
THE HON. SPEAKER: I also have to inform the House that Hon. Prosper Chapfiwa Mutseyami has been appointed Chief Whip by the Citizen Coalition for Change Party and will be deputised by H on. Sichelesile Mahlangu. By virtue of his appointment as Chief Whip, Hon. Mutseyami becomes a member of the Committee of Standing Rules and Orders. [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -
HON. T. MLISWA: A very good afternoon to you Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Good afternoon.
HON. T. MLISWA: I do not know if you were here when we did congratulate the Members of Parliament for the victory of Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira being elected to be the PAP President. If you were not around, I would like to extend that to you as well as the leader of the House on how you actually strategised and making sure that we win. I know it was a very contentious issue and a lot had happened and so forth. We want to thank you. I am aware of the number of visits you did to several countries meeting some of the SADC MPs.
With that, I want to thank you and to also congratulate you. You certainly lead by example. I will surely come to you for strategies in the next election – [Laughter.] – Thank you, well done to you Mr. Speaker. I think it is a legacy for us and I hope that all the Hon. Members that made it will represent us well and we become a shining light.
The other issue Mr. Speaker Sir, I seek your guidance in terms of how we conduct it. We are public figures. As such, we must be able to behave appropriately without any doubt. My issue pertains to Hon. Wadyejena who is the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture. They have been allegations in the media of his involvement doing business with Cotton Company of Zimbabwe COTTCO. It could be well for this august House, to come up with some investigations to see if at all he was doing business with the company in question because that very same company is the company that falls under his oversight role as Chairman of the Agriculture Committee. There are a lot of allegation which have come up in terms of COTTCO. Senior management; one would wonder whether they were not invited to the Portfolio Committee because they were in dealings together. Such an inquiry would assist him and Parliament to be cleared so that there is credibility. It becomes very difficult for him to continue chairing a Committee because he will then be compromised. Whether he declared his interest or not in that he was doing business with them is something that we do not know. I seek your indulgency in terms of the way forward. I thank you.
An Hon. Member having stood up to present another point of National interest.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. I have not pronounced myself on his point of national interest. So if you can indulge me. Thank you.
On the first issue, of the victory by Hon. Sen. Fortune Charumbira as PAP President, that is acknowledged. I am sure the whole country and indeed the Government and the State were proud that he finally made it. I did have some conversation with the Clerk of Parliament and I think a motion will be an appropriate approach to the issue and the Chief Whip will act accordingly in terms of moving that motion most likely tomorrow. Meanwhile, we wish the Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira all the best in his new assignment which is quite honorous indeed.
On the second issue, I will have to have some conversation with the Chairperson of the Lands and Agriculture Committee and find out exactly what facts have emerged apart from the allegations that have been pronounced by the media and from there, I would like to find out what his position is and what has happened there after and then appropriate action will be taken accordingly.
HON. MAVETERA: Hon. Speaker Sir, I rise on a point of national interest. Two weeks ago, we saw the appointment of ZEC Officers, for which as the young people of Zimbabwe, we are very happy. We saw the appointment of three commissioners who are below the age of 40.
We have always spoken about inclusivity, especially for the young people and we are seeing that the Second Republic led by His Excellency, Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa has got a deliberate policy when it comes to the inclusion of young people in positions of authority and influence. Indeed, we really want to applaud and congratulate the Commissioners who, at the age below 40 years, managed to become ZEC Commissioners.
Indeed, this is applaudable and we are saying this has to go on. . As young people of Zimbabwe, we are saying this is a very good move for us and we are happy to have this announcement. We are hoping that more commissioners will be appointed who are below the age of 40.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order! I would want, with your indulgence Mr. Speaker Sir, to say I think it is important for Hon. Mavetera to note that when we say 40 years. it is not ranging with the youths - youth is 16 to 35 years, according to the Constitution. So it does not make sense when she says under 40 years, 40 is not young any more but below 35 years is young because it does fall within the constitutional range of 16 to 35 years. That is my observation.
THE HON. SPEAKER: In terms of some international standards, the youth range from 18 years to 45 years. That is why for example, when you attend IPU Assembly meetings, they have always insisted that anyone who is between 18 years and 45 years is in the young group bracket.
HON. I. NYONI: My point of national interest regards the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) in Bulawayo which also is in my constituency. It is a referral hospital and caters for the health needs for Bulawayo residents. It is also a referral hospital for provinces like Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North.
The issue of concern is that UBH has suspended surgical operations with immediate effect due to unavailability of anesthetics, drugs used to induce sleep in patients before a surgical operation is performed.
UBH is also advising patients to buy their own anaesthetic drugs if any operation is to be done due to the current economic situation, few patients can afford to buy these anesthetic drugs. The result is the unnecessary loss of life.
My prayer is that the Ministry of Health and Child Care to urgently ensure that UBH is urgently capacitated with the necessary resources for procurement of the anaesthetic drugs so that there is an efficient health delivery at this particular hospital. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Your statement, I think canvasses a response because of its criticality. So I suggest that you ask the question tomorrow to the appropriate Minister so that we can get clarification on the matter.
*HON. TEKESHE: My point of national interest concerns the dismissal of students because of non-payment of school fees. The responsibility is upon the parents to pay school fees. So the painful part is that you find students being chased away from school.
My request therefore, is that policies should be implemented; if schools are not allowed to chase away students, then they must not do that. When we asked the responsible Minister, he responded that it is not allowed yet this is happening in schools. This is a plight that I believe should be addressed so that students are not chased away from school.
Mr. Speaker Sir, students are not going to school, so I implore the Government to intervene so that our students are able to attend classes. If the Government does not put a ban on this, the poor will remain poor because they will not get a chance to go to school and those who are affluent will be taking their children outside the country, but this is a right that we fought for so that our children have the right to education. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Tekeshe. There is a judgment by Hon. Justice Mathias Cheda which ruled that pupils should not be dismissed from school because of non-payment of school fees. That responsibility lies with the parents. That is what our High Court decided and that decision must be respected. So, I want you to ask the question tomorrow why the schools are defying a High Court Judgment which is very clear indeed.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The country is facing wheat shortages, our farmers have taken their grain to the Grain Marketing Board and they have not been paid.
ZINWA is also being owed by GMB and at one point ZINWA disconnected water whilst wheat was still in the process of being attended to; it was not ripe when there was water stoppage. My suggestion is that ZINWA was supposed to assess the situation and maybe disconnect after the harvesting of wheat so that farmers could take their wheat after it had matured. Is it not possible to allow such a situation?
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, we value your views and I suggest that you ask the responsible Minister during the question and answer session. Thank you.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that all Orders of the Day be stood over until a Report on the Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services by Minister has been disposed of.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed.
RESPONSE TO REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING SERVICES ON THE STATE OF THE MEDIA IN ZIMBABWE
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. PARADZA): Let me thank Hon. Mokone, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services for presenting such an insightful report which speaks to the state of media in Zimbabwe. In addition, let me also thank the Hon. Members who participated in the enquiry as well as those that took part in the subsequent debate here in the House.
The objective of the enquiry was to ascertain the operations of media practitioners in view of the COVID-19 pandemic; to appreciate the measures being taken by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services in ensuring a conducive environment for media practitioners; to have an understanding of the challenges being faced by media practitioners and lastly, to come up with recommendations for an improved environment for media practitioners.
Hon. Speaker, now let me attend to the findings of the Committee. You will agree with me that the media in this country is operating in a free environment albeit with a few incidences here and there but generally, President Mnangagwa’s administration has allowed media to occupy their spaces. We have promoted the safety of media practitioners while doing their work. We have empowered them by repealing the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and replaced it with friendlier pieces of legislation like the Freedom of Information Act and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, I want to take it this is a Ministerial Statement so that the Hon. Members can seek clarification after your presentation.
HON. PARADZA: Yes. In addition, we are currently seized with a raft of amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act for it to be in sync with international best practices. Not only that, in order to promote sanity within the media industry, this administration is also drafting, together with the relevant stakeholders, the proposed Media Practitioners’ Bill. This Bill is meant to protect professional journalists from chancers, pretenders and impostors’ who have polluted the media landscape masquerading as professional media practitioners.
Having said that Hon. Speaker, it is unfortunate that our media is still toxic. There is rampant polarisation in our media sector and this is affecting our national image as a country. In some instances, professionalism as we know it has gone to the dogs. Professional conduct of some of the practitioners has been compromised due to undue influence from both political and business players, resulting in subjective reporting instead of being objective.
In some cases, our journalists have fallen victims to those with money and have been bribed with khaki envelopes. The Committee also observed a number of challenges within the media sector, ranging from poor or unavailability of tools of trade, lack of funding, general staff welfare in terms of remuneration, issues to do with multiple accreditation, unavailability of an employment council for the media industry, salary disparities and a host of other issues.
Now Hon. Speaker, let me attend to the Committee’s recommendations. Recommendation 6.1.1 that the Ministry of Finance should warehouse ZBC’s legacy debt has already begun –
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. My point of order is that you asked the Hon. Deputy Minister if it was a Ministerial Statement but now he is going to the recommendations. I do not know if you could probably read a Ministerial Statement within recommendations referring back to what the Committee did. I do not know where we are. I need clarity on that.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, it is a Ministerial Statement which encompasses issues raised also by the Committee so the Hon. Minister can proceed.
HON. PARADZA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for the guidance. According to the Committee, it wants the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to warehouse ZBC legacy debt. The process of warehousing ZBC’s legacy debt has already begun and ZBC recently approved board approval to proceed with debt warehousing. The Ministry also furnished ZBC with the guidelines on how this can be achieved and ZBC is expected to update the Ministry on how far they have gone with the process by the end of July 2022. However, there was a delay in the process due to an external audit process which is currently ongoing at the ZBC and some of the claims also required a verification exercise by the Integrity and Finance Committee of the Board.
We now turn to the Transmedia Corporation, which should facilitate a conducive environment through infrastructure investment by setting up transmitters all over the country by September 2022. Transmitter allocation is mainly being addressed through the digitalisation project which started in 2015. The project scope involved the installation of both television and national radio transmitters. Treasury is availing funding for the projects but the shortage of foreign currency has stalled the project and in the past three years, no transmitters have been purchased. Only the low power transmitters were installed for the community and campus radio station from donor funding and internal resources. The bulk of the funding is supposed to come from Government and the procurement process for the radio and television transmitters was done last year. Funds are yet to be availed. A total of 48 sites have been identified to cover the whole of Zimbabwe. Of these, 18 are already operational on the digital platform. The annual plan for 2022 has a provision for seven FM radio transmitters and 4 digital television transmitters. To date, three radio transmitters for community radio stations have been installed. Procurement is underway for additional radio transmitters and the corporation is optimistic that the target of seven is achievable. In addition, through the ZIM digital project, procurement for four digital television transmitter sites was completed but funds are still to be availed to procure the equipment. The status of four towers identified by the committee as follows: Insiza junction, Murehwa, Kariba. The foundations have been completed and await tower materials while the foundation for Buhera is yet to be completed. The following sites were identified but no work has commenced in Chinhoyi, Rusape, Insiza near Fulabusi, Mberengwa, Piki, Marondera and Bikita.
Now I move to the Zimbabwe Media Commission. The Committee said they should speed up the accreditation and registration process of journalists and media and accreditation cards should reach journalists in areas such as Victoria Falls by April 2022. The new fees were gazetted on April 1, 2022 under S.I 65 of 2022, Access to information and protection of privacy (Registration and Accreditation Levy) Amendment Regulations 2022, No 10 to facilitate the accreditation and registration process. The delay in the approval of the fees had stalled the accreditation and registration process but everything is in order. The accreditation exercise was taken to Bulawayo on the 25th and 26th April 2022 at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. The Zimbabwe Media Commission also embarked on a nationwide accreditation exercise. For the month of June 2022 they were in Chinhoyi and Kariba. The Commission moved the exercise to Zvishavane, Masvingo and Mutare beginning July 2022. In addition, the Zimbabwe Media Commission currently has an online accreditation platform which is being utilised by those outside Harare. In terms of ZMC strategic plan as part of national development strategy1, the Commission will also have provincial offices as part of its decentralisation programme.
The Committee wanted to find out how the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services should assist ZBC by increasing its collection points for revenue through mandating other parastatals such as ZESA and TELONE to collect licence fees on behalf of the corporation by August 2022. In terms of motor vehicle licences the corporation engaged ZINARA with a model that would see ZINARA demanding and enforcing ZBC radio licences fees from non-compliant motorists upon the renewal of their vehicle road licences. ZINARA has been dragging on the conversation since December 2021 and have not been giving a clear response. ZRP roadblocks – ZBC had meetings with the ZRP for the purpose of conducting blitz roadblocks that are specifically dealing with enforcement of ZBC licences only. They are working hand-in-hand with ZBC compliance officers at the roadblocks. As a result, the corporation realised 76% increase in revenue from the car radio licencing for the month of June as compared to a month on month average of 45% for the month of April and May.
In terms of household and commercial television radio licences the corporation also started a conversation with ZESA with the aim to have ZESA enforcing listeners licence fees on behalf of ZBC. This will be done by way of making it mandatory for ZESA clients who are also in possession of radio and television receivers in their homes and business premises to pay for their licences whenever they will be paying for their electricity tokens. ZESA is still assessing the corporation’s proposal. Online platform, the corporation introduced an online platform which ran into some obstacles related to payment gateways and as a result the corporation was forced to suspend it to allow for further development of the platform. The vendor has since completed the work and it is now ready to go live again as soon as the corporation gets the application programme interface access from the mobile network operators.
New offices in border towns and cities -ZBC opened new offices and are set to deploy compliance officers this July in Victoria Falls, Beitbridge and Chirundu border posts. They have been mainly conducting roadblocks in conjunction with VID and other agencies. On contracts with partners such as ZIMPOST, OK Zimbabwe and TV Sales and Home were maintained and the corporation is working on, including more agencies such as Mohammed Mussa and others.
On recruitment of compliance officers – the move to engage more compliant officers has paid off as witnessed by an increase in revenue collection. Thirty-six compliant officers were recruited in 2021 for the period between January and June 2022. Revenue increased by 429% as compared to the same period in 2021. However, it is also important to note that the compliance rate is still very low. The Committee wanted to know how BAZ should reduce the radio band width to less than 90 km so that it can be accessed by several listeners by May 2022. This recommendation is not clear because band width does not have anything to do with the 90 km. There is need for further clarity to enable us to make an appropriate response.
The Committee also wanted to know what we are doing as a Ministry in terms of establishing a National Employment Council that will deal with the welfare of media practitioners by August 2022. The Ministry is going to explore the feasibility and proceed appropriately. However, the time frame suggested is not practical as there is a lot of consultation with stakeholders and policy and other legal framework need to be put in place. The Committee also wanted the Ministry to, by August 2022, review and align laws that regulate the media environment with the Constitution such as Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, Official Secrecy Act, Sections of the Criminal Law Codification Reform Act, Interception of Communication Act.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry is currently aligning its media laws with the Constitution and those that fall under its purview. However, the specific pieces of legislation cited do not fall under the purview of the Ministry, hence the need to consult relevant Ministries. The Ministry has no policy influence on when they should be reviewed and aligned to the Constitution because this belongs to other ministries.
Lastly, Mr. Speaker, the Committee wanted the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to assist media houses in accessing foreign currency to acquire equipment by July 2022. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry is ready to provide supporting letters to the RBZ for media houses to participate on the auction system. However, the bigger role rests with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
They also wanted to know how media houses should continue adhering to the set regulations and encourage regular testing and vaccination of its members. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has taken note and will advise all media houses to continue to adhere to the set regulations and encourage regular testing and vaccination of staff. You may be interested to know that the third person to be vaccinated in this country was a journalist. During the COVID period, journalists were classified as essential services and the Ministry was on the forefront to make sure that the journalists were vaccinated.
Zimbabwe Digital Migration Project
Mr. Speaker, as background, the world has since migrated from analogue transmission to digital broadcasting. This changeover was scheduled to have been completed by June 2015.
In our situation, we were required to have completed the process in 2017 but five years down the line, we are still struggling, not having done even half way. Only 18 out of the 48 transmitters are digital compliant. The migration to digital television comes with such advantages as more television channels, high definition picture and audio quality and efficient spectrum utilisation. Mr. Speaker, the objectives or your Committee were as follows:
- To assess progress made towards the completion of the Zimbabwe Digital Migration Project;
- To assess the state of transmission sites in view of the Community Radio Stations and the six television players which are coming on board.
- To have an understanding of the challenges being faced in completion of the project.
- To offer recommendations for speeding up the completion of the project.
Mr. Speaker Sir, on the Kamativi Transmission site the Committee had erroneously noted that gap fillers (these are small low cost transmitters) would cost us $10 million, instead of USD20 thousand if there is an existing tower. The Committee made several critical observations and made a series of recommendations which we have taken on board. I now turn to respond to the Committee’s recommendations and other ancillary matters, as Hon. Biti would say in court.
Mr. Speaker, the Committee wanted the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to timeously disburse the funds to the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to enable the Ministry to complete the digitization project.
The annual digitization budget vote for every year is always too small to advance the project significantly. Now, considering that we have 30 transmitters to go out of forty eighty (48), at this rate, it will take fifteen (15) years to complete the project. Therefore, I plead with Parliament to ensure that the allocation for digitization be prioritised if we are going to achieve providing television services to all by 2030. Out of the money being currently allocated every year we will continue to engage the Ministry of Finance for timeous disbursement of funds for this project. This is within the purview of the Ministry of Finance. However, the Ministry of Information will continue to engage the Ministry of Finance as it has always been doing, so that it is assisted in accessing foreign currency to acquire digital equipment.
The Committee also wanted the Ministry of Information to, by September 2022, delegate the responsibility of the project management to the engineers that are within ZBC who are already on the payroll and they should report to the Ministry on progress regarding the completion of the project on a monthly basis.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Information has recently established a department of Strategic Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation superintended by a full director who is already in post. Their role includes the responsibility for implementation and monitoring of the digitization project and reporting to the Ministry of leadership who in turn report to Cabinet through the Minister. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Information is always grateful for the support being given by the Ministry of Finance. A total of USD2 million was received from Treasury which will be used as follows: USD1.5 million for the purchase and supply of Set-Top-Boxes and USD500 thousand for the upgrade of the National Headend.
From the $1.5 million allocated for the purchase and supply of Set-Top-Boxes, 100 thousand set top boxes will be purchased. They will be offered to the public at a subsidised cost rate of 50%. Mr. Speaker, BAZ has since flighted a tender and it was closed two weeks ago. They are currently seized with adjudication. We should be getting response on that issue.
Your Committee Mr. Speaker wanted the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to waive import duty on set-top-boxes by August 2022 to make them affordable. By the way set-top-boxes are just decoders. The application for waiver of duty was made to the Ministry of Finance on the 17th November 2021 wherein the Ministry recommended that Azan Media Zimbabwe be granted rebate on duty on set-top-boxes under the National Digitization Programme. Treasury wrote back to the Ministry of Information on the 23rd December 2021 rejecting the application on the basis that the cost of the equipment and the operator’s profit were to be borne by subscribers. That is going to be expensive to the consumers.
Mr. Speaker, the Committee also wanted the Ministry to introduce a law that restricts the importation of televisions without a digital tuner that does not comply with the current waves of digitization programme by December 2022. This is already in place through Statutory Instrument, 26 of 2020 the Broadcast Services Act Regulations of 2022 which banned the importation of televisions which are not digitally compliant.
The Committee also wanted Transmedia to ensure that at every site, there are adequate security measures by September, 2022. This was communicated to Transmedia who have raised issues of limited budgetary space which is not robust enough to cover all the 48 sites. They have also cited viability challenges due to low tariffs they are charging to their service users. They are currently in the process of developing a security proposal which they have promised to fund the ministry with once this is done.
Hon. Speaker, the Committee also wanted the Ministry of Energy and Power Development to install solar power plants at all transmission sites as backup in case of power cut by December 2022. Through its own resources, Transmedia installed one pilot project in Kanyemba for a low power single gap filler transmitter. The cost of installing a fully fledged solar power system per site for all the service is close to half a million USD and Transmedia does not have such resources.
Transmedia however, adopted a multi-prolonged approach to address this concern through the following: -
- Engagement with UNSECO, Transmedia had meetings with UNESCO and it is committed to assist some of the community radio stations with solar plants to power studio equipment which did not consume a lot of electricity.
- Proposal on solar which was submitted at Dubai Expo – a proposal for funding from possible development partners; institution was submitted through the Zimbabwean Ambassador in the United Arab Emirates for potential investors in this area at the Dubai Expo. The submitted proposal intends to benefit from climate change mitigation grants. Once a window opens, the corporation will bid for the funds.
Proposal with a local company – the cooperation and the local company are exploring the possibility of sourcing funding from a financial institution and paying back the loan through the metering facility from ZESA. The corporation will feed excess power to the national greed and channel the earnings to pay back invested capital. The success of this model hinges on actual payments from ZESA to be in monetary terms as opposed to barter trade with electricity units. Talks are at an advanced stage and more information will be availed once the discussions are completed. I thank you.
ANNOUNCMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that there will be an APNODE workshop at Rainbow Towers Harare on the 23rd and 24th of July, 2022. All Chairpersons of Committees and five other Members of Parliament from each Portfolio Committee are invited to attend. The Workshop begins at 0800hrs in the morning on each of these two days and this workshop is to enhance Members of Parliament’s oversight role through monitoring and evaluation.
I want to mention also that the Office of the President and Cabinet will be in attendance so that they can advise, educate the Hon. Members on what Government policy is on monitoring and evaluation as part of the oversight exercise.
HON. T. MOYO: I want to seek clarification from the Hon. Minister. The first area that needs clarification is the issue of the so called brown envelops. May the Hon. Minister clarify the underlying causes of those brown envelops. One would say it is poor remuneration which influences the journalist to accept the so called brown envelops.
What measures have been put in place by the Ministry to deal decisively with that issue, especially the issue of giving them more money so that they do not ask for bribes?
Lastly, the transportation of journalists – we experience a number of difficulties when we want projects covered in the constituencies. They may have vehicles but they do not have fuel, so each time when we ask them to have coverage, they will tell you they do not have fuel. What is the Government going to do to alleviate the plight of the journalists?
HON. MUDARIKWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. It is now 42 years after independence and some industries like domestic workers now have their National Employment Council. At one time even Rank Marshals almost had a NEC but why is it that we do not have an NEC for the media industry? That is why our journalists are heavily underpaid and that is why most of our journalists obliviously move into the direction of corruption.
When you have no money, you easily get tempted so the bone of contention is the Ministry must make sure that there is an NEC for journalists. Journalists are the noise of the society, they did excellent work during the COVID-19 but they do not have an NEC. If other industries have NEC, why is it that journalists do not have an NEC?
The good thing is some of the Ministers were journalists but they are still neglecting other journalists. So it is a case that needs to be looked at even in our Portfolio Committee, we are still going to come back to you to make sure that there is an NEC for the media industry.
HON. BITI: I seek clarification from the esteemed Minister, Hon. K. Paradza why 42 years after independence, we still have one broadcasting house, the ZBC. It is an eyesore and wherever we go, we are asked that question. Why can we not have air waves being liberalised so that there are multiple entrants in broadcasting? Every other country in the region and I know Mr. Speaker, you were in the region thanking fellow parliamentarians for voting for Hon. Chief Charumbira. Countries like Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana have multiple broadcasting houses. Surely, Zimbabwe deserves that.
Secondly, when you go to border towns like Dande and Chiredzi, people in Dande actually listen and watch television from Mozambique and as you go towards Kanyemba area, they listen from Zambia, the same applies to mobile networks. Why is it taking so long to ensure that there is infiltration of local broadcasting in those areas?
The migration from analogue to digital, it will take us 100 years to fully migrate from analogue to digital yet digital is also not just about broadcasting but also about education because there has now been convergence of technology and digital migration allows students, schools and universities to actually learn using digital migration. So I urge the Government and the Minister to put resources towards migration because migration converges a lot of interest including education and health.
Lastly, it is Section 60 and 61 of the Constitution. You see the same faces on ZBC at 8 o’clock every day. You see a man and his wife every day from 8 o’clock to 10 o’clock. There must be objectivity so that we see alternative voices, views and faces on ZBC. ZBC is funded by taxpayers and taxpayers deserve to see everyone whether you are red, green or yellow, the current situation of subjectivity and of closure of other voices is unconstitutional and unnecessary. I thank you and seek clarification from Hon. Paradza.
HON. T. MLISWA: My point of clarity is how far have you gone with dealing with the reforms in the media which are critical and have been quite topical in terms of the elections? There seems to be an imbalance in terms of reporting. It is pretty clear there must be two sides of the story and it will also be good from an ethical point of view while the controlled media supports the ruling party to also get the view from the opposition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but you cannot have the ruling party person speaking highly of it and also ask another one again from the ruling party. That is not two sides of the story. It is a very simple way of that becoming one-sided. I think it is important that the Ministry responds to that.
What happened to the Iran equipment in terms of Transmedia? Hon. Shamu went to Iran on a bilateral point of view yet Iran had donated some equipment to us. There has been silence on that and how then are we assured support from other nations when we have not even used what we had. It will have been good for that delegation to also report on the progress of the Transmedia to the Iranian Government. I do not know what report they gave when they were asked what happened to the equipment.
The funny one is that we have now reached a stage where polls are critical even for politicians. I do my own polling in my constituency to see whether people want me or not. Based on that poll, I go for an election. Have you done the poll amongst the viewers in terms of ZBC, how many are watching it and why they are or not watching it compared to DStv. From a business point of view, it actually helps you to see whether it is viable to run ZBC or not and to also incorporate other programmes which people like and all that.
The issue of our own culture, tradition, heritage and our own language, I remember one thing all the time when the former Minister of Information Prof. Moyo was at the helm, rambai makashinga. There is nothing that we can associate ourselves with today which is Zimbabwe, the local artisits. They must be able to make money from what they do on ZBC. How are you remunerating them, not for us to have Hon. Mavetera constantly doing a point of privilege to cite one who has died and thank the Government for an assisted funeral. What are you doing to empower them because they are doing something? Those are my points of clarity.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Minister, you recall that the report that you are referring to where your Ministerial Statement is premised to come from. You have quite a number of indications where we wanted commitment from the Minister of Finance in terms of financing a number of issue but I do not seem to be getting a proper position from you Hon. Minister in terms of clear timelines or commitments that the Minister of Finance has made towards your Ministry in terms of making sure that there is progress at ZBC and all other sectors that you cover.
Secondly, I also want to ask pertaining to ZBC if you read the Auditor- General’s report, you get a picture that ZBC is technically insolvent. I understand that there is some process that is happening but I did not hear the commitment from Treasury in terms of taking over the debt that is hanging on ZBC.
Last one is to do with the possibility of the commercial side of ZBC. You are aware Hon. Minister that the advent of online has taken another avenue where advertisers are now shifting from broadcasting. What measures are there, if any, to increase revenue generation by ZBC through adverts because if you check the ZBC of yesterday and that of today, the adverts have actually drastically gone down.
(v)HON. MOKONE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Can I ask the Minister to provide us with timelines pertaining to the completion of the digitization programme because Zimbabwe is one of the few Southern African countries that has remained behind in as far as digitization is concerned. I thank you.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: Thank you so much Mr. Speaker Sir. I just wanted to ask the Minister whether there has ever been any serious plan to change the funding model for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation because there is no way in 2022 the fiscus can manage to sustain such a big institution like ZBC. I would want ZBC to be financed in a different model. There are other public broadcasters in the world where there is a double emphasis on getting revenue outside the State. ZBC cannot be expected to be fully funded by the State in 2022. So I would want the Minister to maybe even do some benchmarking visits and see where the other public broadcasters emphasise more on revenue through advertising and other ways of making money and also to cross over to other forms of broadcasting that are much more cheaper than the old system that they are using. So ZBC cannot be expected at this current state, especially with the economic challenges that we are facing to be funded by taxpayers with the prevailing high unemployment. So I want to encourage the Minister to really take a deep dive in terms of coming up with a sustainable funding model that is a hybrid between expecting funding from the State and also making sure that there is viability commercially. ZBC needs to stop depending entirely on government. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
(v)HON. HAMAUSWA: I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for his response to the report on the Committee on Media. My point of clarity is on digitization. The Minister spoke of S.I 26 of 2022 where he said that Government has banned the importation of televisions without devices that will enable digitization. My question is on the monitoring mechanism of that S.I 26. May the Minister highlight to the House how far they have gone in terms of monitoring that this S.I is being followed through? Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. MARKHAM: Good afternoon Hon. Speaker. I have two questions, the first one is, could the Minister clarify the agreement with ZINARA as to collecting fees given that ZINARA, one of the first PAC things showed that they were receiving a huge proportion of the collected funds. Could the Ministry just confirm how that agreement works? The second issue is: can the Minister also confirm that the budget as approved has been allocated to them both for last year and this year in its fullness as approved by Parliament? I thank you.
HON. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I have two points of clarity. The first one is on content creation, when it comes to media it is very expensive and I think this has limited us as a country in terms of how we are compared with other countries, especially in the Media fraternity. What mechanisms have you put in place to ensure that at least we establish certain studios that can be able to capacitate young people when it comes to being involved in media? The second issue is: I have seen that ZBC is on the DSTV platform but only for local consumption. What is the limitation there for us to be viewed by other countries?
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like the Minister to clarify to me on the Constituency Development programme that comes out on ZBC television. I have noticed that only MPs from ZANU-PF feature on those programmes whilst those of us from the opposition cannot be featured; no matter how hard you try, despite it being a national television. Why are we not considered to be seen on this platform also showcasing our constituencies instead of just hearing individuals from one party from the time the programme started to date? I thank you.
HON. NYAMUDEZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. When the Minister mentioned that ZBC was facing challenges in collecting revenue he mentioned that they were engaging ZESA to enforce payment of television licenses. Can the Minister please further clarify the arrangements? Also, we know that most of the MPs here and other people at home watch DSTV. If you do not pay DSTV you will be cut off. Can the Minister not also consider that as well? That could go a long way in reducing the costs of collecting. Thank you.
HON. I NYONI: My question to the Hon. Minister is that he mentioned the Buhera and Bikita transmitters. Before independence, during the liberation struggle, we used to have the Gwindingwi booster which would cover those areas Bocha, Buhera, Chiredzi and the whole of Chipinge. Freedom fighters could even listen to the radio in the mountains. What happened to that Gwindingwi booster?
HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to check with the Minister, we have heard about the expenditure towards the digitization and a lot of effort around that. I think there is no clarity on whether we have capacity or technical capacity to do it. Do we have capacity to run a digitization programme or somewhere in the whole structure of us reaching the digitization that we want to achieve? Why are we failing when we heard a long time ago that we are progressing well? Are we choosing the right partners towards digitization? Do we have people with the capacity or we need to be told the truth? I think funding from Government has been availed many times towards this project and we have not seen anything on the ground. Can we see something or tell us where you are failing and we then find a different root together?
(v)HON. SARUWAKA: Thank you Chair. I wanted to understand from the Minister, what the problem is with ZBC where even on DSTv, the ZBC channel is always displaying with showers compared to other channels? This has a big impact on our people’s desire - especially in Mutare, to pay for a substandard service.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. PARADZA): Thank you Mr. Speaker. Let me start with Hon. Moyo about brown envelops. This is now a cancer within the media industry. It is actually sometimes not them who are asking for the brown envelops. It is some of our people who have some ulterior motive, they give bribes to our journalists to write positive stories about them or to write something against their opponents. As a Ministry, we have engaged those media houses to please make sure that this does not happen. However, it is difficult to control something which is done between two people. It is corruption and must be condemned and we condemn that as a Ministry.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. I think Hon. Biti will agree with me. When we talk about these issues, there must be evidence. When you say people are corrupt, let us be clear. Let us not just say people are corrupt. The Minister must get them arrested. If he knows they are corrupt and they are not arrested, then he is also corrupt. He is adding to corruption. As Parliament, let us have the integrity to discuss issues with facts and evidence because we will not get the integrity and dignity that is expected of us. These are allegations and let them use the word allegation. Hon. Paradza is a seasoned journalist. The question will be, show us the evidence that they are corrupt. Allegations of corruption do make us more of a credible institution. I know he is a great editor but I thought I would edit his speech.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mliswa. Hon. Minister, may you stand guided.
HON. PARADZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Thank you Hon. Mliswa for editing my script. My answer was based on the correspondence which we have received as a Ministry from some of the journalists themselves mentioning that so and so is getting brown envelops. It is not only journalists at the shop flow level or in newsrooms. They are saying even at editor levels, there are allegations that they are getting brown envelops. We have noticed that some of the people who are issuing brown envelops are receiving positive coverage. We are seized with the matter as Ministry and we are doing more investigations on that one.
The other issue is on the transportation of journalists when they have no fuel and cars. Yes, ZBC has no enough vehicles but they have tendered for about 30 or so vehicles which are coming on stream. Anytime as soon as they get this tender, they will be able to give all terrain vehicles to our bureau chiefs in the provinces.
Hon. Mudarikwa was talking about the lack of NEC. I agree with you. We do not have the National Employment Council for the media industry. This has been like that since independence. We have been clamouring for this. However, the problem we have in this country is the media is sort of disjointed. They wanted to do this and even during my time, we wanted to do it through the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists but you find that sometimes there were no takers. You need to have the employers, the employees and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists to come together so that they form the NEC. We do not have a grouping NEC for the employers themselves. They are disjointed but I agree with you. This is one of the recommendations which we are going to deal with and see to it that it is implemented.
The media is vast. We have printers and those in the commercial sector and they belong to various employment councils. What we do not have is for the journalists. This is what we are going to cure when we bring the proposed Zimbabwe Media Practitioners Bill. At least they will have somewhere to start on. Hon. Mudarikwa, I am not neglecting my colleagues. It is just because of that aspect I have mentioned. Hon. Biti, why do we have only ZBC? No, we have reformed now. We have given licences to six competitors and two of those private owned national, commercial television stations are on air. We have 3K TV, ZTN News which is on air and we also have another from East Africa which is already on the market here. That is why we have these media reforms and they are working.
On top of the six national commercial radios and television stations, we also have given out licences to 14 community radio stations, 7 campus radio stations and these community radio stations are language based. In other words we have answered what the Constitution wants us to do to say there are 16 official languages and we have satisfied that through the issuance of community licences to our radio stations. If you have been watching television or listening to radio, we have launched more than five, the Ocean, Nyanga, and Chimanimani and very soon we are going to launch six more before the end of the year. We also have campus radio station which is Great Zimbabwe and is on air, other stations are also following.
After we have seen that all these are on air, we are going to give more licences and we are also going to give more community television licences. So, Zimbabwe is going to have a glut of all these as we go.
We need funding Hon. Speaker, in terms of the migration from analogue to digital. We have no choice as a country, we are signatory to the International Telecommunications Union and a decision was made way back in 2006, that the whole world must be digital by 2015. We asked for further two years up to 2017, so by 2017 all of us had this. Therefore, we have no choice as a signatory to ITU, we have to be digital whether we have the money or not.
The other option which collapsed was to sell one of the spectrums to Netone but Netone failed to raise the money so that it was going to cost about 200 million. So, we were going to use this money to fund the projects, so that is one of those issues that we are still on the table to sell a spectrum on that one. This is done by national governance because ZBC is a national broadcaster, so it has to get money from the fiscus and we are appealing to you Parliament to assist us get this funding so that we are done with this project.
Hon. Member, you quoted Section 61 of the Constitution about the varieties of news bulletin and so forth – it is not true to say that only two people monopolize the bulletin. The bulletin is one hour and on that hour we have a variety of news, some of it coming from the provinces and ordinary people. As long as you say something which is news worth, you are covered, if you say something which is possibly hurt speech, you will not expect coverage because we do not promote that. In most of the cases, we have had our journalist especially from the main stream media being chased away or beaten up by some of the political hooligans. So we cannot put our journalists’ lives in danger by assigning them to go where they are beaten up.
Generally, Hon. Speaker, the ZBC is there to cover all citizens…
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order! The Hon. Minister must not talk about violence when we have law enforcement agency that arrest. So, he must not say that they are being chased out, they are being kicked out. Equally some of the independent journalists are not allowed at the top there, it is the State owned media; no wonder why we are thankful for twitter and our videos we take here. Infact, we have a bigger following than ZBC anyway, so we do not really need them but we must be very clear in terms of who is beaten up, the independent media people are also not allowed to enter unless you are pro-government.
HON. PARADZA: The good thing is that we now have a variety of outlets. If you are not happy with ZBC there is 3KTV, ZTN and there are online publications that is print media, there is electronic media.
Hon. Mliswa, you want different views on ZBC, it is not only on ZBC, even in newspapers. No one is denied access to ZBC, as a journalist myself it is about the quality of the news, it is what we are calling newsworthy or not newsworthy that is the bottom line. So, if you are shouting and so forth, it is not news and you will not see yourself on television. Hon. Mliswa you have been covered very well in this House and everyone else. This is why we have taken a decision to say every Wednesday and every Thursday, we have a live coverage of this House so no one is complaining. So, come on Wednesday, say something which is newsworthy and you will be covered.
Hon. Mliswa also talked about the Iran deal - yes, there was that deal but because of technological advancement, the equipment now has become obsolete. So, we are now buying new equipment, refurbishing ZBC studios and right now it is being done through this digitalisation project. Not only that, by year end, ZBC will have partnered with another international outlet so that they have state of the art equipment which is coming on stream. This is also why we are asking Parliament to assist in making sure that the budget is released on time and also because we buy this equipment using foreign currency, we are appealing to you as parliamentarians to assist in that regard in telling the Hon. Minister to prioritise the disbursement of foreign currency to ZBC for them to acquire the state of the art equipment, especially now as we go towards 2023 general elections.
As you may be aware Hon. Speaker, that during elections, ZBC actually surrenders to ZEC and all political parties are given free time. Those who want to buy adverts are able to do that. If they do not have content, then it becomes a problem, not the problem of ZBC. They must have credible content so that they are able to be captured.
The other issue about the polls he was talking about, we have what we call ZAMPS in the country which is done every year and ZBC always comes tops. Even through television and radio houses, we now have a variety of national radio stations such as Radio Diamond, ZiFM, StarFM and so forth. These are also winning against ZBC but you must know that ZBC is always ahead of the peck because of the historical factors. ZBC was established way back in the 1930s and because of that, it takes advantage of that legacy issue. We now have a variety of stations and this is a fact. Right now, we have allowed Nyami-nyami FM which was small in Kariba but it now broadcasts across Mashonaland West.
Each province right now has coverage. We do not only have these transmitters but we also want to have a satellite which covers the whole of Zimbabwe so that the whole of Zimbabwe has a national content from within the country. This is why we have given the border lying areas licences to start broadcasting their community radio stations. I have been going around the country and they are setting up. Anytime before the 2023 elections, we will have all these radios in operation broadcasting.
In terms of content, we have engaged content creators including the likes of mai T.T, Madam Boss and others, even those who some people may think are not up to standard but we have engaged all of them here in Harare and Bulawayo. We need local content because our law says 75% should be local content. We need a lot of content creators and because it is going to be a multi-billion business, this is because of the outlets we now have and a variety of outlets will need local and quality content. On top of that, as a Ministry, we have said come to our production centre, we will give you the use of our studios to do your programmes.
Hon. Mushoriwa on commitment of Ministry of Finance, we have engaged them in terms of releasing the monies on time for the digitalisation programme but we are all aware that the country has a problem in terms of getting foreign currency but we are grateful that they have released US$2 million for us to buy Set–Top-boxes. We are going to purchase 100 000 Set-top-boxes boxes which we are going to give out, some for free in the rural lying areas and some will be charged at half price. We are going to launch this project with this. Already, we had 300 Set-top boxes in stock and we launched that in Mashonaland West and also we are also going to Binga. Most of the Chiefs in Binga are on the platform and can now watch ZBC in Binga for the first time in 42 years. We are on that one.
ZBC has legacy debts which it inherited from way back. These debts, we are dealing with. We are requesting the Ministry of Finance to say can they sort of warehouse this debt so that ZBC is on a clean slate but I can assure you that ZBC is now turning a corner. The board at ZBC has put in measures to make sure that ZBC becomes profitable. What they have done is that they have improved their online platforms –
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: When we were asking questions, Hon. Members stood up to ask questions and the Hon. Minister should just respect Hon. Members by referring to Hon. Members’ questions, question by question rather than just doing the way he is doing. He is a seasoned Member of Parliament and he knows the drill to answer questions individually.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: But he was doing exactly that. I heard him he was referring to Hon. Members.
HON. PARADZA: I mentioned Hon. Mushoriwa. You wanted Government to takeover ZBC debt and that is what I am talking about.
We have been given US$2 million for us to purchase Set-top boxes. The tender is already out and adjudication is in process right now so that we acquire these Set-top boxes so that we launch it at a national scale.
Apart from online channels, ZBC has launched Jive TV and very soon they will launch a historical and 24- hour news channels. All these are revenue streams. These advertisers are going to make use of all these channels so that ZBC is sustainable. I am just mentioning some of the major issues but most of public broadcasters are supported through licence fees. ZBC right now is talking to ZINARA to say can you collect this on our behalf and ZESA to say when one buys a token they must take a fraction of that and send to ZBC as licence fees. These are some of the areas that are being explored and we will be telling Parliament as we go.
Then Hon. Mokone wanted timelines on the allocation but we cannot give timelines because we do not control the finances. These are controlled by the Minister of Finance who has other important issues to deal with. We are just in the queue but we are happy that for now we have been allocated the $2 million I am talking about but more than $1 billion has been allocated to the BAZ to ensure that we continue with the digitalization project. Hon. Molekela, I think I have answered on the funding models for the national broadcaster. I have talked about licencing, advertising and other online platforms. BBC is sustained through licencing. The problem we have in Zimbabwe is that our people do not want to pay for licences and the revenue streams to ZBC become so little because of that. Therefore, we must encourage our people to pay for licences. It is important to give Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
Hon. Hamauswa, asked how we will monitor compliance in terms of the S.I that I have talked about that. We have approached ZIMRA and all the outlets that sell electric gadgets to now import televisions that are digital compliant because we no longer accept any type of television coming into this country. That is being enforced by ZIMRA at our ports of entry. Hon. Markham, as I have said, ZBC has a gentleman’s agreement with ZINARA but we are going to put in place a S.I. to make sure that ZINARA is forced to demand payment for television and radio licences to every motorist renewing their licences. Hon. Mavetera, my response is that whoever wants to use our studios and not only that, we have a film school as well which they can make use of, or they can make use of ZBC studios. They are free to do that but obviously for a fee because ZBC needs to make money.
We need local content Hon. Speaker so that we satisfy the local market. Right now we have international content from outside Zimbabwe flooding our screens because we do not have quality content. As a Ministry, we are however pushing to ensure that we have quality content for this. As I said, this is a multi-billion dollar industry and we need precisely that. Hon Tekeshe, you said there are only ZANU-PF MPs being featured on constituency talk on ZBC. The issue here is that this constituency talk is not a ZBC programme but a private programme from independent producers. So they use ZBC as a platform for their programme and I understand those MPs featuring on that programme pay. So you can also engage them, pay and you will be featured on ZBC. Hon. Nyoni, I think I have clarified your question on ZESA when buying ZESA tokens and like I said, we are still in discussion to fine tune the agreement. Then on cutting off those who are not paying licences, the national broadcaster is a free to air institution. It is not a cable television like DSTV and that is why we need these set-top boxes so that you can see good quality pictures and audios. That is why we are now moving from analogue to digital to cure this. Then the question on the Gwindingwi booster is because of the obsolete equipment. This is one of the transmitters that are still outstanding so that we can have it digital compliant.
Hon. Togarepi wanted to know where we are failing and the answer is on the timely disbursement of funds from Treasury and not personnel. We have qualified engineers who have been running with this project from 2017 to date. Eighteen of these transmitters have been equipped with new technology by our own engineers. What we need is to pay suppliers of this new technology so that we are in compliance with the international best practice. We have standards as SADC, which are in conformity with the European standards. As SADC we have agreed that each country must make sure that it does not broadcast extra territorial and we have allowed a 30km to 60km radius. However, within the SADC we are the only country that is behind and to be precise we are actually five years behind. Now, the danger is that by the time we finish these others the first eighteen may have gone obsolete because of the changes in technology. So we need to finish all of them so that they are operational possibly in the next one or two years. Otherwise we will have to redo it again and that is the danger that we face. Thank you Mr. Speaker and honourables. I think I have done justice to that.
Hon. Saruwaka was talking about poor signals. It is because we are still running on analogue. In those areas where we have transmitters that are digital compliant we have given them. If they are on DSTV platform, they can have ZBC there. Hon. Mavetera has also said why is it you cannot tune in to ZBC when you are outside Zimbabwe. The agreement with Multichoice is they are hosting ZBC for free because it is the national broadcaster. This is why those with DSTV Multichoice dishes are able to have ZBC signal for free even if they are cut off. This is because of the agreement we have had with Multichoice. We have said one of the requirements for you to operate in Zimbabwe is that you must host the national broadcaster. In areas where you do not have DSTV, you now need to have set-top boxes so that you will be able to have quality high definition pictures. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I think I have done justice to the questions.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: On transportation of journalists, the Hon. Member asked about the fuel. I think we have understood you more that very soon you will be getting vehicles that are capable of traversing all the terrain in Zimbabwe but there was not much about the fuel component. According to the Hon. Member who asked, he said that at the moment the cars are there but what is lacking is financing in terms of fuel. What is it that you would want to say to make your Hon. Members happy?
HON. PARADZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. On the issue of fuel, especially ZBC bureau chiefs and the correspondence that are dotted around the country are given an allocation for example, 500 or 600 litres per week or per month or per two weeks; but because of the terrain, because of the distances they cover, sometimes the fuel runs out before they are given another allocation. This is why they say sometimes to our Hon. MPs, yes I want to come and cover you but I do not have fuel. I am waiting for fuel because my allocation has run out. I am appealing to Hon. Members to, if they have fuel, give them the fuel so that your areas or activities are covered. We need coverage especially from the rural areas. We need stories from the rural. We need MPs to be visible and we need MPs to be active in their constituencies. So please, they can assist in that regard, in providing fuel; not only fuel. There is no harm in even buying them lunch as well because we are trying to manage a situation here Mr. Speaker. I thank you.
(v)HON. NDEBELE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to point out that it is not up to the Minister to tell us that he has done justice to the questions that have been raised. That is solely your duty and that of the questioners. For instance, I am not happy because he did not speak very well to the question of low morale amongst journalists at ZBC and the poor salaries. The fact that he now says we must buy them lunch shows he does not have the energy to boost their salaries at all. A good journalist must be able to make for his own lunch because you will remember the Commission last time raised issues of the brown envelop. This is where it begins. The Minister should just boost morale especially amongst senior journalists at ZBC and salaries as well.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you very much Hon. Ndebele. Your points have been noted.
HON. PARADZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to inform Hon. Ndebele that the ZBC board is reviewing the salaries and they are changing them from one platform to the other. Their salaries are now competitive. By the way, they have to pay because if they do not pay, they are going to lose staff to the new players. They were doing the review last week and that is why you saw the Chairman at a Press Conference over the weekend saying they are now going to pay even pensions for the former and current workers who are over the pensionable age. They are doing everything and ZBC is now able to do this on its own. They have never done this in the past and they are doing that. I mentioned about buying lunch and it was just in passing. It is not policy. Thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May the owner of the following vehicle Ranger AEB4790 Silver go and remove the car. It is blocking others vehicles.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 14 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 15 has been disposed of.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
SECOND REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ON THE BENCHMARKING VISIT TO KENYA, ZAMBIA AND GHANA ON EDUCATION FINANCING
HON. T. MOYO: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Second Report of the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education on the Benchmarking visit to Kenya, Zambia and Ghana on education financing.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
HON. T. MOYO: INTRODUCTION
- The 2013 Constitution has been regarded as progressive particularly Section 75 (1) which states that “every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to – (a) a basic State-funded education, including adult basic education; and (b) further education, which the State, through reasonable legislative and other measures, must make progressively and accessible”.
- This position is cemented by the Education Amendment Act of 2020, which emphasize the responsibility of the State in providing free basic education. The National Development Strategy (NDS1) looks at broadening access and participation to quality, equitable and inclusive education.
- In line with the Constitution’s thrust for a basic state funded education, the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education resolved to conduct benchmarking visits, which were sponsored by UNICEF and Parliament.
- The Committee visited Zambia, Kenya and Ghana. The Zambia and Kenya benchmarking visits were undertaken in October 2019 by the Committee in two legs, (i) Parliament of Zambia from 13 to 18 October 2019 and (ii) Parliament of Kenya from 20th to 25th October 2019. The visit to Ghana was conducted from the 21st - 28th November 2021.
The delegations comprised of the following Honourable Members and staff from the Committee, namely;
- ZAMBIA: Hon. P. Misihairambwi-Mushonga (Chair of the Committee); Hon. Matsikenyere N; Hon. Shirichena E; Hon. Mutambisi C; Hon. Murambiwa O; Hon. Sithole J; Mrs. E. Hove (Assistant Counsel to Parliament) and Mr. A.M Kunzwa (Committee Clerk and Secretary to the Delegation).
- KENYA: P. Misihairambwi-Mushonga, Hon. J. Madhuku; Hon. M. Mkandla; Hon. C. Maronge; Hon. G. Chanda; Hon. M. Nkomo; Mrs. E. Hove (Assistant Counsel to Parliament) and Mrs P. S. Mtetwa (Committee Researcher and Secretary to the Delegation).
- GHANA: Moyo Torerayi, (Head of Delegation and Committee Chairperson), Hon. Sanyatwe, Hon. Mathe, Hon. Musiyiwa, Hon. Nyabote, Hon. Dzepasi and Mr. Chiremba (Committee Clerk and Secretary to the Delegation).
The Delegation was also accompanied by other officials as follows; Mr. Mafowera B, Ms B. Wenjere from Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education; Mrs T. Mukurazhizha from Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and Mr. B. Raisi; Mr. T. Chinembiri and Mr. M. Rafomoyo from UNICEF.
- To meet with the respective Parliamentary Committees and exchange ideas on how the Committees operate and relate with the Executive in terms of performing their mandates looking particularly at Education Financing.
- To meet with the Ministry responsible for Primary and Secondary Education to explain the policy issues guiding the educational system in the country, in particular, Education Financing and Inclusive Education and the legislative mechanisms that enable the systems.
- To offer policy recommendations for improvements to our own model of education financing.
- Free basic education was introduced through a policy statement being made in the National Assembly by the Minister of Education. To date it has no legislative backing.
- When the free basic education system began in Zambia it was supported by donors who have now completely pulled out leaving the Government of Zambia in a quandary.
In an effort to reduce the burden on the fiscus, the Government of Zambia has introduced School Feeding Programs which have seen numerous schools engaging in horticulture to feed students and mitigate running costs.
- Free basic primary education was introduced in 2003 as part of the fulfilment of a campaign pledge made by the President and in 2008, free education was extended to secondary schools.
- This was later cemented by a new constitution which was adopted in 2010, which mandated the Government to ensure free access to education and training in line with the need to fulfil international and constitutional demands on the right to basic education.
- Education financing occurs at two levels in Kenya, that is, national level and county level. The National level focuses on primary and secondary education financing while at county levels focus is at early childhood education financing.
- The element of free basic education existed in the Education Act of 1961 and was partially being implemented in the Northern region leaving the Southern part disadvantaged.
- More effort was put under the Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education Programme introduced in 1995, promising a universal education by 2005.
(v)HON. NDEBELE: Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for Hon. Moyo as a Chairman but I really do not envy him because parts of his report as he indicated is four years old and I am sure they have lost currency. Things have changed, for instance in Zambia where Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga went on that visit. I therefore suggest that in our Standing Rules, we must put a cap on how long these reports must take to get to Parliament. Certainly, we cannot sit and listen to a four-year old report in certain parts. It has lost its currency.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Ndebele but I tend to think that the years that are in the report are the years for the introduction of free education. The visits that the Hon. Chair is saying were done; I think that was last year and maybe this year as well. Is that not it Hon. Moyo.
HON. T. MOYO: Yes, last year.
(v)HON. NDEBELE: And 2019 as well if I heard him well. He said some of the visits were undertaken under the leadership of Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga. That is what I got and that should be on record.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: On that basis your point of order has been noted.
HON. T. MOYO: I must say the visit to Ghana was conducted last year in November and the other visits were done in 2019 and what is obtaining in Kenya for example is exactly what was observed in 2019. As far as Zambia, there have been some minor changes but basically what is happening is there – [(v)HON. NDEBELE: He is defying what I said, 12 months is so many months too late. He is a renowned educationist and must understand that reports must be given within a reasonable space of time -] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Ndebele. I think I answered you saying that your point of order has been noted meaning that it is respected. He is only trying to clarify – [(v)HON. NDEBELE: No, he went on to rubbish it. He must not add a ruling above yours.] – Thank you.
HON. T. MOYO: I was on Ghana.
- The programme got its momentum under President Akufo-Addo with a declaration for the full implementation of free basic education, no tuition, admission, library, science centre or computer lab, examination, utility, text books fees including and a meal at school for free.
Legislative Framework in Zambia, Kenya and Ghana
- In Zambia, the government has ensured access to education was a reality to its people through an extensive legislative framework.
- Thus, Section 14(1) of the Education Act (2011) provides that every person has a right to (a) early childhood care, development and education; (b) basic education, including adult literacy education; and (c) high school education. Section 15 plainly states that a child has the right to free basic education which is compulsory since its Government financed and at no cost to the parents.
- Since Independence in 1964 three major education policy documents have been developed that is ‘Educational Reform’ (1977), which highlighted education as an instrument for personal and national development; ‘Focus on Learning’ (1992) which emphasised the need for the mobilisation of resources for the development of schools; and ‘Educating Our Future’ (1996) which stresses the importance of education for all children in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
- Education F Zambia provides free primary education from grades 1-7 financed through grants to schools on a monthly basis.
- Initially provision was done in partnership with a development partner to ensure a sustainable take off and who later pulled out.
- Currently the grants to schools were not enough since the pulling out of the private partner. However, for pupils from grade 1-7 no money is requested from parents. For Grade 8-12, the government also gives grants but since it’s not enough schools are allowed to ask parents to pay government controlled and determined amounts.
- For day schools, parents pay K150 and K1000 for boarding school. Production units have been established in boarding schools to complement grants from the Government.
- Funds are disbursed to district offices but currently working on a system that enables
funds to be transferred direct to each school.
- Government does not provide uniforms and they are not compulsory.
Education Financing: GHANA
- Free basic education is provided from elementary education up to university level.
- It also covers agricultural, vocational and technical institutions. It was stressed that 98% of education financing was from the Government whilst the donor community was providing only 2% earmarked for technical assistance only.
- The education sector draws 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 20% of the total budget. Since the introduction of free education, there has been a sharp increase in school enrolment, high school improved from 800 000 pupils to more than 1.2 million learners, which has put a strain on schools’ infrastructure.
- Free basic education covers materials such as textbooks, uniforms, meals, tuition, admission, library, science centre or computer lab, examination, utility, text books fees and a meal at school for free.
- Funds are disbursed directly to the schools on a monthly basis. Sources of funding include; the Consolidated Revenue Fund, social impact mitigation services, statutory funds particularly the Ghana Education Trust Fund, District House of Assembly funds and taxes from the recently discovered petroleum.
- Allocations to schools depend on the school enrolment (per capita grant) and private schools are not included.
School Feeding Programme
- In Kenya, the school feeding programme is not part of basic education since the Government believes that parents have a role to play in the education of their children. The Government only concentrates on the feeding scheme in arid, semi-arid areas and the nomadic tribes where it is known that there is always hunger due to poor climatic conditions. Therefore, the school feeding programme in Kenya is not universal but targeted at specific areas where there is need for the services. Parents play a pivotal role in this model.
- In Zambia, the School Feeding Programme is in place and government provides maize meal and beans.
- In Ghana, the School Feeding Programme is part and parcel of the free basic education provisions, with the government providing one meal per day. The Ministry of Education also employs workers responsible for preparing the food. The programme is implemented throughout the country. It is hailed as a very successful programme, contributing to an increase in school enrolment, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
Quality of Education
- When free basic education was introduced in both Kenya and Zambia, it led to the deterioration of the standards in the education sector. School enrolment increased beyond the available resources, leading to overcrowding in most public schools. The increase in enrolment did not tally with school infrastructure, teachers, teaching and learning materials. There was so much pressure on the few resources hence compromising the quality of education. This in turn led to the sprouting of private schools, which are cheap and do not meet the required standards.
- In Zambia the Industrial Relations Act provides for collective bargaining for educators as well and the union with the highest membership leads the bargaining Civil society organizations also compliment the Ministry of General Education in remote areas by providing teachers through the Zambia Open Schools initiative. They also identify policy gaps and engage government to ensure quality education. They also provide salaries for volunteer community school teachers which are provided by Government.
- All countries (Kenya, Ghana and Zambia) have established re-entry policy. The re-entry policy in both countries has shown an increased in number of girls in schools. The policy allows for girls to return to school after delivery of their babies. In Zambia, the policy is clear as the girls are allowed to take six months leave together with the boyfriend and return after post-natal care. The policy also discourages boys from mischief as they are also requested to take leave with their girlfriends and only allowed back together.
PROVISION OF SANITARY WEAR
- Kenya has a specific budget for the girl child, which aims at meeting the welfare needs of the girl child. For example, provision of sanitary wear to all school going girls as measures to cushion them and ensure that no girl child misses school due to menstruation. In Ghana, sanitary wear is placed at a secure place accessible to girls. Zambia, there is a bill currently before Parliament to ensure provision of free sanitary wear in schools. Government had set aside K40million for provision of sanitary wear.
Constituency Development Fund (CDF)
- In Kenya, the delegation established that the CDF plays a pivotal role in education development. The Members of Parliament are encouraged to commit a certain percentage of their funds towards the education sector, for bursaries for the disadvantaged children at the constituency level and school infrastructure This ensures that more schools are constructed from the various levels of Government, i.e. at national, county and sub-county.
Teaching and Learning Material
- In Ghana, the Government provides all teaching and learning materials for free, such as textbooks, laptops, braille for the blind among others. Furthermore, the government providing non-learning materials such a school uniforms, socks and shoes.
In Kenya the government provides teaching and learning materials. The government has benefited from economies of scale through central procurement of books for all schools and the supplier only distributes to the schools
- Kenya has a total of about 10 167 schools comprising of 9 050 primary and 1 117 secondary. Given the huge gap between primary schools and secondary schools, transition rate from primary to secondary stands at 50%. Enrolment at primary schools is estimated at 2.8 million and 1.6 million at secondary schools and they have around 110 000 teachers. There is a huge infrastructure deficit and most of children are being forced out of schools once they finish primary school and for those who proceed to secondary level, the completion rate is low, currently at 36%, whilst completion rate at primary school is 77%. Access to teaching and learning materials is low and enrolment at secondary schools is massive with hot sitting to accommodate up to 9 streams per grade.
- Zambia has a total of 31 000 schools comprising of 23 000 primary and 8 800 Enrolment at primary schools is estimated at 10.3 million and 2.7 million at secondary schools and there are more than 350 000 teachers. The country has a policy that all children progress to the next level despite their grades. The country introduced free primary education in 2003 and in 2008 free education was extended to secondary schools.
- In Ghana, the prerogative for schools’ infrastructure falls within the ambit of a parastatal called Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund). The Fund is established through an Act of Parliament (GETFund ACT) of 2000 with clear composition, functions and responsibilities. The GETFund had changed the face of education in Ghana, with an increase in schools infrastructure and enrolment from junior to tertiary education. Much of the money is spent on infrastructural development, research and development, scholarship, faculty development among others. Some of the challenges the Fund faces include Ministerial directive whereby the funds are used for other purposes rather than infrastructure development. In addition, disbursement of funds is erratic dispite that the law recommending for a monthly disbursement.
Role of Parliament
- The delegation met with its counterpart Committees in both Kenya and Zambia to discuss ways to enhance their role as oversight committees particularly with regards to education financing. In their discussions they also spoke about setting up peer review mechanisms.
- In Kenya, there were two parliamentary committees divided in accordance with the bicameral nature of her Parliament. There is the Departmental Committee on Education at a National Level and another in the Senate focusing on the county governments. The delegation established that the Departmental Committee on Education, Research and Technology Education in Kenya plays a pivotal role in providing the checks and balances on the work of the Executive. The mandate of the Committee mainly focuses on Education, Research and Training. The Committee has the power to change the budget of the ministry in relation to its findings and recommendations after undertaking budget consultations. The DC at the Senate level focuses on devolved matters at the county level, and in particular, early childhood development and polytechnic colleges.
- The delegation discovered that Departmental Committees of the Parliament of Kenya are adequately capacitated serviced by at most 7 members of staff; namely, Committee Clerk, Assistant Committee Clerk, Fiscal Analyst, Researcher, Legal Counsel, Sergeant-At-Arms and Media Relations Officer. The Committee has a Committee Chair and vice chair. It was established that the Committee system provides mechanisms for enabling public engagement and legitimisation of the operations of Parliament.
- Zambia has a unicameral system with the Committee on Education, Science and Technology established in terms of Standing Order 157(1) playing an oversight role over the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of General Education. At the beginning of Parliament each Committee selects its own Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson who should be of opposite sex and the meeting is presided over by the First or Second Honourable Deputy Speaker. Parliament of Zambia in 2016 put in place, the Higher Education Loans and Scholarship Act No. 13. The Act established the Higher Education Loans and Scholarship Board and Fund. The shift from grants to loans was aimed to achieve sustainability and ensure that future generations benefit.
- In Ghana, the Committee met the counterpart Education Committee which highlighted that in Ghana the Select Committee on Education oversees the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education covers elementary to tertiary education. In addition, the Ministry of Education provides oversight to a total of 19 institutions or parastatals. The Select Committee comprised of 20 Members equally divided among the ruling and opposition parties, headed by a Chairperson and deputised by the Vice Chairperson. The Committee is responsible for consideration of bills and international agreements, exercising oversight and legislative roles. In addition, the Committee is responsible for consideration of petitions and budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Education and other institutions falling within the ambit of the Ministry.
- Basic Education was introduced in all countries (Kenya, Zambia and Ghana) without adequate planning and is now posing a financial burden on the fiscus.
- That basic education is applied from early childhood to secondary level, whereby government pays for tuition, teaching and learning material for all day scholars. Any child that is enrolled at a boarding school, the parents meet all the requirements.
- There were various models to consider for education financing and the delegation must weigh all the options and settle for the best suitable model to avoid falling into the same trap as is happening in Kenya and Zambia.
- That the Parliamentary Committees on Education should consider establishing a Peer Review Mechanism to enhance monitoring and evaluation of government policies in the education sector.
- On average a teacher earns about 500USD equivalent.
- That accountability of public funds is enhanced through publicising through the local school notice boards how funds received are utilized. At the community level, all parents, guardians and stakeholders are able to appreciate the transparency and accountability exhibited by school authorities in Kenya.
- The Government has been undertaking public awareness campaigns aimed at educating the parents on their role in educating their children and that should not be the responsibility of government alone. Thus, the Harambe concept was developed in Kenya, whereby parents contribute funds toward school infrastructure at community level.
- That Kenya achieved the status of an upper middle income status hence has been weaned off from donor dependence. Currently, Kenya meets 95% of its budget while the 5% is from donors and in Ghana, 98% of the education funds is from the Government.
- That the Government is close to achieving 100% transition from primary to secondary school through the introduction of the Education Transitional Grant, which is allocated to schools for infrastructure development in Kenya.
- In Ghana, there are a number of parastatals that are legally established through an Act of Parliament to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in provision of education services for example the Ghana Education Trust Fund for construction of schools.
- The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should enact an Education Financing Bill and policy framework to realize section 75 of the Constitution, by end of December 2022.
- The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should reconsider structural reforms aimed at decentralizing services, such as establishment of a stand-alone department meant for schools construction, by December 2022.
- The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should expedite the establishment of a Teachers Professional Council, by end of December 2022.
- The Ministry of Finance should identify sources of financing education such as 0.5% of the Value Added Tax (VAT), a percentage from fuel among others and these should be ring-fenced for financing education, by end of December 2022.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should consider extending the school feeding programme to secondary schools to encourage schools turnout, by December 2022mmittee Recommendations
- In conclusion, the benchmark visit to Kenya, Zambia and Ghana exposed the Committee to the various methods being implemented to realize free basic education.
- Whilst all the three countries have adopted the free basic education, in Zambia the programme commenced with the support of development partners and their withdrawal have raised sustainability issues.
- In Kenya, education financing remains a big challenge.
- Ghana has a far much better experience, not only is the free basic education concept provided for in their Constitution, the Government has enacted the education financing models with clear sources of funds. In addition, the Ghana model is decentralised with a number of Parastals created to assist the sister Ministry as well ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in delivering education services.
- Zimbabwe can learn a lot particularly enacting an education financing Bill to ensure that we realise section 75 of the Constitution. I thank you.
(v) HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE: Thank you Madam Speaker Maam. I would like to add my voice to this report on the benchmarking visit to Kenya, Zambia and Uganda by Hon. Moyo which is a very important report.
I would like to say as Zimbabwe, we have started on the right path towards coming up with free based education using the current BEAM model whereby we are having, with this year for example, 1,5 million learners who are going to school through BEAM.
We are quite excited because our listening President has gone to the extent of trying to make sure that our children are going to be in school and not even one of them will be left behind. We want to applaud His Excellency, the President even for announcing that by 2023, we might be having free basic education for primary school learners.
We learnt a good lesson from Zambia that we should not rely on the donor funding but we are supposed to adopt what the President has always said that nyika inovakwa nevene vayo. As Zimbabweans, we need to make sure we do things on our own because the Zambians are an example, they have shown us that the withdrawal of donors left the education system in a very bad state. When we visited some of their schools, we discovered that there is a lot that has gone down in those schools.
Madam Speaker Maam, my contribution is that Zimbabwe needs to take it up and if any assistance comes from partners, it should not be wholesale but the major part of it, let it come from Zimbabwe itself.
We have seen that as we engage all children and as we say no one must be left behind, we have got some challenges at the moment especially if we look at our BEAM project where we are facing late releases of funding. If we are to make sure that we have this free basic education, then there must be early disbursement of funding so that we are not going to have our education system collapsing.
We have also noted that while we have talked about the inclusive education project, it is taking a very slow pace and we have noticed that very little has been done even the policy itself has not yet come up yet. If we are to have free basic education, it must be a system that involves everyone, those who are disabled, the slow learners and so on. We have to make sure that they are taken on board and the policies thereof should be implemented.
Madam Speaker Maam, in terms of the feeding scheme, it is a very important area where we find our children being given food at school then they are going to attend usually in their good numbers to push their performance and some of our children will be coming from homes where there is inadequate food. I think it is there in the current Education Amendment Act of 2020 that feeding should be provided in our schools. If that is done, we are trying to promote attendance by all our children.
However, it is also very important that if we give food and provide proper things; everyone must be involved in terms of the parents and even our teachers have to be involved in terms of ensuring that children attend school. Currently, it has been observed that a number of children whose funding is done by partners like World Vision or Save the Children, these actually come up with funding for the children but such children usually drop out of school even if there is funding. So, everyone has to be involved in terms of trying to make sure that those who receive the funding are going to get into school.
The re-entry issue is still one issue that must be looked at very seriously as we have already seen in our country when we had COVID- 19. There were a lot of drop outs, especially among the girls due to pregnancies and early marriages. If you go to schools, you find a number of those girls did not even come back to school. Therefore, it implies we have to educate our communities and even our teachers, and the entire system will have a duty to make sure that those who are going to drop out due to pregnancies are going to come into an environment that will be conducive for them to continue learning. I thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. T. MOYO: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 20th July, 2022.
On the motion of HON. T. MOYO, seconded by HON. TEKESHE, the House adjourned at Eighteen Minutes past Five o’clock p.m.