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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 20 FEBRUARY 2020 46 25
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 20th February, 2020.
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
PETITION RECEIVED FROM MR. E. V. ZIMUTSI
THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to advise the House that on 10th
February, 2020, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from Mr. E. V. Zimutsi beseeching Parliament to enact a legislation that provides for an Independent Complaints Mechanism as provided for in Section 210 of the Constitution. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I hear that after some misunderstanding
yesterday about the seating arrangement, I am told now there is peace.
Issues have been raised amicably and that is as it should be, that if there is some disagreement let us talk, find each other and enjoy the peace of the House once more. I thank the Hon. Members concerned accordingly.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr Speaker Sir, I am going to confirm that I just spoke to the President of the MDC Advocate Nelson Chamisa about it. He did say that that is not how things should go. As a result, he did talk to his leadership. I am grateful to Hon. Khumalo, Hon Mutseyami and more important Hon. Hwende who was a true gentleman yesterday. When that happened, he decided to get up and leave but I am also aware that there are people who are new to Parliament and are not familiar with some of the proceedings. The decision of seating lies with the Speaker and does not lie with anybody else whether it is a Commonwealth arrangement but with the Speaker.
I would also like to say these tablets that we got – I think we need to have a 30 minute lesson for all of us because some of us are used to the I-phone and not Samsung. So anybody who needs further education on it can then see the ICT specialists. I think an understanding is needed.
I also saw that you have a heading known as Votes & Proceedings yet it is the Order Paper. I said to the Clerk, we know it as the Order Paper - how many people know it as Votes and Proceedings? We are used to calling it the Order Paper so maybe until we get to the point of understanding, maybe Order Paper will be the best to put it under because we know what the Order Paper is. Votes & Proceedings, I actually wanted to ask what it was and I was told it is the Order Paper So I thought it would be important to explain what each heading means so that we are familiar, or else I think they will not serve the purpose that they intend to serve.
Finally, let me comment on the Hwange judgement which nullified the reconstruction order. I want to say that it is important that the Committee I was chairing at the time did come up with such findings. I feel vindicated by that judgement. I am sure that the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in his wisdom will allow Hwange to actually be run in the manner that it should be run. Already, the administrator that had been appointed was starting to loot and not look after Hwange. My hope is that the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will concede to that and allow Hwange to be run in a professional manner so that it serves the purpose it is supposed to serve. Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. KASHIRI: I rise on a point of privilege. We are representatives of the people and as such last week we came to
Parliament to address parents’ concerns with regards to exam fees which had been increased exorbitantly. In its wisdom, Government saw sense to it and reversed the fees. We would like to applaud the Government for this decision through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I think the intervention came as a result of Hon. Members here from both sides making some intervention. So that response has got to be acknowledged accordingly.
REPORT OF THE PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE ON ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION RAISED AGAINST HON. T. MLISWA, HON.
CHIKOMBA, HON. NDEBELE AND HON. P. D. SIBANDA
Question again proposed.
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the
Privileges Committee on allegations of soliciting for a bribe against
Hon. Mliswa, Hon. Chikomba, Hon. Ndebele and Hon. P. D. Sibanda.
THE HON. SPEAKER: In terms of our regulations, an Hon. Member who is being accused has a right to reply. I therefore call upon the Hon. Members who have been accused to respond to the allegations accordingly. I hope Hon. Chikomba is here so that we can conclude this matter.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for affording me the opportunity to respond to the report by the Privileges Committee. My response shall be premised on two questions that arise out of the report that was presented in the House by the Chairperson of the
Committee. The two questions that will be the centre of my response
are firstly whether it was desirable to establish the Committee on Privileges in the first instance. Secondly, whether there was sufficient evidence which was adduced to the Committee to warrant any form of censure against me and my colleagues.
Hon. Speaker, the Committee in its report gives three reasons for justification of its establishment. If Hon. Members can be referred to Part 2 of the Committee Report, they will see that the Committee went a long way to try and show why it was important and justified that it be established. Its first reason was that a prima-facie case had been established therefore warranting such action of establishing the Committee. What is a prima-facie case and was it established on this matter such that it warranted the formation of the Privileges Committee?
The allegations laid against me and my colleagues are variously and interchangeably identified in the report as a solicitation of a bribe and corruption. These allegations are of a criminal nature and the standard of proof required in any enquiry are of the same standard as that of a criminal enquiry. That is trite, that is a common position. It follows that the standard of establishing a prima-facie case in this matter is the same with that of a criminal case – proof beyond reasonable doubt. The criminal case that the complainant had made with the police, and I take this opportunity to advise you Hon. Speaker that at one time the police wanted to take me and my colleagues to court but it failed on the basis that there was no prima facie case and that is why the matter never went to court.
Parliament Hon Speaker, cannot choose to lay charges of a criminal nature against Hon. Members while opting to use any other standard for establishing a prima facie case other than the one required at criminal law because the charges are of a criminal nature. May I indicate that in general terms…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order. You need to be very careful with your statement. Do not impugn that the decision of the Chair which was adopted by this House on the question of prima facie circumstances was misdirected. Speak to the allegations against yourself. I am not sure whether the police did not pursue the matter because there was no prima facie case.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: It is alright Hon. Speaker. Under the circumstances, I will drop my first question which I had extensively researched on but since I have got that guidance from you Hon. Speaker, I will drop my first question and address the question of sufficiency of evidence that was adduced before the Committee.
Hon. Speaker, it is not in dispute that Mr. Goddard was advised by Hon. Mliswa to approach the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs for any transaction relating to Hwange Colliery Company. I think that is something that is agreeable, that in the meeting that was held in Mr. Goddard’s office Hon. Mliswa directed Mr.
Goddard to go and see the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs if he wanted to do any transaction pertaining to Hwange Colliery Company.
The basis of the allegations that I and my colleagues were facing
Hon. Speaker, are that we wanted to facilitate Goddard’s company to be contracted to Hwange Colliery Company. If Goddard was duly referred to the Hon. Minister as was adduced in the evidence that is before the House, then the question becomes - what was the basis of the Hon. Members asking for a facilitation fee? I thought the allegations are such that we solicited for a bribe and we engaged in corruption because we wanted to facilitate Mr. Goddard’s access to the mining in Hwange, but the same Mr. Goddard Hon. Speaker, informed your Committee that he had been directed by one of the accused Members to go and see the Hon.
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
To me, it does not add up that here are Hon. Members who have referred an individual to say if you want business related to Hwange
Colliery Company, go and meet the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs. Therefore, what would be the basis upon which Hon. Members would demand to say, can you pay us a bribe for?
The Privileges Committee in its report does not at all explain the basis of Members demanding a bribe. It simply acknowledges that Members had directed Mr. Goddard to go and see the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. It does not touch on what basis then the Hon. Members were demanding to say can you give us a bribe. So the basis upon which a bribe was supposed to be sought for Hon. Speaker, fell away the moment that Hon. Mliswa directed the complainant to go and see the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Now, there was talk in the report that there was demand for money. Hon. Members, in their response gave a plausible reason for the demand of money that was made. The report says in paragraph 7(16), ‘that Hon. Mliswa and Hon. Ndebele were exonerated from the case by the key witnesses’. It further says, ‘the role of Hon. Sibanda is unclear in the evidence on paragraph 7 (16)’. When it speaks about me, it says my role was unclear.
Thus, according to the Committee, the three Hon. Members - Hon. Ndebele, Hon. Mliswa and myself never said anything about the money to Mr. Goddard. So in terms of the evidence that is available and that was adduced to the court, the three of us never spoke about the money and that is the evidence that is available Hon. Speaker. So it left only Hon. Chikomba as the only Hon. Member who talked about money to the complainant and the other people – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Speaker, I have got a right.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! If you did not read the report you have no reason to make some comment. Thank you.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Now Hon. Speaker, it is logical and very consistent with the evidence that was adduced by the Hon. Members before the Committee, that the person who was owed money and that point was not disputed by anybody, by one of the witnesses was Hon. Chikomba. So it was proper and it was consistent that Hon. Chikomba should have been heard speaking about money because he was owed money.
Hon. Speaker, it would have been irrational and it would have been abnormal if anybody else other than Hon. Chikomba under the circumstances would have spoken about money to those witnesses because nobody else was owed money by those three witnesses other than Hon. Chikomba. So, in my view it is consistent, the evidence that was adduced by the Hon. Members is plausible, it is believable and there is no basis upon which the Privileges Committee could have denied that especially in the absence of any evidence to the contrary from the witnesses of the Privileges Committee.
It is further interesting to note that the Committee itself rubbished the evidence of the three witnesses in its paragraph 7(1). It is not surprising therefore Hon. Speaker; that the Privileges Committee had to find the Hon. Members not guilty because there was no basis for fining otherwise after the above concession that was made by the Committee itself, that the evidence of the three key witnesses was inconsistent and that it was unbelievable.
What is surprising however Hon. Speaker is that after the Committee has rubbished the evidence of the three key witnesses and called it inconsistent and unbelievable, the Committee went on in paragraph 82 to cast aspersions on the conduct of Members for meeting with the three citizens. That to me Hon. Speaker speaks to a motive outside the adduced evidence to tarnish the image and integrity of the Hon. Members, the Committee concedes in the same paragraph that the conduct of going to meet citizens at any time is not regulated against in the Standing Rules and Orders; it concedes that such conduct is not regulated against.
Allow me Hon. Speaker to say that that Committee was a creature of statute and as a creature of statute Hon. Speaker; whatever it did should fall within the four corners of this statute. Anything outside the statutes Hon. Speaker, I think goes beyond the mandate of the Committee. I therefore, wonder Hon. Speaker, where the Committee drives its power to sanction the Hon. Members as it did in its paragraphs 93, 93(1) and 93(3). I am asking myself Hon. Speaker that the Committee says that I should apologise and it also said that one seating allowance should be deducted from me and my colleagues. The
Committee also says we should be barred from sitting in the Mines Committee. Now what is it that I have to apologise for Hon. Speaker after the Committee has exonerated me? I am busy asking myself, what should I come to apologise for and why should I lose my allowances, why should I be barred from sitting in the Mines Committee if the Committee itself had exonerated me from any wrong doing?
THE HON. SPEAKER: You have five minutes to go.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Hon. Speaker, it is my submission that
firstly, as I indicated, the Committee is a creature of statutes and should operate within the confines of the statutes. If it is the desire of Parliament to regulate that its members should not interact with citizens outside Parliament and at night, then Parliament should do so by ensuring that it puts that within the Standing Rules and Orders, then it becomes a contravention of our own statutes if as members we conduct ourselves in that regard.
In these instances Hon. Speaker, we cannot be punished for nothing, we cannot be punished for something that does not exist in the law and therefore, it is a serious misdirection for the privileges Committee to make the recommendations that it did in paragraph 93, paragraph 93 (1), paragraph 93 (2) and paragraph 93 (3). I therefore, implore upon this House Hon. Speaker, not to set a wrong precedent where a person is acquitted of any allegation that has been laid against them and then you go ahead to sanction them and to punish them because that is contrary to the requirements and needs of natural justice.
I thank you.
*HON. CHIKOMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON.
MEMBERS: Huya padhuze.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Huya pano padhuze – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] Order, order, Hon. Member, stay there. It is not for the Hon. Members to instruct Hon. Members who have been recognised by the Chair to take whatever position, that is my job, so the Hon. Member must speak from where he is.
*HON. CHIKOMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank you very much for choosing the members of the Privileges Committee after knowing that they are capable people who will look into our issue. I would like to express my gratitude for the fact that this issue was discussed but I thought this issue should have been discussed before the Privileges Committee but I have reservations. Since the outcome as has been said, there is nothing much that I can say – [HON.
MEMBERS:Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Keep quiet.
*HON. CHIKOMBA: I did not commit any crime. The issue is that Mr. Speaker, you chose experts in the Privileges Committee who looked into this issue and discovered that there is no issue. So I have no case although a lot of complaints were being tabled against me for being violent. It is because these people are crooks and up to date, they have not paid my money. It was not bribe money but they owed me money that they are supposed to pay back. They also admit that they owe me money and up to date, they have not paid me – [HON. MEMBERS:
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! Please allow the Hon. Member
to finish talking.
HON. CHIKOMBA: The issue about money is to do with
business transported coal from Hwange to Harare. I was subcontracted to Shepherd Tundiya who has not paid me from 2011 to date. That is the money that I am owed.
They claimed that I asked for some other money which is not true. Even newspapers have stated that Shepherd Tundiya is a con-artist. I was simply asking for the money that I am owed. That is all I wanted to say - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Ngulube! - [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order, order! Hon Chikomba, you spoke very well and finished. May you now listen to the Chair.
In terms of rules and orders, the Hon. Members have stated their case in reply. What remains now is for the Committee to wind up the debate at a time perhaps next week if they are ready and we shall close the matter accordingly.
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. CHIKUKWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 25th February, 2020.
STATE OF AFFAIRS REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (DR. O.
MOYO): Mr. Speaker Sir, I hereby present before this august House the state of affairs with regards to the Coronavirus outbreak. This outbreak has become a world-wide phenomena and I just want to give you the background on the evolution of this outbreak of this novel Coronavirus of 2019. We say novel because it is a new virus which has now been renamed COVID-19.
This started on the 30th of December 2019 as a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin reported to the China National Health Commission on the 7th of January 2020. The source of this outbreak was traced to the Huanan Sea Food wholesale market which was then closed on 1st January 2020. COVID-19 is a respiratory infection caused by Corona Viruses and these are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to severe disease such as the middle eastern respiratory syndrome and also what was generally referred to as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).The outbreak in China is from a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Corona Viruses are transmitted between animals to humans and from human to human. It is what we call a zoonotic disease. The symptoms of the COVID-19 include fever, chest pain, chills, difficulty in breathing, headache, sore throat, cough, pneumonia and even kidney failure. The Coronavirus infection is highly infectious and can be spread through aerosols or through the air via coughing, sneezing and close personal contact with an infected person such as touching or shaking hands, touching an infected object like a door knob then touching your mouth or face without washing your face can also spread the virus.
Faecal contamination is also one of the roots of spreading the virus although it is very rare.
In order to reduce the risk of infection with the new Coronavirus, it is important to avoid close contact with anyone with a cold or flu like symptoms. Prevent unprotected contact with farm or wild animals, cover the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue paper or flex elbow, wash hands with soap and running water after sneezing and coughing and when caring for the sick, after toilet use, before eating food, during and after preparing food, continuous washing of hands because hands are dirty and after handling animal and animal waste – it can be worse.
As of today, there are no cases of Coronavirus in Zimbabwe. As of the 19th, which is yesterday, the total number of cases worldwide now stands at 75 204 with 1872 new cases and 2009 deaths. The majority of cases which is 74 280 are all from China but cases have also been reported in 25 countries. 924 cases in those 25 countries and three deaths, with one case reported in Egypt. So Mr. Speaker Sir, you can see that there is an exponential rise in the disease. Last week it was at 28 000 in China and that has suddenly risen to 75 000.
As of Wednesday 19th February, 2020 - 3 373 people who have passed through our ports of entry have had to be place on selfquarantine. Of these 2 000 are Zimbabwean students who were studying in China and they are on self-quarantine on the 21 days surveillance to ensure that we detect any symptoms early. I can safely confirm that a female Zimbabwean traveler was identified through our surveillance system at Robert Mugabe International Airport having noted that she had been to the epicenter of this Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
In order to protect our nation, the candidate had to be immediately isolated and to me, this shows that our system is working well and it is a sign of good preparedness. As we indicated before, our laboratory testing for Coronavirus is also fully functional and our scientists have managed to test the travelers and confirmed them to be negative for Coronavirus as authorities in China had also confirmed. So we can guarantee the nation that there is no Corona virus in Zimbabwe.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Matangira and your
colleagues there. We asked for this statement, give it some due respect because after this statement you will have to explain to the general populace in your constituencies. – [HON. SIKHALA: Mr. Speaker, Hon. Matangira is always doing this and you are always lenient with him. Chuck him out!] – Hon. Sikhala, your time will come to Chair.
Hon. Minister, please proceed.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, we will
however, as per protocol, continue to monitor this candidate for the 21 day prescribed period. Our protocol continues to be stringent and protective of our nation and to further strengthen our surveillance a scientific approach requiring all travelers coming from China are to be screened and quarantined for 14 days in China and if they are found to be safe - they are to be issued with a clearance certificate to travel. When they get to Zimbabwe, they will still be subjected to a further 21 day quarantine.
The Ministry would like to urge the public and its stakeholders to remain vigilant against this disease. It is important that people contact the nearest health care provider for the correct information on theCOVID-19 disease. All those with plans to visit China are in the meantime being encouraged to postpone the visits unless absolutely necessary until the scourge has been declared over.
Let us have a look at the response to the Corona virus outbreak by Zimbabwe. Mr. Speaker Sir, the national response mechanism for surveillance and early detection of any possible cases was activated as of 24th January, 2020 and by mid February capacity building of all identified thematic areas to deal effectively with any cases had been conducted.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Hon.
Members may you lower your voices please!
HON. DR. O. MOYO: On 27th January, 2020 Mr. Speaker Sir, we managed to visit Robert Mugabe International Airport to assess the airport and port health state of preparedness. On the same day, we also held a press conference to discuss the ministry’s preparedness for the COVID-19 and in a meeting attended by the airport management, all key airport staff and media were available.
We also held bilateral discussions with the Chinese Embassy. We further had a tour of Victoria Falls International Airport and also the ground port to assess their surveillance system. The quarantine and isolation facility and the district of Hwange state of preparedness. We found the airport at Victoria Falls as the best facility in terms of isolation and quarantine facilities.
On 31st January, 2020 the National Rapid Response Team through the emergency operations centre, completed a day long Corona virus readiness checklist for Zimbabwe to see what is in place, what the gaps are and what can be done? The team has come up with a budgeted plan.
Bulawayo’s Joshua Mqabuko Airport …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members to my left
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Beitbridge ground port and Plumtree
ground port – we managed to visit all those to assess their readiness to detect and manage any possible cases of COVID-19. We shall continue to do so.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I have personally made the assessments and have been to all the border areas. This coming week, I will be visiting the northern borders to make sure that we have a thorough fool-proof border protection. We are also guided by the WHO Risk Assessment and the current Risk Assessment from WHO indicates that China has the highest risk. The rest of the global systems are at a high risk. China is a very high risk and the West is a high risk meaning that we are living in a very tense situation in as far the Corona virus is concerned.
So sensitization of professionals has been done for our college of primary care physicians., the Zimbabwe Medical Association and these shall be ongoing, educating and training all our doctors and all our physicians. Case management training is very essential so that by the time any of our doctors interact with a patient who is suspected of coronavirus, they can be able to manage them accordingly.
We have had training again on the 17th February, 2020 at Wilkins Infectious Diseases where we trained a total of 70 health care workers. This is going to continue and we are going to be inviting and bringing forward more trainers of trainers and the flow of staff, they were shown how it is done, how staff have to look after the cases, the set up, isolation facility, the quality and how it should be. The cascading of the training to establish isolation facilities is continuous right through the country. We want each and every hospital to have an isolation room so that if at all they have a case or a suspect, they can be able to handle it then.
The train trainers were drawn from Harare, Kadoma, Mutare and most of the cities in Zimbabwe. These also included the private health institutions, the private hospitals, the private laboratories and this training will be continuous with the support of the national rapid response team and also support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and NSF. Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to indicate that a budget was prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Finance which stands at US$5.2 million, but this will be availed to us in tranches.
We have reconvened a national task force on epidemic prone diseases with the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee today as a follow-up to the one which was convened on the 24th January, 2020. I would also like to indicate that the Chinese Embassy has indicated its willingness to assist us in sprucing up our isolation treatment unit at Wilkins Hospital and all other isolation units. Our port health staff will show information with the Chinese to facilitate follow-up and monitoring. The Embassy will facilitate translation services at the ports of entry and isolation for ease of communication. The Embassy will also show locations where Chinese people are in Zimbabwe so that we can do more follow-up
Zimbabwean students in China are all safe and well taken care of for their day to day needs, including facilitating communication, food and lessons and the Embassy is in contact with our Zimbabwean students. The Chinese borders are not closed but they are discouraging their citizens from travelling to Zimbabwe.
In terms of awareness, this is a continuous process and we have prepared for printing information, education and communication materials for radio, television and other media blitz and job aids to assist medical and laboratory staff. One other issue which we have taken care of Mr. Speaker Sir is that of protecting our staff. All those who are working at the borders – we have ensured that they are well protected.
We are ensuring that all our staff are well trained in terms of protection. We do not want to end up with our own personnel being infected by the coronavirus.
We have job aides, strategic supplies of recommended medicines which are prepositioned. We have personal protective equipment, test kits and other requirements for managing any cases. They must be adequately protected themselves in order that they render the services properly. We have constantly engaged the medial in order to keep the population of Zimbabwe updated as the outbreak of the virus has been evolving.
As a new disease, there is quite a lot that we now know, but there is still a lot that we do not know. My team of experts will continue getting the updates from WHO, the African Union Centre for Disease Control and continue passing on information using the various communication platforms. I want to indicate to the Hon. Members here present that please be weary and be aware of the fact that there is no vaccine yet for the control of Coronavirus or COVID-19. What is available at the moment is as a result of some tests which were carried out by the Chinese and also one of the nations in Asia where they found that the use of the current anti-retrovirals, (ARVs), one specific one called KALETRA which is a combination anti-retroviral which has Lopinavir and ritonavir and also in combination if using combination - with another booster called anti-interferon or an alpha-interferon can be able to reduce or stop the spread of the coronavirus.
So that is the only form of treatment which is there at the moment. There are quite a number of cases who have been saved from this particular combination treatment. At the moment, I want to also indicate that we are lucky that we have that KALETRA available here in Zimbabwe and we have made sure that it is distributed to all our treatment centres. What we are building on is the availability of the booster the alpha-interferon and we should be having it by next week, but with the KALETRA, we can be able to manage the patients with ease.
At the same time, as you saw, we managed to test the candidate from Wilkins and this is because we already acquired the test kits and we have the equipment. We have high caliber test equipment from high caliber manufacturers, high standard equipment for the testing of this virus. So there we are covered and I can assure you everyone. The only problem is that the type of testing platform that we have takes a bit longer. At the moment it takes at least 5 hours before we get the result but it is better than the previous platforms which will take a week. We are awaiting the arrival of the test kits which will take about 15 minutes, just like when we are testing for HIV/AIDs which takes about 15 minutes. Mr. Speaker Sir, that is my statement and I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Hon Speaker Sir. I want to applaud the Minister of Health and Child Care for a job well done in bringing out the statement. I have three issues that need clarification from the Hon. Minister. Firstly, it is the issue of control of informal entries at the exit from our borders by our people and by extension of this disease control mechanism. What is it he is doing in order to cartel the informal illegal crossing points. My feeling is that whoever enters or exits the border illegally, at some point they will pass through tollgates, which tollgates at some point are asked for accident victim stabilisation centres. It is my view that if the Minister so wishes he could establish detection mechanisms at those ports.
The second issue is, it would be prudent to know kugara nhaka kuona dzevamwe, the origins and causes of this virus so that we know what it is that we need to eat and not to eat in order to preserve ourselves from this corona epidemic and pandemic.
The third issue – I heard the Minister talking about the centre for disease control, the doctors without borders and the other operatives and co-operating partners who help us in times of need. What can these departments further than the US$5.2 million that has been extended as a grant to his health institution do? What is it that they can quickly come into the fore with in order that where there is no existence of this virus we completely seal that place? This country we call Zimbabwe is the only country we have and we will never migrate to Zambia. What are these people together with the World Health Organisation further than the grant doing, aware that a lot of our people are there in the artisanal mining sector? We need to go where they are in order that we protect them. In Chegutu Ward, 400 people died because of the cholera pandemic. I ask that the Hon. Minister respond to the last question that I asked.
HON. BITI: Hon Speaker Sir, I want to acknowledge from the statement by the Minister that there has been no casualty or mortality from this terrible disease - Coronavirus but my point is that we should be grateful to God that no life has been lost rather than to our own systems of preparedness. If you pass through the airport coming from outside Zimbabwe, the medical assistant will ask you where you are coming from. So she will say to you; are you coming from China and your answer is no. Once you say that, there is no other verification that you are coming from China or not. So it is by the grace of God that no one has died. Surely Hon. Speaker, there should be an independent verification of where a person is coming from.
My second point is the issue of our disaster preparedness. In Africa in general, there is a disproportionate number of people who die from lack of preparedness. Look at the number of people who died and were swept away by Cyclone Idai. My recommendation to the Minister is that, given the recent emergence of these epidemics like SARS, ebola and coronavirus it is time that the Republic of Zimbabwe establishes a specialised health department. In America, they have got the CDC which is the Centre for Disease Control. Let us have our own equivalent institution that is mobilised to deal with these unexplained urgent epidemics that has now become the order of the day.
The third thing I would like Government to emphasise on is that these diseases are emanating from unnatural contact between human beings and wildlife. It is almost like nature is imposing revenge on human beings. SARS, you know emerged because human beings were eating bats. Coronavirus is emerging because human beings are eating bats. Ebola emerged because human beings are eating monkeys. I would like to see a conscious programme that there must be a line between human contact and human beings. Penultimately, is the budget allocation. A budget allocation of US$5.2 million, which according to the report has just been disbursed is not good enough. It is petty cash Hon. Speaker, with great respect. You heard the Minister complain that even their tests were taking a week but now they have one that takes 5 hours. It is because of resources. Look at the response of China itself.
In Wuhan provinces, three hospitals have been built in a matter of days and under a month to cater for the disease. What it means is that the Government put resources to combat the disease. We have not put adequate resources.
Lastly Hon. Speaker, on the protection of our citizens in China. We all have relatives; I have got a nephew who is studying in China. It took weeks before the authorities in Zimbabwe through the embassy had collected the names and database of the students that are at that university. I do not think we did enough to protect our students at home just like we are still not doing enough. What are we doing in institutions which are exposed, for instance Chinese restaurants here in Zimbabwe? My submission Hon. Speaker, is that people have not died by the grace of God and it is not by our own positive actions in protecting our people.
I thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir.
Hon. Speaker, Hon. Mashakada says ndakachena. I want to thank him very much – [Laughter.] -
HON. MUDARIKWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Hon Speaker, I want to start by thanking the Hon. Minister for coming but I have two issues that I want to raise. The first thing I appeal through you Hon.
Speaker is that we must have as Hon. Members, a seminar where the
Ministry of Health and Child Care will come to us and explain to Hon. Members what is corona virus so that we can then go to our constituencies and explain. I think the Hon. Minister must also give us 10 000 pamphlets per constituency to go and educate our people because the issue of awareness is critical in any health delivery programme.
Thank you very much.
HON. MARKHAM: Hon. Speaker, I seek three clarifications.
Can the Minister confirm that the only travel restrictions between us and China is the 14 days that people are held in quarantine before they travel and then a self imposed 21 days here in Zimbabwe which leaves everything to the traveler? Hon. Biti mentioned coming through the airport. If a person tells a lie there we are exposed.
The second question I would like to ask is on the Zimbabwean students. Could the Minister give us an idea of how many Zimbabwean students or Zimbabwean nationals are still in China or are in the process of being moved back? Has the Government intervened in any way to get them back here?
My last one is one of a serious nature and we revert to the cross species with animals. The Minister mentioned both domestic and wild animals. My question is - are there any specific species that we know at this stage that are more prone to carrying the virus or is that not researched or found out yet? I thank you.
*HON. NYABANI: Mr. Speaker, I want clarification. The corona virus is emanating from China but we have Chinese nationals here. I heard that if you eat dogs and pets you might catch the virus. We have Chinese nationals here, so what they are eating here is it not causing the corona virus as well? I want that to be clarified.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I want to thank the Hon. Minister for responding in time to the request to give a ministerial statement. My point of clarification, Hon. Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): May
you lower your voices Hon. Members.
HON. CHIKWINYA: My point of clarification is on the 3 000 plus, if I heard the Minister correctly.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, the Minister is
supposed to respond to the issues that are being raised by Hon. Members and the noise that you are making is disturbing. The Minister cannot hear.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My point of
clarification is on the 3 000 plus, if I heard the Minister correctly, of people who are on self quarantine. I would want to know what mechanism does the Ministry of Health and Child Care or our
Government have to monitor or to enforce this self quarantine.
The other issue is on the Chinese nationals who are now coming back from China after their new year’s holiday and these are reported to be placing themselves on self quarantine, but Hon. Speaker these Chinese nationals have workers especially domestic workers who handle their plates, wash their clothes and are in contact with these Chinese nationals. What mechanism is there to protect these Zimbabwean nationals who are in contact with the Chinese nationals who are on self quarantine?
The other issue Hon. Speaker, is that the pictures which were sent today by the Permanent Secretary of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr. Nick Mangwana showing the doctors that handled the suspected lady who was treated at Wilkins show that there was a heavy investment of personal protective equipment which was put into those doctors, but if you look at the staff which is at our borders especially the Robert Mugabe International Airport, the staff which is handling visitors only have a mask, a bib and gloves.
Why are we differentiating people who are exposed to the same? These are people who are in contact with people who are coming from suspected countries but they have a bare minimum of protective equipment while the doctors have got massive protective equipment being given to them. Why are we sacrificing the junior staff which is at our borders? I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May I now give the
opportunity to the Minister to answer the few questions and then I will give another round to you Hon. Members. May you go ahead Hon.
Minister and respond to questions that have been raised by Hon.
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I am very impressed with the level of questions, the quality of the questions and all that has been asked by all the Members. I think these are very relevant questions. If we start with the issue of the control of our illegal entry points, it is something we have sat down and looked at. I was at Plumtree Border and they told me about the possibilities of other illegal entries with the Mphoengs Border being well managed. It is a small border but well managed. There is also some other ones where people just cross. We have requested at all these borders and they know exactly where these people normally go through, that the immigration authorities working together with the security forces as they have always been doing give us assistance in making sure that we are well served at these particular areas. So, there is high alert in as far as monitoring these borders is concerned. That is a fear which we also had and the solution was the immigration authorities and our security give us that assistance in a much bigger way than they normally do. The Hon. Member was suggesting that we have checks at tollgates. I think if we do that then we will have a big problem, it means that we are now stopping all the travelling Zimbabweans, that is internal but we want the ones from outside to be stopped and checked. It is the borders we have to protect and it is them we have to make full proof. Wherever there is an illegal border, that becomes a porous area of entry.
So, it is the borders that we have to look after and check. This coming week like I said, we are going to the northern borders and I have also heard that they might be some other porosity in that area, so we will be going with the Resident Ministers of Mashonaland West and Central to go and check.
The origins of corona and what we should not eat, it is correct from the information that we got from the World Health Organisation and also from the Chinese authorities – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I think this is very useful information...
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Hon.
Members, can you please lower your voices.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: I think this is very useful information. We have to be obviously weary of the fact that the WHO and the Chinese authorities themselves managed to give out information and it had to come out of them. It was the sea food market where it all started. All the wet areas which were affected and we saw from the information which was coming out, consumption of the most unusual animals, this is where it all started and it was very clear that the bats, the snakes were mentioned and we also saw in the videos all the other various unusual animals which are consumed in that part of the world.
However, the most important thing is that this virus originated from animals rather than from human beings. So, it is a zoonotic virus.
We got information from the CDC, World Health Organisation,
UNICEF and we have managed to secure from our Government RTGS5.2 million and we feel that it might not be enough. This is a good starting point though and I appreciate that fact that the Members who are talking in terms of budgeting improvements are all talking in terms of making sure that we have a better budget so that we are well protected and well prepared.
So, this is highly appreciated and we have had support from UNICEF, they are going to help us in terms of the media reporting, information, education and communication, mechanisms and WHO are going to be helping us in terms of the protective equipment. The
Chinese Government itself are going to be helping us with the setting up or upgrading of the Wilkins Hospital in Harare and Thorngrove Hospital in Bulawayo. So we appreciate what we have at the moment.
The issue that we do not have any deaths at the moment, we thank God that we are all alive. Mr. Speaker Sir, it is a reality and we all have to pray to God that this thing does not come to Zimbabwe. Kana tikasanamata hama dzangu - I can hear some Hon. Member making noise. Hon. Members, I plead with you this is a very serious topic. I do not want to throw fear in you but you are forcing me to throw fear in you, to shock you, this is a shocking disease. Like now we are all sitting here, if one of us catches this disease, it will just spread like wild fire. If you do not want to listen to what we are saying, please I beg you to
We all have to educate our population, if you do not know what we are talking about; you will not be able to educate our population. We all need it. This is a serious disease because haisi yekuti unonorova munhu okuvara. It is a contagious disease. If the person breathes near you, the pathogens will stay on your face and if you touch your face with your hands and then touch anything to eat, the virus will then enter into your body through food and you will contract the disease. This disease has a high mortality rate and the drug that is used to cure this disease is very painful to take. So, we all have to be very careful Hon. Members –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order!
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Let us stop this issue of travelling to China completely. No travelling to China please at this stage, stay in your country and stop shopping. Let us stay in our country; it is by God’s grace that we do not have it here. I was praying last night about that woman who was admitted at Wilkins Hospital that she does not turn out to be positive and by God’s grace she turned out to be negative. So, we are lucky and this is why you have seen me personally going to the borders. I will not leave any stone unturned and when I get to the borders, I will make sure that I educate everyone and it has to be done like that. We want to make sure that that border – taking for instance
Beitbridge border, I told them that if they are going to be the first ones, because there is no border that should be the first ones to bring in that coronavirus. So, I have challenged every border and every person who works at the border not just health personnel but the immigration, the police, the soldiers and everyone who works at the border has to wake up. We all have to remind each other when someone is doing the wrong thing. we do not want to allow someone who has got a fever to come into Zimbabwe without being stopped and that is exactly how we managed to pick up the case at the airport the day before yesterday. It is a serious issue which we have to put a lot of respect and we are all going to monitor each other’s performance wherever we are. We pray that this scourge will not enter into Zimbabwe and it will not enter if we all cooperate with each other.
All the questions you have posed today are part of helping each other to make sure that we have a full proof system. This is not a time when we should be challenging each other. It is a time when we have to advise each other. I am very grateful that I have heard so many useful comments coming from Hon. Members, irrespective of the political divide giving me all sorts of suggestions, which is good; we have to protect our lives as Zimbabweans, that is key irrespective of whichever party you belong to. It is our health and our survival to be able to carry on.
Yes Hon. Member, you were talking about establishing a CDC similar facility here in Zimbabwe. I want to indicate to you that what we
– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Hon.
Members, you are now forcing me to do things that I do not enjoy. I will send you out.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: We are calling them national microbiology reference laboratory at the Sally Mugabe hospital there – that is our equivalent to the CDC but we need to improve it. That is a level free laboratory. To get into that facility, you will have to be fully masked because that is where they deal with all these deadly viruses and bacteria. We have that one but it needs to be spruced up. We are working together with CDC Africa to see that they also upgrade our
We also have been carrying out simulations and the simulations we were carrying out before we knew about this Coronavirus were based on Ebola. We were saying, let us just simulate an exercise; we assume that we have two or three cases of people who have come into our country with Ebola, what do we do? So we did that simulation exercise and it was very successful. It helps us to be able to put up the system that we have now for the Coronavirus. We have also done a similar one for the Coronavirus. I have also participated in it at the Wilkins hospital.
The issue regarding contact with animals, I will not be able to tell you not to touch your animals but I will be able to say to you, let us not get into the habit of consuming like what happened in China. It was through consumption of these unusual animals like bats, snakes, rats or mbeva. Let us desist from that type of African sausages as we call them. I can only suggest that for a fact, this Coronavirus emanated from animals and the type of animals that we were shown in China, if there is anyone who indulges in the consumption of similar animals, we strongly recommend that they stop it with immediate effect; otherwise we will end up with problems. Let it not come from Zimbabwe but let us protect Zimbabwe from bringing it in.
Protection of our students in China – yes, we immediately got in touch with our Embassy. The process took a bit longer but eventually, the list of all the students was created. Our Embassy is in continuous contact with all these students and I also got a cousin who is in China who has advised me that the Embassy is in continuous contact with them. The Ambassador is very keen to make sure that he does not lose not even one of his students. So far, let us keep our fingers crossed for our Zimbabwean students so that they can stay virus free.
Hon. Mudarikwa was talking about the awareness – yes we are going to be personally inviting the Hon. Members just like what we did with HIV/AIDS. We are also going to entice the Parliamentary Committee on Health to also take this as an item on their agenda on a continuous basis so that we can keep everyone informed. We want everyone to be fully aware and knowledgeable about the various symptoms, how to protect themselves and so on. UNICEF is also working with us in preparing pamphlets for us. At this stage, I also want to indicate that we have had some corporates who have come forward like ZIMPLATS who have indicated that they are willing to support us by coming up with bill boards, pamphlets and videos. They have already started on that together with Mimosa.
Mimosa has actually purchased new themodetectors for us and these are going to be placed at our airports and all our ground ports. This is going to happen on Monday. They are going to hand over the equipment on Monday at R.G. Mugabe Airport. It is for real and it is happening.
Student numbers are almost at 2000 that have come through from China. We are monitoring them on a continuous basis. In each province, we have several health environment officers who are going round making sure that these candidates are well followed up on a daily basis. Let me give you one example for your satisfaction. A candidate arrives at Plumtree Border and they are not stopping in Plumtree town but have to go to Harare. As soon as they are checked at Plumtree Border and we know that they are coming from an infected area and they are going to be living in Harare, before they even leave the border, number one; we ensure that the address that they have been given is correct. We are working together, immigration and port health. They will not proceed until that address is verified. We are being much more stringent now.
Secondly, the port health authorities contact their counterparts in Harare where that person is going to be living. From the next day, they will be arriving at their house and making sure that their temperatures are perfect and they are also educating the relatives so that contact is reduced.
There is one question which I was asked by one Hon. Member outside Parliament. They said if you are saying that the candidate has come from China and they are coming to live with their relatives; are they not risking their relatives into contracting the Coronavirus and the answer was; if we allow the candidate coming from China to roam the streets, it is more risky and we have what we call contact tracing. It will be difficult to contact trace if the candidate was roaming the street and therefore self quarantine allows that candidate to be in contact with very few people. It improves our surveillance tactics. That is the reason why we have those restrictions.
There is the issue regarding kudya imbwa kungaitisa Corona here.
I think the best answer would be ingoregai kudya imbwa dzacho. Ngatidziregerei. Sevanhu vemuZimbabwe hatijairi kudya imbwa – [AN HON. MEMBER: Tinodya muriwo nemapotato.] – Hongu.
I think I have also answered Hon. Chikwinya’s question regarding self quarantine and numbers. In terms of the numbers, there are 3027 who have entered Zimbabwe so far from the affected countries and we are continuing to follow them up on daily basis - like I was indicating. The numbers are naturally reducing as the number of days that they have been surveyed is also reaching the 21 days. By the way, I also want to show you that we have been extremely stringent in Zimbabwe – in other countries, it is 14 days but here we have said 21 days, that is how stringent we are being.
Contact of Zimbabwe and Chinese on self quarantine yes, I have also been asked by other Hon. Members outside the august House. We have made sure that all those Chinese personnel who have returned to their jobs, with the support of the Chinese Embassy, we have made sure that they really self-quarantine. In some places we have even received from the workers at the mines - for instance who were worried about this particular Chinese individual being locked up in a particular room and not coming out. So the Chinese Embassy are being very strict about it because it is also in their interest to make sure that none of their nationals comes out to be Coronavirus positive. So they are giving us as much support as possible.
They are even seconding their Chinese doctors who are here. They have seconded Chinese doctors to us and it makes it easy for us to be able to communicate with them. The 12 Chinese doctors who are here and are based at Parirenyatwa Hospital - three of them are participating in this exercise. There have been pictures of doctors who are well protected and worried about the protection of staff at the airport. If you go to the airport today, you will find that all our staff are well protected. We have made sure that they have adequate face protection and also space suits. We have given our staff space suits because we wanted to make sure that they are protected. Like I said during my presentation, we do not want a situation where a member of staff will contract the Coronavirus. We have not only stopped at the port health staff but also everyone who works in the vicinity of where the travelers are passing through, and that includes the Immigration officials.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I think that I have tried to respond to all the questions. I hope that it is to your satisfaction. – [HON. MEMBERS:
Hear, hear.] –
HON. NDEBELE: Thank you Hon. Speaker, I would like to
thank the Hon. Minister for his statement. I also want to thank him for coming out candidly that this is a very serious disease but honestly the 21 day self-quarantine that we are imposing on the Chinese. I believe is handling them with kids gloves because the Executive can still do more.
Let us put them somewhere central where we can monitor them. Those who are already in the country and then why not stop those – the other countries in the region are already stopping them for a certain period, from entering their borders. So while the Executive is inviting us Mr. Speaker Sir, to treat this seriously, we are also inviting them to react in the same serious manner. In fact, I want to test this with the Hon. Minister, there is a belief that because our own borders are so porous, a lot of Chinese nationals who are working within the SADC are now landing in Zimbabwe and waiting here so that when the South African borders open for them – they then go back there. So, I would like to invite the Hon. Minister and the Executive to review this 21 day self-quarantine.
When we went to study outside the country Hon. Speaker because we were at the epicenter of HIV. They would test us here, take our blood samples out there and stop us from visiting their countries. Why are we not doing this for a six months period? Then I want to track the candidate that the Hon. Minister was talking about. Is there a consideration to hold this woman for an extended period? Do we know anything about those people who travelled on the same plane with her? You have admitted Hon. Minister that we do not have a Level 4 laboratory suitable for handling dangerous pathogens such as Corona and Ebola viruses. Given that situation, where did we test the samples from this particular candidate that we are tracking?
Then one other thing that you mention was that if someone came through the Plumtree border surveillance would be able to trace them to an address in Harare. What happens, Hon. Minister, if they decided to take a detour and stopped in Bulawayo or Makokoba, for instance, and stayed there for three to four days or in a hotel? I ask these questions because most of the Hon. Members here are virtually hotel animals and we see a lot of Chinese nationals in the hotels. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Order,
order Hon. Members. There is a special request from the Hon. Minister that he would want to go and address the Senate as well. Please may we give him the opportunity to respond so that he may move to the other House? Sorry about that Hon. Members.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, yes I hear the Hon. Member very clearly but I have already indicated that with regard to …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order, may we listen to
the Hon. Minister please?
HON. DR. O. MOYO: With regard to the 21 days and the protocol that we are observing at the moment requires that before the candidates travel from China – they would have to produce a certificate of clearance from the Chinese health authorities and for them to be able to get that certificate, they would have spent a minimum of 14 days under observation in China.
So when they come here, they cannot board the plane when they are positive but only if they are negative can they board the plane in the same manner as this candidate that we received at the Robert Mugabe International Airport – so that is being stringent at that end. On this end, we are also being stringent by making sure that we even go 21 days which is seven days more than the particular place of origin. Do not forget that this is someone who is negative – they have tested negative. Therefore, it is still the same thing for the classic cases that we are going to be seeing, we shall monitor them. It is an issue of monitoring and the main issue here is the fever. If they do not have the fever, they do not have to be detained as you are suggesting. It is only if they have a fever. If they arrive at the airport and they have a fever that is when we detain them. If they have the symptoms, we detain them and if they are coming from that region which is affected we make sure that 21 days of self quarantine is observed. I think that is fair enough.
The diversion from the borders that could happen, someone could be travelling to Harare via Bulawayo. That is an issue which honestly we cannot be able to control and we cannot be able to say to an individual traveller, you must not stop on the route that you are going through to your final destination. That will be unfair. The most important thing is that on the next day, they must be observed.
In actual fact, your suggestion requires that that individual be honest with us and be able to tell us that they will be stopping in Bulawayo and to do that, our officers will be able to check on them while they are in Bulawayo. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI: Mr. Speaker, I
move that Orders of the Day, Nos. 1 to 3 be stood over until Order of the Day, No. 4 has been disposed of.
INTERNATIONAL TREATIES BILL [H. B. 10, 2019]
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr.
Speaker Sir, I rise to give my second reading speech on the International Treaties Bill and Hon. Speaker Sir, I bring this most important Bill, required to be enacted not only because our Constitution mandates it in Section 327, but also because our values as a people and as a member of the international community of nations demands it.
For a long time our country was an outcast of the international community of nations under the illegal colonial regime that declared so called independence in 1965. That regime pretended to be a sovereign nation while existing in defiance of internal law and the norms and international customary law. Thanks to the international community of nations, and in particular to our brothers and sisters in the then
Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union), our people’s long and bitter struggle for justice, liberty and independence was brought to an earlier conclusion than perhaps many of us could have hoped in the face of a regime determined to keep us oppressed for the sake of a selfish few.
In the wake of our liberation in 1980, we naturally gave priority to our internal reconstruction and reconciliation needs and to reshaping our domestic order. In those early years there was little done in the way of constructing a legal framework for engagement with the international community of nations. It was only in 1987 with the passage of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No (7) Act, that a new Section (section 111B) was added to the old Constitution to approved for the manner in which international agreements and conventions were to be approved by Parliament before ratification by the President.
Even then, it was uncertain whether approval and ratification of treaties was in itself sufficient to domesticate those treaties, that is to say, to treat them as part of our domestic law which our courts had to take judicial notice of. The later doctrine is known in international law as the Doctrine of Incorporation. The alternative doctrine known as the Doctrine of Transformation, which is favoured by most Common Law jurisdication of a treaty by the enactment of domestic legislation setting out modalities of how that treaty is to be implemented domestically (unless the treaty in question was “self-executing”).
This conflict of doctrines was only resolved in 1993 with the enactment of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment 9No. 12) Act: With effect from 1 November, 1993, when this Act came into force, the common law position regarding the inception of international treaties in the domestic sphere, that is to say the Doctrine of Transformation, was embodied in the new section of the old Constitution. The benefits of international law ought to be obvious to us all, but let us briefly rehearse them in case any reminder is needed. I am quoting here from a United Nations fact sheet dated 2008:
“Without it, there could be chaos. International law sets up a framework based on States as the principal actors in the international legal system, and it defines their legal responsibilities in their conduct with each other, and, within State boundaries, with their treatment of individuals. Its domain encompasses human rights, disarmament, internal crime, refugees, migration, problems of nationality, the treatment of prisoners, the use of force, and the conduct of war, among others. It also regulates the global commons, such as the environment, sustainable development, international waters, outer space, global communications and world trade.”
The details of the Bill before you are adequately set out in the Explanatory Memorandum. It will establish a uniform procedure for the consideration and approval of international treaties by the Cabinet and parliament before their ratification by the President, and for their publication after their ratification or, in some cases, before their ratification. One of the main mischief’s sought to be remedied by this Bill is that many international treaties having far-reaching consequences for our domestic law are concluded without he courts or the public having due notice of those treaties by way of their official publication. Even where official publication of the treaty is not possible or desirable for any reason, some official notice of the fact of its existence and ratification should be made for the benefit of the public. This Bill seeks to provide a mechanism for the publication or notification of such treaties.
Hon. Members, this Bill will firmly lodge our country as a valued, reliable and respected member in the International Community of Nations. Many, I can even say almost all, of those nations have great goodwill towards us and harbour high expectations of our participation as a member of their community. We already as you know participate in many peace keeping endevours around the globe under the auspices of the United Nations. Let us not fail them Mr. Speaker. I urge you to support and pass this law whole heartedly. I so submit Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. K. PARADZA:
The International Treaties Bill [H. B. 10, 2019] was gazetted on 6th
September 2019. Consequently, the Bill stood referred to the Portfolio
Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade compelling the Committee to discharge its scrutinising function so as to make essential recommendations. The Bill seeks to establish a uniform procedure for the consideration and approval of international treaties by Cabinet and Parliament before ratification by the President, and for their publication after their ratification or in some cases, before their ratification. As such, my Committee resolved to conduct consultative meetings with the relevant stakeholders.
The Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International
Trade, held a consultative meeting on the International Treaties Bill
(HB.10, 2019) on the 22nd of October 2019 in the Senate Chamber.
Unlike other Bills that are subjected to public consultations where
Parliament embarks on a nationwide outreach programme, the
International Treaties Bill was different. This is so because it is a technical Bill that required a specific target group of stakeholders, hence the Committee opted to concentrate on stakeholders that are relevant to this Bill. The Committee also got submissions from all interested stakeholders. Those who participated in both exercises include representatives from academic institutions (universities), civic society groups, government departments as well as individuals. All these efforts were pursuant to Section 141 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which
“Parliament must ensure that interested parties are consulted about Bills being considered by Parliament, unless such consultation is inappropriate or impracticable”
It should be highlighted that through both oral and written submissions, the International Treaties Bill was welcomed. However, some areas of concern were raised and these needs to be corrected, amended or be added as shall be noted in this report.
3.0 PROPOSALS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE BILL AND
AMENDMENTS TO BE MADE THEREIN.
- The memorandum suggests that the Bill is intended to establish a uniform procedure for the consideration and approval of international treaties by the Cabinet and Parliament before their ratification by the President, and for their publication after their ratification or in some cases, before their ratification. It is however, not clear whether the Bill is speaking to uniformity in the context of national law or international law. If it is in relation to national law, it is still not very clear what the draftsmen meant by, ‘a uniform procedure.’ Stakeholders did not see the need for such a uniform procedure. Rather, they felt that there should be just a procedure and/or guideline detailing the steps that have to be followed when concluding or ratifying international legal agreements. If the envisaged uniformity is in relation to international law and State practice, it should be stressed that there exists dissimilarity in the constitutional requirements of countries and hence no absolute uniformity in the procedures for the conclusion of international agreements is possible and attainable at the international level. Be that as it may, relative uniformity can still be attained. Through its deliberations, the Committee felt that it is noble to come up with general guidelines that will cover all the treaties and the whole process.
- The memorandum also suggests that one of the main ‘mischiefs’ sought to be remedied by this Bill is that many international treaties having far-reaching consequences for our domestic law are concluded without the courts or the public having due notice of those treaties by way of their official publication. Upon reference to the provisions of the Bill however, one can discern that the Bill is silent on the input of the courts and/or the public in this whole process. Publication will serve no purpose if courts of law and the public have no role to play or any say regarding the domestication or otherwise of the treaties or agreements concerned. Publication should not be a mere formality regarding the existence of the treaties. Rather, it should be meant to elicit the views of the generality of the public and this will help in determining whether or not the government should proceed and domesticate the instruments in question. The Committee however agreed that there should be separation of powers hence the courts should not be part of the law-making process.
- Whereas the Preamble to the Bill quotes sections 34 and 327 of the Constitution which provide that most international treaties require the approval of Parliament, it erroneously made reference to section 111B (1) of which there is no such provision under the new Constitution of Zimbabwe. It should be noted that the whole of section 111 under the new Constitution of Zimbabwe talks of the procedure for waging war; the heading is ‘war and peace’ and there is no link whatsoever with the conclusion of international treaties which is the primary focus of the International Treaties Bill. The Committee strongly concurred with this submission and assumed that maybe the draftsmen of this Bill could have erroneously factored in this section 111B by drafting this Bill with the provisions of the old Lancaster House Constitution in mind. We assume so because; section 111B of the Lancaster House Constitution speaks to the domestication of international legal instruments.
- Definitions Section
Definition of the term “Conclusion”
In the Bill, the term “conclusion” refers to the whole process of Cabinet and Parliamentary approval, ratification of and accession to treaties by the President. This is problematic in two respects. First, this definition contradicts the understanding of the term “conclude a treaty” under international law. Under international law, “conclude a treaty” refers to the process of negotiation of treaties by states and the coming of such treaties to force internationally. Clearly under international law, conclusion of a treaty is not extended to domestic processes; it is an action by states and their representatives in the international system.
Second, the definition contradicts the meaning of “conclude” envisaged
in section 327 of the Constitution.
The meaning in section 327 is in tandem with the international law understanding of the term “conclude a treaty”. Section 327 only makes reference to the term “conclude” at the first moment the State comes into contact with such treaty, that is when the President or relevant officials acting under his authority sign it or participate in its negotiations.
Unsurprisingly, the Constitution does not make reference to the term
“conclude” anywhere else. It actually prefers to use the relevant terms such as domesticate, ratify, approve where they are applied appropriately. In this regard, the definition must be revisited guided by states’ practice and the customary understanding of the term in
- On Clause 4 of the Bill, it provides that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall be the principal custodian and principal national depositary of all international treaties, something that the Committee agreed to.
However, both the Committee and the stakeholders felt that it is not clear from the reading of section 4 whether the same Ministry (of
Foreign Affairs) is the negotiating Ministry for all international treaties. Stakeholders are of the view that there is need to separate the general responsibility over the negotiation of international treaties from the deposit of instruments of ratification. Whereas the deposit of instruments of ratification should always be the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the negotiation and decision on whether or not to ratify a treaty should be the preserve of the Ministry/ or department responsible for the subject matter of the agreement in question. The Committee strongly implore the Zimbabwean government to take a leaf from the Zambian experience whereby the Minister responsible for the subject matter of the international agreement is charged with the responsibility to consider whether it is in the best interests of the State to ratify the international agreement in instances where the question of ratification of an international agreement arises.
- On Clause 4 (b) (ii), role of Parliament, the provision obligates the negotiating Ministry to take certain steps after approval by Cabinet.
Specially, the negotiating Ministry must secure the approval of the treaty by Parliament. It was submitted that the phrase, “to secure its approval by Parliament” to be substituted with the phrase “to ensure
Parliamentary consideration” in accordance with the Constitution. Parliament has power to approve or disapprove, and this must be made clear in the provision. As it stands, the Committee feels that the provision seems to suggest that what Parliament can only do is to approve the treaty (rubber stamping) without any power to disapprove. This also should be applied on Clause 7 (2) which stakeholders recommended, the phrase “securing the approval of
Parliament” with “subjecting the treaty to Parliamentary considerations”.
- In line with international and contemporary best practices, on Clause 5, Composition of the Public Agreements Advisory Committee, it is advised that a senior expert or professor of international law in Zimbabwe is included. This enriches the Committee. The Committee suggested that such person may be recommended by the Law Society of Zimbabwe or an Association of Law Teachers, whichever may be the case.
- On clause 6 (3), upon receipt of a draft treaty, the Public Agreements Advisory Committee (PAAC) can make different recommendations. Whilst Clause 6 (3) (a) and (b) are clear, Clause 6 (3) (c) and (d) are vague and must be revised. Under Clause 6 (3) (a) and (b), the recommendation is made to negotiating Ministry, which will act upon the recommendation, or to the negotiating Ministry that the treaty be submitted to the Attorney General’s office for redrafting. In addition, this section is vague. Under Clause 6 (3) (c) PAAC can recommend to the Minister and the negotiating Ministry that the treaty be approved, with alterations if any by the President and Cabinet. The confusion here is that the action of approving is the responsibility of Cabinet and the President, yet the recommendation that the treaty be approved is going to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the negotiating Ministry which have no power to approve. The long and winding route is impossible to
explain and causes vagueness.
- It is submitted that Clause 7(1) of the Bill speaks to the ability of
PAAC to recommend publication of treaty before its approval by Parliament if “in this opinion, the importance of the treaty merits it course”. This provision seems unqualified in that it does not provide the nature of cases or the guidelines by which PAAC can objectively consider and decide the kind of treaties that can be put for publication. Secondly, this provision is not clear on its impact on the general procedure that any other treaty that is not bestowed such importance will follow. This provision should rather outline the exceptional cases where the provision is applicable and what effect if any it has on the normal process that other treaties are required to follow. The Committee strongly feel that Parliament should participate in the process that leads to the domestication of any treaty, protocol or convention in line with
section 327 of the Constitution.
- The use of the terms “ratification” and “accession” is also questionable. The Bill suggests that the process of ratification and accession is limited to the President. These actions can only be done by the President after approval by Cabinet and Parliament. The loose use of these words in this manner is extremely confusing. Terms with a particular legal meaning should be used in a manner that conveys such meaning. Under international law, ratification refers to the whole process involving Parliament and the Executive in domestication of treaties. Ratification is not understood as the exclusive preserve of the
President as conveyed in the Bill. • The term “ratification” be used and applied as referring to the dual actions of both the Parliament and President.
- The use of the term “approved” is not recommended. This is because the term has no place in the legal dictionary or jurisprudence or international treaty law. More worryingly, it is often applied in a manner that suggests that when a treaty is brought before Parliament, Parliament has no other option but to approve. Similarly, the loose use of the term
“accession” is very inappropriate. Accession is a legal term in international law that refers to the process by which a State which did not formally sign a treaty before now formally accept its provisions, or after the treaty enters into force. For instance, Zimbabwe accedes to treaties entered into by Rhodesia. Further, Zimbabwe can accede to a treaty after its conclusion but before it enters into force. Accordingly, it was suggested that:
- Clause 7(4) indirectly distinguishes the types of international agreements which can come into force via the methods contemplated by the Bill. The two treaty categories that seem to be envisaged by the executive are; one which falls within the prerogative of the President and another that does not. However, the whole Bill does not specifically categorise these treaties and it gives a general impression that all international treaties are subject to the same process. The downfall on the failure by the Bill to explicitly state and/or distinguish the two categories of the treaties is that very few or no treaties will fall within the reach of Cabinet or Parliament. Treaties that are meant to be duly considered by Parliament can be sidelined in the name of falling under the President’s prerogative. Inevitably, lack of clarity might demean the purpose and function of the International Treaties Bill.
- Clause 7 (4) extends providing a President with the sole discretion of whether to publish or not the statutory instrument that falls under the prerogative category. There is a chance that this power given to a President can have the effect of eclipsing the role of the PAAC, Cabinet and Parliament. Essentially, the whole purpose of this Bill can potentially be undermined. The Bill might not end up serving the mischief it seeks to cure as stated on the Memorandum of the Bill. The Committee, however feels that President should publish such a statutory instrument after consulting Parliament and getting its approval.
- Clause 7 (8) makes provision for PAAC to elect treaties which it deems desirable for it to publish on the basis of size of treaty and good reason. The Act does not define “what exactly matters about the size and what constitutes good reason”. It is submitted that this provision equips PAAC with too much room to exercise discretion on matters that could essentially defeat the purposes of establishing the International Treaties Bill altogether. In addition, the Committee noted that if this provision is left like this, it is going to infringe and violate other rights and freedoms like access to information, and as such no matter the size, PAAC should publish all treaties.
- Furthermore, it is submitted that at Clause 8 (2), it reads “PAAC may, at its own initiative publish the treaties list by notice in the
Gazette.” The diction of this provision is not firmly grounded. It should be clear whether or not PAAC has a responsibility to publish treaties and when they are required to do so. The language used does not give PAAC any obligation yet it is best placed to publish publicly the treaties list. In such an event, there is no accountability measure and decades pass by with the country not having a treaties list. Therefore, the Committee strongly noted the need to have roles and responsibility should be clearly
- Clause 9 which talks of the Bill provides that Clause 7 (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) applies to every international treaty that was concluded before the date of commencement of this Act. In essence, this idea of retrospective application flies in the face of the presumption of retrospectivity. When laws are made, they are meant to apply progressively (from date of promulgation or enactment going into the
future) and not in retrospect.
- It is also not clear whether the procedures for ratification is the same process that has to be followed upon withdrawal from an international agreement and whether publication in the case of withdrawal is also a must as is the case with accession. Likewise, the Committee noted that, it is not clear whether or not the Ministry responsible of ratification or deposit is the same Ministry that is responsible for withdrawal from an international agreement. As such, it was suggested that Parliament should also be involved in the processes
that leads to withdrawal.
- In reading the whole Bill, there is no distinction with consideration to execution of bilateral and multi-lateral treaties with regards to the different levels of confidentiality that comes with these treaties. This distinction is important except if it is anticipated that all highly confidential treaties fall within the executive prerogative. However, if the latter is the assumed position, challenges will arise as the purpose of the Bill itself would be undermined.
- In addition, matters relating to how urgent treaties ought to be treated and the process they follow is not clearly outlined. Examples of such include treaties related to matters of defence, peace and those whose ratification are dependent on other countries in the realm of international relations.
- The Bill also does not provide a clear outline on what is required by a negotiating Ministry to present a treaty under negotiation to PAAC, Cabinet and Parliament. It is essential that the following elements be duly considered and be clearly stated when tabling any treaty for negotiation, the negotiating party should prove the following:
- reasons for being party to the treaty;
- any advantages and disadvantages for the treaty entering into force in;
- obligations which would be imposed on Zimbabwe by the treaty;
- any economic, social and environmental effects of the treaty, of the treaty entering in force in respect of Zimbabwe, and of the treaty not entering in force in respect of Zimbabwe;
- the costs associated with compliance of the treaty;
- the likely effects of any subsequent protocols to the treaty;
- measures which could or should be adopted to implement the
- the intentions of the government in relation to such measures, including legislation.
Despite this Bill being a welcome development, it is submitted that there are certain areas that still need clarity a few of these areas include:
- the provision of an outline on the nature of cases that shall fall within scope of this Bill;
- what constitutes uniform process;
- on issues relating to unfretted discretion granted to PAAC and to a
President in certain instances;
- lack of provision which sets out withdrawal from the treaties;
- inconsistencies on custodianship of the treaty after ratification;
- Inadequacies of the Bill in providing guidance to PAAC and the negotiating Ministry in presenting treaties under negotiation and other related matters.
- It is submitted that it is essential for the highlighted challenges to be addressed to enable the Bill to serve its purpose and to ensure the smooth implementation of the said Bill.
- Reference to “depositary of any treaty” on Clause 9 (2) should be corrected to refer to,
“depository of a treaty…”
The Committee recommend that:
- The Bill should come up with a simple and flexible guideline for the process of ratification and domestication of any treaty, protocol or convention.
- There should be separation of powers when conducting the whole process leading to domestication of treaties. The courts should not be involved.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be represented whenever there are negotiations taking place.
- Parliament should have power to approve and reject (disapprove) any treaty brought before it.
- Law Society of Zimbabwe should be involved in recommending a senior legal expert to be part of the PAAC.
- Clause 7 (1) be amended to make it mandatory for any treaty despite its size and importance to be approved first by Parliament before publication. As it stands, the clause is ultra vires the Constitution.
- The process leading to the domestication of treaties, protocols and conventions should be a responsibility of both Parliament and President as opposed to the provisions in Clause 7 (4).
- The treaty/protocol/convention withdrawal process should also involve Parliament.
- Treaties/protocols/conventions should be mandatorily published in all the nationally recognised languages of Zimbabwe.
- All treaties of all sizes and importance should be subjected to some form of public or stakeholder consultations.
The International Treaties Bill was welcomed by all stakeholders stretching from government ministries and departments, civil society organisations, academic intuitions and individuals. This is so because the country was lacking a guideline to facilitate the ratification and domestication of international treaties leading to a situation where we have 36 or more treaties, protocols and conventions that have been signed but not domesticated. Therefore, the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade appeals to the executive to adopt this principle, “WHY SIGN IF WE CANNOT COMPLY”.
HON. DR. MASHAKADA: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I rise to
add my voice on this debate regarding the International Treaties Bill. It is very clear Mr. Chairman, that Zimbabwe is part of the community of nations and therefore we have to abide by the international law as specified in the various international treaties and protocols that we accede to from time to time.
My question to the Minister is, is that what is the mischief that the Bill seeks to address because in this Parliament we have been approving or ratifying treaties. We have been approving and ratifying conventions without any problems so what is the mischief that this Bill wants to cure at this material time.
Mr. Chairman, I sense that this Bill wants to take away the power of Parliament, the oversight role of Parliament.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Sorry Hon. Member, my
position is now Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. DR. MASHAKADA: Mr. Speaker, I sense that this Bill wants to take the powers of Parliament from ratifying and domesticating these international treaties. This Bill seeks to give the Executive the powers to negotiate international treaties, ratify international treaties and domesticate those treaties without the involvement of Parliament. Why do they want to bypass Parliament and yet our role is law making, it is a legislative role. So, I think the separation of powers should be maintained such that Parliament retains the power to ratify and domesticate all treaties and protocols but this Bill wants to take that power from Parliament and give it to the Executive, I stand to be guided.
I thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My contribution
is that it should be the responsibility of the relevant Ministry to lead in the negotiations and for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate in the negotiations. This makes a lot of sense because it is the content of the treaty that is important and a well informed responsible Ministry should take the lead. Most of the times we fail to even domesticate our laws and the international treaties because the knowledge and the understanding will not be there in the responsible Ministry.
As a result, you will find we have got a lot of treaties that we were assigned to quite a long time ago which are still lying in the offices which have not been ratified. Also the domestication process and ratifying of these international treaties are very, very important and Parliament must be involved. The ratification itself Mr. Speaker should be a well coordinated effort between the Executive and the legislature.
Mr. Speaker, the President cannot negotiate any international treaty, sign the international treaty and then do the ratification of any international treaty. It is important that, it must be consented to by a certain number of Parliamentarians. In actual fact Mr. Speaker, within the Bill, there must be a provision where it states that for a treaty to be ratified, a certain number of Members of Parliament must consent to that Bill because when you negotiate a treaty, you are negotiating a treaty on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe and because of the system that we have where we have got the Legislature and the Executive for very good reasons and also the Judiciary, it is because we want these three arms to check on each other. So, it is important that whenever a treaty is signed to by His Excellency, the President or by anyone who would have been assigned by the President to do so, it must come to Parliament. As Hon. Mashakada has said we have been doing this and this is an obvious requirement.
It is like something that is common but in most cases, you find common knowledge that it is not very common. As a result, you find people trying to do some mischievous things on the pretex that they are going to correct what could have been abnormal. I think the requirement that Parliament approves and ratifies these treaties is important and it still should remain as it is. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. K. PARADZA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 25th February, 2020.
ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr.
Speaker Sir. Tomorrow is a very important holiday where we celebrate our youths and we also celebrate it as the birthday of our former icon and yesteryear President, Cde. R. G. Mugabe. I therefore, want Hon.
Members to travel well and enjoy the day tomorrow. I move that the House do now adjourn.
The House adjourned at Four Minutes to Five o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 25th February, 2020.