- Download 65
- File Size 621.36 KB
- File Count 1
- Create Date September 20, 2022
- Last Updated September 21, 2022
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 20 SEPTEMBER 2022 VOL 48 NO 76
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 20th September, 2022
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Order please! Hon. Members, just a gentle reminder that Hon. Members must be in the House before the Speaker’s procession. Hon. Chief Whips should take note of this to ensure that that happens.
PETITIONS FROM THE INSTITUTE FOR YOUNG WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT AND STATE UNIVERSITIES EMPLOYEES
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have the following announcement. I have to inform the House that on 6 September, 2022, Parliament received the following admissible petitions: The first one is a petition from the Institute for Young Women’s Development Housed at No. 399, Cleverhill, Bindura beseeching Parliament to exercise its legislative and oversight roles by ensuring that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, in consultation with citizens and stakeholders, effect a downward revision of the fees published in the Gazette for nominations and access to the Voters’ Roll and electoral maps. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Secondly, a petition from State Universities Employees represented by Isaac Gwizangwe of Bindura University of Science Education, requesting the Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development to ensure that a State Universities Employees Negotiating Forum is established to facilitate dialogue between the employees and the University authorities. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.
HON. SPEAKER’S RULING.
RECOMMITTAL OF PRIVATE VOLUTARY ORGANISATION BILL [H. B. 10, 2021]
THE HON. SPAKER: I have a short ruling here which I promised. Ruling on the Recommittal of the Private Voluntary Organisation Bill [H. B. 10, 2021]-. On Tuesday 26 July, 2022, the second reading of the Private Voluntary Organisation Bill [H. B. 10, 2021] was done. Standing Order No. 147 provides that “Not more than one stage of a Bill must be taken at the same sitting without leave of the House”. The Hon Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare therefore sought leave of the House to have the Committee Stage forthwith, and this was not objected to.
The House resolved itself into a Committee and the Bill was put clause by clause. On Clause 6 of the Bill, Hon.Mushoriwa on virtual platform informed the Chair that he was having a technical problem. He wanted to know which Bill was being debated. The Chair advised him to come to the House but he did not oblige. Hon. Members are availed fuel to enable them to attend sittings or drive to the nearest point where internet connectivity is not a challenge. Hon. Mushoriwa raised a point of order wherein he stated that he was continuing to have internet challenges. However, he was unable to conclude what he was saying.Subsequently, all other clauses were dealt with until concluded and no one raised an objection about the conduct of business on the Bill. The Bill was reported with amendments at the close of the Committee Stage and referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
On Wednesday, 27 July 2022, Hon.Mushoriwa raised a point of privilege in the House alleging that Hon. Members who had been on the virtual platform the previous day had been denied permission to debate on the Bill by the Chairperson at the instruction of the Leader of the House. Facts of the matter are that when the Bill was put to the House clause by clause, none of the Hon. Members objected. The Bill was considered at Committee Stage and all clauses were adopted. It was only the following day that Hon. Mushoriwa wanted re-committal of the Bill claiming that rights of Hon. Members to debate had been violated. He further alleges the network had been very unstable resulting in those on virtual platform being prejudiced. However, having considered the matter, I rule as follows:
- No procedure flaws were brought up to my attention to warrant the re-committal of the Bill.
- On fluctuating network, it was the duty of the Hon. Member to ensure that he joined the sitting at a place that had stable internet connectivity.
I must advise that this ruling applies to the Notice of Motion made by Hon. Gonese on Wednesday, 11 August 2022 seeking to have the re-committal of the Private Voluntary Organisations Bill Amendment. Therefore, the Notice of Motion by Hon. Gonese is deemed inadmissible and cannot be entertained.
Hon. Gonese having stood up to seek clarification on the ruling.
THE HON. SPEAKER: No, read the Hansard. Can you read the Hansardplease? Can you take your seat? You cannot debate my ruling.
*HON. CHIBAYA: I rise on a matter of national importance. We are heading towards elections in 2023 and there is a lot of political violence throughout the country. As the august House, we need to make sure we go to the polls in peace and preserve our image as a peaceful nation. I am saying this because when we were moving around the country, in Hwedza, the President of the opposition party (CCC), Chamisa was blocked. His car was attacked in Mutare. In Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, the supporters of our political party were attacked by supporters of ZANU PF. There is no Member of Parliament who likes violence and I believe that you also do not like violence. The issue is that we have the Minister of Home Affairs, what is the Minister promising the nation regarding restoring peace and security during elections so that they will be peaceful?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Chibaya. I repeat that any member of a political party who feels that their right has been violated can approach the courts. The second – [HON. HWENDE: Inaudible interjection.] – Order, handisati ndapedza my ruling. Can you sit down – [HON. HWENDE: Hon. Speaker, I listen to you Hon. Speaker but I will not listen to those who are saying that we are not attending a rally. I do not want to be threatened…] – Can you sit down. Hon. Member. The Standing Rules say, if you do not obey the Chair’s order, you are in violation. If you have got an issue or someone has insulted you, you simply stand up and raise a point of order – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – He must raise a point of order. [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Are you listening Hon. Hwende? You are not listening. I said if there is an issue, any Member rises on a point of order, that is what your Standing Rules say
Hon. Hwende having mumbled
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, do not argue with me, sit down!
Hon. T. Mliswa having wanted to raise a point of order.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Honourable, I am still addressing Hon. Chibaya. Hon. Chibaya, if there is an issue against yourself from an Hon. Member, you rise and ask for a point of order. You do not address that Hon. Member who is alleged to be offending you. This is how the Standing Orders run, thank you.
The second aspect I was going to say is that, through the Committee on Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, they are looking at the Electoral Law in terms of the reforms. I am sure some of these issues can be raised during that debate.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. You were correct to say that if any Member is aggrieved, they must stand on a point of order. Just as you were addressing that, somebody said gara pasi. To me, the issue is that you do hear somebody say gara pasi but you do not reprimand them. So, if someone says gara pasi and this heckling happens, someone telling you to keep quiet. Some of us respect you; we have been quiet, we did not make noise but if they do not respect your Chair…
THE HON. SPEAKER: I repeat, when that gara pasi was said, the Hon. Member should have raised a point of order again – [HON. HWENDE: Inaudible interjection.] – Hon. Hwende, I did not recognise you. [HON. HWENDE: But you need to be fair.] – I have not recognised you! [HON. HWENDE: But this is not fair.] - Can you switch off your mic? Thank you. - [HON. HWENDE: He is insulting me again.] – What did he say? – [HON. HWENDE: He said kushata.] – Hon. Members, do not be petty please - [Laughter.] –
HON. CHIMINA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My point of national interest is in regards with the attachment of residents’ property by local authorities. I once raised it as a question and the Minister of Local Government stated that there is Circular 3: 2010, which prohibits local authorities from attaching residents’ property but as I am speaking right now, residents’ property is being attached by local authorities around the country.
So, my request is for the Minister of Local Government to come up with a Ministerial Statement regarding the attachment of residents’ property. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Since the matter was raised and you made your research as a follow-up, why do you not raise it tomorrow and advise the Hon. Minister that what he said last time is not what is happening on the ground? – [HON. ZWIZWAI: Inaudible interjection.] – Hon. Zwizwai, please be collected? Order! Hon. Member, tomorrow, can you approach your Chief Whip so that your name is put among the first to ask your question.
HON. BITI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. As you are aware, we received through our e-mails, as Members of Parliament, the 2021 audit statements by the Auditor-General covering two accounts, the appropriation accounts of Government Ministries and local authorities, the appropriation accounts of local authorities then followed subsequently, as you are aware Hon. Speaker.
Hon. Speaker, I am gravely concerned that having looked at the appropriation accounts for 2021, those accounts must be prepared according to the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). They must also be prepared according to the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSA). If you go to the accounts we received Mr. Speaker Sir, you will see that there is no appropriation account that is commended on by the Auditor in respect of about six key Ministries. These include-
Vote 5, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development;
Vote 8, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement;
Vote 14, the Ministry of Health and Child Care;
Vote 16, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education;
Vote 17, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development;
Vote 18, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; and
Vote 26, the Public Service Commission.
The appropriation accounts are the accounts that tell us how much was spent and received. Overally Mr. Speaker Sir, the audit report does not have an overall appropriation of how much was used in 2021. I ask Mr. Speaker Sir, that you direct the Minister of Finance to come and give an explanation as to why there are no appropriation accounts for those particular votes and why there is no overall appropriation account audit. I also ask Mr. Speaker Sir, that the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee be directed to summon the Auditor-General so that she can explain before the Committee why the 2021 audit report which has been put in our emails does not meet those standards? This is so important given the high levels of corruption in our country at the present moment. I thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I would rather go by your last recommendation, that is, the Public Accounts Committee must summon the Auditor-General to find out why those Votes have not been accounted for. Is Hon. Dube around?
(v)HON. B. DUBE: Mr. Speaker Sir, I am available on virtual and I take note of the directive.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. That should be done within two weeks.
HON. T. MOYO: Hon. Speaker Sir, I rise on an issue of national importance. The issue concerns the provisions of the Education Amendment Act of 2020. One of the major provisions that is violated concerns the issue of exclusion of students from school.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we have noticed and it is quite sad that the majority of students in our schools are being turned away for non-payment of school fees. I raised this issue with the Hon. Minister and she promised to take action but there is nothing happening on the ground in terms of remediation. Schools just willy-nilly turn away students, violating their fundamental rights to education, according to Section 75 of the Constitution. As Parliament, we need to demand enforcement in terms of those schools that are failing or defying the provisions of the Constitution.
It is my clarion call Mr. Speaker Sir, that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should raise a red flag on those schools that are turning away students. It is sad that some of the students that are being turned away are on social safety nets. I am talking of BEAM students whose fees are supposed to be paid by the Government are being turned away. It is very bad and I think something has to be done. We have made some attempts to raise this issue during Question Time but the problem still persists. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I am not sure whether it was last year or the beginning of this year that I referred to a High Court judgement by the Retired Justice Mafios Cheda, which clearly said that it was unlawful for the headmasters of schools to chase away students for non-payment of fees. In his judgement, he indicated that the responsibility lies with the parents. So, tomorrow, ask the Hon. Minister why the system is in contempt of the High Court ruling. Thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir. My point of national interest arises from the current media reports on this esteemed institution in terms of the corrupt activities which are said to be undertaken. Mr. Speaker Sir, you are respected …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Did you say activities? Can you be more explicit?
HON. T. MLISWA: One of the activities would be the Hon. Wadyajena issue. The second one is the recent one of the laptops. So, I would want to bring these two for now, which have been in the media to say that we are finding it difficult to walk around the streets and not be asked and attacked that Mliswa you talk too much but you are corrupt yourself. They do not understand the operation of Parliament that the Speaker is the head, there are Members of Parliament and there is Administration. They relate everything to the Speaker and Members of Parliament, yet Administration is not known because they never debate in Parliament. The common man views Parliament as the Speaker and Members of Parliament and not Administration because they do not debate. If you have a TV there, it is you and us here, so the Administration of Parliament leaves a lot to be desired.
The recent allegations of laptops being bought over US$9.000 bring one thing in question. From all the procurements which have been done, how much has been the inflated price? It is pretty clear there was no argument from the statement of the Clerk in terms of inflated price. We need to undertake a forensic audit on the procurement of all what we have done since 2013 when I joined Parliament to date. Clearly, it is an issue which we trust Administration but they have been exposed. As a result, our role is to ensure that taxpayers’ money is for value. In fact, what they call it is value for money even in terms of the Procurement Act, you must have a budget for what you are buying. For your Procurement Act, you must have a procurement plan. So the budget for US$9 000 - where did it come from; we passed the budget? Did they have a procurement plan? The SPOCS is chaired by the Attorney General who must sign minutes of all this. Was this done? Fortunately and we thank you, you have taught us to read and understand and you can see I am a bit familiar with PRAZ and I am sure you are impressed that one of your own Members remembers. So what you have taught us, we see it being violated, yet we pass the laws here.
So we have to be prudent in whatever we do because any small thing that happens, this institution is reduced to nothing but a corrupt institution. I therefore with your indulgence, suggest that a forensic audit for all procurements be done from 2013. I say so and I was in Parliament because I do not want to be labeled as one person who saw this happening and never did anything about it. I cannot talk about the time I was not here. I have to cover my years to date on all the procurements done. I know that they will be appearing before the Public Accounts Committee but that forensic audit is quite critical so that your reputation and our reputation remain intact. After Parliament, we are people. We must have a credible social standing.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You are now debating Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: I therefore indulge you Mr. Speaker Sir for that issue to be cleared and that administration - who are seen wanting must be able to respond to those issues and also not pick what they can pick on PRAZ and leave out certain things. Was there a budget of 9 000 passed by this House in terms of Parliament budget? If so, we would like to know. If it was not passed, why would they even entertain anything over what has been budgeted? I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you for that Hon. Mliswa. You must be very careful also with your words. The Audit Act, sections 9 to 12 speak about how audits should be done. A forensic audit is a particular audit on a particular issue. It cannot be a forensic audit over a period of x number of years.
In this particular incident, the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee has written to say that the responsible officials must appear before the Public Accounts Committee. That process will proceed, and only after the interrogation of the Public Accounts Committee will they decide whether there will be need for a forensic audit or not. Also, it has to be taken into account what the Auditor General has said about the accounts of the Committee since 2013. If there are issues that were raised and they were not attended to, those can be part of the interrogation by the Public Accounts Committee. So in terms of procedure, we will proceed that way.
Also, sometimes do not be converts of social media – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- I said sometimes, listen to my English. Hon. Hwende wanyanya. Can you be more collected? I am still speaking to you. I have described the process and that will prevail accordingly.
HON. TOGAREPI: On a point of order. I am sorry to use this word Mr. Speaker Sir but we are now having rogue Members of Parliament. We cannot have people insulting the Hon. Speaker because someone cannot say the Speaker’s hand was caught in the cookie jar. What is that? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Mliswa, please take a seat. Hon. Hwende, did you say ndirimomo?
HON. HWENDE: This man is now lying. Hon. Speaker, he is lying because your name was never mentioned…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! You cannot say a Member is lying. Withdraw that one. You simply say his statement is incorrect.
HON. HWENDE: But he called me rogue.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! I will not come to that. So withdraw the lies, withdraw.
HON. HWENDE: Withdraw what?
THE HON. SPEAKER: To say he is a liar – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
HON. HWENDE: I withdraw.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you.
HON. HWENDE: Can he withdraw rogue.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Member, the word rogue is unparliamentary, so you need to withdraw that one.
HON. TOGAREPI: I withdraw.
HON. ZWIZWAI: Mwana wake akaponda munhu saka akuita se anopenga. Munoziva kuti mwana wake akaponda munhu now he has gone cockeye.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Zwizwai, that is a serious allegation. Can you withdraw that statement?
HON. ZWIZWAI: It is in the courts Mr. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: So withdraw the statement! If it is the court, withdraw the statement.
HON. ZWIZWAI: I withdraw.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker, very quickly on this issue. As you are aware, in terms of section 114 of the Constitution, Parliament is at the forefront of holding other people to account. We have brought so many bodies before this august House over oversight; GMB. ZESA, ZINARA, you name this, you name that. So if there is now a speck in our eyes Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is right that we should investigate ourselves internally.
So I support the call by Hon. Mliswa that let us have an external forensic audit of this transaction. I thank you very much. We need to maintain our moral high ground Mr. Speaker. So let us have an external enquiry over the issue of laptops. Thank you very much.
THE HON. SPEAKER: That is not a point of clarification. You are disabusing my ruling. As a learned lawyer, you are disabusing my ruling. A committee is an institution of this Parliament, so allow it to do its job. Only after there is that conversation, it will then be up to the Committee to come up with recommendations. I thank you.
*HON. MUNENGAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise to add my voice on this important issue. I know that there is separation of powers between the Judiciary, Parliament and Executive and that there must not be interference. I am however concerned that accused persons are being denied bail and this has been happening for a long time. Some have even spent more than one year in remand prison. Up to now, these prisoners have not been granted bail so that they are tried while coming from home.
I am not saying this on a partisan basis but what I want to say is that even in this House, we have some Hon. Members of Parliament who have spend 100 days in remand prison and nothing is being done. I do not want to give this as an example but I am standing on behalf of all prisoners. We are the legislators and if we look at Sections 50, 70 and 49, they clearly state the rights of prisoners and we are the legislators. Hon. Speaker, why are we not following the Constitution as legislators so that the prisoners can be treated fairly? It is good for Zimbabwe to be known as a law abiding country so that the rights of our prisoners are respected. I thank you – [AN. HON. MEMBER: Ko nyaya yemalaptop?] –
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you spoke very well that there is separation of powers between Parliament, Judiciary and Executive. There is a proper procedure on how to handle those issues. Lawyers have a right to represent their clients in court and raise the issue there or even at the Constitutional Court in terms of the sections of the Constitution you have quoted, the rights of the arrested persons. You can go and complain to the High Court or the Constitutional Court.
It is the responsibility of the lawyers handling the cases that they proceed to do so in terms of that procedure. As Parliament, we cannot interfere with the judicial processes. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: We are dealing with points of privilege, there are no debates, and you made your statement Hon. T. Mliswa. I have given guidance.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker, but others have debated.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have given guidance. If you ask Hon. Biti to talk about the separation of powers doctrine, I have to go to case law and so on iyiiii. Aiwa atsanangura zvakanaka Hon. Munengami.
HON.T. MLISWA: For the Executive, Hon. Speaker, we have an oversight that we do as Parliament but what of the Judiciary? What do we do if there is something that is not well in the Judiciary as Parliament? The issue of doctrine is being abused. The Judiciary is abusing their powers through catch and release. If Parliament has powers to task the Executive, why can it not have power to task the Judiciary?
THE HON. SPEAKER: There are procedures to be followed Hon. T. Mliswa. I have explained already. Another way is to write to the Judicial Services Commission as an offended person, and not as Parliament – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. T. Mliswa, I have told you the procedure – [AN HON. MEMBER: But kana yaWadyajena yakaitwa wani?] – It is not only the doctrine of separation of powers. You have got the problem of subjudice - [AN HON. MEMBER: Ko Wadyajena akanyorerwa tsamba nesame Parliament wani, and Ministers come here.] - Hon. Member, I do not want to debate my guidance. If you want to seek...
HON. HAMAUSWA: Parliament is becoming ineffective; we do not have power – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you please take your seat. If...
HON. HAMAUSWA: No, Hon. Speaker, this has affected Hon. Sikhala; tomorrow it will affect me and then it will affect you as well. This will affect you and we will come to defend you as Parliament.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, can you please take your seat. Order, Hon. Member, order, when I said ibva pano, I was smiling – [Laughter.] – but if I was wearing a serious face, then that is something different, in this case I was smiling.
The Hon. Speaker asked the Government Chief Whip to approach the Chair.
THE HON. SPEAKER: What is coming out, please your statements of privilege on matters of national interest, can you make sure that they are brief because they should be one minute, otherwise we end up taking a lot of time from the business of the House.
Order, order, Members on my left, order! Hon. Biti, you are a veteran.
BILL RECEIVED FROM THE SENATE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have received recommendations from the Senate on amendments to Clause 2 and 3 of the Finance Bill [H. B. 9A, 2022] in terms of Paragraph 7 of the Fifth schedule of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
HON. GONESE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. If the Hon. Minister is seeking the leave of the House, you have to put.....
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, just to refresh your memory, the Standing Orders were suspended to deal with the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill – [HON. MEMBERS: Zvakapera kudhara.] – Zvakapera when we are still doing it now...
HON. GONESE: No, no Mr. Speaker....
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, no, no, I will not allow that.
HON. GONESE: There is a second point of order which I want to raise before we go into committee stage for us to be appraised of the substance of the recommendations because ...
THE HON. SPEAKER: You will go into the Committee and you will hear that. Thank you.
HON. BITI: I believe Mr. Speaker, you indicated to us that you have received recommendations from the Senate, I think it was only proper for the Hon. Speaker to indicate the recommendations. If we want to raise an objection, we are also entitled to do so.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I am advised the amendments were circulated via Members e-mails.
Hon. Biti having stood up.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You are abusing my office now.
HON. BITI: On a point of order, the Finance Bill is a money Bill. It originates in the lower House, once it is passed by the lower House, Senate has no power ...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order my learned friend, can you sit down please. You know the Constitution says if that amendment is from the Senate and is not accepted by the National Assembly, the position of the National Assembly prevails ...
HON. BITI: On a point of order, on ordinary Bills, yes, but on money Bills, they have no power of bringing it back.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you refresh me.
HON. BITI: Fifth Schedule.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Alright, thank you. Hon. Biti, you are over inspired today.
HON. BITI: Thank you Sir. God bless you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I will read the fifth schedule, Section 7, it says “the Senate does not have power to amend a Money Bill but may recommend that the National Assembly make amendments” – [HON. BITI: Yes] – just a minute, that is why I am saying you are over inspired today. When I read what I read, I said I have received recommendations in line with the Constitution.
HON. BITI: So it is debated by the plenary so we do not have to defend it here because that is a recommendation, but when it is an amendment, we go to Committee.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes Hon. Biti, after the Committee it will still come to the whole House.
HON. BITI: Here we debate the recommendation. If we agree with the recommendation then we go into Committee where the amendment is made. So the recommendation, we debate in plenary, toramba.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The House will be in Committee, after that it will go to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for debate by the whole House. Agreed? – [HON. MEMBERS: Yes!] – Ah! Tatenda. In addition to the Schedule you raised that must also be read in terms of Standing Order Number 190.
Motion put and agreed to.
FINANCE BILL [H. B. 9A, 2022]
House in Committee.
On Clause 2 Section 14:
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): When the supplementary budget was taken to the Senate, the Hon Members noted that the assessment years should look at the time and duration when the supplementary budget was going to be effective and operational, that is from 1st August 2022 to 31st December 2022. Senate then recommended that we need to take Clauses 2 and 3 to the National Assembly for further interrogation and this is why we brought the notice of amendments. The recommendations for amendments are for Sections 2 and 3 but you will notice that these two sections are the same except that Section 2 is in words and Section 3 is in figures. The amendment seeks to adjust the tax bands in line with the supplementary budget proposals. We are not going to change anything as was proposed by the National Assembly.
The first tax band as was proposed was $900 000 which was going to be tax free but if we leave it like that, it will show that the $900 000 is starting from 1st January 2022 to 31st December 2022. This will effectively mean that all the people are not going to pay tax. So, the amendment now seeks to have two taxable years, one with seven months and the other year starting from 1st August for five months. So, what we are saying is that the level of taxable income is then adjusted to accommodate the five months. In this case, the first bracket for the five months assessment year will then read as income up to $375 000 and the rest of the bands are going to be adjusted accordingly as provided for in the notice of amendments. I so submit Hon. Chairperson.
HON. BITI: The esteemed Minister is being economic with the truth. We spent hours here quarreling on Sections 2 and 3 of the Finance Bill. We spent hours arguing until the Minister agreed as a compromise to let the tax free threshold go to $900 000. Remember, we actually wanted $1.2million as Members and the compromise was $900 000. The Minister then came up with a formulation which is this formulation which he is bringing purportedly from the Senate. He came with it and we argued that he should record the $900 000 but make it clear that it starts from the first of August. You will recall if you were here Madam Chairperson, Hon. Raidza and other Hon Members went to the Minister’s drafts people who were there and we agreed we would not have a problem. From the first January to the 31st July 2022, the old rates would apply and from the 1st August to 31st December, the new rate of $900 000 would apply. What the Minister has done is to go back to that position which we rejected and then try to pretend that it is the Senate speaking. It is not the Senate speaking, it is him speaking. So, we reject this amendment because it is a revision of the agreed position of $900 000 tax free threshold. If you look closely at Clause 4, he has now actually brought it down to $750 000. So he is now revising the tax free threshold from $900 000 which we agreed to and passed to $750 000. So, we must reject this and say to the Senate, thank you but no thank you. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Firstly, there is no logic even if people had to be paid from the 1st of January 2022, they have suffered from inflation and it is actually a way of recovery. So, there is no way that we can allow this to happen. Senate must understand that people have been suffering due to inflation and there has not been any provision to deal with inflation. When we did this, we were looking at the suffering of the people. Some people are still owing money because our Zimbabwe dollar has no value. Disposable income nadha and because of that, we cannot sit here and bring it down again. The Upper House is being insensitive in terms of the plight of the people. We debated this openly; everybody knew what we were saying. They listened, they were happy with it and now they want us as the National Assembly to reduce from $900 000 to $750 000. Already, there are many problems that they are facing. They want this House to be blamed. Unfortunately, there is no room for amending and if there is anything, we must actually factor in inflation, to be honest with you, because already with this time that we are wasting inflation is hitting. So, as I am speaking and the way inflation is going, we should be actually amending the figure to a million. So, the only recommendation which we would entertain is upward and not downward. So to me, I therefore, recommend that due to time wasting and Senate again wasting time, may it go up to a million from ZWL900 000.00; to factor in inflation and time. So I now recommend that it goes up to a million as a result of time because these Bills take time. While they are going to the Senate and you need the President to sign; inflation does not do that; inflation will continue escalating. So, I recommend that it be reviewed upward to a million, if we spend another month then it is reviewed upward again to ZWL1.1 million considering the issue of inflation so that parents can afford to pay school fees. We risk being beaten up by people after budgeting ZWL900 000.00 and now coming back to ZWL750 000 – we cannot accept that.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. This is a sad development for the entire life of me in this Parliament, it has never happened that a Bill is actually rejected and returned to the National Assembly. I have been in this House since 2000 and I really wonder what then happened between the time we debated and agreed. I think we spent the whole day in terms of this particular clause. You will recall, if we were to refer to the Hansard, I had proposed ZWL1.2 million on the realisation that with my Trade Union background, negotiations and dialogue; you need to peg a higher level figure. Now here we are, it is not even half of what we expected.
I think, genuinely speaker Madam Chairperson, no harm will be done in terms of the Hon. Minister but in fact, to get credibility and the confidence that has been created in the public and the entire working class of the country, we need to stick to the agreed ZWL900 000.00 and we will lose nothing. I think that the higher expectations out there and with inflation rising day in, day out, I propose that we stick to ZWL900 000.00. I also think that we can persuade Senate to agree to the ZWL900 000.00 with the modalities – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – With what we debated, we had the full information that we packaged to the Hon. Minister.
He had enough arguments to convince the Senate to agree to the ZWL900 000.00 threshold. I think that it would be an embarrassment and drawback; our effort, time and everything. Time is of essence Madam Chairperson and because of the holdup that the Senate has actually rejected this Bill, everybody is expecting tatomirira and hakuna chinhu. We know that Government is in dire need of resources; every department and institution, awaits the approval of this budget. I think we need to call the Senate to say, we still stick to the ZWL900 000.00. Takatonyara because inini ndakasimuka ndikati ZWL1.2 million. The Hon. Minister was here and I think that is the reason why he is not even here because we deliberated and agreed. What has happened behind the scenes? I thank you.
THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON (HON. MAVETERA): Hon. Nduna, may you please go to the other side of the House? Hon. Nduna, may you please go to the other side of the House where you belong?
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. Madam Speaker Ma’am – [HON. T. MLISWA: She is not Madam Speaker, she is Madam Chair!] – Madam Chair, I just want to deal with the issues and leave out tissues. My question is: what is the prejudice that might befall the nation if we leave it in the manner that we debated and proposed as the National Assembly? Assuming it is a life and death issue, at law there is what is called, retrospective application of the law. There is only one issue that cannot be applied in retrospect and that is the Death Sentence.
Here is an opportunity, in my view, to continue to apply a law in retrospect, assuming there is a technical hitch. Otherwise, it is my thinking, on a third point, that the clause that said this starts in August, as a footnote/proposal that was made in this House, should be succinct and good enough to let this budget go forward in that form. My fear is that the people who are opposed to this budget may take advantage of your good proposals in that in Clause 4, you will find that somehow your office may have tweaked some figures to read ZWL750 000 as opposed to ZWL900 000.00. We do not want people taking advantage of that anomaly of the change in figures.
So, it is my fervent view, hope and clarion call that we remain static as the way we burnt the midnight candles. I remember on the day, we even went for dinner and came back. We went again but there was no tea, and came back. So it is my thinking that there is no none monetary incentive that we proposed to align it to the Supplementary Budget of the band of ZWL900 000.00. So it is my thinking that what we debated and proposed hatisiyeyi zvakadaro because it is not a death sentence. How do I propose that if you have a deficit, you cover it?
In 2005, there was debate from Delta Corporation in terms of issuance of beer levy to the effect that they proposed that ZWL0.34cents be allocated to local authorities per litre of opaque beer. If you can ring fence those monies for the past 10 years, it is my thinking that you can get out of the quagmire, assuming it is dire and then use that to plug the revenue deficit that you may have. My thinking, let us continue in the manner that we proposed so that we are seen according to Section 119, to be making laws for the good order and governance of the people of Zimbabwe and indeed Cde. Lameck Nyamarango, Patricia Nyamadzawo, and Sarah Chikukwa of Chegutu West Constituency and Mr. Green and Tapfuma Wunganayi. So it is my thinking that we will definitely not lose anything if we leave Clauses 2, 3 and indeed 4 to read ZWL900 000.00 in the manner that it is. I thank you.
HON. GONESE: Thank you Madam Chair. When we sat in this august House, we deliberated at length on the consultations on the implications of the provisions of Clause 2, so there can be no technical issue involved.
However, on a procedural issue, the Hon. Speaker advised that there was a recommendation and we all know what a recommendation is. Firstly, it is not binding but more importantly as the National Assembly when it comes to money Bills, we are dominus litis. So we are in charge as this august House, the National Assembly.
Therefore, whatever we say on a money Bill actually prevails, even if it was an ordinary Bill - where there is disagreement between the two Houses, the will or the form in which a Bill has been passed in the National Assembly takes precedence. In that regard therefore, I am very disturbed on the language used by the Hon. Deputy Minister of Finance because the way he articulated the issue, it was as if the Ministry of Finance has changed positions, whereas what we were told was that it was simply a recommendation from another House.
The Ministry of Finance interrogated the issues when Hon. Members were debating and they even consulted the Ministry officials. They were very cognisant of what the amendment to Clause 2 would entail. So, we do not want shifting of goal posts, we do not want this level of dishonesty where the Deputy Minister of Finance comes with a different position. If it is a recommendation, he should have said so.
When we sent it to the Senate, Ministry of Finance through the Hon. Minister agreed and because they agreed, they are bound by that understanding. The recommendation of the Senate must be thrown away; we cannot accept it and we as this institution cannot backtrack on something which we articulated on behalf of the destitute people of Zimbabwe whose income has been eroded by high levels of inflation.
I agree with Hon. Mliswa that if possible we would have wanted to revert to the 1, 2 million which we initially advocated for. However, we cannot accept any reduction. What we could be accepting is, if the Hon. Minister was coming to say yes, we have the recommendations from the Senate but as the Ministry of Finance we have considered the plight of the poor Zimbabwean people and we are actually recommending an increase to 1, 2 million per annum which is what we as legislators were advocating for. For those reasons, I have to say to the Hon. Deputy Minister, if it is a recommendation from the Senate; just tell them that the National Assembly has refused.
I want to implore Hon. Members from the other side of the House that we agreed on this position; it was a consensus position where everyone who represents people of this country, who accepts and appreciates the levels of poverty, destitution and the high inflation which we are experiencing in Zimbabwe came up with that common position. It was not a partisan position.
THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON: Before the Leader of the House explains, I am also reading the Bill here. The issue is about the ZWL900 000 which was for 12 months but now we are left with five months. So, whenever we are debating, let us take that in mind so that we are guided accordingly.
HON. MUSHORIWA: What happened on that day Hon. Chair, these figures that the Hon. Minister is now bringing back, at one time when we had debated, we came up with these figures – the Ministry officials came up with these figures. When they brought the figures, we then told them that the figures that you are coming up with, the 375 000 translate to around 31 000 per month.
We then told them, let us draw a proper system where we say 900 000 with effect from 1 August. We then took a break for dinner so that the Ministry official and the Minister could actually do the re-wording and working. When we came back in this august House, we then agreed that it was up to 900 000 with effect from 1st August.
Madam Chair, to just show you the danger of trying to even entertain this recommendation, even the office of the Presidency, Nick Mangwana, the Presidential spokesperson had even to write boasting on his Twitter account that for the first time employees that are earning the first 75 000 are not going to be taxed.
The truth of the matter is that if we are going to allow this amendment that is being proposed here, it will create problems and because we had had an agreement between the Ministry and Parliament, it was adopted.
The Deputy Minister of Finance is precluded from coming into this House and pretends as if this amendment comes from the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry of Finance and this House is in agreement and what we need to simply do is to simply say no to what the Senate has said. I know the Hon. Leader of the House, I know you are a Member of this august House – do not masquerade as if you a Member of the Senate.
We should not take the time that we debated this over two days and we made this resolution across; it was a bi-partisan agreement and there is no reason why we can go back to what we agreed on.
So Madam Chair, the position is simple. The recommendation by the Senate is denied and we do not want it – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
The Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs having stood up to respond.
THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Members, he is the Leader of the House and he is also a Minister who sits in Cabinet. He wants to respond and also set clarity. The Minister has the right to respond. Let me get my Standing Order so that I inform you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon. Chair. The two clauses that have been recommitted to the National Assembly are simply seeking to give clarity so that when tax consultants are doing their work, they will not bring unnecessary confusion. If you look at what it says, the ZW$900 000.00 is effective from the 1st of January and if we allow it to sail like that, it would mean that there will not be any taxes that will be collected the last five months. When we passed the first Finance Bill, if you divide ZW$900 000.00 by 12, you will get ZW$75 000.00, but what this amendment is simply saying is, we are going to amend the Finance Act where it says with effect from the 1st of January, we amend it to with effect from 1st of August, that this tax level becomes up to ZW$375 000.00. So the last five months, if you divide by 5, it comes to ZW$75 000.00. If you divide ZW$900 000.00 by 12, it is ZW$75 000.00.
The effect is that the first tax table was not up to ZW$75 000.00. So what it would mean is that Government would not collect revenue the last five months because people would have been over taxed the first seven months. To give clarity, all it is doing is whatever you are debating is correct and it is up to ZW$75 000.00 but the effective date is the 1st of August. If you take the first one up to ZW$375 000.00, zero percent and divide it by five months, it gives you ZW$75 000.00. If you go back and you divide ZW$900 000.00 by 12, it gives you ZW$75 000.00 but the problem then arises that if we leave it the way it was couched, it would mean that the last five months Government owes tax payers’ money. So the reason why it had to be recommitted is to clean it up so that it becomes clear but whatever you are saying remains as it is. I submit Hon. Chair.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, I just wish Hon. Leader of the House was in the House on the day. One of the things that we were cognisant of is, we never said ZW$900 000.00 from the 1st of January. That is not what we said. What was agreed and I just wish Hon. Prof. M. Ncube was here because I recall Hon. Biti actually put it and I want the Hon. Deputy Minister to read the agreed position, the compromise, and the text which we agreed on in this august House. The text said ZW$900 000.00 with effect from the 1st of August. It never said from 1st of January. That is why we want the text of the Bill and that is what we agreed on but the Minister of Justice was not here.
It was ZW$900 000.00 with effect from 1st August. Let me do basic arithmetic. It simply says ZW$900 000.00 per annum with effect from 1st of August. The reason why the word per annum is put there, it means that the five months will be calculated, you divide ZW$900 000.00 by 12 months and it will bring ZW$75 000.00 but that ZW$75 000.00 applies from 1st August.
HON. MADZIMURE: Madam Chair, the Minister should have just come to the House and say I want to correct my mistake. He must not misrepresent facts by saying the Senate said this. This recommendation is not from the Senate, but I am worried about the precedence where if a Minister does something here, he uses the Senate as the pretext. So the issue is not to do with the Senate. The Senate never raised it and the Minister, if he perceives it to be a mistake, should correct his mistake, not to say the Senate gave a recommendation.
THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Madzimure, the problem with us is assuming things. It gives us problems in future. I think this is the procedure that had to be followed and that is why we are here today. The reason why we take Bills to the Senate is for consideration and when a consideration comes, we are supposed to be able to accept it since that is the procedure of Parliament.
HON. BITI: Madam Chair, the Hon. Minister must table before this House what we agreed and what we passed. We agreed on ZW$900 000.00 tax free threshold with effect from the 1st of August, 2022 – what does that mean? It simply means that the ZW$75 000.00 tax free threshold which would only become effective from the 1st of August, 2022 going forward. It will not apply retrospectively. We made that point very clear. Hon. Raidza and myself went to the officials that were there and we said, once you say ZWL$900 000 from 1 August 2022, we said it will be any accountant’s nightmare, any accountant will know that from 1 January he will apply the ZWL$300 000 that was in existence. From 1 August 2022 it is now ZWL$75 000. We were very clear.
What concerns me now is that if you look at the figures, go to the substance of the figures that are being proposed by the amendment, it is reducing the tax free threshold to ZWL$750 000 as opposed to ZWL$900 000. Also if you go to the Bill, the amended Finance Act No. 9 was sent to us in our emails and I urge Hon. Members to go to your emails. If you go to your emails, you will find Finance Bill No. 9 final corrected version. If you go to the final corrected version and I will read to you Madam Chair the explanatory notes on Section 14. The Minister now says he is giving amendments so that the agreed tax free thresholds is ZWL$600 000 but we had agreed ZWL$900 000. When he goes to Senate, he is now carrying ZWL$600 000. The Bill is here Madam Chair. He took ZWL$600 000 to the Senate yet we had agreed on ZWL$900 000. Hon. Zwizwai was saying let us see the Hansard of the Senate, I would submit that he is correct. The Minister of Finance is not being truthful to this august House and to the Senate.
Minister Ziyambi, there is more than a technical issue here of dates. There is a substantive issue. The Minister is playing around with figures. He is being dishonest. We cannot rubber stamp dishonest figures. I thank you.
THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON: I think I need clarity here. You are speaking on dates. That is where the issue is because as it stands now, when it went to the Senate, it was on ZWL$900 000. We have got a copy here.
HON. BITI: No it was on Z$600 000.
THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON: It was on Z$900 000 and that is why we are saying that…
Hon. Biti approached the Chair.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Madam Chair. Having considered the debate on the recommendations from the Senate, we are accepting the amendment of Section 3. The amendment of Schedule to Chapter 23:04 will read as follows, “The Schedule, credits and rates of income tax to Chapter 1 of the Finance Act, Chapter 23:04 is amended with effect from 1st August in the year of assessment, beginning on 1st January, 2022 in Part 2, by deletion of the items relating to the level of taxable income earned in Zimbabwe dollars from employment and the substitution of the following with effect from 1st August to 31st December, 2022. I submit.
Amendment to Clause 2 put and agreed to.
Clause 2, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 3:
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Madam Chair. Proposed amendments to Clause 3 are similar to amendments on Clause 2.
Amendment to Clause 3 put and agreed to.
Clause 3, as amended, put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING SERVICES ON THE BENCHMARKING VISIT TO KENYA
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. PARADZA): Hon. Speaker, I am making a Ministerial Statement in response to a Parliamentary delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services on their benchmarking visit to Kenya with reference to legislation and operationalisation of community radio stations.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to thank Hon. Mokone, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, for her informative report on her delegation’s benchmarking visit to Kenya to enquire on the legislation and operationalisation of community radio stations. I would like to also thank the Hon. Members that contributed to the debate and as a Ministry, we truly value these contributions.
Hon. Speaker Sir, let me begin by informing this House that President Mnangagwa’s administration has seen it fit to reform the media in this country. You are aware that AIPPA was repealed in this Parliament and it was substituted with the law that is friendlier, that is the Freedom of Information Act and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act. Right now we are in the process of drafting the Zimbabwe Media Practitioners Bill to deal with aspects of the code of conduct and professionalism within the media sector. In addition to that, the administration has also opened up the airwaves and we are currently amending, as I said, the Broadcasting Services Act to be in sync with global trends. These amendments should be with Parliament soon.
Hon. Speaker Sir, it is out of this raft of media laws that we have reshaped the media landscape. In other words, Hon. Speaker, the media will never be the same again in this country. You are well aware that we have issued through the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, six national commercial television licences, 14 community radio station licences and eight campus radio station licences. Some of the television and community radio stations are already on air while others are at different stages of development. Just to show how this administration has positively responded to calls to open up the media space, we now have six national radio stations, 10 commercial radio stations, 14 community radio stations as I have said and eight campus radio stations, seven new television stations including AZAM TV from East Africa. This is in addition to ZBCs three channels and another new kid on the block, Dream Africa Channel.
Therefore Hon. Speaker, this administration has listened to what Zimbabweans wanted and we have done precisely that. We are also in the process of finalising some modalities of issuing out both community television licences and provincial radio licences so that all our people have access to a variety of information and programmes of their own choice. This is our focus media diversity.
The policy of this Government is to free up the airwaves and allow more players in the broadcasting sector. As I have said before, to show Government sincerity to the transformation in the broadcasting sector, this administration is also aligning broadcasting and media sector laws to the Constitution. Some of the major policy outlook positions to be introduced in the broadcasting sector include the need to ensure that the country has diverse broadcasting services in public, commercial and community to ensure compliance with international best practices. This will ensure that citizens receive diverse broadcasting services through further deliberate efforts to introduce more community radio stations to close the gaps and empower our rural communities, hence, His Excellency’s mantra not leaving anyone or any community behind.
Our focus right now is to have all the 14 community radio stations on air before we issue more licences. We are also looking at the regulatory framework for community radio services with more emphasis on their sustainability. Assessments will be done on those that have commenced broadcasting and see areas where policy positions can be taken to ensure sustainability on their operations.
Madam Speaker, my Ministry will also look to see how communities of interest such as churches and other interest groups can be accommodated for future licences by the regulator. Within the scope of amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act is the issue of allowing a certain percentage of foreigners to hold shareholding and directorship in the broadcasting sector.
Madam Speaker, let me now deal with the Committees recommendations.
The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services should review the Broadcasting Services Act to include a provision that outlines the legal parameters for source of funding of community radio stations by December 22.
Madam Speaker, the resolution is noted. Currently the Broadcasting Services Act (Chapter 12:6) prohibits all broadcasters from receiving foreign donations or contributions and the Broadcasting Services which is community and campus regulations. Radio regulations gazetted through SI 39 of 2020 also prohibits broadcasting of commercial adverts other than sponsorship announcements. While this is the current position going forward, Madam Speaker, is the current Broadcasting Amendment, the Ministry included the following as sources of funding for the community radio stations:
a) Broadcasting Services Fund.
b) The diaspora community support.
c) Sponsored programmes.
d) Free local corporate community, so in other words, we are agreeable to the recommendations of the Committee;
Thatthe BAZ should consider the community of interest of persons applying for the licence when licensing community radio stations by October 2022. This is already in place. The BAZ started with languages first; we have catered for all the 16 languages in the Constitution and it is part of the plan that is going forward, subject to availability of frequencies. Other community of interests will be considered such as religion, et cetera.
That the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services should establish a Media Council that will provide a code of conduct for community radio journalists to deal with issues of biased reporting by Community Radio Stations by December 2022. This is noted and is being addressed. The Ministry is working towards this through the upcoming Media Practitioners Bill. The Bill requires professional associations to register their codes of conduct with the Zimbabwe Media Commission that will deal with, amongst other issues, biased reporting, falsehoods, et cetera. However, the time period is not practical considering our legislative process.
That the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe should lower the fees for licences to ease the financial burden for applicants in community broadcasting by October 2022. This is well noted and the Ministry will engage BAZ on the matter.
That the BAZ should provide a platform of online application for community broadcasting licensing by November 2022; BAZ will be engaged and instructed to ensure that this is implemented. However, it is important to note that these communities are mostly situated in remote rural areas and may not for now have access to internet services to enable them to submit the applications online.
That through the Broadcasting Fund, the Ministry of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services should provide financial and technical support to Community Radio Stations by September 2022. This is noted and is being implemented. The Ministry and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe have been capacitating the recently licensed Community Radio Stations with equipment as well as training the community on community broadcasting. BAZ has donated equipment to Community Radio Stations to enable them to start broadcasting. The Ministry has also facilitated and sought funding from other development partners who have donated equipment to the radio stations. BAZ and other partners have also provided training to volunteers that work or will work on the Community Radio Stationers. However, more will continue to be done to ensure that the radio stations are well capacitated.
In addition to the above, the Broadcasting Services Act will be amended to ensure that one of the objects of the Broadcasting Fund includes the sustenance of Community Radio Stations to ensure that those licensed would remain sustainable.
That the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe should put in place effective mechanisms to monitor Community Radio Stations and ensure that funds generated from the operations are reinvested in activities benefiting the community by November 2022. This is well noted and will be implemented. Currently, Community Radio Stations are required to utilise all funds of the Radio Station to promote the objectives of the Community Radio Stations as per section 7 (1) (a) of the Broadcasting Services (Community and Campus) Radio Regulations gazetted through Statutory Instrument 39 of 2020. BAZ has an obligation to ensure that the Community Radio Stations comply with this requirement of law; additionally, that the Ministry should come up with laws that will discourage interference on ownership and programming by these organisations by December 2022.
This is noted and shall be implemented within the confines of the law. The structure of Community Radio Stations is such that they are owned by the members of the Community who vote and appoint trustees to the radio stations. Community members shall be conscientised on their rights and the need to be involved in these radio stations to avoid interference.
The aspect of interference in the programming is already provided for in law. The Broadcasting Services (Licensing and Content) Regulations gazetted in S.I 185 of 2004 provides in section 36 (c) that Community Radio Stations shall demonstrate independence in their programming as well as their editorial and management decisions. BAZ is therefore required by law to monitor the radio stations to ensure compliance with the provisions of law.
That the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services should come up with laws that discourage broadcasting of hate speech by December 2022. This is well noted. However, the banning of the hate speech is already provided for in section 13 (h) of the Broadcasting Services (Licensing and Content) Regulations gazetted in SI 185 of 2004 which provides that all Broadcasting Services licensees shall ensure that the programming and its presentation does not incite or perpetuate hatred against, or vilify any group of persons on the basis of ethnicity, race, gender and religion or disability. Furthermore, the Ministry has approved the Code of Conduct for broadcasters that is awaiting gazetting, which also have other provisions relating to this issue. Also in terms of section 61 (5) (c) of the Constitution, freedom of expression and freedom of media excludes advocacy of hatred or hate speech.
Madam Speaker, in conclusion, this administration is open to new ideas from stakeholders that can improve the broadcasting sector. All the amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act were discussed at an All Stakeholders Workshop in Gweru where Parliament was involved through our esteemed Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services including those stakeholders in the media industry. I thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Speaker, I want to thank the Hon. Minister for his response. I want the Hon. Minister to clarify some of the things. Hon. Minister, sustainability of these radios also depends on the content and programmes. How much freedom are you going to give to the community radios to run their own businesses as a Ministry? Are you going to donate equipment to them and even to provide money for them to start?
My other point of clarification is - how much freedom is the Ministry going to give to these radio stations so that they become more commercial in terms of attracting those people with content and programmes that they would want aired through those community radios that are paid for, that makes them more commercially run. Obviously, they will not face these financial problems that may cause them to shut down because they will plan their own income flows into the radios. Also the issue of fees, why can the Ministry not reduce the fees for the community radios considering that these are community based radios where we are trying to encourage the local people to be informed and to participate in their own development?
The other issue is to do with digitalisation. I think it is now long overdue and we would want the Minister to consider its completion so that more space is created in the airwaves to allow new players to come in. I also want the Minister to note that we are the only country with 42 years after independence still having one television station. We cannot talk of ZTN because these are Government run stations. It will be better to open up space. The Minister is quite aware that where there is freedom of information, there is always development because a lot of things are created and people can see what is happening around them and also around the world.
Lastly, would it not be prudent Hon. Minister to have a Community Radio Act which will then harmonise the various Statutory Instruments that you have been talking about that are regulating the activities of these community radios? Probably, when it started, it was a new idea but your experience so far may indicate to the fact that you now need to harmonise and come up with a proper statutory Act that will govern the operations of community radios. I thank you.
HON. MOKONE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to thank the Minister for the response that he gave but I have a few issues of clarity. In line with digitalisation that has taken so long for it to be completed, you know that Zimbabwe is one of the few countries that have not fully digitalised in the Southern Africa. When are you going to put up transmitters that cover a wide range since you have highlighted that there are so many community radios that you have opened countrywide and that you are also planning to also introduce countrywide?
As I am speaking to you right now, Ntepe-Manama Community Radio Station only has a transmitter that covers an eight kilometer radius yet other transmitters in other provinces are covering 200km radius. The other issue is that you mentioned that you are not going to open up foreign donations. Why are you not opening up foreign donations for these community radios because clearly they are suffocating, they cannot actually sustain themselves and Government is also failing to assist them?
The other issue is that Kenya allows dialects to have community radios but here in Zimbabwe, we are talking of ethnic groups, so why can you not also do the same, allow different dialects to have community radios? The other issue is that you mentioned that you cannot open online applications because of internet. I would like to find out from the Minister whether they have actually approached their counterpart in the Ministry of ICT to find out what mechanisms they can come up with so that they finish the digitalisation process so that everyone in Zimbabwe actually have access to internet. Thank you.
HON. NDEBELE: Good afternoon Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Good afternoon Hon. Ndebele.
HON. NDEBELE: I just have one point but before that Madam Speaker, let me thank both Hon. Members, the Chairperson of that Committee which went on a benchmarking visit as well as the Hon. Deputy Minister. They went to Kenya barely three, four months ago and their report has come to the House and in the same vein, the Deputy Minister has responded. It is unparalleled. Some reports get to this House four or almost five years later, meaning that we waste taxpayers’ money going on benchmarking visits which do not bear fruits. I must also thank the Minister yet again for conceding to most of their recommendations. I like the camaraderie spirit between your Committee and the Ministry. In fact, I must hasten Madam Speaker, with your permission, to say today we saw two Deputy Ministers doing very well in this House. It is really commendable.
Let me clarify the issues Madam Speaker. The Hon. Deputy Minister mentioned that they will be taking care of communities of interest such as churches by way of granting them broadcasting licencing. Is he comfortable to attach dates as to when this can be taken care of? I was listening out for the word advertising revenue or that phrase in the Minister’s statement but he sort of wiggled around that and did some egg walking; he mentioned sponsored bulletins. I do not know if it is that painful for him to allow community radio stations to also benefit from advertising revenue because the Minister, as a journalist himself, knows how to drive radios.
On the question of digitalisation, are we digitalising in stages because my fear is, there is equipment that we put on site before 2013 and by the time we say we are digitalising, that equipment might be obsolete. What consideration is in place to ensure that such infrastructure has been put in place?
The Minister speaks of 16 official languages but I know, Madam Speaker, that your Parliament has added another one, if I remember very well, Chinomba; is that taken care of Minister so that it reads 17. I think with that, I am satisfied and happy with the timeous delivery of the report as well as the response from the Hon. Minister. These are some of the beautiful stories coming out of your House Madam Speaker that I believe must be shared with His Excellency. I really thank both of you Hon. Members. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION,
PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. PARADZA): Thank you Hon. Members for your observations. Hon. Madzimure wants to know about the freedom for the community radios and also he talked about interference from Government or anyone and also goes on to talk about the commercial and so on. These community radios, the way we have structured them is that they will get their content within the community that they are operating from. So there is no interference whatsoever from Government, that is why we have also said we do not want any interference from politicians.
These radio stations are for developmental purposes so that people talk to each other within those communities about Pfumvudza/Intwasa or any other developmental activity coming from their own respective areas. So there will not be any interference from anyone because they will create their own content. The only content they can get from Government is possibly that of national interest and national news, possibly but we do not interfere but we can use the community radios for us to also send our messages to the communities. This is one way of sending our messages to the communities as Government and also for receiving messages from the community. So it is a two-way process.
Then he talked about having reduced commercial entities. No, we are not going to do that. We have already given licences to commercial radio stations and we are going to give more licences to commercial radio stations. Here, let us talk about sustainability of these community radio stations. The law is very clear that these are for the community and they are not there to make profit. They are non-profit making radio stations. There are some which are there to make profit so they must be a difference between sustainability and commercialisation.
He went on to talk about the amount of fees for the licences. Yes, I agree with him. We are going to consider that and possibly review. Digitalisation programme to be completed as soon as possible, yes we want this to be completed and it was supposed to have been completed seven years ago but because of budgetary issues, it is now 7 to 8 years down the line. We are worried as Government that technology is changing fast and we may end up losing some of these but we have so far injected more than US$70 million into this digitalisation programme. We need more money from Treasury but what is happening is that Treasury is disbursing this money in Zim dollars but all the equipment requires foreign currency.
So, what we would like Treasury to do in this instance is for Treasury to disburse to the suppliers in foreign currency rather than to give BAZ or the Ministry in ZWL. If they give us the money in ZWL, we are forced to go and queue at the Auction Floor and you know how the Auction Floor operates. Sometimes you get USD sometimes you do not. Right now, we were given a billion dollars and that billion dollars is still there. We have not received any foreign currency out of that but we are happy that the Minister of Finance released $2 million which is going to buy what we call set-top boxes so that we can start to operationalise this digitisation programme. If we have these set-top boxes, yes we can start broadcasting.
The other issue which we are considering is to sell spectrum to these mobile operators and so forth. We have tried to do that to Netone but Netone could not raise the money. So it is one of the options on the table which we are considering as Government. Hon. Madzimure, you talked of Community Radio Acts but let us have these on air first so that we can review as they are broadcasting so that we can see if the current law does not cure what we want to be cured.
Hon. Mokone you talked about lack of transmission. You are aware because you have been visiting our transmitters. We have 48 transmitters and out of those, 18 are working, 30 still have to be digitalised. So 18 are digital compliant and for these 18, we can start transmitting. On top of that, we have a satellite which covers the whole country and we can sue satellite as well. However, she talked specifically about Ntebe-Manama which we are going to launch very soon. It is already on air on trial basis and she is correct, the transmitter which we have put there, actually it is not a transmitter. We have gone to put our gadgets on the Econet base stations but we are going to get a new transmitter for Ntebe-Manama so that it can broadcast on a radius of about 80 km or so.
On foreign donations, yes we allow foreign donations from our Zimbabwean citizens in the diaspora. If we can get money donations from our people who are in the diaspora to donate to radio stations within the community that they come from, we will appreciate that. What we do not want is to have foreigners who donate then they want to control the content of the radio station; that we do not want and that is why we shun foreign donations from those people who are not citizens of Zimbabwe. However, if foreigners want to donate equipment, yes they are welcome. Our development partner, UNESCO has donated equipment to some of our three radio stations in Manicaland. We appreciate that if we can get their donations as long as they do not interfere in the editorial content of these radio stations.
On dialects, we are encouraging that and even these current radio stations; we are encouraging them to include the dialects which are spoken in those areas. However, it is going to be phase two. Here we want to have the 14 on air first then we review and then we can also issue licences to other important dialects.
In terms of internet connectivity, the Ministry of ICT have promised to put up about 300 or so base stations across the country. So, we hope that we are going to get connectivity. As soon as we get connectivity, we will do the online applications after we get that. Right now because the country is not 100% connected, it is a problem.
Hon. Ndebele, yes you are right and thank you very much for the compliment. You are aware that mass communication is always in a hurry and that is why we are always here to respond. Community of interest, yes we are going to cater for those but first we want these 14 to go on air first. Adverts, we are actually going to allow adverts on these community radio stations. They are going to get adverts from the business community around them. So we are going to get adverts even from national banks or government departments. What we want is for the radio stations to be sustainable. The community does not have money. When I went round the country to see how prepared they were, some communities especially in Beitbridge and in Madziwa were contributing a dollar each to these radio stations so that they are up and running and it was actually encouraging. Digitalization, like I said, is in phases and the Ministry is alive to the fact that technology changes. We are however going to cure that as soon as we get funding from Treasury. I think I have done justice to this.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Madam Speaker. Indeed, there are many issues, so I want to hear from the Minister because when I became an MP, we were promised that there would be more televisions and radio stations but to-date there is not much that we see. You said we are in a democratic society and there should be variety in terms of what people view and listen to (content) instead of watching one television channel, ZBC only. I remember we bought decoders and satellite dishes because there was JOY TV and KWESE TV which were all banned. You were saying things would work but how will they work when you are busy banning other players who come along? You banned Masiiwa’s Econet television. Why ban a rich person who is able to bring content? There was no politics in the past but just entertainment. Maybe you should engage these players to come back because people lost their monies. When we went to Victoria Falls, Minister Mutsvangwa said ‘we are open to other players and we are opening up our airwaves’ but we only hear about community radios. Why not have private stations with different content?
ZTV and ZBC become boring - that is why you find people going to Studio 7 where they end up hearing more negative content that you do not want them to hear. In Kenya, there is Kenya television and different radio stations. This is an open market where everyone is free. The last time we asked about the Constituency Talk, the Hon. Minister said it is an independent production, so if there was a different television, maybe we were going to get sponsorship but currently we cannot because we are regarded as opposition. I thank you.
*HON. PARADZA: Madam Speaker, I explained this when I was speaking before. Right now we have issued six licences to private players. Out of those six, two are already broadcasting. ZTN channel 294 and 3KTV channel 293 on DSTV. So the law gives these players 18 months to get their house in order and start broadcasting and the time is almost due for them to start. Most of them will start broadcasting before end of December and maybe a few will remain.
Additionally, we have an East African television called Agam television which we also permitted to broadcast in Zimbabwe. There are also commercial radio stations aside from community radio stations because that was the report brought by the Committee. We also have ZIFM, CAPITALK, STARFM, DIAMOND FM, you can listen to a variety of stations and this is what Hon. Minister Mutsvangwa was referring to. I do not know about KWESE and the past but I can talk about the new dispensation. I cannot comment about what happened in the past but we concentrate on the present which I know of.
The satellite dishes that you have can still be used to access 3KTV, ZTN and ZBC. They were not banned but the company collapsed. The company got broke and even Masiiwa’s company Mr. Dish was not banned. It was a business disagreement and has nothing to do with the Government of Zimbabwe. Government licensed a lot of stations by opening the airwaves. So let me end by saying that for the fourteen that got licenses, some of them are now broadcasting and after every one of them has started broadcasting, we are then going to continue opening the airwaves. We are going to amend the Broadcasting Services Act so that anyone who wants to apply throughout the year can do so. We also want to put an amendment in the Act that foreigners with money can partner with Zimbabweans and inject funds into the broadcasting industry so that we build a multi-million dollar industry where foreign players can own 40% whilst other countries allow 20% but in Zimbabwe, we allow 40% directorship. This will be done through the Broadcasting Services Act when amended. I believe that when the Bill comes to this august House Hon. Member, you are going to support it. I thank you.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Finance Bill [H. B. 9B, 2022].
FINANCE BILL [H. B. 9B, 2022]
Amendments to Clauses 2 and 3 put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, adopted.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
FINANCE BILL [H. B. 9B, 2022]
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I move that the Bill be read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON. TEKESHE, the House adjourned at Eighteen Minutes to Six O’clock p.m.