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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 22 NOVEMBER 2022 VOL 48 NO 91
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 22nd November, 2022
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
PRESENTATION OF THR STATE OF THR NATION ADDRESS AND OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE FIFTH SESSION OF THE NINTH PARLIAMENT
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the august House that His Excellency, the President Hon. Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa will deliver the State of the Nation address that will mark the Official Opening of the Fifth Session of the Ninth Parliament at the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden on Wednesday, 23rd November 2022.
In light of the foregoing and the need to make necessary travel related logistics, Members of Parliament (MPs) and officers of Parliament whose presence is required at the new Parliament building are requested to take note of the following:
There shall be a mandatory testing of COVID-19 for all those attending the official opening ceremony. The testing commenced today Tuesday, 22nd November, 2022 at 0800 hours at the usual Parliament Clinic.
Due to the current limited parking space at the new Parliament building, all Hon. Member and staff will be ferried by buses to and from the venue and buses will pick up Hon. Members from Nelson Mandela Avenue at Parliament Building at 0930 hours sharp.
Additionally, details pertaining to relevant logistics are provided for in the information brief that was circulated to all Hon. Members on Monday, 21st November, 2022 via email. Additionally, I should add - be guided accordingly by Whips and follow their guidance to the letter.
I also have to inform the House that the new Parliament building has not yet been officially handed over to the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe. A special request was made to hold the Official Opening of the Fifth Session of the 9th Parliament and State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the new Building, which was deemed a suitable venue for the occasion and the Chinese acceded to the request. Hon. Members will be taken for a familiarisation tour once the handover has been done and Hon. Members will be informed accordingly.
HON. T. MOYO: Hon. Speaker, I rise on a point of national interest which arises from the adoption of African Disability Protocol of 2018. The African Disability Protocol is very important. Its aim is to ensure that the conditions of people who live with disabilities are improved. It is a clarion call for Zimbabwe to ratify and also adopt the African Disability Protocol. Zimbabwe has not adopted this protocol despite the fact it is an initiative that was started in 2018 by the African Union. So it is very important Mr. Speaker Sir, for us as Zimbabwe to adopt and also ratify the African Disability Protocol so that the conditions of women in particular who are disabled, and people who have albinism, are going to be improved. Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue and I thank you for that.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Clerk will engage the Hon. Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to bring the documentation for ratification accordingly.
HON. CHINHAMO-MASANGO: I rise on a point of privilege. Section 81 (1) of the Constitution defines a child as a boy or girl below the age of 18. The Marriage Act introduces the minimum age of marriage and prohibits any person under the age of 18 to enter into a marriage. This was further elaborated in the constitutional ruling that establishes the age of sexual consent to 18. In light of that Mr. Speaker Sir, as a Member of Parliament and a Member of the Parliamentary Child Rights Caucus, I am aggrieved that our young girls are now being taken as wives or mothers at a tender age destroying their bright future.
Children’s rights are being violated left, right and centre and yet the perpetrators are walking scot free. The children, by virtue of being human beings, have rights that must be respected too. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance. Is that what these children are getting from us the adults? No! What we witness in today’s world, especially here in Zimbabwe is a sad story. How can one sleep with a nine year old or a Grade Four child and enjoy sex? This is just a tip of the iceberg as I believe there are more cases being swept under the carpet. Where is the Government? Where is the Judiciary? Where is the Legislature? What are we doing as responsible leaders? We cannot continue as a nation to have young girls’ lives being destroyed by morons who have no respect for children’s rights. Mr. Speaker Sir, in here we are all adults and we know that when a married woman is deemed not able to perform well in bed anodzoserwa kwatete. Ko kamwana ako kano performer zvakanaka pabonde here iko kachichema kachirwadziwa? Ndiko kunakidza kwacho here nhai Speaker?
Mr. Speaker Sir, whilst the Government must act in haste to strengthen the current laws and ensure that the children of Zimbabwe live and play wherever they are without any fear of being abused, abducted, killed for rituals or raped, just to mention but a few, please let us do enough so that the rights of children, particularly that the girl-child is protected from the evils that are currently taking place across our beautiful country Zimbabwe. Where is our girl-child safe? At home with the parents, no! At school with the teachers, no! At church, no! The girl-child is not safe anywhere, so we need action now. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, do not take away the Chair’s authority in terms of response to the question of national interest. When you have said, ‘oh, that is powerful’ what can I say as the Presiding Officer? Manditorera sadza pamuromo. On a more serious note deserving the matter of national interest as raised by Hon. Masango, I recommend that Hon. Masango should come up with a motion so that the House can debate fully and come up with suggestions on the matter. Agreed Hon. Masango?
HON. CHINHAMO-MASANGO: Yes.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you.
*HON. CHIKOMBO: My issue pertains to the issue regarding the shortage of water that has hit the City of Harare. The city has no chemicals to treat the water due to a shortage of foreign currency to buy the chemicals. The Government is not assisting the City of Harare. We notice that the problem is mainly affecting areas such as Glenview, Kambuzuma, Budiriro, amongst others. You will recall that in 2008, we lost a lot of lives to Typhoid and other water-borne diseases. If the Government is not going to intervene and have the people at heart, more people are going to die to water-borne diseases.
Mr. Speaker, we urge and the Government as you would know that the Water Act is presided over by the President, it is our plea that if chemicals can be secured and have Kunzvi Dam and Musami Dam assist Lake Chivero because Lake Chivero on its own is failing to cater for the people in Harare. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Chikombo. I think the matter will be raised with the Hon. Minister of Local Government so that he can liaise with the Governor of the Reserve Bank and ensure that the matter is attended to. Your suggestion that perhaps we need to look at other sources of water like the dams you have mentioned, that also is related to the Hon. Minister responsible for water, Hon. Dr. Masuka. Thank you.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you very much. Good afternoon Mr. Speaker. My point of national interest pertains to the tobacco industry which, as we know, is our largest cash crop earner. The tobacco industry is overseen by the Tobacco Industries Marketing Board, which overlooks the farmers marketing to the industries. We saw in the press that the CEO and one other person had been suspended because of corrupt activities. However, the major corruption in the Tobacco Industries Marketing Board is on the I.T side. They have created an App called Re-entry but what it does is that when your stop orders there and you pay the manager, you close all your stop orders for 24 hours while you market your tobacco. This is being enacted by tobacco buying companies. This is being enacted by the Government on TIMB and a whistle-blower came forth and told the powers that be, both in TIMB and eventually the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission or the people who have initiated the initial audit action but not on this App Re-entry. This is phenomenal because by stopping it, you are stopping Government from taking their money. Therefore, we cannot recoup our legacy debt and our revenue drops. What is shocking is the whistleblower has been dismissed for three months wages. No benefits other than the three months’ wages. He has notified the TIMB Board through the Chairman, he has notified the Ministry of Agriculture through the PS and yet nothing has happened.
The CEO however, is on full benefits including his fuel allowance but the whistleblower has been fired in essence. My concern is, we here in Parliament should be protecting people like that and overseeing issues like this. How can a whistleblower come to this House when the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee is under similar charges? When this happened with Hon. Mliswa, with the Mining Committee, he stood aside honourably and we have sat still as a House for two or three months since the charges were laid and nothing has happened. Mr. Speaker, I seek your guidance. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much Hon. Markham. We appreciate your observation. The matter is being pursued by ZACC but none-the-less, why do you not put your question in writing so that the responsible Minister can respond accordingly?
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker for your guidance, but I would like to point out to you that if I do a written question, on average, my written questions are taking two to three months to be read out. Secondly, we have a defunct Committee for Agriculture, purely because our Chairman is under the same charge. I therefore seek your guidance that who do we go to at this point? Can the Minister not give us a ministerial statement that the matter is in hand because he knows about it and also explain to us why the whistleblower was fired?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. Perhaps we can ask the Hon. Minister to give us a ministerial statement but at the same time… -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- Order, order, order Hon. Members. Hon. Matangira, Hon. Matangira, order! Hon. Members, there is an Hon. Member who drives a Land Cruiser, white in colour, registration AEG3390, it is blocking other vehicles. Can the owner attend to it immediately?
HON. MARKHAM: I rise on a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. You were halfway through something before you were rudely interrupted by someone walking in here and you did not finish.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I had agreed with you Hon. Markham that a Ministerial Statement should be made accordingly and also let us find out how far the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has gone in terms of gazetting the Whistleblowers Bill. I thank you.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 22 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 23 on today’s Order Paper has been disposed of.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
THIRD REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ON THE PROVISION OF SANITARY WEAR IN RURAL SCHOOLS
Twenty Third Order read: Adjourned debate on Motion on the Third Report of the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education on the provision of sanitary wear in rural schools, progress made on the construction and refurbishment of schools.
Question again proposed.
*HON. MUCHENJE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me the opportunity to also add my voice on to the report by the relevant Portfolio Committee and I would want to start with infrastructure development. Most of the infrastructure in rural areas is appalling. There are no good buildings that we can talk of. If we come up with a policy on construction of schools, there should be sufficient buildings and good toilets so that children in rural areas can attend school because the majority of people in communal lands are unable to further their education because of the unconducive environment that they learn in. For example, in Gokwe, we observed that the majority of schools were not good in terms of infrastructure development. There should be construction of schools first before the Ministry allows children to attend specific schools.
In terms of online lessons, all the children that are in the communal lands did not do well in the public examinations because in the majority of cases, adults in communal lands do not use cellphones because of the non-availability of network. It becomes an insurmountable challenge for a school child to then access online lessons. It is now the rainy season and parents receive seed maize and fertilizers because we know that they do not have adequate means to provide for themselves, so a lot of children that are in communal lands were unable to attend online lessons because they do not have the necessary gadgets to facilitate online education. They did not have money to buy data, there was no WiFi, - hence nothing much came out as benefit of online lessons to the communal school children.
We need to first investigate the environment that we want to set up programmes, taking into account the fact that some of these schools are rural based. Most of the cases are of the rural areas, even in this Parliament, the majority of our constituencies are rural constituencies. So the majority of these rural schools should be looked at when we talk of infrastructure development. The rural populace should be seriously considered as they are in the majority because in the national examinations, they did not achieve much.
On the issue of sanitary wear, since I am a woman, I have experience on sanitation, that sanitary wear should be provided. People should be honest about it; there are certain schools that are unaware that there is free sanitation that is being provided for girls because pieces of clothes or rugs are not there and outdated. There are no blankets, so it becomes difficult for one to use a piece of cloth or pany as a pad. It is my view that those in rural schools should have adequate sanitary wear so that a girl child can hygienically look after herself and also attend schools without any hustles and in a hygienic manner. I reiterate that the girl child is important. All of us in this august House came out of a woman. Our little girls are falling pregnant at eight to nine years, so there is need for sanitary wear. The quantities of sanitary wear should be improved because many of these girls are getting into menstruation. I thank you.
+HON. DR. LABODE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Today I will debate in Ndebele. We went around the whole country. The sad thing is on this sanitary wear issue. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should carry out an audit because some of those schools - we had to go close to the border with Mozambique. Some of those schools do not even know anything about sanitary wear, so it is either the sanitary wear was not bought or it was procured and diverted to pharmacies where it is being sold or it was procured but at a very high price. It is very sad; when we asked the children about sanitary wear, they were wondering what it is all about. The saddest thing is that in those schools where we heard about ICT being installed, there is no electricity so how can we have ICT services, like in Rushinga - we found one teacher manning 600 pupils. How do they learn, only God knows? That situation is replicated in other rural areas, especially in Matabeleland North and South. I say so because my team was in Mashonaland. It is so painful that we talk of introducing online education yet we are not ready for that. Some schools are not built well while others have better structures. Yes the roads are tarred; it all depends on who the provincial officer is. So who is doing that, maybe they are the ones who are diverting things.
We discovered that on BEAM, in Mashonaland, everyone is paid under BEAM, 90% yet in Matabeleland it is only 30%. So those school children cannot be sent away if they are paid for under BEAM. Let us agree that all pupils must be paid for under BEAM so that we deal with the issue. We heard some complaints about some of those things. I was very glad to the Mashonaland people. Some of the roads were very bad, otherwise it is very difficult to travel, and indeed pupils go through a very difficult time. I thank you
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Moyo, did you go back to the Committee to interrogate the Minister about your findings?
HON. T. MOYO: We were hoping that after the debate, we were going to adopt the report and the Hon. Minister will come to the House with the response.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you for that clarification.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. It is difficult for me to keep secrets. Thank you for indulging me Mr. Speaker Sir. I really appreciate this. This country is really a spiritual country. As I was coming from the village in Shurugwi, there is something that was haunting me along the way. The question was - okay we are going to the New Parliament but were the traditional leaders of the area informed of the structure? Do you also know about it? Even those who are dead are respected, you see the grave before you bury the person. How come we never got the opportunity to even see the structure? One of the issues that came to me is, ko building ikangodonha musina kutevedza chivanhu chenyu muchaita sei? I am really strong at that - processes in terms of us being there, who are the chiefs? Isusu tirikuenda ikoko hatizive kune toilet, kungopinzwa semombe dziri kungotinhwa kudhibhi. To me, I thought it was the worst disregard for Members of Parliament to go to an institution, a new building - even your own new house, you see it before you get in. It really troubled me and knowing you that you follow the traditional aspect, the Christianity of this country, ko baba wedu sei wati tinopinda mumba tisingazive kuti takamira sei? Mumwe achaenda kutoilet osangana nevakadzi ikoko, vakadzi vosangana nevarume. Ini ndaona zvichindinetsa.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, you came a bit late. We have discussed this issue already. We said it is a temporary arrangement. We could not get a place at the HICC and the building is not officially opened. I want to inform you that before the digging started, the local chief did what he was supposed to do in terms of chivanhu. When the building is officially handed over, I think we are also going to do chivanhu first to receive the building. In the announcement that I made, Members of Parliament will be taken on a tour of the whole building so that they are familiar with the building. That was announced before you came.
*HON. MADHUKU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on this wonderful job that was done by the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education. We went around this country on a familiarisation tour because this is an important Ministry, which is the foundation for development. All other programmes such as the National Development Strategy precede from a sound education foundation.
The Government is trying its best in development programmes, especially schools in rural areas. With regards to schools in rural areas, there are some schools that have been running for a long time now and they are not registered under ZIMSEC. When it comes to examinations, pupils cannot sit for examinations at the school. What is the problem with ZIMSEC in terms of issuing examination centre numbers? Pupils end up going to temporary boarding schools. Sometimes, they have to travel 10 to 15 kilometres and look for accommodation nearby where they go with their food. When pupils stay under such facilities, they come across a lot of abuse. Right now, there are cases of abuse of eight or nine year children. There are problems that emanate from such kinds of arrangements. Sometimes the children engage in drugs. They travel 10 to 15 kilometres away from their homes and no one is able to monitor them. Sometimes they run out of food and that leads to abuse by adults who may take advantage of the situation.
My appeal is; the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must register schools that have been there for a long time but are not examination centres. We have realised that children with disabilities face challenges when they go to such schools to write examinations. That becomes a big challenge to the parents as well as the community. That issue must be rectified immediately so that our children go to school easily. They should be able to sit for examinations in their usual environments instead of transferring to a different environment that they are not familiar with.
Hon. Speaker Sir, there is another point that has been repeated over and over about sanitary wear. We realised that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education was supposed to start distributing sanitary wear in rural areas instead of starting with schools in urban areas. This is because in the rural areas, there are needier pupils. These pupils end up using unhygienic material that may compromise their health. The other problem that we have is, the procurement system of sanitary wear is bureaucratic. Sometimes, it takes a long time for procurement to take place. The other problem that we realised is that there is centralised procurement. This does not bring about progress, we should decentralise so that we have something happening at provincial level. Our Constitution speaks about decentralisation and that is what we should follow. There is need that everything moves smoothly and efficiently. There is also need for monitoring and evaluation because some of the goods that are being purchased are substandard. Some girls are even saying no to the sanitary wear because it is substandard. The Committee responsible for the procurement of sanitary wear should do their duty diligently - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: May the Hon. Member be heard in silence please.
*HON. MADHUKU: We expect our ministries to work hand-in-hand so that we produce quality goods.
On school feeding programme, this was passed at UN level. This programme is necessary for school children; hence their health improves. Headmasters and teachers should be sensitised about this programme and they should be given land, seed and fertilizer so that they - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members, order please.
*HON. MADHUKU: Government can assist by giving food but schools should also produce and use their produce. The Ministry of Education should also intervene and assist the schools in order to support Government efforts; hence our children will be healthy. I thank you.
+HON. MATHE: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to debate in this special Parliament. We are debating on the visits or hearings made by the Committee on Education in relation to the problems that learners face nation-wide.
These days our children need to do on-line learning. In Matabeleland North, Tsholotsho and Nkayi, there was no network. We could not contact each other because of network challenges. For our education to improve, ministries should work hand-in-hand so that they come up with a plan that will be supported by all ministries in order to come up with something tangible.
On sanitary wear, we found that at Kezi – there was a small box which had less than 20 pads. When you ask the Ministry, they will tell you that they have given pads to all schools but other schools had none.
We also went into classrooms and asked learners if they knew what sanitary pads are. Most learners did not know what it is. We even went deeper and asked them what they use and they said they used cow dung, leaves and newspapers during this era yet the Government of Zimbabwe has released money for sanitary pads. These pads are not there in schools. Let there be a way, when allocation for sanitary pads is released, it is given to all schools so that the heads of schools can go and buy such that schools benefit.
The Ministry, in consultation with other ministries that construct schools, should agree that there be a girl child friendly toilet which should be a must. Every secondary school should have a girl child friendly toilet which will leave a girl child able to wash and tidy herself during menstruation time. She can also wash the used pads, dry them and then come back and collect it. This type of a toilet dignifies a girl child. The child friendly toilet will have mirrors and will allow the girl child to beautify herself.
Lastly Madam Speaker, what I would like to speak on is that children are engaging in sexual relationships whilst they are young. Can we not find a way of protecting these children? The issue of teenage pregnancy and early sexual intercourse can be avoided if this Parliament can agree that when COVID-19 started, the Ministry of Health went around educating people on what COVID-19 was about. Then there was the issue of HIV which most of us have. There were many Committees that went out to teach people on the ground what HIV was all about. We are appealing Madam Speaker that we have Committees that are selected among the community to go and teach our children. People who can be selected are village health workers. These Committees should be elaborative on what dangers are encountered in relation to early sexual intercourse.
We have just heard two cases of early child pregnancies but very soon we will hear a lot of them. I appeal Madam Speaker that there should be elderly people going around teaching our children on the dangers of indulging in sexual intercourse at an early age.
*HON. NYABANI: I would like to add a few words. As you are aware that education is very important, especially looking at the education sector, where I come from, Rushinga, Mt Darwin and Mbire, what Hon. Labode said here that in some schools there will be one teacher manning the whole school yet CALA was introduced; imagine that teacher must take care of ECD to Grade 7 pupils. Do you think they can pass? They write the same examination and are expected to pass. Do you think that is reasonable? That is actually destroying one tribe indirectly.
I come here and I am expected to become a Minister. How can I be a Minister when I am not educated? We want the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to look at those issues. Where I come from in Rushinga, a teacher has to travel three kilometres to look for network to make a phone call yet that person may have better access where they come from. They will refuse to stay at the school because the conditions are unfavourable for them. Government should consider that when they install transmitters or network boosters, teachers must be considered.
Teachers should also be considered with regards to devolution. Teachers who come from other places, for example Rushinga, may not be able to stand those conditions because they are not used to those conditions. Recruitment should be such that teachers are employed in their respective districts. I am grateful that was done in Rushinga, maybe to silence me but in Mt. Darwin, that did not happen. My appeal is that in all rural districts, teachers must be recruited depending on the districts where they come from.
We understand that schools have to do computers as a subject. How can you do computers when there is no electricity or network? Government must install solar panels as well as electricity in order for computer education to be successful. My expectation is that as we look into the coming year that we are going into, Government did very well by providing computers in primary schools but now we realise that there will be one teacher manning the whole school. How can the pupils pass when they are taught by one teacher - the whole school? How can they pass when they are not taught? How can they get 5 ‘O’levels when there are no teachers? The police or army require 5 ‘O’levels for one to be recruited. So how can it happen when there are no teachers? I appeal that teachers be provided all the time and a teacher must be employed in their respective district in which they come from.
*HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you for this opportunity that you have given me to add my opinion and support the motion that was presented by Hon. T. Moyo on Primary and Secondary Education which speaks to the challenges that affect children in schools. The Ministry should consider providing sanitary wear to schools in rural areas because students there face more challenges. When they reach their menstruation period, they have sanitary pads to use. Looking at good hygiene, a girl that does not use sanitary wear can be affected in the near future if they use products like cow dung or leaves. This can even affect the fertility of the child and can end up not conceiving in the future. Children need to have proper sanitary wear so that they can use them and prevent themselves from such conditions.
Children in urban areas can access sanitary wear from the shops and can learn how to use the sanitary wear from television sets and other social media sites. Children in rural areas have never had access to television and they do not know what a sanitary pad is and how it is used properly. I therefore encourage the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to take this programme to the rural areas and not just dwell in urban areas.
Then on the issue of schools, especially in Matebeleland, most of our schools are still below standard and do not even have suitable furniture. The children will be sitting on the floor. So, I am urging the Ministry of Education to consider building schools in rural areas and give them proper furniture. We also need boreholes so that the children can have clean and safe water. For children that have reached menstruation age, if they mess themselves up, they do not have anywhere to wash up. In some areas, they have already drilled boreholes but they do not have installations to draw the water from the ground. So I appeal for solar panels to be supplied so that it is easy to pump the water from the ground. This will assist the children from poor backgrounds. Even those that will have messed themselves up can wash and look presentable again. It affects them psychologically if they cannot clean themselves because other children will laugh at them.
In conclusion, people will end up saying children in Matebeleland South are not educated; they just want to cross the border going to South Africa. This is because the education in South Africa is different from that which is provided here. The Ministry of Education should also go to the rural areas and ensure these children do not only focus on going to South Africa but they also learn scientific subjects so that they can also be lawyers or doctors, just like other children. There is no ICT infrastructure and technology is still a thing to be heard of. They are failing to access technology in the same way they are failing to access education. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Good afternoon Madam Speaker. I hope that being a farmer you have already started planting. I would like to contribute to this debate which was moved by Hon. Moyo, which I think is thought-provoking in many ways and also makes us interrogate our own laws that we passed in this House. As we speak, there is the Bindura case where an 8-year-old was raped by two boys and after that we had another 7 year old rape case.
Madam Speaker, if you recall, sometime ago we had a law that we passed in this House which dealt with sex education. I think it was a law to do with comprehensive sex education. I think Hon. Labode brought it up and that law had quite a lot in it. I even remember asking in this Parliament who had passed that law because MPs debated strongly against children who are made pregnant to continue with school. We went against it yet the law was passed. So basically, it is that very same law which is making children to become pregnant because they can go to school. There was no age stipulated that at this point-in-time, you can continue if you are pregnant. That is why you have seen the increase of young children getting pregnant because the law allows them to be pregnant and to continue going to school. I am saying this because there is a law which talks about 18 years being the age of consent but we have two laws which do not talk to each other. In the law allowing children to go to school while they are pregnant, there was no specific age limit, which means even a girl who is nine months old can be pregnant and continue going to ECD. I do not know if Members of Parliament have interrogated this extensively. We then argued against that law but that law found its way and became law. So, who are we now to stop a child from being pregnant when they are seven years old, when this House passed a law stipulating that as long as they are going to school, they can continue going to school?
We were going against a law which said when a child is pregnant they are expelled. Our sisters managed to see themselves to who they are today because they were scared of being expelled, but there is no child today who is scared of being expelled. The sex education aspect of it was critical in that they should be taught about sex and contraceptives but it still contradicts itself. How do you introduce contraceptives when you allow them to be pregnant? Let us look at this law and interrogate it. I have been saying that as legislators, we must admit that this law is not working and the increase in the early child marriages is absolutely unacceptable but it continues. Not only that, but the people who are suffering the most are the poor. Most of us can afford $200 for abortion when our children get pregnant but people in the rural areas cannot afford that.
I have done some analysis and have statistics in which probably 30% to 40% of girls have an abortion. I did this because most of the girls I used to go out with, I would talk to them and they would share with me that when they were young, they went through an abortion. I studied how many told me that and my analysis showed me that 40% had an abortion. However, these girls came from rich families and they continued with school. This law has made the poor in the rural areas poorer and that is the end of it. The mother cannot say anything; the mother is not educated to stand up for the rights of the girl child. They are told to keep quiet.
There is also the economic situation which has made these figures go high. The best way to make money is to marry off your child. Not only that, but religion, churches and pastors are marrying off children especially some of the apostolic faith churches. We cannot allow children to suffer for political expedience. Just because you want to be in power, we must not rein in on a certain religion yet they are giving each other five to seven year olds as wives then they go about saying they support President E. D. Mnangagwa yet they go against the law and destroy the lives of these youngsters. The President must be careful with such people because the real vote is from those that are young and they must be protected. So, why are you not zeroing in after a lot of stories have come up? Why are we allowing them to get away and not be charged in terms of raping these young children at the end of the day. So to me, that is also an issue that needs to be looked into seriously. There is the issue of sanitary wear - the level of corruption has reached unprecedented levels. Condoms you find them in beer halls for free and so forth. I have always said that condoms are optional but sanitary wear is not optional. It is something which a girl child must have. Ndiko kuvakwakwa kwaitwa munhukadzi naMwari. Hapana option. People are so cruel to be selling it yet we have passed a law that it must be made for free. We have even said to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education that we are prepared to pick these sanitary wear at district education offices and distribute them to the schools.
Not only that, most of the schools have Fashion and Fabrics Classes; why are they not giving money to those schools so that they can produce their sanitary wear? That is empowerment. That is devolution. You are also empowering the local communities by making sure that women and girls can produce their sanitary wear, which is reusable and cheaper. They are making their own; it is decent, they accept it, you have given them money and you have empowered them. Why are we not picking companies to be able to do it? What is the role of the women in communities?They are given sewing machines and that is an empowerment initiative. Power and money devolves so I am asking myself whether we have gotten to a point where we cannot empower local communities in that aspect. Why have we not been able to empower these local communities?
This issue also becomes scientific. There is also GMO. The GMO foods that the children are taking today are making them bigger and there is the aspect of hormones. If I am not mistaken, for you to want to be sexual, you must reach a certain level but these GMO foods that we are bringing in are destroying us. Science has got to come in and investigate the effects of GMOs. You have got to understand one thing - Hon. Labode spoke about the Kagame way of doing things. We must empower the President because there are two options in this county which are lawful and allow for abortion – one when the mother is in danger and when the child is in danger. May the President be empowered that any child at the age of 7 or less than 18 abort and give them contraceptive of a long time. We now need to move that law as Members of Parliament. We cannot allow a nation where grandchildren are lactating. What life is that? What country is that? May we allow the President to be very clear that any child who is below 18 years who is pregnant, abort and go on contraception. We must be very clear about this because this is the only way we can stop this.
We have a situation where a child is allowed to go to school when she is pregnant. Madam Speaker, you know that when women are pregnant, they have habits. So, how can you be in a class with one who is pregnant but they are spitting. I want to give you the scenario of the law that you passed. The class becomes a spitting class. You cannot stop the child from spitting because she is pregnant. Why have we allowed this to happen? Why have we allowed to turn schools into maternity wards? To me it is very important that the legislature, with immediate effect, moves in to change these issues so that we protect the girl child. It is absurd and unheard of because today that is the headline every day. We now do not know how many are pregnant who are quiet.
The Ministry itself runs the education system and where is the aspect of sex education. Where is the aspect of the traditional way of educating the aunts and uncles to educate our children? Where is that? We are not seeing that. When we grew up, we were sent to the village. We would go to Rusape to my grandmother. At times you would see the girls with my grandmother. We would go to Silobela to my grandmother on the paternal side. The girls now understand why every holiday we would go there because they would be taught how upbringing should be. People in the rural areas are able to tell whether a child is sexually active or not. By us not taking our children to the rural areas, we have also stopped that eye that sees that this child is not okay.
I remember going to the rural areas as a family with some of our brothers and cousins and the next thing one of our cousins was pregnant. It was picked up by our grandmother. The next thing we heard she was pregnant because our grandmother had seen the habits. Mothers of today do not have time for children because they are breadwinners. At what time do they have to observe a child but our grandmother was able to pick it up. We then realised that this was the situation.
On the economic situation and I want to speak to the women. If you do not stand up and be counted to seeing your own daughter becoming who you are, you do not have to go to heaven. You belong to hell. Why should you allow your child to be married because of the economic situation where you keep quiet? The most dangerous person in the home can be a mother. She knows all the secrets and she keeps them. Are you telling me that the mother cannot tell that this child is pregnant? A child gives birth at seven years old and seven years old is also the power the President must say at seven years; you have not grown up. You cannot look after yourself and as such, order an abortion. How do we encourage one to be a mother at seven years?
In the Bindura situation, you could see that an eight-year-old girl was raped by two boys who are 16. This is child play. Why should we allow child play to be taken seriously? It is a level of immaturity. And then we say congratulations, you now have a baby. No wonder why people vote at the age of 18. The law is very clear because you are mature when you are 18. At 16 you are not mature. If ever you have to ask her between the two boys who the father is, she does not know. We cannot allow this to happen at the end of the day. That is why sanitary wear is important as I close because sanitary wear gives dignity to the girl child. If the girl child does not have sanitary wear, people end up finding ways to these young kids yet it is supposed to be for free. Poverty cannot make people get to a point where humanity is lost. We cannot allow that to happen Madam Speaker. Those people and I hope that the Chairman has recommended that there must be an investigation. Refer it to ZACC and there must be prosecution with immediate effect because we cannot continue like this. This is taxpayer’s money which is meant to go to the good of the girl child at the end of the day.
I want to close by saying it is therefore important that the economic situation must improve. We can never allow a situation where there is no equitable distribution of wealth between the urban and rural areas. It is about time that legislators move that we cannot do a, b, c until the rural constituencies get into this level. You now have a situation where the urban constituencies are ahead and the rural constituencies behind. So may we push that we stifle progress in the urban: they can do what they want and then push aside the rural issues because we want to live in one country. We are living in two different countries - the rural and the urban.
Members of Parliament in the rural areas will tell you how difficult it is. There is no network, Hon. Mathe spoke about there being no network; you are a Member of Parliament, you are supposed to be receiving a guest from Parliament, you do not even know where you are. We cannot do that in this era, not only that communication is power. While we want to put hotlines for these children to phone when they are in trouble, how do they phone when there is no network? WhatsApp is cheaper, how do they have access to WhatsApp when there is no network, when no one has money for airtime? So the lack of communication, lack of digitalisation system results in all these happenings at the end of the day.
I want to thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to be able to debate and to say may we relook at our laws, may this Parliament before it ends, come up with a law that children who are under 18, who are pregnant, there is need for automatic abortion and use of contraceptives. There is no way anybody wants her girl child to be dependent on another man. If you do that it will continue, she will be a mother at seven and when she also has children, she will equally do the same to those children to be mothers when they are young. When is the nation going at the end of the day?
I want to thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity and also to say to women Members of Parliament, for example you Hon. Mpariwa, you had a good upbringing, today you are a Minister, you are this and that because of hunhu hwedu. This should start with us Members of Parliament; let us go back to our culture. With the CDF fund, build houses so that aunties can come and teach these children, because without that we have no nation to talk about at the end of the day. Thank you.
*HON. RAIDZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to contribute to the debate on this report. With regards to progress on the distribution of sanitary pads to school pupils as well as infrastructure in various areas, I would like to thank the Committee. Indeed, what they discovered is the truth on the ground. First of all, I would like to talk about the infrastructure especially in rural schools, it is in a very bad state. Most of our infrastructure shows that it is dilapidated and has not been refurbished over a long time. I would like to encourage this House as well as Government, to come up with a plan that can assist rural schools to be refurbished after five or ten years because even our buildings, if we do not renovate them, they become dangerous to the inhabitants.
These days because of the rains due to climate change, most schools remain without roofs and are affected by winds and rains to an extent that pupils run out of shelter for their education. So, I consider it a very serious issue that Government should prioritise and implement a strong programme including the involvement of parents as well as local authorities. There must be a plan to work on such things. Most rural schools are at great risk to the pupils, one day we will realise a lot of disasters emanating from those institutions. I urge the Ministry to take these recommendations seriously in order to ensure that our pupils are assisted.
Mr. Speaker Sir, with regards to sanitary pads, at the Pre-Budget Seminar it was stated that the Ministry is allocated funds after discussing and debating over this issue for a long time. We realised that there are a lot of things that take place. Sometimes money is deposited but it will not be enough for the procurement of those pads. What we realised is that there was lack of capacity on the Ministry’s side. There were challenges in terms of procurement of those pads, from procurement to supply side. Sometimes the delays may be due to corruption. So there should be thorough scrutiny when Treasury releases those funds. Why do they delay the procurement of the required items because pads are very important items for the girl child?
We also encourage them that it is not about procuring from their friends because the Second Republic Government has a whole government approach. That speaks to the interrelation between ministries and that should ensure the quicker distribution of those items. Some ministries can actually take up that opportunity, for example the SME sector should supply those pads which would ensure that we do not spend foreign currency but instead we create employment and business for the locals. There should not be excuses on the delay of the procurement and distribution of those pads. Why should it be Harare doing that? That should be looked into strongly. If funds are allocated it should reach the intended benefit. We realised that sometimes people may frustrate the process if they do not benefit personally in a corrupt way. Government led by the President has allocated funds for that but along the way, we see corruption taking place and frustrating that process. That is a very touching issue. As Hon. Members, we should ensure that those funds are released and benefit the intended beneficiaries immediately.
It is a very important issue that we should look into strongly. I thank you.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for allowing me to add my voice on this very noble motion before us, by the Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, as ably led by Hon. Moyo. I want to agree with the majority of speakers before me, suffice to say that what I have identified whilst interacting with some children within my constituency is that in pursuit of their education, and I want to believe that this inquiry was made largely in pursuit of making sure that we provide quality education by the services of basic things which are; sanitary wear and the housing or infrastructure under which these children are supposed to partake their lessons.
More importantly, allow me to take this challenge back to us as Parliament that I have also identified and as has been done by other Hon. speakers before me, that us as Parliament, at least at times we focus on the Constitution when we are aligning our laws but we are not focusing on the laws themselves, whether they are talking to each other. So you find a particular law which is correct in terms of aligning it to the Constitution but it then overrides or takes away the rights as enshrined in the other particular law.
Hon. Mliswa ably managed to put that point across and I just want to emphasise but I am not very sure which Committee is supposed to look at that. Perhaps it is the Parliamentary Legal Committee to say as we are passing one particular piece of legislation, how is it affecting other pieces of legislation which are to do with the subject matter which Cabinet or the Government wants to address too. I have also seen in various other court judgments that the judges have bounced back these issues to Parliament to say this is a legitimate law passed by Parliament but they are contradicting each other. So which law then takes precedence over the other?
I want to believe that there is a Child Justice Bill that is before us. When matters are to do with the rights of a child, can we ensure that our wording puts it across and captures that this Child Justice Bill will have clauses that override or that put together the rights of the children as captured in the other various pieces of legislation. I say so because this is to do with pads and infrastructure but with regards to the rights of this particular child whom we want to go to school, some are even failing to go to school because of identity.
A matter that I got on Friday was that a father wanted to be an informant for birth certificate of a particular child now doing Grade 7 and in preparation for examination, but whereas there is a court ruling that says previously only a mother could become an informant, but now even a father can become an informant because what happens to the mother can also happen to the father in terms of gender parity issues. We have not aligned our laws for us to be able to deal with that. So the people at the Registrar’s Office are still taking only the father to become the informant.
So as a father, if I have my child and the mother has gone for some other reason, I cannot go and become an informant for the purposes of birth registration for my particular child. I want to believe that these are some of the issues which we need to take care of as Parliament. I want to also challenge or implore on the Minister of Justice, to have a sharp eye with regards to all the judgments that come from the courts which are supposed to be sanitised and put into law by this Parliament because we have various judgments which are now precedent which the courts are now saying they are law but Parliament has not put them into statutes and the various Government departments are not yet implementing them because they have not yet been put into the respective structure of law enactment with regards to Parliament.
I will then move over to the issue of sanitary pads. We were at the Pre-Budget Seminar and there was evidence of failure to procure yet the money was there. The Minister of Education, sitting at the high table and I remember the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance was seated with the Ministers and Deputy Ministers, he put a challenge to the Minister of Education to say ‘I even wrote a letter to you that we have given you money – what problems are you facing in producing these sanitary pads?’ There was no clear answer coming from the Ministry of Education.
So in our interaction with the Ministry of Education, let them be clear and honest enough to say that we are largely interested in providing education for our children. These issues of procurement need assistance and therefore, we end up facilitating that they can be assisted because the Ministry of Finance released the money but the Ministry of Education kept on moving, winding for them to be able to procure this essential material.
Hon. Speaker, we are under Education 5.0, are we telling ourselves as Parliament with these brains that I see in here and in our universities where graduations are happening year in year out, that we fail to have a department that can produce sanitary pads? We fail to have a department at the National University of Science and Technology and University of Zimbabwe and at various universities throughout the country that can fail to produce what in my view looks to be a piece of cotton clothed on some clean material for our children to use. I think we are not thinking enough and we are not being innovative enough.
I take a challenge from the Chinese – they have various equipment that they have put into Zimbabwe which we are told that they have been produced by university students, some which have become revolutionary. The Changfa Engine for example, has replaced electric power in the majority of rural areas and mining is happening but we are told that was produced at a university college in China. Are we failing to challenge our students in various universities for them to produce sanitary pads? I leave it to the House so that when we make the necessary interactions with the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education especially during the budget time, we put them to task that if they have been given this money which was meant to procure sanitary pads perhaps outside the country, could they not have made better use of it in terms of capacitating universities and vocational colleges for them to come up with sanitary pad machinery and material?
My third point Hon. Speaker and I want to agree with the recommendations of the Committee that a full enquiry must be made in terms of tracing every cent that was released for the purposes of procuring sanitary wear. We have been in an era whereby people abuse Government funding and reports are made, condemnation is done and we move over. I think we need to begin to come out of that particular mode and put everyone to account. Where did this money go – certainly it was released by the Ministry of Finance but the pads did not find their way to the schools – what happened in-between? Some heads must begin to roll. I think the moment we begin to do that, from a parliamentary perspective, from ZACC anti-corruption perspective, from a policing perspective, I think we will begin to achieve results with regards to public funding.
My fourth point is on construction, which is one of their items of inquiry. There is a report that once came out in the press to say 3 000 schools have been built between 2018 and now. I think the Committee did well to go on the ground and said for this particular year, under this particular budget where 45 schools have been budgeted for, what happened? What is it that is happening with regards to the budget? I propose that we get a schedule of exactly what happened between 2018 and now. If there are schools that have been completed, we celebrate. Those that are halfway through, we want to know how much was budgeted; how much was disbursed so that at least as we interact with the Hon. Minister of Finance - we realise at the Pre-Budget, the majority of Ministries were reporting between 35 to 60% disbursement.
We cannot be sitting here debating and producing a budget which is not being disbursed to the particular Ministries; which does not have an impact to borrow from your words as Speakership. The words came from in particular; Hon. Mudenda that MPs must look into the impact of the budget. So, where we are saying we need to build a school, we must be able to interrogate with the number of children that are going to benefit. Pupils, who were walking 15 km, will now be walking only 3 km that is the positive impact. Now, if we come here celebrating figures but these schools are not being built, I think we are wasting each other’s time, especially with the dignity and decorum that is given to Parliament that whatever we say, people expect it to be consummated. So I propose that the Committee goes further to produce a schedule of every budgeted school and give us the amount that was budgeted for, amount disbursed and completion stage.
I will speak for my constituency - I have a secondary school called Mbizo 15 Secondary School. Construction began in 1999, up to now there are only two blocks which are half-way done. Nothing has been done, just bricks that are put there. Every time I ask the Minister of Local Government to shed light on this, there is no commitment; the Minister of Education to shed light there is no commitment but children are cramped in only one high school that is in my constituency, yet we had started to build another secondary school to relieve pressure from the one which was in existence.
The other issue, as I wind up, is that there seems to be miscommunication with regards to construction of schools between local authorities and Government. If you go to this particular constituency, you are told this school belongs to the local authority and therefore, it can only be rehabilitated or constructed in terms of expansion by the local authority. Or you are told that this school belongs to Government but the general people in our constituencies simply want to see results. They do not care whether the money is coming from Local Government or whether the money is coming from Central Government. They want to see results.
I want to challenge the Committee as they interrogate people in our constituencies that the bridge between local authorities and Central Government with regards to construction of schools must be closed, so that we do not have this us and them. The Minster at one point said I have this number of schools but I am not going to take care of them because they belong to local authorities. I have got this number of schools which I am only concentrating on because they belong to Government. I think we need to close this gap so that at least all the schools belong – even if they were built by the local authority, they have to be handed over to Central Government for the purpose of rehabilitation and getting funding.
The last point is a challenge and it is a question. I want to believe the Hon. Chairperson will take note and give us a solution. Is it not possible, seeing to it that Government is going into joint ventures on other Government programmes where there are Built Operate and Transfers or PPP ventures. Is it not possible with our current economic situation for private players to be allowed to work with Government on a Built Operate and Transfer programme or on a PPP arrangement so that at least we have more construction of schools in our constituencies but them being landing at an affordable price as stipulated by Government. That will be my challenge. I thank you.
HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I want to thank the Hon. Members who contributed to this very important debate. I must say that the discourse that was under debate was very important and we got a lot of invaluable comments and information that will go a long way in shaping our report.
Of particular importance, I would like to thank the following Hon. Members; Hon. Murambiwa, Hon. Shamu, Hon. J. Sithole, Hon. Biti, Hon. S. Banda, Hon. Muchenje, Hon. Labode, Hon. Mutambisi, Hon. Madhuku, Hon. Mathe, Hon. Mpariwa, Hon. Madzimure, Hon. Nyabani, Hon. L. Sibanda, Hon. Nduna, Hon. Mliswa, Hon. Raidza and Hon. Chikwinya. If you debated and your name has not been called out, it is not deliberate. I want to thank everyone who contributed. At this point in time, I move that the Third Report of the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education on the Provision of Sanitary Wear in Rural Schools be adopted. Motion put and agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 22 to 26 be stood over, until Order of the Day Number 27 has been disposed of.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS, NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES ON PETITIONS PERTAINING TO SERVICE DELIVERY AND IMPLEMENTATION OF DEVOLUTION
Twenty-Seventh Order Read: Adjourned on motion on the report of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Social Amenities on five petitions pertaining to service delivery and the implementation of devolution.
Question again proposed.
HON. CHIKUKWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank all the Members who debated and I will not mention names because they were many, in case I leave somebody and they will be offended. I also want to urge the Ministry to urgently bring the Devolution Bill to Parliament because it is causing a lot of problems in the communities and in all local authorities. With that, I therefore move that the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Social Amenities on five petitions pertaining to service delivery and the implementation of devolution be adopted by this House.
Motion put and agreed to.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI seconded by HON. TEKESHE, the House adjourned at Twenty-Nine Minutes past Four O’clock p. m.