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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 23 AUGUST 2022 VOL 48 NO 70
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 23rd August, 2022
The National Assembly Met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER
NOMINATION TO PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that Hon. Raidza and Hon. Dutiro have been nominated to serve in the Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development.
HON. MUTSEYAMI: Good afternoon Madam Speaker. I stand on a point of national importance for the attention of the august House and specifically for the attention of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. This is to do with the S.I. which has just been put across by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission regarding the fees for the nomination courts. My concern is on the level of the figures which have been put across whereby for the nomination of a presidential candidate, the fee has been set at US$20,000.00, a candidate standing for the National Assembly has to part with US$1,000.00 and a sitting Councillor, a Provincial Council Member has to part with US$100 and a Senator also has to pay US$100. My appeal is for ZEC to look into this matter urgently, bearing in mind that in this country we do not have access to the US dollars. The amount of money which has been put across is just too exorbitant. So I call upon ZEC to review the figures and for the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, in consultation with ZEC, to come up with a Ministerial Statement where he will explain to the House and justify the cause as well as giving room for Hon. Members to seek clarifications on behalf of the country.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mutseyami. I will ask the Chief Whip to relay the message to the responsible Minister to come with a Ministerial Statement to the House.
HON. T. MLISWA: Good afternoon Madam Speaker and fellow colleagues. My point of interest is – as you know that I do not belong to any caucus of any party, maybe they discussed the Members’ welfare after we had a joint Parliament on Thursday and agreed that we would have a joint caucus. I am not aware of the result which came out of there. Maybe I missed something but we were supposed to have had a joint caucus again on Monday but it was postponed. We had other engagements outside the country but cancelled last minute so that we could discuss this noble cause. So, I am not privy to what was agreed or exactly what the Minister committed himself to and because of that, there is an information gap which needs to be filled. So, if the Leader of Government Business or Hon. Togarepi who is the Chair, can tell us so that it is on record because rumours are saying something was agreed to but I do not know what was agreed to exactly. So let it be on record so that we understand. We are very anxious about that and it is difficult for us Madam Speaker, that you address this House whilst we are hungry. We would like to know what was agreed upon. Thank you for allowing the Government Chief Whip to stand in for us but why did he not call us to give us feedback on Monday yet we had made sacrifices – I heard that some ZANU PF members were intimidated with regards to this issue. If we continue intimidating each other, our country will not develop.
HON. TOGAREPI: The Minister is coming and he will make a presentation. I cannot pre-empt and make a mistake in my comments. I can assure Members that from the last day that we talked about our benefits, there has been a frantic effort to resolve some of the issues that were raised by Members. I think the only authority who can then present authoritatively is the Minister. I hope the Minister will come and give us the details. He is coming and we have only one business.
HON. T. MLISWA: I would like to seek clarity Madam Speaker – the Minister has been coming; will the Minister really come? When he comes, what will he really tell us because we are dealing with a serious issue of welfare for Members of Parliament who are human beings? It is not an issue to play with. How do you expect them to debate progressively when they are anxious about their welfare? I think you are taking this lightly. We respect the Chair and Parliament but in any normal country, people would strike. They would not be here to be honest with you and they have no business to be here when they are suffering. When they come to town, they are chucked out of hotels. I saw the Hon. Speaker’s comment when he was asked about the chucking out of Members of Parliament – it is more than inhuman. It removes our dignity. We have no respect any more when we move around. That is the truth of the matter; whether it is the game plan or the strategy of the Executive to make us so poor and be humiliated – men and women who have their homes are being chucked out of the hotels as if they do not have their own homes. It is better that we stay at our homes if there is no budget for our welfare. This is a serious issue. We are waiting for three to four hours for our money – we are tired. Why do you announce things to get such a novel? Now you are saying that the Minister is coming, you still expect him to perform. Is there any vehicle that has been driven without fuel?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of clarity?
HON. T. MLISWA: We want the Hon. Minister to come and address us. What time is he going to address us? Let us adjourn until the Minister comes. We want to know about our welfare. We are not going to let that go. It is important that we know that. No one is revolting but we are hungry – you the leaders have gone against us. This is a serious issue; we do not have stands or anything. The welfare of staff is deplorable yet some Committee Chairpersons are buying big trucks. Some of us cannot afford to do that. Should all of us chair Committees and be corrupt? You want us to be corrupt. Actually, we are now known as criminals because the only way to survive is to be bribed. Would you blame chairpersons if they get into corruption deals if this issue is not being addressed?
This institution is important in the oversight of this country. You cannot underestimate it unless you think it is useless. We might be useless as a people but this institution is not useless. Hon. Chiduwa addressed us on Friday when we met here and the Minister who was supposed to come on Monday did not come. May we know where the Minister is? We cannot continue the business of the day – those who continue, it is between you and God. You must carry your cross. We must adjourn. We want the Minister to tell us about our welfare, the welfare of many other people, the welfare of our staff and the entire country. It is not just about us, things are difficult. School fees have to be paid in USD and how do people pay it when they are paid in RTGs? We want to be treated as human beings. We want the Minister here. Find him. Let the Minister come. We must adjourn until the issue of welfare has been heard.
We pass a budget here but we are not given our money – the Minister must come here. These Ministers were given US$500 000.00 to buy their houses but stands for Hon. Members of Parliament have not been serviced, what wrong have we done? - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: We have heard you Hon. Mliswa. I have been informed that the Hon. Minister of Finance is coming to Parliament.
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER
SLOW AND UNSTABLE INTERNET CONNECTIONS
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Parliament of Zimbabwe is experiencing slow and unstable internet connections; we are heavily affected during today’s sitting. Tel One is facing technical challenges, so we are going to activate the backup link.
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that I have received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Judicial Laws Amendment Bill H.B. 3, 2022.
HON. GONESE: In view of the sentiments raised by Hon. Mliswa and also cognisant of the mood in the House following the debate last week on Vote 2, I move for suspension of business until the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development is in the House. The Hon. Chief Whip has already indicated that this is the order of business that we have before us. I think we cannot remain seated, we have a suspension of business, and right now it is Twenty-Five Minutes to Three. I propose that we suspend business until Three o’clock so that by that time, he will definitely be here then we can proceed with business.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Gonese, I am sorry, we are not going to adjourn the House.
HON. GONESE: But if I have raised a motion … - [AN HON. MEMBER: Divide the House even!] – No, we do not divide the House, you ask for a seconder first – that is the procedure Madam Speaker…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, no…
HON. GONESE: Yes, I have moved a motion for the suspension of business. I am a backbencher and am entitled … [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection.] – No, I am just talking of the procedure. The procedure is that if I move a motion, the Hon. Madam Speaker moves for a seconder. Then if there is any objection that is a different issue but my belief is that if I move for suspension of business, she asks for a seconder. If there is anyone who seconds me, I am duly seconded. Thereafter, we suspend business until the Hon. Minister comes. – [HON. T. MLISWA: Chief Whip, ngatimbomira nekuti vanhu varikutitambisa - no, no. Hatingaite izvozvo, tave kutoenda ku vote chaiko chaiko.] – To suspend a business because no one will be prejudiced by that course of conduct.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Gonese, today is Government Business and Government Business takes precedence over any other business.
HON. GONESE: Yes, we will still be talking about Government, that is why I am moving for this. It is a motion that I have proposed Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, if you recall, when the House was adjourned, the House was in Committee and the matter under consideration was the Appropriation Bill, Vote 2...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Gonese, we can stand over that motion and all other motions, and proceed to other motions.
HON. GONESE: I believe that is a decision for the House to make Madam Speaker. If I move a motion, it is for the House to decide and if I am seconded and there is support for the motion that I proposed, then business is suspended. I am not saying that we are going to proceed to any other business. I am simply saying that until the Hon. Minister is in attendance, we are simply suspending business.
As indicated by Hon. Mliswa and I share his sentiments, at this present moment, Hon. Members are waiting anxiously to understand what the response is. It must be taken in the context of the fact that there was a Joint Caucus that was supposed to have taken place yesterday, which we are not sure as to why it was cancelled. The long and short of it is that Hon. Members still require answers to the issues that they raised both on the floor of the House and in the Joint Caucus.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members will get the answers when the Hon. Minister is here.
HON. GONESE: That is the reason why we are asking for suspension of business so that we proceed…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, we cannot suspend business. Hon. Chief Whip, please suspend business
HON. GONESE: No, but it is not for the Chair, the House is the one that makes such resolutions Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, Hon. Gonese.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: Madam Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 28 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 29 has been disposed of.
HON. T. MLISWA: I object! I object! My objection Madam Speaker, the mental capacity of Members of Parliament, most of them, - [AN HON. MEMBER: How did you get that?] – I said most, I did not say all of them…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Why are you speaking on their behalf?
HON. T. MLISWA: No, because we … - [HON. CHINOTIMBA: Inaudible interjections.] – [HON. ZWIZWAI: Nyarara, iwewe wakatuka Mnangagwa iwewe!] – [HON. CHINOTIMBA: Iwewe wakatuka …murikurega vanhu vachiwora mugere] – Hon. Chinotimba, izvo hazvineyi ne welfare shamwari, musadhaivhete attention. - [HON. CHINOTIMBA: Inaudible interjection.] – No, no Hon. Chinotimba, ngatisiyaneyi nazvo – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Madam Speaker, this is not proper. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Please Hon. Members, the Hon. Speaker is speaking.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, may you please approach the Chair?
Hon. Mliswa approached the Chair.
HON. T. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, thank you very much for your indulgence. I do support that we suspend debate on the Finance Bill and deal with other issues, waiting for the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to come. I have no issues with that. So the Finance Bill should be suspended until the Hon. Minister comes but we continue with business of the day. I thank you.
CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF HON. LEONARD CHIKOMBA
Twenty-Ninth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the death of Hon. Leonard Chikomba.
Question again proposed.
*HON. O. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I would like talk about the late Hon. Leonard Chikomba who passed away on 28th May, 2022. The motion that was moved by Hon. Ngwenya, seconded by Hon. T. Moyo.
It is quite painful that we have people who pass away because of fatigue whilst driving. We were together in Gweru during that particular day attending a ZANU PF meeting. We spent the day together then he drove to Gokwe. It is a long journey, driving alone at night without an assistant driver after spending the day working. If you encounter a tyre puncture, no one will be able to assist. If at all he had a relief driver, he could have been alive today.
Madam Speaker, I believe that it is important that Hon. Members of Parliament have assistant drivers. Some Hon. Members drive very long distances, driving alone day and night doing constituency visits and other parliamentary duties. Looking at Hon. Chikomba’s Constituency, it is very far and the roads are in a dilapidated state.
Hon. Chikomba was a committed patriot, I know that at some point he would carry and assist people in his constituency. He was also a businessman; we noted that he worked for the people and served them in various ways. His passing on leaves a big gap which will be difficult to fill in our political part ZANU PF. He is one Member who used to work very hard for his constituency. Looking at his passing on, it will be very difficult to fill his shoes. He also was very passionate about sporting activities. We would go around with him looking for football kits to give to the rural communities.
The late Hon. Chikomba was a fatherly figure who used to guide us even in politics. He taught us how to lead people. As Parliament, we lost because Hon. Chikomba was a very humble person who was committed to all his duties as a Parliamentarian.
Madam Speaker, the Ninth Parliament has lost a number of Members of Parliament. We need to sit down and understand why we are losing a lot of people like that. Some were not sick but they passed away because of road carnages. We are not also sure whether we are going to make it for the Tenth Parliament because of the road accidents which are happening on most of our roads.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, there is a great need to consider the welfare of Hon. Members of Parliament. If Hon. Chikomba had a driver, then he would have been here today. If at all our welfare was being given the right attention, I believe that Hon. Members would be coming to this House without any challenges. The late Hon. Chikomba passed away in deep sorrow. I am saying this because we would talk. Driving from Harare to Gokwe working on behalf of his constituency and the nation at large without any token of appreciation is demoralising.
Lastly, I would like to say may Hon. Chikomba rest in peace. We are all going to follow one day. His family should be looked after. We know that there are some Members of Parliament who have passed on but their families are not given any benefits. Many of them pass away and the Parliament of Zimbabwe does not bother to look at the welfare of the family. My plea is: let us remain united whilst we are alive and even after death. We do not have to pretend that we are together but we need to look after each other whether in death or in good health.
When we went to the burial of Hon. Chikomba, we went there but the Administration of Parliament did not send any of its representatives to check whether the family of Hon. Chikomba was okay or not. I thank you.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am, I stand to say a few words concerning the passing on of the late Hon. Chikomba who when he passed on, was in good health. We would sit down most of the times talking about business with the late. He would say he empowered his son to run his business.
However, in support of the issue regarding road carnages and accidents in the country, there are a lot of incidences of Hon. Members and even Ministers who have been involved in these road accidents. We are aware that our country is under sanctions but can we not copy other countries like South Africa, Namibia, Angola and Botswana. For instance, if we look at what is happening in Malawi, a Member of Parliament is an honoured individual. We do not want to be revered but all the countries that I have mentioned, you would find that their welfare is very much considered.
We must be having personal drivers and personal assistants and offices in our constituencies or the Parliament of Zimbabwe. I went to the Parliament of South Africa and I saw a marvel. I spoke to Hon. M. Ncube that can we not copy what is happening in these countries. You find Hon. Speakers of Parliament having three drivers because just being seated in that august Chair is quite painful; you need at least three drivers. A driver should not drive for 8 or 24 hours without being relieved. A driver should drive for four hours and is relieved. This issue of the passing on of Hon. Chikomba pains us. As Hon. Members of Parliament, we would like to say that if possible – I am glad that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is here, we need to have a budget for Hon. Members to have drivers. I was saying the day before yesterday that the food that we eat in hotels every day costs almost $100 000 while we are earning $70 000. The food that we eat per year could be $1.7 million. You would rather give a driver than to give me such food. Our late Hon. Member of Parliament, Hon. Chikomba, passed on and this really affects us. Let me end by saying that if possible, may the opposition live long so that they would lose elections and we beat them properly in the polls. Give them drivers so they will have someone accompanying them. Thank you.
+HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I also want to contribute on the motion about the passing on of Hon. Chikomba. I worked with him in the last Parliament…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Sibanda. Vehicle with registration number AFK8519 is blocking other vehicles. May the owner please go and remove it.
+HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I was saying Hon. Chikomba could not have been involved in the accident if we were paid over $2000 because he could have serviced his vehicle. Again, Hon. Chikomba could have survived if the Minister of Finance had given the Ministry of Transport enough money to rehabilitate the road from Kwekwe to Gokwe-Kabuyuni. Hon. Chikomba would have been surviving today. That road is not worth to be used by vehicles, it is meant for scotch carts. I am pained by the death of Hon. Chikomba. We condemn the Minister of Finance for not giving us sufficient money to cater for ourselves. This has resulted in the death of Hon. Chikomba because his vehicle was not serviced. Madam Speaker, the Minister of Finance should take note that he should give MPs enough money so that they can service their vehicles to avoid untimely deaths like that of Hon. Chikomba. The salaries we are paid are not worth. If I am to travel from here to Tsholotsho, the road is not passable and that will result in an accident. The Hon. Minister should give us money to service our vehicles. We are all mourning Hon. Chikomba. Thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I was charged with bribe together with Hon. Chikomba. A Committee was set up to investigate us for taking a bribe. The committee was to investigate myself Hon. Mliswa, Hon. Chikomba, Hon. Ndebele and Hon. Sibanda Madubeko Prince. What affected me the most and what this Parliament must do is to bring closure when you have allegations on people. That matter still has not been closed in this Parliament. Investigations happened, Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira was the Chairperson of it and he is supposed to come back to this Parliament. Basically, he died with an allegation that he accepted a bribe. It is sad because it is written. It is in the history. The process happened and he was exonerated and I am hoping that Chief Whip, Hon. Sen. Charumbira comes and closes it here. Members debated on it and without closure; it is a bit of a problem. Basically, if you have to describe him and if people were true, they would say he used to bribe because there is no record in this House which says he was exonerated. That is the danger of using certain weapons to fight ourselves politically. That committee was not really set up for him. It was set up for me specifically. The target was me.
When I was exonerated and Goddard said he has never met me and I have never spoken to him or ask him for any money, they wilted down. There was no need to go any further. I am hurt because the motion was moved by Hon. Mataranyika and I think it is incumbent upon himself to also bring it up so that it is brought to closure. It is wrong for him to bring a motion to say people received bribes and he is not ready to see that motion coming back to be closed. Whoever moves a motion must be able to close it. I hope Hon. Mataranyika’s conscience must be his master. Let us not just point fingers at people without us going there. So, he was smeared. In his constituency, they saw him as somebody who accepts bribes. Yes, he was one of the few well-to-do MPs who worked hard. He had his own resources. So, how then can you reverse it to say to him you did not do it? That is for you and God really but I thought I would bring it up to put it on record that he was exonerated and he was not at all a criminal in any manner. He was a strong man who did his business, had his own trucks and did quite a lot to empower his family and all that.
Hon. Chikomba, I was his Chairman in the Mines and Energy Committee and he contributed well. We worked as a team and it was probably one of the best Committees I can ever think about with Hon. Zhou and them. There was no partisan politics. What we did was to work but we knew when he spoke that there are certain people, when you are Chairman of a Committee, when they speak, you do not listen to them. Hon. Zhou, I will think twice about listening to him and taking his advice but Hon. Chikomba, when he spoke, he was the voice of reason and you would want to take what he said at the end of the day because he was a selfless person who served his constituency. If you see winning your constituency as many times as he did, it shows you are a man of the people no matter what you do and so forth.
What is important Madam Speaker is to always question ourselves that we do die, chasara kufa. What then happens and what legacy do we leave? What legacy does Parliament leave and so forth? We are glad the Hon. Minister of Finance is here. I will die and he will die but he fights for his legacy. What do you leave for your children? We live for our children and families. So, what is it that you leave for them at the end of the day after serving a country the way these people do; fearlessly, selfless but still you leave this Parliament with a legacy of poverty. Nobody leaves this Parliament with anything. Right now you are losing elections because of no resources and you get a young person who for four or five months, runs around with money and wins an election because we were incapacitated all the time.
The budget that we pass for Information Centres; Hon. Chikomba must have left a legacy in his constituency that he has an Information Centre. Those Information Centres are not for us but for the people. We do not go with them when we die or when we leave this office. We leave them in those constituencies. So to me, why do we not do certain things? He goes after the budget has been passed and tells his constituency like anybody else that there will be an Information Centre. People are waiting for it and now he dies they say akanyepa. The next MP who will come will have difficulties. We are planting, grooming and breeding a pedigree of MPs who have no credibility yet we pass things here and that is so sad if you think about it. How many MPs are really accepted after their term of office has expired? Not many and they are paupers.
Hon. Minister, I am glad that you think of Ministers with families that they must have houses but Hon. Members also have families and must have houses. When Ministers are getting houses for US$350 000...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, please stick to the motion?
HON. T. MLISWA: The motion is; Hon. Chikomba was left with nothing and it is sad, and that is my motion. He had no house and the stand which is supposed to be serviced has not been serviced. No one will get the stand and no one will fight for it because if you cannot fight for your own things when you are alive, who will fight for you? Kana iwewe wafa muridzi wechinhu anorwira zvinhu wafa ndiani? Hapana. So to me, we leave these families to suffer and all that. Hon. Chikomba was a big man and health issues happen, and when your welfare is not good, the stress level is high. It is difficult for these MPs to pay attention because stress levels are high. I release it by talking but others keep quiet, which is dangerous. If I do not do that, I will die here and so forth.
People deal differently with stress levels and this job is stressful that is why MPs must have a month where they go for a massage to relax your body – [Laughter.] – But I am being honest. You do not know that to relax your body and your mind, your mind must be relaxed for you to be effective. When you talk about wellness, it is the state of the mind and state of the mind cannot be there if you do not go to the gym. You should be members of exclusive gyms so that you go there, look good and release stress. If you do not release stress, it piles up and then you die. Blood pressure is high, sugar levels are high and so forth, and that is why we encourage that.
Hon. Chinotimba spoke about diet. We do not care what people say about us anymore, whether the media says we want a three course meal - rightfully so. It must be a balanced diet. There are people here suffering from sugar and with different diseases who must be given a nutritious diet. We leave our houses; some of us have three chefs in our houses and we choose. We have a Chinese, Japanese and an African chef and the meal depends on what I want to eat on the day. So, when I come here and you are exposing me to sadza every day, the starch levels are too high, no salads and so forth, it affects people. I am a professional in fitness and I can tell you that you cannot take too much starch. Seventy percent of the plate is starch and 30% is protein yet it should be the other way around and you use protein as a source of energy. You will see that the banana you are given every day, fruit salad is not there and all that. It is really difficult at the end of the day for us to discharge our duties.
The issue of drivers Hon. Speaker, at times we take things lightly. For me, I stand here to defend the welfare of the Members of Parliament, not because I need it but because of the office. It is the office that must be respected. I do not need this salary. I have never gotten a Member of Parliament car since I was an MP because I do not need it but the office must be respected. You the individual, how do you discharge your duties when the office is not resourced and that is the issue. Forget about who your friend is; whether he is an MP or you do not like the other but how do you discharge your duties? Some of us always win the elections because we always budget $250 000 to put in there. I make a million from maize and $250 000 goes towards the elections but those who do not have it, how do you do it?
You can go and do a lifestyle audit but I am talking a minimum of what I make on my farm. I put in $250 000 in my constituency without the CDF and that is why at times I do not take it because you will be in trouble yadyiwa neinflation watora mari iyoyo apa wapromiser six boreholes kwabuda one. Unototi zviri nani ndikasabata nekuti amwe five vanototi akaba mari. That is the truth of the matter and that is why I do not rush to take the CDF because it is a problem. When people ask me in the constituency, I tell them it is there if you want to go and take it, go and take neinflation inenge yadyiwa.
All these issues that we are talking about are critical in building this country because this institution must be strong. Hon. Members and Madam Speaker, we are not doing this for ourselves. It is like the war veterans of this country, they are no longer fighting for themselves. What do they need? What does Hon. Nguluvhe or Hon. Gwanetsa need today? They are doing it for people to come. It is an obligation the country must meet in looking after its own people. So the war veterans, civil servants and Members of Parliament are not looked after. How then can we say we have a functional system? It has become dysfunctional. We must make sure that Members of Parliament’s welfare is taken care of. You have an obligation to do it. We must not be thanking the Minister of Finance for doing things which we have agreed on in the Budget. Now we beg to say, Minister can you do this for us. . If the Minister says he has no money, he should come and tell us that there is no money because you borrow basing on the money you get. Hon. Lwazi Sibanda spoke about US$2000 which you get and is minimal in terms of the SADC standards. Now it is less than US$100. How can somebody be paid less than US$100 and then you tell me that when they see an opportunity to be corrupt, they will not be corrupt. We are aiding corruption. Incapacitation of Parliament is aiding corruption at the end of the day.
I really wanted to say that Hon. Chikomba was a man of the people. He worked hard. He did what he did. I want to pose a question Madam Speaker to Members of Parliament here and they should answer silently. If you have an accident in your constituency and the hospital is 5km away, would you go there. Would you say you are safe? Answer yourself. If you know that you are going to die, what about the ordinary person. Ask yourself - the roads that you use in your constituency, are they good enough. You have failed to go to a hospital, the next question is that are your roads good enough to take you to the nearest hospital, Gweru which is good? No, you die on the road. The other question is that would you take your children to the schools that are in your constituency which others are going to?
To me these are thought provoking questions which you must ask yourself that can I take my child to this school. How many Members of Parliament here are sending their kids to schools in their constituencies? The question is why – why are you not going to hospitals in your constituency. All these questions if you cannot answer them, then there is something wrong. We must be comfortable to be injured in our constituencies because the health delivery system is up to it. Anything must be up to scratch. Again, it is a question of resources.
Members of Parliament do get tired when they are driving. The last time they were waiting for money here because of the fuel situation; I was looking at them and I was saying how are they going to go back? They are tired and stressed. They need to go home and provide for their children. How many Members of Parliament when they go home, really tell a story about what they did in Parliament and what Parliament is about? For me when I get home to my 12 kids, I dance to Amapiano with them. If they ask me how was Parliament, I tell them we will talk about it later, let us play 30- seconds. I do not know if you know a game called 30-minutes that in certain seconds you must answer a question. That is a game we play now, 30-seconds. Children look up to you when you come home. They expect you to have sweets and something. If you do not have these, how can you call yourself a father when you get home with nothing in your hands? You may take this lightly but the children start losing respect for our profession.
I want to thank you Madam Speaker for indulging me. Hon Chikomba was a great man. Unfortunately, we did not do what we had to do in terms of exonerating him. I thought I would make the record clear that he was exonerated. He did nothing wrong and may his soul rest in peace. He was a big gentle giant who had no fight with anyone. He would talk to Hon. Ndebele – with Hon Ndebele I was thinking one day that is he not convincing him to join ZANU PF because they were so close. I was actually thinking that Hon. Ndebele would jump camp. If Hon. Ndebele was here, I am sure he would jump because of the good man Hon. Chikomba was - because he is no more, I do not think he would jump camp.
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. L. SIBANDA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24th August 2022.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that we revert to Order of the Day Number 1 on today’s Order Paper.
HON. L. SIBANDA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY:
SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES OF EXPENDITURE
House in Committee:
HON. T. MLISWA: Madam Speaker we accepted your ruling because we know you are a Chair, a leader and a Speaker of your word that we would wait for the Minister of Finance to get here while the House is together so that he can talk to us about welfare because at Committee Stage, that would be very impossible. It has to be on record while you are there in terms of our welfare. Now that he is here, may he just give us a synopsis of what he has for us which I hope is a great package?
THE HON DEPUETY SPEAKER: I am sorry I have read that we are in Committee of Supply. We cannot go back. We have already passed that stage.
HON T. MLISWA: It is based on your ruling and there were no objections. You said the Minister of Finance should come. I was actually saying may that ruling see the light of day. That is your ruling. The House is like this, this is when you must speak to the House and not Committee Stage.
There is Hon. Rwodzi and Hon. Chombo who are Deputy Ministers. They usually do not sit here but they are Members of Parliament. I am sure they would want to understand what package there is for them. It was your ruling Madam Speaker. Icho ndochokwadi chaicho, Mwari arikudenga. Ruling yamapa kuti kana vauya vachataura tikarega kuita nharo tikagara pasi. Iye zvino vadzoka tave kunzvengeswa and so forth. Ndepapi pakanzi ma Order haareveswe? Tave kuenda kumutemo. Chairman anokanganisa ogadzirisa.
THE HON DEPUTY SPEAKER: I will allow the Minister of Finance to respond to your concerns.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I want to thank Hon. Mliswa for his contribution and request on this very important matter. I must say that the supplementary budget will respond to the welfare of Members of this august House as you will see when we come back to Vote No 2. I am going to propose that we increase the budget for Parliament so as to take care of the welfare of Members of this august House. I will also propose that the CSRO should work with us in Treasury, so we implement the issue around the information centres for Members of Parliament and to ensure that the constituency visit allowance is released on time and backdated to January. I listened carefully last week when some Members, I think it was Hon. Sithole if not mistaken, who argued that perhaps we should not differentiate across constituencies because we have three categories that is 120lts for 650 000 ha and 160lts for between 650 000ha to 1.3mil ha in terms of size of constituencies and for over 1.3mil ha its 200lts. We have done that but the CSRO can also work with us to see whether we need to stick to this approach or not. This came from the Administration of Parliament (Mr. Chokuda’s office) and we endorsed it as Treasury. I just want to say that we are very sensitive to the plight of Members of Parliament, so I suggest that we increase the budget and there is a figure that I am going to propose but CSRO, I think should call a special session for us to discuss the welfare of MPs including the housing which has been raised. This is a very important issue and I endorse what has been raised before this House. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: I want to thank the Minister for his assurances. However, his assurances are on the back drop of inconsistencies and it becomes very difficult for us to have confidence in the assurances. We passed a budget here of our cars - $80,000 and it was cut down to $50,000 but nobody came to Parliament to tell us of the cut. As the Minister, you will be looking at discharging your duties well by passing these budgets, so when you pass this budget you are gone and you do not look back while the MPs continue to suffer. I am giving an example of things that we passed in the last budget and most of them were not done. How much confidence can we put in what you have said because the whole point of this issue is that we must not pass this supplementary budget because of inconsistencies and lack of delivery on what would have been agreed to in this House?
If a budget is passed here, why would anybody go against it? This is what I was saying to my Hon. colleagues that we seem to be passing a supplementary budget but the Minister has not yet paid everything in the last budget. So you want the bank to top up your debt before you have paid off the previous debt. How can you ask for more money surely? The issue here is the budget that we passed is the country’s budget. So, when we are standing up here it is not just for us but for everyone. We are the ones with the mandate to pass the budget. So if we as MPs are thrown under the bus, how about the civil servants, what will happen to them? This has been happening to us for some time and we have no one to question because we will have already passed the budget.
The Minister asked to meet with the CSRO but as the Committee, there is nothing truthful that you tell us. So we get angry with the Minister but you heard him saying you should meet as the board representing our welfare. Now, we are not sure who is telling lies. The Minister is talking of a meeting with CSRO but we do not have confidence in the CSRO. Hon. Minister, if you look deeply and closely at the faces of Hon. Members and if you were to go around and test their heart beats – I know you are a Harvard scholar, you will see that people are dejected and are just sitting there while their minds are elsewhere. It then becomes difficult for people to pass a budget when their mind is not there.
We asked for a few things and the last time you said we should meet but you did not come on Friday and on Monday there was no meeting. But Minister, you and Hon. Ziyambi also sit on the CSRO if I am not mistaken; so when you tell us you must sit with the CSRO, I now do not understand unless you are saying CSRO is not functioning properly. The last time, remember we met in the Senate and we agreed on certain issues and it would be nice for you to single out issues because people are saying for us to move forward we must agree that these things should be done. For you to say I will increase the budget – what is it for? There is inflation and we did not factor it in. Now school fees is in US dollars and government has allowed that. So why do we not get paid in US dollars as well so that we pay our school fees in US dollars for our kids?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, can you allow the Hon. Minister to respond to your concerns.
HON. T. MLISWA: So Minister, you know and I do not want to seem to be targeting you but we have had these meetings before. There have been plans for free duty for a car worth $60,000 in place but MPs do not have the money to buy the car. You heard about the deaths of MPs because of using one car which is not serviced. I think death will come before you as Minister of Finance because of welfare of the Members of Parliament. May God intervene at this moment and may you just cushion with God’s wisdom using that discerning spirit that you have in academia in terms of supporting the MPs. I thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I want to thank Hon. Mliswa for that very passionate contribution. Hon. Mliswa raised a point that we have held meetings and wanted to know how I had responded to requests from those meetings and that is very specific. In the last CSRO meeting which I attended, I was asked to do three things. The first one was to adjust salaries and sitting allowances for Members of Parliament and I did that. I was then asked to do something about the medical support for MPs and I did that. We have now made sure that the medical services are similar to those of civil servants where government contributes 80% and the sitting Member contributes 20%. I was asked to do those three things salary, sitting allowance and then the medical support - I responded and wrote to Parliament about it. If there is any further requests, those again can be considered in the light of the Supplementary Budget. I am assuming that there will be further requests in September, which is next month.
There was an issue of housing that we discussed in that CSRO meeting. There are two issues, Members of Parliament from the Eighth Parliament who had paid for their stands but those stands were not delivered from the Government side – those are the facts. The Minister of Local Government was tasked to find out what was going on and so forth. I think they are still trying to conclude that aspect to deal with the legacy issue.
Then there is an issue of Members of Parliament housing now; again that is an issue we have to deal with at CSRO to see whether we can put in a scheme – maybe work with a building society or some form of mortgage arrangement; that has not been concluded as yet.
On the issue of the second car which was not discussed in the last CSRO but I thought I had responded before that meeting. It was said that MPs needed to have an opportunity to import their own cars and that a rebate allowance be extended, initially I responded to that request but later on a delegation of two MPs came to see me. I will not say their names because I do not think they have got any specific position but they said that they were sent to ask for an increase on that. I then went back after a week and increased that rebate allowance from US$40 000 to $60 000 for the second car. Again, I issued the necessary Statutory Instrument to cover that. I have responded to the issues but it could be degrees. I just wanted to answer Hon. Mliswa precisely on that.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, it cannot be you always.
*HON. T. MLISWA: I am the one who raised this issue – those who have ears have heard where our problem is. Thank you Hon. Minister for being honest – you said you wrote to CSRO and the request comes from this board which represents us. The Minister is on record saying that the requests coming from the organ that supports us were three. I think it will be foolish of me to really go for you. The Hon. Minister has told us what he did and he also wrote letters and he was told what to do. What we request does not go straight to him. It would be foolish for me to continue bothering Hon. Mthuli.
Madam Speaker, I request that as MPS, we would like to meet with the CSRO when the Speaker who Chairs this Committee is back so that we discuss our concerns since the Minister has stated his position. This has been captured by Hansard. We would like to know whether these are the only concerns that were presented to the CSRO. Hon. Mthuli and Hon. Ziyambi will be there to answer and if there is anyone who is sleeping on duty, then they would be answerable. Thank you very much for that response Hon. Minister. It helps us.
*HON. HAMAUSWA: I applaud the Hon. Minister for what he has said. We did not see a concrete plan from the concerns raised in this House. We are just continuing in circles. We need a sustainable solution – there is no response that the Minister is giving us. Of all the serious concerns that we raised, there is nothing concrete that the Minister has said.
Is the Minister aware that the company that supplied MPs with vehicles is refusing to service the vehicles saying Parliament did not pay them despite the balance that they owe Parliament? You are also giving us a rebate of US$60 000 – what about the other outstanding items that you are leaving behind? These are the specific things we expect the Minister to be addressing in this House.
On housing stands, I propose that there be a sustainable plan where MPs are allowed to acquire residential stands in their respective constituencies in a procedural manner.
*HON. T. MLISWA: We have several Members who sit in the CSRO and they have not disputed what the Minister has said. The CSRO Members are getting their needs and they forget us. ...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: No, Hon. Madam Speaker – there are Members of the CSRO here present, you sit on it, Hon. Ziyambi, Hon. Togarepi, Hon. Mpariwa and Hon. Mutseyami also sit on it. You all sit on it but you are not responding. This means that you are confirming what the Minister has said. Why are you not disputing it?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam Speaker, it is very correct that we have heard conversations within the CSRO regarding the welfare of MPs. There are issues that are outstanding that need implementation on the side of Parliament administration that we agreed on – one of them being the constituency fuel allocation; I think Parliament administration needs to follow up but because the time that we had this meeting in June/July, we have not had another meeting. I think it was our last meeting. We need to have another meeting to find out what has been implemented and what is outstanding. My plea to Hon. Members is; can we now proceed and like what Hon. Mliswa had said, we will first of all sit down as a Committee and review what we discussed the last time we met and see what is still outstanding, and new concerns and then we can have meetings with MPs. I thank you Hon. Speaker Ma’am.
House in Committee.
On Vote 2:
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Hon. Chairman for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate, if not, respond to a very robust contribution from Hon. Members of this august House. I thank them for the contributions of last week and also contributions today. I therefore, respond as follows:
As Treasury, we had proposed to increase Vote 2 by ZWL2.8billion rounding off, I now propose to put in an additional ZWL2 billion for Parliament that will take the additional supplementary figure to ZWL4.8billion. This will go towards looking after the welfare of Members of this august House who have had a robust debate. Then our work with the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (CSRO) will be to work on a plan to assist Members with various aspects of their welfare. I thank you.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Hon. Chairman, just to put it on record. I want to thank the Hon. Minister for the attempt to increase the Parliamentary budget. However, I still feel that there is a gap in terms of the resource envelope that he has provided for. In view of the fact that, I think, we have all agreed that we have hanging issues that have not been resolved by the Hon. Minister pertaining to the welfare of Members of Parliament; pertaining to the Eighth Parliament, the stands; pertaining to the cars, repairs and even the service of the vehicles because that was put across in the CSRO.
It is unfortunate that the Chair of the Committee, the Hon. Speaker is not in the House. I do not think that it would be fine for us to leave this House thinking that the CSRO is not standing for the issues of Hon. Members. Singling out the three issues that have been mentioned by the Hon. Minister, I do not think that is the whole list of issues that have been tabled before the CSRO. This also includes the hanging envelope in terms of payments for the stands Hon. Minister. You did not mention and inform this constituency that that was tabled before you, and you said that you were also trying to look for resources in order to service the stands.
There is a whole list of issues and not only three but those issues are before the CSRO. I thought that should be put on record as issues that have been tabled before the CSRO. If he attempts to take three or four, there remains but several issues that have been tabled before the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Hon. Member for that contribution to this debate on Vote 2. When it comes to the current budget, Parliament has only utilised about 35% of the budget. So there is still room on the current budget to spend more, Parliament has only spent about ZWL5 billion out of the ZWL15 billion, so there is room on the existing budget and what we are doing now is putting in an additional ZWL2 billion. In our calculation, we think that this ZWL2 billion will be needed given the needs that Hon. Members raised and I agree with them. So I think, if the Hon. Member, could bear with us,we think that this ZWL2 billion will go a long way.
Also, we are three months away from the November budget as well because this cannot all be solved in one day or one month. There is still additional resources from next year’s budget for us to continue to resolve the issues especially of accommodation which has taken time – we also have next years’ budget to be able to handle that requirement. I thank you.
HON. GONESE: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the Hon. Minister for his response. However, I think what is critical Mr. Chairperson is for the Hon. Minister to provide us with concrete information. If we just talk about figures, I think that what is more important is that we have several issues that are outstanding. The Hon. Minister in his response alluded to the stands that are still outstanding from the Eighth Parliament. What has been the problem is the issue of resources for those stands to be serviced. We now have the Ninth Parliament again, nothing has happened in terms of the allocation of stands. Primarily because the resources that are required for those stands to be serviced and allocated to Hon. Members of Parliament has not happened. Now we have the issue of the ZWL60 000.00 facility, Hon. Members of Parliament do not have the money to buy the vehicles – that facility is as good as nothing. It is as if it is not there if the majority of the Hon. Members are not in a position to utilise it.
I believe that whatever figures the Hon. Minister is going to come up with, let us have a breakdown as to what is going towards these specific issues. As it stands, if we talk of ZWL2 billion and then translate that to USD, it is USD2 million and it will not go far in terms of the specific needs and requests of Hon. Members which the Hon. Minister indicated that he is prepared to address. At the end of the day, those issues are not being addressed. So my proposal Mr. Chairperson is that the Hon. Minister should tabulate what those figures are going to be there for because you remember last time at the beginning of this particular Parliament, it had been agreed that Members of Parliament would get a loan for ZWL80 000 which was reduced to ZWL50 000 without a proper explanation.
The fear of the Hon. Members is that we are going to have a repeat; some of these things will just remain in the air because nothing specific is going to happen. So if there is no breakdown on the ZWL2 billion on how it is going to be utilized, you find that at the end of the day, it is not going to address probably even 10% of the issues because we are talking of the constituency visit allowance, and Parliamentary Constituency Information Centres.
If we do not have the breakdown you find that figure; I know that the Hon. Minister has talked about the budget in November but I believe that at this juncture, it is all important for all the legacy issues to be dealt with in this supplementary budget so that when we go forward, we are starting on a new page. If the Hon. Minister does not give us specifics we can then perhaps give him more time so that before we pass that Vote, we have got the specifics.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I think it is an unusual request for a Minister of Finance to be asked to give a breakdown of expenditure by an MDA. It is never done like that. The Minister of Finance agrees to extend an envelope of resources but he is a Member of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, he then works with the Parliamentary administration Finance to give an exact breakdown of how that ZWL2 billion or whatever is spent. So, for me to come here and give that breakdown, what will the CSRO do? What will the Parliamentary Administration do? I would have taken over their job. It is unusual for the Minister of Finance to be able to provide that information.
However, I want to say two further things; on the issue of stands, I want to say for the record, this issue was being handled by the Ministry of Local Government…
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order! The Minister has just said, “It is not my job to work things out for you” the next question is - as Parliament, how much have we requested and what is the breakdown? We should not be asking the Minister of Finance for a breakdown, therefore there is no point in us proceeding if Parliament did not submit what we wanted and breaking it down. No wonder why as Parliament, before a supplementary budget, we do a caucus to agree. We never had a caucus to know what was happening and so forth, so I would like to know whether Parliament submitted the amount of money and breakdown they want to the Hon. Minister of Finance.
HON. TOGAREPI: Hon. Chairperson, from what the Minister has said, only 33% of the budget that we gave them last year for this year has been utilised. The other percentage is still there. Now, the Minister has given us something and he is adding ZWL billion on it. It is now the CSRO’s duty because Members have asked money to move towards certain needs to them then move the money and give the Minister the proposal.
(v)HON. MARKHAM: Inaudible
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. KHUMALO): All Members were asked to come to the House, Hon. Markham.
– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order, Hon. Members!
*HON. HWENDE: Thank you Chair. On a point of clarification, there are two issues concerning the Minister’s response. The Minister is saying he cannot make an allocation but that is supposed to be done by the CSRO...
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Can you get connected please. There are some Members on virtual who want to hear you – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order. Mr. Chairman, I was proposing that Vote Number 2 waits until the Speaker comes and we hear the truth. We cannot debate it. He is the Chairman of the Committee and the Minister of Finance has spoken to us on issues which need the Chairman to respond. Other Members of Parliament cannot respond as well as the Speaker. We want to ask a lot of questions. How much money did they propose? What is the situation on the outstanding stands and so forth?
*We want to leave this issue until the Executive talks to us because they make decisions without us. We can discuss it when the Chairperson of the Committee, the Speaker, is in the House. We need to know the breakdown of the monies and the allocations. We did not get that information. There is no caucus that I attended and no feedback was given to us regarding our pleas. I think we need to wait for the Chairman, the Hon. Speaker. We cannot continue debating this issue without the Chairperson of the SROC. We need to hear from the Speaker when he attends the next sitting because we can run all over the place without addressing the issue.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Chairman, I propose that we proceed with other Votes and the Clerk will join us later so that he can explain the processes on how the budgeting for Parliament was done. I request that we can skip it and proceed with the rest. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
Vote 2 deferred.
On Vote 3 - Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare - $34,897,442,000:
HON. MUSHORIWA: Mr. Chairman, there are two issues that I wanted to raise on the Vote 3, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and I guess it covers across many boards. It appears as if there is a huge amount of money that is going for hiring services. I would want the Hon. Minister to advise this august House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Mliswa. Please take your seat.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I was saying there is a huge charge on hiring charges and I actually note that it is reflected on Vote 3 and cuts across the various Votes. I want the Hon. Minister to advise us why the Government is paying so much in terms of hiring charges. The second issue which is crucial is the Hon. Minister, in his response to the debate, talked about the question of salaries of civil servants that they were above poverty datum line. I was going to ask the Hon. Minister, bearing in mind that we are dealing with the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, that would it not be possible Hon. Minister, and I see there is an adjustment in terms of the salaries there. I want to find out from the Hon. Minister whether Treasury has considered the quest of possibly shifting or moving the US$175 to a figure of say maybe US$250 and then adjust on the RTGs as well. So, I needed clarification from the Hon. Minister in terms of the salary increases, does it reflect on the US$ component or it has to do with the RTGS because considering what is happening, I believe that any increase should be on the US$ component.
HON. MPARIWA: I want to thank the Minister for the adjustment which focuses on the well-being of people –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Mliswa, may you sit down please.
HON. MPARIWA: Hon. Speaker, you may realise that this particular Ministry has a lot of responsibilities in terms of people that are disadvantage and my plea to the Minister was to increase the Vote especially on those that are to do with programmes on social welfare, social benefits and also on BEAM so that this Ministry will be able to carry out its responsibilities adequately. Many school children have not been paid in terms of BEAM access to school and a lot of those that are supposed to be catered for including people with disabilities and elderly people need to be catered for by this particular Ministry. My plea is to increase this Vote so that the Ministry will be able to cater for this disadvantaged society before we get to the budget in November.
HON. T. MLISWA: I would like the Minister to help supplement especially the disabled. The disabled have been left behind from an amenities point of view and the Constitution itself talks about resources permitting for the disabled. I would like the Minister to focus on their challenges which are immediate. They are about a population of 10 – 15% in the country. We do not see schools which are for them and the schools which they go to do not have amenities which they are supposed to have.
The issue of even the jobs, we need to come up with an incentive and if my memory serves me right, it was to say if a company employs the disabled, it would get such incentives and so forth from a tax point of view. It has to be a deliberate affirmative. The position on the disabled must be affirmative because we are way behind in terms of us meeting their obligations. It is a special need and as such, needs a special understanding and funding so that we are able to be up to speed with delays and so forth with the wheelchairs themselves and the gadgets that they need. We saw in terms of vehicles, again there are some who can afford and some cannot but can you also extend loans to them so that they are able to access vehicles because from a transportation point of view, it is difficult for them to jump into public transport and all that.
May we also have public transport which relates to them in terms of who they are and so forth. Every public entity must incorporate the disabled and that will be my plea to the Minister that you need to specifically give them a lot of money so that they are able to be seen as a people of Zimbabwe having equal rights like anybody else.
*HON. CHIDZIVA: In this Vote, I believe there is an area which was left out and it is the issue of drug and substance abuse. We have a lot of people who need psycho-social support and counselling. Some are committing suicide and some need rehabilitation but in this particular Vote, it is not mentioned maybe it is because we are not seeing it but there is a generation which is being diminished because of this. It might be facing extinction in the near future because of drug and substance abuse. In this particular Vote, we need to allocate funds towards the rehabilitation of this particular generation.
HON. NDUNA: I just want to add my voice on Vote Number 3 and I will also suggest in terms of supplementing Vote Number 3 to Section 13(4) of the Constitution that speaks to and about the issues of our endowment in terms of ubiquitous amount of mineral wealth so that some of that money seeing that it is in the community share ownership trust, goes to supplement the social welfare nature.
The second issue is of BEAM. If you look at the way it is structured, it gets up to Grade 7 and after Grade 7, I get the task as the legislator to further the education of those kids who would have been left at Grade 7 level. I have to take them to secondary school and subsequently to tertiary. My prayer is threefold, that the Minister first and foremost interrogates the BEAM committees because they are giving BEAM beneficiary initiatives to those that are not meant to benefit from BEAM. The BEAM committees are now meant to empower the councilors in the local community. You will find the well to do people with children on BEAM because they are sitting on the BEAM committees. You will find the well to do councilors having children going on the BEAM programmes. Inasmuch as I would want the Minister to increase the quantum of BEAM initiative, there is need to interrogate the people that are benefiting from BEAM, especially the parents of the children that are on BEAM committees. Nine out of ten BEAM committee members are the ones that have children that are benefiting from much to chagrin of those that are supposed to be benefiting.
The second issue is that let the BEAM disbursements go beyond Grade 7.
The third issue is that let BEAM disbursements be on time. Disbursements can be on time as long as the coffers of the Minister ballooned or there is proposal as I do, of enlarging the tent of the copious amount of money that you can have. I have said those mining houses within the area of the people that are benefiting from BEAM should also pay towards those coffers in order to compliment and augment the pittance that Vote 3 has got. There should not be any Minister that defends the mining houses when it comes to giving back to the community in the manner that I request that the gold finger allows these mining houses to give back to the communities. I have had people stand up to defend these mining houses. It should not be, it is not right and just. The Minister of Finance should get those monies from Section 13 (4) of the Constitution because it is sui generis and in a class of its own and it is right that these mining houses give back to the community especially that we owe it to posterity.
Already your coffers are constricted and here is an opportunity and I need that it be taken seriously on threefold – the first one is on beneficiaries, secondly we go above Grade 7 and lastly we expedite disbursements. I thank you.
*HON MADZIMURE: My request to the Minister of Finance is that when assessing the need for free education, why does it not start with those who are receiving BEAM support, to be given money with value? For instance, if it is US$30 which is converted to RTGS local currency, which means that inflation and fluctuations of rates should reflect in the RTGS so that the schools are able to survive because we can say that BEAM is useful but the challenge is that they delay paying these monies. When they pay the values would have depreciated.
Secondly, when we look at the challenges that are faced by parents up to “A” level we have a lot of school drop-outs who end up taking drugs because their parents cannot afford to take them to school. The Minister of Finance has a lot of responsibility of taking measures to allocate finances to our children’s education where we are talking of Education 5.0. Children from poor backgrounds cannot afford to experience that. You find such children taking up drugs.
We have a lot of parents who have worked for Zimbabwe for a long time. They are not war veterans and they did not go to big companies but these are the people who built Zimbabwe. You would find that most of these people are tired and old but they receive meagre monies like Z$1500 from the social welfare. Imagine receiving Z$1500 which cannot pay for two tollgates. The money that is being given to pensioners and the vulnerable is not sufficient as its value keeps depreciating. Looking at the USD value of that money, it is even less than US$6. It is important to determine the money in US dollars so that we understand how they are surviving.
Looking at other countries, for an old person to survive they will be talking about money which is given to one who is incapacitated and cannot look after themselves. Here in our country we just given them money that we know is valueless and it cannot cater for their needs. It is important that we disburse funds which are equivalent to a certain figure. For instance if it is US$50, if the rate is adjusted then it is adjusted accordingly. My request is on these two issues on the elderly people and school going children - these should be addressed. This should reflect in our schools being operational and being funded by Government.
(v)HON. WATSON: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. Can the Hon. Minister explain how the Minister of Public Service is going to use ZW$9 million and what is the value of the increase in their budget? If it is simply not disbursed, it is only a figure and it will not help the welfare of Zimbabweans. Can the Minister please not consider instituting and also putting into the Ministry and budget the provisions and the grants to the elderly who have no pensions and also the grants in aid to institutions that house elderly persons have not been paid in years. Could he please look into that? Thank you.
(v)HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Hon. Chair. My question has been tackled by Hon. Watson but I would like to add that there are groups where they look after mentally challenged people of any age including adults. Can the Hon. Minister look into the Government allocation to those homes that are looking after those people because three months ago, each person was getting ZW$1 500 per month as support and it is not enough. Could the Minister as a matter of urgency look into that? I thank you.
*HON. KWARAMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to speak on the issue of teachers’ children. Can we budget for teacher-student ratio? Payment of school fees for teachers’ children - what has happened and how far have you gone? Can that issue be brought out in this House? May the money be sent into their accounts instead of paying to the schools? It is prudent that you send money which is equivalent for three children to all teachers. I thank you.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity Hon. Chairman. The issue I want to bring forward in this House is an issue that transpired today. The issue happened today on my way to Parliament. Workers who made sure that we attain our independence in this country were coming from Malawi and even those from within this country, their husbands had their backs broken and they passed on. Today at the Post Office, it was just like they are tanked cattle. It was an eyesore seeing people crowded at the bank. All those elderly we are seeing are getting USD5 per month. Are we serious that someone is getting USD5 per month? Cooking oil on its own is USD6 without sugar. Some of them stay in the rural areas and they get on an omnibus to get USD5.
They are waiting for the money to accumulate for three months so that they get USD15. Let us look at ourselves how much we have gone with killing ourselves. If we kill this foundation, that of people we are giving birth, what will happen to them and who will look after them and guide them? It is those in Parliament who would have failed to implement and see to it that there is normalcy.
It is my plea that if possible, let there be a review for our pensioners. Let us do this in good faith. All the pensioners in this country – I also worked at National Railways of Zimbabwe, you cannot even get in a bank and get that money – what will I use it for? Even us tomorrow, we will be pensioners and then we get USD5 or USD15. It means that we were doing nothing by coming here to the Parliament of Zimbabwe. The little that we get, we try to use it to persuade the electorate to vote for us. There is no business for you and in 2023, you lose out and there is nothing for you. What then will happen to you?
Through you Mr. Chairman, to the Minister, it is my humble plea that we look at this issue with the urgency and seriousness it deserves as legislators. It is our anticipation that the situation would change when we are pensioners. Right now as we speak, we have ZWS and USD. Let it be worked out to say how much are we supposed to get and at what pensionable age.
I saw an elderly woman crying. This affects everyone across the board. War veterans are crying and everyone is affected. Let us consider this situation and give people money that has value and money that can assist them in their lives. Thank you.
+HON. BRIG. GEN. (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: Thank you Hon. Chairman for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to the issue. The money that is being given to our pensioners is very little. Most of them lost a lot of money due to inflation and the money ended up being useless. Even the money for insurance ended up without any value and the money that they had set aside for their residential areas ended up losing its value. My plea is that they get rebates and other incentives, the exemption on tollgates and also have incentives for water, rates and electricity may be the Government can assist. These are our parents. We are also going to grow old and no one will remain in his youthful age. It is so painful that when you are old and weak, you will be treated in such a manner.
Even if we say we want to give any of us ZW$1 500, what could we buy out of it? Let us try to give them at least ZW$43 000 which is equivalent to USD. As for NSSA, it is one of the organisations that are not performing effectively. If you are giving people ZW$16 000, and these are people who worked for long and you are earning ZW$43 000, what is it? Thank you Hon. Chairman.
+HON. PHULU: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity. I would like to add my voice to Vote Number 3 talking of the old aged people. Looking at this Vote, the additional 20 000, comparing with others, I see that this Vote, if we could increase it from 20 000 to 60 000. The Vote for elderly persons cannot be that low.
On children, as we know, children have many categories. We have children living on the streets, we have disabled children and also those on BEAM, which has up to millions of children. There is need to specify the allocations. Going back to the elderly persons, they have been disowned for quite a long time. I want to emphasise on what Hon. Mayihlome said that the elderly persons are owed a lot due to the money that is being allocated to the aged people. We are not supposed to debate as if we are in the House but I am appealing that these figures be revised, especially on the money that is being given to the elderly persons.
Looking at the exemptions that have been mentioned by Hon. Mayihlome, why is it difficult that an aged person passing a tollgate be given an exemption? A certain age should be set aside that anyone who has reached this age be given an exemption to pass through the tollgate for free. Most countries recognise their elderly person. We want that to be addressed so that we can also be respected when we are aged. I thank you.
Hon. Musarurwa having debated a wrong Vote.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, Order Hon. Member,
we have not yet reached that Vote.
+HON. MAHLANGU: Thank you very much Mr.Chairman. I want to add my voice to what was said by Hon. Mayihlome. I agree with him, especially on the welfare of the elderly persons. Hon. Minister, we are appealing that even though this is not directed to you, we have got a problem, especially when the elderly persons want to change ownership of their houses, especially when the other spouse has passed on. The elderly person will be earning 16 000 RTGs versus the US$800, which will be required by the local authorities for the change of ownership. We would want that if someone is now old, they should be exempted from such processes like change of ownership or may be the fare could be reduced or they should deduct from the money they get from NSSA. Most of them fail to change ownership and the house will remain in the name of the deceased spouse because they cannot afford the fees.
On the issue of BEAM, I want that after we approve the budget, we want the money to be released and paid to the schools right away. Right now, money is being deposited to schools after it would have lost value and they cannot develop the areas they want to develop at their schools. We would want that immediately as we agree on the budget, this money should be released and be allocated to the various schools. I thank you.
*HON. NYABANI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to say that the Minister should look into the issue of hunger. In the rural areas, we have old people and the disabled, they need food in the rural areas. Right now people are dying of hunger. There are promises that food is coming but on the ground, there is nothing. I think you should look into that.
Secondly, you should look into the issue of people living with disability and those who are terminally ill. Social Welfare does not have money. You should resource the Social Welfare. We are now performing the duties of Social Welfare because we are the ones who are taking care of people’s health. You should look into that.
(v) +HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity. I would also like to add my voice in this Supplementary Budget. Adding on what Hon. Mayihlome said when he talked about pensioners and NSSA; I am one of those people who receive money from NSSA. I had an aunt who passed on and was paid by NSSA. The money from NSSA and the money from pensions is mere nothing. It is around US$5. If we are talking of increasing to 20 000 RTGs, still it does not buy anything, even though it is increased to 30 000 RTGs, it cannot buy anything. We cry as we are widows and many of us want more money so that we can be able to buy something.
From NSSA, this is my fifth month without collecting it because even if I collect it, it is worth nothing. If I go to town to collect it, I would not be able to return home because it will be insufficient. I have to wait for six months so that I can buy something. What if I was someone who is coming from the rural areas, who has to board a bus to collect that little. I urge the Government to increase this money for pension and NSSA so that we can be able to buy food for our children. As Hon. Mayihlome has said that cooking oil is almost US$7 and we will be only earning US$5. If I collect that money for a month, I will just use for transport and not buy anything.
Now our elderly persons have to spend six months so that by the time they go to town, they can be able to buy something but they will only buy cooking oil and nothing else, no sugar nor soap. Government should look into the pensioners and widows; they are very much under paid. Noting that they have really worked for this country but the money they are being given is worthless. This is now called mudyandigere in Shona, but where is the mudyandigere part of it when they have nothing. We are asking that the Government should look into it, especially when we are talking about the supplementary budget. We are asking that the money should be revised so that they can be able to buy only basic foods. I am crying on behalf of other widows who are like me. Fathers and mothers also who are pensioners who are languishing in poverty and hunger in these days, whilst they worked for the development of this country? I thank you.
+HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you Chair, I will only add one item that pertains to the elderly people where they are spending three months without going to collect their money. They only earn $17 000. I urge the Hon. Minister to consider adding only US$50 so that they can have the same salary as that given to the kraal heads. I thank you.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you for according me this opportunity. My only issue is that we are crying about the pensioners. Pensioners are not getting anything because of the instability of the currency. I think the Minister should consider putting US dollars in pension houses so as to cushion the pensioners until things stabilise and also consider pegging their pensions in US dollars.
HON. I. NYONI: Thank Hon. Chair. On Vote No 3, on Social Welfare in the supplementary budget, I note that the disbursements on social welfare were nine billion up to June 2022 yet the allocation was 19 billion. This shows that slightly less than half was disbursed. Perhaps the Hon. Minister should look at the issue of disbursement so that the social welfare is well oiled all the time. The other issues have been raised by other Members of Parliament but I want to add that we know that elderly citizens are covered by various forms of pensions. Those who have been gainfully employed are covered by institutions such as NSSA and Old Mutual but we have those that have the senior citizens that have never been employed but are also in need of this social welfare. It is important that senior citizens over 65 years be covered by some form of pension. We know in other countries there is some form of payment for all citizens who are over 65 years.
Lastly, my recommendation – I know that the Minister did increase the proposed allocation to a substantial amount but could it be slightly increased by another two or three billion. I thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Mr. Chair, I thank the Hon. Members for those robust contributions. Let me start with the contribution by Hon. Mushoriwa who wondered what the item on hiring services is and why it is so high in terms of the budget allocation under Vote 3. This item pertains to hiring conference facilities, transportation facilities cars and whatever else needs to be used on a temporary basis which belongs to someone else and has been procured on that basis. The pricing of these services – you have seen our reaction as Government has been inflated overall and that is what we can say across ministries. That is why we have introduced this value for money process where we want to make sure that we are getting value for money from these services that are being offered and we will be much stricter as we go forward. We had to budget for the status quo which was certain prices which were around and we had to budget accordingly. However, going forward, we will be tougher in managing this kind of budget line in terms of hiring services.
There is also a question about whether we would increase civil servants salaries and his proposal was looking at increasing the US dollar component more than the Zim-dollar component. It is a proposal and we take that on board as a proposal when we get to that moment of decision making. Another Member raised the issue of increasing the programme on social welfare aspects but that is what we are doing. If you look at what we have done in the budget, we have increased the social welfare aspect. If you look at that aspect it is 30.3 billion out of the full 34 billion. It has been quite a large increase in my view. Then there is the issue of targeting the disabled raised by Hon. Mliswa, which is a very good point supporting the disabled at the workplace for them to get jobs and so forth; actually we already have the programme. I announced it in November that we will extend the tax rebate that would be introduced for use at the workplace to the disabled. Now if your company employs a disabled individual for at least one year without necessarily firing someone else but increasing employment in the process, they get a rebate equal to the salary of that disabled person. We believe we should just monitor whether this programme is effective or not. If we need to enhance it, we will do so but we are taking some action here already.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Minister, there is a vehicle, Mitsubishi truck, grey in colour without number plates, it is blocking other vehicles.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: There are a few Members who mentioned the issue of drug abuse – if you check in the Blue book on page 25 under Vote 3, under the notes, there is a two budget line under Social Welfare Programme 3 that pertains to children in the street and then children in difficult circumstances. The drug abuse support programme sits within those programmes. There is no specific line because it depends on how it is handled. But also, there is support through the Ministry of Health because some of the drug abuse issues result in mental health challenges, so that Ministry also chips in. You find that our budget for drug abuse support is split across various institutions or indeed the two ministries as well. The Ministry of Social Welfare has created a unit within the Ministry to deal with drug abuse cases and that is being supported – just wanted to make that clear.
On interrogating the BEAM committees, yes I will pass on that message to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare who administer the programme to say this needs further interrogation so that they do their job.
The BEAM programme should go beyond Grade 7 – this is already the case.
Expediting the disbursements – I agree and this came from Hon. Nduna.
Hon. Madzimure basically mentioned that come 2023 Budget, we should make sure that we are clear on how much is being allocated per child within the BEAM programme and be more granular – I agree with him, we will do that. He also mentioned support for the youth who are afflicted with drug addiction problem, we have again allocated a budget and there are items that support that challenge.
On the grant for the elderly, Hon. Watson – payment to the institutions; that has had no payments for the last few years. I will certainly investigate that and work with the Ministry of Social Welfare in that investigation so that we can allocate resources towards that. I think the same issue was raised by Hon. Markham.
A colleague raised an issue around the incentive for teachers in terms of school fees for up to three children per teacher – may be to consider extending the grant to teachers without children; for now we had to deal with the challenge which was school fees, that is why we are focussing on teachers with school children. It is a proposal that we can consider in future but for now, we want to ensure that the children go to school.
Hon. Matangira raised the issue of pension payments at US$5 – I do not know about this. At the moment, Government is paying US$50 hard cash and not US$5. In addition to that, the pensioner is getting the ZWL component as well. Perhaps this is NSSA payment but even then, NSSA has been indexing their payments. This is something that needs to be investigated but I am not so sure about these low figures coming out. I will engage him one-on-one so that I understand the issue but also engage the Minister of Social Welfare just in case it is a NSSA issue. I thought the payments were above the US$5 that he mentioned.
Hon. Rtd. Mayihlome on benefits for pensioners including not paying anything on tollgates – that is a proposal that is being made that we could consider going forward. I think that is good.
Increase in the amount for elderly support – we have it in the supplementary budget and we have made an additional ZWL20 million – we have increased that portion. Should we want to take it further, we could be able to virement within that social welfare budget and move things around but that is detail now in terms of the actual budget implementation but the envelop is the ZWL30.3 billion.
Hon. Mahlangu also mentioned the issue around the elderly in terms of the transfer fees being paid by widows when they transfer properties into their own names after the death of a spouse. Again, this is a proposal that should be looked into. We will go back to the drawing board and consider that with my team in Treasury but it is not a budget issue as such. It is something that we should consider in the Finance Bill to give an exemption of the sort. It is a good proposal. Quick disbursement of funds to schools, the BEAM programme, I agree with you; we will certainly endeavour to do that.
Hon. Nyabani, on the food deficit mitigation programme, the programme has always been there and there has been a response in terms of the cry for help. There has been ad hoc disbursement but starting in October, we will get into full throttle with that programme. From October to March, we have strategic grain reserves already – almost 500 000 metric tonnes. What I am sensing from Hon. Nyabani is that there is an urgent need now and therefore what I would like to do is to advise him to contact the Minister of Social Welfare so that his district can be assisted immediately. There is a disbursement already available – please come forward and we get this sorted out.
On the issue of medical support which he also raised, there is a medical support for the elderly – there are structures that do that. Again, I would like to understand though it is a programme implemented by the Ministry of Social Welfare; I do not know whether it is a straight budget issue or rather an execution issue. I think that needs to be investigated but there are structures that support the elderly when it comes to medical support.
For what it is worth Hon. Chair, if I can address Hon. Nyabani directly as well – if we get the recent 2022 national census, there is a whole section that you may find interesting that pertains to an issue called functioning where we go into detail about the number of disabled people district by district. We have got the figures now and with his help on the ground, I am sure we can further fine-tune and get to know who are the elderly, disabled or who have what type of disability and therefore need support. We have very granular data now coming out of the census and I am happy to share that data.
Then from Hon. Stella Ndlovu on the NSSA payments, these are NSSA payments and not payments coming out of Treasury directly but Treasury has a role to advice on the right level for NSSA payments. I have taken this on board and will engage the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare that perhaps they should increase these NSSA payments to make sure that our pensioners are well looked after.
Again, I think, she also raised the issue of care for the destitute, especially in rural areas. There are structures through the Social Welfare District offices, I would like to understand that maybe it is an issue of execution but if it is an issue of budget, then we can also look into that.
Then Hon. Tekeshe basically urged pension houses to increase payments and also pay in USD. Well, I cannot really instruct them as such but I have listened. Let me engage them through IPEC which is the body that I control because there is the option of paying in both currencies; that is, ZWL and USD but it is a proposal which I think has merit. We will engage through IPEC.
Then from Hon. Nyoni, the issue of the disbursements sitting at ZWL9 billion for the ministry that is up to June compared to the full budget of ZWL19.5 billion. It is at ZWL9 billion and on target, we are halfway through the year. So that budget is on target. We should have disbursed basically about 50% and we are close to that. So it is not way behind compared to other MDAs that are as low as 30%, so this is not too bad.
Then there is the issue of pension payments of all citizens over 65 years old, again this is a proposal. We are rethinking of a more comprehensive social welfare programme for everyone, this is a proposal that again we will take forward and consider going forward and see if it is something that we could implement. Of course, we will then have to balance that with the current welfare programmes in terms of social welfare. What is in place? Could it be enhanced or improved? This is a proposal that we will take forward. I thank you.
HON. PHULU: Mr. Chair, I would like to direct the Hon. Minister to Page 25. I had proposed that the additional amount for the elderly be increased to ZWL20 000.00, you commented on that very quickly. My worry is if you look at the pauper burial, initially it was at ZWL80 million, and the support for the elderly was at ZWL76 million but if you look now, we have given the pauper burial an additional ZWL100 million and ZWL20 million to the elderly. We have valued corpses more than the living. I do not know whether it is an error or an oversight? So I am asking for your comment on that Hon. Minister.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Hon. Chairman. Mine is not a question but I think just a correction for the Hon. Minister to note that the Hansard is the minute book of Parliament. I worry that if names are not mentioned on who said what, then we will have problems.
Number one is, I spoke on the disadvantaged and persons with disabilities and BEAM. You said, another member, my name is Paurina Mpariwa. The one who spoke on drug abuse by youths was Hon. Chidziva. I thought that should be minuted so that it reads well. Thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Hon. Chair, I have two issues of clarity. One Hon. Minister said that BEAM is now going higher than Grade 7 (Seven), I want you to clarify on that one. I know the war veterans’ children are getting payment for their fees at tertiary institutions but for BEAM children, I have to foot the bill after Grade 7 so that we know if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
Secondly, I need to know your attitude towards the proposal I put where mining houses should seed some finance of some sort in particular as they are directed by Section 13 (iv) of the Constitution. Where the minerals extracted in the areas of their jurisdiction should benefit the locality and such monies whether from Community Share Ownership Trust or directly from mining houses should be directed by the gold-finger who is you, Hon. Minister; in order to seed that money. It ameliorates so that it becomes an antidote on this issue that we are talking about, compliments and augments the pittance resources that you have in order that the children, in particular, those who need to be complemented their education aptitude, in particular, the BEAM initiative. I need to hear your attitude…
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Member, be brief please, you said you were going to be brief.
HON. NDUNA: Yes, I need to hear your attitude towards that.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you very much. The Hon. Member is correct, was it Hon. Phulu? That for the elderly, we have increased that budget from ZWL75 million, by ZWL20 million, it is now ZWL95 million. Then the Pauper Burials, we have increased their budget from ZWL50 million, added another ZWL100 million and it is now ZWL150 million – that is what is in here.
My response which I am going repeat is that, I certainly will consider maybe virementing between those two budgets. It will not change the envelope that we are proposing in terms of the budget for this ministry that will not change the envelope. It is a matter of just moving money between sub-programmes three under Social Welfare. So we have taken note of that, we will fine tune on what is on Page 25 of the Blue Book. I thank you.
Then there is Hon. Mpariwa, you are right, I know you. I did not mention your name. Yes, it has been corrected.
Then Hon. Nduna on the BEAM programme. Yes, the BEAM programme goes beyond Grade 7. I think we can take it offline and see whether the cases that you have can be assisted through that BEAM programme.
I agree with you on the mining companies, it is part of corporate social responsibility that mining companies ought to support the communities where they are extracting resources, better still if they support those communities through Community Trusts, building schools and giving out scholarships, supporting the elderly and so forth. Some mining companies are doing that, and some are not and I agree with him that if all of them could do this, it would be a good thing. After all, it will increase their brownie points on the CSR programme considerations. I thank you.
Vote 3 put and agreed to.
On Vote 4 – Defence and War Veterans - $71 515 581.00:
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. We know that a head count of war veterans is in progress. Should the numbers be surpassing the targeted number in terms of the budget? the Minister should expect in terms of the demands; we know that it is a minimum number but because the welfare of the war veterans has not been catered for some time, just have some kind of a dancing floor in terms of the increase in the 71 that you have allocated.
I propose that he put it at 80 so that at least when the head count is complete, the pay-outs will not strain the Ministry in terms of the pay-outs I thank you.
*HON. HWENDE: If we look at the issue of housing for soldiers, I noticed that you have put the value of the houses which are being built in Dzivarasekwa but there is no money for the other projects so that our soldiers will get decent housing because their money is not enough. However, if they get decent accommodation, looking at the money that we have put forward, it is not enough to finish a project because it has been there for a long time.
We also have the issue of Manyame, the hospital that we were talking about yesterday. The money that the Hon. Minister has set aside, I do not think it will be enough to complete that project or to furnish it with specialized equipment that is needed there.
If we have a well equipped hospital, our leaders will not go outside to seek medication. The reason why people run away and seek treatment outside the country is because of people who put it on social media when our leaders go to these private hospitals.
The provisions in the barracks when it comes to food, I think you should increase the money because there is hunger. If you go through the committee reports, you will find that the provisions there are not enough. The issue of security affects everyone in the nation, so the soldiers should be well taken care of.
Most of the things in that Vote are okay but I also want to support the issue of war veterans, ex-detainees even the war collaborators, their welfare should be looked into because the money that we are giving people is not enough. If you see a war veteran taking home USD30 to 35, you would find that most of them are incapacitated. So I think you should look at their welfare so that they live well during their retirement time.
+HON. S. K. MGUNI: I wanted to find out whether the Minister considered those who were recently vetted? What of the widows of our veterans? Thirdly, the empowerment programmes should consider war veterans and this should be considered throughout the ministries. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Hon. Chair, this is a very important Vote because this is the last line of defence and any country that aspires to be prosperous must have peace. We have enjoyed a lot of peace and that becomes an assurance for an investor. However, what I want to also look at is that there are a lot of companies, I do not know if the Minister is aware that the Zimbabwe War Veterans have got companies, they have been given a 1 000 ha of land in each province to augment that budget. The problem here is; how much is being generated from the resources that are given to the military? It is important because the war veterans are supposed to be benefiting from that as well and we talk about the canteens in the barracks as well. The soldiers must be benefiting from them, from the resources which they get from all these entities.
Therefore, it becomes very difficult without us knowing how much money is made so that we support them and that cannot be at all being escaped. Rusununguko is a company with shareholders and it is to benefit the army – how much is it making? Not only that, they even have the farms, the cattle, the agricultural activities which they are embarking on. Why are they not keeping cattle for their soldier at the end of the day?
Without an asset register and accountability of how much money is there, it becomes very difficult. That is why I had asked the Minister of Defence that Rusununguko must have financial accounts and their lack of submitting accounts makes it very difficult because how did you keep on giving an entity which is not accountable at the end of the day?
The military is one of the most disciplined institutions and it required certain people to be able, especially the chief accounting officer or the Permanent Secretary, to get stock from them. Whenever you want anything from the military you get it. So, I would not think it is really the Commanders and the Generals but the people presiding over these ministries. It is important for us to understand what they are doing with the resources given to war veterans to be able to generate an income.
The other issue is on health which has been mentioned that there are facilities which need to be done up. They have gone into joint ventures with a lot of companies, especially the Chinese companies who are good at building. You see what they have done to the airport and the Parliament. Hate or like the Chinese, but they are much disciplined when it comes to work and construction. They have a good relationship. During the struggle, we were helped by the Chinese. The military too must also enter into joint ventures.
What is happening in terms of the PPPs because that is another way of making money and people are very safe with the army and so forth? The other issue which is very important is the schools and accommodation. There are children and which schools are they going to because the issue we have in terms of adding a lot of money is towards the welfare of their families. If you are getting RTG$20 000 per month, that will not take you anywhere. There are medical aid aspects, school fees for the children and so forth, so why can Government equally not take over that? It is also important that we deal with reality.
They are owed a lot of money again and you know Chairman, there is a court order which they won. It has taken long and some were arrested but I will not talk about that as it is before the courts. They were matching to ensure that they get their monies from a court order. What is happening to also deal with that deficit because we have a tendency of moving forward before we move with that deficit and so forth? It will be interesting for the Minister to also incorporate in his budget to clear the past. Legacy issues, whether they are with you or not with you, let us deal with legacy issues because they do not take us anywhere. The welfare of the people is hinged on legacy issues more than anything else.
Finally, the military itself was well-known for sport. They have sporting facilities there. You need to put a budget to rehabilitate them because recreation is important for them. It keeps them fit. The gyms, if you look at it have become scientific because you cannot have a military which is weak without training. We need to incorporate that and of course a diet is critical to complement what they need. I see that some of them, like you have done it with the nurses, I do not know if it has been extended to the junior officers in the military in terms of duty free cars. Are they entitled to that as well? – [HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Yes.] – I think it is important that you do that. Other than that, I think we really need to be quite serious about supporting them in every way because that is our last line of defence. They must never be hungry or short of anything and a lot needs to be done. As ZDA Company, what is it doing and where are they getting the uniforms done?
Lastly, those helicopters are a hazard and they need to be given money for new helicopters. Those helicopters have been creating a lot of problems and are no longer up to standard. There are too many helicopter accidents which have happened due to them being old and we cannot continue losing great pilots and so forth. It is important that they are resourced because the good thing about their helicopters is that they also serve the President and the Government ministers getting from point A to B. When we had Cyclone Idai, we had to get helicopters from South Africa yet we must have good stable helicopters so that they are able to assist the Government in many programmes.
There is no country which cannot afford to have a private jet for national security reasons. It must be under the military where the President uses it and if he is not using it, it is leased out to people who want to be using it and we still make money because hiring jets is a security threat. The number one citizen of the country, whether we like it or not, must be safe. It is never for the President and he will never go with it if his term finishes but it will remain the property of the Government and revenue can be generated from that as well.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: I would like to add my voice on this Vote. The challenge that we are facing is that when there is peace, people take it for granted that there will not be any eventuality. The Ministry of Defence should be vigilant. For example, we know that in Zambia, there is an American base and we do not know why. Zimbabwe is facing sanctions because of the land reform. This has been a threat for a long time especially looking at the so-called targeted sanctions which are not just affecting individuals but are affecting the general populace. So, the Defence Ministry should be funded in terms of helicopters, jets, weapons and other resources.
The Ministry of Defence should be given billions of dollars. The billions that are being mentioned are RTGs. For example, you mentioned $300 billion which was allocated to war veterans but since January, the beneficiaries of war veterans did not receive school fees. You find war veterans dying all over the country but no one is burying or funding them but we just talk saying they have been given $300 billion while they are not benefiting from these monies that are being talked of.
Right now, war veterans are despised and have been made cheap. You find that war veterans have been broadened in terms of the different categories but they need to benefit from these monies that are being talked of. For example, school fees which are pegged at three quarters in USD and a quarter in RTGs for some schools. This has been given a go-ahead by the Government but war veterans are getting $25 and sometimes $50, where do they get US$300 for school fees? Government should pay for children of war veterans as was agreed on in the Act of Parliament. Government should pay for their fees. So, the issue of war veterans being a laughing stock is an issue which is quite critical.
Hon. Minister of Finance, if you had experienced the pain of leaving in the bush, you will discover that it was not easy. Let us not just talk about giving war veterans without actually anything tangible on the ground. There is need to give war veterans money with value. Our job as war veterans is to defend our country. When a country goes to war, you would discover that there is no need for training new soldiers because we are here to defend our country. War veterans should be given money because Z$300 billion is not a lot of money. If it were US$300 billion, then we would appreciate but this is local currency.
People talk of the black market and if you give war veterans whatever amount, they go to the black market because the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s auction system does not allow individuals to bid foreign currency. War veterans do not have companies. The companies that we mentioned are not in existence. My point is that the Ministry of Defence should be funded so that they restock their weaponry and ammunitions. There should be food security within that sector. War veterans, including those who were recently vetted are not happy because they are seeing what is happening.
I have mentioned things that are not in your Budget but my request is that Z$300 billion should be topped up so that war veterans can pay school fees and other responsibilities. I am happy that I have spoken facing the Minister of Finance. Please may you look at the welfare of war veterans so that they receive a substantial allocation which will cater for their needs? Some war veterans still have nightmares thinking of what happened during the war. My request is that war veterans should benefit and receive a substantial allocation.
HON. NDUNA: I just want to add my voice in terms of the budget for war veterans. I am alive to the fact that there is a Rhodes legacy which was left in mineral wealth in claims in South Africa. He also left the Victoria Falls Hotel which is co-managed by the NRZ and the Zambian Railways, including but not limited to the Victoria Falls Bridge where our rail crosses to Zambia. These are infrastructure development issues that were left by that Rhodes legacy and it is my thinking that there is need to put in the forefront of the interrogation of these claims that run into US$ billion that reside in South Africa.
I saw the Minister of Transport with his counterparts from Zambia and South Africa trying to sanitise this issue. If you also include the war veterans inside that board, there is going to be expeditious movement and interrogation of those claims and minerals in order that we can have those minerals come and augment the pittance of resources that you have for the budget for the war veterans.
The face of poverty resides in the faces of war veterans, war collaborators, restrictees, detainees and those that went to war in order to give us the freedom and democracy that we now call Zimbabwe. It is my thinking together in the mould of those that fought in World War I and II. The war veterans of the World War II enjoy benefits from that war. Our soldiers were in World War II and they are in London as we speak but it is the difference of the skin and it is my thinking therefore that the same war veterans that reside in Zimbabwe, the formerly marginalised majority who brought this country through the submission of the neo colonialists and colonialist should also enjoy the benefit.
I am a former soldier and when I went into the army, we had perks that we would enjoy that were part of the conditions of service. As I have said, the face of poverty resides in soldiers, war veterans, war collaborators and such alike. I propose that the land in the environs of all camps should have houses established for those war veterans and soldiers that are retirees because most retired soldiers are former war veterans and they are in the streets without houses. They do not have a decent pension where they can buy for themselves houses and vehicles. There is copious amount of land and the land around camps is of a security nature. It if my thinking that if you go around the airport and Manyame Air Base, that land should have infrastructure development like housing so that you can give to the soldiers and the war veterans non-monetary benefits. If you try to chase inflation and try and give them US dollars or RTGS, it would not work. At some point, you will need to get value stored in non-monetary things, in particular housing. If a white man dies today, there is sure enough reason to leave a house to their descendants but if a black man dies, in particular a former soldier or war veteran, there is nothing to leave to their descendants. We owe it to posterity. It is my thinking that for them to leave a legacy and infrastructure or housing, there is need for them to be capacitated immediately and there is land for that.
The last issue that I want to talk about has also been spoken to and about. Delta Airlines is an American airline which doubles up in terms of escorting or taking care of the Executive. There is need to have an airline which resides in the military that also takes care of our Executive. It is just and right. It should not be an issue of “kuyeuka bako mvura yanaya.” There are a lot of issues of security nature that reside around the President and his entourage. It is my thinking that let us look at it holistically and it is possible. There were Dakotas at the time and other related aircrafts. It is my thinking that let us resuscitate that through means that are within the confines of Government in order that we have an executive airline that resides in the military. Thank you very much Hon. Chair.
HON. MADZIMURE: Hon. Chair, I just want to say the general debate was done and we are now dealing with pertinent issues as far as the vote allocations are concerned – [HON. NDUNA: Are you trying to assassinate me?] – I am not assassinating anyone – [HON. NDUNA: Inaudible interjection.] – You are not the only person who has debated here. Why are you jittery? Did I mention your name?
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Member, proceed.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Hon. Chair. Looking at the amounts allocated to the war veterans, I think the Minister had an oversight because when we debated the vote last year, the number of war veterans that we had was not even more than 30.000. What we now have, because of the new policy that we adopted, we increased the number of war veterans. I think they must be now over a 100.000 war veterans. If you look at what we had allocated then which was around $1.7 billion and we have added almost a 100% to that, we are not looking at the numbers that we increased in terms of the war veterans themselves. This makes the adjustment to mean virtually nothing. Hon. Chair, the moment we promise someone as a Government that we are going to give you a pay-out as a war veteran, they also expect to live slightly better than how they used to live before you allocated anything to them. They all were rushing around going to these centres, being vetted and the like. If you look at what we are allocating today and you divide it by the number of war veterans and also the real value of that money, there is nothing. Can the Hon. Minister seriously consider making sense on that particular allocation? As far as I am concerned, what we are going to pass today, if we pass it in the current form as it is, we will not have done any justice to the war veterans and will not be meaning what we meant when we decided that people go back, be vetted and be included as war veterans.
Hon. Chair, whilst I do not have any problems with more people being added, the real war veterans who were combatants during the war, we have not done anything to them in terms of honouring them by making them comfortable. So, we have given ourselves another burden but we have failed to comfortably look after our combatants themselves. Can the Minister change his figures as far as this vote is concerned?
Hon. Chair, the welfare of the current war veterans and their children will also include those who were added. It is the Government’s obligation and the Government accepted this obligation to pay their children’s school fees. As Hon. Chinotimba said, if you go to a school today, they will tell you that $400 must be in US dollars. All the war veterans, the US dollars that they get on a monthly basis is $50. Therefore, a war veteran needs almost eight months for him to put together $400 fees for one child. Again, what does this mean when we put before this House a supplementary budget of this value? It does not work. Can the Minister consider making changes to that vote on the basis that we promised to pay the war veterans?
HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Hon. Chair. I also want to add my voice on this. Firstly, before I go into debate, I do not know whether the Hon. Chair can also help us. I want to concur with Hon. Madzimure that we are now going into debate as if we are starting to formulate a budget. We are not starting all over again. We are only debating a supplementary budget on a budget which is already there. I think let us deal with the votes.
In my view, on this current vote, looking at the size of what you have given to the war veterans and the army, I would urge the Hon. Minister to increase that budget if ever that is possible from his back pocket. He increases that budget to cater for things that I will list here:
Firstly, the challenges that we have with our soldiers today, are issues like food, their rations, the prices they face and so forth. Why can we not have garrisons in every camp so that they have got their own special revolving sources of basic commodities? Then we go to the issue of war veterans as my colleagues have already said. I think we also need to know, has the Minister factored in the issue of the USD component of the income they are getting as a pension in the budget that he has supplemented. Then we have the category of the other war veterans or veterans of the liberation struggle. The Minister has provided funds for them to be vetted but in your supplementary budget, there is no mention of them and the expectations are very high as to what is going to happen to these people. Are they forgotten or it is there hidden in your figures, so you are going to look after them? Thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Chair. This Vote is actually important. I know the Hon. Minister had responded that when you talk of hiring, it is to hire things on a temporary basis, but I want to put it to the Hon. Minister that if you look at the Vote, on $6 billion, you see the outturn up to June, it tells you something is amiss. You cannot have your army depending mostly on hired vehicles or other equipment. I believe it is imperative that they are well funded.
Mr. Chairman, I have got a camp in my constituency, Dzivarasekwa Presidential Guard. The things that we have noted and which put the name of our men and women into disrepute are the following; you meet youngsters who are our soldiers putting on these shoes that can actually show you that they have been in use maybe for more than a year or so and if you check, even if you go to the Mess Hall where they are supposed to drink at the barracks and refresh, things are actually so bad. If you then also check, another aspect is the appearance of our army barracks. You look at the Dzivarasekwa Presidential Guard, it is now dilapidated. I am not so sure because I am looking into the Vote here and I am just wondering whether it is covered under the procurement and services or other goods and services not classified above, but even if you look at the figures Mr. Chairman, they do not speak to the need that is there.
What you do not want to happen in a country is, you do not want to see your men in uniform moving out of the camp, let us say from the Mess coming to civilian night clubs. They come there more often than not. They may not be well resourced than the civilians and it creates a problem because some of them end up getting into physical fights and it just does not put the name of a soldier in good light. So I am just asking the Hon. Minister, maybe he will advise us whether the provisions are there towards the uniforms of our soldiers, the rehabilitation of where they stay, the question of their Mess and refreshments and the other stuff, but if it is not included there. maybe there is actually a real need to possibly seek an increase in this because it is very crucial. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. Chairman. I thank the Hon. Members for their contributions on this Vote in terms of input. Let me start with the supplementary Vote allocation itself. Hon. Chair, the initial allocation was ZWL61.6 billion and we are proposing to add more than that, ZWL71.5 billion. So we are recognising that there is need to increase the budget for the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans and we have responded. So the total budget has moved from ZWL61.6 billion to ZWL 133.1 billion.
That is quite an increase indeed, but let me go to various contributions. Let me start with the contribution from Hon. Hwende who basically made the point that we need to invest more in other institutional accommodation and not just Dzivarasekwa. I just wanted to let him know that we are doing exactly that. We are not just focusing on Dzivarasekwa but we are focusing on various accommodation right across the country. For example, at Manyame Air Base, we are just not dealing with the hospital. Also, there is accommodation around that barrack which we have been upgrading. If we look at the barracks at William Ndangana in Mutare in Manicaland, that is also being dealt with, it is being upgraded. We have now put together plans to upgrade the Amaganyana Barrack in Plumtree as well and then also the Air Force houses in Gweru are also being looked into. So we are impacting right across the board, various institutional accommodation for the Defence Forces and not just at Dzivarasekwa.
He is right that we need probably to make sure that we acquire a state of the art equipment for Manyame Hospital because we want this to be a high end hospital and agree with him that we will be doing so, but this cannot just be taken care of through the supplementary budget. These are also multi-year projects, so both the supplementary budget plus the 2023 budget would include this kind of support. In fact, overally, there is a split between the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans and the Ministry of Health and Child Care who look after our hospitals.
The issue of rations is correct. That is something we will target through the supplementary budget, but also on the highlight that as the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans questioned the other day and I worked with her on this, we have introduced the military salary concept which goes into detail in terms of various allowances for the members of the Defence Forces.
Then Hon. Mguni on the issue of the additional budget for those who have been vetted in terms of war veterans who have been vetted, well you know the pension for war veterans is not just sitting in the Ministry responsible for war veterans. If you check under the statutory obligations within the Votes, right at the end, that is where those pensions actually sit. So they are all not within the war veterans’ line that you see here. There is an extra budget elsewhere under that section. So there is a lot more on that.
I also want to highlight something. If you look at the pay-outs to war veterans, they are linked to serving members within the army. It is about 75% of the salary of a warrant officer grade 2. That is what a war veteran earns and then on top of that, they receive the US$50 in addition to that Zimbabwean Dollar component. I just wanted to clarify that the salary moves up as that of serving warrant officers move up. They are actually linked 75% in that way.
Then in terms of empowerment for war veterans, some Members mentioned that, I think it was Hon. Mguni. We have done exactly that. In June last year, we launched the War Veterans Investment Company which has got mining claims under 21 mining claims for various minerals, six farms. There is also a real estate company that was created, a financial services company that is already being launched in partnership with POSB, a tourism company that will also exploit opportunities within the tourism sector and we are basically saying that the war veterans perhaps should try to work those farms through the CBZ Agro-yield Commercial Programme with AFC or whichever bank wants to support them. We have created or are in the process of creating an income strip which is based on the empowerment principle for war veterans. They have a board that was created and one of their assets is from the gold mining company which will be giving them a second dividend in the next month or two.
From Hon. T. Mliswa; the issue of the war veterans company that you have raised again; that is exactly what I have just addressed that we have given them the assets in mining, agriculture, tourism, real estate, financial services and there is a whole group of companies that is run by a board. I do not have any accounts from the Nkululeko/Rusunungoko companies within the defence forces. I will make a request to see those. I have no idea as to how much they are making and how profitable it is. He is right on the facilities that perhaps there is need to do joint ventures with Chinese investors to develop more health facilities for our defence forces and war veterans, we will certainly pursue that. He said that they need further support in education facilities, we will look into that. We will deal with legacy issues, upgrading sports facilities for the military, I agree with it.
On the issue of duty free cars for those serving under the military, actually they are the second highest beneficiary on that duty free programme. The first is secondary and primary teachers, second is the military personnel and third is the police and then the rest of the civil service follow; they are beneficiaries. ZDI, I do not know if they have accounts for ZDI. He mentioned the issue of equipment, helicopters and also perform civilian duties from the Air Force, we have really been supporting this and we have spent quite a bit of resource being extended to the Air Force to revamp their equipment. Some of you even show somehow jets that did fly past at the Trade Fair and they have not been flown for 20 years and suddenly they are up in the air, all those are resources that we have extended to the Air Force.
We have done quite a bit and we continue to do more. The need for basically an aircraft that is for use by the Executive that is housed under the military - that is a proposal that certainly we will look into. From Hon. Chinotimba, he talked about the equipment for defence forces., As I said, we have done quite a bit especially the Air Force but we will do more for the other wings such as the army and so forth. Of course, we are resource constrained and most of this equipment requires hard US dollars; we will lend as much support as possible.
On the budget for the war veterans, as I said, the pensions budget is sitting elsewhere and not under this Ministry but sitting under statutory obligations where we have no choice but to meet those obligations. So we have taken care of that including the additional members of the war veterans group who have been vetted and have now been included in that group.
Hon. Nduna regarding the land that is owned by NRZ in South Africa which also involves Zambia that was bequeathed to us in Zambia that war veterans perhaps should be included in the board. This is a proposal that I will pass on to the Ministry of Transport so that when they constitute the board that will exploit these resources, war veterans are also included. He also went on to talk about housing benefits for war veterans, this again will be considered under non-monetary benefits. It is a very good idea that perhaps we should look into this and we will consider it going forward. He also emphasised the need for transportation for the Executive with aeroplanes that are housed within the military.
Hon. Madzimure talked about including the additional budget for the additional vetted war veterans. We have done that at the risk of repeating. It is sitting under that Statutory Pensions portion. The supplementary is really to cover the next 6 months that is all. Going further, we have another budget for 2023. This is just to cover the first six months but also not all MDAs have actually used their budget, so they still need to use the current budget and then take on the supplementary budget for the next six months. So, I think we have adequate resource envelope to really take care of some of these issues that are being raised.
Hon. Togarepi, he is right that let us not go into further debate on issues around the activities of these ministries for which the Votes are being put before this House but rather let us focus on the allocations. He mentioned that we should increase rations, the issue of garrison shops, and shops. There are garrison shops that have already been established. I urge him to visit the one at Manyame barracks. I have seen it and there is a fully fledged garrison shop and there are several around the country in our cantonments. We just want to make sure that going forward, they have adequate support so that we remove whatever duties and taxes to make sure the soldiers in the military can access affordable basic commodities.
On the USD component of the war veteran’s budget, as I said it is already there, they are getting the US$50 in addition to the 75% of the salary which is linked to that of a warrant officer Grade 2. From Hon. Mushoriwa, he came back to the issue of cost of hiring certain services whether it is transportation or whatever, yes agreed this is high right across Government and that is what we are dealing with now in terms of value for money principle that we have introduced. You will see us really managing these costs so they do not run away because most of the pricing in the past has been based on forward exchange rate pricing, parallel market exchange as opposed to the proper official exchange rate. Now on the issue of accommodation for the military that Hon. Mushoriwa mentioned, again as I said we are dealing with it in various barracks or cantonments, we are building houses and the Ministry of Housing is also involved in the programme. I thank you.
HON. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of order Mr. Chair.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: What is your point of order?
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Chair, it is very dark out there, there is no light and one of our Hon. Members has fallen down. We ask that the administration switches on the lights.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: The administration is going to look at that.
Vote 4 put and agreed to.
On Vote 5, Finance and Economic Development; $127 647 990.700.00:
HON. MUSHORIWA: I just want to find out from the Hon. Minister, we have got an embarrassing situation where one of the agencies that fall under the Ministry of Finance, ZIMSTATS, I want to find out whether sufficient resources have been paid to put aside for ZIMSTAT to liquidate the debts that they accrued during the enumeration exercise. I also know and I have got people within my constituency who also complain that they have not received part of their promised allowances.
The second issue is on ZIMRA. I take note Hon. Minister that this is a supplementary but there are issues under ZIMRA which are a cause for concern. The first issue, I think you are aware of the need which was mentioned within the Budget and Finance Committee Report, the need for retention of funds by ZIMRA. I just want you to speak on it. There is a delay in terms of this drone, I know they are working on it but it appears as if the bottleneck is the provision of resources to ensure that we cut the leakage that is actually happening on the borders.
I think you are aware that there have been several reports in this august House - be it Budget and Finance Committee, be it Defence or other various Committees pertaining to that issue. Lastly Hon. Speaker, confirm to us because it is important, especially when you look at the unallocated envelope. As you might be aware, for the past three years, for some reason that envelope has been exceeded. Now that you have come up with a supplementary budget, we will not have a situation where come December again because youwill end up with having exceeded the unallocated reserve, which in my view if you check from what the Auditor General stated, it does portray a better future. Those are my three points.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank Hon. Mushoriwa for those three statements. On the budget for the census enumerators, yes we have set aside a budget to clear that backlog and that challenge. They have done a marvelous job in terms of giving us that data right across the board, so we have made a provision for that.
On the ZIMRA retention issue, as I said in the debate for this budget, we are considering this issue. I think the proposal from the Budget and Finance Committee was 3% retention. We are looking into it, and we will come back to Parliament with a proposal.
Then on the drone equipment acquisition, Hon. Mushoriwa is right that there has been delay in the acquisition. It was procurement and there was a challenge in the process. We are very close now to concluding the process and ZIMRA has been running with this process, but we will get there I can assure you.
On the issue of overalls on the unallocated reserves, he wanted assurance; I assure you we will not have overalls. I think that we have provided quite a bit. We have provided just over $63 billion in unallocated reserves initially but we have already taken out the $2 billion from there, which I propose that we put that towards Vote 2. That is why I mentioned on the $2 billion. So if that is accepted, we are now down to about $61 billion. I think we are okay there and we should be able to handle that kind of unallocated reserve. I thank you.
Vote 5 put and agreed to.
On Vote 6 – Office of the Auditor General - $1 59 620 000:
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Hon. Chairperson. My contribution pertains to the Auditor General. I think the Hon. Minister is aware that we always even from the Public Accounts fought that the Auditor General has to get at least one percent of the budget. You are aware that the Auditor General’s Office is getting less than 0.03% but my major reason for my debate is not the allocation under the supplementary budget. My problem is that the Auditor General, the amount, the level of disbursement is one of the least 17%. The Auditor General is the office that is responsible for ensuring that the provisions of Chapter 17 of our Constitution on Public Finance Management are adhered to. I do not understand, maybe the Minister can explain to us if the 17% disbursement is because the Auditor General is not asking for resources or Treasury does not see the importance of the Auditor General. The Auditor General has to audit the Government accounts, State enterprises, provincial councils and local authorities but if we disburse 17%, I think it is so bad. This is the reason why for me to argue on the supplementary budget of one billion, it does not make sense because Treasury has not been disbursing funds. I also want to remind the Hon. Minister that this House adopted a report pertaining to the operations of the Auditor General’s Office. It is incapacitated at the moment. It is now becoming a training ground. People are running away from the Auditor General’s Office. My query at this juncture is to simply say the level of disbursements leaves a lot to be desired.
Hon. Chair, the supplementary budget to me may be fine as long as there are disbursements. Thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: I just want to say that for us to ensure that resources that we are allocated are accounted for, there is need to carry out audits. May the Hon. Minister consider increasing the Auditor General’s Vote by not less than 40% of what he has already allocated? The Auditor General, because of technology, has also to retool. They need computers, other machines and transport. If we look at the reports they have been producing, it would not be prudent even for the Auditor General’s staff to ask for transport when they carry out audits. It is important that the Minister seriously consider increasing this Vote.
I want to take my hat off to the Auditor General Mrs. Chiri, why people decided to extend her stay at that department was because of the results that she is producing. The people who are letting down the Auditor-General is us as Parliament because the Auditor-General has done enough to put into the open how we are abusing the resources. Until we take care of our resources, we will continuously have the Minister here asking for supplementary because the resources are being abused and the Auditor-General has been doing a perfect job. So, I strongly urge the Minister to consider giving more resources to this department. The Minister cannot be complicit to all the chicaneries going on in all these ministries.
Right now, as Public Accounts, we are faced with a condonation Bill which the Ministry of Finance cannot furnish the Auditor-General with proper information to qualify the extra spending. Are we punishing them for doing their good job by not paying that Ministry or allocating enough resources to the Ministry? Is it that we want to constrain them to make sure they do not perform?
If it is not our idea to incapacitate the department, then why can we not allocate enough resources to this special department headed by a very patriotic and honest lady? I thank you Hon. Chairman.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: May I remind Hon. Members that we are not going over 7 p.m. because we have not suspended any provisions of the Standing Orders. Can you be brief?
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Hon. Chair, I want to thank the Hon. Members who have spoken before me about this very important department of Government that keeps in check in terms of accountability in every department and other departments. I would like to find out from the Minister that we had a scenario where this particular department has lost staff due to poor remuneration. I just wanted to find out from the Hon. Minister because this particular department has had incidences where it has lost a lot of staff and the budget that has been allocated can I get a guarantee from the Hon. Minister on whether this will also attract staff retention because that department has lost a lot of professionals leaving for parastatals and neighbouring countries?
The final one that I wanted to find out is that we have had cases where the Auditor-General’s Office was supposed to get some furniture rehabilitation because of the dilapidation of that Burroughs House. Can I get an assurance from the Minister on whether in this supplementary budget, that component is also covered so that it attracts the public eye? When you are unpacking a lot of works, you should not be found yourself working in whims. Thank you.
THE HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I thank the three Members for their contributions, starting with Hon. Mushoriwa. He talked about slow disbursements – what happened in the first quarter during the course of COVID. The Auditor-General could not do her work and that is why there were very slow disbursements in the first three or four months. The real work started in May but now they are up to about 70% of their budget utilisation. So, we caught up in terms of disbursements.
Coming to Hon. Madzimure that we should increase supplementary budget especially on the equipment - I was just consulting my staff at the back and I propose that we add another ZW$300 million to the office of the Auditor-General that will go towards supporting, equipping and that again will come from unallocated reserves. That also will deal with the input that came from Hon. Mpariwa on dealing with staff losses, staff retention and buying them furniture and other equipment. We will try to take care of that using additional supplementary budget.
Vote 6 put and agreed to.
Vote 7 - Industry and Commerce – ZW$1 662 520 000 put and agreed to.
On Vote 8 - Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement – 100 622 047 300:
*HON. NYABANI: Thank you Chairman. Hon. Minister, will you please put figures that motivate people. If we do not pay attention to that, people will no longer farm staple food at all. Looking at the issue of livestock, cattle are dying. We need dip tanks and medication for farm animals. May we please pay attention to that so that we do not continue to lose livestock? The other issue is that of transport. The issue of Pfumvudza, you once mentioned that you are going to disburse in time the issue of transport. It is better you disburse it in time so that we experience the convenience of delivering in time. Thank you.
*HON. DUTIRO: Thank you Hon. Chair. We would like to thank the Budget Committee for their efforts to try to make it right for people and the economy. It is my humble plea that we put our focus on the issue of dams that we have in the country so that people are able to practice irrigation. Despite us building new dams, we have small dams that may be expanded or developed to help those who want to irrigate smaller portions like 1 hectare. I thank you.
*HON. CHDZIVA: Thank you Hon. Chair. I want to contribute on the issue of GMB. We see that the Minister has put money aside to import grain to support the reserves that we have. My thinking is that the Minister should focus on reviewing the maize price so that people can sell their grain to GMB. The prices that are there are not as attractive as they should be. It is prudent that we make prices that are attractive, that are persuasive so that we do not buy maize from outside but buy from within the country. I thank you.
+HON. BRG. GEN. (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: Thank you Hon. Chair for giving me the opportunity to add my voice on agriculture. I would like to talk more with regards to livestock. From 2010 to date, we have had inputs, dip tanks and livestock like cattle are increasing. We expected that price of beef would be reduced. In countries like Botswana, livestock farmers are given support for buying cattle feed and chemicals. I would like the Hon. Minister to look at new stock like sheep, especially in dry areas like Matabeleland. They should have more goats from other countries.
Also when helping each other in agriculture, there is need to do intensive grazing by growing cattle feed so that they do not move for long distances to get food? Thank you.
*HON. MUNETSI: Thank you Hon. Chair. I just want to talk on one thing that since agriculture is key to the economy, please try to control on prices of fertilisers and seed. I thank you.
+HON PHULU: Thank you Hon. Chair. I would like to say that money distributed for diseases that are affecting livestock, is not enough. Since there are many diseases, why $2 billion has been used, $6 billion should be allocated because the diseases like foot and mouth require more money. I thank you
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Chairman, I move that you report progress and seek leave to sit again.
Motion put and agreed to.
Committee of Supply to resume: Wednesday, 24th August, 2022.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON. MUDARIKWA, the House adjourned at Six Minutes to Seven o’clock p. m.