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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 23 FEBRUARY 2021 VOL 47 NO 24
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 23rd February, 2021
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
SWEARING IN OF NEW MEMBERS
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, we have the swearing in of new Members. In terms of Section 39 (7) (a) of the Electoral Act, [Chapter 2:13], the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), notified the Clerk of Parliament that the following persons, nominated by the MDC-T party to fill the vacancies that occurred among the Party-List Members of the National Assembly, following the recall of the incumbent Members by the MDC-T party on the grounds that they had ceased to be members of that party, have been appointed as Party-List Members with effect from the 5th of February, 2021:
- Hon. Nomvula Mguni, Bulawayo Metropolitan Province;
- Judith Chimwanza, Manicaland Province; and
- Hon. Miranzi Base, Mashonaland West Province
Section 128 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that before a Member of Parliament takes his or her seat in Parliament, the Member must take the Oath of a Member of Parliament in the form set out in the Third Schedule of the Constitution. I, therefore, call upon the Clerk of Parliament to administer the Oath of a Member of Parliament.
NEW MEMBERS SWORN
HON. MGUNI NOMVULA, HON. CHIMWANZA JUDITH and HON. MIRANZI BASE subscribed to the Oath of Loyalty as required by the law and took their seats – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -
NOMINATION OF NEW MEMBERS TO SERVE IN THE COMMITTEE ON STANDING RULES AND ORDERS
THE HON. SPEAKER: I also have to inform the House that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (CSRO) nominated Hon. L. Zemura and Hon. J. Madhuku to serve in the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
HON. MAVETERA: I rise on a point of national interest Mr. Speaker. Let me join the rest of Zimbabwe in commemorating the National Youth Day on the 21st February, 2021 and indeed, this is the fourth anniversary that we had. This is a day which is set aside for your people to be able to realise their importance in this nation. Let me also be able to commend the stance that our President took which reiterated on the burial of the late hero, Cde. Mpofu.
His Excellency went on to say that it is of paramount importance to make sure that we avail land to the young people of Zimbabwe. He said that young people are going to be given a priority when it comes to distribution of land since the land audit like what His Excellency said, has been finished. Therefore, we are looking forward to an expeditious implementation from the aforesaid Minister of Lands and Agriculture to make sure that at least young people are able to benefit from this land.
Hon. Mr. Speaker Sir, we also expect that and also look forward to the Minister in line with the stance that His Excellency Dr. Mnangagwa whereby he said there is no corruption that has to happen in this country and we should minimise corruption. We are looking forward to making sure that there is transparency when it comes to distribution of land. We are expecting that the Hon. Minister will be able to at least publish the aforesaid beneficiaries of this land. We are looking forward to having it as public as it can so that we can enhance transparency and accountability.
We believe that as Zimbabwe we are an agro-based country and indeed, if young people are going to be availed this land, we are going to see young people getting employed through farming. Therefore, we are looking forward to make sure that if there is anything that still needs to be done on the land audit, we are looking forward to the Minister of Finance also making sure that he has to get a budget to make sure that this is finalised and that the young people benefit land. We want to continue thanking our Government’s efforts towards the inclusion of young people’s issues and we so much hope and wish that this is something that we shall always be hearing every time.
HON. BITI: I rise on a matter of importance and national attention. One thing that has been self evident, given the abundant rains that God has blessed us with this farming season; has been the state of our roads and the deplorable condition of those roads, particularly in the countryside, which is in the rural areas where bridges have been swept away and roads have been made impassable.
The issue and the condition of our roads has brought to the fore the issue of even an equal development in our country. More importantly, it has brought to the fore the important outstanding issue of devolution. It has been eight years that the country approved a Constitution which in Chapter 14 of the same enjoins the legislature to come up with a law that provides for devolution. It is sad that eight years after the passage of that Constitution the law providing for devolution has not yet been passed by this august House. What is even sadder is that the Ministry of Finance is actually making our patience in the budget to legislative legally non-existent provincial councils in terms of the non-existent devolution law.
So I implore Hon. Speaker that the Minister of Justice, who is here present, does everything possible to make sure that the country urgently enact the law regarding devolution. It is not about the law per se, it is about development. I thank you Hon. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The issue of the roads, I am not sure Hon. Biti had come out of the House when a similar concern was raised to the Hon. Minister of Lands on how the transportation of the bumper harvest would be done because of the poor state of the roads. He did advice this august House that Government had declared a national state of disaster for our roads and that Central Government was taking over the rehabilitation of all our roads, both mainstream and rural, including urban areas. On the issue of the devolution law, the Leader of Government Business should be tabling the Constitution Amendment No. 2 which, among other things, deals with your concern that the law must be in place in order to ensure that devolution sits on a firm legal foundation. So any time from now, the Leader of Government Business should present Amendment No. 2 of the Constitution, among other things.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker, I am concerned. You make reference to the Constitution Amendment No. 2 Bill which is a fair point. It touches on devolution, but the Constitution Amendment No. 2 is seeking to amend a law and a process that has not been implemented. Our submission, with great respect is: implement devolution first, you can amend later but implement on the basis of the Constitution as it currently stands. There is nothing that has prevented you for the past eight years from implementing the law as it currently stands, but Minister July Moyo wants to amend first before he has implemented. Implement, then amend. Thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I think it is a question of logical semantics. It all comes to the same in the sense that my understanding is that the Hon. Leader of Government Business who is the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will deal with the matter holistically as it affects also other pieces of legislation. So it will be done, I am sure in the shortest possible time. Your concern is noted.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that all Orders of the Day be stood over until the Ministerial Statement from the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
2020 GRADE 7 EXAMINATION RESULTS
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. SEN. MATHEMA): Mr. Speaker Sir, this is the Ministerial Statement to Parliament on the 2020 Grade 7 Examination Results. The 2020 Grade 7 examinations were written from the 3rd to 17th December 2020 in an environment which was unprecedented in the history of Zimbabwe and the world. This was the COVID-19 pandemic environment that forced the examinations to be moved from the traditional timetable of October to December. No single person or groups of persons knew when COVID-19 pandemic environment was going to end yet the academic lives of our students had to go on. Many nations’ school calendars, including ours responded to the pandemic environment differently by providing learning platforms for children in both electronic and face to face formats. As a nation, we had to make serious decisions to ensure that learners continued with their academic lives.
The Grade 7 examination marks the end of primary school by measuring what candidates know and are able to do. After this examination, all students are absorbed in the secondary education system because the Grade 7 examination is not a terminal examination but a formative one which gives information to receiving teachers in the secondary school system. Grade 7 examination is graded on a system that has the following nine grades:
Grade 1 – 85% to 100%
Grade 2 – 77% to 84%
Grade 3 – 70% to 76%
Grade 4 – 60% to 69%
Grade 5 – 50% to 59%
Grade 6 – 40% to 49%
Grade 7 – 30% to 39%
Grade 8 – 20% to 29%
Grade 9 – 0% to 19%
Zimbabweans need to know that the Grade 7 examination is not the old standard 6 certification which was a terminal examination that could give candidates/students avenues to professions. The Grade 7 examination in its current form, simply directs candidates, parents and teachers to areas where candidates need assistance in competency development and enhancement in their secondary school academic lives.
Year on year comparability of candidates’ performance
It is important to note that Grade 7 candidate performance has been erratic over a number of years. The year-on-year performance changes because of a variety of reasons which any academic is able to put forward. Some of the reasons academics put forward are:
Access to teachers by learners; favourable economic environment which make parents access resources to support their children in school; and access to electronic learning platforms as the learning environments change.
The table below shows that the 2020 Grade 7 exams pass rate is comparable to some past years.
National Pass Rate 2009 – 2020.
Attention needs to be drawn to the performance of Grade Seven examination candidates in the COVID-19 pandemic environment and that of 2009 to 2014 during the time of economic meltdown which affected learning by students. During this period like in 2020, teachers were involved in industrial action (strikes) or were claiming incapacitation to carry out their work. There was no meaningful teaching in some schools. These are the factors that affect pass rates in any country in the world.
Provincial Performance of Grade Seven Candidates.
Comparison of the Provincial Pass Rates and candidates by Gender for 2019 and 2020.
The table above shows provincial pass rates for the 2020 Grade Seven examinations. Bulawayo province had the highest pass rate (66.83%), followed by Harare with a pass rate of 66.5%. Matabeleland North recorded the least pass rate of 15.87%. Female candidates performed better than males in all the provinces.
Schools with all candidates in Grades Seven to Nine category in all subjects.
The table below shows the number of schools per province that had all candidates in the Grades Seven to Nine category from 2017 to 2020. It can be noticed from the table that Harare and Bulawayo Provinces had some schools with all candidates in this category in 2018 only over this period but all the other provinces had this problem over the years indicated. There are reasons which can be put forward to explain this phenomenon and among them are:
- Infrastructure that support learning at schools;
- Access to teachers by learners;
- Access to learning materials;
- Access to equipment that support the teaching and learning processes;
- Disruption to the school calendar by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The table below shows school per province with all candidates in the Grade Seven to Nine category since 2017.
|Province||Total No. of Schools in Province||No. of Schools in 2020 with all candidates in Grades 7 to 9 category||No. of school in 2019 with all candidates in grades 7 to 9 category||No. of schools in 2018 with all candidates in grades 7 to 9 category||No. of schools in 2017 with all candidates in grades 7 to 9 category|
In conclusion, I implore Hon. Members to continue to call for more funding for the education sector so that we continue to increase the support which ultimately leads to better performance by our learners. The Ministry on its part, will continue to coordinate all the arms of the Ministry in this endeavour. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Observing what the Minister had told us in his report, I think the results of 2020 is not the issue. The issue I think is the overall – if you look at all the other years that he has indicated with low pass rate, so we cannot target 2020 alone but the whole system of education. The system should really improve performance in Grade Seven if we find results that come out of grade seven to be important, it is important that we overhaul the whole system that gives us those results.
HON. BITI: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. For a country that had pride of place in Sub-Saharan Africa because of its strong education system, as a country, we should be embarrassed. We should bow our heads in shame in respect of 2020 examinations that we can have provinces achieving as low as 15%, some schools achieved zero pass rate and some provinces; this is simply not good enough. Let us address the real issues. The first issue is the disinvestment that we have made to education over the years. When you take out the share of wages to the education sector; the education sector both high and lower primary school education now takes less than 9% of our budget and that is not good enough, once you take away the salaries.
We see this in the physical infrastructure….
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, we are not debating, we are seeking clarification on the Ministerial Statement.
HON. BITI: My question to the Hon. Minister is, why are you allowing a situation where there is disinvestment in agriculture in real terms? Why are we allowing a situation where now education, particularly primary school education, has less than 5% of the budget, once you exclude the salaries. Secondly, why are we not rewarding teachers adequately and in US Dollars to avoid the disruptions caused by teachers exercising their right to strike, which is enshrined in the Constitution, demanding better conditions of service? Thirdly, why is the Minister not working to increase the student text book ratio; why are we not achieving the 1:1 ratio which is standard? Fourthly, why are we not working towards increasing the teacher-pupil ratio which at the moment is a disaster? In other words, why is the Minister not ensuring that there is adequate funding for education because that is a major cause?
Lastly, why is it that teachers are deployed in certain provinces when they cannot speak the languages of those provinces? Surely, that will have an effect on the quality of results. Please deploy teachers who speak the mother language of that area to that area to ensure that we have maximum input and output from teachers. I thank you.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker and let me use this opportunity to thank the Hon. Minister for coming in with the Ministerial Statement.
Hon. Minister, you indicated that Grade 7 is not a terminal examination but we know that it is being used for purposes of enrolling children into form one. As we speak right now, we have parents who have children who are unable to enrol in schools but the basis for that enrolment is the Grade 7 result. It is important for us to then understand why, if it is not terminal it is used as a criteria of allowing the child to go into form one.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, address the Chair, otherwise you end up fighting.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Oh sorry Mr. Speaker – [Laughter.] –Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
The second issue of clarification is for those children that would have failed and are moved on to form one. What happens with them? What we have noticed in the education system is that once they failed Grade 7 they fail O level. We have not heard situations where a child is pushed on to form one and then proceeds to pass O level. What are the interventions that we are putting in as a Ministry to ensure that if a child is pushed into O level even though they have failed, they have proper remedial support to ensure that when they move on to places that are to do with O level they are able to go in?
Lastly, about the message that has been sent to boarding schools – they have been told that for 2021, they have cut in half the number of children that they are getting into school. We are noticing that because it is being done on line, there is no way of knowing. We actually have examples from the Committee, of children that have passed all the subjects but out of the three schools which they are asked to get in online they are told you cannot go in and parents have no idea of what they will do because their first three schools that they have given in have all said no, we cannot take you in. You cannot talk to the headmaster because it is supposed to be on line. You cannot talk to the Ministry to afford you another school for your child to go. What is going to happen with this online where you are just talking to a machine and you have absolutely no idea? As I speak right now, many of the parents have no idea where their children are going to go to school.
(v)HON. NDUNA: Hon. Speaker, did you recognise me?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, I will rule you out of order. I can see your hand on the chat.
(v)HON. NDUNA: The name that you called sounded like Hon. Nduna. I am sorry.
HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. I seek clarification from the Hon. Minister. I would like firstly to thank him for the Ministerial Statement.
Secondly, I thought the Minister was going to use this platform to dispel the rumours which were circulating on social media. There is a rumour which said that 88 schools in Zimbabwe had zero percent pass rate. Is that true Hon. Minister? I did not hear that in your presentation.
Thirdly, on disparities between rural and urban schools, I have noted that from the presentation that the students who performed better are those in Harare and Bulawayo because the infrastructure is very good. What happens to students who are in rural areas – those that we represent; Gokwe North for example? They do not have electronic platforms. You spoke about electronic platforms, we are in a pandemic and the pandemic is ongoing. As a Ministry, what are you doing to ensure that you are going to bridge the gap between rural and urban schools in terms of performance? What are you going to do about electronic platforms so that students in Hwange, Binga, Dotito and Gokwe North will also have access to internet connectivity so that they can do e-learning?
Finally, quite a number of students performed dismally. It is not an issue of Zimbabwe alone, but it is a global challenge. Yesterday I was watching results for South African students as they were coming out – there was a 5% drop. What then happens to students who did not perform well? Are they going to repeat? Are you going to give them remedial examinations? Are they going to proceed to form one? What is going to be the fate of those students? I thank you.
(v)HON. TSUNGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir and I would like to thank the Minister for his statement. I just have a few issues for clarification as we all realise that there has been an outcry about the examination results at Grade 7 level.
Firstly, it is noted that factors contributing to the high failure rate manifold. My point of clarification is that are these factors as articulated by the Hon. Minister, a result of empirical inquiry or they are unverified hypothesis of assumptions off the cuff?
Secondly, what action is the Ministry contemplating to take to counteract the identified problems?
Thirdly, I noticed that the Ministry has already indicated that exams for 2021 will go ahead but I want to understand if factors contributing to the high failure rate would have been addressed by the time students sit for the examinations this year or we are going to be having the same problem?
Lastly, why is the Ministry considering increasing the number of examinable subjects at Grade 7 level at a time where the failure rate is so high? Is that not going to compound the problem? Is the Ministry not seeing this? Also, what role are teachers unions and teachers associations such as ZIMTA, NASH and various other teachers unions playing in trying to address the problems experienced in schools that are contributing to the high failure rate? I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
(v) HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I just have four points of clarity. The first one that the Minister alludes to is the issue of lack of gadgets or ICT penetration which has actually degraded or not given capacity to our rural learners to actually undertake e-learning on e-platform. I propose to the Hon. Minister that he confers with the gold finger, the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development to reduce or to remove duty on computer gadgets and information communication gadgets so that our children can have these computer gadgets for their online learning, if not for the whole of Zimbabwe…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, why do you not ask questions for clarification?
(v) HON. NDUNA: My question is coming as a proposal on the first one; that there be removal of duty on ICT gadgets to enhance e-learning in order that our children can have good learning platforms for Grade 7 results.
The second question is the issue of the results that the Minister alludes to. Certainly I have been given results of children in other constituencies, but in my constituency because parents have not been able to pay the fees, the kids have not been given those results. Would it be prudent for the Minister to implore the headmasters to release Grade 7 results irrespective of the fact that parents have not been able to pay for their children because of the COVID pandemic? Certainly, the children have written but they have not been given the results…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, you are repeating yourself.
(v)HON. NDUNA: The third and most probably the last one is the issue of Form 1 places, for those that have received their results. For the Form 1 places, secondary schools are basing it on proficiency from 5 to 11 units in the constituency where I come from. May the Minister implore the secondary schools to take children irrespective of their low pass rate? Otherwise a lot of our children will not be able to go to Form 1.
(v) HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. In most rural schools and peri urban schools, there are no teachers to teach even in primary schools resulting in poor results. What is it that the Ministry of Education going to do in terms of ensuring that there are enough teachers in these schools especially in rural primary schools, and peri-urban areas?
During this lockdown, given the situation prevailing in Government schools and council schools, is the Ministry contemplating giving some funds to these schools so that they can buy stationery and books for learners?
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. SEN. MATHEMA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Hon.Togarepi’s questions are similar to what Hon. Biti asked as well. In terms of investment in our education system. Indeed, we need more investment in the education system. More investment not just from the public sector, central government and local authorities, but we also need the private sector to invest in our education system. We have many schools that are privately owned. We also have quite a lot of mission schools, but the bottom line is that we need more investment and therefore, what that means is that the economy has to perform better than it is performing now. The economy has to perform so that there are enough resources that go to education. I cannot debate that one and I cannot deny the fact that we need more investment in the education system.
Having said that, we also need support from the international community in education as well but as long as there are sanctions, we will have a big problem. We already have a challenge because of the economic sanctions that were imposed on our country. We therefore cannot continue with a situation where there is less investment in the economy as a whole, we need the whole economy to rise. We need more entrepreneurs in the system.
As for the teachers being paid in USD - well, that decision is made by the relevant authority, that is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Let them work on that one to see how feasible that is but it is definitely not feasible at the moment. We cannot pay them as we just said the economy is not performing as it should and we just cannot do that.
As for languages, I could not agree more with the idea that if you are in Tonga Land or in Binga, a teacher cannot speak the local language, especially for ECD. If you are in Matabeleland or even in Chipinge children speak Ndau that side, so, you cannot send a person who cannot speak Ndau there to go and teach ECD children. This is what the Ministry is doing to prepare to make sure that we employ as many teachers as possible, particularly the local teachers. Let us have local professional people working in their own areas.
Indeed, as I speak now, one Hon. Member talked about the issue of human resources; yes we are working on that one as a Government. His Excellency, the President, wants every trained teacher in Zimbabwe to be employed because logically there is no sense in training teachers every year when we do not employ them again in schools.
However, we need more schools at this moment in time, we need at least 3 000 more schools and more teachers. Recently, we employed 3 000 more teachers into the education system.
Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga – yes, the terminal issue, there is no child in this country who has done a grade seven examinations who will fail to go and do form one except that one of the biggest challenges we have is that more and more parents wants to send their children to boarding schools. We only have 24 600 places for boarding schools in this country - both for public schools, mission schools as well as private schools. I have just said that we had over 300 000 learners who sat for Grade Seven Examinations and again we still need more investment both from the public sector and from the private sector so that those parents who want their children to go to boarding schools will let them go.
I would like to see a public school that rejects a child because they failed. Every child in this country deserves to do their Form 1 and it is illegal for anybody to stop them from doing their Form 1. It is their right to go to school.
Hon. Moyo – the issue of the zero pass rate. Madam Speaker, I just read to you the grading system that we have and this is a system that has been there for years and years. A child sits for five subjects and passes with four points in four subjects, in other words the best result and then gets nine points in one subject. The system that we have then refers to them as having failed. We need to sit down as a country and redefine what we mean by zero pass rate. So let us be very careful what we mean by zero pass rate.
As far as I know now; children who sat for their examinations, the two subject areas that they failed in was mathematics and agriculture, the rest of the subjects, particularly the languages, the children got more than 50%.
The disparities between urban and rural school that is a disparity that is there in our country. We have all agreed that Zimbabwe is a mainly agricultural economy but if you look at what His Excellency is doing now – we are moving out of our way to make sure that we urbanize every part of this country. We move to a situation where there should be no difference between an urban school and a rural school in the provision of ICT and electricity. Again, all that is required there is increase in investment in education. There is absolutely no reason why we should continue with the old system that says this is rural, this is urban. As long as our economy moves forward, we are going to achieve that and that is what we are doing.
Madam Speaker, the education system that we have is such that all school officers must look at the grades of these children from grade seven but never stop them from going ahead. They must look at the weaknesses of each child, it does not matter how brilliant a child is, the child still has some weakness. Myself as the Minister responsible must make sure that no child is disadvantageD because of the low grades that they got from grade seven. We should train more and more specialists in each subject area that our child goes through. So we are doing the best we can, hence we are employing more and more teachers – [HON. BITI: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Biti!
HON. SEN. MATHEMA: The subject matter that we discussing is such that all the time the Ministry, Hon. Members and trade unions have to be on their toes so that we all together understand the challenges that we face. If there is research, let that research go ahead and research is continuous whether it is empirical or not as the Hon. Member said, let us do research all of us.
An Hon. Member talked about what the role of trade unions is in Zimbabwe. I work with trade unions, I have met with them, they also have their concerns but let us bear in mind that the trade unions themselves are representing the human resources of the Ministry. So we consult them, we work with them and then we move forward because none of us can do this thing on our own, we have to debate and assist each other. I thank you.
(v)HON. NDUNA: On a point of order! I wanted to hear the proposals that I have put across to the Hon. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and there were just three of them after Hon. Tsunga’s questions. I thought he was going to respond to me on issues to do with removal of duty on ICT gadgets and recruitment of Grade 7 pupils even though they have not been given their results by the primary schools. Lastly, the issue that headmasters be implored to release the results so that the children get to know what their results are and that the secondary schools be implored to recruit these kids even though they have an astronomical pass rate.
HON. SEN. MATHEMA: Yes, indeed I had omitted the issue of ICTs. Indeed we are working on ICTs in schools because we want children of the future who will stand tall in any part of the world and fly to the moon. That is what we want. As a result, I am working very closely with the Ministry of ICT and Ministry of Energy and Power Development so that we bring ICT education, that is, online learning to every school in Zimbabwe. That is what we are doing.
The issue that no school head must stop a child from receiving their results – let each school head work with the parents or guardians with regard the issue of whether school fees has been paid or not. Every child must actually know their results. I am happy that Hon Members have raised that issue and I will take it up upon myself to make sure that every child in this country receives their results.
HON. DR. KHUPE: I listened attentively to the Hon Minister responding to issues and his report. I have one issue that I would like to add my voice on. Education is the foundation of this country. In order for one to be an engineer they must be educated, in order for one to be a doctor they must be educated. In order for one to be a Speaker of Parliament they must be educated. My problem Madam Speaker is that those same people who are laying the foundation for this country – who are building the foundation for this country are not being looked after very well. The Minister in his report alluded to the fact the other contributory factor to the low pass rate is industrial action by teachers from 2016 up to 2020.
Surely, as a Government, it is important that after realising that industrial actions are contributing to low pass rates of our children, something needs to be done. I would like to implore on the Minister and Government to say please can you remunerate teachers very well because they are building the foundation for this country. We want a strong foundation for this country but as long as teachers are not remunerated very well, we will not have a good foundation, hence the low pass rate in our examinations.
HON. MADZIMURE: If the examinations do not determine the progress path of a child why do we have examinations? If selection of our children into Form 1 is not based on their performance why do we still have examinations? It is common knowledge that Bulawayo and Harare performed better because of extra lessons. Parents have been going very far paying teachers and this is a fact. We have got classrooms at our backyards and that is why we have that pass rate. How is a rural child going to cope with such a well prepared child from Harare and Bulawayo in Form 1? Are you going to assign teachers to deal separately with those children who have performed dismally from the rural and those from urban areas because their levels are not the same? What are you going to do about that?
The Minister also said there is no child who should be turned away because of their performance, what yardstick are these schools supposed to use when selecting?
What plan do you have because covid-19 is here to stay for some foreseeable future? What plans do you have on the learners themselves because we still have problems where some teachers are skeptical about going to school because of the unavailability of PPEs?
What is your plan as far as remuneration of the teaching staff is concerned to ensure that industrial actions are a thing of the past.
HON. MOKONE: Before I ask the Minister I would like to say thumps up to the fact that you alluded to the fact that female candidates performed better in the past examination. With the current pandemic that has led to the revision of teacher pupil ratio in schools, what strides has your Ministry taken to come up with more classrooms in school in order to address that?
We have seen children learning outside their classrooms due to lack of proper infrastructure in schools, are you going to put ICT gadgets outside because the state of Government schools is despicable.
(v)HON. S. NDLOVU: I have three points that need clarity from the Minister. In rural areas we have shortages of classrooms, what is the Minister doing about that?
Most schools are far from each other, that means children walking up to 12 kilometres and here we are talking about more children in ECD, what is Government doing about that as well?
On motivation of teachers, like what the other Hon Member said, teachers need to be motivated so as to teach our children in the manner they do. What is the Ministry doing about it? The last thing is, we are talking about e-learning. How can we talk about e-learning when there is no network at all in some parts of the rural areas? Even here in towns and Parliament, we write and say network has failed. What are we doing about the network because when we talk about e-learning, we are talking about a phone and network? Unless the network issue is looked into, then we are not going anywhere because those in areas with no network will never know about e-learning. If Government could look at issues of phones and try to make them a bit cheaper so that even those in the rural areas can afford to buy the gadgets. When teachers teach our children, no one marks their work.
HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Ndlovu, you just need to ask your question and not to debate.
(v)HON. S. NDLOVU: Okay, my last question is, what is government doing about network problems? Thank you Madam Speaker.
(v)*HON. CHINOTIMBA: I have four questions. Hon Minister, long ago, we used to make the children repeat when they failed grade seven but currently they are all pushed into form one. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, does the Minister agree that those children who failed should repeat because the children never got proper teaching? Is it possible for Government to chip in and pay fees for those children because the parents had difficulties raising fees for the two terms though they were not going to school. Now if they are going to repeat. they need financial assistance. Is it possible for Government to declare these results a national disaster as they did with roads, then Government takes the responsibility to pay for those repeating because just pushing them to form one is unfair.
My second point is for Government to negotiate with teachers after opening of schools. When schools are closed we never see the teachers trade unions and Government negotiating salaries, so they can start school after all issues are sorted out. If it is done during school time, children lose out because the teachers will not be teaching as they concentrate on issues pertaining to their welfare. What is Government doing to ensure that negotiations are done during school closure? I agree with previous speakers that in the rural areas, we do not have electricity. Government declared disaster on the roads but we also have disaster in ZESA. Our MPs have to travel 10km to 20km to be on zoom when in the rural areas. What plans does Government have to ensure all children can access the internet for e-learning?
THE HON DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Chinotimba, please ask your question only and do not debate.
(v)*HON. CHINOTIMBA: What is Government’s plan in ensuring that there is internet in the rural areas so that all people can access the internet?
*HON. NYABANI: I want to know if the Minister knows that there are some grade seven students who wrote exams but they have still not received their results and they cannot look for form one places. The places are filling up before the children have their results which should be distributed timeously so that all the children are able to look for form one places.
(v)HON. MAHLANGU: Thank you Madam Speaker. I have three questions and my first question is, since 2020 grade seven results were so poor due to COVID-19 and now the Government wants to add another subject. Is it a good idea in this pandemic situation? Secondly, may the Minister explain to the people the issue of fees? It is obvious we have spent two to three months of the term without going to school for the first term. May we have a circular whereby the Minister will explain the way the fees is going to be paid. Lastly, some independent schools with government affiliation are not yet enrolling form ones claiming that Government has not yet approved their fees. What is Government doing about that?
+HON. A. NDEBELE: Madam Speaker, I have three questions. Firstly, Hon. Minister, the teachers are earning how much? That is the first question. What are you doing on the issue of salaries for the teachers? What are you doing with regards to teachers’ salaries and also on pensioners. Teachers were a good example of good educated people in the yester years. We loved them as they taught us everything including good hygiene as we were growing up. Today pensioners cannot even afford a sweet, so we need to know what is happening with regards to salaries of those in the teaching fraternity and those receiving pension. We also need to know when we are going to see the end to the misunderstandings between Government and unions. Those who suffer during these misunderstandings are the students.
Let me touch on the results, I am a Member of Parliament for Magwegwe. I refuse Madam Speaker to accept the fact that results in towns are better than those of schools in the rural areas. I would like to highlight the fact that results of schools in the high density suburbs are as bad as those of schools in the rural areas. This is my view and I do not know what the Minister is going to say.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Ndebele, I think you are now debating. Please ask your question.
HON. NDEBELE: I am asking questions at every point, ask those who understand Ndebele. I have not missed a question.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Okay go ahead.
HON. NDEBELE: With your indulgence Madam Speaker, I will proceed. Our results are bad in the high density suburbs, which is an example of the fact that there is a difference between those who can afford and the less privileged. I would want to find out Hon. Minister, how the Government is rectifying this because COVID-19 has made this difference come out clear. If you go to the low density suburbs, students spend the greater part of their time doing e-learning. I also take this back to teachers’ salary challenges, in the low density suburbs, parents are able to pay extra towards teachers’ salaries whereas in the high density suburbs, we are unable to have teachers do extra lessons for our students. So my question to the Minister is, what is Government doing to make sure that all students are treated the same, that is the one in Magwegwe and the one in Hillside? Talking too much does not help us because a continuous analysis of these results shows that Bulawayo is not Matabeleland; therefore, it is not pleasing to celebrate good results for Bulawayo only yet there are bad results for the whole of Matabeleland.
Therefore, Minister do you know of the study that was carried by Lupane State University and Lupane area which showed that out of 381 students in Grade 7, 160 are non-readers. Yes, they wrote Grade 7 exams and you let them go further but these are non-readers. What is the Ministry doing to make sure that our students get to Grade 7 being able to read in a way that we expect a Grade 7 student to be doing.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Ndebele, I am going to read two question which came through zoom chat and I will give the Minister the chance to respond – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – It is okay Hon. Members, I can see you all, Hon. Mpariwa, Hon. T. Zhou, Hon. Makonya, Hon. Dube I will recognise you later. Order Hon. Members, I will recognise you all.
(v) HON. S. SIBANDA: Hon. Minister some of the pupils wrote the examinations whilst sick from COVID-19. Can we honestly expect someone who is supposed to be in hospital to write a life defining examination which will determine where they will have secondary education?
(v)HON. MUNOCHINZWA: Hon. Minister, why is the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education rushing students into writing examinations without proper preparations?
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you Madam Speaker. The question from Hon. Khupe on teachers remuneration, I tried to answer it earlier on and said teachers have trade unions and those who do not have trade unions all know what channels to follow when they need to make their grievances to seek higher remuneration. In deed, teachers must be happy at their places of work but there are channels, they all know that the Ministry of and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Public Service Commission is there. So, let them discuss those issues in detail with the relevant authorities or offices.
Hon. Madzimure asked a question ‘why have examinations at all’. Like I said, examinations at Grade 7 are meant to show how far children have gone and this is not a new policy, it has been like this for years and we need to discuss. I have no problem with that but that is what policy is. Every child must sit for their grade 7 examination and move onto the next level of education. We will never stop any child who would like to do form 1 upwards and say because you have failed. We do not have any terminal examinations at grade 7 at the moment. That is what we used to do when we did standard 6 ourselves but the situation has changed.
As for the issue of provision of PPEs, Madam Speaker, your schools already are producing PPEs, that is one way of actually making sure that we have enough PPEs for every child, every school employee and every teacher. We have textile technology in schools and science; they are actually producing the PPEs as we sit here. It is one way, not the only way, of making sure that each school has the necessary PPEs in addition of course to the funds from Central Government, Ministry of Finance and Funds from our international partners who are here.
In any case, one of the ideas that we have in the Ministry is that each school needs to engage in some commercial activities and there were plenty of these schools right across the country that are engaged in commercial activities. For instance, Chipindura High School in Bindura, produces milk every day, litres of milk and they have used the funds from that they have made out of that milk to build new classroom blocks, dormitories and many schools across the country. So these are some of the efforts we are trying to make so that each school is able, not only from Central Government, partners but from themselves as well.
Honourable, sorry I could not hear the name, pandemic and lack of ICT; like I said, I am actually working with the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services on the availability of networks out there – Hon. Minister Muswere and I are working on that one. Hon. Soda, we are also working together to ensure that there is electricity everywhere and where there is electricity and schools are not connected, we are working on that Madam Speaker so that we connect every school. We may be facing challenges at this moment in time that some schools do not have electricity or networks that are working but the idea is that we are moving towards enabling each school to have requisite networks or infrastructure for each school to be able to provide online learning countrywide.
Hon. Ndlovu, the idea is to eventually have a situation where no child walks for more than 5kms to school. We are working towards that and we will achieve it – come rain, come sun. No child must walk for more than 5kms to school. These are our children and we want them to get to classrooms when they are already tired. We are moving towards removing that.
Hon. Chinotimba, again, it is virtually the same question that has been asked by other Hon. Members. We will do everything to make sure that every child accesses what they are supposed to access and as demanded by the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Again, it still rotates or revolves around the economy – on what the economic situation is out there Madam Speaker.
Hon. Nyabani on Grade Seven results, like I said before, every parent whose child has not received their results must get in touch with me. We do not want a child to suffer because the parent or guardian is unable to pay what they are supposed to pay. We will work around these issues and discuss together.
Hon. Mahlangu, we cannot have a situation where we are proud that a child is unable to proceed to Form One. Every child in this country must go to school, whether they have the fees or not. We have Government funds, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare will assist every child in this country, those who come from vulnerable families to go to school. I would want to see a child who has failed to go to school because they cannot afford to pay school fees; Government is paying for that.
Hon. Ndebele, again he is repeating what other Hon. Members have said. We will do everything we can except that you brought in the issue of comparing results in high and low density suburbs. Like I said, we will do everything to make sure that every child is given the opportunity to sit for examinations whether they are in rural areas, high or low density suburbs. That, we will do. Again, the bottom line like everything in life Madam Speaker, is based on the economy of the country and on how other countries treat our country. I thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, let us avoid repeating questions that have already been asked by other Hon. Members. Please, may we listen carefully when other Hon. Members are asking questions so that we avoid repetitions?
HON. DR. NYASHANU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am, I just have a point of clarification that I am seeking from the Hon. Minister. Hon. Minister, what is your Ministry doing about school administration that is failing to manage the affairs of schools?
There is a general laxity especially in rural areas. When you visit a school, you will find that children are not being taken care of, they are just roaming all over the grounds. When you try to find out what is happening, you will find that there is no teacher looking after those children. What is your Ministry doing to ensure that there is discipline in teachers? I understand that there could be those grievances that teachers are bringing forward to your Ministry, to say possibly they are not receiving enough salaries but the discipline on the ground causes a lot in terms of managing schools. Thank you.
(V)HON. SARUWAKA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. My first point is; I want to know from the Hon. Minister whether he was surprised by the 2020 poor results or not? Were the Hon. Minister and the Ministry surprised that the results came out as badly as they were? Was he expecting any different results or miracles after the breakdown in communication between his Ministry and the teachers over the command education system that his Ministry has pursued in dealing with genuine grievances aired by teachers? The question is - was he surprised?
The second question Madam Speaker Ma’am is that I have never heard the Hon. Minister speaking on the improvement of teachers’ welfare. When is the Hon. Minister going to stand for and with the teachers instead of turning against them? This particular question is motivated by him always …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Hamauswa, may you kindly mute your gadget?
(V)HON. SARUWAKA: My last point Madam Speaker Ma’am is, I heard the Hon. Minister saying that all teachers are commanded to release results without delay so that school children can continue with their education. The flip side that I want the Hon. Minister to explain is, with such a scenario, which parent is going to pay fees? Which parent is going to be motivated to pay fees when those who have not paid will not face any challenges with their children continuing with school?
In that case, is Government taking over or proposing to take over the paying of fees so that we do not have a situation where other parents will start refusing paying fees because there are no repercussions so as to speak, just like what happened in local government where those who did not pay rates were pardoned and it caused other rate payers not to pay. My question is; for education, is this not a populistic stance to say all those schools that are not releasing must release immediately without offering to finance education in those schools? Those are points for clarification Madam Speaker.
(V)HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Hon. Madam Speaker. I am not sure as to whether or not these questions have already been asked but I hope they were not. I just want to find out from the Hon. Minister what the level of preparedness is so as to redress a repeat of such results? Between the Minister and the teachers union, has he actually tried to engage them so that they can usher in issues to improve staff moral and working conditions because these also contribute to the performance at work and the results of the pupils.
(v) *HON.T. ZHOU: My question to the Minister is with regards to our S.I pertaining to the lockdown which states that all schools will be opened. I represent Mberengwa North Constituency and the community has no means of obtaining basic goods but in urban areas those ATS schools are doing online lessons and still sit for the same examinations as rural students. Pupils who pass are those who have access to online lessons. Those in the rural areas, because of the digital divide have no access to education. Does the law apply selectively? Is there a law for the elite and the poor?
(v)* HON. MAKONYA: Minister, what measures are you putting in place with regards to those schools that are enrolling only students that did very well, that is mostly up to ten units at Grade Seven leaving those that did not yet it is not their fault because of COVID-19 challenges? What are you going to do as a Ministry to ensure these children continue with their education?
HON. MAYIHLOME: My question to the Hon. Minister is that, given the policy that every child should proceed to Form One regardless of the performance at Grade Seven, has your Ministry done any study to see where these non-readers who fail Grade Seven end up after going through four years of secondary education. What are we creating as a nation? What kind of people are we producing? Is it worthwhile to continue with a policy that even non-readers will just go on and on to study things that they do not understand because they cannot even read at Grade Seven level. That is in addition to questions that have been asked previously but I think that point is important so that a study is done to see whether this policy is effective or worthwhile.
*HON. MAVETERA: My first question is with regards to satellite schools to say, why is it taking too long to have these schools approved by the Ministry so that we can have more children writing examinations? I would like to plead with you to look into that issue.
My second issue is - what measures is the Government taking with regards to children who are epileptic and are not getting any help? They should have special teachers or get speciliased attention because when we grew up there used to be special classes but it looks like we no longer have special classes. I think the Ministry should channel funds towards children living with disability, especially epileptic children because these are some of the issues contributing to low grades. I think the Ministry should come up with plans on what can be done to help those children.
HON. MADHUKU: My question to the Minister is that we hear that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has embarked on a competence-based curriculum. In my view, what this means is that if it is a competence-based curriculum, there are other areas where learners are good at other than the academic area, which means that we are trying to take everybody on board even those who are not academically able. In view of this, if this is correct to say that we have embarked on a competence-based curriculum, why then would we still continue analysing our results in a fashion that has a total bias on those that are academically gifted?
Secondly, if we have embarked on a competence–based curriculum, is it necessary therefore to continue ranking schools to say this school has performed very well and is ranked number one or two in Zimbabwe? Are we not disregarding the other areas of ability where our learners are good at other academic areas?
*HON. MUSARURWA: Madam Speaker, we have other children who failed to write Grade 7 exams and that has been reported in the media. Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland Provinces are provinces have been affected. My question to the Minister is, do you have any plans in place as Ministry for the affected children to write their Grade 7 examinations? The ZIMSEC public relations officer was asked and failed to respond to the question.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. SEN. MATHEMA): Thank you Madam Speaker. Hon. Nyashanu, clearly this is an element of indiscipline on the part of the schools’ administrators if they are not making sure that teachers and other school employees do what they are supposed to do. We are very clear on that one and we will do the best we can to make sure that indiscipline does not prevail in our schools. Hon. Saruwaka asked whether I was surprised by the results. I, personally was expecting that because of covid-19, the environment in the education sector, like in all the other sectors of the economy of society could not perform as much as it is expected to perform. Indeed, like my statement indicating as far as back as 2009 that we have always had these poor results for one reason or another, but under covid-19, surely not only in Zimbabwe but all over the world, I could not have expected our children to perform better. Even if that is the case Madam Speaker, we have children who did very well in both public schools, private sector and mission schools in spite of the fact that we had Covid affecting all the sectors of economy.
Hon. Mpariwa, to be honest, I could not understand her question at all. Hon. T. Zhou, Statutory Instruments from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education apply to all schools in this country. We do not discriminate whether the school is Government owned, council owned, church or religious organisation owned or private. Statutory Instruments apply everywhere because all schools in this country fall under my purview. If there is a question of indiscipline again Madam Speaker, we take the necessary steps. Hon. Makonya, my answer is all children in this country must go to school. I do not know of a law that says a child who supposedly got low results in Grade 7 must not go to school. All children must go to school and that is the law of this country. Hon, Mayihlome, the issue of non-readers, yes it is a challenge that we face. We must rectify that challenge and make sure that we do not have a child who goes to school and fails to read. This is why I said earlier, we need all of us to work together from parents to guardians, to school heads, to teachers, and the Hon. Members themselves that they know what is taking place in their constituencies. This is something that we need all of us to work together in order to get rid of a situation where some children go to school but cannot read and write.
Hon. Madhuku asked on competence based curriculum. Indeed, everything has its time Madam Speaker. We have started this competence based education for the good reason that we cannot continue with a situation where we just look at the academic side of things. We need to look at the situation and we are starting the competence based examination so that a child is continuously examined. The testing is continuous until they get to certain level of education because what happens if a child is good in music, metal work or agriculture. The child still has to be assisted to go to school in the area where they feel or where they show competence in doing that part of activity which will make them benefit in life.
We want every child who goes to school in this country to be able to live independently when they finish school. We do not want a situation where children fail to move on with life because each child is born to be able to live alone whether parents or guardians are there. Yes, competence based education and testing is a new thing that just started. We will continue with it but you are rest assured whatever happens, no child will fail to do their form 1 or their secondary education.
Hon. Musarurwa, all children go to school like I have said. They will go to secondary education and we will do the best we can. We will recruit as many teachers as possible or train specialist teachers in every inability that any child has. Everybody, whether they are disabled or they are hard of hearing, must be assisted to go to school. Therefore, the education system in Zimbabwe must be able to train teachers that are able to impart knowledge to every child, disabled or not disabled. I thank you Madam Speaker.
(v)*HON. NYAMUDEZA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Minister, is new curriculum of any benefit to our nation compared to the old curriculum since we are now experiencing challenges of children failing to go to school and it now demands use of many books. What is the reason for migrating from the old curriculum to the new curriculum? If children are to go to school in March or April, how is the social distancing going to be achieved in schools when there is no construction of new classroom blocks?
(v)+HON. G. DUBE: Thank you Madam Speaker. In my constituency, you will find that schools are facing challenges when it comes to books, especially text books. You will find 100 children sharing one text book. So what are you doing as a Ministry about those challenges? The second issue is what are you doing as a Ministry when it comes to language issue because we have some pupils who speak Nambya, Ndebele or Venda but they are being taught by someone who is Shona speaking. This might be the cause of some of the poor results we are getting, especially for grade 7 because they would not understand each other. This might be the cause for some parents not to like those Shona speaking teachers especially in Matabeleland.
Hon. Nyathi having not been asking directly his question
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nyathi, please ask your question.
(v)*HON. R. R. NYATHI: My question Hon. Speaker is what measures are you going to take to motivate teachers so that we do not have a repeat of this scenario where we have children in Grade 7 failing to such an extent? Secondly, those who wrote grade 7 were allowed to sit for exanimations without paying school fees but expected to pay upon collection of results. Now results out and Government is saying they should collect their results without paying fees. What precedence are we setting for those who will sit in the coming examinations in future?
(v)+HON. I NYONI: I want to ask two questions. Firstly, I know that Grade sevens have already collected their results - what is going to be done to those who did not perform well because boarding schools prefer those who have good results? Secondly, some of the parents do not have formal jobs, they are vendors. What is going to be done especially when they are not up to date with their school fees as they do not have formal jobs. How are you going to recover the money as a Ministry?
(v)<HON. DR. MURIRE: Thank you very much Speaker for giving me this opportunity. My question to the Minister is on the schools that were affected by the cyclone in Musikavanhu Constituency as well as Chipinge. Roads were swept away and we declared it a national disaster, what are we then going to do with schools because children are stranded. There are actually five schools in Chipinge that were destroyed, what plans do you have to fix that situation?
(v)*HON. CHIKUKWA: My question is what measures have you put in place for those schools in rural areas where they cannot even access mobile networks even to access them with a generator that will help. Some homes do not even the cellphone, can you just buy cellphones for use by such pupils in those schools? Since these schools are remote, they suffer unlike urban schools.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. SEN. MATHEMA): Thank Madam Speaker. I would like to thank the Hon. Members for the questions they have asked. Hon. Nyamudeza, social distancing in schools is a requirement by the Ministry of Health by World Health Organisation Protocols. We have had a history that COVID-19 did not start this year but last year. We had done our best to make sure that social distancing in all schools is observed.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister. you are not connected. Sorry you can go ahead.
HON. SEN. MATHEMA: Thank you Madam Speaker Maam. I was saying that Hon. Nyamudeza, yes social distancing is a requirement. We follow the guidelines and the protocol from the Ministry of Health and Child Care. We follow protocols on social distancing from the World Health Organisation because we do not live in isolation as a country.
We have had a history of COVID-19 from last year and no school failed to observe social distancing. We should live by the requirements of the WHO at all times in any school whether boarding or day school.
Hon. Dube – yes indeed the ideal situation is that every child must have his or her textbook and computer. Like I said earlier on, it depends quite a lot on how the economy is performing and I agree entirely that every child must have their own text books and computers. We are working with our partners as well as other ministries. Minister Muswere is in fact working on these issues as well so that all our children have access to computers and are online.
Hon. Nyathi on rural schools – I could not understand the question there but it was something to do with rural schools and social welfare. There is the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare which is actually responsible for this and they have gone out of their way to make sure that each child, whether in town or in rural areas, is afforded the opportunity by monies which come from central Government which is Ministry of Finance, for them to make sure that they go to school.
Hon. Nyoni – all children, like I have said Madam Speaker will go to school. There is no reason why any child in Zimbabwe cannot do form one or cannot go to secondary school. There is no law that says so. I will make sure as Minister responsible that every child goes to school. I know that sometimes we have groups of people who try to prevent their children from going to school for religious or cultural reasons. As far as this Government and Constitution of this country is concerned, every child has a right to go to school, and if you go out of your way to prevent a child from going to school, that is a criminal act and the law will take its course.
Hon. Murwira – yes I am working closely with Hon. Minister July Moyo to make sure that all the schools that were affected by Cyclone Idai – all the infrastructure must be repaired. In addition to that, each school needs new infrastructure as well because children and teachers need accommodation.
Hon. Chikukwa – again we will do the best we can to make sure that every child accesses education. There is no law that says some children have to go to school and some do not. As Government we are responsible and we are saying all schools will be available for every child in this country. It does not matter what grade they have got at Grade 7. They are all entitled to go to any public school to get their education. We will do that and we will make sure that teachers, school heads, Provincial Education Directors and schools with inspectors make sure that it happens.
In addition to that, I am imploring the Hon. Members to work together with us; this job belongs to all of us and assist each other. I thank you very much Madam Speaker.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 21 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 22 has been disposed of.
HON. MAVETERA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WOMEN AFFAIRS, COMMUNITY AND SMEs DEVELOPMENT ON FACT FINDING VISITS TO ASCERTAIN LEVEL OF PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY RELATED TO SGBV AND COVID-19
HON. MADIWA: I move the motion that this House take note of the report of the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development on the fact finding visits to ascertain the level of public service delivery related to SGBV and COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Since the end of 2019, the world has experienced a global pandemic caused by the Novel Coronavirus now commonly referred to as COVID-19. Countries the world over, grappled to contain the virus and used the public health approach which imposed lockdown measures such as restriction of movement. On the other hand, the Government of Zimbabwe imposed a nationwide lockdown in April 2020, directly affecting livelihoods of over 80% of Zimbabweans whose livelihoods are heavily reliant on the informal sector. The impact of the pandemic has seen a widening of existing gender inequalities. It has also clearly laid bare the systematic gender based violence exacerbated by the economic hardships that most communities faced. The COVID -19 pandemic has exposed women and girls to all forms of gender based violence such as sexual, physical, emotional, and socio-economic violence.
Zimbabwe enacted the Domestic Violence Act (Chapter 5:16) on 26 February 2007. The Act came into force on the 25 October 2007. The Act addresses many forms of violence, physical, emotional, sexual, economic and emotional abuse which are forms of gender based violence as well. The Act also provides for protection and relief to survivors of domestic violence. The Act further aims to protect women and criminalises domestic violence and such acts as abuse derived from any cultural or customary rites or practices that discriminate or degrade women. Also contained in the Act is the establishment of the Anti-Domestic Violence Council which among other functions, is to keep under constant review the problem of domestic violence in Zimbabwe and to take all steps to disseminate information and increase the awareness of the public on issues of domestic violence.
The Act provides for the establishment of safe-houses for the purpose of providing shelter to victims of domestic violence, including their children and dependants, pending on the outcome of court proceedings.
On the other hand GBV One-stop centers are part of the Zero Tolerance for GBV 365 National programme and has been birthed from a partnership between the UNFPA, the governments of Britain, Ireland, Sweden and the European Union (EU) through the UN-EU Spotlight Initiative to end the problem of GBV in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has established One-Stop Centres for survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) with the aim of creating a safe and supporting environment for survivors of GBV. The model is designed to reduce the number of institutions that a survivor must visit to receive basic support (medical, legal, and psycho-social services) following an incident of GBV.
Government seeing the critical importance in the provision of critical services to survivors of gender based violence, has partnered with civil society organisations such as Msasa Project, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA). Under the signed Memorandum of Understanding with Government, Msasa Project provides funds for the construction of safe shelters and one-stop centres whilst Government provides land and technical support in the form of construction works under the Ministry of Public Works. On the other hand, ZWLA provides legal aid services to survivors of gender based violence for free. WILSA is obligated to conduct legal rights education, empowerment and capacity building programmes on women rights, gender justice and also provide legal aid services.
The findings, observations and recommendations of the Committee are contained in this report.
2.0 OBJECTIVES OF THE FACT FINDING VISITS
The main objective of the enquiry was to ascertain the level of service delivery to survivors of GBV by the Government at safe shelters and OSCs, during the COVID-19 lockdown. The specific objectives include:
- To ascertain the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of GBV services;
- To assess state of service delivery at safe houses and one-stop centres focusing on availability of services, accessibility, staff, infrastructure, essential equipment, and follow-up, and
- To ascertain Government adherence to the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act in combating gender based violence.
The Committee therefore, resolved to conduct an enquiry into service delivery in relation to SGBV in light of COVID-19 pandemic at safe shelters and one-stop-centers in five provinces to assess support and public service delivery to survivors of domestic violence guided by the following;
1) Oral evidence from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs;
2) Fact finding visits to the following areas from 28 September to 01 October 2020:
- Gwanda One-Stop Center;
- Bulawayo Msasa Safe Shelter;
- Gweru One-Stop Center;
- Gweru Msasa Safe Shelter;
- Masvingo Nemamwa One-Stop Center;
- Bikita Msasa Safe Shelter;
- Marange Msasa Safe Shelter;
- Makoni One-Stop Center; and
- Harare, Msasa One-Stop Center and Safe House
The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) (2015) reports that 45 % of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual violence at some point in their lives. According to the 2019 Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), at least 10 121 women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced sexual violence, with 55.1% of perpetrators being current husbands, partners, and relatives. The survey further highlighted that 39.4% of girls and women have experienced physical violence, with 71.4% perpetrators being the husband or partner. Childline Zimbabwe in 2019 recorded 4,239 cases of children who were sexually abused, the majority of them by trusted close relatives and family members. During COVID-19 lockdown, cases of gender based violence increased by 70% according to Msasa Project reports.
Since the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act in 2007, the Government of Zimbabwe has only set up four One-Stop Centres to provide much needed medical, legal and psycho-social services to survivors at no cost under one roof in Gweru, Rusape, Gwanda and Chinhoyi. This intervention is under the Integrated Support Programme for Sexual and Reproductive Health (ISP) which is supported by the Governments of Britain, Ireland and Sweden. The Government is also closely working with Msasa Project in running safe shelters in provinces and districts. The Ministry has not provided safe shelters apart from the one at Nemamwa, in Masvingo which was under construction at the time of the visit. Eleven of the shelters around the country are established and funded by civil society organisations.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community and SMEs Development works closely with UNFPA Zimbabwe and other civil society organisations to ensure the provision of services to gender based violence victims. These civil society organisations partners working with the Ministry include Msasa Project, Adult Rape Clinic, Family AIDS Counseling Trust, Family Support Trust, Family AIDS Caring Trust (FACT), Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention and Support Organisation (ZAPSO), Zimbabwe Community Health Intervention Research Behavioural Change Programme (ZICHIRE) and World Vision. The combined efforts include equipping all supported gender based violence facilities, static and mobile one-stop centres, shelters and safe spaces, with COVID-19 infection, prevention and control (IPC) supplies.
5.0 COMMITTEE FINDINGS
5.1 Root Causes and Contributory Factors of Gender Based Violence
Understanding the root causes of gender based violence can be difficult, as it requires looking beyond what one sees with the eyes. A number of factors will be involved in the likelihood of gender based violence case. At all the safe houses and one-stop centres visited by the Committee in Gwanda, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Makoni in Manicaland, deep seated perceptions of women as subordinate to men in society, women's work were at the root cause of gender based violence. Some of the contributory factors highlighted to the Committee included poverty and economic challenges, lack of education and alcohol abuse. In Gwanda, the Committee was concerned to receive reports that gender based violence cases were particularly high in communities close to gold panning areas, while in Bikita high cases were often increased during the agricultural produce marketing season due to the conflicting ideas on how the disposable income from sold produce should be spent.
5.2 High Incidences of Gender Based Violence During COVID-19 Lockdown Period
The Committee sought to understand the prevalence of GBV during COVID-19. This proved to be a very complex issue since most of the cases are concealed in communities and as such, GBV cases were under reported. Therefore, the statistics and figures of gender based violence given to the Committee by the Ministry and Msasa Project were accepted as estimates that only serve to demonstrate the widespread nature of gender based violence in communities. The Committee was informed by Msasa Project, which closely works with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development that, at national level, during COVID-19 lock down period, cases of gender based violence sharply increased by 70%. The Graph below shows GBV reported cases from 2019 to date.
The trend indicates that more cases were reported during COVID-19 lockdown period. The COVID-19 lockdown period increased risks of gender based violence in scale and scope as victims were trapped in 'lockdown' with their abusers due to restricted movements. Restricted movements resulted in restricted economic activities within communities in which the majority survive on subsistence livelihoods (hand to mouth). Such a scenario resulted in the short supply of basics thereby fuelling tensions among couples and GBV being the outcome.
5.3 Disproportionate Impact of Gender Based Violence on Women
The Committee found out that gender based violence disproportionately affects girls and women, particularly through certain common forms of violence such as child marriages, intimate partner violence, and sexual abuse. The Committee was informed that women and girls often experience violence at home, from physical punishment to emotional or psychological violence. Msasa Project indicated that acceptance of violence as a ‘private affair’ often prevents others from intervening and prohibits victims from reporting.
The table below shows gender disaggregated data for GBV services access reports and calls made during the lockdown period at national level and selected areas.
|Gender||National Level Access During Lockdown||Gwanda||Gweru||Makoni|
Msasa further informed the Committee that at national level, from July to September 2020, an increase in psychological violence recorded 55 % of total cases as compared with previous months.
5.4 Gender Based Violence Survivors Access to Services During COVID-19 Lockdown
The Committee was pleased to find out that Gwanda, Gweru and Makoni one-stop centers were situated at Government hospitals to ensure access to holistic services (health, psychosocial support, legal and police services) to survivors under one roof and free of charge.
However, the Committee was greatly concerned that during COVID-19 lockdown period, gender based violence victims faced difficulties in accessing these critical services. In that regard, COVID-19 emergency responses have been gender insensitive. In Gweru, the Committee was informed by Ministry officials that reduced public transport availability restricted access to safe shelters and one-stop centers by GBV survivors. The personnel also had challenges in coming to work. The most affected were those from long distant areas such as Nembudziya in Gokwe, Mberengwa and other outlying areas.
5.5 Inadequacy of Safe Houses and One-Stop Centers
While it is Government policy to have one-stop center and safe house at provincial level and in each districts, the Committee found out that Masvingo Province had only 3 shelters out of 7 district, and a one- stop center was still under construction at Nemamwa Growth Point, courtesy of partnership between the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development and Musasa Project. The Committee was informed by Ministry officials that as of September 2020, the Ministry had only commissioned four one-stop centers in Makoni in Rusape (Manicaland Province); Gwanda (Matebeleland South); Gweru (Midlands); and Chinhoyi (Mashonaland West). The Committee was told that Makoni One-Stop Center refers survivors requiring accommodation to a safe house in Buhera, which is over 100 kilometers away.
In the Ministry’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, the Committee noted that the Ministry had a budget of USD241 000 earmarked for construction of two one-stop centers, awareness which included UN calendar events commemorations and coordination meetings.
The Committee noted with concern that the Ministry was still far away from meeting the requirements of the policy for one-stop centers and safe shelters given the meager resources allocated in the strategic plan.
The Committee was pleased to learn that in December 2019, the Government with the support from the UNFPA Zimbabwe, alongside with the European Union, launched mobile one-stop centers to improve access to gender based violence services. The initiative is aimed at taking GBV services to the people in the grassroots.
5.6 Challenges Affecting Safe Houses and One-Stop Centers
The Committee witnessed lack of office and accommodation space at safe houses and one-stop centers. For instance in Gwanda and Makoni, structures were made of temporary make shift material, and office space was inadequate. At Gwanda One-Stop Center, the Committee was told by officers manning the center that there was no office space for private counselling services. As most safe houses were located in city centers, with restricted spaces, victims of gender based violence were not able to engage in life skills and economic empowerment training programmes such as gardening, poultry, and sewing.
The Committee was told that the advent of COVID-19 led to a sudden halt in provision of safe space for victims of gender based violence. This was in compliance with the requirement that any client should be tested first before being admitted at the centers, yet the cost of COVID-19 testing were said to be estimated at US$60.
At Gweru One-Stop Center, the Committee was informed that disability friendly facilities such as wheel chairs were inadequate and even ablution facilities were not conducive for victims of gender based violence living with disabilities.
The Committee was also told that the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs had no vehicles at all the one-stop centers. Due to non-availability of vehicles, the Committee was told at Makoni one- stop center that officials were not able to adequately conduct GBV awareness campaigns and follow-up on cases.
It was also submitted that one-stop centers operated Monday to Friday, from 0800 to 1700 hours, and there was no access to health services during weekends and public holidays. There was also lack of funds for the payment of hospital bills for survivors’ who required access to medical services outside the Government hospitals. They had inadequate human capital and financial resources to conduct awareness campaigns at ward level. For instance, the Committee was told that Masvingo had only 10 ward coordinators to cover 32 wards.
Food shortages for clients were also mentioned as affecting smooth running of Gwanda One-Stop Centre, which was depending on food from the hospital administration. One-stop centers did not have access to statistics of GBV under ZRP Victim Friendly Unit. This negatively hindered identification and hotspot mapping of gender based violence areas which is critical for planning for intervention programmes.
The Committee was informed that there was limited male participation in gender based violence programmes and this negatively affected the effectiveness of the awareness campaigns.
In addition, the Committee noted that victims faced challenges in reporting cases to the police due to long distances one has to travel to the nearest police station. Victims also suffered stigma and inaccessibility of legal services due to high costs. Despite the existence of one-stop centers, the Committee expressed concern that prosecution and conviction of perpetrators remained a major challenge.
5.7 Positive Impacts of Safe Houses and One-Stop Centers
The Committee was pleased to be informed of the positive changes that had been brought about through the establishment of safe houses and one-stop centers, despite underlying challenges affecting their operations. At Gwanda, Gweru and Makoni one-stop centers, the Committee received reports that the multi-sectoral response services were being offered successfully and these included medical, legal, law enforcement and psychosocial services. They also provide reproductive health services to survivors of gender based violence such as provision of treatment services that include emergency contraception and post exposure prophylaxes. Strengthened referral system under one roof and counselling services were reported to be very effective in minimising the risk for secondary trauma for gender based violence survivors, which may be caused by the movement from one office to the other narrating their ordeal repeatedly in search of services.
The Committee was also informed that safe houses and one-stop centers visited had incorporated community outreach and preventive work such as media awareness campaigns, community education and mobilisation activities. These were designed to increase knowledge and change attitudes and behavior regarding GBV among men, women, service providers, community leaders, youth, children and duty bearers. Reports received indicated that the multi-faceted community mobilisation platforms, that included police, churches and traditional leaders, had successfully brought attention to gender based violence issues.
One-stop centers for gender based violence support services that are located within Government buildings or departments with other functions, such as health clinics and hospitals, were said to be less likely to expose victims to stigma, thus encourages those affected to make reports and seek services. These were more preferred than standalone one-stop centers.
However, in the stand-alone model, medical staff are not available 24 hours a day, and survivors need to be driven and escorted to a health facility for services not available at the stand-alone center, for example surgery, stitches and x-rays.
There were some who also preferred standalone set up for being private since they may be located in secluded areas.
The Committee was further informed that in addition to providing safety, safe centers offered life skills to ensure economic emancipation of survivors who are mostly women. At Msasa Project safe house in Bulawayo, the Committee was told that the center, in conjunction with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development trained their clients in floor polish making, detergent making, sewing, baking and gardening on the limited space available.
5.0 COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS
The Committee made the following observations;
5.1 The Committee noted that the Ministry has not prioritised safe houses over the years since the 11 safe shelters were established by CSO’s indicating too much reliance on donor funding for the provision of GBV service. This is despite the increase or spike in GBV cases every year.
5.2 That GBV increased dramatically during the COVID-19 induced lockdown as many women and girls were locked up with the perpetrators.
5.3 The Committee observed that one-stop centers and safe shelters at provincial centers are inaccessible to many gender based violence survivors in outlying districts.
5.4 The Committee noted that there was urgent need for a coordinated multi-sectorial approach between Government and CSO’s with clear prioritised roles to curb GBV as it is on the increase.
5.5 It further noted that there are legislative gaps that need to be addressed by gender equality and sexual harassment laws.
5.6 That Government did not consider GBV service delivery as critical or essential service during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
5.7 The Anti-Domestic Violence Council was not fulfilling its mandate and as a result was being overshadowed by civil society due to its financial incapacitation as Treasury was not allocating it a meaningful budget.
5.8 There is lack of political will by Government in ensuring adherence to the provisions of the National Gender Policy which among other policy strategies provides for setting up of new or strengthening existing institutions and mechanisms for the effective provision of services to protect, care and support GBV survivors and to offer correctional and rehabilitation services for GBV perpetrators.
The Committee, therefore, recommends that:-
6.1 The Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development should prioritise funding economic empowerment projects for GBV survivors through the Women’s Development Fund 2021 budget. The Committee therefore expects the Ministry of Women Affairs to make a detailed submission with budget lines highlighting how GBV survivors will benefit from the funding vehicles under its purview by end of January 2021.
6.2 Government should, with immediate effect, recognise GBV service delivery and personnel as essential services in this COVID-19 era and other future pandemics.
6.3 Custodial sentence for sexual abuse and rape perpetrators is recommended in strengthening the legal and policy framework to ensure efficient prevention and response to gender based violence. To realise this, the Committee therefore implores the Ministry of Justice to urgently bring to Parliament the Sexual Harassment Bill, Child Justice Bill and amendment of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act[Chapter 9:23] Section 65(1) by providing minimum mandatory sentencing for rape and sexual abuse by end of March 2021.
6.4 Government should show its seriousness in curbing GBV through its 2021 budget clearly outlining budget lines for construction of one-stop centres and safe shelters with timelines. The Ministry of Women Affairs should therefore, submit to Treasury a detailed road map on one-stop centres, safe shelters to be constructed and the budget for allocation of additional funding from the unallocated reserve by end of March 2021.
6.6 The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development should continue to carry out sensitisation and awareness-raising on gender based violence in communities as a prevention strategy. The Committee expects a detailed programme of GBV awareness activities from the Ministry by end of February 2021.
6.7 Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development should submit to the Committee a detailed plan of action on how they intend, in 2021, to build and support the capacities of community leadership to deal with gender based violence related cases at grass roots level by end of March 2021.
6.8 The Ministry of Finance should avail funds from the unallocated reserve for the procurement of at least four vehicles to cover GBV hotspot provinces which are Manicaland, Matabeleland North, Masvingo(Rural) and Mashonaland Central by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
6.9 The Government should, from the unallocated reserve, provide adequate budget for the purchasing of assistive technology, facilities and devices for victims of gender based violence that are living with disability in 2021. These include disability friendly toilets, bathrooms, wheel chairs, adjustable beds, Braille and walking sticks. A disbursement plan to be submitted to Parliament by end of April 2021.
6.10 The Government should heavily subsidise COVID-19 testing cost for survivors of gender based violence so that testing services can be accessed by these vulnerable groups in accordance with the WHO guidelines before and after admission at the centres by end of the first quarter of 2021.
6.11 The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development should ensure that staff at one-stop centres receive ongoing and refresher training, mentoring and support to provide the best possible care to survivors, and also so that they are informed of emerging issues and approaches. Budget in this regard should be shared with the Committee by the beginning of 2021.
6.12 Government must increase surveillance and monitoring of GBV cases and survivors by fully funding the Anti-Domestic Violence Council in 2021.
6.13 The Government should submit to Parliament a decentralisation plan of one-stop centers and safe shelters to the grassroots to ensure access to all requiring GBV services by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
GBV is a scourge that we all need to take collaborative efforts to eradicate in our society. It is high time that our legislation has deterring penalties for offenders and invest more in prevention initiatives. Enactment of a gender equality law will go a long way in addressing most of the challenges highlighted in this report. I thank you.
(v) HON MOLOKELA-TSIYE: I rise in support of the motion presented by Hon Madiwa. I am in full support of the report that was presented by our Chairperson. The most important point to highlight is the fact we have been talking for many years about gender based violence and its consequences. We need to move away from the empty rhetoric. What is coming out from this report is that we need to increase political will, financial investments and public awareness against gender based violence. It is time to say enough is enough and it is time to unite the people of Zimbabwe and make sure that gender based violence becomes history.
From the report that we have got, you will realise that even though women constitute the majority of citizens of Zimbabwe, when it comes to their rights, especially related to GBV they are still being treated as secondary citizens. Their rights are still being ignored and not being prioritised. This report based on the visit that the Committee has undertaken is confirming that GBV, including the strategies around mitigating it - there is still a lot that needs to be done even though we have been talking about the need to end GBV. We have 16 days of activism against GBV but it looks like they are a drop in the ocean. Now with the advent of COVID-19, the committee has confirmed as shown by this report and corroborated some of the research findings from civil society that COVID-19 has also worsened the situation with regards to GBV. It has moved it from bad to worse. We have seen the number of cases increasing rapidly.
As Parliament of Zimbabwe we need to encourage everyone to stand up and stem this type of GBV. The Committee findings also confirm the fears of many activists and many people in that space. Unless something more is done, we will continue to lose the fight against gender based violence. We need to invest more in terms of new strategies and innovation to ensure that we defeat it. We need to increase public awareness, especially by investing more into new information technologies. We have powerful social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter which we need to start using effectively to create awareness and improvement strategies of awareness around fighting and standing up to GBV.
Related to that, we also need to increase funding because right now we are dependent a lot on international development partners and NGOs. Our own government facilities and mitigation strategies lack funding. It is important for the Ministry to continue knocking on the door of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development so that the infrastructural situation that we witness should be addressed urgently and the human resource capital situation that we witness should be addressed urgently. We also need to continue to change the legislative context around the fight against GBV. In particular, we note with concern that a lot of people committing GBV are still getting away with murder so there is need to tighten the laws to reduce those who are escaping conviction or those escaping with lighter sentences. We need to also push for new laws such as the Sexual Harassment Bill to ensure that it becomes law so that sexual harassment becomes a criminal offence and not just a social offence.
There is need to implement such laws as the Domestic Violence Act especially as you notice from the report, the Council has not been properly structured and it is not effective. So we need to ensure that even the existing laws are enforced to ensure that screws are tightened against GBV. The other thing that I want to emphasise is the need to come up with a clear strategy around monitoring and evaluation of progress or even lack of progress because right now we are relying a lot on civil society. I think we need more monitoring and evaluation from the Ministry itself and from the Parliament of Zimbabwe. What the Committee did is a step in the right direction but we need more to be done in terms of follow up to ensure that there is clear progress.
I would like to appeal to all Members of both Houses to take a strong stance against GBV and to take a leadership role to ensure that we lead from the front as legislators. This is not a job for women, NGOs but a job for every citizen of Zimbabwe. As Members of Parliament let us go beyond the political rhetoric by holding the Executive accountable and play our legislative role. Let us represent the millions of Zimbabwean women and girls who are being exposed daily to GBV. Let us unite to end this GBV problem that we are having as a country and stop it from getting from bad to worse. COVID-19 is here to stay and we cannot give it as an excuse but should come up with strategies beyond COVID-19 to reduce GBV. I so move Madam Speaker. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIR: Thank you very much Hon Molekele.
HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to contribute to this very important debate that has been moved by Hon. Madiwa and seconded by Hon. Molekele. Gender Based Violence is an offence and a violation of human rights. GBV is endemic in our society. There are so many victims of GBV who are being ill treated every day and every night. It is the duty of this Legislative Assembly to ensure that GBV is stopped without further delay. Cases of GBV escalated dramatically especially during the lockdown period.
Why did that happen? It was because there was a barrier to communication. People were unable to report their cases to law enforcement officers and that affected most victims of GBV. We must come up with lasting measures to eradicate GBV. We want deterrent measures so that those who may want to perpetuate such heinous offences will be dealt with severely. It is regrettable to note that the most affected are women and girls, though to a very limited extent there are men who are also victims of GBV. Because of stigma they are they are so shy to report to law enforcement agencies. I want to deviate a little bit from the Committee’s report. I totally support their report but I want to go a step further and identify some men who are victims of gender based violence, who are ill-treated by women but to a very limited extent. I want to support a report by Hon. Madiwa that cases increased by 70% during lockdown period, people had challenges reporting those cases because of transport and also the fact that the couples spend most of the time in their homes.
Let us support the recommendations of the Committee that there is need for funding, the idea of a one stop shop is highly commendable whereby if victims are able to report at one centre, there will be a police station, you can get legal representation and also be given psychological support by specialists. There is need for provision of transport, to provide funds to Women Affairs so that they can buy off road vehicles and they can visit victims of gender based violence.
On legislative gaps which are there, I think as Parliament of Zimbabwe, we also need to find ways of fast tracking our laws so that they can protect victims of gender based violence and also the perpetrators of gender based violence can also be brought to book. We need to tighten our laws so that those perpetrators of gender based violence may be given custodial sentences or if it is possible for those who sexually abuse women, to be castrated. With those few remarks I want to thank you for this chance.
(v)+HON. R. R. NYATHI: Thank you Madam Speaker, I want to add my voice to a motion raised by Hon. Madiwa. It is very important that we know that it is not right to abuse the vulnerable. If you assault someone you will have violated their rights and this is not good. We must promote communication through all forms of media or even using our headmen, chiefs or politicians, we must tell people that gender based violence is not right, especially in this House, we are expected to come up with legislation that anyone who engages in gender violence be penalised.
They should not just be taken to police to pay fines but we should come up with stiffer penalties so that people are afraid to engage in gender based violence. If you beat your spouse using harmful tools, you should be given at least a minimum of one year in prison. This will make us understand that human life is very important because men were created in the image of God. Gender based violence cases increased during lockdown. The figures might not be true because they are some people who could not go to report because of the lockdown restrictions, some did not have money and some did not have transport.
During lockdown some people do not have sources of income; I think from 2019 to date, the figures that were reported might be half of the true reflection that is happening on the ground. We want to appreciate the report for opening our eyes so that as Zimbabweans we understand that it is not good for people to fight. Every Zimbabwean has a right to live peaceful without being violated by another person because death is inevitable, people must live happily whilst they are alive.
I really support the Committee’s report. We must enact laws that will help us ease gender based violence, educate people and avoid courts. We must create awareness so that people do not engage in gender based violence. I thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to add my voice on this very pertinent issue which affects the less privileged, women and girls. All people were born by women so we must treat women with respect and dignity.
(V)*HON. J. SHAVA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker. I would like to support what has been said by my Hon. Chairperson. It is true that when we moved with the Committee, we witnessed a lot of problems at these One-Stop Centres.
It is during this lockdown period that we saw a lot of problems being experienced by people; with people walking very long distances to report domestic violence cases. It is a situation whereby a woman cannot walk long distances to report a case and in many instances, they would end up committing suicide because they would have given up. We looked at building shelters in nearby communities so that victims do not walk long distances to report cases. In the past, young girls would walk 10kms to seek assistance in police stations. These are some of the challenges that we came across as we toured with the Committee.
It was in Mashonaland West Province where we saw that some of the shelters being used to accommodate domestic violence victims were not comfortable and conducive to accommodate victims because there was not enough security. We are saying that with proper shelters now being built, they should ensure that there is sufficient security to make sure that victims are well protected. I thank you.
(V)*HON. CHIKUKWA: Thank you very much Hon. Chair, I just want to say a few words in support of what the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs said. I also stand in support of what we saw and experienced as a Committee.
It is true that we do not have proper infrastructure for these One Stop Centres. They are just mere shelters that are not properly built. Government has not done much in terms of building proper infrastructure. Let us make sure that our Ministry is financed so that they can build proper shelters. Some victims are afraid to go and report domestic violence cases because it is quite a distance for them to travel to report a case. I would also like to encourage relatives and parents to say when a minor is abused by a parent, we should not encourage silence but make sure that such cases are reported to the police and the victims get assistance as soon as they can because if we allow such cases to prevail, then we are creating a bigger problem.
The law should prevail and we should report such cases despite existing relationships. Other people actually report when they are sick from sexually transmitted diseases and upon being asked where they would have contracted the disease from, that is when such issues come out. Let us have a law to say, irrespective of who the perpetrator is, they should face the full wrath of the law. I would also encourage men who are abused by women to come up front and report such cases. I thank you.
HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I am equally touched by the report that was tabled in this House by Hon. Madiwa and seconded by Hon. Molokele. It shows that the scourge of domestic and gender based violence is still with us and more effort has to be made to ensure that we eradicate it and reduce gender based violence.
I looked at the issues that she was talking about in terms of what they saw when they went out during this very difficult time where we are trying to save ourselves from the COVID-19 pandemic. They discovered that even now in the prevalence of COVID-19 and when people should be trying to live in a civil way to protect themselves from COVID-19 and its effects; there are still people who are abusing others. Gender based violence, according to their report, even became worse and the victims had no recourse because they could not go anywhere to report since they required letters, for example, to move from one place to another in order to make a report, meaning that they would suffer in silence. I see this as a very challenging observation and feel it is critical that as a people, we find a way – different stakeholders, Government, the ministry itself, traditional leaders, churches and non-governmental organisations who are involved in protecting the interests of women, children and social interaction in general to work together.
These issues are deeper than what we then deal with after the occurrence of the crime. The best way is to eradicate the source of this especially when we look at violence against women. It comes from a long history and tradition that men believe that they are superior to women – that they are in charge and women are asserts to men. Hence, respect from there is negated. So it is critical that we change the mindset of our society to understand that we are equal and that men and women respect each other. If we can get to a point where we respect each other, then there will not be any violence and we will definitely reduce violence.
I also want to thank our Government that like many other governments throughout the world, we have laws that have tried to deal with this scourge. I think this has serious benefits because of the fear of being arrested, they then stop being violent to their partners, men or women, but the majority are women who are being taken advantage of and abused, and girls also are victims because they are a weaker sex. It is very important that we continue to look at our laws, the same laws that we already have collectively as a Government. We need as Parliament to look at those laws and see whether there are gaps that are being taken advantage of by some of these criminals so that we close those areas and ensure that whoever is involved pays enough for his/her deeds to save our people from this gender based violence experience.
Madam Speaker, I also feel that it is important that all these players who are involved in dealing with gender based violence and creation of those safe houses and so forth should receive Government support. These are very noble ideas and those organisations are critical to try and mitigate the challenges of GBV. I would also want, as they get resources towards dealing with this scourge, this challenge of GBV, let the resources be disbursed to the intended victims. We need transparency there.
They want resources, vehicles and all that, we want all these things when they are put together to deal with the issue and we need to get statistics; not growing statistics. We want to see their efforts in reducing GBV. When we have those safe houses, we disburse money there and buy all those vehicles and everything having been done, we want to have them showing out statistics of the achievements. They should not come and campaign for money, yet GBV is going up. What is the purpose?
Are they only statisticians who are supposed to be coming here to tell us how ballooning it is or they should come up with scientific methods of dealing with the sources of domestic or gender based violence and find solutions to eradicate it and we are seen on the world map that here is Zimbabwe with its partners; domestic partners, our Committee and Ministry here and say this is what we have done for the year 2021 and it has really reduced the prevalence of GBV.
We cannot go on and on seeing these figures. If there are laws that are supposed to be promulgated, let us have the laws come to the House. Let us enact those laws and punish the perpetrators and with those punishments, if we see the cases going down, then we say here we have organisations or partners who are really working not people who are going around picking numbers and bringing them to us. What are we doing? It is like we are all spectators in a football match! This is not acceptable. We cannot have a country where we see ballooning of something that is illegal.
We have laws that are dealing with these things. How are we failing to use those laws? Are there gaps in those laws? What are we doing to correct those gaps so that we deal with the perpetrators? My submission is, we really need more work and I think the Committee, despite that, you have come out with a very good report which is very insightful but we need more work from you so that we have tangible solutions. What are our milestones as we go to the end of 2021? What is it that you have done with your partners in the Ministry of Women Affairs, police force and civic organisations? Are we really pushing awareness?
We do not want to go and meet people and those people tell us they are seeing violence in their areas, no. We want to go and meet people, ask them what they want us or Government to do to lessen or reduce GBV within their communities. We want to see solutions. We cannot have our country on the map as one of the worst countries in terms of GBV. I heard you mentioning provinces that are leading in doing this heinous thing. What are we doing about it? Can we not come up with a list of those who have been convicted so that their names are published, showing their bad deeds? This will correct some of these things. Nobody would want to see his name in a newspaper because of a bad deed.
Up until we look for solutions, then we are not going anywhere. My prayer is let us look for solutions. If the solutions are in the law, can we quickly come up with a way of proposing those amendments in the law so that we corner these people and ensure that we deal with them? If it is in the awareness, let us have more resources to the Ministry and the Committee to go around and look for the solutions and deal with that so that we reduce the prevalence of GBV. It is very important that as a country we deal with this and we start to live with each other in harmony and respectfully.
Women are a very important group of people in terms of the development of this country. If we do not give them space and violate them psychologically and so forth, it means they will not contribute to development and this country will not develop as fast as it would with women and men working together putting all their efforts. If somebody is downtrodden, how will that person perform? She comes to work thinking of that bad husband at home. She will not concentrate on that job and that production that you want increased in the country.
So, it is critical as a country, leadership in our communities, ministries and these civic organisations that maybe we come up with a conference where you say within the context of our people or traditions, how can we deal with GBV. We want statistics every year that show a reduction in the prevalence of GBV, especially in those provinces that you have already mentioned. We want to see the strategies, what is the plan to eradicate or reduce the prevalence of GBV.
The safe houses, let them be well looked after and rehabilitation of those who will have been put in those safe houses, because if you do not look after them and give them enough support, they will go back into the hands of the same abuser or get married to another person with the same character. We will never achieve anything if these people live the rest of their lives in a lot of torture. We need these safe houses to have a good plan that will rehabilitate and empower those people who will have been rehabilitated or protected from GBV. Thank you.
HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to air my voice as well to this report from Hon. Madiwa, seconded by Hon. Molokela-Tsiye. The effects of COVID-19 on women have a large bearing because these are the people who look after the children and in a number of ways they look after their spouses as well. Spouses may just come late in the evening and say, have you cooked – with what? So women have a greater job during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has been mentioned that in Bikita women were mostly abused during the harvesting period because Bikita grows cotton. In the past people used to get paid good sums of money. The men disappeared and would come back when they no longer had the money. Even now when they are given commodities they sell 2 litres cooking oil or soap bars in order to go and drink. Generally, we see our women at a disadvantage.
I also strongly feel that there is need of some awareness on the issue of gender based violence because we still continue to witness abuse of women and the girl child. They do not know what it means to report the abuse and what type of abuse should be reported. In some communities traditional belief are still acceptable, that if a boy plays wrongly with a girl they just say it is well; they do not understand the outcome of that.
We need to go back to the role of our traditional homes because some of the issues end up at the police when they could have been resolved at home. Madam Speaker, when people know that there is somewhere they can get assistance they tend to go there even without looking at the possibility of having that issue resolved within the family. I am not saying solve in the wrong way but in the proper way. At times before people receive counselling someone goes and report but at the end of the day the person you have reported will still be acquitted and it becomes a serious problem.
I want to applaud the work being done by Msasa Project. However, I feel after assisting a victim of gender based violence, Msasa should continuously check on whether what they have tried to do has been achieved. We have witnessed cases where a person is arrested for committing GBV but after a day or so the person is back. In a way it creates some psychological fear in the person who would have reported and other people would say, why did you report? I understand a situation in my constituency when there was a time when Msasa people came and they sensitised people on GBV. Only one man was arrested for raping a 12 year old girl. Surprisingly, the person was given community service and was made to work at a local clinic. When people witness that, they feel it is not something serious at all. We need to have more punitive punishment.
During COVID again, we have witnessed a lot of challenges with the girl child. A number of school-going girl children dropped out of schools because of pregnancy. Some of them got married early. Such situations are not good for our nation because it destroys our young ones. We need to support them so that tomorrow, they become our future leaders. We should try to make a research into some of the issues that pertain to men and women to find out if it is the woman who is always a victim. There is a certain percentage of men who are also victims of gender based violence. I have two cases in my constituency whereby men hanged themselves. We need to find out because at times someone begins the fight and the other person in trying to resolve the issue will be the loser.
Finally, I want to say the Sexual Harassment Bill is long overdue. We must chat a way to reduce gender based violence in our communities so that we have less cases of gender based violence. That will help our people to focus towards development because when men and women are fighting, even during this rainy season, you will find there will be no production. People will not go to the fields because of misunderstandings. Children will end up following suit because they feel it is proper for a father to batter the mother. So when they grow up, they tend to do the same. I thank you.
(v)HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to add my voice on the report raised by Hon. Madiwa seconded by Hon. Molokela-Tsiye. A lot of women were at risk of domestic violence during the lockdown especially stress, loss of income and isolation. All these increased and contributed to the risk of violence. Reduced public transport and non-availability to both urban and rural set up for survivors of gender based violence remained a challenge. I therefore call for our Government to provide life serving services for gender based violence during this lockdown period. Women were going through abuse during the lockdown period. Those who were going through this abuse could seek support from various support structures that exist in their communities. Many women are in lockdown with their abusers while they are being cut off from normal support services. I therefore in conclusion, ask especially Hon. Members to support the police and justice actors to provide suitable services.
(v) HON. MAGO: Thank you Madam Speaker. I am going to be very short and precise. The issue of gender based violence does not show humanity when people fight. My advice, is since we have so many male Members of Parliament they should talk to their fellow men in the communities to say women are human beings. They have been beaten left, right and centre all along and there have never been violence from women. It is only men, and women have realised that if we leave these men to go on, it would not keep us right. So please Hon. male Members, advise other males that we should stop gender based violence. I thank you.
(V) * HON. PRISCILLA MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to support what was said by other Hon. Members on the issue of gender based violence, especially the issue that was raised by Hon. Molokela. The issue we are discussing is sensitive and painful. Those mostly affected by GBV are women and girls because they are not protected by these laws. The police officers who are supposed to protect them normally let them down. If they report cases of GBV, the next day they see the perpetrator back home and they are not even informed of what would have transpired. Even in rural areas, the headmen and chiefs do not protect women and girls because they do not get the help they deserve.
I think there is need to enact a law which strictly protect victims of gender based violence, not only have laws on paper but in practice they do not exist. When cases go to court, the perpetrators should get stiff penalties so that they are deterred to repeat the same. Now, what we notice is that after the ruling you will find that you would have wasted time reporting such violence because the penalty will be too lenient. There is a lot of corruption at police stations and courts and that need to be stopped if we really need to protect women and girls against gender based violence. I thank you.
(v) *HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Madam Speaker Maam. I also want to add onto this debate of which violence cuts across on both men and women. There are some women who cause gender based violence by their actions. Some women entertain men in front of their husbands to the extent of being touched by those men. If the husband fails to control himself, he might react violently but the perpetrator here is the woman. There are also other men who leave their wives to look for other women. When they are asked by the wife, they start beating the wife. So on the issue of gender based violence we should look at both sides because some women also abuse their husbands. They even send them to fetch water for them and the man becomes a laughing stock. If the man asks the wife why she does that, violence starts.
Women must look after their families. Disputes are normal in families and sometimes arise from very small things, so it is very important for families to resolve these minor disputes amicably. If a woman is beaten by her husband and reports the issue to the police, when the woman comes back and want to withdraw the issue, the perpetrator must face the full wrath of the law. There must be stiffer penalties for perpetrators. I really support what the other Hon. Members said about the issue of gender based violence. In a peaceful family set up kids are brought up with good morals and in that family there is prosperity. In the country there will also going to be peace and harmony. Women and men must learn to respect each other. Men must respect their wives and all women. Also, women must respect their husbands and the husbands must also respect their wives so that there is harmony and progress in the family. If the husband does perform well in bed, she should consult the aunts. It is not good to look out outside wedlock as it causes GBV. It also applies to the husband, he should consult his wife and marry another wife. He should inform his wife so that they do not fight.
Every family is called a family because there is a woman. There is no man who must stay without a woman. As men, we must learn to respect our women and all women in the country so that there is peace, development and harmony. We should respect and take care of our God given gifts – our wives. I thank you.
*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): Thank you Hon. Chinotimba. When you are debating, you must use proper parliamentary language. I encourage you to use dignified and parliamentary language and not use other words which are abusive and may need to be explained.
(v)HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me add my voice to the motion before the House. I fully subscribe to the motion that gender based violence (GBV) has no place in our homes. It is archaic, of redundant thinking and does not only exist in the physical assault of either the woman or the man in the union between the two. It extends beyond that.
GBV includes financial indiscipline by either party, for example is I am married to Mrs. Chikwinya and I sell our house without consulting my family, my wife in particular; that is gender based violence because it precisely affects her emotions, which emotions are the same as if we are equating to being attacked physically by a fist, knife or anything of a physical nature. In my view, there are a lot of men out there who have gone uncontrolled for lack of a better word, where they dispose of property without consulting their spouses. I think our laws should be specific that where a union exists, you cannot dispose of a property without the consent of the other partner in order to protect the emotions of both parties. We are not assuming that it is only the husband who can sell. We are assuming that either of the party can do things that can cause emotional injury to the other partner to the extent that to me, it is defined as GBV,
Secondly, GBV also exists where perhaps this cannot necessarily be legislated but those who say love cannot be legislated I am sure we need to think again. If I harass my family – I am in love with my wife but harassing my children; I am not quite sure how we can legislate towards that and I am not privy to the intention of course. The motion has got its prayer but to what extend the mover of this report intends for us to protect the family as an intergral component of our society. For example, if I can kiss my wife but I am not paying school fees for my children, what am I saying or doing to my girl or boy child. What culture am I inculcating to my family as they grow up to become community members who are supposed to become responsible and non violent in terms of their nature and mind.
When we speak of GBV, I purely understand that people are looking at the physical aspect of violence. I would like to thank most of the civil society organisations which are now going beyond the aspect of physical violence and thinking of anything that disturbs the other party, either being the male or female with regards to their emotional settlement, emotional well-being and both emotional and physical. I want us to interrogate all the law faculties that have a direct impact on the issue or aspect of GBV. There has been a stipulated mandatory sentence of GBV – I totally subscribe to that. I also want to urge Members of Parliament and the civil society – I see that there is a bias when we relate to gender, the majority of which believe that gender is purely speaking about the feminine aspect. I want to believe that there are also men who need protection. Let us speak in equality and equity. Let us speak to an extend whereby we build a society that respects the emotional and physical well being of individuals regardless of their sexual orientation.
The other aspect is that we must be able to interrogate the provisions of our Constitution. What is the intention of the legislature when we are protecting ....
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I am sure we have lost you Hon. Chikwinya.
(v)+HON. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam Speaker Maam. I would like to add my voice on the motion brought by Hon. Madiwa, seconded by Hon. Molokela-Tsiye.
I am very pleased to debate on this motion which is about GBV which affects especially women and children. As a Committee, we went out and spoke to the community about GBV in Gwanda, Bulawayo and Masvingo. We found out that if women are abused, they go and report to the police but the police do not have transport to make a follow up. When three days lapse, they will be no more evidence to prove that case; so they need to be attended to quickly.
(v) +HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to thank the Committee for the report on gender based violence. Gender based violence by its nature, is a bad thing and I condemn it. When wife and husband fight, that also leads to problems to their reproductive system. Sometimes it leads to unwanted pregnancies when a woman is raped. Madam Speaker, sometimes a woman gets pregnant even if she is not prepared. That leads to unsafe abortion. They also risk contracting HIV and these other diseases because during rape, normally they do not protect themselves.
So I would like to thank this Committee because gender based violence is very bad and with this Corona pandemic, sometimes the men stop going to work and that increases violence against women because they spend most of the time together. I would like to request that the Committee visit rural areas to educate people, especially women to report gender violent cases. They experience these cases but fail to report. I really support the recommendations made by this Committee.
Madam Speaker, I come from Matabeleland North and we see a lot such as a 12 year old child who may be mentally disturbed after being raped. They do not report because they are afraid of being attacked. So this Committee should not only go to urban areas but they should also go to rural areas. These other areas have access to WhatsApp and other information communication technology information on gender based violence. With these few words, I thank you Madam Speaker.
(v)HON. MAPHOSA: Thank you Madam Speaker, I would want to add my voice to the report that was presented by Hon. Madiwa and her seconder. Madam Speaker, gender based violence has become a pandemic not only in Zimbabwe but in the whole world. People especially women are being abused day in day out. There is great need for us as a country to intervene and make sure that this comes to an end. Like what one of the previous speakers has said, we traveled in Zimbabwe, including in rural areas where we were seeing how gender based violence was affecting even the livelihood of the people in Zimbabwe.
Madam Speaker, it is very sad to note that even in this day and age – people, including children are being sexually violated. They are being physically abused and the perpetrators are not punished at all. Madam Speaker, we also visited safe houses where there were women and children who would have been taken away from their homes for safety. What is heartbreaking Madam Speaker is that these people will be protected from their own family, a family that might be there to protect them.
Children are being raped by their fathers, grandfathers and brothers, people who should be there to protect them. So I think as Government, we should take stiffer measures to deal with the perpetrators of such violence. Madam Speaker, these days you witness that a husband can chop his wife because they have run out of a basic commodities before the end of the month. Those are issues that we are having as a country. I think there should be a minimum sentence and sterner measures for the perpetrators.
Madam Speaker, just last week I receive a message from an organisation and I still have that message of a six year old that was killed by her own father because of airtime. He was sent to buy airtime of 20 bond and the child mistakenly bought airtime for 40 bond and a child was killed for that. I think people need counseling. I was very happy that at one of the centres, there are counselors who think that it is important for people to have counseling. I think this counseling should be done at these centres. The counseling should include community leaders. Some of these problems might be caused by economic hardships, so this needs counseling. In a normal economy no one can kill anyone for 40 bond. So having said that, I agree with all Hon. Members who have debated and even the issue that has been raised by people that we must have more mobile stations throughout the rural communities. We see that these mobiles go maybe once in a month or once in two months but we are having gender based violence happening every day especially in these times of lockdown where people are not able to go out and work for their families. The stress is too much because maybe there is no food at home; families are together 24/7. So we need one-stop centres in the rural areas also and we need counsellors because what is happening right now is not normal at all. Having said that, let me thank you for this opportunity.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Indeed, I am sure it very much worth noting that we are having a lot of HeforShe advocates when it comes to women’s issues in this Parliament. That is very enlightening to note.
HON. MADIWA: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. TOGAREPI: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24th February, 2021.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON. TEKESHE, the House adjourned at Twelve Minutes to Seven o’clock