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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 24 June 2020 46 49
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday, 24th June, 2020
The National Assembly met at a Quarterpast Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
HON. SPEAKER’S RULING
ALLEGED FAVOURITISM TOWARDS HON. T. MLISWA
THE HON. SPEAKER: This is the Speaker’s ruling on allegations of favouritism towards Hon. Mliswa and the alleged misconduct by Hon.
Background; this ruling seeks to address the events that occurred in the House during the sitting on the 4th June, 2020 at the commencement of business when Hon. Kashambe rose on a point of privilege. On Tuesday, 4th June, 2020 Hon. Kashambe rose on a point of privilege. He alleged that there was unequal treatment afforded to Hon. Members of the National Assembly during debate on motions and cited Hon. Mliswa as an example of one of the Members “who is allowed to say what he wants, when he wants to speak and at whatever time”.
Whilst Hon. Kashambe was still on the floor, Hon. Mliswa stood up on a point of order and the Hon. Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly ordered Hon. Mliswa to take his seat until Hon. Kashambe had finished his speech. Hon. Mliswa did not take his seat and there were murmurs from several Members who were not happy with Hon.
Mliswa’s refusal to take his seat.
In this regard, Hon. Mliswa’s conduct contravenes Standing Order Number 110 (1) which provides that “any Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or persistently and wilfully disrupts the Business of the House commits an offence for which he/she may be suspended from the service of the House”. At that point, Hon. Mliswa alleged that Hon. Chanda had insulted him. In the ensuing commotion, Hon. Mliswa charged towards Hon. Chanda who was seated at the back of the
Chamber shouting at him. When he got to where Hon. Chanda was, Hon. Mliswa grabbed and pulled him by the tie before he was restrained by other Hon. Members.
In this instance, Hon. Mliswa’s conduct was grossly disorderly as envisaged in Standing Order Number 108 (1) which provides as follows; “the Chair must order a Member whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the premises of Parliament for the remainder of that day’s sitting”.
The Hon. Deputy Speaker ordered Hon. Mliswa to leave the House and he was escorted out of the House through the eastern exit door. Immediately after exiting the House, Hon. Mliswa re-entered the House using the southern door and addressed himself to the Hon. Deputy Speaker accusing her of “killing Parliament and not protecting him when he had been insulted”. He then again left the House.
By reentering the House in defiance of the Chair’s order, Hon.
Mliswa breached Standing Order Number 112 which provides that “any
Member who wilfully disobeys any lawful order of the House shall be guilty of contempt”. Both Hon. Kashambe and Hon. Kwaramba appealed to the Chair to rule on the matter.
The Chair indicated that a ruling would be made on the matter and my ruling is as follows;
On the point of order raised by Hon. Kashambe, I would like to assure this House that as Presiding Officers, we have no intention to give preferential treatment to any members of the House and we will continue to give each and every member an opportunity to speak on any motion or subject when they rise to be recognised by the Chair. We have even relied on the list of names submitted to us by the whips, especially on Wednesdays during question time. We will continue to be guided by Standing Rules and Orders in discharging our duties impartially.
As an example and in particular reference to Hon. Mliswa whom Hon. Kashambe cited, both myself and the Hon. Deputy Speaker have on a number of occasions ruled Hon. Mliswa out of order and have even asked him to leave the House, depending on the circumstances. For example Hon. Mliswa was ordered to leave the House for disorderly
behaviour on the 13th February, 25th September, 23rd October and 13th November 2019.
Further, on the allegations that Hon. Mliswa made unfounded allegations, again the Hon. Chair would like to confirm to the august House that Hon. Mliswa indeed made unsubstantiated allegations that maligned the Chair. However, after being confronted on the matter to substantiate his allegation, Hon. Mliswa duly apologised to the Chair and to this august House. Consequently, the matter was closed.
2) I now proceed to the reaction of Hon. Mliswa – the record indicates that Hon. Mliswa left his seat and went to where Hon. Chanda was seated and used unprintable language that is recorded as unparliamentary in terms of Standing Order 93, (1d) which provides that
“no member shall use derogatory, disrespectful, offensive or unbecoming words against the President, Parliament or its members, the
This was indeed also confirmed by some of those who were present in the House. The proper response was for Hon. Mliswa to wait for his turn and raise his point of order when duly recognised by the Hon. Deputy Speaker. Indeed, Hon. Mliswa’s reaction serves to bolster some of the allegations raised against him by Hon. Kashambe.
In that respect, I rule that the conduct by Hon. Mliswa was outrageously unbecoming in terms of Standing Order Number 112 which provides that “any member who wilfully or vexatiously interrupts the orderly conduct of business in the House shall be guilt of contempt”. He used language that is unparliamentary and he was generally disorderly.
Further, he disrespected the Chair by not abiding by lawful instructions from the Chair, thus violating Standing Order Number 110
(1) which provides that “any member who disregards the authority of the Chair or persistently and wilfully disrupts the business of the House commits an offence for which he or she may be suspended from the service of the House”.
The Chair’s decision is final, even if one may not agree with it, as provided for in Standing Order Number 206 which states that “in any matter for which these Standing Orders do not provide or which are not provided for by a Sessional or other Order. The decision of the Chair must be final”.
3) The Chair rules that the Hon. Member withdraws his unparliamentary language and apologises to the House for that language and his threatening disorderly behaviour. I must warn Hon. Mliswa that stiffer and heavier penalties await him if this kind of behaviour is repeated. At the same time, I would like to urge all members to assist the
Presiding Officers by not indulging in acts that provoke other members.
Hon. Members must behave in a way that does not bring the august House and dignity of Hon. Members of Parliament into disrepute.
Mutual respect must be the hallmark of the dignified decorum in the
House, as guided by our Standing Orders and Rules, especially the
Standing Orders sited in this ruling. Hon. Mliswa, as per my ruling, you are requested to make an unreserved apology for the unparliamentary language.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir for your ruling which in itself compels me to not to challenge it at all. I will not dare challenge it because the ruling tells me that there are more stiffer charges ahead – [Laughter.] – As such, I will abide by the ruling and will not challenge it in any other way. I withdraw all my remarks and agree with the ruling that others must not provoke other people. It is important that as a House, we also are bound by that ruling at the end of the day. I would like at this point in time to apologise, first of all to the ladies in this House for my utterances and secondly to Hon. Chanda with whom I thought we would have a coffee outside so that we could resolve our case. My intention was never to manhandle him. My training does not allow me to man handle anyone at all, but it was for me to go and talk to him outside since I had been told to go outside so that we could resolve the issue, but it was not seen in that light.
I would like to sincerely apologise to the Chair Hon. Tsitsi Gezi at the time – not that I undermine her being in Chair, but circumstances were totally beyond my control. I would like to profusely apologise for the events on that day. I would want them to forgive me for one does make mistakes and certainly such conduct will not at all happen.
Let me also say that the Clerk had sent me a note to say that the Hon. Chair was going to give me an opportunity to speak, but unfortunately I got it when I was just outside. So she did through the Clerk write a note that I was going to be given an opportunity but I had not read the note at the time. Thank you very much Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: On behalf of the House, I want to believe that the unreserved apology is accepted and the promise to act with the greatest degree of decorum shall subsist accordingly.
According to our Notes, there is supposed to be an invitation from the Chair for Hon. Members to make their one minute statements. I rule that this be suspended until we put the guidelines in place so that there is no confusion. Today, we shall not entertain those.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
+HON. S. MATHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. My question regards the bond notes that are being rejected by many shops. There was a Press Statement which was saying bond notes are legal in our country. Bond notes continue to be rejected by people in the business sector, why? I want to know why this is happening yet there is need for greater awareness to the business people to show that
Government is serious to that bond notes are a legal tender in Zimbabwe.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Minister, why is there continued rejection of local currencies? What is Government doing about it?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Mr. Speaker. This
is a question that we addressed last week. What is happening; is first of all, it is illegal to refuse the legal tender for Zimbabwe. We have got bank notes, bond notes and bond coins. In terms of what we have done as intervention to make sure that people accept the bond notes and the bank notes as legal tender, we have issued a statement advising all stakeholders and the businesses informing them that the bond notes, bank notes and bond coins are still legal tender and it is illegal to refuse such in all our trading. For all those who have gone to shops where coins and notes have been rejected, they should report to the nearest police. That is number one in terms of the illegalities – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. If you have got an issue, wait for a supplementary question. I will not entertain any shouting.
HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The second point is, for those who are closer to the commercial banks they can go to the banks and exchange the notes to those that are acceptable. I would say this is what we have done so far. I thank you.
+HON. MATHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Why is television and radio quiet about this issue if this tender is supposed to be accepted? There is need for more awareness regarding this issue so that the populace is informed of the need to accept the local currency...
HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The campaign on the usage of our local currency as tender started yesterday. This statement was issued by the RBZ and we will continue to do so.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary
question is - what sanctions will befall the transgressors for refusal of accepting these bond notes?
HON. CHIDUWA: At the moment, there are only civil sanctions not criminal. I think I would need to provide a statement on that issue but not now.
*HON. MAKONYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. There are people in the rural areas who have money which shops are rejecting and the
Ministry is saying they should take the rejected money to the banks. They need transport to go to the banks. I am requesting the Minister and the RBZ to go to the communities to collect the rejected money in exchange for original money. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Deputy Minister, any efforts for intensive publication through the media on making the populace aware and to accept the local currency?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Hon. Speaker. The
campaign on the usage of our local currency as tender was started yesterday. This statement was issued by the RBZ and we will continue to do so.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary is on the sanctions that might befall the transgressor. What sort of sanctions will befall the transgressors of this law of refusal of getting these bond notes?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Mr. Speaker, at
the moment, they are only civil sanctions not criminals. I think on that I would need to provide a statement on it not now.
*HON. MAKONYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. There are people in the rural areas whose bond notes are being rejected. The Minister is saying they should take that money to go to the bank and they need transport to go there. I am saying Minister, as RBZ, can you not go to the community and collect the money that is being rejected and give them the ideal money. Thank you
HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would need to consult with RBZ but I think there is a possibility.
HON. SIKHALA: There is a very important question that was asked by Hon. Nduna. What form of sanctions should the people of Zimbabwe resort to in the currency where the money is being refused as tender by retailers? That question was not adequately answered and that is what people outside there are waiting to hear. What is the Ministry encouraging the citizens of Zimbabwe to get the remedy in as far as sanctions on those who are refusing that money to buy? Can the Hon.
Minister give us the answer on a very important question that was asked? That is my point of order?
HON. CHIDUWA: What I would have wanted to say is that it is a comprehensive statement on that but on another note, in terms of the sanctions that have been given especially to big wholesalers and retailers, in the event that they refuse the legal tender for Zimbabwe, under Ministry of Industry and Commerce, we have got a section where we withdraw licences. Thank you.
*HON. CHIKOMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Finance. We thank Government for putting prices for cotton but after putting that price, cotton is not being bought up to now. People are suffering.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, please do not make statements, ask your question.
*HON. CHIKOMBA: My question is when is Government going
to buy cotton from people in the rural areas? They grew a lot of cotton and middlemen are now taking that cotton instead of it going to COTTCO.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, before the Hon. Minister responses, you are not observing social distancing especially Members on my left. Can you organise yourselves?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
In terms of the buying of cotton, the problem that we were having was that of pricing. I would say for the past two or three weeks, we have been working on a pricing model that was taking into account the submissions by the farmers and the stakeholders. The final price was only approved last week. In terms of whether the buyers have gone on the ground to start the buying, we would need to check but the actual price which was approved is now in place. So, I think as of this week going forward, they should have started buying from the farmers.
*HON. CHIKOMBA: I asked my question in Shona so that my people understand but the Minister answered in English. I did not hear him. I want him to explain in Shona. Thank you.
*HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. What was stopping
the buying of cotton soon after harvesting up to now was that the price was not yet gazetted. In the past two weeks until last week, that is when we were trying to come up with a price looking at the inputs brought by the farmers. The price of cotton was agreed on last week. We are looking forward that this week the buyers will start to buy the cotton from farmers. Thank you.
*HON. CHIKOMBA: Hon. Speaker, the issue is the cotton is being taken away by thieves. Instead of people taking cotton to
COTTCO, they are now going to COTTCO to withdraw their cotton and now we are not getting the price of the cotton. I asked for the price of cotton.
HON. CHIDUWA: After doing the calculations, it is $43.94, but the way we are going to pay, for each bale there is US$10 then the remaining balance 80% will be paid in cash then 20% of the balance will be paid in RTGS.
HON. CHIKOMBA: Supplementary question, Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Chikomba, you cannot ask more than one supplementary.
*HON. CHIKOMBA: He is not stating the price.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order!
*HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Hon. Speaker. When the price of cotton was being discussed, our currency was 1:25 against the
United States dollar which means that a person who was taking cotton to the market was getting more than US$1 and other cents but now because our rate is…
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, please ask your question.
*HON. MADZIMURE: My question is now that the rate has changed and it is 1:55 when you gave $43 when the rate was 1:25, the farmer was not able to go back and grow cotton. What are you going to do to fix that price before farmers lose their cotton?
*HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The question which has been asked by the Hon. Member on the prices we are putting, what we want is that the farmers can go back and grow, not only in cotton but in every product such as tobacco, maize and other crops. What we have said because now we have the foreign exchange auction system, the auction system means that every Tuesday when they will be doing the auction, our exchange rate might change but the change which will be happening to the exchange rate, we would want this to apply to prices we would be paying for our products.
We calculate the prices of the crops and we put them in United
States dollar. We would be paying according to the prevailing rate.
That will help our farmers to go back into farming. Thank you. HON. MADZIMURE: On a point of clarity.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister is quite clear. The prevailing rate shall be used. That is the answer. We cannot belabour that.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. If the
Minister can bring a statement on the auction system because we do not understand how it works. He spoke about it and I do not know how many understand it so that we are able to comprehend and disseminate the right information to the people. How does the auction system work? If we can have a statement on that so that we are all enlightened about it, it would actually help us a lot.
THE HON. SPEAKER: That is an appropriate point of order. I have discussed the matter with the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development and he would include that in his ministerial statement.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Perhaps the Leader of Government Business may want to assist me. I have a question for the Minister of Health and Child Care but I saw a communication that the one who was there is currently suspended. Can he advise us on who the acting Minister is so that we can direct our question to him?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I think the Hon.
Member is misdirecting himself. Every time Hon. Ministers are not here, the questions are directed to the Leader of Government Business. It is not his business to constitute the Cabinet. His business is to ask whoever is there and if that person is not there, we ask the Leader of
Government Business – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! The long and short of it is we are not yet advised as to who is acting but any other questions will be dealt with by the Leader of Government Business.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of procedure Mr. Speaker Sir. Hon. Speaker, Standing Order 47 (1) talks about any Member who will be absent writes to you that they will be absent from this. Did you get any written notices from the Members of Cabinet who are supposed to be here?
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have not received as yet. I have a general blanket apology for Members that have gone with His Excellency. I think they are launching something. Am I right? Clerk, do you have any apologies received so far?
The Clerk having indicated that no apologies have been received. THE HON. SPEAKER: Not as yet. Some of these apologies come late during the proceedings here, but I know the Minister of
Finance and Economic Development, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, I cannot remember.
HON. T. MLISWA: But Mr. Speaker, with due respect you make rulings. Today – [Hon. Members: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, I indicated that the Leader of
Government Business must take charge of that issue.
HON. T. MLISWA: My point is that you are empowered according to the Standing Rules just the same way you also ruled on me according to the Standing Rules to also do the same to the Ministers. It has gone on and on and my appeal to you Sir, Standing Rules are very clear in terms of Ministers who fail to do that and it is important that you also make a ruling on that pertaining to their behavior, whether they will apologise or be suspended. The Standing Rules guide us and that is the document that helps us run this Parliament and this is the reason why I am bringing it up.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, thank you very much. The Standing
Orders also allow Members to bring a motion about the same issue.
So, until we get to know who exactly is absent, check with your Order
Paper for tomorrow then you can move a motion accordingly –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] - Hon. Mliswa, Hon.
HON. T. MLISWA: Sir, they are provoking me. My dad taught that if I am beaten up at school, I must also hit back. They must be restrained, they are old people. I respect them and there are some ladies who are doing that and who are old enough to be my mother.
Can they behave like mothers and not be involved in the fight of kids.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Can you sit down please
Hon. Member? Hon. Mliswa, what you were told by your father is inapplicable because at that time you were not a Member of Parliament.
Allow the Chair to control the House. Thank you.
HON. MUNETSI: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir and a very good afternoon to you. Last week, we had some public consultations on the Amendment Bill and I was surprised to see ...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, ask the question, you are making a statement. What is your question?
HON. MUNETSI: My question is, what is the Government’s policy with regard to Non- Governmental Organisations who pay some monies to youths and women when we are doing public consultations and giving them talking points. – [AN HON. MEMBER: Did you see them?] - I saw them, I saw them.
HON. SIKHALA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Sikhala, can we be procedural?
HON. SIKHALA: If these people continue to provoke like this Mr. Speaker and you protect them – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – [HON. T. MLISWA: I am ready to be suspended. I am better off in my Constituency than a bunch of empty heads like these ...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Mliswa, order. – [HON. T. MLISWA: Why are you not reprimanding them. Order, I will answer you. Hon. Mliswa, can you withdraw your language again?
HON. T. MLISWA: I cannot be told to withdraw all the time when others are not told to withdraw. It never works like that. The law is for both sides. Therefore, I withdraw but may they be reprimanded when it is their time. We are also human. Our self esteem is important when we come here. We were elected by people. They have the manifesto which they cannot follow and the economy is dying, why do they not work on that and call Government. The Ministers do not come.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, order Hon. Mliswa. The
Standing Order says and this will apply to Hon. Sikhala. If there is a Member who is making certain a pronouncement, bring this to the attention of the Chair.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker, I brought it up. On Hon. Chanda, I brought it up. It was well heard. I pleaded that I am being attacked, I kept on being attacked I said I can attack back. Over my dead father’s body, people heard me say that, please rescue me. I was being attacked but in your ruling you did not even reprimand him. The truth must be said and I am prepared to be suspended for the truth. My Constituency is more important than being in this House.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, you are removed from the House for the next six sittings. – [HON. T. MLISWA: Even for good, I do not like being here. It is a useless House Mr. Speaker, it must be fair. Not partisan. My Constituency is more important.] – Hon. T. Mliswa left the House.
Thank you. Proceed.
I was saying Hon. Sikhala, when you recognise a Member that is disorderly, please take a seat and then bring it to the attention of the
Chair and the Chair will take some action.
HON. SIKHALA: Mr. Speaker, how would I recognise a Member who makes noise from the back there? It is you Mr. Speaker who is on the Chair for you to be able to observe who are disrupting
Parliamentary proceedings and you are asking me whilst I am seated here in the front for me to identify who is making noise there whilst the Chair is the one who is on top for him to be able to visualise what is happening at the back. You saw people making noise.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, you have made your point.
HON. PHULU: Mr. Speaker Sir, on a point of order Mr. Speaker.
That question goes to matters that are before a Committee, and a Committee in which I am a Member has powers to deal with those matters. Once we invite the Executive to deal with those matters, we are breaching separation of powers.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you for that Hon. Phulu.
Hon. Minister, I am sure you will agree, let the Committee make a report and advise this Hon. House.
HON. MUNETSI: I have a point to make Mr. Speaker – [HON. SIKHALA: You cannot challenge Mr. Speaker’s ruling. Sit down as
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Munetsi, leave the
Hon. Munetsi left the House.
HON. SIKHALA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. I am very happy that he later arrived because I was really burning with this question.
Mr. Speaker Sir, our Constitution has created five Commissions to promote democracy in terms of Chapter 12 of our Constitution. These commissions have been given a constitutional mandate to prosecute and execute their duties and mandate in terms of the Constitution. One of the most important Commissions, the Human Rights Commission is not currently properly constituted because it does not have a quorum. When Hon. Minister are we going to have one of the most important
Commissions in our country being properly constituted to fill up the gap of those members who have retired because of the end of their office and also those who have retired because of age. When are we going to have a properly constituted Human Rights Commission?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): It is the Hon
Speaker’s question and so I refer it to the Chair.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, I have got the answer. Hon Sikhala, your question is very pertinent and the observations are very pertinent. If you have been following our public and private media, you should have noticed that advertisements have already been made by Parliament to fill up those vacancies. The public have applied individually and those who have applied have been shortlisted and the interviews will take place on 3 July 2020, that is, next week so that we fill up the gaps. The process is on.
*HON. TOGAREPI: My question is directed to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services. Since the Covid 19 disease was detected in the country may we know what Government is doing for the people in the rural areas so that they know how to live and also if they have questions on how they can protect themselves from Covid, where can they go? What is Government’s policy intervention on that.
*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY, AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I
want to thank Hon. Togarepi for the question which he has asked so that all the people who are following the events may know what is happening. From the time when the President, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa declared the disease a national disaster, the WHO recognised it as a world pandemic, in Zimbabwe we took a lot of precautions.
On 17 March 2020 the President put in place an Inter Ministerial
Task Force on Covid-19 which is being headed by the Vice President Hon K. Mohadi. The purpose of the task force is to see what we could do as a country so that when this disease takes its toll, as a country we know what to do in terms of protecting ourselves. Information is very important because with lack of information we can have death. There are several sub committees that are in the task force. One of them is on information and risk communication. We found out that it was very important that I chair that subcommittee. I think you have seen the good work that we are doing which is aired on our traditional media and social media about the dramas and skits which show how we can protect ourselves from this pandemic, because this disease does not have any cure. What is important is to follow the instructions from
As a country we are not the first ones to be affected but we look at other countries where a lot of lives were lost and we look at the countries which were first hit and what they did. As a task force on information, our duty is to inform the citizens to stay at home and go out when there is something very essential that they need to do. That is why we had lockdown and all of us stayed at home as we studied this disease.
As information providers we found it necessary to air the information on radio or television but there are places where we do not have air waves. There are people who do not have radio or televisions, so we roped in our traditional leaders in this risk communication subcommittee. We trained the village heads so that they would inform the people on how to keep themselves safe by washing their hands with soap or even with ash to remove the virus. It is also important to wear our masks properly. We are educating people not to leave their noses outside of masks and that the masks are worn properly.
The President closed our borders to travellers but instructed that these should remain open to all returning citizens. Up to now we are still receiving returnees even from hot spot areas and we are teaching them that when they come, they should be quarantined so that they would be looked after before they meet their families. You will find that some were running away and some were getting in illegally so when we engaged the traditional leaders we educated them that should anyone abscond from the quarantine centres, the community should
apprehend them. We also educated them that they should practice social distancing.
We saw that many people lost their livelihood as a result of this disease and as a result we are engaging people with information that the Minister of Public Service is there to assist them. We also launched
2023 Call Centre for non clinical issues and there is a desk for English, Shona, Ndebele and Tonga. We want to add more languages so that anyone who has any query on where to find mealie meal can phone.
There is a 2019 Call Centre where people call if they have anyone who is not feeling well so that they are told where to find assistance. The issue of preaching the gospel on Covid for the safety of our people is at the core of our hearts.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order in the House. I allowed the Minister to give more information because the matter pertains to national importance.
*HON. KARENYI: I am happy because the Minister was given time to unfold her programme. What touched my heart is that they have a Call Centre for inquiries especially for those who do not have food but they are not able to get it. Mr. Speaker, my question is - who are those people who are calling and are given food because people are dying in their homes without anything to eat. It seems this centre is only for publicity because in my constituency has not happened.
HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: I want to thank Hon. Karenyi for her question. I do not know where she comes from but I thought she comes from Chimanimani where I come from. What I want to say is, the Call Centre is toll free and people phone with different queries and we take all the queries. If they have challenges in food, we channel them to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. If it is gender based violence, we channel them to the police. We are receiving about
3 500 calls from all over the country. So the issue of
Call Centre has improved the two way communication between Government and citizens.
*HON. MURAI: I want to thank you Hon. Minister for that information. We brought information of people who are facing challenges, people living with disability and people suffering from hunger but we do not know when food will be coming.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can we leave that to Hon. Prof.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND
SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Hon.
Speaker. I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the important question. He has referred to a number of segments of our society including people living with disability and those affected due to the lockdown.
Hon. Speaker, let me give statistics. Of those that were affected by COVID-19, we have now registered 197 000 households and as of this week, those who have been paid their May and June allowances – the May allowances were $180 per household and the June allowance has gone up to $300 per household. So, 197 000 were catered under that programme. For those living with disabilities Hon. Speaker, we have a separate programme that runs always as they are supposed to register with the Department of Social Welfare.
Mr. Speaker, this is a programme that runs always; it is not COVID but is just a programme that assists vulnerable people. If they are in the rural areas they get cereals; 50 kilogrammes typically of maize but sometimes also traditional grains to take them for a month. If they are in urban areas, they receive cash for cereal which is now similar to the one that we are giving to COVID-19 affected households. Such households would receive $300 per month and we are working on making sure that we get additional allocation from Treasury in order to improve these allocations.
So Hon. Speaker, these are the programmes that we are running and they are helping a lot of our citizens. On the COVID-19 one, we are still registering people and we hope that it will get to a million people but we have to make sure that the people that we are giving are the deserving people. We are taking our time just to vet and make sure that these are bonafide vulnerable people. Thank you.
*HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary is that in some constituencies like where I come from in Warren Park, no one has received the money the Minister is talking about. We are in trouble because people are calling us and we are now afraid of moving around in our constituencies because people are asking where the money is. So my question is; we want the Minister to explain to us that in Harare constituencies that have received these monies are a, b, and c, so that they tell us when the constituencies in Harare will receive the money when it is available.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. The Hon. Member said in his constituency, there is no one who has received the benefits that I am talking about. I do not think that can be true and he cannot verify that no one in his constituency has received these benefits. Let me say the 197 000 are all from urban areas. In addition to that, we have 40 000 again from urban areas who are receiving the cash for cereal. So I do not think the Hon. Member can confirm that there is no one in these constituencies, given the number of people in his constituency, he would not have reached all the people to know that there is no one who has benefited.
Hon. Speaker, if he also wants the detailed distribution, that can be provided by the Department of Social Welfare as to how many people in the various urban areas are receiving food. I know that 12 000 households in Harare alone are receiving the cash for cereal programme but I cannot give the specific statistics for Harare on the
197 000 - how much of that constitute people in Harare. Definitely, the Member cannot say with certainty that his constituency has not received at all.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, Hon. Minister you are quite correct that there is no empirical evidence. In future, if there are disadvantaged people who have applied and have not received those should be directed directly to the Ministry concerned.
*HON. MUSHORIWA: My question to the Minister of Energy Hon. Chasi is, can he explain to us how the prices of fuel are gazetted considering that our petrol is blended here but the price is not in tandem with the prices in other countries, especially in USD? How are you coming up with that?
*THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHASI): Thank you Hon. Member for such
a pertinent question. I believe that it is a question which is affecting a lot of people in the country. Let me say that the price of fuel is not about ethanol only but it has got a lot of components which get into that for cost build up. Let me take this opportunity to explain to this House about things which are blended in the fuel. Firstly, we have customs duty when importing the fuel but before we get there we have FOB, the ZINARA road levy, carbon tax, fuel marking, debt redemption and the strategic reserve levy.
What we are saying, is we want to collect all the fuel that we hold as Government in anticipation of shortages. There are also administrative costs which include the handling of fuel and also storage. All those have their own charges. When fuel is being imported there are clearing agents who need to be paid for it to be sold to the citizens of Zimbabwe. The Hon. has asked a pertinent question about ethanol. There are blending costs which are there and there is also the charge for buying the ethanol. All those are incorporated into the final price.
After all that has been done, the fuel has to be transported to various places in Zimbabwe. There is in-land bridging cost. These are distribution costs, which means that a person in Silobela; those who sell fuel want to paid transport costs for them to take that fuel to Silobela or Victoria Falls. In fact, there are other margins like oil company margins and dealer margins which are also incorporated in there till we get to the final pumping price.
*HON. MUSHORIWA: My supplementary comes from the Minister’s answer. The Minister said there are a lot of levies such as customs, fuel debt and all those he talked about. Even the hardship which we are faced with as a country, do we not think as a Government that these taxes should be reduced so that people are able to afford because the situation we currently have is not good. The price of fuel now is more than 50% going towards taxes. Are you not able as Government to reduce these taxes to assist civil servants to be able to buy this fuel?
*HON. CHASI: Mr. Speaker, I have taken note of the point which has been raised by the Hon. Member. From the energy and development sector, I am not the one who is able to reduce these taxes. However, I will speak with other Cabinet Ministers especially the Minister of Finance that we have a request from Parliament. What I am supposed to be using at law is what I talked about here. I will also look at the issue of the exchange rate because it also affects the price of fuel. All this falls under the Minister of Finance and I will take up the request to the
Minister of Finance.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Hon. Minister, the price of ethanol which is one of the components you have listed on the cost build up structure is currently approximately three times the price of petrol FOB. So before petrol lends into Zimbabwe, it is a third of the price of ethanol in Zimbabwe. Why then do we have a mandatory blending? Why are we not giving consumers a choice whether to have blended petrol and then I consume at your structure or I do not have blended petrol and I remove the cost of ethanol which is currently three times the price of petrol as it is outside our borders?
*HON. CHASI: I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the question but I had not yet calculated how much ethanol costs more than petrol. We are doing blending as a strategy on import substitution, which means that we are trying to blend petrol and ethanol so that the money that we are using to buy petrol from outside is lower. Because of that, if we allow everyone to do as they pleases it will be very difficult for us. We collect all our fuel at Msasa. We would already have done the blending there. Giving people choices will be difficult since we are using one depot for receiving fuel.
*HON. CHIKWINYA: I think we are not helping the country Hon. Minister if you say that the price of petrol is cheaper outside and when it comes here it is increased because of what you are terming import substitute because the ethanol is three times more than the price of fuel. It makes sense to just import petrol as it is unless if you are having a deal with the people who are supplying ethanol. Why are we forcing people to incur three times the price of ethanol which is more compared to the petrol when we are importing it?
HON. CHASI: As I indicated in my earlier response, the purpose or the idea behind blending with ethanol is to reduce the amount of foreign currency that we expend as a country importing fuel. I have also made it clear that the blending takes place in one place. It is not as if we have service stations that procure petrol separately from the system that comes all the way from Beira into this country. As a result, it is not separable. The crux of the matter is that the country is making every effort to reduce the amount of foreign currency that is being used to import fuel.
I think our challenge is on the area of foreign currency shortages which are known to all of us and they do not need any further elaboration from myself. It is not possible to give the choice that the Hon. Member is asking for. Infact, one would say if ethanol on its own would run our vehicles as locally produced, that would be a better option and so I do not buy the idea by the Hon. Member that we should have a separation or people should choose. We do not have that luxury at the moment in this country. We need to reduce the amount of money that we are using for import. Import substitution is a key factor in this respect.
HON. TSUNGA: Having listened to all that has been said with regards to the pricing model of our fuel, the ultimate question is; will that result in the commodity being available on a daily basis to motorists at our service stations because ultimately, what we need is the availability of the commodity. If all that has been said is not resulting in readily available fuel, it is a worthless exercise. Can the Minister assure this House that with all that he has done, we are now able to find fuel at service stations as and when we require it?
HON. CHASI: The Hon. Member speaks as if blending commenced today. It has been there. All I can say is that the result of blending makes us have more fuel than we would otherwise have if we were relying only on petrol that we bring into the country.
HON. NDIWENI: My question is directed to the Minister of Energy but it will now come as a supplementary because it has got similarities to the question that was asked prior.
When petrol lands in this country, it costs 0.38 cents and ethanol according to the advertisement that was put by ZERA costs $1.10 cents per litre. So where is the rationale because we want the price to come down? Let this House know that if fuel has to come down in price, why do we not remove the blending?
HON. CHASI: I think I have answered this question already. I do not think it needs further answering.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): Hon. Ndiweni, do you feel that the response that the Hon. Minister gave before is inadequate? Do you have any other issues that you think are still pending?
HON. NDIWENI: I am sorry I did not get you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I said the Hon. Minister
responded to your question earlier, though you asked it in a different way. Are there any other issues that you still feel that you need clarity from the Hon. Minister concerning that issue?
HON. NDIWENI: Madam Speaker, I am left as confused as I was when I started asking the question.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, for the purpose of the Hon. Member, may you kindly respond maybe specific to what he has said because he is saying he has not yet got the answer.
HON. CHASI: Madam Speaker, we blend as a result of the strategy taken up by this country for import substitution. The country is not awash with foreign currency. As a result, in various sectors, efforts are being made to localise products that we would otherwise import. This applies equally to fuel. This is what we are doing at the moment. I have indicated that I cannot say that as of today, every service station will have fuel and that everyone will be able to purchase the fuel.
I can only say that as a result of blending, more people have got access to the fuel even within the context of a shortage.
HON. NDIWENI: On a point of clarity, why are we hinging on the price of ethanol since it has gone up in price? When we started blending, the price was lower than it is today.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I am sure that was previously responded to.
HON. CHIMBAIRA: My question is directed to the Minister of Defence. There are allegations of military officers at border posts including those manning road blocks and doing patrols. How has the Ministry been detecting the criminal activities perpetrated?
THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Thank you Madam Speaker. I
want to thank the Hon. Member for raising very important matters of discipline which he alleges our defence forces deployed on duty at various border posts are involved in. This is a very serious allegation which requires that we undertake some serious investigations. Our forces are very professional and disciplined. If there are such cases, we will be more than happy to investigate. I am hoping and I am appealing to the Hon. Member to bring forward or report such individuals if he knows them or if some of his informers have information, they are free to come forward to our offices. We will definitely investigate. I thank.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. The Minister in her response said that the forces are disciplined, they are professionals. She goes on to say that the Hon. Member has to bring information. My question is therefore to say, what mechanism do you have as a Ministry to ensure that such activities do not occur? Do you have a mechanism or a way to keep track of your details in terms of their behaviour so that they avoid things of that nature?
HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI: Thank you Madam Speaker.
I want to thank the Hon. Member for the follow up question that he raises concerning my response which he was not very amused with, considering the fact that we may not have the mechanisms to be able to undertake the exercise which I alluded to. Let me remind the Hon. Member that when it comes to disciplinary issues, the army is home to marshal courts where we do thorough investigations and we do not leave any stone unturned. There is high discipline when you consider our responsibility and duty to protect the people of Zimbabwe and also to protect the Zimbabwean assets. I thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of clarity Madam Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of clarity?
HON. CHIKWINYA: My point of clarity arises from the initial response by the Hon. Minister of Defence. I want to seek leave of the House to remind the Hon. Minister that last week I raised a point of public importance with regards to deployment of soldiers in terms of Section 213 of the Constitution. The same Constitution in Section 214 compels the President to come and report to Parliament as to the nature of the deployment and how the operations are going to be carried out. These deployments were done in terms of the regulations of COVID. May the Hon. Minister advise the House when the President is going to make that report because the stipulated time has lapsed to which the
President is supposed to come and report. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: That communication is going
to be made by the Speaker. You asked it from the Speaker and the Speaker is going to give a response to that. It is not the Hon. Minister who is supposed to tell us when the President is going to be coming through. We are going to respond and tell you when the President is going to be coming. That is if that is procedural.
HON. PHULU: Supplementary Madam Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your supplementary question?
HON. PHULU: Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister whether it is possible for members of the public to effectively bring complaints of that nature in the absence of the implementation of
Section 210, the independent complaints mechanism? I thank you.
HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I am quite aware of the important need for us to come up with a claims mechanism where members of the public can feel free to go and make complaints before that entity. Apparently, it is not yet in place. I know the Minister of Justice is currently working on it. The second question is whether the public at the present moment can raise any complaints against the defence forces. I want to share with Hon. Members that
the Minister has been dragged before the courts on many occasions because there is that leeway where the general public can raise issues against our defence forces and the courts have done justice to the issues. I equally want to appeal to the Hon. Members to advise the general public that there is that window where the general public are free to raise issues. I thank you.
*HON. SODA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. What is Government policy regarding the prisoners who are being released from the jail? Some of them are now skilled so that they can take care of themselves but they do not have money to start projects. Because of that they are committing crimes and they return to prison again.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL
WELFARE (HON. PROF. P. MAVIMA): Thank you
Madam Speaker. We have a department of employment services which is responsible for assisting any Zimbabwean who is looking for employment and can ensure that they have certain skills. This is a service that is available to every Zimbabwean, not just to those who are coming out of prison. They should go and register, indicate what skills they have and the officers will make appropriate vacancies that may be available that suit the skills that the individual has. –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- Can I be protected so that I can give a comprehensive answer please?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): May the Hon. Minister be heard in silence Hon. Chikwinya.
HON. PROF. P. MAVIMA: In addition to that, the ex-inmates want assistance to start businesses, that is not my Ministry’s responsibility, but I know for sure that there are schemes under the
Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises and also under the Ministry of Youth if they qualify as youth. There are banks that have been set up for that purpose and there are agencies of Government that are responsible for providing resources for those who want to start their own businesses. As far as labour is concerned, what we help with is to match the skills that individuals have with employment opportunities that may be available. Thank you.
*HON. MADZIMURE: Madam Speaker, the question which has been asked by Hon. Soda has to do with people who were ten years in jail and they do not know what is happening outside. I thought that this question was directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs since he is the one responsible for the rehabilitation of people in prison and planning for them when they are outside prison. The issue of youth banks is not known to these inmates.
The Minister of Justice was the right person to answer this question. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): The Hon. Minister of Justice, can you kindly respond on some of the issues that the Hon. Minister left out.
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon. Speaker. I want to thank the one who asked the question which has been answered by the Minister of Public Service. Let me answer by saying if a person is arrested, he is taken to our Ministry or our department which is now Prisons and Correctional Services under the new Constitution. The department takes people who would have been convicted and receives them in their jails. There are two things which can be done which is to take care of them and teach them to live a life which is lawful. So we rehabilitate them and take them back to society.
When they are being corrected, they are taught life skills in prisons and some are taught to be mechanics and some sewing.
They are taught that when they get back to society they will survive. Now we are applying that if we get money when they finish their terms in prisons, they have to meet people who will be teaching them practically about their line of trade. When they are out, we are not there to help them but we just work with them when they are in prison, teaching them various lines of trades that they can help themselves when they are outside the prison. It is like somebody who would have decided to go to South Africa. When he comes back, the Ministry of Higher Education does not look for a job for the person but what we simple, do is to offer the skills and the person is able to survive on his own when he is out of the prison. I thank you.
HON. T. MOYO: thank you Madam Speaker. My question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs or the Deputy Minister, but I do not see any of them. My question is we have witnessed a lot of police officers that have been transferred throughout the country at this particular time when there is an outbreak of COVID-19. I am saying is it the particular timing to transfer people so that they are subjected to the risk of COVID. Remember police officers do not have vehicles and they are supposed to visit their stations. The question is what is Government policy when they are transferring police officers? Do they consider issues of calamities and outbreak of epidemics?
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you madam Speaker. An epidemic is a security matter and so it is within the purview of the commanders of the police force to rearrange as and when they see fit to ensure that they mitigate the disease in their area of control. I thank you.
*HON. MATAMBANADZO: Thank you Madam Speaker for the opportunity you have given me to ask this question. My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development. May the Minister tell us the rising of price from RTGs$28 to RTGs$78. Is he aware what caused this because this thing happened suddenly? Everyone in the country was surprised. May the Minister explain to us what triggered this increase that petrol raged to that price?
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHASI): Thank you Madam Speaker. In the previous weeks there was a discussion that bread was costing more than diesel and petrol. There was an auction which was done. There is a new system of auctioning foreign currency. Was the Hon. Member present when I was explaining the cost build up of fuel? The exchange rate affects the pricing of fuel. In short, I can say the exchange rate has affected the prices of fuel. Thank you.
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY
SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA) in terms of
Standing Order No. 64.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE
POLICY REGARDING PENSION FOR HEALTH WORKERS
- HON. SVUURE asked the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to explain what the Government’s policy is regarding pensions for health workers, especially nurses working for Government and those working for missionary hospitals, considering the disparity that seems to exist despite the fact that the training that they received was similar.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL
WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): A position to
address the plight of nurses working in mission hospitals in regards to their pension on retirement was taken as follows:
- All new appointments from January 2020 under mission hospitals are now contributing to the Government Pension Scheme.
- All those transferring from Government hospitals to mission hospitals will continue to contribute to the Government
SUPERVISION OF NGOs IN RURAL AREAS
- HON. MADHUKU asked the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to inform the House measures that the
Ministry has put in place in the supervision of Non-Governmental
Organisations in rural areas to ensure they stick to their mandate.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND
SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare has a decentralised administration system and has offices in each administrative district.
The District Social Welfare Officers monitor and supervise the operations of Private Voluntary Organisations in their areas of jurisdiction. Private Voluntary Organisations submit monthly activity reports through the district social welfare officers. In addition, registration certificates for Private Voluntary Organisations are explicit in what they are registered to do. The PVOs present copies of their registration certificates to local authorities who in turn allocate them the areas they opt to operate in. In some instances they are required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the local authorities they will be operating in. These MOUs are checks and balances to ensure that they operate within the law and ensure compliance with the terms of their registrations.
The Private Voluntary Organisation Act [Chapter 17:05] makes it mandatory for Private Voluntary Organisations to submit annual audited financial statements and activity reports to the registrar within three months of the organisation’s financial year. The Hon. Member may wish to note that the difference between Private Voluntary Organisations registered in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisation
Act and Trust. Trusts are not under the supervision of the Ministry of
Labour and Social Welfare but they are supervised by the Ministry of
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs where they are registered.
Thank you Hon. Speaker.
PAYMENT OF OUTSTANDING SALARY FOR MR. MAROZVA
- RAIDZA asked the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to inform the House when Mr. Marozva Zhou , E.C. Number 0962545T, Department 3530/5150, who was employed as a teacher from 1st September, 2007 to 31st January, 2009 will be paid his salary which has been outstanding for some time.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND
SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): According to the Salary Services Bureau records, no documentation in respect of the employment of Mr. Marozva Zhou E.C. Number 0962545T for the period 1st September, 2007 to 31st January, 2009 was received to enable the processing of payments for that period.
POLICY REGARDING TRANSFER OF CIVIL SERVANTS
- MASANGO asked the Minister of Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare to inform the House what Government
Policy is regarding the transfer of civil servants to curb possibilities of corrupt practices emanating from overstaying at certain areas.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND
SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): In terms of Section 15 (d) of the Public Service Act, Chapter 16:04 the transfer of members of the Public Service from one Ministry, department or other division of the Public Service to another such Ministry, department or division shall be effected by the Commission in consultation with the heads of Ministries concerned.
Depending on the nature of the job, a member may at any time without his consent be transferred by the Commission or a delegated authority from the post which they occupy to any other post in the Public Service whether the post is inside or outside Zimbabwe. This is done to minimise the possibility of corrupt practices emanating from overstaying at certain areas. However, the Commission implements such transfers in consultation with the heads of the Ministry who in most of the cases are the Permanent Secretaries. Thank you Hon.
ADEQUACY OF CASH SUPPLY IN THE COUNTRY
- HON. T. MNANGAGWA asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to inform the House on the adequacy of cash supply in the country to ensure that there will be no queues in future.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Madam Speaker
Ma’am. The response that I have is for questions 29 and 30 which are similar, asking the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to inform the House on the adequacy of cash supply in the country to ensure that there will be no queues in future, and also to inform the House whether there is adequate cash in the banks to alleviate the cash crisis and to elaborate whether it will come in batches and to state if there are any stipulated withdrawal limits.
Let me say that those two questions are related and they all refer to the prevailing challenge of cash shortages that we are having in the economy. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor in the
Monetary Policy Statement of February 2020, indicated that
Government took a decision to increase the quantity of bank notes and coins in the local market to try and reduce the premium being incurred on cash and to give the public more access to their cash balances with financial institutions. Following that decision, the bank imported additional bank notes and coins to the tune of $400 million and the currency in circulation has increased to $1.04 billion over the year up to April 2020. However, the ratio of currency in circulation to broad money remains below the desirable level at 2%. In view of this low level currency in circulation, the Reserve Bank will continue to gradually increase the notes and coins to the desired optimal proportion of bank notes and coins in circulation up to 10% of deposits to meet the cash demands. Moreover, the bank has already started introducing notes in larger denominations to improve on efficiency and convenience.
In terms of management of cash withdrawals by banks, the cash limit was reviewed from $300 to $1 000 per week and will continue to be reviewed in line with inflation trends and improvement in the cash situation in the country. The above measures are meant to alleviate cash shortages not for a particular group but the general public inclusive of civil servants, pensioners and other workers. Thank you.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Hon. Minister, in view of the auction system related interbank rate which has caused prices to rise and therefore the demand for cash, when are we going to have a review of the withdrawal limits as concerned in question 30 which you have combined with question 29?
HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Hon. Chair. In terms of the dates,
I may not be able to come up with a specific date but I am not sure if we have already seen a general increase in the price because of the auction rates. The change in the price of fuel is not a general price in all the commodities and even if we check the auction rate which landed at 57.3, it is far much below the speculative prices that were being applied in the market and some of them which were above 100. I am not sure if the existing black market rate which was being used at 1is to 80 caused less changes in the price as compared to the auction of 1 is to 56? But, I do not think that at the moment we are seeing a general increase in the prices.
HON. GABBUZA: Thank you Madam Speaker. This cash shortage has been there for more than three years now. We are not talking of foreign currency but this is our local currency. Is the Minister telling us that they have completely failed to solve these cash shortage problems? If they have any ideas, when are they likely to solve it because there does not seem to be any end in sight of this cash shortage? HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you so much Hon. Chair. It is not difficult to print money and as we have said in the previous statements, the cash requirement for any economy in terms of the international benchmarks is between 10% and 15% of the notes and coins that are in circulation. At the moment as I have alluded to earlier, the cash that we have is 2% but the expected is supposed to be 10% to 15%. The balancing act that we are playing here is, the moment we print cash, it is going to be misconstrued as an increase in money supply and if you increase money supply, it has a bearing on prices. So it is a matter of us balancing what is happening in the market and then we continue to increase the cash in drips as we said in our earlier statement. Thank you.
ACCESSING OF CASH FROM BANKS BY CIVIL SERVANTS,
PENSIONERS AND OTHER WORKERS
- HON. MGUNI asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to apprise the House on the measures being taken to ensure that civil servants, pensioners and other workers access cash from their respective banks during pay days in view of the cash shortages which are fueling the multi-pricing system of goods and services.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Hon. Speaker, when we
prepared the response for this question we had put it together with the two previous questions by Hon. Mnangagwa. So I am not sure if the
Hon. Member is satisfied with the response that I have provided already.
HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of order. Question 31 refers to a specific group of people and when the Hon Minister was answering Questions 29 and 30, he actually alluded in his statement that we are not targeting any specific group but the general public. However,
Question 31 is referring to pensioners and civil servants. I am sure Question 31 draws precedence from the fact that members of the military on their paydays are given cash at their barracks. So, can he also respond to pensioners and civil servants in terms of accessing cash on their paydays as you do to members of the military?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: That one of members of the
military, I do not see it within the question but I am sure for you to respond to this specific question you need to be talking about the civil servants and pensioners and also to be looking at the cash shortages in view of the multi pricing system of goods and services. If you can respond to that I am sure you would have answered and responded to the question precisely.
HON. CHIDUWA: With regards to civil servants, pensioners and other workers, for these groups we do not have a specific policy that is targeted to the said groups. In terms of access to cash it is the same as everyone else. I thank you.
POLICY REGARDING ROLLER MEAL SUBSIDY
- HON. GOZHO asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to explain Government’s policy regarding rollermeal subsidy considering that there are still shortages of the commodity?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Government introduced the roller meal subsidy in December 2019 and this followed the removal of the grain subsidy to millers through GMB. The motivation of this roller meal subsidy was to remove the subsidy on grain to millers which was judged to be inefficient and ineffective since the targeted beneficiaries were not benefiting from this subsidy. Thus, in the 2020 National Budget, Government indicated that it was going to introduce a new targeted subsidy for roller meal.
The subsidy was targeted at 40000 metric tonnes of maize which was used for milling 32000 metric tonnes of roller meal maize at an extraction rate of 80%. In December 2019 when the subsidy was introduced, it was envisaged that the Government was going to make savings of $70m per month or $844m per year from paying subsidies through roller meal instead of grain. The roller meal which is costing
$103 per 10kg resulted in Government paying a subsidy of $53 per 10kg and the consumers were paying the other $50. Currently, the price of 10 kg roller meal is $286. Government is paying a subsidy of $216 and the consumer pays the balance of $70. The subsidy is based on the GMB maize selling price of $16 028.64 per metric tonne to millers.
Treasury has availed resources amounting to $813 110 525 towards the implementation of the new roller meal subsidy. However, given the administrative burden associated with implementing the maize roller meal subsidy, Government is introducing a targeted cash transfer system to vulnerable households. This system will result in the phasing out of the roller meal subsidy as beneficiaries will be given cash to purchase the roller meal on their own.
Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic
Development; Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare partnering with Netone are currently in the process of registering vulnerable groups in all urban areas in order to disburse cash transfers to vulnerable households. Once registration is complete then the proposal is to cease roller meal subsidy through millers as the vulnerable households will be receiving cash transfer that will enable them to buy roller meal and other basics from the market.
As of shortages of roller meal, this is partly driven by the shortage of grain owing to two consecutive rain season of 2018/19 and 2019/20 characterised by drought. There are also other factors which include malpractices by players within the value chain system and these can be best explained by the relevant Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
HON. MADZIMURE: Supplementary question. The Minister in his response touched on two issues which are very important. Firstly, the issue of targeted cash transfers and also the shortage of roller meal. On the amount that is being transferred, if the subsidy is going to be removed, the amount that those vulnerable people are getting cannot even buy a 10kg of roller meal.
Secondly, regarding the shortages, how come refined mealie meal is found on the shelves and is very expensive yet roller meal is not found. Does it mean that we have maize specifically grown for super refined mealie meal and then roller meal has its own maize or it is a process of simply cleaning the maize to get refined mealie meal? Is it a deliberate ploy that the millers would want to mill super refined that is more expensive since it does not add up when you say roller meal is in short supply because there is no maize when super refined is always on the shelves?
HON. CHIDUWA: It is true what the Hon. Member has just said that the cash transfers looking at the price of roller meal in the market at the moment is not enough. This is why we have been continuously looking at the amount that we are disbursing such that starting this month we willincrease the cash transfers from $180 to $300. We are not saying this is enough but we are also taking cognisance of our budgetary constraints – what we have in our coffers. We will continue to look at the figure to see to what extent we can continue to adjust it upwards in line with inflationary trends.
With regards to why refined roller meal is found in the market and not the ordinary roller meal – what we have seen in the market is that for one to be able to supply roller meal at the subsidised price, they should source their maize from GMB. Sometimes we also have got foreign currency problems. We are not in a position to supply the maize and there are also some millers who feel that the subsidy that we offer is not up to the expected price for the roller meal. So, because of that, you see that most of the millers are shunning the milling of roller meal opting for the refined meal. So, I think it is a question of choice by the business person. It is a business decision which we cannot force the millers.
HON. KARENYI: The follow up question to the Deputy Minister is what are they doing as a Ministry to avoid the issue of illegal market because most of the roller meal is found on illegal market but is not found in the shops. What are they doing about the issue of payment? The grapevine is saying some of the millers are complaining that the Government wants them to subsidise but they are not paying them in time. So, they cannot afford to do the milling and put it in the shops becuse they are not getting the money from the Government. How true is it, are they paying them in time or else they just want them to do the milling without giving them money in time?
THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. KANHUTU-NZENZA): I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question. Regarding the subsidy, the President offered the subsidy at the end of December, 2019 to assist the community in accessing roller meal at a subsidised price. Since then, the subsidy has been operating. However, there have been challenges. One of the challenges was to do with profiteering from people who were hording. The second problem was quite often there was not enough grain. However, we have heard some successes and we can list places and districts where subsidised roller meal has been available.
Now, regarding payment to the millers, there is a process that requires the millers to bring the paper work for verification purposes. Admittedly, there were some challenges in the process. However, we have since reviewed the manner in which we verify the paper work and reimburse the millers. We do have a whole list of millers who are ready to be paid and some were paid two weeks ago but it is up to the owners of the milling companies to give us the paper work on time and it has to be correct. Thank you.
COMPLIANCE WITH TAX REGULATIONS BY SMALL AND
- HON. I. NYONI asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to explain measures being put in place to encourage
Small and Medium Enterprises to comply with tax regulations.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you Madam Chair. Hon. Members should recall that Government introduced the presumptive taxes on selected sectors of the economy which include restaurants, bottle stores, hair salons and commuter omnibus operators in order to broaden the tax base. However, despite measures instituted to take income from informal sectors, revenue contribution to the fiscus remains insignificant due to low compliance levels. It is important to note that the informal sector largely views taxes as an additional cost to business despite the expectation that Government should provide quality social services.
In order to encourage compliance with tax legislation,
Government in January, 17 reviewed downwards presumptive tax rates and the payment period from quarterly to monthly basis, thus ensuring affordability. Furthermore, in recognition of inadequate working capital for SMEs, Government ringfenced revenue generated from presumptive taxes towards capitalisation of the Small and Medium Enterprise development Corporation for own lending to SMEs.
Madam Speaker, Government will however continue to explore potential compliance enhancing measures with a view to increase the contribution of the informal sector to the fiscus.
*HON. TOGAREPI: Hon. Minister, I would want to ask a question concerning remittance of taxes. Does it mean that we do not have adequate legislation which stipulates that everyone who generates income should pay tax. I have noticed that a lot of businesses in the informal sector are making monies. As Government, does it mean that we do not have ways of taxing the informal sector or any business activity? If these laws are not there, these laws should be brought to
Parliament so that we pass them. Thank you.
HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. The Hon. Member asked a pertinent question. You would remember that when we put legislation regarding money transfers; it was because of this particular issue having noted that our economy is highly informalised. Because of that, we said that since people are paying each other using mobile transfers, let us introduce tax mobile transfers. This has resulted in that when people trade, Government is able to tax them.
However, as Government, we continue reviewing such laws so that we can adequately tax the informal sector. Because of that, such laws will be revised continuously. So, because of that these are the presumptive taxes I was talking about, the two percent and the tax for mobile transfers. Thank you.
*HON. MADZIMURE: The Hon. Minister spoke about the money that was ringfenced, which is money that is collected from people who engage in different business activities. Currently we are in the COVID era which means that a lot of business activities are not happening. So, what is Government planning to do since these people are not working at the moment? However, when they start working, how is Government going to address that? What is Government planning to do since these people are not working at the moment? However, when they start working how is Government going to address that? Secondly, the money that was ring-fenced, how is that money going to be disbursed and when will that money be disbursed and how are you going to identify that this particular business entity was paying?
*HON. CHIDUWA: I believe that when we announced the $18 billion Covid budget. That $18 billion was supposed to assist different people. We said that we were going to target one million. The one million which comprises of some people who do these cash transfers and other businesses. So this question was going to be properly addressed if the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and also the Ministry of Industry and Commerce were there because these are the ministries who are supposed to register such business entities. The other question that was asked concerning presumptive tax which stipulates that if you were working, then you are supposed to pay - we discussed with ZIMRA and informed them that people are not working. However, when they come back and begin engaging in business activities, then they would start paying.
HON. CHINYANGANYA: My question to the Deputy Minister alludes to the explanation that he gave. He said they introduced the 2% transaction tax but if you look at the majority of the informal sector, they refuse money transfers, Ecocash and swipe and work on cash basis. A lot of revenue is lost to Government through these transactions because they do not bank the cash that they receive. What is Government doing to ensure that there are no leakages when it comes to the informal sector?
HON. CHIDUWA: It is true that if we go in some of the areas, our SMEs are not accepting Ecocash payments but I think in terms of whether this is countrywide and negatively affecting our revenue collections, then it has to be evidence based. If I look at our revenue collections from Janaury to March, they were actually above target – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inflation] – Yes, they could be inflationary figures but in terms of our target, we were above the projected target. I think what is needed is for us to see that whatever allegation that we give on this one has to be evidence based but at the moment, I do not have the empirical evidence to say because of the shunning of the mobile money transfers, then it is negatively affecting our revenue collections.
MEASURES TO MAKE METHODS AND PAYMENT OF TAXES
EASY FOR THE ORDINARY PEOPLE
- HON. NYONI asked the Minister of Finance and ECONOMIC Development to explain measures being put in place to make payment of taxes and methods of payment easy for the ordinary people.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): I wish to advise the House that currently, all payments relating to taxes are paid to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority through the following methods, with a view to ensure taxes are paid in a formal and secure environment. The first method of payment is deposits in any of our local banks and second is the internet based banking platforms which is the online banking. I also wish to advise the House that ZIMRA is continuously engaging with mobile money service providers with a view to bring convenience to all taxpayers. Thank you.
CLEARANCE OF ZISCO DEBT
- HON. MUKAPIKO asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to inform the House when Government is going to clear ZISCO’s debt in compliance with the Debt Assumption Bill.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): The total
ZISCO debt per the ZISCO Debt Assumption Act amounts to US$494 817 324.00 broken down as follows :
Summary of ZISCO’s Debt as at 31st October, 2016
|External loans||211 912 400.00|
|External suppliers||6 095 620.00|
|Domestic loans||57 696 085.00|
|Domestic suppliers, utilities and statutory obligations||219 113 219.00|
|Total||494 817 324.00|
Treasury reconciled and validated salary for employees amounting to ZW$80 804 911.26, which have been paid up as - Treasury ZW$27 210 858.79 and the Reserve Bank ZW$ 53 594 052.47.
Breakdown of salary arrears paid up by Treasury
|Company||No. of employees||Amount paid by RBZ up to February
|Amount paid by Treasury in 2019 ( ZW$ )|
|ZISCO Main||2 614||39 229 231.01||19 735 384.19|
|BIMCO||447||5 428 741.30||2 301 892.09|
|Lancashire Steel||628||6 533 595.64||4 201 493.46|
|165||2 402 484.52||972 089.05|
|Total||3 854||53 594 052.47||27 210 858.79|
In addition, the Municipality of Redcliff was paid a total ZW$11
Reconciliation and validation of other creditors who are on the ZISCO Debt Assumption Act is still work in progress and payments will be made as funds become available.
PAYMENT OF CUSTOMS DUTIES BY FOREIGNERS AND LOCAL
PEOPLE CROSSING BORDER POSTS
- HON. TSUURA asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to inform the House on Government’s policy regarding the payment of customs duties by foreigners and local people when crossing border posts and to explain why exorbitant taxes are being imposed on local people.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that customs duties and other taxes payable on the importation of goods are levied on Ad Valorem (percentage of value) or specific bases in relation to value or quantity of the goods. As such, taxes are not based on the nationality of the importer.
With regards to the level of duties or taxes levies, I wish to advise that customs duties are generally levied on a cascading principle where duty is lower on inputs into production and higher on finished products.
Other factors that are considered are the socio-economic nature of the goods as well as the need to promote the growth of the local industry. Furthermore, value added tax is levied at a rate of 14.5 % which is in line with rates in the region.
POLICY ON TAXATION OF INFORMAL TRADERS
- HON. TSUURA asked the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development to inform the House
- Government policy on taxation of informal traders, including how taxes are collected and accounted for and
- Measures being taken to enforce tax payments compliance.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): As has
already been highlighted in my response to Hon. I. Nyoni’s question, Government has introduced presumptive taxes on selected sectors of the economy. These include restaurants, bottle stores, the cottage industry, Hair Salons and Commuter Omnibus Operators with a view to capture income earned by small scale operators some of which are unregistered.
I wish to advise that all taxes are collected through the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority or through appointed economic agents. All revenue is deposited into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, in line with Section 302 of the Constitution.
CONSTRUCTION OF A TEACHER’S COLLEGE IN
MATABELELAND NORTH PROVINCE
- HON. M. NKOMO asked the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development to inform the House the measures that the Ministry has put in place to construct a teachers college in Matabeleland North Province in view of the fact that there are many vacant teaching posts in the Province.
THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
(PROF. MURWIRA): Mr. Speaker Sir, in
response to the question raised by Hon. Nkomo, I would like to begin by acknowledging the concern shown by the Hon. Member of Parliament towards the need to promote equity in the citing of teachers colleges in the country, particularly in provinces which do not have any teachers’ college or polytechnic.
I am grateful to note that Hon. Nkomo realises that there are no teachers training colleges in some provinces despite many vacant teachers’ posts throughout these provinces. I would like to add to this realisation that in Zimbabwe, we have only four teachers colleges that train secondary teachers. Besides Hillside Teachers College that is in
Bulawayo, there is Mutare Teachers College in Manicaland, Belvedere
Technical Teachers College in Harare and Gweru Polytechnic in the
Midlands. There are no such teachers colleges for Matabeleland South,
Matabeleland North, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central,
Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces.
These colleges are national colleges with no provincial boundaries as regards catchment areas for recruiting student teachers. They are also specialist colleges, hence they recruit according to their niches. For example, Belvedere Technical Teachers College and Gweru
Polytechnic train Technical and Vocational Secondary School teachers, Mutare and Hillside train teachers for languages and sciences. So it is more of what the prospective teacher wants to train in that determines the college to enroll with that the location of the college.
We also have twelve primary school teachers colleges in
Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Harare, Bulawayo, Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Midlands.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in 2005, the Ministry pronounced the policy of establishing at least a polytechnic, a teachers’ college, a university and at least two industrial training centres in each Province.
The Matabeleland North Teachers College herein referred to as
Hwange Teachers College opened its doors to the public on 27 May 2019 at Thomas Coulter Annex in Hwange town. It is currently operating as a satellite college of the United College of Education (UCE). The staff manning the college is from UCE and we now have got positions for lecturers at that place. We are happy to announce that we now have a college for the first time in History in this Province.
In February 2020, the Hwange Town Board offered the Ministry of
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development land totaling 9.5 ha for the construction of the college at the new site. This will go a long way in the increase in absorption of more ordinary and advanced level graduates, particularly in the Province. The college has a national focus and currently enrolled 150 students and most of them (75%) are from Matabeleland North. Although our main target is to promote indigenous languages in education as promulgated by our Constitution you will realise that the majority of students will largely be from the Province. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA) speaking ... and about 75% of them are from Matabeleland North because you find out that we do not have facilities of accommodation and so forth. Apparently, most of the students come from that province. Although our main target is to promote indigenous languages in education as promulgated by our Constitution, you will realise that the majority of the students are largely from that province. I thank you.
HON. CHINYANGANYA: I want to thank the Hon. Minister for the comprehensive explanation which he gave. He highlighted that they have made a policy as a Ministry that there is supposed to be at least three kinds of colleges in each province. When is the Ministry going to start implementing this policy, for example in Mashonaland West there is no college whatsoever to talk about and Mashonaland Central as well? When is Government going to start rolling out this programme of making sure that there are colleges in each and every province? I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. PROF. MURWIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I wish to thank the Hon. Member for the question. Mr. Speaker. I think I have just given evidence that we have started implementing this policy. Hwange Teachers’ College was not there in the history of this country; it started last year. We are moving on and we are going to establish an industrial training college which we are already working on in Plumtree for the first time in the history of this country. We are at the same time going to establish another industrial training college in Chipinge, one in
Beitbridge and another in Chivi.
In Mashonaland West, Chinhoyi University of Technology, of course we made a decision as a Government, as a people of Zimbabwe, that we turn Chinhoyi Technical College into Chinhoyi University of
Technology. It is already a decision that we made but we destroyed a college through that process. You might want to know that we have promoted Mupfure Vocational Training into an industrial training college and that the staff at Mupfure is staff of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. So we are promoting that but at the same time, we are also prospecting for areas where we can put colleges. We have said to Hon. Members, if there is a place and there is land and we want to establish colleges, we will. We will move to Binga, to Muzarabani and to Mukumbura. We want education to be accessible to the people of Zimbabwe. Correct education; when we say correct education, we mean that education which if we spent cows on a person, they will be able to work on their own rather than look for a job. We are in the process. We have to be humble and patient but we are on the move. I thank you.
HON. GABBUZA: I appreciate the answer given by the Minister but I think the question is not about extending United College to
Hwange as a satellite. The question specifically says -what measures has the Ministry put to construct? Hwange has given them land, what measures have they done to construct a teachers’ college not to extend what is happening at United College? I thank you.
HON. PROF. MURWIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I wish to thank Hon. Gabbuza for asking for the clarification. When we are establishing a college or a university, we normally do that through fostering relationship. When we started NUST, it started as a college of the University of Zimbabwe. When we started Midlands, it started as a college of the University of Zimbabwe. When we started Chinhoyi, it started as a college of NUST. When we started Bindura, it started as a college of the University of Zimbabwe. When we started Manicaland, it started as a college of Midlands State University. When we started Marondera, it started as a college of the University of Zimbabwe.
When we started Great Zimbabwe, it started as a college of Midlands. When we started Gwanda, it started as a college of National University
Science and Technology. This is how institutions are born.
When we are starting a college, we also start it with a foster parent in order for us to be fast in starting a college. When we started Hwange, we started it as a foster child of UCE but we went on – it is not like Hwange offered us land because they said come here. We were already there. When we were there, we negotiated with them and said we can offer you land. So we have the budget to start constructing the physical college. It was just caught by COVID; we could have started. This time we are using a model of building it on our own using our own technicians. So we are going to do it. I am happy that when we went to Hwange, we did it as a matter of policy not as a matter of pressure and we are going to also construct it as a matter of policy not as a matter of pressure. This is exactly how we will do it across the whole nation. We will not do it because there is an outcry. We will do it because we need to do it. I thank you.
WRITTEN SUBMISSIONT QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE POLICY REGARDING
INVITATION OF HONOURABLE
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT TO ATTEND GRADUATION
CEREMONIES AT UNIVERSITIES IN THEIR PROVINCES
- HON. B. DUBE asked the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development to inform the House the Government policy regarding invitation of Hon.
Members of Parliament to attend graduation ceremonies at universities located in their provinces considering that some Member from the Midlands Province have never been invited to attend any graduation ceremonies held at Midlands State University.
THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DEVELOPMENT (PROF. MURWIRA): The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation Science and Technology Development has a standing policy on good community engagement. All State Universities normally invite their local Member of Parliament, Minister of State,
Local Chief and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education Innovation Science and Technology Development at graduation ceremonies as VIP Guests. In this regard, the Hon. Member was actually invited by Midlands State University.
Questions With Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY
SPEAKER in terms of Standing Order No. 64.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that Order of the Day,
No. 1 be stood over until Order of the Day, No. 2 has been disposed of.
HON. MUTAMBISI: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON BUDGET,
FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ON THE
FAMILIARISATION TOUR TO ZIMBABWE’S BORDER POSTS
HON. MHONA: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on
Budget, Finance and Economic Development on the Familiarisation Tour to Zimbabwe’s Border Posts from the 3rd to 6th June, 2019 and 7th
11th July, 2019.
HON. MADZIMURE: I second.
HON. MHONA: Introduction
The Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development undertook to visit six 6) of the country’s border posts to familiarise with the operations of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA). The familiarisation tours were undertaken in two phases which follows; Kariba, Chirundu and Forbes from 3-6 June 2019 and
Beitbridge, Plumtree and Kazungula from 7-11 July 2019.
ZIMRA Board Chairperson, Mr. Callisto Jokonya and the Commissioner General, Ms. Faith Mazani and other officials accompanied the Committee throughout the tours.
The Committee also interacted with various border agencies, station managers and the border users, in order to get a clearer picture of the operations at border posts and this forms part of this report.
Objectives of the Familiarisation Tour
To appreciate the revenue mobilisation/collection measures and efforts by ZIMRA;
To acquaint Members of Parliament with initiatives put in place to facilitate trade and travel;
To appreciate initiatives put in place to clog leakages at all the ports of entry;
To monitor compliance with policies, procedures and legislation guiding the operation of ZIMRA; and
To inspect the general infrastructure and facilities at border posts.
Mandate of ZIMRA
ZIMRA was established in 2001 as a successor to the then Department of Customs and Excise. ZIMRA derives its mandate from the Revenue Authority Act [Chapter 23:11] and other subsidiary legislation. It is the sole institution responsible for collecting revenue on behalf of the Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. In addition to that, ZIMRA is responsible for the facilitation of trade and travel between Zimbabwe and the outside world, advise Government on fiscal and economic matters and protect civil society from the importation and exportation of restricted and prohibited goods such as pornography, subversive material, dangerous weapons and hazardous substances.
ZIMRA’s mission is to mobilise revenue and facilitate sustainable compliance with fiscal and customs laws for the economic development of Zimbabwe. In order to achieve this, ZIMRA has decentralised and has tax collection points established around the country with the aim of increasing revenue inflows as offices become more accessible to taxpayers. Decentralisation of ZIMRA placed it in better position to effectively monitor tax revenue collection points. This is also in line with the principle of convenience, where tax collection should be to the convenience of both the tax payer and tax authorities.
Since its establishment in 2001, ZIMRA has established an unbroken record of ‘surpassing revenue targets’ (Budget Statements,
2010, 2011 and 2012).
Revenue collections in 2018 surpassed target with the authority collecting a gross of US$5.36 billion or 21.80% of GDP, which was
24.71% above the target of US$4.30 billion. Revenue performance for the first quarter of 2019 surpassed the set target with gross collections amounting to $2.059 billion, which was 41.50% above the set target of $1.455 billion. Gross collections grew by 85.13% from $1.112 billion collected in the first quarter. The 2019 budget tasked the authority to collect USD$9 billion in 2019.
However, this revenue performance record may not reflect the whole story given that the Zimbabwe borders are known to be porous as witnessed by the numerous allegations of revenue leakages through acts of smuggling, bribery, under-invoicing and under-declarations at its border posts.
COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS AND KEY FINDINGS
The Committee observed an acute shortage of accommodation at all the border posts visited, with Beitbridge and Kazungula being the most affected. This has resulted in ZIMRA failing to recruit more staff at most of the borders and consequently, leading to the available personnel being forced to endure long working hours. For example, Beitbridge officials operate with three shifts instead of four shifts per day since it operates 24 hours, while officers at Kazungula endure 12 to 14 hours of work a day.
The Committee was told that, to ameliorate the accommodation challenges, ZIMRA was renting additional space from private individuals and hotels in the vicinity leading to an annual housing budget of $1.9m, which is not sustainable. ZIMRA officials noted that about 36 officers were currently accommodated in hotels at Beitbridge and the situation worsens during the festive season when relief staff is required to assist, due to increased volumes at the border.
The worst accommodation arrangement was observed at the Blue residents in Beitbridge where three families were sharing a 2 bedroomed flat, which was not ideal. In cases like that, the Committee noted with concern that employees may become vulnerable to corruption, especially those renting from residential areas.
Scanners (Mobile and Relocatable)
The Committee observed a significant shortage of scanners at most of the border post; in particular, Beitbridge, which experiences a high traffic volume. The shortages of scanners often result in restricted and prohibited goods finding their way into the country, since it would be difficult to conduct 100% searches to all travellers and commercial trucks. The Committee observed that the absence of scanners at some of the ports of entry results in smuggling of high value but small items that can be concealed inside pockets, such as gold and cocaine. It was established that most of the scanners had gone beyond their lifespan, resulting in high maintenance costs, for example, the mobile scanner at Plumtree. However, despite these challenges the available scanners have been able to assist in detecting contraband and or undeclared goods
Bill of Entry
The Committee observed that most of the bills of entry are processed at inland processing centres (Bulawayo, Masvingo and Harare) as ways to eliminate human interaction. It was established that those who use the pre-clearance facilities wait for shorter periods up to a maximum of three hours before they are cleared as compared to those who do not use the facility and thus, spend more than two days at the ports of entry. This has resulted in the reduction of the turnaround time spent by travellers and truckers clearing their goods at the ports of entry. Border Infrastructure
The Committee observed that the available infrastructure at most of the borders was constructed some years ago and is no longer able to match the volume of traffic experienced on a daily basis. It was noted that a Border Upgrade Plan was approved for Beitbridge but was progressing at a snail pace. It was also noted that Cabinet had endorsed an upgrade of the Kazungula Border Post in line with the proposed One Stop Border posts between and among the 4 countries. It was established that the upgrade must be completed within 12 months for Zimbabwe to be integrated into the quadripartite arrangement. It was further observed that Kariba Border Post was constrained in terms of expansion which was causing congestion and collusion, which is bad for the country’s image. Therefore, failure to upgrade most of the border infrastructure may result in most travellers and truckers shunning Zimbabwe borders in favour of other borders with better infrastructure.
The Committee observed that all border posts lacked support services such as banks, bureau de changes, duty free shops, restaurants or service centre. Other facilities such as ablutions were inadequate and not properly maintained, except for Plumtree. Staff canteens were nonexistent, hence exposing officers and stakeholders to food processed in questionable environments - thus posing a health hazard, especially at Beitbridge Border Post. The Committee also observed that lack of separate of terminals for commercial and passenger traffic was leading to unnecessary delays to travellers and truckers.
Border Line Security and Physical Barriers
The Committee noted with concern that all border posts visited lacked the adequate security at the border itself and along the borderlines, for example, Beitbridge, Chirundu, Plumtree and Forbes. It established that there was no perimeter fences and where it exists/ available, the perimeter fence is now old and some sections of the fence is dilapidated and now compromising the security situation at the border.
At the border, there were no physical barriers such as boom gates to control movement of traffic and people. The Committee was told that smugglers were causing havoc at the borders as they were in the habit of vandalizing restrictive barriers and nothing was being done to hold offenders accountable. Where the border post is situated in national parks, such as Kazungula, barriers were constantly being destroyed by elephants. Thus, the Committee was worried by the loss of revenue due to porousness of the border and the compromise in security for officials and stakeholders manning the border.
Electronic Systems and Cameras
The Committee noted the lack of adequate and appropriate information technology equipment at the border posts, for instance, computers, detecting machines and surveillance cameras. It was established that most of the computers at most of the border posts have outlived their lifespan due to overuse, especially at Beitbridge which operates 24hours. Due to resource limitations, there were no back up computers, which is a security risk. The Committee also noted with concern cases of under-invoicing by importers, criminal activities due to lack of surveillance cameras and rampant corruption as a result of human interference. It was also noted that ZIMRA and other border agents (e.g. ZINARA) systems were not integrated leading to unnecessary delays. It was established that the single window concept was yet to be fully rolled out, which will reduce border delays experienced on a daily basis.
The Committee noted that the services of a canine unit were not at all ports of entry due to inadequate funding. It was established that only
Beitbridge had a canine unit, while all the other borders had none.
The Committee observed an acute shortage of warehousing for both imported and confiscated goods. Where warehouses were available, it was noted that quite a significant number did not have shelves to ensure safe storage of goods pending their release. The slow progress on warehouse partitioning worsened due to lack of foreign currency to purchase the necessary equipment. Thus, the Committee was greatly concerned by inadequate warehousing and poor partitioning as it would result in some goods being misplacement or being mixed with unpalatable or flammable goods. This was against the background of numerous reports of fire outbreaks at most borders due to the use of one warehouse as storage of all kinds of goods.
The Committee observed that in terms of office space at most border posts, ZIMRA and Immigration staff had better offices as compared to other stakeholders such as security agents and port health officers who are usually housed in small cubicles or temporary structures. The temporary office space available was not partitioned and lacked confidentiality as travellers are subjected to examination and interrogation. It was pointed out in particular, at Forbes Border Posts that delays were mainly due to shuttling of agents between Mutare and the Border. Trucks were cleared in-land and clearing agents will be shuttling up and down from the border post to the holding bay in-land due to inadequate office space.
The Committee noted that most borders were operating with very few vehicles or none at all thereby impacting negatively on the performance of the Authority and its stakeholders. It was observed that the lack of or inadequate vehicles was impacting heavily on the smooth running of the stations, in particular, strengthening border patrols. It was established that smugglers were freely using undesignated routes to enter and exit the country, hence exposing the citizens to harmful and prohibited goods. This also was resulting in revenue losses due to undeclared goods.
Limited Parking Space and Search Area
The Committee observed that parking space for travellers and truckers as well as other border agents was inadequate, especially at Forbes and Kazungula border posts. It was noted that parking space and search area for haulage trucks was limited, causing chaos and confusion at the borders and in turn creating room for collusion between officials, stakeholders and customers as they seek to speed up the clearance process. The Committee observed that the overcrowded parking lots created an unconducive environment and unpleasant sight for the image of the country.
Other General Committee Observation
The Committee noted the urgent need for the Government to make a business and economic decision to urgently dualise BeitbridgeChirundu highway, given that Zimbabwe has a competitive advantage in the region as countries from the north would prefer to use Zimbabwe which is a shorter route as compared to South Africa via
Chirundu Border Post is one of the region’s gateway to both Southern and Northern parts of Africa via Beitbridge Border Post, hence the need to synchronise opening hours. It was observed that the Border closes at 2200 hours despite being a busy border servicing traffic released from Beitbridge which operates 24 hours.
Forbes and Machipanda Border Posts are the region’s gateway to the Mozambican Sea Port of Beira and has been receiving an increased volume of commercial trucks compared to Durban since the route is shorter. However, the Border Posts are characterized with heavy congestion and shortage of staff, thereby impacting significantly on border efficiency. Smuggling is rampant at Forbes Border Post as smugglers follow animal tracks in the landmine fields, which has also compromised security at Forbes Border Post.
That border coordination was lacking at most ports of entry, leading to delays in clearing traffic and travellers. It was noted that the police and ZNA at some border posts were duplicating efforts by repeating searches that could be undertaken together under one roof and enhance border efficiency. The Committee welcomed the Plumtree model whereby the border agencies work closely together, thereby smoothening the movement of goods and services. This has been witnessed by the collaboration between the security and customs that are operating under one roof to do their checks and clearance which has reduced connivance among officials and truckers/travellers and enhanced efficiency within the border.
The Committee noted with concern that the plan for upgrading the
Beitbridge Border Post by ZimBorders was approved by Government in 2009 and ground breaking ceremony done in February 2019, but progress has stalled due to issues pertaining to financial closure between the government and the contractor. It was also noted that ZIMRA was not part of the negotiating team, which complicated issues since they are not in a position to represent their interests.
The Committee observed the urgent need to address and increase ZIMRA’s staff establishment as part of measures to increase compliance levels at all the ports of entry. One of the most affected border posts is Beitbridge which is operating with about 300 officers instead of a full complement of about 500 officers. The Committee noted with concern that the Compliance Section at Beitbridge which clears between 80 to
100 buses and cars per day is only manned by 5 officers per shift while Vehicle Valuation Section at Manica is manned by 12 officers and clears over 90 vehicles per day. The Committee noted with concern that the current staff in post is 2 733, while the vacant posts are 240. In its 2019 – 2023 Strategic Plan, ZIMRA seeks to increase its staff from the current approved posts of 2 973 to 3 226.
The Committee also noted the need for all Border Posts to have solar and/or generator power back up services to enable the border posts to provide services during load shedding. Where solar units have been installed, for example, Plumtree, there were challenges of batteries that have outlived their life span and new ones were required. The challenge of foreign currency was the biggest constrain affecting the purchase of batteries and as a result leaving the Borders with no alternative source of power.
The Committee observed that Kazungula Border Post was strategic as it facilitates trade between Zimbabwe and the outside world, in particular, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia and the region and was targeted for a One Stop Border Post supporting the three countries, hence the urgent need for its upgrade within the next 12 months. It was noted that most goods being imported into Zimbabwe are from the UK via Walvis Bay. It was established that Botswana and Zambia were at an advanced stage since the Kasane Bridge would be completed by midyear 2020. This would impact significantly on the country’s revenues. The Committee noted that there was urgent need for the Government to move swiftly to develop the port of entry so that it matches the development already being undertaken by Botswana and Zambia.
The Committee noted with concern that ZIMRA is basically, under-resourced and virtually incapacitated, making it difficult to perform its mandate.
There is urgent need to construct staff accommodation at critical border post, in particular, Beitbridge and Kazungula to reduce costs on hotel bills and other private renting arrangements by December 2020.
As measures to enhance operational efficiency by ZIMRA and other stakeholders at the borders, it is imperative that they be adequately equipped with the proper tools of trade (such as computers, scanners, drones, surveillance cameras and vehicles) by December 2020.
Border infrastructure development, in particular, Beitbridge,
Chirundu and Kazungula be prioritised during the year 2020.
There is urgent need for the Government to engage Zambia to synchronise opening hours at Chirundu Border Post, which receives traffic from Beitbridge Border Post operating 24 hours.
Resource allocation towards the Kazungula project to ensure that Zimbabwe becomes part of the new one stop border arrangement and benefit from the Kasane Bridge which is almost complete should be done immediately.
Going forward, ZIMRA as a key stakeholder and end user of the infrastructure must be involved in the contract negotiation process for all border infrastructure development.
There is need for ZIMRA to reorganize some of its operations beginning 2020 in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness, drawing lessons from the model port of entry implemented at Plumtree
ZIMRA must be allowed to retain a certain percentage of the revenue for its operations beginning 2020.
Government must speed up the rehabilitation of the
BeitbridgeHarare-Chirundu highway by 2022 as measures to enhance trade
The Committee strongly believes that ZIMRA as the sole government agent mandated to collect revenue on behalf of Government must be adequately funded. Zimbabwe as a country, is losing a lot of revenue due to challenges that can be easily addressed if there is political will and commitment. The Committee believes that it is better to invest more in ZIMRA and in turn harvest more returns than to let the status quo remain, or even deteriorate, thereby losing revenue through illicit means. Thus, the Committee tables this report with the hope that the 2020 budget will address the major concerns raised therein. I thank you.
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HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to thank our Chair for presenting such a good report. I will only add a few things and in some cases just to emphasise some of the issues. Mr. Speaker, a border post is just like an airport. The same treatment that we give to our airports where we receive visitors and they depart from is the same respect that we must also give to our borders because it is also our opportunity to show case our hospitality, our seriousness and effectiveness as a country in handling issues because whenever someone travels into Zimbabwe by road, the first point of call is a border. So it is important that we look after our borders very well and make sure that we meet and compete in terms of standards with other borders.
Starting with the performance of ZIMRA Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that ZIMRA has been meeting its targets despite the problems that we have at border posts. So the question is - how much more can we collect if we can make the necessary improvements at our border posts? It means we can collect much more. The onus is on the Government to make sure that all that needs to be done at the border post is done.
The issue of staff accommodation - Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious issue because we expect a person to wake up in the morning refreshed making sure that the family is well accommodated and then the person proceeds to go and do his or her work in the comfort of the fact that all is well at home, but this is not the situation Mr. Speaker. We have seen two or three families being accommodated in a four roomed house, meaning only the lounge is used as a common room and this in not proper. We have families who need their own privacy and it is important to make sure that we correct the issue of accommodation.
The issue of scanners is very important. Just imagine at Forbes Border Post, because of the kind of space that is there you do not have scanners at the border post itself which allows someone to bring in or take out something that is very important and precious without being detected because we do not have the facilities at the actual border post. This is another area that is very important. As far as Forbes Border Post is concerned, I think a proper border where we can accommodate our scanners and even a parking area is needed. It has become one of the busiest borders apart from Beitbridge, but the facilities at Forbes Border Post are so small and so squashed that you cannot actually perform very well.
The other issue that I would want to talk about Mr. Speaker, is the surveillance cameras. In this modern world where we now have technology, a camera works as a deterrent, enables a supervisor to supervise the whole border in the comfort of an office and the moment the officers know that their supervisor can actually monitor their activities and movements it deters them. It does not need a supervisor to move around. Simply sitting there with a monitor is enough to deter officers and also to alert the supervisor to hot spots. So it is important that such technology is used.
The security and physical barriers as far as borders are concerned, this is where we now have a lot of even other security agencies being involved and sometimes doing what they are not supposed to do because we have got a lot of areas where people can just access Zimbabwe or get out of Zimbabwe through those areas. It is important that the physical barriers that are necessary are found to be there. The booms which are simple things, sometimes at other borders you do not see them. We need that to be corrected Mr. Speaker. This is where we need things like drones to also help monitor the movements along our border lines.
These things are now not expensive anymore. When drones were introduced, it appeared as though they are very expensive technology equipment but prices are going down and ZIMRA must be allowed to have in their possession such equipment. Funding of ZIMRA is very important. Whenever there is a plan that is approved and money allocated to that plan to develop our borders, what is important is to make sure that the disbursements are done on time and the necessary development is done. Whenever you develop, the plan is normally produced in a manner that will suit the needs at that particular time. If you delay, you may find out that by the time you implement the plan, it does not suit what will be happening at that particular time. So, it is important to timeously disburse the funds.
Lastly Mr. Speaker, I will talk about the issue of making sure that we match what is happening in other countries as far as the development of our infrastructure is concerned. We now have a danger or a problem where people prefer to go to Zambia through Botswana through the Kazungula Bridge and we will lose a lot of revenue. So as Zimbabwe, we must make sure that the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge road is done on time. Secondly, we must make sure that our one-stop border posts are made in a way that improves the way of clearing the cargo and also dealing with the visitors who will be coming into Zimbabwe or going through Zimbabwe.
Lastly, the issue of the involvement of the Zimbabwe National
Army at border posts, especially at the Forbes Border Post, the duplication of duties, I do not think it is necessary because once I am cleared by Customs, then there should not be any other people along the way who would be allowed to stop people other than the ZIMRA people. I think it is important for our security forces to concentrate on the border line but not exactly at the border because their responsibility is to deal with security in terms of those people who will be trying to avoid the border and smuggling things at the border. I think we would rather equip ZIMRA to equip our Customs Officers to deal with those issues. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker, I would want to talk about what this Committee did which I think was very important for us to be able to appreciate what is happening with our tax collector, which is the major source of our revenue. But, the whole country or any other person who is in business or who has used borders will tell you that, together maybe including the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, we are losing a lot of revenue through unscrupulous behaviour that is seen in many of our ports of entry which I believe could be dealt with effectively. If what Members have talked about in their report could be implemented and followed up, especially remunerating these people and ensuring that corruption which is rampant at border posts is curbed, then
Zimbabwe will realise a lot of revenue.
One of these days there was a social media clip that was making rounds where you would see young people, women and so on carrying boxes of cooking oil and other stuff. Unless we develop serious strategies to curb leakages at border posts, we are losing a lot of income as a country and we are losing potential revenue even to fund those people ZIMRA officials. So, I would implore that we allow this Committee to deal with the issues.
Many vehicles that we see in Zimbabwe today, many of them have come into this country through unscrupulous means and people have not paid tax. So, the major drawback to our potential as a country in terms of the revenue side of our fiscus is because we are not collecting enough as we are allowing people to come into our country, use our resources and not paying anything. We are allowing people to bring wares from all over the region or from overseas and they are paying nothing. I think that the issue of us coming up with serious technology will assist ZIMRA to perform effectively. So, it is my plea that this Committee goes deeper into the goings on at ZIMRA. We have read a lot of things that have been happening from the top of the institution. They may be doing a lot and of course I sympathise with them in that they do not have good accommodation and so on but we have ZIMRA officials who appear to live in poverty but there are some who are part of the richest people south of the Sahara. You ask yourself where they get this money, it is from corruption.
We have seen them on the roads there following buses and making those buses park at secret places or dark corners and then get some money. That must be followed up and we rid ZIMRA of bad apples. So, I think the best way is that the Minister and the Committee must help ZIMRA to be an effective institution because they are the source of the lifeblood of our economy in terms of funding Government activities. If we do not fund it adequately by giving them enough resources and also monitoring them so that they are not involved in dirty transactions, then we are not going to get as much as we can get. So, ZIMRA at border posts, if your ask me, I tell you that it is totally rotten and we need to take action both as Parliament and Government so that we get as much as we can get as a country and we close all the loopholes in terms of people hanzi vano jampa neparwizi in Beitbridge. They come through the river infested with crocodiles but they cross and I am told that some people help them to cross.
When you go to the Beitbridge vehicles’ yard, there are thousands of vehicles. Those people who then buy those cars that come through our borders, how did they buy those vehicles? Do we really make a follow up because it might be money laundering going on. Or, it might be criminal activities like money going through to buy vehicles outside the country through illicit ways which we do not benefit from as a country.
All these things, if you go to warehouses, you will see stacks of different commodities. How did they get there, where was ZIMRA, how do we interact with other state institutions to protect the country from that hemorrhage because we are losing a lot of money?
It is my plea that the Chairman and his Committee, including the
Deputy Minister who is here present, all participate in cleaning ZIMRA. If they can clean it and we get as much as we can, we may not even lament the issues of paying them handsomely and maybe having enough for Government to do its activities in terms of expenditure. I thank you.
HON. SACCO: I would like to thank Hon. Mhona as the Chairman of this Committee and for the report. I would like to contribute that as we all know, Zimbabwe is open for business as espoused by the mantra of His Excellency, our President Cde E. D.
I would like to touch on the issue of the congestion at Forbes
Border Post. We have another option which is a solution to this problem.
At Cashel Valley we have a border post that is not open for commercial traffic. The border post is in existence, immigration officials are in place but what we need is deployment of ZIMRA officials to this border post. I think we need to upgrade the road from the Cashel Valley police to the border which is about 7km only. If this road could be upgraded as well as provision of a transformer, the Cashel Valley border post could be opened for commercial traffic. This will go a long way in decongesting the Forbes as well as the Machipanda Border Posts.
I would like to appeal to your Committee and to you the Deputy Minister to look into this issue on a serious note. ZIMRA officials paid a site visit to Cashel Border Post. I know Ms Mazani, when I talked to her, she sent a team to Cashel Valley. There is not much required to open the Cahsel Valley Border Post for commercial traffic which would go a long way in decongesting the Forbes Border Post. There is need to recapacitate the Cashel Valley irrigation scheme and the Cairns factory that did value addition to agricultural produce. This could also tie in to Zimbabwe being open for business where we could get an export processing zone status. If we could manage to turn around the Cashel Valley factory and the irrigation scheme – then therefore opening the border post would link in very well to opening that area up for commercial traffic.
I would appeal to you the Deputy Minister and the Chairperson for a fiscal allocation from the budget for the upgrading of this border post and also the irrigation scheme that is being done but also looking at the resuscitation of the Cashel Valley factory to do value addition. I would like to make this appeal to you to look into this. I thank you.
HON. T. MOYO: May I thank the Chairperson for a well presented report. I have a few points to elaborate on. The first one concerns the mandate of ZIMRA. ZIMRA is well known for collecting and meeting their targets in terms of collection of revenue. We need to commend
ZIMRA for always meeting their target and that is very commendable.
When we visited Chirundu Border Post, we noticed that they have a one-stop-shop there which means all traffic and goods from Zambia are cleared in Zimbabwe and the traffic moving to Zambia, they would do the clearance on the Zambian side and that brings efficiency. That is very important and it also reduces congestion. That should be emulated by other border posts and in particular Beitbridge and Forbes. When we visited Forbes Border Post, there was a very long queue of truckers. Some of them were complaining that they had spent three days before clearance was done. If other border posts could emulate the one-stopshop, I think that will bring a lot of good service to clients and customers.
At Forbes Border Post, we noticed that there are some serious challenges because the border is porous. People avoid the normal channel and they would go via the illegal routes. The security forces are deployed at Forbes Border Posts but they cannot efficiently patrol for fear of landmines. There are still landmines in the vicinity of the border. There is need for capacitation of ZIMRA to give them some funds or to engage a private company that can participate in demining so that the security forces can effectively patrol the border.
On accommodation, we noticed that it is a major challenge. Some of the ZIMRA workers rent rooms in flats and there is congestion in terms of accommodation. They do not have their own houses or flats. At Kazungula, we visited a site where houses are being constructed for the workers but their major challenge was that they do not have adequate funds to complete those projects. There is need for the Ministry of Finance to capacitate ZIMRA by giving them funds so that they can complete accommodation for their workers and that will bring job satisfaction.
The issue of bribes is a cause for concern. Some officials are still embarking on those things and I do not want to repeat what the Chief Whip said in his presentation but on our recommendation as a Committee, there is need for new vehicles to be bought because some workers were complaining that the vehicles are now old. There is need for new vehicles so that they may also use them to track those people who may want to evade the normal channels. The issue of small aircrafts and drones is also important particularly to get rid of illegal trade on our borders. I thank you.
HON. MUSAKWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the Committee for a well documented report. The first thing I want to add my voice on is the remuneration system at ZIMRA which I believe is also adding to the inefficiencies of ZIMRA. Their salaries have to be approved by the parent Ministry as opposed to other nations. In other nations they are given a percentage of the revenue that they have collected as a way of being in constant touch with the reality of their efforts. I think that this is something that has to be considered.
The other point hinges on accommodation at the border posts which is quite dire. We have got a lot of the ZIMRA officials cramped in below standard living conditions which needs to be looked at and this also aids to their inefficiencies. The other thing which I noticed is that Bureau Veritas, which is mandated with inspections before shipments come to Zimbabwe as a means for quality control, adding a lot of costs in that importers have to fork out real money to pay to the French company which conducts the inspections worldwide which adds to the scarcity of foreign exchange in the country. I think it has to be simplified if Bureau Veritas has to do it. They have to simplify their process so that not each time a commodity is imported, it is inspected. I think if they import and it is coming from the same source, one time inspection would help and increase efficiencies at our border posts.
The other challenge which ZIMRA faces is system failures. The ASYCUDA system they are using fails a lot. I think it goes again to the way they are given revenue after collections. If they are allowed a certain portion of the foreign exchange that they collect to use it for their own systems maintenance and systems upgrade, that should go a long way in improving their efficiencies and reducing the systems failures. I submit Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. MUTAMBISI: I second. Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Thursday, 25th June, 2020.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON. K.
PARADZA, the House adjourned at Ten Minutes past Six o’clock p. m.