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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 25 August 2015 41-64
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 25th August, 2015
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(MR. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY MR. SPEAKER
STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE
- SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde. R.G. Mugabe will today, 25th August, 2015 at three O’clock p.m. address a Joint Sitting of Parliament on the State of the Nation. Business of the House will resume after the State of the Nation Address.
Business was suspended at Twenty Minutes past Two O’clock p.m.
and was resumed at Three O’clock p.m.
STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY,
HIS EXCELLENCY, THE PRESIDENT, CDE. R.G.
MUGABE: Madame President of the Senate,
Mr. Speaker Sir;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
Invited Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen;
Comrades and Friends.
As a Nation, we occasionally find time to reflect on our achievements and the challenges we face in our quest to improve people’s quality of life.
Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, we have been able to do so in an environment of peace and stability, sustained since Independence. To this end, I wish to pay tribute to our security and defence forces, and the generality of our people, who have joined hands in peace building efforts, even under very difficult socio-economic conditions.
Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, to maintain economic growth, and especially the creation of jobs for our people, my Government has proposed a Ten Point Plan of:
- Revitalizing Agriculture and the Agro-processing value chain.
- Advancing Beneficiation and/or Value Addition to our agricultural and mining resource endowment.
- Focusing on infrastructural development, particularly in the key
Energy, Water, Transport and ICTs subsectors.
- Unlocking the potential of Small to Medium Enterprises.
- Encouraging Private Sector Investment.
- Restoration and building of confidence and stability in the financial services sector.
- Joint ventures and public-private partnerships to boost the role and performance of state owned companies.
- Modernising Labour Laws.
- Pursuing an Anti Corruption thrust.
- Implementation of Special Economic Zones to provide the impetus for foreign direct investment.
Honourable members, please take note that the continued focus on the development of our human capital resource, will be key in this endeavour.
Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, overall economic performance, to date, indicates modest growth, particularly in the sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism, construction and telecommunications. The economic growth rate, which was initially projected at 3.2 percent, is now expected to register 1.5 percent growth in 2015, this being occasioned primarily by the negative impact of drought in our agriculture sector.
In 2014 to 2015 season, crop production was negatively affected by a combination of the late onset of rains and its uneven distribution, both consequences of climate change. Consequently, the agricultural sector performance will be below expectation. Such a situation negatively impacts on the country’s overall economic growth. In line with our Food and Nutrition policy thrust, Government, working closely with the private sector and development partners, has adopted a grain importation programme, even though, as we now discover from the volumes of maize sales to the GMB, our farmers did better than we had estimated.
Given the strategic importance of the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO), Government will resuscitate COTTCO in order to restore viability in cotton farming in Zimbabwe. Government will ensure that cotton, which is largely grown by small holder farmers, can once more provide a livelihood for over 300 000 households and jobs for many in the textile industry. The same success story that we witnessed in the production of tobacco over the past few years must now happen to cotton.
Mining, in 2015, exhibits stronger growth of well above 3.5 percent, despite the impact of declining international prices. This growth is primarily driven by substantial output increases of gold, nickel, platinum, chrome, coal, among other minerals. In order for the country to fully benefit from this sector, Government will maintain the policy thrust on beneficiation and value addition that is supported by other reforms which enhance transparency and accountability in the sector.
Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, the tourism sector continues to experience tremendous growth and development. It is set to grow by more than 5 per cent this year, reflecting growth in confidence in Zimbabwe as a peaceful tourism destination. Tourism is mainly being driven by our rich climatic, natural and man-made attractions, as well as the peaceful environment prevailing in the country. Current interventions on marketing, relaxing the visa regime, investment in tourism and other related infrastructure, and the promotion of the ‘Open
Skies Policy’, should see the sector making further growth.
Following the closure of large corporations, Small to Medium
Enterprises have become prominent in the Zimbabwean economy.
Although the SME’s sector has steadily become the main source of livelihood for many, the youth, retrenchees and the unemployed, among them, the sector is experiencing several challenges. Government will need to address SMEs operating infrastructure, such as construction of vendor marts and factory shells, and the provision of human power training.
Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, the Financial Services Sector generally remains stable, notwithstanding constraints in the operating environment. This stability is a result of various initiatives by
Government and other key stakeholders. To maintain such stability,
Government will continue to focus on instituting corrective Statutory
Instruments including the amendments to the Banking Act which aims at the strengthening of management, supervision and surveillance of financial institutions.
Government has embarked on a US$125 million ICT project for the migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting.
Although the migration process applies to television broadcasting only,
Zimbabwe’s radio broadcast infrastructure is also being revamped through the same project. Once the forty-eight television transmitters are established on designated sites, and twenty-five radio transmitters have been installed, Zimbabwe is going to achieve universal coverage of radio and television services for the first time in the history of broadcasting in this country.
To further strengthen the implementation of the e-Governance Programme, my Government working together with the Government of the People’s Republic of China established the High Performance
Computing (HPC) Centre at the University of Zimbabwe in February
- Zimbabwe’s HPC is the third largest super computer on the
African continent. The immense computing power of the HPC system can be used for socio-economic planning, numerical weather prediction, climate modelling and many other applications to assist in informed decision making by policy-makers.
With a view to bringing health services to the people, and improve access, 51 Rural Health Centres have been built, 103 are under construction, and 400 have been rehabilitated. We are also grateful to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the medical equipment we have been receiving through a US$90 million loan facility extended to us. The package includes equipment and supplies for operating theatres, surgical, radiological, renal, dental equipment, and special ambulances, among other medical equipment.
Madam President, Mr. Speaker Sir, in order to revamp our infrastructural inadequacies, Government is pursuing both domestic and external alternative financing for key programmes under ZIM ASSET. Zimbabwe is already positioning itself for major economic take-off in keeping with ZIM ASSET which requires massive capital injection and rapid implementation. This has seen Government signing key projects with China covering energy, roads, railways and telecommunication, water, agriculture, mining and tourism.
Let me reiterate that Government recognises the importance of strengthening re-engagement with the international community. Indeed, current re-engagement efforts with both bilateral and multilateral partners, including the African Development Bank, the Afro-Asian Bank and the World Bank under various initiatives, should see improvement of relations and the opening up of new financing avenues, for long overdue reforms and development cooperation.
Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, in order to buttress the positive economic gains recorded to date, Government will implement policies that will improve the business environment, and promote, and attract both domestic and foreign investment. In this regard, it is our expectation that once the National Diaspora Policy is finalised, it should spur our people in the Diaspora to take advantage of the many investment opportunities existing in the economy.
In line with the Rapid Results Approach Framework, we should see, before the 31st of December 2015, an urgent overhaul of the Companies Act and all pieces of allied legislation which have hitherto hindered the ease of doing business. Instead, we expect a clear and robust legislative and regulatory framework to be urgently put in place in order to create a One Stop Investment Centre that streamlines processes and procedures. This is now a very urgent and high priority matter for which those responsible will be held to account.
Government acknowledges that unsound procurement practices are slowing down economic growth in the country. In view of this, a new Procurement Bill will be drafted and tabled in Parliament before the end of 2015. The Bill will incorporate COMESA procurement Guidelines which emphasise devolution of power to award tenders to procuring entities. The procuring entities would comprise Government Ministries, Parastatals, State Enterprises and Local Authorities. The State Procurement Board will be transformed into a new non-executive procurement authority tasked with setting standards and guidelines as monitoring compliance by procurement entities. It will also act as advisor to Government on Public Procurement Policy.
Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, another key priority for Government as we strive to return the economy to sustained growth, is the reform of Parastatals and State Enterprises. In this regard, Government has now embarked on a programme of Parastatal reform which has prioritised ten strategic state enterprises to urgent attention. In each case, specialised audits are to be undertaken and various reform and turn-around options identified. Underlining the importance we accord agriculture, the Parastatal reform programme is beginning with the Grain Marketing Board and the Cold Storage Company.
In the interim, however, and as an important parallel process, Government has also turned the spotlight on Corporate Governance throughout the public sector, including across all parastatals, state enterprises and local authorities. It is very clear that, over many years, and due to a variety of reasons, the level of compliance with good corporate governance principles at many, if not most, of our parastatals/state enterprises, has fallen to levels well below what might be regarded as even “minimally acceptable”.
The extravagance of remuneration packages and associated benefits which boards and management have blithely awarded themselves, borders on the obscene, reflecting avarice and greed, instead of the commitment to serve which we expect, indeed demand, of those appointed to such strategic positions. The launch, in April 2015, of the National Code on Corporate Governance, and the current process of integrating the principles therein in the amendments to the
Companies Act, indicate Government’s serious intent in this regard.
Following the Supreme Court ruling of 17th July 2015, which saw thousands of workers being fired at three months notice, Government has reviewed the Labour Act. We must remove common law provisions that have been used by employers to unilaterally dismiss workers on notice, sending them home empty handed. Whereas this is intended to be a win-win outcome for business and labour in the true spirit of smart partnerships, the labour reforms are part of the raft of policy measures and legislation being pursued by Government to improve the Ease of Doing Business environment.
Madame President, Mr. Speaker Sir, I wish to conclude by urging our people to continue to treasure and safeguard the peace that we enjoy, and to promote the unity and spirit of hard work that Zimbabweans, all the world over, are known for. Let us continue to believe in ourselves, to believe in our collective capacity to overcome adversity and challenges that confront us. I thank you.
MDC Members chant Save! Save!
ZANU PF Members chant Gushungo! Gushungo!
MDC Members then broke into a song – Zanu yaora baba.
- SPEAKER: Order! Order! I want to remind hon. members that we did ban the issue of singing – [AN HON. MEMBER: Ndivo vatanga.] – Order, I hope this would be the last time when we exercise our voices in song. It is not necessary at all – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order! Order! I do not want to remove someone from the House please. I was saying this should be the last time. Once we identify the leader of that song, do not be surprised that you are suspended, perhaps up to the whole session of Parliament and that has got serious consequences in terms of your standing here in Parliament. So I want to appeal to you that, let us restrain ourselves, no matter what the message, no matter where the message is coming from, there will be time for us to debate.
- CHAMISA: Point of clarification. It is a purely point of law Mr. Speaker Sir. The issue I am raising is to do with our new rights that are within the Constitution as Parliament, especially in the context of the President having addressed us through a State of the Nation Address (SONA). We are entitled as Members of Parliament to ask questions after the President has finished – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
- SPEAKER: Order! Order! The hon. member is raising an issue on privilege, so he is entitled to be heard. Can he be heard in silence.
- CHAMISA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. If hon. members knew the import of this point of privilege, they would actually ululate rather than hurting because it is meant to clarify matters so that we embolden and enrich our democracy. The issue is not to embarrass the
Head of State but to make sure that we do what is in the Constitution –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – MR. SPEAKER: Order hon. members!
- CHAMISA: Thank you hon. Speaker Sir. I was just mentioning this point in the context of Section 140 of our Constitution read together with our Standing Order, Section 168 (3) which allows, in circumstances within which our President is going to interface with Parliament. There are four circumstances, I think for those who have read the Constitution will understand. I think Mr. Speaker Sir, you will appreciate what I am saying – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
- SPEAKER: Order! Order! Hon. Chamisa, do not be destructed, address the Chair and conclude.
- CHAMISA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I hope you restrain
Hon. Kasukuwere from continuing to threaten me – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I know ndine rekeni Mr. Speaker Sir. I was just trying to say, in terms of our Constitution and our Standing Orders, the President will come to Parliament by way of a special address, either to this National Assembly or Senate separately or together, which is the first option. The second option is for the President to come to Parliament on the basis of a question and answer session which is set aside specifically for that. The third element is when the President comes to Parliament through the Vice President or any Minister, meaning to say he will have a statement that has to be read on his behalf. The fourth one, which is specifically this one, is a State of the Nation Address, which is supposed to be accompanied by questions that are sent to the President so that Members of Parliament are able to raise those questions.
So, we need that clarification Mr. Speaker Sir. As a Parliament, we are supposed to exercise our right as a way of deepening our democracy. I do not think that it is fair for us to pay a blind eye to the Constitution and then say because this is what we have always done, there is a new Constitution. Hon. Speaker Sir, I hope you will take note of this point. I am not saying that we need the President to address us now because he is already out, but we need to correct it for future purposes so that we are able to be in line with the Constitution. Thank you very much – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
- SPEAKER: Order! Order! The Chair would like to make a ruling. What Hon. Chamisa has raised is contextually correct in terms of Section 140 of our Constitution. It is also contextually correct in terms of Section 168 of our Standing Orders. Accordingly, the Chair takes note of the observation and will liaise with the Senate President, the Presiding Officer of the Senate as well as His Excellency the President to see how feasible we can arrange such a session – [HON. MEMBERS:
Hear, hear.] – Order! Order!
JOINT VENTURES BILL, 2015 (H.B. 4A, 2015)
First Order read: Consideration: Joint Ventures Bill (H.B. 4A,
Amendments to Clauses 2, 3, 12 and new Clause 17 put and agreed
Bill, as amended, put and adopted.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
JOINT VENTURES BILL, 2015 (H.B. 4A, 2015)
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (MR CHINAMASA): I move that the Joint
Ventures Bill, 2015 be now read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (MR CHINAMASA): I move that Order of the
Day, Number 2, be stood down until the rest of Orders of the Day have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE AND EVIDENCE AMENDMENT BILL,
2015 (H.B.2, 2015)
Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Reading of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill, 2015 (H.B. 2, 2015).
Question again proposed.
- GONESE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. From my
recollection, this debate was adjourned to enable the relevant Portfolio Committee to finalise its report. As the Speaker might be aware, for the last two weeks, the business of Committees had been suspended. The Committee completed its public hearings but the Committee has not been able to meet to deliberate and finalise on the report.
I believe that in the circumstances, it would be appropriate for the debate to be further adjourned to allow the Committee time to finalise its report, thereafter present its report and then we can have the general debate. So, I am moving for the adjournment of the debate. I just thought I would give the explanation so that the Minister and hon. members of this august House would be in the picture as to what the factual position is. As I have already pointed out, the public hearings were conducted and finalized, but unfortunately the business of Committees had been suspended.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR.
MNANGAGWA): The hon. member has consulted me on the issue and
I have accepted that we allow the Committee to give their report.
Therefore, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 15th September, 2015.
On the motion of THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER
OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR.
MNANGAGWA), the House adjourned at Five Minutes to Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 15th September, 2015.