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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 27 FEBRUARY 2020 46 28
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 27th February, 2020.
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
INDIA CONSTITUTION DAY CELEBRATIONS
THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to remind the House that the
Indian Embassy is inviting all Hon. Members of Parliament to attend the India Constitution Day Celebrations to be held today at 1730 hours in the National Chamber.
HON. KASHIRI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise on a point of privilege. My point of privilege is based on practices by medical doctors in the private sector. People religiously paying …
THE HON. SPEAKER: I did not get the practices…
HON. KASHIRI: Pardon me Mr. Speaker. I have a cold, not Coronavirus though. My point of privilege is looking at the practices of medical doctors in the private sector. What is happening out there Mr. Speaker is, people are religiously paying their medical aid to societies but when one visits a doctor, they are asked to make a co-payment while having a medical aid which is fully subscribed…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, point of privilege must relate to privileges of Hon. Members.
HON. KASHIRI: Yes Mr. Speaker Sir. I was going to ask the relevant authority to safeguard…
THE HON. SPEAKER: You are not addressing issues affecting privilege of Members of Parliament.
HON. KASHIRI: But they do affect in a way, let me give an example, I personaly …
THE HON. SPEAKER: No, sit down.
HON. KASHIRI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I will give a good example
THE HON. SPEAKER: Sit down, sit down, can you sit down.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of
privilege is that in the past two weeks the Minister of Primary and Secondary education announced the hike of 2020 examination fees. As Hon. Members of this august House, we expressed reservations. Yesterday he spoke about one particular group of Zimbabwean people who are expected to be taxed 2%. We asked whether it is the only sector which has an army or the army is a national army. If one sector is taxed then that brings instability. However, if this is generalised, for example AIDS Levy affects everyone. If only civil servants are taxed despite the increment they received …
*THE HON. SPEAKER: How is this affecting the rights of Hon.
Members like you?
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Speaker Sir, this brings instability and this could lead to unnecessary demonstrations so I would like the Hon. Minister to come and brief this House what this means and to explain why just a portion is being taxed whilst the rest are not taxed. As people who led trade unions at one point, we believe that this might lead to instability. So the Minister should come and explain why only civil servants, yet the military is not only for civil servants but it is a national army. I believe that the nation should be there for the army.
HON. SACCO: My point of privilege Hon. Speaker touches on the issue of availability of fuel for Hon. Members of this House. We are facing challenges in acquiring fuel to attend Parliament. I would like to raise a suggestion. Is it possible for you to or Parliament to have a designated filling station for Members of Parliament – [HON. SIKHALA: Ah, why?] – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Let him finish – [HON.
SIKHALA: Why, we must suffer like all citizens.] – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order! Hon. Sikhala and Hon. Chibaya, I must rule. Do not take my position, I need to rule.- [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order!
HON. SACCO: I am raising this issue Hon. Speaker Sir because not all of us live in Harare like Sikhala, Hon. Sikhala. – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] – We come from rural constituencies - [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Chibaya, moda kutora nyanga dzangu? Order! Hon. Member, you address another Hon. Member correctly. He is Hon. Sikhala.
HON. SACCO: I withdraw that Mr. Speaker Sir. My point is that the bulk of Members of Parliament here come from rural constituencies and we are failing to get fuel to attend Parliament. Our role is to represent the people. Our role also is of oversight and we travel long distances weekly. So it possible to have a designated filling station for Hon. Members of Parliament because this is impacting negatively on our role as Members of Parliament.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! Hon. Member, when the Chair says order you comply. Secondly, when an Hon. Member is raising an issue, allow for the Chair to make a ruling. Do not go ahead of the Chair. Hon. Sacco, your point is valid but we have to contextualise that in the national interest. We need to contextualise the problem because while it is true that we need fuel to be mobile but we also represent constituencies where the electorate whom we must meet must also be mobile, particularly where you have to – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Moda kuti ndikutaurirei kuti ndichiri panyanga until – muChishona zvinonzi dzamara madhongi amera nyanga. I was saying it is important that when we advance our welfare it should be contextualised to the welfare of the electorate as well. So this issue must be viewed as a national problem where, as Members of Parliament, we can press it upon the Hon. Minister responsible to ensure that there are sufficient supplies of fuel, not only for the Members of Parliament but also for the nation as such. Thank you.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MATAMBISI: Mr. Speaker, I move that the rest of the Orders of the Day be stood over until Order of the Day Number 13 has been
HON. NDUNA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE,
HOME AFFAIRS AND SECURITY SERVICES ON THE STATUS
OF BORDER POSTS IN ZIMBABWE
HON. MAYIHLOME: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on the status of border posts in Zimbabwe.
HON. NGULUVHE: I second – [HON. MEMBERS: Aaaah Biti
aita sei?.] –
HON. MAYIHLOME: Mr. Speaker Sir, I am being insulted by
Hon. Biti that I am a fascist and I request Hon. Biti – [HON.
MEMBERS: Aaaah Biti aita sei?.] – Yes, he said so.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, can he withdraw please – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. We have always said, whenever there is contestation of what has been said, we refer to the Hansard. Hon. Mayihlome, please proceed – [AN. HON. MEMBER:
Can you sing Hon. Mayihlome.] –
HON. MAYIHLOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Akulanto elizangenza yona, hapana, forget it.
There was a general outcry regarding smuggling of goods and precious minerals, human trafficking – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order. Hon. Members, you need to
listen to this report so that you are engaged and be able to respond accordingly thereafter. Can the Hon. Member be heard in silence?
HON. MAYIHLOMEE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. There was a general outcry regarding the smuggling of goods and precious minerals, human trafficking, delays in processing of travelling documents, rampant corruption and illegal exit and entry into the country at various border posts. This has resulted in Government losing taxes and duties accordingly, hence impacting negatively to economic development. Various stakeholders including civil societies and the media testified that there was need for Government to act immediately and address these trepidations. Cognisant of the fundamental importance of water tight border post to the country’s development agenda, the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services resolved to conduct an inquiry on the status of border posts in Zimbabwe.
In its inquiry, the Committee was guided by the following objectives;
- To familiarise members with the operations of the Immigration
Department and the Zimbabwe Republic Police; ii. To appreciate the challenges being faced by the Immigration
Department and Zimbabwe Republic Police; iii. To assess strategies being implemented by the security sector in curbing smuggling and human tracking; and iv. To offer policy recommendations for improvements.
The Committee employed the following methods in gathering the information;
- The Committee conducted oral evidence session, with the
Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Mr M.
Matshiya accompanied by Deputy Commissioner General Mr L. Ncube and Chief Director of Immigration, Ms R. Gono. The objectives of the meeting were to get an explanation of the challenges being faced by the Department of Immigration and the Zimbabwe Republic Police in executing their duties at ports of entry or exit and outlining strategies and measures being implemented to overcome these challenges.
- The Committee also conducted familiarisation tour of
Beitbridge and Forbes Border Posts, to appreciate how the Immigration
Department and the Zimbabwe Republic Police in conjunction with Zimbabwe Revenue Authority handle the movement of goods and persons at border posts.
- COMMITTEE FINDINGS.
- Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage:
4.1.1 In his presentation, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. M. Matshiya submitted that the operations of the Immigration Department includes but are not limited to;
- Administering the Immigration Act;
- Facilitating Entry and Exit of travellers ; iii. Handling permit applications; and Compliance and Enforcement activities including handling of repatriations, deportations, arrests and refusal of entry.
It was submitted that at major busy border posts like Beitbridge and Forbes, the department handles an average of 12 000 travellers a day and up to 28 000 a day during peak periods such as festive season.
4.2 With reference to the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Secretary made reference to section 219 of the Constitution which provides for the responsibility of Police Service as follows:
- Detecting, investigating and preventing crime.
- Preventing the internal security of Zimbabwe.
- In addition, it was submitted to the Committee that Zimbabwe Republic Police discharges its mandate in conjunction and co-operation with other stakeholders in a multi-sectoral approach. By its nature, border management relates to a myriad of systems in place to control the movement of goods and people across national boundaries.
- It was further submitted to the Committee that border control duties are not the preserve of the Zimbabwe Republic Police alone, but the organisation does it in partnership with the Department of Immigration which regulates the movement of people and Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority responsible for management of goods and services.
- In discharging their duties, the Committee was informed that border control officials ensure that people with valid and proper or acceptable travel documents and goods are granted leave to enter into or depart from the country upon satisfaction of certain conditions. In the same vein, it was established that both the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Department of Immigration has not fared well in the discharge of its mandate due to a myriad of challenges.
- The Secretary for Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage submitted that effective and efficient border control had been negatively affected by the porosity, lack of roads and rugged nature of the border line that does not have a man-made demarcation or barrier. This made it easier for smugglers to export or import their contrabands trough unofficial crossing points along the border line.
- Further, the terrain and lengthy nature of the border line makes it difficult for the border control agency to conduct patrols like foot, motorised and horse since some areas are infested with land mines. The total distances on the stretch of the border line demonstrate the extent of the problem as illustrated in the table.
|Border||Stretch of the border line (km)|
|Zimbabwe- South Africa||225|
- Furthermore, it was submitted that border control agencies did not have motor vehicles to use when conducting patrols. Although there were various bases established at well-known crossing points, there was a serious challenge with regards to the provision of travelling and subsistence allowances, rations, uniform and tents to cater for welfare of officers on deployment.
- In the same vein, deployments usually took an average of 30 days. This had negatively impacted on morale, efficiency and effectiveness of officers, hence rendering them susceptible to corruption.
- It was highlighted to the Committee that human trafficking by its nature is subtle and not easily identifiable at the ports of entry.
- Section 3 of Trafficking in Persons Act 4 of 2014 defines human trafficking as involving any person who trafficks any individual by transporting him or her into, outside and within Zimbabwe involuntarily by way of force, violence, threats, subdue by use of drugs, fraud, inducements or voluntarily for an unlawful purpose.
- Other challenges which were submitted related to fact that all border posts were not installed with closed circuit television to detect offences of bribes, corruption and smuggling of goods. Border control officials also lacked skills, decent accommodation, office space and they usually work for long hours daily.
5.0 Touring of Beitbridge and Forbes Border Post
The Committee made the following findings during the tour of the border posts:
5.1 Human trafficking and smuggling
5.1.1 The Committee was informed that Section 3 of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2014 define human trafficking as the transportation of individual into or outside and inside a country voluntarily by way of force, violence, threats, fraud, subdue by use of drugs for an unlawful purpose. The above definition makes it difficult to easily identify cases of human trafficking.
5.1.2 Human smuggling involves the use of fraudulent documents and parties agree on a facilitation fee which is in violation of one or more countries laws. The Department of Immigration had on record cases of Zimbabweans and other nationalities who are arrested whilst being smuggled into neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and
South Africa through undesignated crossing points, particularly minors.
5.1.3 The Committee noted that the Department has on record a total of 92 minors whom they had referred to the department of Social Welfare after being intercepted at Beitbridge Border Post in 2019. In addition, a total of 82 deportations had been effected as from January to June. Thus, on average about 15 people being trafficked per month.
5.2.0 Illegal crossing
5.2.1 In relation to illegal entry and exit, the Committee established that stretches for up to 255km, border policing is being done in areas covering less than 50kms and the remaining area becomes easily accessible for illegal crossing. Statistics submitted to the Committee showed that a total of 16 187 have been arrested for illegal crossing from January to June 2019. This is a significant number and it can be quantified that on average 1 350 people are being arrested on monthly basis.
5.2.2 At Beitbridge Border Post, the Committee appreciates the
Government’s efforts for the project underway in upgrading the border as this will go a long way in alleviating challenges emanating from lack of supportive infrastructure.
5.3.1 The Committee noted that the Zimbabwe Republic Police was currently relying on employing physical searching methods at all the border posts. However, it was indicated to the Committee that this kind of searches is not efficient enough to detect smuggled items.
5.3.2 In connection with the above, the police did not have hand luggage scanners to detect smuggling of goods concealed in hand luggage or in any part of the body. In this regard, goods such as drugs and gold have a tendency of being smuggled in that fashion.
5.3.3 It was also established that the department did not have surveillance equipment such as drones and helicopters for aerial surveillance to prevent and detect smuggling cases. The Committee further established that at Beitbridge and Forbes Border Posts, the scanners were not functional.
5.4.0 Patrol vehicles
5.4.1 The Committee learnt that the Department did not have vehicles for border patrol operations and currently they are relying on private hire to chase criminals. At Beitbridge Border Post, the Committee was informed that currently nine motorbikes were being used to patrol the whole stretch for anti-smuggling along the Limpopo River from Chikwarakwara on the east up to Shashe River. The stretch from Beitbridge to Sango Border is nearly 200km and Beitbridge to Tuli is around185km. The same challenge was also reported at Forbes Border Post where it was reported that the stretch from Forbes to Nyamapanda Border post is nearly 530km.
5.5 Border control
5.5.1 The Committee was also informed that police had forward bases situated at strategic points which are 10km apart along the
Limpopo River in case of Beitbridge and along Binya Road in case of Forbes Border Post. The aim is to thwart rampant smuggling and illegal crossing activities some of which involve stolen vehicles. Supervision for those on deployment was not being done since the motor cycles are old and constantly off the road.
5.5.2 The Committee was also informed at Beitbridge Border Post that they deal with high volumes of accused persons on daily basis but had no vehicle to ferry them to the mother station. At Forbes Border Post it was submitted that, the border deals with large numbers during festive season from and to Mozambique.
5.6.1 It was submitted to the Committee that Immigration officers stayed in outside camps since the border does not have facilities for their accommodation. Rentals were reported to be as high as R800-1000 per room in Beitbridge. The situation was now compelling staff to look for accommodation in nearby areas outside the border in search for cheap rentals. The same challenge affected officers at Forbes Border Post who have to seek cheaper accommodation in Mutare.
5.6.2 This scenario is tantamount to driving officers at border posts into corruption. A request was made for Government to consider construction of official accommodation since they are currently vulnerable to corruption and temptation.
5.7 Marking of the border
5.7.1 It was reported to the Committee that along all border lines there was no demarcation between traditional and administrative boundaries. At Forbes Border Post, the Committee was informed that Chief Musikavanhu`s boundaries stretches in to Mozambique. This means most communities have relatives residing on either side of the border. It was further propounded that farm labourers cross the border every day to work at Tanganda Estates and a solution was needed to assist the company to remain functional.
5.7.2 Whereas the Immigration Department is mandated to focus more on facilitating cross border movement at designated ports. At Forbes Border Post, the Committee was told that most schools dotted along the border enroll pupils from Mozambique and they cross the border twice a day. The problem is compounded by the fact that the international boundaries were marked separating families as well as fields as the case at Forbes Border Post, Mozambicans have fields in
5.7.3 Further, it was presented to the Committee that Beacon Hill
Primary School in Chipinge has 33 pupils from Mozambique and South Down has 527 in the Garaba area. Additionally, the existence of intermarriages compels locals to cross border line.
5.8.1 The Committee whilst touring Beitbridge Border Post was told that there is no method of communication between both sides of borders. It was submitted to the Committee that since there were no electronic spikes to control traffic movement sometimes vehicles hit the boom on Zimbabwean side and cross South African. At Forbes Border Post, the Committee was informed about the no man`s land which is in – between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Police find it difficult to arrest culprits since smugglers usually run over to that place.
5.9 Foreign nationals
5.9.1 At Forbes Border Post Immigration Officials informed the Committee that the Tongogara Refugee Camp had 751 people at the time of the visit who were denied refugee status but were still in the country. This meant that they were violating the laws of the country and the matter needed redress by the Government. It was reported that some of the people at Tongogara Refugee Camp are now posing security threat since at any time they could commit a crime and run away
5.9.2 The Committee was also informed that implementation of the Rwandan Cessation Clause had become so prolonged and needed to be finalised as all efforts to repatriate the Rwandans to their country had been in vain since they are resisting to go back home. These people are conducting illegal activities such as business in the country.
5.10 Land mines
5.10.1 It was submitted to the Committee that many areas along the border lines were still infested with land mines which makes patrolling of the area difficult. The situation is further compounded by the total distances of respective borders which unambiguously demonstrate the extent of the problem, for instance the stretch between Zimbabwe and South Africa which is 225km. Thus, patrol on such areas can only be effective using drones.
5.11 Closed circuit television
5.11.1 The Committee was told that all border posts are not installed with CCTVs for detecting smuggled goods and preventing corruption by border control officials. Lack of CCTVs makes it difficult to detect offences of bribery which take place between importers or exporters and border control officials. A call was made for Government to speed up the installation of closed circuit televisions at all border posts.
5.11.2 The Committee also learnt that the Zimbabwe Republic Police in its quest to prevent and detect smuggling of goods does not have the expertise to monitor and interpret scan images. However, this leaves the organisation with no means to verify the contents of containerised consignments, hence a request was made for capacity building.
5.12 Commanded control
5.12.1 It was reported to the Committee that there is confusion of who is in charge of the border between the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Immigration Department since there is no Ports Authority.
An appeal was made for the establishment of Ports Authority.
5.13.1 The Committee was informed that corruption involving Immigration Officials was rampant at border posts involving
Immigration officials. The statistics presented to the Committee shows that out of a total of 186 immigration officials implicated for corruption, 177 were convicted and only 9 were acquitted.
5.13.2 It was submitted to the Committee that the existing infrastructure at all border posts was outdated and inefficient. At Forbes Border Post, the infrastructure was very minimal resulting in traffic congestion compounded by the fact that there was no room for extension. It was reported at both border posts that there is limited office space as well as furniture.
5.14 Legislative shortcomings
5.14.1 The Immigration Act (Chapter 4.02) was not deterrent enough since the Act did not provide any provision which outlaws certain illegal activities and penalties for those illegal activities. It was clearly highlighted to the Committee that there is no provision at law to penalize those illegal activities, hence the need to expand the scope of legislation which enhances travellers and operators’ controls. For airlines, the Carriers Liability Act is a deterrent instrument and the same needs to be done for road operators. Lessons can be drawn from the South African jurisdiction where several penalties are levied on operators who violate the law.
5.15 Travelling and subsistence allowances
5.15.1 The Committee was told that travelling and subsistence allowances was last paid in 2008 and the total outstanding arrears exceeds US$300 000.00. Members were dividing their meagre salaries between themselves and their families in order to sustain themselves whilst on deployments at large distances far away from their ordinary places of residence.
5.15.2 The Committee was further informed that members on deployment were not well equipped with full patrol kits such as tents and rations. It was also confirmed that moral was indeed low even as officers continue to put their maximum efforts to prevent illegal crossing.
6.0 Current strategies being implemented to address the challenges
6.1 Awareness campaign
6.1.1 The Committee was informed that the department is conducting regular awareness campaigns through the radio, television and road shows to sensitise members of the public about implications associated with human trafficking and smuggling.
6.2 Joint patrols
6.2.1 The Committee was told that the security agencies at border areas were conducting joint patrols along the border lines to curb illegal crossing and other crimes. In addition, Zimbabwe Republic Police had established more bases at illegal crossing points along the border line. For example at the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa there were 13 bases and at the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique there were 32 bases.
6.2.2 Further to the above, it was also reported to the Committee that respective provincial commanders of the security forces were conducting bilateral meetings with neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia to discuss border control related challenges peculiar to their respective areas of operations. These meetings had resulted in joint operations to curb the vices related to management of goods across borders.
6.2.3 It was submitted to the Committee that the Zimbabwe Republic Police was conducting anti-smuggling operations in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Defence Forces at official and unofficial entry and exit points as well as inland. Moreover, the organisation was lobbying Government to provide adequate budgetary support for purchasing rations, uniforms and payment of travelling and subsistence allowances to members performing border patrols duties.
6.3 Installation of Closed Circuit Televisions
6.3.1 With regards to corruption, the Committee was informed that installation of CCTV cameras at most border stations such as
Beitbridge and Robert Mugabe International Airport was now complete. CCTV had also been installed at headquarters with the view to roll out this facility to all border stations as a supervisory and monitoring facility. There were also individual date stamps for tracing malpractices. In addition, use of tags for all staff members was meant to enable easy identification by clients especially in case of poor performance.
7.0 Committee Observations
After considerations of submissions from the Permanent Secretary and tour of the border posts, the Committee made the following observations;
- That travelling and subsistence allowances had last been paid in 2008 and the total outstanding arrears exceeds US$300 000.00 and members were dividing their meagre salaries with their families in order to sustain themselves;
- That there was no proper awareness campaigns being conducted by the Immigration Department to educate the public on human trafficking and smuggling;
- That the Zimbabwe Republic Police was seriously incapacitated to monitor smuggling of goods as they do not have modern IT equipment;
- That Zimbabwe Republic Police officers were prone to corruption, since they were being deployed without their subsistence allowances;
- That there was poor command and control of the border posts;
- That delays in clearing land mines along the border lines was making it difficult for the Zimbabwe Republic Police to conduct patrols;
- That the Department of Immigration was short staffed, and officers were working overtime without being paid;
- That border control agencies had lost control as a result of increasing number of touts and foreigners who were harassing local traditional leaders around the border;
- That the Department of Immigration faces office space and accommodation challenges;
- That the Department of Immigration did not have patrol vehicles to monitor crossing points resulting in loss of revenue as food, drugs and vehicle were being smuggled across the Limpopo River.
- That at Forbes Border Post, there were CCTVs and at
Beitbridge the gadgets were not working;
- That there were no spikes to control vehicle traffic and radio for communication; and
- That there was poor infrastructure and road networks along the border areas.
Cognisant of the above observations, the Committee recommends as follows;
- That the Police Service Commission should make sure that deployees are paid travelling and subsistence allowances in time to curb the ego for corrupt activities and the outstanding arrears be settled by December 2020.
- That the Department of Immigration should conduct regular proper awareness campaigns to educate the public about the effects of human trafficking and smuggling.
- That beginning year 2020, Zimbabwe Republic Police should be well equipped with patrol kits including vehicles, scanners, drones, tents and other necessities. Treasury should avail funding for the purchase of a comprehensive patrol kit in the 2020 Budget.
- That by December 2020, Government should establish a
Ports Authority for easy management of border posts.
- That the Department of Immigration urgently installs CCTVs at all border posts to detect and prevent smuggling of goods and human trafficking by December 2021.
- That the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs expedite clearance of land mines along the border to ensure effective patrols. In the 2020 Budget, Treasury should avail budgetary support for this programme.
- There is need to expand the scope of the Immigration Act (Chapter 4:02) to provide a provision which outlaws certain illegal activities and impose penalties for those illegal activities.
- That the Department of Immigration should urgently regularize many unregulated crossing points for Government to realise increased revenue by December 2021.
- That in the 2020 Budget, Treasury should avail adequate budgetary support to the Department of Immigration for infrastructure development such as accommodation and office facilities.
- That the Department of Immigration, by June 2020 should introduce the use of electronic spikes and immediate communication gadgets to facilitate hot pursuit of criminal activities.
Informed by these pertinent observations, the Committee hopes the relevant authorities will seriously consider the recommendations made above in order to improve the situation prevailing at the border posts at the time of enquiry.
HON. MUDARIKWA: On a point of order! Mr. Speaker Sir, the
report by the Hon. Chairperson is not in our pigeon holes. So for us to debate, we need copies of that report - it is not even on our tablets.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I am reliably informed that the
copies of the report are now in the pigeon holes.
HON. NGULUVHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I will just make some few comments on the report which has been tabled by our Chairperson.
My first comment would be on the command and signal. When you deploy troops or officers on the ground, you must always have
Standard Operating Procedure, (SOP’s) which will actually tell those on the ground the procedure of operations. As the Hon. Chairperson has reported, the command and control of the people at the borders was nonexistent, therefore there is need that we establish a port authority urgently, otherwise there is confusion as to who is in charge of the border post. If anything is to happen, nobody is actually in charge of the border post, so I concur with the Hon. Chairperson that there is need that we establish a port authority.
On the issue of CCTVs, definitely, in a security area there is a requirement for us to install CCTVs, especially if we are to curb corruption. Our observation was that although they have installed CCTVs, there was one or two which were not working and it seems like they are deliberately not fixing them to enable them to continue on their corrupt practices.
CCTVs assist and we observed that there was a problem of access control. Anybody can easily access that border post and from a security point of view, it is very dangerous. It disturbs people who will be travelling freely, especially from Harare going to South Africa. There are those youngsters who are in Beitbridge thinking that they will get job and they will be busy stealing money from women who will be going down to make a living. So there is a need that we make sure that there is access control at the border post.
However, let me also contribute to the Government for carrying out the current building of the new border post. It has benefited the people of my constituency as mostly the people who were employed there are locals and we insisted that we need locals to work in Beitbridge border post not to have someone coming outside our border post.
On the observations which were reported by our Chairman on the issue of travel and subsistence allowances, it is a pity that you deploy officers and last pay them travel and subsistence allowance in 2008. Those officers are down in places like Chikwarara where there are no means to feed themselves and yet they are supposed to fight corruption. Someone comes smuggling goods worth one million Rands and you expect that person to stop those people from smuggling – it is not possible, they offer $100 000 to just let the goods to go.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I personally observed these Fortuna cars, three or four of them being smuggled along Limpopo River and the people will be armed. I think we are losing a lot of revenue because we are failing to control the borders. How do you expect people to stop officers if you do not pay them travel and subsistence?
The other observation which I think we should do is that the borders were created by the colonizers and basically if you go across Limpopo or Victoria Falls border post, you will get the same people - whether it is in Mutare or Beitbridge, you will get vendors across there, you will get Vendas and Samanyika’s across there, these people are one. How do you expect one to travel from Chikwalakwala which is 130 kilometres? It is very expensive. There are no buses, yet one can easily cross the river and go and see his or her relatives across. So I recommend that the Government should take note and open more crossing points to make life easy for our people. Mr. Speaker Sir, I am saying this because a long time ago, we used to cross - it has been the policy that you report to your traditional leader, police are informed and we had some border posts along other places, there is need for them to
be allowed to go across. Mr. Speaker, I think it is high time that the Government can actually curb such smuggling.
Let me come back to Beitbridge, Forbes and Chirundu. I appeal to this House that currently we are told of Coronavirus, we have no equipment on these border posts to screen our visitors. Beitbridge Border Post is the backbone of this country, monies are coming through that border. Why can we not allow them to retain a certain percentage so that we can actually equip that border post with all what is required to fight this Coronavirus and also to make sure that CCTVs are installed.
From a security point of view, we have observed that there are no physical barriers to stop people who want to use force to cross the border; both sides have no physical barriers. I think it is high time that the relevant Ministries should establish those barriers. Like what my Chairperson said, there is need for us to establish communication between Forbes and Beitbridge border posts to enable them to communicate easily.
During the festive season, the situation is bad, there are quite a number of trucks crossing there and they block the whole entrance. I think it is high time that as Government we should think of establishing another bridge for trucks only to allow people to move freely. Mr.
Speaker, Sir, those are my few comments. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to applaud the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Security and his seconder for a good report. I will just be very brief. The issue of Limpopo Bridge….
HON. MAMOMBE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. Mr.
Speaker Sir, my point of order is that when we are debating a motion, I think members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Security should be given a chance to debate first. Hon. Nduna is not a member of the Committee, we are in the Committee; we are supposed to be debating first.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Okay, I have already
recognised him so we give him the floor to finish. Go ahead Hon. Nduna.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, thank you for
protecting me. I just want to touch on the Beitbridge Border Post which is a conduit for our economic development and emancipation towards Vision 2030. Why do I say so, that border post is charged with bringing to our GDP more than $US3.5 billion per annum. Mr. Speaker Sir, having said that let me touch on the Limpopo River Bridge. The construction of that bridge was completed in 1995 and private-public partnership took root from 1998. Mr. Speaker Sir, 2020, it is 20 years after that build, operate and transfer took root. It is a very good classical example of an African Concession, the first of its kind, which is quite successful. Other countries in the continent can actually take a cue but we as Zimbabweans have taken charge in 2020 or before of a successful concession which borders on the private-public partnership. That bridge now belongs to our Government. It is important because not less than US$1.6 million is coming from that bridge monthly.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the reason I talk about this is for us to adhere to the principles and ethos of what is requested by this Committee in terms of capacitating that border through computerisation, lighting and through e-governance. This will enable us to generate a lot of revenue and plug revenue leakages and make sure that there is efficiency at the border post. Why should we have efficiency in particular at the Beitbridge Border Post, it is because we have about 25 000 private vehicles crossing that border post each month. We also have about 15 000 haulage trucks crossing that border each month; 2 100 buses crossing that border each moth and also 20 000 people crossing that border each month. It is very important to separate the vehicular and human traffic in order that we continue to have a conduit which is the BeitbridgeHarare route, that it continues to give us the income that we badly require as an economy and as a country.
Mr. Speaker Sir, if we delay one 30 tonne haulage truck of sugar at the border post, by the time it reaches inland the two kg would have gone up by four cents. Mr. Speaker Sir, if we delay a 30 000 liters container of fuel at the border post - by the time that fuel lands inland, it would have gone up by two cents per liter. It is only prudent and good for us to have some efficiency at the border post. The best way is to create a conduit that separates vehicular and human traffic.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of documentation of our people at the border post is very key. The Chairperson spoke about people at Tongogara Refugee Camp, who are now refusing repatriation. What we did is we took charge of these people but we did not take charge of their population and conjugal rights. It is very important that we document these people and whoever they sire, we document them not as our own but as foreigners because they would have sired those people.
It is also prudent and key that we document them according to our laws that speak to, 42 days after birth of any child so that we can continue to have efficiency in terms of cross border crossings Mr.
Speaker, by both our refugees and people that adhere to the values of sections 35 and 38 of our Constitution that speak to and about the issue of documenting our citizens who have been in this country for more than 10 years as our citizens Mr. Speaker. Yes, we have internally displaced persons. They do not only stay at the Tongogara Refugee Camp after they are born. These are the same people we have challenges with in my constituency, Chegutu West Constituency. I stand here and ask Mr. Speaker because of this report, that we continue to talk about a moratorium to document all our citizens lest we have internally displaced people because they have no documentation.
Lastly Mr. Speaker, between 1998 and to date, what has gone through the Limpopo Beitbridge River Bridge is more than 10 million vehicles. Why do I want to talk about vehicles? As it relates to the economy of the country Mr. Speaker, we have what is called Road Access Fee that talks about US$20 per vehicle that comes into this country. So 10 million vehicles and US$20, we will easily talk of
US$200 million from inception to date that we could have gotten as a country. We can still get that money but my point exactly is, we are the lowest in the SADC region in terms of charges of road access fee on infrastructure such as the one at the Beitbridge Limpopo River Bridge.
It is my clarion call and fervent view and hope that we increase that US$20 access on our bridge that we are tolling for access so that we do not only have money accruing to our economy but also be in sync with the regional trends Mr. Speaker. In the same vein, I request that we stop road access fee for returning residents. Road access fee should be charged only to foreigners and for them as they go back into their own country. I say this because as you go into Botswana on the Plumtree Border Post, you pay a fortune just to access their road in Francis Town and you also pay insurance for accessing their roads.
So this report Mr. Speaker, was pregnant with issues and not tissues that we can use in order to enhance our economy, security and also stop the proliferation of terrorism in our midst. As I end, I want to say our country together with the countries around this continent; they are facing a daunting task of managing their borders in ways that secure their territorial sovereignty and integrity. It ensures that these border posts are bridges rather than barriers that he alludes to and speaks about, for crossing border cooperation and regional integration, prevents illegal entries and exiting of people and goods whilst allowing easy movement of goods and people, allows relatives to visit their kin in the case of Zimbabwe and South Africa whilst keeping away criminals such as the drug-traffickers and human traffickers, terrorists and such like. They facilitate tourism to ease crossing whilst keeping out terrorists Mr.
I thank you for giving me this opportunity to completely ventilate issues that border about borders and border around borders. The people of Chegutu West Constituency send their love and I want to thank you for allowing me to talk about their issues on this report.
HON. S. BANDA: I want to thank the Committee for the good report that touches on the welfare of Zimbabweans. Hon. Speaker, it will not be possible for us to discuss the issues of borders without also discussing the issue of passports. If we had sufficient passports for most of the application, it means we will have limited or highly reduced instances of people illegally crossing the borders. I urge the report to also take into consideration the issue of passports.
If you go to the Passport Office, there are some Members of Parliament who go there for training, day-in day-out they see queues of more than 200 people waiting early in the morning to get passports and most of them do not get passports because when you get to the Passport Office they process a maximum number of 70 people. My plea Hon. Speaker, is that we should do something about passports. We cannot discuss the issue of passports without speaking of the issue of foreign currency.
Once we discuss the issue of foreign currency, it means we have got a budget which may not address how passports are going to be obtained because the budget is mainly in RTGs whereas for passports to be made available you need foreign currency. We still appeal that we should have a dollar economy. Without a dollar economy we will not be able to process the passports because we will not find money to go and get material that is required to import the material that is used to manufacture the passports.
Lastly Mr. Speaker, if governance issues were addressed then I think everything would be okay. As long as there is one party which thinks it can continue to govern this country then there will always be a problem Hon. Speaker. We really need to sit down as Zimbabweans. If you come to my constituency Mt. Pleasant, you find that most people are selling their houses and leaving this country and that is not good Hon. Speaker. We really need to sit down and dialogue as Zimbabweans. That is why I am saying we need more passports so that people can go out but we need those people who are out of Zimbabwe to come back once we have dialogue in this country. I thank you.
HON. MUDARIKWA: I want to thank the Hon. Chair for the report but Mr. Speaker, Beitbridge Border Post was opened in 1929 and amongst our border posts, and it is the only border post which is declared a protected area, it is paramount that the Committee recommends to the Ministry that all other border posts must be declared protected areas for the purposes of management. One important aspect which has been raised by the committee which I want to support is the moral of some of the workers at Beitbridge which is very low because of poor working conditions. It is important that time and again there is need to review salaries of workers in strategic areas. The other point I need to raise Mr. Speaker Sir, is that in other countries, when you are living – this must be within the SADC Protocol – 30km from the border post, you do not need a passport to cross to go to South Africa or Zambia. The Committee has recommended that all the people living close to the border post can move without passports. Students wanting to travel to Zimbabwe or South Africa can also do so in the morning when they are going to school without requiring a passport.
The South African Border Post – there is need to introduce one stop border post like what has been done in Zambia so that movement of traffic is improved. In other instances, this maybe falls under a different Committee but then the computer system at ZIMRA is always down resulting in huge queues at the border post. That obviously affects the revenue of the country. There is need to improve the efficiency. The PTA now incorporates many other countries in Africa. So there is need now to inform ZIMRA officers that there are changes in terms of searching and everything because most of the goods required now go through the border without paying any duty because they are covered by the free trade area. I want to thank the Committee for the report and also thank the Chairperson.
Mr. Speaker Sir, let me repeat what I raised as a point of order. We are all debating in vacuum because I checked in the pigeon hole, we do not have copies of the report compiled by the Committee. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. It is just a reminder to the esteemed Members of Parliament for this august
House, that training has just resumed. We are training tomorrow again and please those who were given tracksuits, can you come and train. You can see those who are training are debating much better in Parliament. May I say well done to those who came for training this week, Hon. Majaya, Hon. Banda and many others. It has been a good start to the season and I hope to see you all tomorrow and on Monday.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I think you are
out of order.
*HON. J. CHIDAKWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me
this opportunity. I would like to thank the Chairperson for the Committee of Home Affairs and Security Services for coming up with such a detailed report which is very relevant and touching. Most of our relatives who work at border areas are the ones who face these challenges. Mr. Speaker Sir, the Chairperson said the border has no proper demarcation. We hear from the report of the Chairperson that some people can have two identities, one for Zimbabwe and another for Mozambique because they can build homesteads even across the borders, be it in Botswana or Zimbabwe. There are no proper demarcations to show that this is one country and that one is another country. That also disturbs us as a country. We may not be able to know our real population because we might end up counting citizens of another country. The other country like Mozambique may also not be able to account for its citizens thinking that they are Zimbabweans.
Mr. Speaker Sir, there is the issue that was alluded to in this report which pertains to vehicles that are supposed to be used for border patrols. It is very difficult when you are assigned to do a duty, like sew a garment whilst you are not given the thread or the needles. Let us send children to perform duties with enough equipment. When they come across thieves or robbers who will be better equipped with good vehicles, they will not be able to chase or match them. The vehicles that are used by border patrol officers sometimes are small cars that cannot be used in high terrains and sometimes those vehicles break down. I encourage the Government to equip these borders in terms of suitable vehicles.
What touched me is the accommodation for these officers. Some of the people who are deployed are police officers or army officers. Some of them may be married women, our wives or our sisters. When your wife leaves, you will not be settled especially when you hear that the accommodation where they are going is deplorable. It is also disturbing when you hear that your spouse shares accommodation with the opposite sex. Mr. Speaker Sir, from the report we got here, we hear that sometimes women and men tend to share the same tent when they are deployed. That should be addressed so that the spouses settle down instead of worrying because of that set up.
Some of the border workers sometimes are redeployed to other borders, for instance, Mozambique or Beitbridge and are asked to pay for own accommodation. That to me encourages corruption, prostitution or indiscipline. When you fail to raise money for accommodation, you will end up doing that because sometimes you tend to look for money and where you can get is from the closest source. My request is, border employees should be given proper accommodation.
I would like now to refer to security cameras. We will not be safe as a country if there are no cameras at border areas. Sometimes human eyes miss out things that can be picked by cameras. In order for us to have guaranteed security, we need to have such equipment.
I would also like to talk about incentives such as pocket money for the employees. Those people work under very tempting conditions and the temptations are to do with money considering that there is high poverty and lack of money in this country. It tempts someone to do corrupt activities, especially when people earn little money. When there are no incentives, it forces someone to engage in corruption. We should look for ways of motivating our people so that they may work without complaints. They need decent accommodation, food and all other facilities. If only all the points that were raised here will be taken seriously so that we look for a solution so that in this country we reduce corruption, border jumping and robbery. People working in border areas should work happily without complaints. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I move that
the debate do now adjourn.
HON. N. NDLOVU: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that the rest of the Orders on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order Number 20 has been disposed of.
HON. N. NDLOVU: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT
AND TOURISM ON WETLAND MANAGEMENT
HON. CHINANZVAVANA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. I
move the motion standing in my name:
That this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism on Wetland Management.
HON. SAIZI: I second.
HON. CHINANZVAVANA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I
move to present Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environment and
Tourism on Wetland Management
The Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism conducted an inquiry on wetlands management in February 2019. The Committee sought to appreciate the state of wetland destruction in Harare after Harare Wetlands Trust organised a tour of selected sites where wetlands were being utilised unsustainably.
2.0 OBJECTIVES OF THE ENQUIRY
The broad objective of the enquiry was to enable the Committee to observe some of the ongoing wetlands degradation in Harare’s suburbs and how it affects the state of wetland ecosystem in the country. In more specific terms, the Committee sought to;-
- Appreciate the legal framework governing wetlands management in Harare;
- Understand the challenges faced by institutions that have the primary responsibility for the protection of wetlands; and
- Assess the level of implementation of the legislation on wetland management.
To get an in-depth appreciation of the state of wetlands, the
Committee toured some of Harare’s wetland areas in Borrowdale,
Monavale, Sentosa, and Glen Lorne in February 2019. On 20th March 2019, the Committee attended a Legislative Review Meeting on
Issuance of Development Permits and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) Certificates held at Cresta Oasis Hotel in order to have an appreciation of the legal framework governing wetland issues.
The Committee was apprised of the implications of extensive and endemic developments that were taking place on Harare’s wetlands. Oral evidence that was received from the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry assisted the Committee to understand the policy and technical aspects involving wetland management. Finally, the Committee requested written submissions from Harare City Council on challenges relating to wetlands management.
4.0 COMMITTEE’S FINDINGS
4.1 Monavale Vlei (Ramsar Site – Wetland of International
The Monavale Vlei, is an important wetland area within the city along Fenella Drive. It is managed by the Conservation Society of
Monavale (COSMO.) The Committee was informed by COSMO that the Government had plans to build 1200 cluster houses in the Monavale wetland area.
4. 2 University of Zimbabwe Wetlands
The Committee was informed by Harare Wetlands Trust that the former UZ Vice Chancellor had intensions to construct a car wash and service station next to a stream called Marimba River as a personal venture. Bird Life Zimbabwe and Harare Wetlands Trust challenged the decision and the construction of the service station was stopped. EMA objected to the development but the City Council did not and registered the development. Concerns were raised as to the model of restoration to be adopted for the wetland and who would meet the cost of restoring that very important wetland site. The Committee was also informed by Harare Wetlands Trust that there were earlier plans to build offices, clinics, and a shopping mall along Upper East Road a proposal that was objected by the University students and staff leading the developer to withdraw.
4.3 Borrowdale Wetlands (Ramsar Site)
The Committee learnt that Borrowdale wetlands form part of Mt Pleasant wetlands and these wetland sites depicted the practical legal issues on wetlands. It was alleged by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights during the tour that the Ministry of Environment had initiated some written formalities at some point to remove Borrowdale wetlands as a wetland area. An EIA was issued to develop the Borrowdale wetlands in November 2017 and the City Council issued a development permit on the basis of the EIA that was issued. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights opined that the EIA certificate on Borrowdale wetlands must be revoked and that EMA consistently assess, monitor the developments on the site and ensure that the environmental protection order is respected by the developer. It was submitted by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights that an interim interdict was lodged pending the final verdict on the Borrowdale wetland wrangle.
4.4 Gunhill Vlei Wetland
The Committee observed that trenches had been dug up to drain the wetland area. The Committee witnessed wetland encroachment with several houses being built on the dry stream bed. On another stand, there was a fence and skywalk over a stream with plans to construct a building. On other planned properties, walls of neighbouring stands were built after diverting the course of the stream. Furthermore, agricultural activities were destroying the ecosystem services for example, SEDCO had set up a demonstration site for its seeds on the wetland.
4.5 New Life Ministries Church on a Wetland
The Committee witnessed a church being built in a wetland in Eastlea. The Committee was informed that the land belonged to an unnamed individual who had bought the land as a residential stand and later sold it to the church without following the due processes. The Committee was informed that the church is being constructed without any development permit from the City Council and that an EIA was authorised by the incumbent Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. The development that was taking place would set precedence on other developments that would take place elsewhere if it was not stopped forthwith.
4.6 Mazowe Catchment Council
There were stands being built across, downstream and upstream of the tributary called Muvhinzi that flows into Mazowe River. The Committee was informed that Harare City Council was responsible for issuing stands in the Shawasha Hills formerly Glenwin Farm.
4.7 Borrowdale Brooke Wetlands
The Committee witnessed sewage pumps that broke down in 2008 still discharging raw sewage into Brooke River completely polluting the wetland ecosystem services.
4.8 Gazetting of Harare Wetlands Map
During the presentations by Zimbabwe Layers for Human Rights, the issue of an urgent finalisation of the re-gazetting of Harare Wetlands Map was raised. The obtaining situation was that planning authorities have the power to determine whether or not an area is a wetland. Therefore, it was argued by Zimbabwe Layers for Human Rights that such state of affairs allowed evasion of protective laws through claims that an area targeted for development is not a wetland.
4.9 Conflict of interest in issuance of EIAs
The Committee learnt that the EIA Reports are prepared by consultants who are licenced by EMA. However, the fee for the consultants is paid by the project developer, leading to a conflict of interest for the consultants. Consultants who gain a reputation for issuing negative reports are unlikely to receive further engagements by developers. Accordingly, consultants lean towards producing reports which allow development on wetlands and often fail to consult adequately with stakeholders, even though the Environmental Management Act requires the Director-General to ensure that the consultations have taken place.
4.10 Payment fee for EIA Inspection
It was explained that EMA currently charges a total of $300 for anyone wishing to view an EIA report and does not allow any photographs or copies to be made of the document. The amount charged implied a direct violation of the environmental rights and access to information as guaranteed in the Constitution. The Committee viewed the inspection fee as a revenue generation exercise rather than a means by which concerned citizens may exercise their rights to protect the environment. The Committee observed that the right of inspection is crucial for those wishing to challenge improperly granted certificates but that right is subject to the payment of a prescribed fee.
4.11 National Environmental Council
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights made submissions that decisions of the Minister and the Environmental Management Board should be informed by the advice from the National Environmental Council. However, the National Environmental Council has not been constituted and operationalised since the enactment of the Act. Accordingly, policy directives made by the Minister without such advice are ultra vires the Act.
4.12 Reports to be laid before Parliament
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights presented that
Ministerial directions should form part of annual reports which the Board is required to submit to the Minister and which the Minister is obliged to lay before Parliament. The Minister is also obliged to submit annual reports to Parliament. As a result, there has been no compliance with any aspect of this process before.
4.13 National Environmental Plan
The Environmental Management Act specifically stipulates that the preparation and implementation of Regional and Master Plans, in terms of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, must pay regard to the National Environmental Plan. It further espouses that no project shall be implemented otherwise than in compliance with a National Environmental Plan. However, National Environmental Plans have not yet been reviewed or developed as required by the Act. The law requires that National Environmental Plans be reviewed at least once every ten years from the date fixed by the Minister bringing the plan into effect. The Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry has not complied with the provision since 2012, ten years after the enactment of the Act.
4.14 Harmonisation laws relating to wetlands
The Committee observed that both the Environmental Management Act and the Water Act require different permits and permission for essentially the same activity while the Zimbabwe National Water Authority Act, duplicates the provisions of the other two acts. While the Environmental Management Act prevails over other legislation which conflicts with its provisions, it is unreasonable to require a developer or other party to seek multiple permits for the same activity.
4.15 Measures to Protect and Preserve Wetlands
During oral evidence session, the Minister of Environment,
Tourism and Hospitality Industry explained to the Committee the measures the Ministry had put in place to protect and preserve wetlands. These included the re-gazetting of wetlands map of Harare and Chitungwiza, identification and declaration of wetlands of international importance, the development of a National Wetlands Utilisation Guidelines for both rural and urban wetlands. In addition, EMA issued tickets and served orders to stop all construction activities in wetlands, the Ministry engaged and strengthened wetland management policy through coordination with other Ministries and departments and had established a national task force to deal with wetlands management and the setting up of one stop shop for approval of layout plans.
The Committee was informed that the Ministry had started the operationalisation of the Environmental Council to bring wetlands protection and preservation to the fore-front in order to unify efforts in introducing measures and coordinating activities by Ministries. The
Minister informed the Committee of its intention to develop the National Environmental Action Plan as well as carrying ecological assessment for stakeholders to know the status of the land they want to buy or develop.
4.16 Challenges to Ineffective Policy Measures
The Minister spelt out the challenges attributed to ineffective policy measures. She explained that the majority of wetland areas in
Harare were sold before the enactment of Environmental Management Act on the 17th of March 2003. Another challenge was that, under the new Constitution, the right of property ownership is protected more than environmental rights. The Minister pointed out that wetlands were intruded by land barons and the established illegal settlements are at law regarded as shelter and human rights issues then come into play.
4.17 Interventions by the Ministry
The Minister stressed the need to strengthen and improve coordination of the Ministry of Local Government, Public works and
National Housing, Local Authorities and the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. She saw it best to harmonise wetland laws under Zimbabwe National Water Authority, Local Government and
Environmental Management Agency. The Minister informed the Committee that Gazetted wetlands are to be declared state lands under the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
She explained that wetlands would be converted into protected parks, botanic gardens or would be expropriated under private ownership by developing a funding mechanism.
4.18 City of Harare
City of Harare submitted that the only challenge regarding wetlands management is the lack of a wetland planning framework. There is lack of agreement on the criterion that determines areas that fit into the definition of wetlands within the local planning area of the City of Harare. It explained that to avoid personal discretion and build consensus on wetlands identification and protection, a scientific study has to be carried out. The Council opines that the study can help resolve conflict relating to town planning zoning and privately owned land on wetlands. The findings of the study would also be used to guide developments and approvals for developments on wetlands.
5.0 ANALYSIS OF THE KEY ISSUES
5.1 Problems with the Law
a) Ecologically Sustainable Development
The manner in which section 73(1) of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe has been phrased is problematic. The section provides for the right-
(b) To have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that- ii) promote conservation; and iii) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting economic and social development.
No provision was made for the fact that some areas may not be amenable to sustainable development and that in these areas, economic development ought never to take place.
b)Alignment with the Constitution
Since there can be no sustainable development on wetlands, the Environmental Management Act should be amended. This would provide for an absolute prohibition on construction on wetlands, other than in the case of overriding public necessity when another constitutional right would be infringed if the development did not proceed. This would also advance the constitutional right to clean water and obligations to protect biodiversity.
- c) Wetlands Identification: Definition versus Mapped
A central problem with the Environmental Management Act lies in the means by which wetlands are identified. Following the Ramsar Convention, the Act attempts to identify wetlands through the following definition:
Wetland means any area of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, and includes riparian land adjacent to the wetland.
The definition would be workable if it were accompanied by provisions setting out how and who determines whether a particular area falls within the definition, and thus constitutes a wetland. Hence, to avoid this problem, it is imperative that mapped geographical areas are held to be wetlands as a matter of law rather than fact or science. It will then be clear that the law pertaining to wetlands applies to these areas, regardless of any contrary opinion as to the topography of the area in question.
d) EIA Certificate before Development Permit
One means by which the legislation probably intended to partially address the problem is through section 97(5) of the Environmental
Management Act. The section requires that;
A licencing authority shall not issue a licence under any enactment with respect to a [development] project…unless the Director-General
has issued a [EIA] certificate…”
In terms of this section, a developer is required to obtain an EIA Certificate through EMA before approaching the licencing authority (the City of Harare) for a development permit.
EMA can then use the expertise of the Agency to determine whether or not the area is a wetland or not, before the developer proceeds further.
e) EIA Certificates by Default
The Act provides that the Director-General must issue or refuse an EIA Certificate within 60 days of receiving an EIA Report, failing which the project is to be deemed approved. Approval by default does nothing to protect the environment as required by section 73 of the Constitution.
The converse should apply, that the project is deemed refused.
f) Appeals to the Minister
The Act requires the Minister to make his or her determination with due expedition but no specific timeframe is set. Furthermore, in order to appeal the Minister’s decision to the Administrative Court, a record of the proceedings by which the determination was reached, or the reason for the decision, must be submitted to the Court. Yet the Act places no obligation upon the Minister to produce the record as a matter of course, presenting would be appellants with considerable difficulty.
g) Private Ownership of Wetlands
In some jurisdictions, where land use has been subjected to so many restrictive regulations as to make the land owner’s use of the property impossible, the courts have treated this as tantamount to unlawful expropriation and have set aside regulations on this basis. This argument has been raised on behalf of developers, who have claimed that a prohibition of building on wetlands prevents them from using the land for the purpose for which it was purchased. Department of Works officials have raised similar arguments holding that the Local
Authorities would be subjected to punitive legal action if they denied a building permit to a developer who had bought land at the time the land was designated residential by the Municipality. The officials state that once the land has been designated as residential, they are legally obliged to grant a development permit.
5.2 The Environmental Management Act
a) Power and Discretion of the Minister
It was submitted that at the heart of the problem is the amount of power and discretion vested in the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the insufficient constraints on possible improper executive action. A Minister more concerned with allowing developments, may utilise his or her discretion to the detriment of the environment. Thus, the extent of the power vested in the Minister in the
Environmental Management Act is a double edged sword.
b) The National Environmental Council
The delay of the operationalisation of the National Environmental Council has a severe and adverse effect on the governance of EMA and the protection of wetlands. All Ministerial decision-making ought to be informed by expert advice from the Council which is currently not operational.
c) Appeals of EIA Certificate
Where the grant of an EIA Certificate has been allowed or refused, the appeal lies with the Minister who alone determines the issue.
Although the Minister’s decision may itself be appealed, this presents practical difficulties for those seeking to protect wetlands from developers.
d) Hearings by and Jurisdiction of the Board
In practice, the Board only allows persons, whose actions are being investigated to make submissions, losing the benefit of submissions from often well informed stakeholders on the issue in question. The Environmental Management Act is also vague on the outcome of these hearings. It seems that the Board may only make “recommendations” and even this is only implicit. Furthermore, the Board has no punitive jurisdiction and thus appears to only have the power to recommend prosecutions of violators of environmental protections. The Act makes no provision for the imposition of penalties by the Board or any officer of the Agency. Theregulations provide that the Agency, through its authorised officers, may issue a “spot fine” (ticket) to any offender who contravenes the Regulations. This is a purely judicial function under the Constitution.
5.3 Domestication of Multilateral Environmental Agreements
Affecting Wetland Protection
Zimbabwe is a party to several international treaties and conventions which have a bearing on the protection of wetlands. Of prime importance is the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. However, international treaties such as the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity, though binding to the State, do not form part of the law of Zimbabwe, unless they have been incorporated into the law through an Act of Parliament. Even where these conventions do not form a binding component of the Zimbabwe’s municipal law, the constitutional rights given above must be interpreted and applied in conformity with these conventions and treaties.
Based on the observation, the Committee recommends the Executive to urgently consider the following pursuant to the need to preserve and protect our wetlands.
6.1 The Executive should consider establishing an Environmental Commission in the manner of the Independent Commissions by December 2020.
6.2 The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and
Hospitality Industry should review and update the National
Environmental Plan in a manner which recognises the importance and protection of wetlands as required by the Environmental Management Act by end of December 2020.
6.3 The Minister of Environment, Climate ,Tourism and
Hospitality Industry, in liaison with the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing should direct the development and production of Local Authority Environmental Action Plans which follow the National Environmental Plan as provided by the
Environmental Management Act by end of September 2020.
6.4 The Executive should establish an Environmental Tribunal, composed of legally qualified commissioners with expertise in environmental issues and with punitive jurisdiction, to investigate violations of environmental laws by end of July 2020.
6.5 The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and
Hospitality Industry should bring a Bill to amend the Environmental Management Act incorporating and consolidating all relevant existing legislation in order to remove the duplications relating to wetlands management and covering the problem of private individuals holding title deeds over wetlands by November 2020. The Bill must provide for a default position that development must be stopped once legal proceedings challenging construction on a prima facie wetland have been initiated. It must also provide that all development on wetland is prohibited other than in the most exceptional of circumstances and that the onus should lie on the developer to approach the courts proving why development on wetlands is in the public interest.
6.6 The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry should carry out an audit to ascertain the current private ownership of wetlands by end of July 2020. All wetlands must be mapped with expert input and their territorial footprint legislated by end of December 2020.
6.7 The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and
Hospitality Industry should domesticate the provisions of the Ramsar Convention and Convention on Biodiversity and liaise with the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to incorporate them into Zimbabwe’s municipal law by December 2020
6.8 The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry should revise the EIA Certificate inspection fees by end of September 2020.
6.9 The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry should strictly comply with the requirement to submit statutory reports on the activities of EMA and the state of the environment as provided for in the Environmental Management Act by December 2020.
6.10 The Ministry of Environment, Climate , Tourism and Hospitality Industry should direct the suspension of all ongoing and proposed developments on Harare’s wetlands in terms of section 113 (1) of the Environmental Management Act by August 2020.
6.11 Environmental Management Agency and the City of Harare should review all Development Permits which were unlawfully issued in the absence of EIA certificates, consultation with residents, the approval of Catchment or Sub-Catchment Councils by December 2020.
The state should do everything within its power to curb the persistent destruction of our wetlands. Failure to do so is a direct violation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands which the country is a party to. The Committee calls for an immediate action to stop further destruction of wetlands and their ecosystem services and restore those that have been disturbed.
*HON. SAIZI: Let me take this opportunity Mr. Speaker Sir, to add my voice to the report that has been tabled by the Portfolio Committee on Environment. Before going to the debate, let me first and foremost, inform this House that environmental issues affect all of us. If we mishandle such issues, we will have offended the people of Zimbabwe.
My debate is to concentrate more on Harare because Harare houses the Parliament, it has an educated population and Harare is the worst abuser of wetlands. Firstly, we should appreciate that the state of affairs in Harare is that it was built at the sources of Hunyani and Mazowe Rivers so the location of Harare is in a wetland. People may not appreciate this because there has been a high demand of various types of residential stands in Harare; as a result, houses are mushrooming everywhere. If we were to go in the direction of Epworth, you would see construction, go to Budiriro you will see houses being constructed and all over Harare there is construction going.
However, construction of these houses is taking place in wetlands. Year in, year out, we observe such constructions happening under the watch of the City Council, Local Government, Environment
Management Agency and other law agencies. This shows that our laws are not being discharged properly. Monavale is an area that was set aside as a wetland area, but if you look at the developments that are taking place, you would see that the National Sports Stadium and Long Cheng Plaza were also built on that area. People are busy cultivating maize. This goes to show that such agricultural activities are affecting our wetlands.
We should be aware that we are now at 20% siltation of Lake Chivero which is being caused by stream bank cultivation as well as cultivation in wetlands. Thirteen letters have been written people raising concerns about such issues but no one has responded to those letters.
On the issue of Chishawasha Hills, you will then see that people, once they become loaded with money, do a lot of things that are unnatural. People are busy carrying out construction and diverting the course of the river which is a natural river. One can clearly observe this that these houses that are being built are built on the river and the river course is being diverted. Should we have floods, they run the risk of being affected. I would want to believe that in the 2016/17 rainy season, we observed that in Chitungwiza and in Budiriro, houses were flooded. It is not surprising that some Members of Parliament that might have been here during that time lost their properties because we were ignorant and we had not enlightened people on the need to conserve wetlands.
If we look at the water that is flowing towards Lake Chivero, it is contaminated with fertilizers; this is emanating from agricultural activities. It is my request to this august House that we should closely look into this. I want to believe that every member of this august House knows what we are talking about but it is not being given the weight that it deserves. We are busy destroying our future and the future of our children.
Mr. Speaker, I am aware that people are in need of residential stands but the manner which the stands are sprouting up, this should be curtailed. We want to thank your Committee Hon. Speaker for the visits that it carried out. They were able to stop the construction of a church in that area because it was found out that the construction was being carried out improperly. This was a job well done.
Therefore Mr. Speaker Sir, I believe that it would have been good if this august House was to listen to our recommendations as a Committee. Government should quickly come up with a policy of the creation of a commission and the commission should have commissioners that are well versed in environmental issues so that we do not mix environmental issues with criminal issues. There must be a court to deal with such offenders. Again, I reiterate that there should be a commission that should be empowered and have an Act of Parliament so that it operates just like ZEC. There should also be a Bill that looks into alleviating all these problems that we are facing and come up with alignment of all the laws that we are talking about. At one time Monavale was declared a residential area and a developer came and went to EMA and EMA did not grant the developer authority to develop the area. In 2015 in December the same developer went to the City and was authorised to carry out his duties. This shows that our activities are not well coordinated. When these amendments are being put into place there must be in harmony and must speak to each other in as far as environmental issues are concerned.
Mr. Speaker, if we were to go to Kenya, wherever there is a wet land, it will be marked with an X and when you go there you see that it a land that is not for construction. Mr. Speaker, it is my plea that when such a Bill is being crafted, the Cabinet should closely look into the issues of those that were allocated stands in wet lands so that they can be relocated and compensated.
Furthermore, we urge that they should not continue carrying out such developments in wetlands. It is a plea that the issue of wetlands should be properly looked into and the misdemeanors that are taking place curtailed. Mr. Speaker Sir, even in Macheke, people are busy constructing in wetlands. This does not help us at all and we will get nowhere as a country. Thank you.
HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SAIZI: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020.
On the motion of THE OF THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF
HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON.
MADIRO), the House adjourned at Twenty-Two Minutes past Four o’clock p. m. until Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020.