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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 28 MARCH 2023 VOL 49 NO 31
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 28th March, 2023
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER
PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM HWEVA ASSOCIATION, SOUTHERN AFRICA REGION ANTI-CORRUPTION ORGANISATION, MR. ALEX MASISIMANI AND UNION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF APOSTOLIC CHURCH IN ZIMBABWE
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that on Wednesday, 8th March, 2023, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from the Hweva Association requesting Parliament to compel the State to declare Ancestors’ Day as a national holiday. The petition was deemed inadmissible because the petitioners’ prayer is not within Parliament’s constitutional mandate.
I also have to inform the House that on Tuesday, 9th March, 2023, Parliament received a petition from the Southern Africa Region Anti-Corruption Organisation requesting Parliament to intervene in tax and revenue collection. The petition was deemed inadmissible as the petitioners did not satisfy statutory requirements and failed to clearly state their prayer concerning the redress sought.
Furthermore, on Thursday, 9th March, 2023, Parliament received a petition from Mr. Alex Masisimani beseeching Parliament to investigate why the Justice Smith Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations on Government pensioners are not being implemented. The petition has been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development.
Additionally, on Thursday, 9th March, 2023, Parliament received a petition from the Union for the Development of Apostolic Church in Zimbabwe, Africa, beseeching Parliament to pass an Act of Parliament on devolution. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
HON. NDUNA: I have a point of national interest. In the Eighth Parliament and indeed, leading into the Ninth Parliament, I spoke to and about the artisanal mining sector and the repeal of the Mines and Minerals Act which was moribund, archaic, rudimentary and antiquated and medieval in that it was established in 1961. The resultant effect is going to see the repeal of Section 368 of the Mines and Minerals Act that says prospecting without a licence is outlawed and the Gold Act Section 3 and indeed, the Trade in Precious Minerals Act. Those statutes are going to be repealed as a result of the point of national interest that I advanced in those two Parliaments.
As I sit here today, I have come here and I have requested that the Minister of Agriculture and in tandem with the Minister of Local Government, comes here and issues a statement in so far as it relates to the compounds where the former farm workers are residing in order that we utilise these compounds to alleviate the plight of the suffering multitudes and citizens that have no accommodation. It is my hope and view that Section 72 (7) (c) of the Constitution that states that the people of Zimbabwe should be enabled to assert their right to land can be amalgamated with the statutes; Urban Councils Act Section 205 and Section 152 that speak to estate management, aware that there is going to be urban expansion and there are farms that are going to come from the Minister of Agriculture to the Minister of Local Government in order that there is reduction of the backlog of housing infrastructure.
I reiterate, if it pleases you, to request that the Minister of Agriculture, together with the Minister of Local Government, come here, give a Ministerial Statement in so far as the issues that I have tabled are concerned. Aware that Government has given US$3,5 billion for the Global Fund to compensate former farm workers but the compounds are now being utilised by the A2 farmers as a battle ground in order to get those compounds for themselves, even though what they received from Government is land for agricultural purposes, not compounds for self-aggrandisement and self-enrichment. It is my view that if those that reside in the compounds because the land resides with the President and those properties are now for the President, they can be given title deeds in the future and those compound residents do not track into the urban sector and remain with those houses as their own, according to Section 72 (7) (c) of the Constitution.
This is my clarion call and I met, in a plethora of places, the vendors, touts and those conductors for public transport and small vehicles in order that I can advance this notion so that they can get land and also those houses in compounds if the Minister of Agriculture and Local Government come here and give a Ministerial Statement so that we can have questions that are advanced for that purpose. I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity for this point of national interest.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I advise you to come up with a motion regarding that issue of farm compounds so that it can be debated in this House.
HON. MARKHAM: This week the nation was treated to some media on the gold mafia. I am shocked at the silence that the Government has treated this report. My concern is there are four reports that are coming out. Could we ask the Minister responsible, whether it is Finance, Home Affairs or Justice, I am not sure but could the relevant Ministry give us an answer to what is exactly happening on what has been exposed. My concern is that we have been definitely silent on the issues of the corruption that has been purportedly shown on the media. For example, I would immediately recommend to the Minister to call, as has been called by the public, for an audit or an independent investigation into Fidelity Printers and the RBZ. It is absolutely shocking that we have said and done nothing about it.
My second issue and it also embraces anyone in this country who claims to have a religion behind him with all this adultery happening in the name of pastors and the church. I believe that it is high time for this House to look at all the licences and the so-called duty-free statuses and tax-free statuses of all these so-called pastors because it is actually a business. They are not serving the people, they are serving themselves and the investments are in their own names, not in the name of the people and yet our Government remains silent. Those Ministries involved, if they had any integrity in them, there should have been some resignation or at least an answer. The fact that they did not resign means that they must be dismissed. The fact that they have not been dismissed means they are involved or incompetent or both. I thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Markham, please may you come again on the issue of pastors. I did not get what you said.
HON. MARKHAM: My issue on pastors is that when you are under the so-called pastors and if you are under a licence and you do operate as a pastor, you are not treated as a business, you are treated as you are serving the people. These are now big businesses and in the case of what we were shown in big money-laundering businesses, this needs to be investigated as urgently as possible. I thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Regarding the reports on Aljazeera, the Parliament Administration will convey the message to the responsible Minister to come to the House and give you the answer. On the issue regarding pastors, I think it is prudent for you Hon. Markham to come up with a motion so that the issues can be debated in this House.
*HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Speaker, I am appealing to the Minister of Finance to come to the House and speak on the problems that this House is facing, leading it to be empty. If you look at the Bills that the President said should be dealt with, it cannot be done if the MPs cannot come to this House because of some problems we are facing. If we pass the Bill with such numbers like we have today, we are bound to be called by the Constitutional Court. We cannot force MPs to go on Zoom because of network problems. We have a number of constituencies that do not have network. For instance, Hon. Nyabani who just won, it is difficult for him to get network in his constituency, so he has to drive to and fro Mt. Darwin to go on Zoom but he will not have fuel coupons to do that. With this situation, I am appealing for Parliament to adjourn until the Minister of Finance has the funds to pay for MPs’ accommodation. There was a better arrangement that had been suggested that if government cannot afford to pay hotels, they should look for houses to rent and they get cash for that. It is amazing that money for buying expensive cars and food we are getting but when it comes to our accommodation, we are facing a lot of challenges. Everyone who has served as an MP becomes a pauper as soon as they relinquish their posts. I want the Minister of Finance to come and issue a statement pertaining to when he is going to fund Parliament. If it is not possible to get money for the legislature whilst the other Arms of State are getting money, Ministers are going on their trips and not one is cancelled. However, Parliament is not being funded. This can only be so if we agree that we do not have parliamentary democracy in Zimbabwe. As it is, we cannot even finish one Bill. I think Madam Speaker Ma’am, when you got in here you were also amazed by the emptiness of the House. I thank you.
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Madzimure, your request will be forwarded to the Minister of Finance so that he can come and give a statement pertaining to the accommodation for Members of Parliament.
*HON. HWENDE: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I feel that as leaders of this institution you are not taking this issue seriously because two weeks ago you gave a ruling that you were going to phone President Mnangagwa to give direction. If the Minister of Finance can lie that he is going to give finances to Parliament and he has not done so up to now and Parliament cannot force the Minister to honour his pledge, what about the people in the rural areas? The plight of MPs is that if government cannot afford to pay for their accommodation, let us go on recess until such time that the money is there. If MPs contribute on Zoom you tell them to come into the House. Network is problematic even here in Harare. We need correct and reliable responses. I thank you.
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Hwende. It is not correct that I promised to phone the President unless if it was the Speaker who promised to do so. In that case I will remind the Speaker to phone the President.
+HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker, I just want to add on to what Hon. Hwende alluded to that the Minister is not taking this House seriously. Before we adjourned after passing the budget, the Minister of Finance agreed to give every MP $150 for accommodation. Where is the Minister right now with the money to give to the MPs? As it is, some of the MPs have aides and they do not have accommodation for them where they are staying. We just want the Minister to come and give us the money that he promised us during the budget.
*THE HON DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is correct that MPs should be given accommodation as they do their business. I thank you.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. NDUNA: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 14 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 14 has been disposed of.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE, HOME AFFAIRS AND SECURITY SERVICES ON THE BENCHMARK VISIT TO NAMIBIA ON WELFARE OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE
HON. NGULUVHE: I thank you Madam Speaker. I am speaking on behalf of the Chairperson who is out on another business.
HON. NDUNA: I second.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sorry Hon. Nguluvhe. You said you are seconding the motion?
HON. NDUNA: Yes, Madam Speaker. I second.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nguluvhe, may you approach the Chair.
Hon. Nguluvhe approached the Chair.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members! It has come to my attention that the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on the Benchmark Visit to Namibia is yet to be presented to this House. So, I advise that the debate by Hon. Nguluvhe must be expunched and the motion will remain on the Order Paper.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. NDUNA: I move that Orders of the Day Number 1 to 10 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 11 has been disposed of.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.
Question again proposed.
HON. NDUNA: I would like to add my voice to the State of the Nation Address that was presented by His Excellency, the President on the Official Opening of Parliament, in particular on the new infrastructure development that cements and also bolsters our robust, resilient, effective and efficient relationships that we have with China. The infrastructure is second to none and it is my thinking that handing over that infrastructure to the Zimbabwean Government upholds the relationships on the all-weather friendship that exist between our eastern friends, the Chinese, Russians and the Eastern bloc. It also cements it in this way: the Chinese, the Russians and all those other friends in the eastern bloc, including Romania. These are the countries that helped us during our liberation struggle. This becomes my introduction to the State of the Nation Address that was presented by His Excellency. It should be used as a pedestal and platform to enhance further relations.
Having said that, the work was cut out for this august House in so far as it relates to the debate, passing of Bills and all such. There is a plethora of Bills that we need to expeditiously pass in this House – those that came from the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament that need to be debated vociferously. I also want to add my voice on those Bills – in particular the repeal of the Mines and Minerals Act of 1951 or 1961 so that it can be in tandem with the Agrarian Reform Act of 2000. That Bill is also coming before this august House and I am looking forward to effectively debate that Bill because there are more than 500 000 artisanal small scale miners in my place of placement in Chegutu West Constituency and these are the people that are carrying the flag in terms of the economic emancipation using our minerals, especially in the Constituency where I come from. I look forward to debating the Mines and Minerals Act and in the same vein repeal Section 3 of the Gold Act and also the Precious Minerals Act and Section 368 of the Mines and Minerals Act. I think it is both antiquated, archaic, moribund, rudimentary and medieval, to say the least. I believe and so do more than half a million artisanal miners in Chegutu; Believe, including Sarah Chikukwa, Marjory Ruzha, Patricia Nyamadzawo, Tawanda Chimutashu, Charles Makoni, Mr. Green and a lot of other artisanal miners that are embedded in Chegutu West Constituency.
The reason why I want to start with mining is because we have more than 60 minerals of which only 20 have been exploited and not even to the fullest. So there is a plethora of mines dotted around our country but in particular, in Chegutu West Constituency where the Great Dyke is the biggest which covers about 11 kilometers, all these minerals are dotted in and around that Great Dyke.
Therefore, when it comes to issues to do with beneficiation, value addition and talking about the minerals, my heart is on the right side because I know this is what carries the hope and future of this nation. This is also what can remove our country and indeed Chegutu West Constituency from an impoverished poverty position. We cannot be impoverished amidst the existence of a number of minerals. We need to use what we have to get what we want.
Having said that Madam Speaker, I applaud His Excellency for banning the export of raw minerals - in particular, first, it was the 30 million tons of chrome and now the issue of raw lithium ban. I really applaud him for having taken that stance because we get more than 10-fold or 50-fold out of a beneficiated and value-added lithium, platinum and chrome as opposed to selling it out and exporting it raw.
Platinum is in the PG Group of metals. If we export it raw, we definitely are shooting ourselves in the foot. In the Platinum Group of Metals is palladium, vanadium - including lithium itself and gold. The issue of curtailing the export of those minerals, especially platinum in the raw state and trying to force beneficiation and established refinery plant is a master stroke, and is applaudable to say the least.
I also want to applaud His Excellency for coming up with the issue of making sure that our minerals - the issue of royalties is paid 50% partly using minerals and 50% using hard currency. I am alive to the fact that China and Russia are going to be trading with Africa using the Chinese dollar, Yuan and the Russian Ruble, which is quite applaudable. The quicker that happens, the better. We cannot continue to have an albatross around our neck because of the ubiquitous amount of mineral wealth.
We also have uranium, beneficiating and value adding just a little ball of uranium is going to have us have a copious amount of power and energy. It has happened next door where South Africa has beneficiated uranium and they got power. It is my thinking that we need to take a cue from Iran and to take a cue from other developing countries to use our minerals for the good order of the citizens of Zimbabwe. We have nothing to fear, we need to use what we have to get what we want.
Having said that, I will move to the issue of beneficiating and value adding platinum. We get what we call catalytic converters, these are used on all automobiles. As a country, we have more than two million vehicles. As long as we are using fossil fuels and we are using the fuels that we are currently utilizing including ethanol, we have to use catalytic converters so that we reduce the emissions coming from petrol, diesel and fossil fuels which we will be using on our vehicles. There is need to value add our platinum so that we can manufacture catalytic converters.
Madam Speaker, there is need to also value add our chrome so that we can have ferro chrome coming out of it. There is the issue of Manhize coming up, there is need to applaud His Excellency for getting investors to invest at Manhize because we are going to be the largest steel plant in Africa. It is important that we value add our minerals so that we get what we can from what we have.
The issue of Mhangura Copper Mine Madam Speaker, as long as it has not yet been resuscitated, there is need to align our copper mining certificates and our copper trading certificates with the resuscitation of Mhangura Copper Mine. There is need to make sure that we revoke all copper trading licenses as long as Mhangura Copper Mine has not been resuscitated.
I think I have dealt robustly, effectively and to a larger extent, vociferously on the issue of minerals. I will now go to the mines themselves insofar as it relates to Section 13 (4) of the Constitution which is sui generis, meaning in a class of its own. Madam Speaker, this is what it says, ‘The minerals or the resources should benefit the localities from where they are extracted. The current set up where the mines in the areas of their jurisdictions, they are currently plundering the resources without giving back to the localities from where they are extracted, is criminal and it needs to be brought to a screeching halt.
The mines that I speak to and about, let us give an example, at the Nkai-Bulawayo Road; it is riddled with mines such as Queens Mine, Turk Mine and a plethora of other mines. My clarion call is just to give back to those communities using the Constitution so that they can rehabilitate and maintain the roads in the jurisdictions from where they are extracting our minerals.
We cannot continue in this way Madam Speaker where it sounds as though there is collision, corruption and nepotism. We should go into a stage where there is coordination, collaboration and networking so that the minerals can be used to rehabilitate the enclave and the infrastructure from where they are extracting their resources, in particular the road infrastructure.
I remember in the Eighth Parliament when I was the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport, the backlog in terms of road rehabilitation and reconstruction was USD20 billion. I shudder to think how much there is now in terms of backlog Madam Speaker Ma’am.
I make this clarion call that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, puts in a Statutory Instrument that is going to force these mines to rehabilitate the roads from where they are extracting the minerals.
I will give you an example Madam Speaker Ma’am; before ZIMPLATS and former BHP embarked on extraction of platinum from Ingezi Mine, they built a road that was so robust. They dug into the soil more than two metres and filled it up with rock before the asphalt laid with concrete and tar on top for 85kms. Government should force these mines to rehabilitate this road and road infrastructure. It is going to reduce our budget and see that we are in sync and in alignment with the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, Section 13 (4). I am making a clarion call that there is need for further beneficiation and value addition of our mineral resources. These mining houses should have a duty to give back to the communities where they are extracting; if not giving back to the communities but at least let them rehabilitate the roads that they are utilising.
Where I come from in Chegutu West Constituency, there is Chegutu-Mhondoro-Mubaira Road; a road that is less than 100kms. It is so dilapidated, disused, deplorable and unsightly Madam Speaker Ma’am. It certainly needs and leaves a lot to be desired. There are a lot of mines that are dotted on that road. It is my thinking and so is the thinking of the people of Chegutu West Constituency that when we come back into the 10th Parliament, we need to go and rehabilitate that road ourselves and go after those mines. It is lawful and I ask them to give us the money that we would have utilised to macadamise and tar that road because if the road is tarred and reconstructed, it can cut the distance to Beitbridge Border Post by more than 200kms if coming from Chinhoyi instead of going via Harare.
So, it is important, just and right for us to make sure that these mines give back to the community; if not, let them use the infrastructure that they found intact Madam Speaker Ma’am. What is currently happening, because minerals are a finite resource; they are not like flowers, once you extract them from the ground, you leave gapping holes. We have more than 10 000 dams, we do not need anymore as long as they are not planned. What is happening with the mines is that they are leaving environmental degradation in place, dilapidated and deplorable state of road infrastructure and it is not right Madam Speaker Ma’am.
It is my thinking that the miners should be forced to rehabilitate the roads. I will give an example of what happened with Hwange Colliery. They had been in existence for a century and in that century, they have reconstructed more than 900kms of road – all that in the Hwange locality, in the location and such like. All that place used to belong to Hwange Colliery Madam Speaker Ma’am; if Hwange Colliery could do it or did it; the other mines should also do it! If they do not do it, there is need for Government to make sure that they close them down until they do it Madam Speaker Ma’am – that is my thinking.
I am now going to go to the issue of housing infrastructure development. I come from Chegutu West Constituency and in Ward 5 there is a house that is called N23A. There are three families of 10 people each, who stay in a three-roomed house. Madam Speaker Ma’am, what it means is; we have a lot of people in one housing infrastructure. How do I hope to treat this disease? Where there are 10 people in one room; a whole family, there is no copulation; no procreation and no conjugal rights. What there is, is girl child abuse, early child marriages and the drug abuse because the children are watching the procreation of adults; they are watching adult acts and there is also the issue of …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Nduna, you are left with five minutes.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am, I am hoping that when my time is up, somebody is going to give me some little time. I still have a lot of issues to touch on.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I am proposing that where there is land given by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement for urban expansion; there is need for the urban councils, in particular, to look at the Urban Councils Act, Section 205 (1) (c) and Section 152 (1) (a) insofar as it relates to disposing of stands for housing infrastructure development. These two sections should be aligned to Section 72 (vii) (c) of the Constitution that says there is need to give land to the people both for agricultural purposes and housing infrastructure development.
There are three issues that are mentioned in the Estate Management in these statutes in the Urban Councils Act Madam Speaker Ma’am. One; the way they want to dispose of the land is either they lease it out or they sell it and the third issue is to give it out for free, that is, donation. It is according to their own statutes. These two sections, 152 and 205 speak one to another and should be aligned to the Constitution and vanobva vabuda shudhu. When they do, there can only be one part of that section that speaks to the issues of alignment of the Constitution to those statutes Madam Speaker Ma’am. It is giving this land to the masses of the urban society for free because we need to reduce the housing backlog.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, if a black man dies today; a Honda Fit might not even come out but if a white man dies today; there is going to be title deeds given for the houses; there will be vehicles and a lot because they benefited before Independence through the law that was set up for adjudication by the erstwhile colonialism. It is time for the empowerment of the people who were formerly marginalised. We did it in 2000 with the Agrarian Reform Programme; it is time to do it again for the issue of housing infrastructure development using the law; if you are not happy with the law Madam Speaker Ma’am, the issue that there is, is to change the law. Now I am not making a clarion call to change the law, I am calling for the urban councils to align themselves to the law. Otherwise, they are ultra vires the law Madam Speaker Ma’am.
So, I call for, in particular where I come from Chegutu West Constituency, there are 12 farms that are earmarked for urban expansion and one particular one that comes to mind is the thousand hectares Risboro Farm. In my view, that can house more than 50 000 people if that land is demarcated at a rate of 2002 meters each. So, I request that these farms for urban expansion should at least be a farm per each urban society given to the people and that land be given for free. As long as we continue to sell it to them, it is going to be bought by people from Harare and those who are gold magnets who have money already and a lot of people who are property magnets that already have money and it is not right and just. It would not have been given an opportunity to deliberately empower our people. Then we used to have the Empowerment Act and now we no longer have. Here is an opportunity to empower our people with houses.
I will go on now to the health delivery system, that is the clinics. When I was the Chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Transport, then we had five deaths per day due to road carnage and we had 53 people that were injured due to RTAs and I came up with a brilliant idea to turn our tollgates into some mini clinics from some of their rooms so that we can use them as accident victims stabilisation centres. I say this because 70% of our people that are involved in RTA die within the hour because they have not been stabilised.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: I want to add my voice to the debate that was raised by Hon. Togarepi. Firstly, the President spoke about development that is happening on our roads especially looking at Harare-Beitbridge Road and Mutare-Plumtree Road. That is indeed development that we have been looking for all along. What we want to do is to pay attention to rural areas because there are a lot of developments such as Pfumvudza Programme that is happening yet we have a problem of transporting what they harvest. Transporters always complain about the bad state of roads in these areas.
I would like to acknowledge the good work that was done on the Harare-Beitbridge Road. Everyone has seen it and everyone is happy. Even someone who may not appreciate the President ends up appreciating merely by using the state-of-the-art highway. I pray that this development goes all the way to Chivhu-Buhera Road. The Marondera-Wedza Road is being worked on. Most of these developments are only benefiting those in urban areas and those who drive all the way to South Africa but our rural populace is not benefiting. So, indeed I appeal to the President that, yes, we have realised that development but let us spread it to other smaller roads which need to be graded. The Chivhu-Buhera Road needs to be rehabilitated. There is not much progress but as you go to Rusape towards Nyazura, there is progress. So, I am very happy with the development that is happening in this country but let us pay attention to the rural populace because they are the ones who contributed to the development of this country. During the war of liberation, we benefited from their livestock but we are now neglecting them and paying attention to the urban folks. Right now, we have resuscitated the Mujibha-Chimbwido concept and they are the ones who are supposed to be travelling on those good roads because they fought for the liberation of this country. I am very happy with the development especially on road infrastructure but once again, I appeal that we need to pay attention to the rural populace.
With regards to minerals, I heard the President talking about lithium and he said we should not be exporting raw lithium but my appeal is, that should apply to every mineral in this country. They must be processed and not be exported in raw form. If it is gold, it should be processed and be value added to necklaces. When it comes to lithium, the European countries label their products “made in Britain” or “made in Germany” yet they use our raw resources. We are the ones who provide cotton for the manufacture of garments that we see written “made in Dubai” or any other country which means all these raw resources must be processed so that we end up with products from Zimbabwe. If you look at car engines manufactured abroad, they use our minerals to manufacture these components but we do not have the equipment to make them.
I once said that we are not providing resources to our universities. Some people actually laughed at Daniel Chingoma who wanted to make a helicopter but all what he wanted to do was to at least manufacture something from Zimbabwe. Some people laughed at Daniel Chingoma who wanted to invent an aeroplane but all what he was trying to do is to at least manufacture something from Zimbabwe and it ended up with people just laughing at him. I am glad that the President acted before things got worse. There was a time where we used to get bricks imported in this country. There were no molders. We want to thank the President for all the minerals, they all need to be processed in this country so that we get better benefits.
The other thing that the President spoke about is farming. It is very key to the development of this country but the way our people are being involved in agriculture is very expensive. Banks are giving exorbitant fees. In most developed countries, Government subsidises inputs but in this country, we only have crooks. I once asked who the owners of agricultural input makers are. I asked Hon. Minister Nzenza at Sheraton Hotel and she told me that she could not give me an answer. Up to now, I have not been given the answer about who owns agricultural input companies. All they are doing is fraud and stealing. They claim foreign currency at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe yet they do not use it for production but pass it on to the black market. I appeal that with regards to the agricultural sector, we need to tighten our belts because it is the source of livelihood for many people. The President is doing a great job by providing inputs through Pfumvudza, although some people sell those inputs. I wish the Pfumvudza Programme could be spread to A2 farmers because the current beneficiaries end up selling the inputs but the truth is that this country should honour its farmers by subsidizing inputs at 50%. That is my main message with regards to agricultural inputs.
You find SEEDCO seeds in Zambia, Angola and Mozambique – the same company that we have here in Zimbabwe yet the seed is cheaper in Mozambique than here in Zimbabwe. If you go to Zambia there is also SEEDCO near Livingstone, there is plenty of seed there. They actually tell us that they import some of the seed there from Zimbabwe. They say all the experts are from Zimbabwe and the seed is from Zimbabwe. The price is almost double here in Zimbabwe - 20kg costs about US$300 yet that side it is about US$90. Where are we going and how can we be productive in agriculture? I pray that the President also includes A2 farmers in the Pfumvudza Programme. That is what I wanted to talk about – inputs for agriculture, our minerals as well as our road infrastructure.
The President also talked about health and he tried a lot in terms of building clinics. What we now need is medicines to be available. The Minister of Health should travel vastly so that we get medicines. Our country is very wealthy. We must have plenty of medicine, gold and lithium must procure medication for our people. The industries must open and we should manufacture medicines here. CAPS must be empowered to manufacture, which will benefit everyone.
Finally, I would like to thank His Excellency – I wish all the African countries should emulate him. He likes to work hard, although there could be people who may not be straightforward in his Cabinet; he has shown us that indeed he deserves to get another term. I am sure that by 2028, we will be well advanced.
HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: I would like to join my colleagues in debating the SONA. I will start by emphasising the point that listening through the speech as it was being given, I struggled to connect between what the speech was aspiring to achieve and what the reality on the ground is across Zimbabwe. There was a clear disjuncture between the situation affecting millions of Zimbabweans and the highlights of the speech - it was so sad for me. It looked like the President is far removed from realities on the ground of Zimbabwe. I wonder how we are going to proceed if we are unable to have a SONA that speaks directly to the issues that are affecting the people of Zimbabwe.
Let me give you examples of things that I felt were not adequately addressed in the SONA speech. I will start with the strategy or the Government strategy around arresting the challenges we are facing in terms of monetary and fiscal policies. In terms of the Government strategy of arresting the hyper-inflation that we are facing at the moment. according to the speech, it looked like the President was convinced that everything is going on well but on the ground, it is clear that the RTGs continues to lose ground. Its value continues to depreciate all the time. As we speak, today it is trading at 1:1500 making it difficult for millions of Zimbabweans who, due to this multiple currency system we are having, almost everything is being paid in US dollars and we have to pay dearly for the weak performance of the RTGs as we change it into US dollars in order to make payments. There is clearly no effective strategy at the moment and I challenge Government to go back to the drawing board with regards to the value of the RTGs currency and the hyper-inflation that we are facing.
There was also mention of the strategy around gold coins. I am surprised that people are still talking about gold coins as part of the solution to arresting the socio economic crises we are facing. The last time I heard some serious discussion about it was some time last year. This year I have not heard anything pertaining to that. It is like there was talk of gold coins, then it just disappeared into thin air. We need solutions that are sustainable and viable. I have my strongest reservations on the strategy around gold coins and what it has achieved. The strategy needs to be revisited.
I also wanted to talk a little bit about mining. The speech also touched on that but for me, the first and most important thing is that the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill has only come to Parliament in the last few months. In the Eighth Parliament, it had reached the stage where it was going for Presidential assent. The fact that we were to wait for more than four years for the Amendment Bill to come back to Parliament, clearly demonstrates the lack of commitment on the part of Government with regards to this matter, yet we know that this Bill is going to help transform our mining industry. It is one thing for Government to talk about sustainable development in mining and another thing for them to stay for four years without bringing this Bill. Right now, towards the end of this Parliament, the Bill is now being fast tracked yet it is a Bill that is bound to open up the mining industry to millions of Zimbabweans. The original Act was done in 1961 when the average citizen was a subject of the British empire and the local communities of Zimbabwe were not considered. Today we want a Bill that is going to help mining to be open to the people of Zimbabwe but for that Bill to take four years to come to Parliament; clearly demonstrates lack of political will on the part of the Government of Zimbabwe to address the historical and present issues affecting the mining industry, especially for the benefit of millions of Zimbabweans.
We also know that there is no clear strategy around value addition and beneficiation. Zimbabwe is one of those countries that is selling a lot of raw minerals, especially to China. If you go to Maputo in Mozambique you will see raw minerals from Zimbabwe destined for China. We are not beneficiating our minerals and we are losing value in the process. There is need for a clear strategy, which I did not hear in the speech. We should stop selling raw minerals. This is a colonial process. During the colonial times, African countries were expected to export raw minerals to Europe but today, 43 years after independence, Zimbabwe is still struggling to have a clear strategy around beneficiation in terms of value addition. We need to finish products in Zimbabwe. The speech did not come out clearly on that. It failed to be specific, visionary and strategic.
Then on the issue of green energy, we all know that in terms of coal, it is one of the most important sources of energy in Zimbabwe but as a country, we must accept that in terms of sustainable development in the industry of energy, there is need to move towards green fuels and environmentally friendly fuels. The speech does not address the need to go beyond coal mining as a source of energy in this country. We are overdependent on the Hwange Thermal Power Station and the Hydro Electricity Power Station in Kariba yet Zimbabwe, like most African countries, is blessed with a lot of sun. The speech did not speak clearly around an option towards solar energy in this country. What we need in Zimbabwe to day is to make sure that we have a clear strategy around harnessing solar energy. If I was the head of the Government of Zimbabwe, I would come up with a strategy that would make sure that all domestic energy in this country, especially in residential areas, is derived from solar energy. Every house in Zimbabwe would have solar panels on its rooftop so that only commercial and industrial usage can depend on thermal and hydro electricity. Right now, we are using a lot of electricity, for example to charge our cellphones. How many cellphones are in Zimbabwe right now? We have millions of handsets and we use energy from Hwange and Kariba Power Stations to charge cellphones yet we can use solar powered batteries to charge our cellphones. It is something that we can move towards, which is clean and green fuel. So, we need a clear strategy around alternative sources of energy and not continue to rely on Hwange or on coal. This is something that the speech should have addressed.
I also wanted to talk about road infrastructure. The speech highlighted the issues around the Harare-Beitbridge Road but failed to address the issues around death traps that we now have in Zimbabwe. The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls freeway is actually a death trap. We have repeatedly asked the Minister of Transport, Hon. Mhona to address this issue yet there is still no solution in site. We are having a lot of unnecessary accidents and deaths while Government continues to celebrate the Harare-Beitbridge Road. There is also another road that goes to Chirundu which is another death trap. So, we need a holistic approach and a clear strategy around road infrastructure. I heard mention of the Nkayi Road which everyone now knows is a perennial campaign slogan. Every time elections are coming, someone adds 5kms to the Nkayi Road. It is a well-known strategy.
The speech also touched on parastatals. I need to highlight the fact that institutions such as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation are institutions that are now anachronistic, obsolete and irrelevant. There is need for Government to come up with a wholesale reform when it comes to State-owned Enterprises. We cannot continue to have institutions such as ZBC, Air Zimbabwe, ZESA and others that are perennially loss making. There is need for a clear strategy to ensure that whatever State Enterprise should be viable. As things stand right now, the speech never addressed the issue of making sure that these institutions are fully revived.
We also have the NRZ which is lying idle at the moment and becoming more and more obsolete yet we need transport in Zimbabwe. NRZ is now a white elephant but the speech never touched on that. There is need for Government to come up with a holistic approach towards these State-owned Enterprises to make sure that they are profit making, viable and sustainable in nature. Related to that, I also wanted to talk about Air Zimbabwe. I heard today that Zambian Airways is back in the air. The speech never touched on a very important institution like Air Zimbabwe, an institution that opens Zimbabwe to the world. You talk about Zimbabwe being open for business yet Air Zimbabwe is grounded. You talk about Zimbabwe wanting to grow tourism yet Air Zimbabwe is grounded. There was no plan whatsoever towards resuscitating Air Zimbabwe and we need something to be done. Zimbabwe cannot continue to complain about sanctions being imposed against them yet they have a tourism industry that is underdeveloped at domestic level. Where is the strategy around promotion of domestic tourism? Zimbabweans are not visiting Hwange National Park, Kariba, the Eastern Highlands, Great Zimbabwe or Victoria Falls. Where is the strategy around domestic tourism which can be used to revive our transport industry? National Railways and Air Zimbabwe can benefit from the promotion of domestic tourism.
I also wanted to talk about education, especially from a higher and tertiary point of view. I am from Matebeleland North and we have the Lupane State University and we now have Hwange Teachers’ College. This is something that should be appreciated but we still do not have a polytechnic. The speech did not address the provinces that are still remaining behind, including Matabeleland North - especially when it comes to Higher and Tertiary Education. I would have wanted a situation whereby a polytechnic would be opened in Matabeleland. For example, in Binga District. They do not have an institute of higher learning. Matabeleland North needs a polytechnic and that can be opened in Binga.
The speech also touched on universal health coverage. If there is something where there is empty talk and rhetoric, it is on the issue of universal health coverage. This Government has repeatedly failed to honour its on commitment that was done in 2001 in Nigeria. We have the most important policy document on domestic funding for health which is called Abuja Declaration. This is a document administered by the African Union Commission. Zimbabwe signed that every year in its Budget, it will allocate 15% of its domestic budget towards health care. Zimbabwe has failed in the last 21 years dismally to honour that commitment. If we are going to achieve universal health coverage, we must stop talking about it. We must start allocating money towards healthcare.
Right now, our national ARV programme in response to HIV and AIDS is 90% funded by international development partners. We have mortgaged our health care system to foreigners. If you look at the health care infrastructure in this country, it is worse off than it was in 1980. If you want to see how this Government has failed the people of Zimbabwe, go to each and every district, look for any health care centre owned by this Government; go to any referral hospital and see how abandoned they are. There is no medicine, there is no proper healthcare, there are no professional healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses have left the country. The Government has, for 43 years, consistently failed the people of Zimbabwe when it comes to achieving the universal health coverage.
Whatever the speech said is not seen on the ground. We are moving from bad to worse. From what I read in the speech, there was no clear strategy to improve access to healthcare in this country and I would like to say that we are still far from coming back to reality on this matter.
I also wanted to talk about e-Government. Zimbabwe is one of the countries that is struggling when it comes to e-Government. Look at the number of queues that we have in our public institutions, in the Ministry of Home Affairs, in the hospitals. Look at the number of queues that people have been subjected to across the country when people can actually use their cellphones to access their services. We need to do more to make sure that people do not spend endless hours in queues. This Government has not come up with a clear plan to end these long queues that we see across the country.
I also wanted to talk about the foreign policy and engagement which the speech also addressed. I wanted to say that unless and until this Government takes seriously the issue around the diaspora, then there is nothing serious we should expect from it with regards to the international strategy. Right now, we have got millions of Zimbabweans who are disengaged from this country in terms of administration. Zimbabweans in the diaspora have no right to vote. Zimbabweans in the diaspora cannot even pay taxes to this country even if they want to. This Government does not have a clear policy of engaging the diaspora. We need a sustainable policy of engaging the diaspora. That makes Zimbabwe benefit from this human resource capital. This is a blessing in disguise that we have.
This Government still does not have a clear strategy. The diaspora must start voting. The diaspora must start paying tax. The diaspora must be part of our national development plan. This is one of the biggest failures of this current Government.
I also wanted to talk about admission into the global community in terms of reengagement. For example, in the Commonwealth - unless and until this Government starts to respect human rights and rule of law, this is not going to happen. We have a parliamentarian who has been incarcerated for 300 days, who is a member of this august House. In direct violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which clearly gives us the right to bail under Section 58. Hon. Job Sikhala is still in pre-trial detention in spite of 15 appeals for applications for bail. It is a failure of this Government. We do have a lot of political prisoners. We will never be accepted as a serious democracy when we victimise our political opponents as a country.
Last but not least, I wanted to talk about devolution. This Government has failed to bring an Act of Parliament, a Bill into this Parliament for 10 years since the 2013 Constitution was adopted. It is not serious about devolution. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. L. SIBANDA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 29th March, 2023.
On the motion of HON. NDUNA, seconded by HON. L. SIBANDA, the House adjourned at Nine Minutes to Four o’clock p.m.