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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 28 NOVEMBER 2023 VOL 50 NO 16
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 28th November, 2023
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o`clock p.m.
(THE ACTING SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING SPEAKER
NATIONAL BUDGET PRESENTATION
THE ACTING SPEAKER (HON MACHINGURA): I have one announcement to make. I wish to remind the House that the Hon. Minister of Finance and Investment Promotion will present the 2024 National Budget on Thursday, the 30th of November 2023, in the National Assembly.
HON. MARKHAM. On a point of national interest Hon. Speaker Sir. Thank you Hon. Speaker, good afternoon. Hon. Speaker, I was inundated recently by the business community pertaining to the foreign currency auctions. Apparently, at the last four auctions where money was auctioned, the Zimbabwe dollar was taken but the foreign currency has not been released. Could the Minister, through you Mr. Speaker, give us an urgent update on the reason for the delay and why we are continuing to auction foreign currency if we are going to be late in our disbursement? I thank you.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Okay Hon. Markham, your concern has been noted.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 5 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 6 has been disposed of.
HON. HLATSHWAYO: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
GENDER BASED VIOLENCE AWARENESS PROGRAMMES TO PROMOTE POSITIVE SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CHANGE
HON. S. NDEBELE: I move the motion standing in my name that this House:
NOTING with appreciation that the 2023 commemorations to mark the 16-Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign will run under the theme “Unite Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls” and will commence from 25 November to 10 December 2023;
CONCERNED that Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is pervasive across economic, cultural, religion, age, sexual and ethnic orientation spaces;
NOTING that GBV manifests itself in various derivatives which mainly constitute harmful traditional practices, physical violence, psychological violence, economic violence, sexual violence and emotional abuse;
WORRIED that victims of GBV endure physically, psychologically, and socially???? resulting in both short and long-term effects which include mental health challenges, rampant drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies;
ACKNOWLEDGING the various positive policy initiatives instituted by the Government of Zimbabwe in curbing the perpetration and perpetuation of GBV in the society;
NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon Government to;
a) Initiate the enactment of laws that deter Gender-Based Violence
perpetrators and provide for stiffer penalties;
b) Embark on GBV awareness programmes to all districts of the country; and
c) Initiate Gender-Based Violence programmes that promote positive social and cultural change as a way of eradicating this scourge.
HON. MUTANDI: I second.
HON. S. NDEBELE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to start by asking you all to observe a minute of silence in memory of women and girls who lost their lives due to gender based violence.
All Hon. Members observed a minute of silence
Mr. Speaker, let me start by thanking you for giving me this opportunity to table this motion which seeks to raise awareness of the 16-days of activism against gender-based violence. As the Women’s Caucus, we are honoured to join the rest of the international community in commemorating the 16-days of activism against gender-based violence. This is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of negative effects of violence against women and girls. Since the campaign was started in 1991, we have witnessed significant progress being made by many parties in terms of raising awareness and protecting women and girls` rights. Surprisingly, we have continued to witness an increased number of GBV cases instead of a decrease. This is actually worrisome and calls for reflection on this matter.
We may need to go back to the drawing board and re-strategise as representative of the people in this country. Mr. Speaker Sir, this year’s commemoration is being held under the theme “Unite, invest to prevent violence against women and girls” this is a call for the national governance to prioritise and invest resources to fight the scourge. Indeed, violence against women and girls is a human rights issue. It must be taken seriously by us all. We are all affected in one way or another.
Mr. Speaker, let me prefix my motion by defining Gender-Based Violence. This is violence that is directed and is usually based on his or her biological sex or gender identity. It is one of the most extreme or unequal gender relations in society. It is, first and foremost, a violation of rights and a global health issue that cuts across boundaries of economic health, wealth, culture, religion, acts and social orientation. It has become a global problem affecting the global village at large. Gender-Based Violence is not only perpetrated by males and predominantly affects women and girls but can also happen to men and boys.
Intimate partners violence refers to behaviour by an intimate partner or an x-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm including physical aggression, sexual coercion, physiological abuse and controlling behaviours. Studies have indicated wide spread gender based violence globally which approximately is about 35% of women. It means 1 in 3 women globally have experienced physical or raw sexual violence at some point in their lives. That is more than 1 billion women and girls facing physical abuse. Seven percent of women have suffered sexual assault from another person other than their partner. Murderers of women committed by an intimate partner crime of passion are up to 38%. We recently read in the newspaper about a woman who was murdered by her boyfriend in Marondera. A great number of up to 200 million have experienced female gentile mutilation.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that G.B.V has a cost to society and Government, which significantly impacts on national development. The WB predicts that violence against women and girls is estimated to cost countries up to 3.7% of the G.D.P., which is more than double to what most governments spend on education budgets. This is so because survivors suffer physical, physiological and social consequences which affects both the long and short term. Such effects include mental health issues arising from suicidal cases and drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and many more; cases rising in our global village which has healthy related implications. Sad is it not? Imagine if the resources we are spending on fighting GBV can be utilised elsewhere. Mr. Speaker, gender-based violence comes in different forms which include among others, harmful traditional practises, physical, physiological, economic, child marriages, owner killings, human trafficking and sexual violence which includes intimate partner violence, the I.P.V and female genital mutilation.
Coming closer to home G.B.V, is a prevalent matter in Zimbabwe and it affects women and girls nationwide. G.B.V in Zimbabwe has been exacerbated by increasing poverty levels, societal norms and values that keep alive gender inequalities and cultural practises, economy dispersals, loopholes in the legal framework, displacements and disaster, religion and conflicts, and of late now there is technology of cyber-related violence against women and girls. Mr. Speaker, the statistics that I have here are traumatising and most studies indicate a high rate of intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, child marriage, domestic violence and other types of gender violence. According to the Afro Barometer findings, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agendas and UNICEF 2019 reveal that 40% of women between the age of 12 and 49 encounter physical or sexual abuse from an intimate partner.
It is also important to note that violence is also perpetrated on the young children, both boys and girls and the elderly women. According to MICS survey, the top 3 provinces where women reported having experience all forms of spouse violence were Mashonaland East with 55%, Masvingo 54% and Manicaland 53%. Thirty-nine percent of women aged 15 and 49 years reported that they have experienced violence since the age of 15, while 11% experienced it in the last 12 months. Twelve percent of women reported ever having experience violence whilst 5% reported having experience in the last 12months.
About one in two women aged 15 and 49 years have experienced emotional or sexual abuse, committed by their current or last husbands in their lifetime. In the last 12 months, the most prevalent form of abuse was emotional. Mr. Speaker, I will not have done justice to this motion if I do not take reference to the challenging life faced by women with disability especially in relation to G.B.V. Did you know that G.B.V is more prevalent among women than men? The World Bank report on disability estimates that globally 19% of women have disability relative to 12% of men. Women with disability are almost ten times to experience violence compared to men with disabilities or men or women without disabilities.
Additionally, they experience higher rates of all forms of violence due to factors related to dependence on others for support, mistrust and social and physical isolation. Women and girls with disabilities may experience multi-forms of violence including physiological and emotional violence, neglect, financial abuse or exploitation or physical or sexual abuse. Additionally, many women and girls with disabilities face structural violence in accessing education, health and social services. Also, it is important to note that most safe places for girls with disabilities remain inaccessible to those with disabilities.
Mr. Speaker, I have highlighted some of the challenges faced by women generally. Let me hasten to mention that Zimbabwe is a signatory to a number of international and regional instruments that relate to discrimination based violence such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, the Convection on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant of Civil and Politically Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals and the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which have put in place national legislation and policies aimed at protecting women and girls, but sadly, women and girls continue to face discrimination, violence and many other forms of human rights violation.
What does it mean to us the policy makers or legislators? We need to go back to the drawing board and re-design our strategies and interventions? It is time to unite and invest to prevent violence against women and girls. At the national level, we have our Constitution which is very progressive in terms of recognising gender equality and protecting every citizen, especially women on Sections 3,17, 25(b), 52, 56,78,79 and 80. Section 52 states that and I quote “every person has a right to bodily and psychological integrity which includes the right to freedom of all forms of violence from public and private sources”. Section 56 prohibits any form of discrimination based on sex and gender among others. These provisions, among others strengthen the Government’s commitment on curbing GBV. Domestic policies such as the National Gender Policy (NGP) are also in place. The NGP recognises gender-based violence, in particular violence against women, as one of the biggest obstacles to women’s participation in decision making and severely limits the ability to participate in economic and social activities.
In 2007, Zimbabwe elected the Domestic Violence Act which was a game changer in the region and beyond because it broke the conservative barriers of GBV which were deeply rooted in many homesteads and communities. The Domestic Violence Act also introduced Anti Domestic Violence Council which has not been functional, yet it is a very strategic organ for fighting GBV. This organ has been shifted from one Ministry to another and is currently housed in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. As Women’s Caucus, we are not bothered as to which Ministry or Government department houses the Anti Domestic Violence Council, no. Our concern is on its functionality. This organ has not been funded, and yet it is strategic in fighting and curbing GBV in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus, as an advocacy group, believes in safe spaces for all human race, regardless of sex or sex orientation. Therefore, we will not continue to sit on our laurels and watch the rights of women and girls in Zimbabwe being violated. We believe that women and girls have a right to participate fully in the mainstream economy without any fear, be it young women, the elderly, women with disability, young girls employed or unemployed, married and not married, poor or rich. In short as the ZWPC, we are saying that the woman must not be discriminated against or face any form of violence in Zimbabwe.
If we are to achieve our country’s vision to become an upper-middle class economy come 2030, as well as attain our SDG target by 2030, we must ensure that we leave no one and no place behind. Curbing GBV has implications for our national goals. A happy population whereby every citizen enjoys and exercises his or her rights would go a long way in creating safe spaces in the informal sector, workplace, public and private sectors for expressing oneself without fear or being victimised or having one’s right being violated.
Mr. Speaker Sir, as I conclude, I wish to focus on a few strategies that I believe the Government must adopt, prioritise and provide adequate resources to curb GBV in Zimbabwe. As we enter the 2024 budget season, it is important to support this year’s theme, ‘Unite, invest to prevent violence against women and girls.’
As the ZWPC, we call upon the Government to prioritise the following;
Finalising the alignment of GB related laws with the Constitution, especially child marriage laws.
Particular harmonisation of the age of consent and legal age of marriage including the introduction of punitive and deterrent sentences to perpetrators of all forms of gender-based violence. Central to this adoption and implementation to SADAC model law of eradicating child marriage and protecting children already in marriage as a blue print for managing child marriages.
Review of labour laws so that sexual harassment is legally recognised as a criminal function and compensation provided for through the enhancement of Sexual Harassment Act.
Adequately fund the Anti Domestic Violence Council so that it effectively performs its mandate.
Adequately fund the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development so that it can perform its mandate effectively.
A budget of less than 1% for a Ministry that oversees about 52% of the country’s population is worrisome. It is our prayer that the 2024 budget provides the Ministry and other gender machineries, including the ZWPC with adequate resources so that all effectively discharge their mandate.
Let me conclude by thanking the Parliament of Zimbabwe for funding a sensitisation workshop on GBV for all Members of Parliament. This workshop was indeed an eye-opener in terms of raising awareness of GBV issues amongst male and female Parliamentarians so that they become GBV change champions. As the ZWPC, we continue to call the Government to fully fund our activities so that we remain impactful in Parliament and beyond. I thank you.
HON. MUTANDI: Good afternoon Mr. Speaker. I rise to debate on the motion moved by Hon. S. Ndebele. Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to thank ZWPC for this initiative to table a motion to raise awareness on the commemoration of the 16-Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence in Zimbabwe.
This annual campaign running from November 20 to December 10 serves a powerful reminder of the persistent challenges faced by individuals, particularly women and children in our society. This motion is very important for the ZWPC as an advocacy group because this is our opportunity to point out the realities of women and girls in Parliament so that we debate and call the Government to action. As highlighted by the mover of the motion, Hon. S. Ndebele, the statistics on GBV in Zimbabwe are scary. Globally, one in three women have experienced GBV in any form. Similarly, the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2016 indicates that in Zimbabwe, approximately one in three women aged 15 to 49 years has experienced physical violence and approximately one in four women has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. Is this not scary?
In this august House, imagine out of the 122 female Parliamentarians, probably one in three of us that is about 40 female parliamentarians have experienced a form of GBV. Can you imagine the ordinary Zimbabwean citizens at the grassroots who may be sitting in silence because it is not an easy topic to discuss?
Mr. Speaker Sir, the 16-Days of Activism Campaign therefore provides a platform to unite and mobilise against this menace, fostering awareness, advocating for policy changes and promoting solidarity. However, let me hasten to mention that you must not only wait for this campaign to begin for us to raise awareness of the effects of GBV. Let me applaud the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, for adopting 24/7, 365 days-a- year approach in terms of raising awareness of this scourge. GBV happens in our communities on a daily basis and it is actually increasing instead of decreasing despite all our effort as leaders in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Speaker Sir, according to the Ministry of Women Affairs, about two in five women reported ever having experienced either physical or sexual violence whilst one in 10% reported having experienced both. In terms of provincial distribution, Matabeleland North 5%, Matabeleland South 6% and Bulawayo 7%. Provinces reported the lowest prevalence of spousal sexual violence while the top three provinces where women reported having experienced all forms of spousal violence were Mashonaland East with 55%, Masvingo with 54% and Manicaland 53 %. This, therefore, means a lot of campaign must be conducted in these hotspots.
Let me hasten to acknowledge the commendable efforts that the Government of Zimbabwe has undertaken in the fight against this divisive issue. The case for GBV is a development issue and addressing the scourge must remain a national priority. Parliament has a unique role to play in this fight or campaign. As you all know and as highlighted by Hon. Ndebele, the Government is party to key international and regional Instruments on gender; CEDAW, Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa among others.
This commitment signifies a crucial step towards addressing the multifaceted nature of GBV and fostering a safer environment for all. Mr. Speaker Sir, the ZWPC has implemented various advocacy initiatives aimed at curbing GBV, including awareness campaigns calling for policy reforms and for the establishment of support services for victims. This effort deserves acknowledgement as they reflect a commitment by Parliament of Zimbabwe as a whole, to creating a society free from the shackles of violence and discrimination.
However, as we commend these efforts, it is essential for the ZWPC to continue to lobby for more resources, and to continue to play a pivotal role in fighting this scourge. I would like to mention that in order for Zimbabwe to address this scourge, there is need for a comprehensive approach to be adopted by all the three arms of the State, namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. We need not only to strengthen the legislative framework but also ensure adequate resources are allocated for implementation. Furthermore, the existing gaps in the enforcement of laws must be addressed by strengthening the Judiciary system. The Victim Friendly Unit under the Zimbabwe Republic Police, is not adequately funded. The police officers are not well trained to handle GBV cases.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry of Women Affairs is responsible for overseeing the implementation of women’s rights in Zimbabwe and yet continues to receive less than 1% of the total National Budget. Women in Zimbabwe constitute 52% of the country‘s population and yet falls among the least funded ministries. As we enter the budget making process this year for the 2024 year, I would like to call upon all the women MPs and our He-for-She champions to support us as we call on the Ministry of Finance and Investment Promotion to invest and prevent violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe. In light of these challenges, I propose that we recommend a comprehensive review of our existing anti-GBV frameworks with a focus on enhancing their effectiveness. This may involve consultation with stakeholders civil society organisations and experts in the fields to ensure that our legal and policy measures align with the current dynamics of gender-based violence.
The SADC model law is a case in point which requires our attention as Parliament. In the spirit of our commitment of eradicating gender-based violence, I call upon this esteemed Assembly to address the urgent need to domesticate the SADC model law on eradicating child marriages and protecting those in marriage. Child marriages remain a blight on our society, robbing young individuals of their childhood and subjecting them to a myriad of physical, emotional and social challenges. By adopting the SADC model law, we signal our unwavering commitment to protecting the rights of children and ensuring their well-being. Furthermore, I urge this Assembly to prioritise the domestication of the SADC Model Law on Gender Based Violence.
This comprehensive legal framework provides a foundation for tackling GBV at its roots, addressing both prevention and response strategies. I cannot emphasise that these model laws present individual opportunities to fortify our legal arsenal against gender-based violence, sending a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated within our borders. Additionally, there is a pressing need to allocate increased budgetary support to the relevant ministries, departments and agencies tasked with addressing gender-based violence. Adequate funding is indispensable for the successful implementation of awareness campaigns, support services and enforcement of the laws.
Mr. Speaker Sir, as I conclude, and as we reflect on the 16-Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, let us reaffirm our dedication to creating a society where every individual, regardless of gender, can leave free from violence and discrimination. I so humbly submit trusting that together, we can contribute to the creation of a safer and more equitable Zimbabwe for both men and women. I thank you.
HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank you for according me this opportunity to also add my voice to this very important motion that is before us during this time when we commemorate 16-Days of Activism against GBV. I would like to thank Hon. Ndebele for moving this motion and her seconder Hon. Mutandi. At the same time, thanking the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus for this initiative. Mr. Speaker Sir, I shall not labour on what has been said already by the Hon. Members who have already spoken. I will quickly rush to what I thought can also add to the Instruments and maybe solutions to help us eradicate gender-based violence in this country, looking at some of the laws that we feel should be enacted or improved to help alleviate gender based violence. Government should ensure the following:
- That the Criminal Law Codification Reform Act Chapter 9 (23) has detailed sentencing guidelines because the other problems we have are that there are no guidelines in sentencing GBV perpetrators. Such guidelines may need to be statutory to ensure that they are implemented. Guidelines on sentencing are also important since they would guide the courts on the type of aggregating and mitigating factors to be taken into account as well as the weight to be given to different factors as well as restricting certain factors. These would ensure high sentences of sexual offences and at the same time, promote consistency and proportionality.
- Government should also ensure that the Criminal Law Codification Reform Act Chapter 9 (23) has more in-depth reform of sexual offences law. There is need for clear articulation of the definition of consent in the Criminal Law Code.
- Government should ensure that this Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9 (23) involves the victim in the sentencing process by making use of victim impact statements in considering sentences and in this, inform courts on the extent of harm suffered for purposes of imposing an appropriate sentence.
Government should also ensure that Criminal Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9 (23) increases jurisdiction or special jurisdiction for regional magistrates in respect of sexual offences. Special and separate courts for sexual offences should be created.
Government should ensure that Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9 (23) provides for protection of victims by having in camera court sessions and also dedicate sexual offences court to expedite the sentencing of cases. GBV should also be included in the educational curriculum from ECD so that our children, as they grow up, already refrain from GBV. They will know what it is and they will know what it means and what it will cause. So if it is included earlier as we always say we should catch them young, they will know the impact of gender based violence.
Government should create a Government funded GBV watch to systematically gather disaggregated data on the prevalence of femicides. This data will not only be based on the types of GBV and identify the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, but also inform the nation on the statistics around GBV. We are talking of all these statistics, but a lot of statistics are hidden because people do not go and report their cases. GBV cases are hardly reported, especially in the rural areas where we come from because we want to protect relationships and do not want to break families. Children are raped by family members, women are beaten up, but we do not report and these days because of mutoriro issues, the drug abusers have also become GBV perpetrators to their own mothers. I have heard so many mothers who go and report their own sons to the police because they would have come back home drugged and hit them. They go and report, but sometimes they are also told to go back home. Where are the safe houses to put these women who are now scared of their husbands and sons who physically abuse them? So Government should have safe houses in every ward or constituency where you run to, because if you go back home, you are beaten again until you die. Some have lost their lives because of $2 and it is very sad.
Government also needs to strengthen the GBV Council so that it can launch a task force to assess institutional responses to gender based violence and key gaps.
Government should strengthen measures to prevent GBV to protect women and prosecute cases because in some instances, you go to court 100 times until you cannot go any more. So the cases should be dealt with quickly so that the perpetrator is locked up.
Government should also coordinate efforts across different sectors to end GBV and improve oversight of the police and security personnel to prevent abuse of power by providing gender responsive training.
In conclusion, I would like to urge this House to use every platform and opportunity they get through their representative role in their constituencies to talk about the impact of GBV and how it derails the development of a country. I also urge Hon. Members to speak to their pastors, village heads and chiefs so that whenever people are gathered, GBV is talked about. The chiefs can also help eradicate GBV through their courts. I attended one such court conducted by Chief Negomo. I had gone with one of my nieces who had been summoned to go there and we were told the case was not going to be heard on that day, but we sat and listened to some cases to do with GBV. The way the cases were dealt with, I ended up spending six hours listening. Our case was finally dealt with and I was satisfied with the punishment and sentence proffered. If all chiefs are doing it the way I saw issues being dealt with at Chief Negomo’s court, it means the chiefs are very handy on this GBV issue. If you want a quick sentence, you would rather go and attend a chief’s court. At court, it takes longer and you need a lawyer and money for the case to be heard. People in the rural areas do not have the capacity to hire a lawyer to come to court. So if we have good chiefs dealing with these cases, it will help eradicate GBV. I want to thank you and this House, I hope our male counterparts in this House will run with it because if they speak about it, they will be heard. Thank you very much Mr. Speaker.
*HON. MATSUNGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for awarding me this opportunity to add my voice during this season of commemorating 16-days against gender-based violence. I want to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Ndebele for moving a pertinent motion. I also want to thank the seconder of the motion.
Mr. Speaker, I am very emotionally disturbed if I think about the issues of gender-based violence. It is something people used to fear very much during the past, but right now, people do not respect each other. There is a lot of killings between men and women. It is now easy for them to kill physically, mentally or emotionally abuse each other. The previous speakers mentioned a lot of things which need to be addressed, but let me also add my voice. Mr. Speaker, there is an issue of sexual harassment which is rampant in this House. It is another form of gender-based violence. When women rise to debate, they are being looked down upon by their male counterparts, although we are working together in this august House as Members of Parliament.
That behaviour only is a clear testimony that more needs to be done in educating people about gender-based violence and to make people understand that there are equal opportunities between men and women. It does not matter that a female Member of Parliament came to Parliament to represent people as someone who won a constituency or as a proportional representative. All of us are Hon Members, we must respect each other and that behaviour of looking down upon each other must be addressed in this House.
Mr. Speaker, let me procced by saying that in prisons, there is another form of gender-based violence. There are women who commit crimes and end up being arrested and incarcerated while they are pregnant. These women end up giving birth in prisons, but there is no dedicated place to stay for expecting mothers or recreational centres/ facilities for their kids. This is another form of abuse. On their sitting arrangements in these prisons, expecting mothers end up being mixed with those who are mentally ill. This is another form of abuse which is happening to the mothers and children in prisons.
There is another issue which is happening at Victim Friendly Units. If a man goes to report a case of abuse, even myself as an Hon Member, for example, if I go and report, people begin to judge me by status. Culturally, not all men go out and report issues of gender-based violence. It takes a lot of time for these issues to be resolved. That is why you see that some may end up committing suicide because many of them are shy to come out and confess that they are being abused in the homes. We are pleading with the Ministry of Home Affairs to increase the number of offices and deploy many officers, including men so that their male counterparts feel free to talk about the abuses they are facing. Officers manning Victim Friendly Units must be gender-balanced so that everyone gets the help they deserve in time.
Mr. Speaker, sometimes when men go to report issues of abuse, some of them end up going back to their homes without lodging the complaint because they fear being humiliated. Most men have their pride; hence it is very pertinent to protect it. According to some of them, it is better to be abused than to be laughed at. Most men are being abused emotionally, physically, and most of the time, we end up hearing stories of men committing suicide because they feel bad about it and more often than not, they do not report it. So it takes time. Hence, as a result, you find that men might commit suicide as a result of domestic violence because men will be shy to come out and say they have been abused.
We have such cases being perpetrated in our constituencies. My plea is that there should be more offices that deal with such issues. In fact, whenever men go to the police station, they cannot be assisted by female officers there. The female officers who will be manning those police stations may laugh at the victims. As men, they go back and that means they are emotionally, physically and mentally affected by such issues. That is when we have men committing suicide due to lack of someone coming forward to help them. We have village heads and chiefs that we find within our constituencies, whenever we speak during this period of 16-days against gender-based violence, people should respect this time.
There are boys and girls who are impregnating each other as a result of drugs. The parents of such children who are drug addicts are no longer controlling them, they have lost heart. During this period, as policy makers and Members of Parliament, it should be the duty of each and every elected representative in your area of jurisdiction or constituency to talk about the ills of domestic violence. A lot of young children, men and boys have died and the cases have been going up. They are dying because they have been jilted by their girlfriends. They should have received counselling from those within their areas of jurisdiction, that if you miss one, you will get another, if a love affair ends, you can enter into another one. People are now using emotions in a wrong manner and at the end, they kill each other. This domestic based violence is an issue that does not sit well with me.
I want to talk about women who are pregnant and once they have given birth, it is important that men should be given time to assist their wives because that is a national duty. Women should not be abused after giving birth. Men should not be too talkative to an extent that they will ask their wives to wake up so that they can prepare whatever it is they require when they are still nursing. Men should also be given paternal leave so that they can be able to assist their wives. It is a very traumatic experience to be pregnant.
There is also this issue Mr. Speaker, whereas politicians, we want to contest for seats, we are traumatised and a lot of name-calling happens where we are given unthinkable names. Anyone who is involved in cyber-bullying against women should be dealt with in a severe manner. We want a law to protect us as women so that when we have thrown our hats into the bin as politicians, we should campaign freely. Women are willing to do so, but the majority are now refraining because of the abuse that their fellow women are facing. They are looked down upon and talked of in bad light.
In conclusion, there are a lot of things that are happening. We have a law that is not very effective, such as the Sexual Harassment Policy. Such a policy should be enacted into an Act of Parliament so that it can protect anyone who comes, even in the future after I am gone. I thank you.
*THE ACTING SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Matsunga, but you left a statement hanging that the husbands say, wake up to do things for me, but what is that he would want you to do? – [Laughter.] –
HON. NYELELE: Mr. Speaker, it is crucial to keep and equip young people about the 16-days of activism against gender-based violence for several reasons. Firstly, raising awareness and providing education on this issue ensures that young people have a deep understanding of the harmful impact of gender-based violence on individuals, families and communities. The knowledge empowers them to recognise and challenge gender-based violence when they encounter it, promoting a culture of respect and equality.
Secondly, equipping young people with information about the 16-days of activism helps to foster empathy and compassion by learning about the experience of survivors and understanding the dynamics of gender-based violence. They can develop a sense of solidarity and support for those affected. This encourages young people to become active allies, standing up against gender-based violence and promoting a safe and inclusive environment for all.
Mr. Speaker Sir, furthermore, teaching young people about the 16-days of activism helps to disembark harmful gender norms and stereotypes by exploring the root causes and societal factors that perpetuate gender-based violence. Young individuals can challenge and redefine harmful narratives that contribute to inequality. This creates opportunities for young people to embrace healthy, respectful and good relationship, thus breaking the cycle of violence.
Mr. Speaker Sir, additionally providing education on the 16-days of activism encourages young people to become agents of change. It empowers them with the knowledge, skills and resources needed actively to engage in advocacy and prevention efforts. By implying their voices and mobilising collective actions, young people can create lasting social change influencing policies and system to prioritise gender equality and eliminate gender-based violence.
Mr. Speaker Sir, ultimately teaching and equipping young people about the 16-days of activism against gender-based-violence is essential for creating a safer and more inclusive future. It enables young individuals to become champions with gender equality. Fostering a society where violence and discrimination based on gender are not tolerated and where every person can live with dignity, respect and freedom from violence. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion raised in this august House. The truth of the matter is that if we talk about gender-based-violence and we want to understand it, I would analyse it as being not akin to women, no. It is not the women who are being abused. We once witnessed gender-based-violence in the Garden of Eden. Mr. Speaker Sir, we actually saw Adam being forsaken by the Almighty God when he was told that he knows nothing by a woman. That is when it really started Mr. Speaker Sir.
We also further noticed as we were living that the woman is the one who bears the brunt of life. A woman must be respected. Why we are failing to respect women so that they can live well is because of foreigners, settlers. As Africans, Mr. Speaker Sir, if a woman misbehaved, once she was taken to court, the woman was always right. In Africa, it has always been said that women are the ones that were favoured by these laws and gender-based violence was minimal.
I heard the previous speaker talking about a woman who might be pregnant for nine months and that as she is ill, she is given tasks to perform. It is because the power that a woman has, Mr. Speaker Sir, is too much. No matter how difficult things might turn out to be, women are very brave. They are not afraid. If you go to a funeral, it will be women who will be at this funeral. If there is anything that is required, it is the women who are normally available and God actually accepted to say that he would look after the women better than the men.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MACHINGURA): Order Hon. Member. According to Part 8, subsection 80 of the Standing Rules and Orders under Order of the House and Rules of Debate, it says every Member must, and I go to (b) make obeisance to the Chair in passing to and from his or her seat and upon entering and leaving the Chamber.
I do not have to remind you Hon. Members. The Hon. Member at the back there, you have been having multiple entries and exits and you never did bow. Please, let us stick to our Standing Rules.
*HON. MATANGIRA: I was taken aback that maybe I had misbehaved. I had fallen foul of the Rules or Orders. If I had done that, that would be a serious breach as men. Thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir. In proceeding, I urge us as men and the august House, to respect women. Even if we look at the spirit mediums of this country that led us to attain victory, we were led by the spirit of Mbuya Nehanda. She would instruct the men and they would follow the instructions. What came from the West said men and women are now equal. Some of them are having sex changes where a male becomes a female and vice versa.
As Africans, when a young girl develops breasts, the father would desist from beating her out of respect and a son would not beat his mother because of respect. We are not saying that there is no violence because of women, but if you go deeper, you will observe that as men, we have had serious problems in being ruled by women.
Mr. Speaker Sir, if all the women were to be honest with you, these phones that we have are causing us more harm than good. Whenever the phone rings, we have problems. They would want to know who has phoned. If you say it is Getrude an Hon. Member, you will have serious problems in trying to explain yourself out.
Mr. Speaker Sir, as men, we are under fire. When you try to beat about the bush or not being clear, the roles have now been changed. It is the bird that is now holding the catapult. We are no longer living harmoniously. At the moment, Mr. Speaker Sir, women are now saying that men are a problem but that is not true, that is a lie. I am afraid that I cannot say what actually happens at my house because I have a son-in-law who is in here. On both sides of the House, we should be honest enough as black people that our wives should not be assaulted and we teach our children that once they have fallen in love and they are in matrimony, they should live well in harmony. The westerners have destroyed our families.
HON. CHAGWIZA: On a point of order - [HON MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. The Hon Member is addressing the Chair and therefore there is no point of order.
*HON. MATANGIRA: If it is acceptable Mr. Speaker, I may give him what I have to contribute because I have more than enough time. If he wants me to speak in English, I will definitely do so in order to buttress my point.
When we talk about north, east, west and south….
HON. BONDA: On a point of order. The rules of the House dictate that no code switching is allowed. A Member should debate in one language.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: The Hon. Member wanted to illustrate his point. May you proceed Hon. Matangira.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Let me give my points in brief so that they will be no interjections. I was just saying that those from the west have brought in their culture which is alien to Africans. Because of that practice, that is why there is gender-based violence. When I have married a woman, I have married her because she will complement me physically. In the west, they say no, if you are hungry and I have had my meal from elsewhere, you should wait until I also become hungry. That is where it all starts. Such kind of misunderstandings lead to gender- based violence.
The man who experiences gender-based violence, leave the matrimonial home and becomes infected. He comes back and infects the wife because she would have said she was sexually satisfied. As a result, there would be gender-based violence. That is why I was saying from both sides of the House, we should agree to go back to our culture as it was in the olden days. It was known in our culture that when you go for parliamentary elections, if there are 12 women and two men - and a goat has been bitten by a crocodile, the 12 women would say to the two men please go in and rescue the goat because in terms of bodily strength we are not the same. The manner in which God created us and in this way of life, gender-based violence would not be there but most likely it is caused by the western culture. We from the east, as Africans, should stay as Africans. I thank you.
*HON. TOBAIWA: I would like to thank the Women’s Caucus for the motion that they have raised. I would want to give my view and my voice to this motion. I have observed that these days we believe that at times GBV is perpetrated against women. As women, we are aware that we are abusing men in our families. When women are assaulted in the families, they go to the police and make a report that they have been assaulted. The husband is then arrested but the instigators will have been a woman because she will have called a man a dog, which is an insult.
If you look at the police stations that we now have, they do not handle men properly. As a result, most men who are abused are shy to go and report their case to a female police officer. Men tend not to report their cases because most victim friendly stations are manned by women. On the issue of abuse, as women, we are constantly being assaulted by men and as a result we may have miscarriages or fail to conceive. For one to conceive, one needs to be in a right mental state. When you want to engage in intimacy, because of the assault, I may not be in the right frame of mind and fail to bear a child. The aunts will then call me names. They do not bear in mind that it is their brother who has been abusing me. In the majority of cases, abuse comes from the women who are assaulting each other. There is also mental effects to the parents of the woman who is abused because lobola has been paid.
There are also churches that encourage children to go into marriages when they are still young. Children are being married before their time and as a result, such girls may not want to be married and carry on with their education. They are unable to do so because of their faith. The child is psychologically affected when the marriage turns sour. She has been forced into a marriage that she was not willing to be party to. We are seeing in a majority of cases, women suffering from diseases because men in these churches are not sticking to a monogamous relationship. They are having polygamous relationships and are not sure if the women they are marrying are not infected with a disease or not. Furthe r to that, you will have married her while she was under age, you bring in another woman and she is unable to complain because she was just given to you. This is another form of gender-based violence. It is affecting us as women and even in the Victim Friendly Units that are made reference to. If the police do not receive us well when we report such cases, the majority of complainants will be afraid to go there as a result of being shy. When I go there and see men, I may not be able to report my case because there will be too many people in the police station. The police officers do not allow you to speak in the strictest of confidence with a single officer. Like I said, men will be shy to report that they have been assaulted by a woman and as a result of that, they go back and the woman will further add insult to injury by mocking them that you had gone to make a report to the police, what did you achieve?
I urge all of us to live harmoniously because these disturbances in the matrimonial homes are detrimental to our lives. We talk of 16-days of activism against GBV, but once such cases are reported, the police should take action and the cases must be concluded. I thank you.
HON. NDUDZO: Mr. Speaker Sir, GBV is something that affects almost every stratum of our society. From the proletarian classes, the peasantry, the high heeled bourgeoisie, the ruling class and the politicians, everyone is potentially a victim and potentially a perpetrator of gender-based violence. As we search for solutions to curb and deal with GBV in our society, we need to accept that GBV is not something that merely manifests in the physical elements that we often discuss. Sometimes the physical elements, when there are assaults, constitute the most extreme cases of GBV. However, if one has regard to the definition of violence as defined in the Domestic Violence Act where the definition has been broadened to extend to psychological, emotional, financial and economic aspects including body shaming aspects, you will realise that gender-based violence is something that happens almost every day and sometimes the perpetrators are ignorant of the fact that their acts constitute GBV. Sometimes people suffer in silence because they are not aware that what they are going through constitutes being victims of GBV.
Our society is yet to deal with certain realities that have come up as a result of the push for equality between men and women. We often have men suffering in silence and also suffering from stigmatisation and stereotypes, especially in situations where perhaps, they find themselves being in marriages or relationships where the woman is earning much more than the man.
There are discussions that go on in families as well as in the society that tends to look at men in discouraging terms, where they are perceived as undue beneficiaries of the wealth that is being created in the homestead by the women. We need to broaden our discussion and our characterisation of GBV to be able to curb such abuses that often happen in society. We have seen a phenomenal rise in suicide cases because often-times, men end up suffering in silence. It is not easy for a man to walk to a police station and present themselves as a victim of GBV. Often times when you get there and you want to make your report, it is not easy because the facilities and the systems are designed in such a manner that it is not easy for a man to come out into the open. When you do, sometimes you are perceived as weak or lacking in something. We need to make sure that we have facilities, amenities, officers, and human resources that are accommodative of all kinds of gender-based violence so that we are able to eradicate this problem from within our society even when we discuss gender-based violence in the context of the physical elements where sometimes people get beaten or there are issues of sexual assault and harassment.
Mr. Speaker, I have noted that gender-based crimes such as rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment are often cases that are very easy to allege, but always difficult to disprove. We condemn unreservedly all manifestations and all acts of physical and sexual harassment against women, yet often times men have also suffered as victims in cases of extortion, black mail and elicit demands where certain things are asked for and demanded for because they have been put in context and in situations where they are not able to explain or prove their innocence. As a result, they end up paying and suffering as victims. So, we need to introspect and uproot all manifestation of gender-based violence.
Mr. Speaker, we have spent the day raising and discussing the various manifestations of gender-based violence. As I debate, I also wish to proffer a few suggestions that I think will assist us as a nation to deal with gender-based violence. Firstly, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that we need to broaden gender-based violence legislation to go beyond the scope of what we have been able to legislate as domestic violence. You realise that when gender-based violence happens in the context of people who are in a relationship that qualifies as a domestic relationship, there are very quick and convenient remedies available in terms of the Domestic Violence Act.
However, such remedies and solutions are not easily available where the relationship cannot qualify as a domestic based relationship. So, we need to broaden and make sure that we are able to deal and nip in the bud, the scourge of gender-based violence wherever it so manifests. I am also of the view Mr. Speaker, that we need to raise awareness and conscientiousness among our people even from a young age. I think we need to make it compulsory in our school curriculum to make sure that gender-based violence is understood as taught, and that people are made to report and to deal with it whenever it manifests so that as we raise our children, they will be quite sensitive and aware of the existence of gender-based violence and that they know that it is an evil and something not acceptable such that we must deal with it whenever it happens. I am also of the view Mr. Speaker, that we need to make sure that we have uniform application to deal with gender-based violence.
Firstly, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that we need to broaden gender-based violence legislation to go beyond the scope of what we are able to legislate as domestic violence. You realise that when gender-based violence happens in the context of people who are in a relationship that qualifies as a domestic relationship, there are very quick and convenient remedies available in terms of the Domestic Violence Act. However, such remedies and solutions are not easily available where the relationship cannot qualify as a domestic based relationship. So, we need to broaden and make sure that we are able to deal and nip in the bud, the scourge of domestic gender-based violence wherever it so manifests.
I am also of the view Mr. Speaker that we need to raise awareness and consciousness among our people even from young age. I think we need to make it compulsory in our school curriculum that gender based violence is understood, taught and that our people are made to report to deal with it whenever it manifests so that as we raise our children, they are quite sensitive and aware of the existence of gender-based violence so that they know that it is something that is not acceptable that we must deal with it whenever it manifests.
I am also of the view Mr. Speaker that we need to make sure that we have uniform application of systems within our police stations and within our social services offices so that when men and women of all different classes and categories seek help, they are not stigmatised or not treated differently. We need to have uniformity in the application of our systems so that there is adequate protection against those who suffer from gender-based violence.
Lastly, but by no means least Mr. Speaker, it is my humble view that we need to find a way of raising awareness, debate and discussion on the subject of gender-based violence beyond the sixteen days that we have often become quite active to deal with issues of gender-based violence. If there was a way of making sure that periodically throughout the year this issue is dealt with, in my humble view, we will be able to contain and ameliorate the problem of gender-based violence. I am indebted Mr. Speaker for the time you have accorded me, thank you.
HON. E. MASUKU: Thank you for allowing me to add my voice to this critical debate on gender-based violence. While we unite in raising awareness during these sixteen days, it is crucial that we recognise the urgency for substantial reforms within our anti G.B.V frameworks. Firstly, let us address the pressing need for stiffer penalties for G.B.V offences. The current legal landscape might not adequately deter potential perpetrators by imposing stricter sanctions. We send a clear message that our society does not tolerate such heinous acts.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is time for us to revisit and revise our laws, ensuring that they act as a formidable deterrent against any form of gender-based violence. Equally important is the effective and stringent enforcement of these laws whilst having robust legislation is crucial. Mr. Speaker, therefore, we must allocate the necessary resources to train law enforcement agencies and judicial bodies ensuring they have the capacity and knowledge to handle the G.B.V issues effectively. Mr. Speaker Sir, without proactive enforcement justice remains elusive for the victims. Moreover, budgetary support for the ministries, departments and agencies mandated to tackle G.B.V is encouraging. Mr. Speaker Sir, insufficient funding hampers their ability to provide support services, conduct awareness programmes and implement preventive measures. Adequate budgetary allocation is a tangible manifestation of our commitment to addressing gender-based violence at its call. We cannot expect meaningful change without the financial resources required to fuel the missionary that fights against G.B.V. Hence, Hon. Members, let us be together in fighting the G.B.V and as Members of Parliament, we must unite and work together on this. I thank you.
+HON. MAHLANGU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My name is Sichelesile Mahlangu. I want to thank the Hon. Speaker for the opportunity that he has given to me. I will touch on one different thing to what has been said by the previous speakers.
Looking at what the previous speakers said, there is something that is troubling us as women. We do not own any properties, the properties are owned by our husbands. It is something that is troubling us Mr. Speaker Sir. You will realise that one lady will say for her to request for something, she has to first check the mood of the husband. For example, if they want to use maybe proof of residence, they have to first check the mood that the husband is in. Most of the times, title deeds are for men and not women. I am therefore urging all women to stand up and fight for this.
Most of the times when your husband passes away, you are faced with many challenges and you are asked to have someone who is supposed to witness for you. It is unfortunate that the relatives, especially from the husband’s side, will not support you. Hence, the reason why most women end up suffering from high blood pressure because they do not have any relatives supporting them.
You also realise that our young girls who are below the age of 18 are being harassed. In our culture, we take our children and we marry them off at an early age. You are actually blocking the child from proceeding with their education. We should work together as a unit, especially as women and fight abuse. This is one of the things that is troubling us and leaving permanent scars in our hearts. That is why someone will just collapse, this is all because of unsolved issues. I want to thank the mover of the motion, Hon. Ndebele. It is giving us power to say things that are troubling us as the ladies. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. TSITSI ZHOU: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. N. NDLOVU: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 29th November, 2023.
GOVERNMENT PLANS TO CURB ROAD CARNAGE
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me take this opportunity to also congratulate you for being a member of the Speaker’s panel. Mr. Speaker Sir, on Thursday 16 November 2023, I was requested to deliver a Ministerial Statement pertaining to what the Government plans to do in order to curb road carnage, especially during the festive season.
Hon. Zhou raised a question of national importance arising from accidents that are happening on our roads, particularly an accident that happened along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road and another one along the Masvingo-Beitbridge Road. I was also requested to explain why the deceased’s remains are not being put in a body bag in respect of the dead.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is with a heavy heart that I inform the House on the tragic minibus crash which occurred on 15th November 2023, along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road. Tragically, 22 people died on the spot when the driver of a Toyota Quantum attempted to overtake and encroached into the lane of an oncoming lorry, leading to a head-on collision. Sadly, a day before, on 14th November 2023, six people were killed, whilst three were injured along Masvingo-Beitbridge Road. On 13th November 2023, three people died whilst three were injured along Eastern Boarder Road in Chipinge. It is disheartening to lose several of our beloved ones daily in fatal road crashes. Our thoughts are with the victims of the crashes, the bereaved families, the injured and the survivors who witnesses the gruesome, traumatic, and dark moment of these crashes. During this somber period, I call upon the whole nation to reflect on these accidents and remember the affected families. Further, I wish a speedy recovery to the injured.
Mr. Speaker Sir, incidences of this nature only serve as a clarion call to all stakeholders in the road traffic ecosystem, including motorists, operators, drivers of public service vehicles and passengers to be more vigilant whilst driving. Allow me, to update the august House on the policy and legislative thrust that my Ministry is pursuing in view of the road crashes and to minimise chances of similar accidents during the festive season and beyond.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in June 2023, the Ministry promulgated Statutory Instrument 118 of 2023 on Speed Limiting and Monitoring Devices. This was in line with the National Road Safety Indaba which my Ministry convened in January this year which resolved that passenger-carrying Public Service Vehicle (PSV) be limited to a maximum speed of 100km/hr. I am pleased to advise that transport operators are now being fined for over speeding, with monitoring devices in line with the regulations to curb speeding by drivers. Furthermore, my Ministry is working closely with that of Home Affairs, and Cultural Heritage to ensure that traffic law enforcement agencies are capacitated to enforce compliance with the speed limiting and monitoring devices regulations.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Central Vehicle Registry, under my Ministry, is now producing the new drivers’ licence since June 2023 after the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 119 of 2023 on Licencing of Drivers. The new Driving Licence System has enhanced our capacity to develop an electronic database of licenced drivers which is linked to all relevant stakeholders for ease of enforcement. Further, the new categories of licences conform to the requirements of United Nations Convention on Road Traffic of 1968, the International Organisation for Standardisation and the International Electrotechnical Commission.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the 13 categories of the new driving licence will, amongst others, make provision for the combination categories of a vehicle and trailer, accommodated the different sizes of vehicles and prevent the scenario where drivers were tested on a small vehicle and then be authorised to drive a very large vehicle which the driver may not be able to control in a safe manner. The new driver’s licence has enhanced security features, significantly deterring counterfeiting attempts. From a road safety point of view, this improves the enforcement of the driving licence requirements and reduces the number of unqualified drivers who pose a risk to the commuting public.
Mr. Speaker Sir, considering today’s technological advancement, the thrust is obviously a shift from paper-based manual systems to electronic systems. As an indefatigable and passionate proponent of road safety, my Ministry will work tirelessly and diligently, to further reduce the human element in the assessment of the competence of prospective drivers. Zimbabwe cannot afford to continue to lose lives by allowing people, with fraudulently acquired Driving Licences behind the wheel. For this reason, my Ministry launched the Electronic Learner Licencing Testing (ELLT) System and the new Driving Licence system that uses the latest digital technologies, biometric authentication and has 31 state-of-the-art security features embedded into the new Driving Licence Card. The integration of the new card printing facility with Vehicle Inspectorate Department’s ELLT has been completed.
Mr. Speaker Sir, with regards to road infrastructure development, significant progress has been made this year on roads rehabilitation and construction, thus addressing one of the key pillars of Road Safety: Safer Roads. My Ministry will continue to vigorously pursue roads rehabilitation. The level of intervention on each road will depend on the nature of road repairs needed and the funding availed for that purpose. I am however concerned that while the Government has rehabilitated major highways such as Harare-Beitbridge, Plumtree-Mutare and more, an unintended consequence of this development is speeding by drivers on the good roads. Therefore, speed regulation as provided for by S.I. 118 of 2023, is an important strategy in improving the country’s road safety performance and saving lives.
I also wish to advise the House that compared to the usual twenty-two (22) teams for road safety awareness during the festive season, this year they will have not less than thirty (30) teams throughout the country. It is however unfortunate that I still get reports of some motorists being uncooperative to the level of insulting staff at some of the road safety educational campaign points on the highway. In this respect, I wish to point out that for 2023, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) will use the carrot and stick approach. For the avoidance of doubt, discussions are in progress with the Zimbabwe Republic Police so that where traffic violations are detected, at such Road Safety Education Road blocks, tickets should be issued to such offenders.
Mr. Speaker Sir, as you are aware, Government made a decision, as pronounced in the 2023 Budget Statement, to transform the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe into a Traffic Safety Agency. This development will give it the power, in addition to awareness and persuasion, to enforce road safety regulations, (similar to what the Environmental Management Agency does on environmental issues). This will enable TSCZ to effectively coordinate all institutions that deal with road traffic safety management, regulation and traffic law enforcement. Work is therefore in progress to amend the TSCZ Act accordingly, and I hope Hon. Members will support the draft amendment Bill when it is presented to this House. My Ministry is also reviewing and aligning our road traffic management laws, traffic safety laws and regulations to meet international best practices.
Mr. Speaker Sir, likewise, may I take this opportunity to inform the House that the creation of a Road Accident Fund is now at an advanced stage to minimise suffering by victims and survivors of accidents and improve our post-crash response. Work is now in progress on the legal and institutional framework to manage this fund whose details will be availed in due course.
In conclusion, it is of utmost importance to note that all hands in my Ministry are on the deck as we tirelessly work towards guaranteeing safe and trafficable roads to address the crisis that has been brought to the attention of the august House for the country to achieve the road safety target of reducing road traffic crashes by 25% during the National Development Strategy I period. My Ministry will continue to implement sustainable road safety laws, infrastructure, vehicles standards, driver training and access to post-crash care. I also wish to bring to your attention that at a global level, Zimbabwe subscribes to the United Nations General Assembly Proclamation of September 2020 on the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030. To this end, the country has received support and guidance from the Secretary-General’ Special Envoy for Road Safety who visited the country in July this year. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge and thank Hon Zhou for the pertinent question that he posed and directing me to bring this Ministerial Statement. I thank you.
*HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: I want to thank the Minister of Transport on responding promptly on the question that we posed in this House. I want to thank you for the Ministerial Statement that you gave, riding on S.I. 118 of 2023 where you are saying you have implemented ways of curbing the issue of overspending.
I want to understand from you Hon. Minister on what it is that you are doing since the accidents that we were referring to happened at night and were caused by haulage trucks. What is it that you are doing in terms of systems and ways of curbing over-speeding? I understand the machine to curb over speeding does not function at night. I therefore want to understand on ways that you are going to implement since we are approaching the festive season.
On another note, Hon. Minister, we are realising that a lot of drivers obtained their drivers’ licences when dual carriage ways were not in place as we see now, thanks to the good work being done by President E. D. Mnangagwa for rehabilitating the roads. There are roads which are under construction, like the Harare-Marondera Road and Harare-Bulawayo Road. I want to find out what it is that you are going to do since most of our drivers obtained their licences before we had dual carriage ways which may prompt them to overtake from the left side. What measures are you going to put in place to make sure that drivers overtake on the right side on dual carriage ways?
HON. DR. MUTODI: I want to find out whether the Ministry is amenable to a situation where Members of Parliament can canvass for private developers to upgrade some dilapidated roads in their constituencies on a build-operate and transfer scheme since the fiscus is busy with other payments?
HON. MUTSEYAMI: Hon. Speaker, for clarity sake to the Hon. Minister, what measures are you putting in place to address the challenges that we have especially along the major highways? Let me give as an example, the major highway I usually travel along is Mutare to Harare highway. You find that most of the sign-posts which are meant to be in place are not there. In some cases, this results in accidents. What investments are you putting in place so that the issue of sign-posts is addressed especially on these major highways?
The other thing Hon. Minister, you find that traditionally, especially along the major highways, we used to have fence that would manage the stray cattle and other stray animals. Nowadays, we no longer have the fence on most of these highways. What measures are you putting in place so that we address this challenge because it goes a long way in terms of curbing accidents?
Last but not least, in your presentation, I did not get the real response regarding the bags for the victims of accidents for transportation; they are being loaded into trucks without being covered whilst we should respect the dead people. I did not hear the explanation on that one as to what measures you are putting in place so that you invest in bags for the police stations or those who will be coming to attend the accidents so that they will be well equipped in terms of those bags. Thank you.
*HON. P. ZHOU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank the Minister for presenting the Ministerial Statement. We understood the statement very clearly. However, I want to understand; you indicated that most of the accidents that you alluded to happened during the night. However, there are some accidents that happen during the day. You realise whilst one is driving, he will be busy also on the phone. Is it not one of the causes of accidents to drive whilst using the phone? I have never heard someone who has been arrested for using a phone whilst driving.
Also, when we relocated to this new building, there is a bridge that is along the road coming this side and there is an accident that happened there. How long does it take for the Ministry to relook at the bridges like that and check whether there is need to repair the bridge or not? I also want an emphasis on these illegal drivers which we call Mushikashika. For example, you realise that the takeoff of such drivers; they just take off without following the Highway Code. We used to complain about minibus drivers but we are realising that they are all illegal drivers. What is it that is being done to such drivers? I propose that someone who has committed such crime, why can we not ask them to go and do retest of the licence? I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May I call upon the Hon. Minister to respond.
* HON. MHONA: I want to thank Hon. Zhou. I want to refer to Statutory Instrument 118 (2023) which encourages public service motor vehicles to ensure that they put up gadgets that limit speeding so that the drivers stay under the legal speed limits. It is painful Hon. Speaker, to note that these accidents occur during the night. They have South African registered number plates and they would want to reach their destination the following morning. So, they will be racing against time. As earlier on stated by Hon. Zhou, the truth of the matter is, if we do not have enforcement, drivers are bound to behave lawlessly. Hence, there is need to put in place measures and gadgets that ensure that whether it is during the day or night, drivers do not willingly flout the law.
We envisage to move with the best practice worldwide where there is minimum interaction between drivers and the law enforcers. With the gadgets doing the policing themselves and once one has flouted the law, it is digitally recorded and a ticket is issued and notification is given to the Police and the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) that so and so has committed an offence.
It is my plea to this august House that you support us in passing legislation that uses the ICT phenomenon for the benefit of this nation. There will never come a time when members of the Executive will come up with laws that are not enacted by Parliament. We even talked about the barring of heavy vehicles travelling after dusk, that is why you see that at 2000 hours, there will be no more heavy vehicles or lorries on the roads.
It is true that some of the drivers were licenced before we had dual carriageway. It means that even if there is no one occupying the lane, we were told that if you are not travelling fast, do not drive in the inner lane. You find that these dual carriageways that go in one side, people occupy the inner lane but they are not travelling at a fast speed.
Together with the Traffic Safety in conjunction with the Home Affairs, you will be seeing police officers and Traffic Safety Council conducting awareness campaigns enlightening people to ensure that they follow this particular road and that offenders will be ticketed. If you are not driving fast, drive on the left side of the road; if you are to commit traffic offences, we are hoping that we will have many police officers on the road. We are even thinking of getting to a stage where we are going to put up cameras to ticket those that will be over-speeding and that we will get motor vehicles so that they enforce traffic laws and regulations. Police officers are going to be given such vehicles by the Traffic Safety Council. There will also be machinery to look at people who will be breaking the laws.
Maybe I can say the question that has been posed by Hon. Mutodi referring to build, operate and transfer where Members of Parliament are in a position to canvass for development, I want to agree to say, yes, we can work together with the Ministry of Transport where we have got investors. We now have ZIDA which actually facilitates whether there are local or foreign investment projects, but you are also free to approach the Ministry with your proposal if you have a company that is expressing interest to participate in road construction or rehabilitation. Feel free to approach the Ministry, we can also guide you accordingly.
The problem Mr. Speaker, in the old era, people were fleeced to say aah mapepa ari kwaMinister kana azobva Minister vanoda mari yakati kuti mapepa apfuure, which is not happening in the Second Republic. Where you have got a problem or proposal, we want to uphold transparency and accountability. Write your expression of interest to the Permanent Secretary and copy to the Minister so that we see what is happening and we also follow if that action is taken. So Hon. Mutodi, if there is a road and an investor that you think can help us, we are free as a Ministry. Feel free to approach the Ministry, we will be glad and be in a position to pursue and make sure that we consider that expression of interest.
Hon. Mutseyami, thank you once again, you talked about Harare – Mutare road. This is one of our major roads as we speak in terms of business activity. We should relate. Forbes Border Post, we used to get maybe less than 200 trucks per day, but now we are witnessing 450 trucks crossing Forbes Border Post everyday and if we look at the architecture of that border post, there is no room for expansion. You find that in terms of bottlenecks even across the Mozambican side, there is the single entry bridge and I am glad that during a visit by His Excellency last week where he was in Machipanda, I was also privileged to be part of that delegation and we shared that we now need to move with speed and rehabilitate Forbes Border Post. As we speak, we are seized as a Ministry, where you are going to be seeing the expansion of that border post and also to make sure that we continue with dualisation.
Now there is a sad development, if you are driving along that road, you can even see ten trucks driving along that road in a single file and motorists cannot overtake. Where they are supposed to take three hours, they are now taking five hours and it is just an example because of this development. So, we are saying, as much as we have a narrow road, but we must also continue conscientising motorists to maintain their extreme left. If we have truckers like that, there is no way they can continue holding other motorists to ransom.
These are some of the initiatives that we are taking; the awareness programmes and I do concur with you, no signage, but the problem is vandalism also. People are vandalising our signage. Where they are not vandalising, you see graphics, Takakura tisingazive graphics, but takutoiona written and defacing some of this signage. We are saying in terms of signage, we will adhere to the SADC compliance, where we rehabilitate a road, we are now putting the new signage. The idea of the new signage is to be in tandem with SADC region so that if one crosses from Mozambique, for instance, to Zimbabwe, they do not need to read the language, but you see the sign and know the meaning of that sign. So, this is where we are going and I am happy once again that TSC has pledged to also support the installation of signage along our major roads and even smaller feeder roads, you will see signage. I want to thank you Hon. Mutseyami for raising that.
You also raised the issue of fencing. It is also a disturbing scenario Mr. Speaker. A good example is Bulawayo -Plumtree and Bulawayo – Mutare road where there was a fence towards Bulawayo which was stolen. There is no way we can have infrastructure and destroy it ourselves. Soon after installing that fence, you wake up the following day and there is no fence. Somebody has taken that fence to put on their garden which is something that is also disturbing, and I do not know what kind of culture we are promoting as Zimbabweans where we are supposed to safeguard our infrastructure. So, I think we will also do awareness campaigns where we need the buy-in of the community.
You will see us, before we erect new fences, engaging the community to say this is your property, safeguard and you find the livestock that will then cross belongs to those communities. So, they must be buy-in of infrastructure development along the major highways relating to fencing. We will resuscitate fencing in some of the sections and also say let us then safeguard our own infrastructure.
Hon. Mutseyami, you raised why I did not respond to the body bags. Yes, we have got the whole of Government approach, but when it comes to the collection of bodies, you find that it falls under the purview of Home Affairs which is the police, and I am sure with the guidance of the Hon. Speaker, it could be a letter that was also addressed to the Minister of Home Affairs so that he will address this particular question. However, we are also going to be supporting ZRP as a Ministry again through TSCZ, we are going to be donating body bags so that we alleviate some of the challenges that they might face. We will also play our part as a Ministry, but I am sure relating to the information pertaining to that, the Hon. Minister will table his response before this august House.
I want to thank again Hon. P. Zhou that people are driving recklessly, that is the problem we have. As I stand in this august House, I know that there are people that are busy operating their cellphones; writing messages as they drive. Charity begins at home. We should not be driving typing messages or talking on the cellphone. If we are able to do that, road carnage will be reduced, but at the moment, a lot of people, not only on cellphones, but some are even consuming alcoholic beverages as they drive. The police’s presence is now needed on the roads because if we are not strict, we will continue to witness this misbehaviour.
The issue of the Bulawayo Road which no longer has barriers on the bridges. It is true, some cars are actually falling into that bridge, but the problem is that people are coming nicodimously taking the steel that is used to do the barriers. I once again appeal, through this august House, that people should not be damaging such infrastructure which is important for the lives of people for selfish gains or just buying drugs. This is why you see we no longer use the old type of metal for signage and the same applies to our bridges. We will return the barriers, but we urge everyone to be a police person and ensure that such infrastructure is preserved.
You also talked about the illegal tax operators. The Ministry of Home Affairs is looking into the issue of ensuring that the mushikashika operators are taken off the road, but those that are supposed to be policing those areas are the owners of the mushikashika. As a result, it is detrimental to our country. May I take this opportunity to encourage each and every one of us who might be an owner of a mushikashika, to ensure that their vehicles comply with the rules of the road and are licenced. We believe that as is the case with other countries, they have problems with motorbikes on the roads, but our problem at the moment are the mushikashika vehicles and we are quite happy that we have not had this menace of motorbikes. We only hope that we will continue to endeavor to uphold standards that apply worldwide in terms of our roads and infrastructure. I thank you.
*HON. T. ZHOU: On a point of clarification Mr. Speaker Sir, the Speaker, Hon. Mudenda spoke on the issue of increasing railway lines to lessen the heavy vehicles travelling on our roads for long distances because those long journeys result in accidents as the drivers will be tired and sleep whilst driving, thereby causing accidents. Are there any plans in place to increase the railway lines and have heavy goods ferried through the railway?
*HON. TSHUMA: The Hon. Minister alluded to a certain accident that happened when one person was trying to overtake using the oncoming lane and a lot of lives were lost. In terms of public transport drivers, there is need to have a law which allows only experienced drivers to drive. I believe that such laws could help us save lives because the drivers will observe road rules. Kombi drivers will come straight at you and you will be forced to open the way for them for fear of being side swapped. Some of the motor vehicles are not roadworthy, they have damaged windscreens and they need to be enlightened so that they value the lives of people more than money. Most of the time, they are over-speeding and it is detrimental to the lives of the people. May you also try to ensure that despite the hardships that we have as a country, you come up with cameras in areas such as Copacabana, Fourth Street, at Robots and where all the mushikashika vehicles are parked. This may encourage good behaviour because they will be monitored.
I also want to comment on the issue of haulage trucks. It would appear as if I support the truckers, but the truth is that the majority of haulage drivers are very good drivers as they undergo defensive driving. So when people err on the road, heavy vehicle drivers actually try to avoid accidents and give way to those errant drivers. The same should also apply to those light motor vehicle drivers.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Hon. Members, please do not debate, just ask your point of clarity in short.
HON. M. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My name is Mxolisi Sibanda from Lupane West and my presentation is on the number of road users. The Southern part of this country usually experiences an increased number of road users, particularly during the festive season. Most people will be coming from our neighbouring countries like South Africa and Botswana. I wanted to check with the Ministry on how and what measures they have in place to take care of the potholes that are there, particularly from Victoria Falls to Beitbridge. From the public’s view point, that is the major cause of most of the road accidents between that portion of the road. I thank you.
HON. MAPIKI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My plea to the Minister is to come up with a weighbridge at every toll-gate. There are some people that are carrying heavy loads on these trucks and they are affected by the potholes as they try to move fast to their destinations.
There is also an issue of rank marshals, especially in Harare, who are running over people because of over-speeding. Is there anything that you have organised together with the Ministry of Home Affairs to curb this menace? Please work hand-in-glove with the Ministry of ICT just like they are doing in China where they are now using drones or cameras to monitor and report mis-behaviour or corrupt tendencies at places where it would have occurred and action taken against the offenders? I thank you.
HON. ZEMURA: My name is Hon. Zemura from Mashonaland East. My point of clarity to the Hon. Minister is to urge him to look at using breathalysers because those mushikashika drivers would be under the influence of alcohol as they will be drinking and driving. This would assist because they will stop drinking and driving if they know there are police officers ahead who would be testing for alcohol. That is very helpful because in other countries, no-one drives while drunk. They will be able to drive long distances without drinking because they will be aware of the consequences. It is my wish that driving schools, through the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, should open one school, whether it is a boarding school or a day school, where people can go and be taught how to drive properly before they go for these road tests. It is useful because they will have been taught and will have the knowledge on how to drive properly and responsibly, and not what is currently happening where one reads the whole night and gets the provisional licence then proceeds to go and get a driver’s licence without the necessary experience on how to behave on the road. I do not think that will help us at all. Thank you.
HON. MUDEKUNYE: Thank you Minister Mhona for coming so quickly to respond to the question that was raised. I notice that your Ministry puts a lot of effort in coming up with regulations and also deploying the Traffic Safety Council and all other noble intentions. The problem however is enforcement. You can also see that previously, we had problems with kombis and now we have problems with mushikashikas. Maybe tomorrow it is going to be motor-cycles, but the problem goes back to enforcement. All these regulations about speed limits and so forth and all those things have been there, they can be made better, but it is enforcement that is needed. What are you going to propose to the Ministry of Home Affairs to improve enforcement?
*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me also thank my fellow colleagues Hon. Members, for the very important suggestions and areas of clarity.
I will start with Hon. Tsitsi Zhou. It is true Hon. Speaker, if we do not develop our roads, we find that we may have these roads damaged if we carry heavy loads that are supposed to be used by rail. I am in agreement with the issue that you have raised. Last week we were with our Mozambican brothers. They have their Machipanda Railway line to Beira. So, on our side, we should also be looking at our own railway lines so that where the railway line has bends, these are fixed. For trains to move fast, it requires the railway line to be straightened. It is what we are looking at from Forbes to Harare, so that the trains can travel 70 to 80km an hour as opposed to the current 30km per hour.
We are trying to restructure our railway operations by bringing in new locomotives and new engines so that we will be able to do our work timeously. We should quickly move towards ensuring that we rehabilitate our railway infrastructure. This will help us to remove the heavy traffic on the roads and the goods will come straight from the port onto the railway line without coming onto the road.
I also want to thank Hon. Tshuma who said that people should take the opportunity to learn to drive. This august House is responsible for coming up with laws. We require a minimum of 30 lessons, with each lesson being 30 minutes long. One should be able to do all these lessons and as soon as one is now confident, they can acquire their licence. Others quickly get the licence before they are experienced. With road accidents, at times it is irrelevant whether one is experienced or not because you may actually be involved in an accident when you are the innocent party. What is of paramount importance is to value life on the roads because life is very important.
There are those that cause the death of innocent drivers and passengers on the road. It is true that public service vehicle drivers should have many years of experience. It will help us to mitigate the carnage on our roads. We can put cameras on tollgates, but when motor vehicles are on the road, whether in the city or in urban areas, it is the Local Government that is responsible but as the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, we have to work and come up with laws that ensure that we safeguard that sector that deals with those that are within the municipality and that also will be out of the jurisdiction of the municipality.
I am in agreement that the more cameras we have, a lot of road carnages will be reduced, but at the time when we used to have cameras on the road, people would foreworn each other that cameras are in certain places and they would behave at their best. Once they pass that area, they misbehave. All this goes back to us as the road users.
Defensive driving is a good issue. It is a good thing that we would want all motor vehicles to be examined because people just buy motor vehicles and they are using motor vehicles that are not roadworthy. Public service motor vehicles require to be roadworthy before they are on the road. You spoke about defensive driving, that it should apply to everyone, we should come back to this august House again to seek such laws. This is a good suggestion.
Hon. Sibanda, thank you very much, you raised the issue of the festive season that is upon us and I agree. Besides the numbers, there is also the excitement where people are excited as they drive under the influence of alcohol or just ordinary people celebrating. You find that we have got an increase on the number of accidents on our roads because of the festive season that we are facing and it is also my humble plea again to the motorists to exercise caution when driving especially during this period and beyond.
You talked about the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road. Yes, it is a topical road and normally on Wednesdays, a question is posed about it in this august House. I can assure the august House that we are treating this as a matter of urgency. Just like the way we are rehabilitating the Harare-Beitbridge Road, this is what we are also considering to do with Victoria Falls Road. For now, we are attending to the bad sections. There are those who can witness that Bitumen was doing the bad sections and also patching potholes, but the idea behind, of reconstructing is to have a durable and sustainable road but like I always indicate, that road is now weak. Even as you attend to potholes you still find in some areas, potholes mushrooming. We continue maintaining that road, but it is of utmost importance especially as it leads to our resort areas. So, I want to thank you for that and we assure you that we will move with speed to rehabilitate that road.
Hon. Mapiki, I thank you. It is true that we should come up with weighbridges. We have private companies or operators that we want to construct the weighbridges through build-operate and transfer. These are important because some motor vehicles are travelling while carrying excessive loads. It could not be at each tollgate but we try to ensure that on our major roads, we have these at tollgates.
On the issue of ranks, it comes back to enforcement. Local Government are the custodians of these ranks that we see in the city. We will try by all means to plead with them so that there be peace amongst rank marshals. They say this is my place and once they have it, they will monopolise the area. I will talk to my colleagues and counterparts about this issue that has been raised so that we attend to it.
You also talked about ICT gadgets. If we have such in certain areas, we can do that so that we can see who committed an offence. Hon. Zemura, I want to thank you on the issue of breathalysers that we should put in place and ensure that all drivers on the road are of sound and sober senses. We will go back to the Ministry of Home affairs to ensure that the issue of such gadgets will help curb cases of drivers driving under the influence of alcohol.
You talked about driving centres where people are taught how to drive. Yes, it is true, we have a lot of driving schools, but the majority of them are not teaching proper driving methods to motorists. The Traffic Safety Council are the ones that allow access to driving schools and we will engage them so that they assist in this regard. At the moment, we do not have a law that stipulates the minimum number of lessons required for one to attain a driver’s licence, but we will continue to put in place measures that they should drive properly.
Hon. Mutandi, you are very right that we come up with vibrant pieces of legislation and policies, but you also need the support in terms of enforcement. I am glad that we have the whole of Government approach where we are having teams from various Ministries working together so that we address some of these complaints by the public, and I am happy that as we speak, we are also working closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs so that as we man our roads, we will be having police to issue out tickets to the offenders, and this is what we are doing. As we also have the master plan in terms of the transport policy, we also have the buy-in from the Ministries of Local Government, Home Affairs and other stakeholders. So, this is what we are doing in terms of enforcement, but everything comes back to issues of enforcement and I do agree that we also accelerate on that trajectory. I thank you.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Minister. Let me take this opportunity to also thank you for bringing the Ministerial Statement to this House and the debate that came as a result of the Ministerial Statement.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING SPEAKER
THE ACTING SPEAKER: I would like to advise Hon. Members that we are going to lose power anytime from now because we are working on generators. So, if anybody has got any suggestions that they want to give to the Minister, I would urge you to write them down and then hand them over to the Minister through the Administration of Parliament. I will ask the Minister to adjourn the House for us. Thank you.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA), the House adjourned at One Minute to Five o’clock p.m.