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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 29 MARCH 2023 VOL 49 NO 32
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday, 29th March, 2023
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
THE HON. SPEAKER: I make an observation that those who want to attend in person - the majority, except two (2) on my left and about six (6) on my right, were there for prayers. This is your House, you must respect it. Be here for the prayers before we begin.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
EXTENSION PERIOD OF CONSIDERATION FOR THE MINES AND MINERALS AMENDMENT BILL
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that in terms of Standing Order Number 33 (8), the Parliamentary Legal Committee sought an extension of the period to consider the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [H.B.10;2022], and the extension was accordingly granted for a further twenty-six (26) business days.
ZIMBABWE-PALESTINIAN PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDSHIP ASSOCIATION
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that Hon. Members wishing to join the Zimbabwe-Palestinian Parliamentary Friendship Association should contact Mr. A. Mapetere, the Committee Clerk on 0712 313 170 or extension 2074. Please take note of the limited number of the membership, which should not be more than fifteen (15) members.
APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM THE EXECUTIVE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have received apologies from the Executive:
- C.D.G. N.Chiwenga, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care;
- J. Moyo, Minister of Local Government and Public Works;
- Dr. A.J. Masuka, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development;
- M. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services;
- O.C.Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs;
- Prof. M. Ncube, Minister of Finance and Economic Development;
- Prof. A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development;
- K. Kazembe, Minister of Homes Affairs and Cultural Heritage;
- R. Maboyi-Mavhungu, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage;
- Hon. W. Chitando, Minister of Mines and Mining Development;
- Hon. P. Kambamura, Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development;
- Hon. P. Mavima, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare;
- Hon. Dr. S. Nzenza, Minister of Industry and Commerce and
- Hon. D. Garwe, Minister of National Housing.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
HON. NDUNA: My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. According to the statutes Hon. Speaker, there is optional pensionable age at 55 and there is automatic pensionable age at 65 years. What is Government policy insofar as it relates to disbursement to the pensioners the money that they are supposed to receive monthly as a lump sum when they need to use it for medical expenses before their medical condition takes them away from this earth?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): If I understood the question, he wants to find out whether there can be early disbursement before the pensionable age. I would say you cannot get your pension before you get to your pensionable age. If the policy is going to change anytime, it will be made through Parliament which comes up with that suggestion - but currently, you have to get your pension after you get to your pensionable age. I want to thank you so much.
HON. NDUNA: I had actually observed the pensionable age; the first one to be 55, which is optional and the automatic one 65 years of age. Thereafter, during the subsistence of that pensionable age, disbursements when the pensioner is now at home. What is the Government policy? Is there room for Government to incorporate a statute or have a statute that disburses a lump sum of those disbursements instead of monthly to alleviate the plight of the suffering elder pensioners who want to use that lump sum for health reasons and healthcare. Mr. Speaker, aware that the Protocol to the African Charter and indeed our own Constitution does deal with the rights of all the persons, including their health. Would it be …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you are now debating. Just ask your supplementary question.
HON. NDUNA: A plethora of statutes, including the African Charter, speak to the health of the elder persons, including their human rights. Would it please the Minister to have a statute in place that disburses that money as a lump sum so that it can take care of the health of the pensioners who are already receiving their emoluments?
HON. MATUKE: I want to agree with the Hon. Member. There is a Bill coming to Parliament to address those issues very soon and I am sure it will be able to address what you raised and even more. Thank you.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: My supplementary question to the Hon Minister is that throughout the years, the quantum of pension that our pensioners are getting has been eroded by inflation and other factors to the extent that a pensioner is unable to travel to go and collect his/her monthly pension. What is government doing to restore value to the pensions that our pensioners are earning and also protect the dignity of the same pensioners? I thank you Hon. Speaker.
HON. MATUKE: The issue of monetary erosion is affecting the entire economy and does not spare our pensioners. However, as I indicated, we have a Bill coming to this House which will enable us to raise issues to do with pegging the pension into US$ but you cannot then change the system because it has to align with the monthly earnings of our employees. I am only indicating that when the Bill comes, Parliament will be in a position to interrogate and make sure that they make the necessary changes in the Bill.
HON. MADZIMURE: We have a special category of pensioners of people who suffered injuries during the war. In a situation like this one, it becomes more difficult for them as some of them have no limbs and want the limbs replaced. Some of them have permanent injuries and need to visit the doctor on a monthly basis. Is the Minister considering inclusion of a clause in the new Bill that will cater for those people to have special medical cards that will allow them to get specialized treatment in general or private hospitals?
HON. MATUKE: Hon. Speaker, I am sure what the Hon. Member is trying to put across is a request and I am sure it is worth considering when the Bill comes. We can take note of that.
HON. MARKHAM: Hon. Speaker, I understand what the Minister is trying to say. My question is: we have got civil servants who have had up to 400% salary increase. I have just received from an old people’s home, a request for what is going to happen to their pensions because rates in the City of Harare have gone up five-fold. What is the immediate solution for pensioners? I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I will indulge that because we need to stick to policy and not issues that affect a particular locality.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Hon. Speaker, may I rephrase it? What is government’s policy to help the pensioners immediately in view of the increase in salaries for workers and the five-fold increase in rates?
HON. MATUKE: Mr. Speaker, may I be given time to research on this very important question because I do not have an adequate answer for him now. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I hope the Hon. Minister will come back and clarify issues.
(v)HON. S. TSHUMA: My question is directed to the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Tourism. Is it a new norm that wild animals such as rhinos and elephants are now roaming outside the National Park? Such incidences are taking place in areas such as Chizarira National Park. What is government doing in order to protect human life?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Tshuma, your question is specific in relation to Chizarira National Parks. You should have put that question in writing. I thank you.
(v)HON. NKANI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to find out what government policy is on…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you deal with the reverberation. We can hardly hear the Hon. Member. Hon. Member, can you kindly repeat your question.
(v)HON. NKANI: What is government policy…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, can the people around you switch off their gadgets please? They are interfering with the system or your radio.
(v)HON. NKANI: There is no radio here Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. What is government policy on privatization on uncompleted road construction works in 2023?
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Let me thank Hon. Nkani for that very important question. Hon Speaker Sir, with the advent of heavy rains …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, can you remove the other gadget? Sorry about that.
A laptop was removed from the Table.
HON. MHONA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I was saying with the advent of the heavy rains, there was a slowdown to rehabilitation of our roads. I want to assure Hon. Nkani that yes, per each province, we have prioritised roads so that we embark and resume the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP). If you have seen, we have started on a number of roads as we speak so that we then move with speed to reconstruct. Also, you will be seeing us doing the grass cutting, pothole patching and in some cases reconstructing roads. I want to assure him that each province has got a unique set up where we are going also to consult Resident Ministers and also the local leadership so that they give us their priority list in terms of the roads that they want us to embark on. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. NKANI: My supplementary question Mr. Speaker Sir, is that I need clarity because we have roads which were already under construction and not yet completed. May the Minister clarify on whether his Ministry is going to start with those and have them completed or they are going to embark on new roads?
THE HON. SPEAKER: I am afraid your question is asking for specific information and I suggest you follow up that question in writing so that the Hon. Minister can research on the matter.
*HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary question is that the Minister said his Ministry will be consulting the Resident Ministers and the local leadership so that they have their prioritised list in terms of the roads that they want to be rehabilitated. Is the same programme also extended to urban areas so that we can also inform our constituents to have their prioritised lists for roads rehabilitation programme?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Primarily, roads under local authorities do not fall under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development. However, there is a programme to assist local authorities. Perhaps from that angle, the Hon. Minister may want to respond.
*HON. MHONA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I also want to thank Hon. Hamauswa for his question. Thank you Mr. Speaker for the explanation that you clearly gave. It is true that roads in urban areas are under the local authorities but the fact that sometimes local authorities face some challenges, we end up assisting them. I also want to thank Government for the programme to inform residents around, and Hon. Hamauswa is also part of those who approached our offices indicating some roads that have been damaged which need rehabilitation. Hon. Members can liaise with the Ministry so that we can assist in the construction of roads in their respective constituencies. If local authorities are facing some challenges, we cannot let them fail. We are going to work together with the local authorities so that we rehabilitate our road infrastructure.
(v)*HON. T. ZHOU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary question is that there are different roads which were under construction and rehabilitation in different provinces. What Government plans do you have in place to safeguard Government funds and ensure that resources are not going to be wasted by redoing the same portions that have been worked on before?
*HON. MHONA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I also want to thank Hon. Zhou for the question. Considering the coming of the Second Republic, we are not in a rush to make payments if the roadworks is not completed to our satisfaction. Last year, companies were invited to come before the Ministry to explain if the money they are charging is equivalent to what is to be spent. In that regard, the Government has not yet paid them. It is waiting for contractors to come and give a detailed financial expenditure and such roadworks have been suspended a little bit. All the projects that are now taking place, it means that Government has agreed with the contractors to go ahead and complete the project and they will be paid after completion of the work. Thank you.
HON. MOKONE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Energy. In his absence, I redirect it to the Leader of the House. What is Government policy as regards providing alternative power supplies to critical areas in the country such as hospitals and water pumping systems?
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. NHONA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me also thank Hon. Mokone for that important question. Indeed, we had a number of shortages of power supply which was quite advent and a number of places were affected. Under normal circumstances, such critical services are prioritised where we are talking of hospitals because of the services that are provided. Also, at this juncture, to thank again Government through the initiatives, the coming on board of unit 7, Hwange which is also going to be adding directly to what is being consumed by the nation.
I want to assure the Hon. Member that under normal circumstances, priority is given to hospitals and in that regard, that should also continue. Thank you.
(v)HON. MAHLANGU: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. As much as the Hon. Minister has said they are prioritising the hospitals, at Mpilo Hospital, there has not been electricity and a number of other stations were affected in terms of supplying water to Mpilo Hospital.
HON. MHONA: Thank you Hon. Mahlangu for that very important follow up question. However, since the Hon. Member has indicated specific areas, with your indulgence, I will indulge my counterpart so that he can investigate and see why Mpilo and other pumping stations are being affected. Thank you.
HON. CHIDHAKWA: I would like to know from the Minister if they have any plan to have back up power because there is also solar energy and generators instead of waiting for ZESA alone.
HON. MHONA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. Let me also thank Hon. Chidhakwa. There is a Renewable Energy Policy in place where we are also pursuing other very important strategic issues to address complementing what we have for the endowment that we have as a country in terms of solar.
I also want to say to the people of Zimbabwe that there is an option to contribute to the grid if you are also producing excess where you can be rewarded by contributing directly to the grid.
I want to say Hon. Chidhakwa, that is a good observation where we cannot wait upon the ZESA alone but also pursue other very important options. I thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Sports, Culture and Recreation. It is now over a year since Zimbabwe was suspended by FIFA. The reason that was given was Government interference.
Over this period, a lot of things have been happening in sports, many of our children have been growing up losing the opportunity to expose their talents in participating in various and many soccer activities that have been happening. The Minister has been telling this House that there is a programme that they are following to ensure that Zimbabwe is readmitted. Can the Minister be honest to this House and tell us if there is anything that is happening or Zimbabwe has surrendered that it will not be part of the soccer community of this world?
THE MINISTER OF SPORT, ARTS AND RECREATION (HON. COVENTRY): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. In terms of policy, I am not sure where this question lies exactly besides the Sport and Recreation Commission standing up for female referees who were sexually abused and for misconduct in misappropriation of funds. As I have said before to this House, the investigations are continuing and it has not been two years.
As we have said and as you would have read in the newspapers this morning, the ZIFA executive has handed over their roadmap, it has been given to SRC. The SRC Commission and ZIFA executive are working well together. They have a strategic plan that has been moving forward, the conversations with CAF and FIFA are ongoing. I cannot comment on either of those to this House sadly, but there should be some developments in the next five to 6 weeks. I thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: Mr. Speaker, the roadmap cannot come from ZIFA because it is the Sports and Recreational Commission that caused the suspension. May the Minister be honest and say exactly where the roadmap is coming from because it cannot come from the Association which was suspended because of the national commission. It was suspended because of the Sports Commission.
HON. COVENTRY: The roadmap has to come from the federation as agreed by SRC with ZIFA. The new ZIFA Executive that was voted in last year. They are the ones that have sat down with the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), they are the ones that have taken the recommendations from the Commission …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Minister, do not waste your energy, the questioner is not listening to your answer. Please sit down.
HON. HWENDE: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker. My supplementary question is: the issue that is here is that ZIFA has been suspended because of the interference of the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation through the Sports and Recreation Commission; and they are clear that as long as you do not reinstate the former ZIFA President, ZIFA is going to remain banned.
So the solution is supposed to come from the Minister – this is why we are asking Hon. Speaker, that she can tell us the roadmap because it is now over two years, we are not having any soccer. Even the stadiums that she was supposed to correct, she has failed just to fix our stadiums so that they can be at the standard that FIFA expects. So there are a lot of problems in FIFA and we genuinely want her to respond to …
THE HON. SPEAKER: What is your question Hon. Hwende?
HON. HWENDE: We want her to state the …
THE HON. SPEAKER: We want the Hon. Minister!
HON. HWENDE: We want the Hon. Minister to tell us the steps that Government is taking in order for ZIFA to be restored to the community of nations by FIFA.
HON. COVENTRY: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Hon. Speaker, the ZIFA Executive and the former ZIFA Board were suspended by the Sports and Recreation Commission first and foremost, and not by the Ministry.
Secondly, the new ZIFA Executive have been working with the SRC on a roadmap that is public.
Thirdly, the national football has been happening; the clubs have been happening, students have not been missing out on anything. The roadmap has been shared with the public – it is all there. The roadmap was very clear that after the recommendations were given to the SRC, permission - [HON. HWENDE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir]-
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you wait until the Hon. Minister is finished.
HON. COVENTRY: The ZIFA Executive will take the report, compile a roadmap and share it with the SRC Board which was done last Friday. There were clarifications that have happened this week, they have now agreed on the next steps. This has all been public knowledge. It was in the national newspaper this morning. I am not sure how much clearer I can be with what the next steps are. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. HWENDE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir! I think it is important for the Hon. Minister to stick to the questions. We are Members of Parliament and we are asking as Members of Parliament; I am asking the question in my capacity as Member of Parliament for Kuwadzana. She cannot refer me to the public like what she is saying. I have asked here in Parliament. We want to know the steps that the Government is taking …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Hwende! May you please stick to our parliamentary language?
HON. HWENDE: Thank you and sorry for that. Hon. Minister, we simply want you to state the steps that the Government, through the Sports and Recreational Commission, is taking in order for Zimbabwe to be reinstated by FIFA so that we can participate in world football – that is the simple question that we are on.
THE HON. SPEAKER: That is the clarification Hon. Minister.
HON. COVENTRY: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I apologise, I did not realise that Members of Parliament were not part of the public. My apologies for that.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the steps which Government is taking as a Ministry, we are fully supporting the Sports and Recreation Commission …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Minister! Could you withdraw the statement that you were unaware that Members of Parliament are not part of the public? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order, we do not accept cynicism in the House.
HON. COVENTRY: No problem Mr. Speaker Sir, I apologise for making reference to Members of Parliament being part of the public. I apologise for that and withdraw it.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Please proceed.
HON. COVENTRY: Mr. Speaker Sir, as I said, the Ministry is fully supporting the Sports and Recreation Commission in every step they have taken. The Ministry is fully funding the Executive, the staff of ZIFA House so that they can run as normal. We have been financially supporting them since the suspension. We will continue to do that – that is the role of the Ministry.
The role of the Sports and Recreation Commission is to work with ZIFA to find a way forward – they are doing that. Once they have done that, once they have agreed on that, they will take that to CAF and FIFA and we should see a result. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. GONESE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation is that she is making reference to the new ZIFA Board…
THE HON. SPEAKER: It is the Hon. Minister is making reference!
HON. GONESE: Yes, the Hon. Minister is making reference to the new ZIFA Board which she is intimating. Can she explain to us when was that ZIFA Board elected into office? The position or the basis upon which Zimbabwe has been suspended from all football activities is because the Sports and Recreation Commission suspended a duly elected ZIFA Board that has been deemed to be Government interference in footballing matters which is against the FIFA statutes. Can the Hon. Minister justify the continued Government position or policy relating to that in the context of firstly, the suspension of Zimbabwe bearing in mind that we had a similar situation with Zimbabwe cricket? Government had to eat a humble pie and reinstate the Cricket Board because it was against the ICC statutes. We are seeing a repetition of that same error. Can the Hon. Minister clarify those matters which are very critical? The current board was not elected at all but was handpicked, if she can explain?
HON. COVENTRY: Thank you Hon. Speaker and thank you to the Hon. Member. Mr. Speaker, the current Executive Committee was duly elected last year – I would have to go back and get the exact date.
Of the former committee that was suspended by the SRC, suspension was lifted for three of those members and the other three are still facing court challenges. I cannot speak to that either Mr. Speaker Sir. So I am not too sure what the clarity of the question is. The Ministry will stand firm with the suspension of the ZIFA. We interfered for the reasons that are already out there that the public and Members of Parliament know. I shared with them the last time. The Ministry as well as Government will stand firm and stand behind the Sports and Recreation Commission in the expulsion and the suspension of the former ZIFA Board until we see things moving forward. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. GONESE: She has not adequately answered my question.
THE HON. SPEAKER: What was your question?
HON. GONESE: I said what is the justification …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! It is for the Chair to make that judgement. What you can seek is clarification. May you proceed?
HON. GONESE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The clarification I am seeking is that I had asked the Hon. Minister to explain the justification for the stance taken by the Sports and Recreation Commission in the context of the fact that FIFA has said it in black and white that Zimbabwe will not be reinstated in the community of world football until that ZIFA Board has been reinstated. I gave the example of Zimbabwe Cricket where the Government had to eat a humble pie and reinstate the Cricket Board for Zimbabwe to be able to participate in cricket. So that is the question that I needed clarification on.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon Minister, I think the issues revolve on, to what extent Government is communicating with FIFA to find a way forward in lifting up the ban.
HON. COVENTRY: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. For clarity, the reasons that the SRC stepped in and suspended the board were three main reasons. The first reason was that Government had given ZIFA about US$2 million that has never been accounted for, not FIFA money but Zimbabwe money that parliamentarians should want to know where it is gone. That was never accounted for. Secondly, four female referees have come forward and given their statements to police and they have been investigated. Three of those members were on the board. One of those members has already received a lifetime ban from FIFA from their own investigations that have been done over the last two months with a SF25 000 fine. I am sure we can get those details for you if you would like specific names.
FIFA is now investigating the second member that was on the board that was sexually abusing and harassing these women. As I just said, the first member has been found guilty by FIFA and is serving a lifetime ban from soccer and SF25 000 fine. The second one is still being investigated by FIFA. FIFA knew that this was happening in 2018/19 when these women filed an appeal with FIFA and got no response. They then came to Government – SRC, Government and my office worked together with these women to ensure that police reports were done and statements were made. We then went back to FIFA and CAF and we requested for them to step in but they refused. We then stepped in and suspended the executive for the things that I have just shared with Members of Parliament, which I have shared previously.
We then stepped in and as you know, FIFA then stepped in afterwards to suspend us from international soccer. We accepted that. We have never asked them to lift it. We do not want them to lift it at this point until we have cleared and cleaned up our soccer. We are not doing as other Hon. Members may say a disservice, a disservice to who – [HON. BITI: Do you watch soccer?]- I do watch soccer.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon Biti, can you please listen. Thank you.
HON. COVENTRY: The Ministry and SRC will stand together with these women along with the corruption that has been going on for as long as it takes. Those are the steps we have laid out. The steps that have been taken have been followed. The process now is, the ZIFA executive that was duly elected has given their roadmap and the points that they want to clarify and clean up. They will work with SRC and they will give those reports to CAF and FIFA and we will then go further when we get those responses.
HON. TEKESHE: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Motor vehicles on our roads are increasing at a very alarming rate and so are the accidents. What does the policy say on compensation of accident victims?
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Let me thank Hon. Tekeshe for that very important and emotional question where we are losing lives on our roads at an alarming rate. There is need to move with speed on the promulgation of the Road Accident Fund which will also come before this august House. I want to agree that as a country, we are highly rated in terms of carnage that we witness on our roads which must not continue and which calls for a holistic approach as a citizenry. Some are attributed to human error, defects of cars but a larger percentage goes to human error where we are busy using our phones and no longer respecting our regulations.
As a Ministry, we are also going to be calling for a stakeholder platform where we are going to deliberate on these very important issues so as to mitigate the carnage that we are witnessing. I want to say to the Hon. Member and to the august House that indeed, Road Accident Fund is something that we are also seeking concurrence from the respected august House so that we have in place, but you then find that in other jurisdiction, it will then cater for those that are injured and in other areas, they go to the extent of looking after the beneficiaries and those that are injured. We are saying this is what we are benchmarking within the region to say how the same fund is being administered. I want to assure the august House that very soon, we will be tabling the same after engaging widely as enunciated in the Constitution, to seek indulgence from the people of Zimbabwe under Section 141. Precisely, this is what we are going to be doing Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The front bench on my left, there is no need for you to squeeze like that. There is plenty of room that side.
HON. TEKESHE: I would like to know from the Minister who is supposed to compensate the accident victims? Is it the bus operators or Government?
HON. MHONA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. For any vehicle to traverse on our roads, you are supposed to have a passenger liability insurance in place. Under normal circumstances, the vehicle owners, whether they are buses or private cars, are supposed to meet and also pay adequately for the compensation.
If you look at our insurance policy, it actually covers - if it is full comprehensive cover, that there is also a liability to third parties, whether it is injury or death. This is where people are supposed to be compensated but you find in a number of cases Hon. Speaker, we do not adequately insure our vehicles and we have this challenge. Where there is a disaster, that is where you find Government coming in also to assist the bereaved and also to try and address those that are injured. Under normal circumstances, whether it is a private or passenger vehicle, you are supposed to adequately cover for injuries whether to the passengers and also for the vehicles themselves. Thank you.
HON. HAMAUSWA: My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister is that whilst the requirement for bus or transport operators to compensate the victims or also to have their vehicles being tested to be roadworthy, our roads are not also in a good state which guarantee the lives of travellers. I want to ask in light also of the declaration by the Head of State that our roads are in a state of emergency - in this situation, what is the Government policy in a situation where accidents are happening as a result of bad roads which we all know that they were declared a state of emergency?
HON. MHONA: Contrary to what my fellow colleague is saying Hon. Hamauswa, where we have witnessed that we have got excellent roads, we are witnessing a number of accidents. Precisely, there is no correlation to the statement that has been posed by Hon. Hamauswa. Where the road is damaged, at times you then reduce speed naturally so that you then navigate properly. However, where we have witnessed reconstruction of roads, you find that there is the element of speeding again, which is also contributing to the number of accidents that we are witnessing, but not to defend that the state of roads must continue such that we avoid accidents.
I want also to appeal to the people of Zimbabwe that it is not only the state of the road but also the mindset, culture and attitude that we are witnessing on our roads where people are no longer observing the regulations, sticking and abiding to the dictates of safety on the roads. Precisely, what we are calling for is the humble approach when you are using the road. You find that those who are dying are also innocent where even the state of the vehicle might not be serviced. So there are a number of variables but I also want to assure the Hon. Member that yes, it is the mandate of Government to make sure that our roads are trafficable and we will continue on that trajectory.
(v)HON. S NDLOVU: My question is directed to the …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Sorry, Hon. Ndlovu. Is that a new question, I thought maybe you would want to ask a supplementary question. If it is a new question, we still have other Hon. Members who would want to ask some supplementary questions. I will give you the floor after we have finished with the supplementary questions.
(v)HON. S NDLOVU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. NDUNA: Would it please the Hon. Minister to use distance over speed is equal to the time taken or distance over time is equal to the speed taken between the Toll Plazas or Gates in order to use computerisation for the good order of the citizens of Zimbabwe to avoid, avert and completely remove the scourge of accidents. Would it also please him to completely abolish the third-party insurance and also enforce the compensation for passenger insurance. For those that are injured, it is about US$2 000 and those that are bereaved it is about US$4 000. Would it please the Minister to concentrate on those two issues: I pray Mr. Speaker Sir, in order to compensate those that are injured and the bereaved.
HON. MHONA: Let me thank Hon. Nduna for the suggestions which are very noble and he cited the issue of taking advantage of time difference in terms of speeding where one would actually be penalised when you approach a tollgate if you were speeding along or in-between. Also to say yes, these are some of the mitigatory measures that we will also take on board to consider and avoid the issue of speeding, and also the solution that he has proffered in terms of enforcement to say the compensation amounts which is something that will also emanate from this House. So I totally agree. Thank you.
#HON. L. SIBANDA: I would want the Hon. Minister to explain to this august House what assistance is given to people who are disabled or lose their source of income or livelihood as a result of a road accident?
*HON. MHONA: I want to thank Hon. L. Sibanda for the important question she has raised. Yes, it is true that someone might lose use of a part of their body resulting in the loss of their income. This is another matter that we are looking at through the Traffic Safety Council following up on people who will have become disabled due to road accidents to see how they can be assisted. Some might have left young children behind but through the Road Accident Fund that we are putting in place, these are some of the issues that will be looked into to ensure people recover their source of livelihood they might have lost due to an injury they incurred through road accidents, to see they are assisted or compensated. This will come through Parliament and we will debate on these issues and come up with measures that will be put in place to address this.
HON. BITI: My supplementary question to the esteemed Minister of Transport is that there is a challenge of compensation to accident victims and the Minister has a simple solution which is to amend Section 23 and 24 of the Road Traffic Act which limits the amount of compensation that can be paid by insurance houses in respect of third party insurance. If the maximum is US$2 000, whether a person has died or lost a limb and the maximum is US$4 000 for an entire bus. Can you imagine 75 people in a bus sharing US$4 000? So the Minister can easily amend Section 23 and 24 of the Road Traffic Act.
Secondly, third party insurance funds are accumulating millions yet small amounts are being paid to victims. Third party insurance needs to be revisited in Zimbabwe because insurance houses are milking and creaming off money and not paying victims. So the Minister should direct that the Road Victim Fund should be funded by the bulk of contributions in third party insurance. I thank you.
HON. MHONA: Let me thank my fellow learned senior colleague that through the submissions that he has proposed and if you remember Hon. Speaker, I have alluded to the fact that we are going to be calling for an all stakeholders meeting where we are going to be soliciting for views. These are some of the views already coming from the Hon. Member, Hon. Biti that yes, you find some of our statutes and Acts are archaic and we have taken long to revisit some of these statutes which therefore calls on us to look and try to revisit some of these Acts. He has cited the Road Act Number. 13: 18/80 which is very important and would address the Sections 23 and 24 that he has talked about.
It will also go a long way and I would also want to concur with him that some of what we are also paying now does not make sense. As we promulgate the Road Accident Fund, we are going to be addressing this but since the powers vested in this august House within the members in our midst, I will also move with speed and try to address the relevant section even before the promulgation of the Road Accident Fund. So I want to thank him very much for the submissions.
HON. S. SITHOLE: My follow up question to the Minister, I want to go through the question asked by Hon. Hamauswa. Some accidents happen because of potholes. So the Minister must tell the House that those accidents caused by the potholes, who will pay because the Minister is saying these transporters, the insurance must pay. What about the accidents caused by potholes, who is supposed to pay? The Ministry or the Government?
HON. MHONA: The architecture of our Government, we have got the Judiciary and whoever is aggrieved has the recourse of the courts where he can approach the courts to seek redress to your concerns. I am happy that Hon. Sithole has cited such a very important element and where our citizenry in terms of being aggrieved, they still have the right to approach the courts so that you can be compensated adequately. In the event that the accident is a result of a pothole, you have seen that in a number of cases, we have cases where the Minister is sued in his capacity and on behalf of the Ministry.
It is the right and the mandate of the people of Zimbabwe to seek redress in courts. I want to assure the Hon. Member that it is not the policy of Government to neglect our roads so that we have accidents but the desire of Government is to make sure that all our roads are trafficable.
#HON. NOWEDZA: We all know that we have challenges of water and in Bulawayo in particular, we only get water three times per month, especially in western areas but the bills come with high water charges of about RTGS$150 000+/-. To my knowledge, the local authority should bill according to the service that they offer to the people but now as I have highlighted that we do not get sufficient water in Bulawayo, how do they end up with such high rates or bills? My question to the Hon. Minister is what measures is the Minister putting in place to not charge people high bills?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Hon. Member for that question but to be honest, I did not understand. Can somebody translate for me. I am sorry.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Can somebody translate to the Minister please?
HON. MOKONE: The question was that since most areas in towns are always without water, why are water tariffs going up every time and the bills are very high.
HON. CHOMBO: I will have to check on that one. The issue is some of the bills are estimates but as a Ministry, we have taken a stance that all the local authorities have to be computerised. We are working with Harare Institute of Technology to introduce a platform or system whereby all the local authorities can computerise and make sure that their bills are online and correct. So I will have to check specifically on that local authority if they are operating on manual and also doing estimates. As far as the charges, if the rates are high or not, normally what happens is when they do the budgeting, we agree on the rates. I urge the Hon. Member to also go and check if the rates that were agreed upon during budgeting are the rates that are being charged.
HON. WATSON: The Minister has spoken about rates agreed. Part of the problem is that a rate is agreed at budget. Councils then introduced a system of rating against the USD using the bank rate which means a consistent increase in the bill of what is used to bill every month. Citizens are complaining that when water is restored, air is pushed through the meters pushing up their meter demand. Does the Minister have any answer to these questions? Thank you.
HON. CHOMBO: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Thank you Hon. Watson for the important follow up question. On the issue of the pressure when the water comes and then the meter is raised, I think that is a little bit technical. I will have to check, but the way I know it is the only rating only goes against the water that really comes out of the tap and not the pressure. However, as I said, I will have to check on that one. Also, you know we are operating on a multi-currency regime, so if they are charging USD1 today and they use the auction rate, it is allowed but they have to stick to what was budgeted for. Thank you.
HON. HAMAUSWA: On a point of order. It looks like the Minister pointed out a number of issues where the Hon. Minister is saying they are going to check; they are going to verify. My point of order is that - is it not prudent Mr. Speaker, for the Hon. Minister to bring a Ministerial Statement because the issue of bills is affecting the citizens to a point that some are even fearing losing their houses because the bills are not in line with the water they are consuming. There are technical issues which the Minister said they need to verify. There are also issues to do with increasing the bills and the unavailability of water while the bills are coming. Is it not prudent to bring a ministerial statement that would cover these issues and also as Hon. Members, we will be given an opportunity to ask questions that are related to issues that are being brought to us by the people we represent? Thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Thank you very much. Hon. Minister, please take note. You are being requested to bring a ministerial statement.
HON. CHOMBO: Thank you.
HON. MATEWU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is to the Minister of Energy. What is Government policy in relation to the new Unit 7 at Hwange? What the citizens had been assured is that once we roll out Unit 7, there is going to be more electricity in the households but it has now gone even worse. There is now continuous and substantive lack of electricity. In Marondera for example, we only get electricity two hours at night. In the day, there is nothing. What is Government doing to ensure that people have electricity in their homes? Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. SODA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. This is not a policy issue but I get the concern from the Hon. Member that the power situation has been depressed. I will give an explanation but also to indicate that Unit 7 was finally synchronised on the 20th March and is still undergoing commissioning tests where it shall be operating at various performing levels. It started off at 50, moved to 75 and as we speak, it is sending out around 200 megawatts but it shall be scaled up to 300 with time as they continue to do their compliance tests.
Mr. Speaker Sir, Hwange Power Station, the old units continue to give us problems. I once said in this House that ultimately, our intention would be to rehabilitate the old units with the intention of restoring the performance to the installed capacity of 920 megawatts. As we speak, today Hwange is sending out 303 megawatts into the grid and we are also receiving electricity from Kariba. We are still at 350 megawatts. It is our hope that as we begin the month of April, water allocations are going to be reviewed by ZRA so that we ramp up on our production of electricity from Kariba.
I agree with the Hon. Member on the concern that he has raised that the power supply situation is still depressed, even with the synchronisation that has happened on Unit 7, we are still below demand that is currently obtaining. We are looking forward to the completion of expansion project by bringing in Unit 8 which will come after April but precisely in May, according to the targets that ZPC has on bringing that unit onto the grid. Like I once said, it is only when we have completed the expansion project that we would have sufficiently dealt with the load shedding situation that we are currently experiencing.
There has been an expansion in the level of economic activities. You will agree with me that there is expansion in agriculture and in the mining sector. So, the demand continues to grow but we have plans to deal with that growth that is also happening in terms of the demand side. I have spoken about the rehabilitation where we intend to restore the current units to the installed capacity of 920 and also the participation of the independent power producers, the private sector also making a contribution. As we speak, not so much that they have started to feed into the grid. We have some projects that are under construction and we think that is going to make a contribution once they are concluded, including some imports. South Africa has not been giving us adequately as per the contract because of what they are also experiencing in their country. That has also caused the problems that we are currently facing Mr. Speaker Sir. I thank you.
HON. MAKHARM: Thank you Mr. Speaker. What is the Government policy; with the incoming 300 megawatts, are they going to keep the same level of import or to reduce the imports and keep us on the heavy load shedding, or they are going to release more power to the consumers?
HON. SODA: Mr. Speaker Sir, we will not reduce on the level of our imports immediately until we have sufficient power supply in the country. Unfortunately, South Africa is having their own problems which we are all aware that they have a crisis in their country. Whenever they are having that crisis - obviously, they will not send us as per what has been contracted. So the policy, to respond to the Hon. Member’s question, we will continue to import until we have reached a level of self-sufficiency in the country. I thank you.
*HON. MACHINGAUTA: On a point of order! I once requested in this august House for the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs to bring a Ministerial Statement giving us their roadmap with regards to the forthcoming general elections that there be no violence. This came about when there was political violence in various provinces of the country, so it was promised in this House that the Hon. Minister shall bring the Ministerial Statement. However, to date, there has not been a Ministerial Statement that has been brought regarding that matter, so that we may have peace and order in our country which was liberated in 1980.
*THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. KAZEMBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the point of order that he has raised. I promise the Hon. Member that I will bring the Ministerial Statement next week. I thank you.
*HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I would like to say I appreciate the response from the Minster of Energy and Power Development. However, may the Minister of Energy explain what they are doing about the residents in this country, particularly where I come from Harare West Constituency, they are being told that the reason why there is no electricity is because the cables that are used for transmitting power are now old. Therefore, the residents are now contributing a lot of money to replace those underground cables.
Secondly, transformers are being stolen and residents again, are sacrificing and paying a lot of money to replace that equipment. So I would like to find out that even after the residents have procured the said equipment, still the power is not coming forth. I would like to know what is going to happen to the contributions, are they going to be refunded after replacing the cables and other equipment?
*HON. SODA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. If I have heard very well the question is about lack of electricity or power where the Hon. Member comes from which is being caused by faulty or broken cables. Yes, broken cables can be the cause of shortage of power but let me clarify that it is not Government policy that residents whose cables would have developed problems should buy on their own those cables, it is supposed to be done by ZESA as a parastatal.
However, there is a time when such cables may have broken whilst ZESA does not have anything in stock. Procuring of equipment by parastatals is in the public domain through PRAZ, so sometimes it may take long due to the processes. So sometimes the residents themselves may volunteer to buy those cables or transformers. ZESA, therefore requests that those residents who would have purchased such items write a letter that they are doing that voluntarily and state how much they have used to purchase such equipment and that money is reimbursed through electricity charges.
However, on the issue that the residents would have replaced broken cables or stolen transformers and at the end of the day there will still be power shortages maybe caused by the national shortage of electricity in the country which we are very much aware of. That is why the Government is putting all efforts to make sure there is sufficient electricity and like I have mentioned earlier on, that Unit 7 was added on the grid. Plans are also under way to add Unit 8.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I think it must have been in the last week or the week before when the Hon. Minister promised that the department under his purview, ZESA; in the locality where I reside and other Members reside, in so far as it relates to medical attention, water treatment in the cantonment areas, those areas are going to be spared in terms of power deficit and power provision.
However, is the Minister and his department in terms of apportioning power to those areas where I come from, where there has been supposed to be 168 hours of power provision, there has just been 95 hours of power provision and the net effect has been the provision of water - 7.8 mega litres where they were supposed to be more than 120 mega litres during the seven days provided, there is now a hot-bed of cholera and typhoid which are medieval diseases. How far is the Minister in terms of providing me with power in the areas that are critical that he alluded to as being critical?
HON. SODA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I recall very well Mr. Speaker that I indicated that we have some critical facilities that are supposed to be provided with power even in times of depressed generation, examples being water treatment plants, hospitals and even - [HON. NDUNA: Cantonment areas, especially for aviation!] – even clinics.
It is a process Mr. Speaker Sir. There is need for dedicated power supply lines that are supposed to be constructed to allow for those facilities not to undergo loadshedding. So that is work in progress. Those areas have been identified and ZETDC is putting up some infrastructure to allow for those facilities to get dedicated power supply whenever we have depressed power supply situations. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
(v)HON. MAHLANGU: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I just what to find out from the Hon. Minister, we really appreciate that he said that he installed Unit 7 power generator or something like that at Hwange Power Station. I just want to know when the Unit 7 generator is going to be functional because as we speak, he made an announcement two weeks ago but to date, we still have challenges in getting electricity. When are they going to make that Unit 7 generator functional so that people cannot be complaining about ZESA? I thank you.
HON. SODA: Mr. Speaker Sir, Unit Seven (7) was synchronised on 20th March. It will undergo commissioning tests for three months before it is commercially available. I think that is the response to the question that was posed by the Hon. Member. Thank you.
HON. MARKHAM: Good afternoon Mr. Speaker, thank you. Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Energy and Power Development pertaining to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs). Mr. Speaker, the IPPs are already on their knees because they borrowed and invested money all in United States Dollars.
The payment from the Government of Zimbabwe is in Zimbabwe Dollars local which the Government insists on. Can the Minister apprise us on what he plans to do with these people, particularly when the interbank rate is starting to move rather quickly? What is Government policy to keep the independent producers that are in power viable? Secondly, those who were about to come onto the grid, what encouragement have they got to finish the job if they are only going to be paid in the receiving currency? Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. SODA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Mr. Speaker Sir, we have a Government Implementation Agreement which was issued by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development precisely on 19th December, 2022. It was announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development as a means to mitigate against the risk of currency convertibility.
It has been an issue for quite some time where investors would bring their money from outside the country, develop a project in Zimbabwe but at a time when they wanted to repay for the loans that they would have procured for the purposes of developing that project, it was a nightmare for them. Also, when project developers were intending to expatriate proceeds of their investments outside the country, they were facing that challenge due to the issues of our currencies.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has come up with a Government Implementation Agreement which is a mechanism to deal with the currency issues and the expatriation risks. We now have something in place and I will advise the Hon. Member, including others, to speak about what the Government of Zimbabwe is doing to incentivise project developers and to mitigate against risks that he has just spoken about; not only that, we also have quite a number of incentives to attract or to make the investment environment to become conducive.
We have tax rebates that are on offer, the Government of Zimbabwe is also assisting project developers with land allocation for the development of their projects including tax holidays that are also on offer. So those, including the Government Implementation Agreement are mechanisms that the Government has put in place to ensure that projects are developed and risks are mitigated. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my point is, if you are not making money and you are on your knees tax incentives are irrelevant. What I would like to ask the Hon. Minister is, I cannot understand why when we import we pay dollars. So, we are paying a foreigner money in dollars. When we get an investor who invests his dollars here, we fail to pay him dollars, yet a large portion of ZESA revenue is from the consumer. I cannot understand why the Government is refraining from paying the IPPs dollars unless they do not want them to operate. Thank you.
HON. SODA: Mr. Speaker Sir, it is not about unwillingness by the power utility to pay project developers in dollars. It is because the money is not adequate. We are all aware that we supplement our locally generated power with imports and we promulgated a policy to deal with collection of revenue in foreign currencies specifically for the purposes of paying for power imports – that money is not adequate until a time when we would have replaced the capacity that we are importing with locally generated power, just like we are doing with Units 7 and 8.
When we have fully replaced that power, the power that we are importing with what we are generating locally then we will stop importing and when we have stopped importing, obviously we will be able to pay IPPs in dollars but as we speak, the capacity is not there. ZESA is not able to pay for power imports including power that is locally generated from independent power producers in foreign currency.
We have come up with a mechanism to allow Independent Power Producers to meet their financial obligations with funders for their projects through the Government Implementation Agreement. This is what we are doing. At the moment, ZESA does not have adequate funds to pay for power imports and locally generated power. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, my supplementary question to the esteemed Minister of Energy is that it is very unlikely that in the mid-term, Zimbabwe will be able to produce electricity that will meet the national demand of around 4000MW even if we add Unit 7 and 8 which is a mere 600MW, it will not help. The units at Hwange except for Unit 4 are old and archaic and should have been decommissioned. So, there should be a deliberate policy of making sure that household and individuals are self-sufficient from a solar point of view. Why does the esteemed Minister of Energy not carry out a deliberate policy of ensuring that there is facilitation of the solarisation of the movement to alternative energy of all household and you encourage this through the removal of duties on things such as lithium batteries, solar panels and so forth.
The fact of the matter is that we are on our own. So, remove duties and put incentives to individuals who are moving to reliable energy and importers of these equipment like lithium batteries and solar panels and particularly to people who can put huge solar panels that can feed the grid. Why do you not give them incentives because pretending that ZESA will solve our problems is just a pretense and we cannot keep on pretending because we have a problem?
HON. SODA: Thank you once again for allowing me to respond to a new question though it came in the name of a supplementary but I will respond to that question. I am happy the Hon. Member has pointed out to the issues that are affecting us, being the age of the equipment at Hwange Power Station. The policy that we already have is that of rehabilitating the old equipment. We have that policy which is backed by action. There is a loan facility of US$310 million which was procured from the Indian EximBank which will be used for rehabilitation of the old units at Hwange Power Station, Units 1 to 6. Already, work has started. A detailed project report was produced by the project management consultants, WAPCOS Company from India. It has since produced a report on the scope of works that would require to be done to bring back equipment to the installed capacity of 920MW.
Like I indicated earlier, as we speak today, the combined generation which is coming from Hwange is 303MW whereas it has potential to go up to 920MW. The equipment is old and what needs to be done is just to rehabilitate by bringing new equipment so that we achieve the installed capacity of 920MW. The policy is already in place.
Moving on to the suggestion which was made by the Hon. Member that we could allow individuals to supplement using solar system and he has suggested that taxes be removed on imports of solar modules, that is already in place and I will ask the Hon. Member to have a discussion with me on what he has experienced. As far as we are concerned, solar panels are coming duty free into the country. Again, we have a facility called net metering where if you have your solar system at your roof top and you are generating in excess of what you require, you can send the excess into the grid. This time ZESA has agreed that instead of just accruing some units, ZESA will soon be paying for the unit that will be sent to the grid. There is also virtual connection, for instance, one might be having two more facilities that have to be linked to one account, that is now possible through net metering facilities. We have quite a number of mechanisms by which we think we will be able to deal with the current power situation. Going into the future, we are also looking at developing some big projects like Batoka which is on the cards and there are some plans to obtain funding for that project.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Hon Minister, may be for the benefit of the Hon Members, yes you have touched on the solar panels which you have said are duty free, what about the lithium batteries? If you could clarify on that one.
HON. SODA: All renewable energy equipment is imported into the country duty free. I thank you.
HON. GABBUZA: When fuel was a problem in this country, Government moved in to ensuring that it is sold in foreign currency. Since there is a shortage of foreign currency to import energy, would the Minister consider incentivising those who are able to pay in foreign currency so that they settle their bills in foreign currency by a certain incentive so that we sort out this problem of foreign currency shortage.
HON. SODA: We have some companies that are producing their wares for export and those are supposed to pay their bills in foreign currency. We have exporters, those that are producing 80% of their wares which find their way out of the country, they are regarded as exporters and they are supposed to defray their bills in foreign currency. Then we have partial exporters, those that are above 35% but below 80%, they also have a portion which they are supposed to pay in foreign currency. That is already in place. What we may not do immediately is to ask the domestic consumers to pay their bills in foreign currency. That, we will not do in the interim until we have ascertained that they are earning their income in foreign currency. We will continue to receive that income in local currency but there is a mechanism to preserve that tariff to remain at the US$0.1063 equivalency but being in local currency. I thank you.
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER in terms of Standing Order No. 68
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE
Minister of Local Government having been absent in the House to answer questions
HON. MARKHAM: Mr. Speaker, I do not see the Minister here and I must protest. It is obvious that the Minister was here and he knows my questions are on the Order Paper. He came up last week – it is the 24th time that I have brought up the question on the Justice Uchena Report. Up to now, there is nothing.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Thank you very much Hon. Markham. I think I must…
HON. MARKHAM: Mr. Speaker, can I have a ruling and a deadline for that now? It is over a year that I have been asking for the Justice Uchena Report. I know that the Ministry of Justice has got it. Why are they not releasing it? It is public funds to do that. It is a damning report and one of the appendixes shows it is absolutely damning the judge to the perfect job. It lists the Land Board and it lists some amount of money that they stole.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Markham, I think you are now out of order. I thought I listened to the first point that you have raised.
HON. MAMOMBE: How do we proceed Mr. Speaker? There are no more Ministers here except for Hon. Coventry. You have deferred all the questions Hon. Speaker but Question No. 20, the Hon. Minister is here and I think he can just respond Hon. Chidziva’s question before he goes to make the Ministerial Statement. Thank you.
FAILURE TO PAY SCHOOL FEES BY SOME LEARNERS
- HON. CHIDZIVA asked the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to inform the House on the
(a) Plans being put in place to address failure to pay school fees by some learners as well as ensure affordability of education and;
(b) The measures being implemented to assist schools through provision of text books in order to alleviate the plight of parents.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. E. MOYO): The response to that is that the Ministry is aware of the plight of parents who fail to pay school fees and has been working with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare which is responsible for the Basic Education Assistant Module (BEAM), which provides State funded education for orphans and vulnerable children. The Ministry takes a key role in ensuring that fees are affordable by making sure that they are approved by the Permanent Secretary before collections can be made from parents and guardians.
Furthermore, the Ministry has stopped commercialisation in schools to ensure that schools do not constantly request for an upward review of fees from the Ministry. The Ministry has a budget for the provision of text books and schools are encouraged to check with their district offices the available text books at the district offices. Where we have a challenge, the Ministry works in close collaboration with development partners such as UNICEF to also assist schools through the provision of text books in a bid to achieve a text book pupil ratio of 1:1. I thank you.
(v)HON. MAHLANGU: Is the minister talking about the current situation or he is talking about something that happened 10 years back? If he is talking about the text books that are there in the district offices, I do not think this is happening. Each and every school, parents are buying textbooks for their own children. He cannot come and tell us that the textbooks are being provided. He is not being fair because we are buying for our children. Let the Minister withdraw that statement because it is not true. Thank you.
HON. E. MOYO: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to inform this House for a fact that every year, we receive a budget for textbooks provision. It might not be enough to cover all schools as the demand for textbooks is very high but we do provide those textbooks. I may tell you for a fact that last year, we provided textbooks for Heritage Education for both primary and secondary schools. We provided text books for English and Mathematics for primary schools. That has been happening. Yes, granted we may not fully supply as per demand, but that effort is always done. We also have partnerships through which we assist schools and one of the ways we do is through (SIG) which is an acronym for School Improvement Grant and through that, the money is given in USD and it is a GPE fund which is administered by local grant agents in the provision of those text books. I thank you.
HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for this opportunity to pose my supplementary question to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. In 2020, President Mnangagwa signed into law the Education Amendment Act, which compels the State to provide free basic education in line with the provisions of Section 27 of the Constitution and Section 27 reads the State has taken all practical measures to promote free compulsory basic education for children. Hon. Speaker, the response by the Minister in this august House does not go hand in hand with the promises that were made by the President. We were expecting that the Hon. Minister would address the measures or the steps that this Government or Ministry is taking to ensure that this law, signed into an Act, becomes live.
HON. E. MOYO: Thank you very much Hon Member for the supplementary question, which I thought was directed towards textbooks. I will however address the issue if you allow me to do so. First of all, I think the section read says ‘shall progressively provide free basic education’ and the word progressively here is key. The Government of Zimbabwe has provided, increasingly a bigger number to be beneficiaries. When we talk of BEAM beneficiaries, we are covering fees for the children and also examination fees for those children. Last year the target was 1.5 million to be covered by BEAM and this year the target is 1.8 million to be covered by BEAM. That is a step that marks the provision of basic education to the disadvantaged children. Secondly, the examination fees component which I hope this Parliament has received a report on, Government is paying up to 55% of the cost of each subject for ZIMSEC as a way of alleviating the shortage. That also serves to illustrate the progressive nature of trying to address free education. The third way is what we call the grant-in-aid of tuition wherein two districts in each of the eight rural provinces is allowed free education and I can give examples of those I am familiar with off head like in Matebeleland South. We have Beitbridge and Mangwe, where children are not paying fees and Government is paying the full fees for those children. This was out of a ZimVac report which indicated the level of poverty in those provinces. That is how the two districts were targeted. So these three ways of addressing free education are rising as I speak and there is a huge effort towards that realization. This is in the context of our economy. We are able to do what we can do given the current circumstances. This is the progressive realization of free education. I thank you.
HON. TEKESHE: Mr. Speaker Sir, I just want to ask the Minister why they are refusing RTGS for examination fees and just demanding US dollars.
HON. E. MOYO: Thank you Hon Member for that question. Let me reiterate what Government has always said. No-one should refuse payment in RTGS. When it comes to examination fees, we have a two-year period under which our candidates have to pay their examination fees. For example, if the child is in Grade 6 this year and doing Grade 7 next year, we allow them to pay in bits and pieces towards next year. However, we only allow them to pay in US dollars because of the inflation factor hence they start paying when in Grade 6, Form 3 or Form 5. Those who want to pay in RTGS have to pay two weeks before the closing date at a fixed interbank figure which is given by ZIMSEC. This is also to fight against inflationary pressures. So, you are not forced to pay in US dollars but you can gradually do so to withstand the inflationary pressures.
HON. TEKESHE: On the ground it is happening. All the schools are refusing RTGs. I also wanted to help some children but they refused. So, what are we supposed to do when someone refuses RTGS?
HON. E. MOYO: I think plenty of circulars have been issued towards examination fees payment and they have those. I think the best thing you can do is to identify such schools and heads that are refusing RTGs because it is not all of them. I would like to inform this House that certain schools that have refused and I can name one, Cowdry Park Primary School where a parent went to pay fees and the school refused RTGs. They phoned me and I phoned the PED who went to the school and the issue was addressed. The head was charged for that. So any transgression in terms of the statutes governing the conduct of headmasters in schools, just get the exact names of the schools and the names of the heads and we will deal with that.
HON. MOKONE: Minister, this year you came to this august House and you promised that there would be free education for all, but the answers you are giving now are such that in Matebeleland South, only two districts are benefitting through the free education scheme. Is this free education feasible or not in Zimbabwe given the economic meltdown? You highlighted this when the ministerial statement was read that this free education for all is not going to be feasible but we were promised that it was workable. My question is very clear, I just want to know if it is feasible or not.
HON. E. MOYO: Thank you for the question Hon Member. It is progressively feasible and I want us to underline the word progressive because I have indicated that as we experience growth in the economy, the numbers are going to grow. This year I said that the target is 1.8 million children under BEAM whose fees are going to be paid by the State. I have also indicated that we have two districts per rural province which adds up to 16 rural districts in the country and the numbers are close to a million for those children whose fees are also being paid by the State. I have also indicated that examination fees for all those under BEAM are wholly paid by Government and for those who are not under BEAM, 55% of those examination fees are paid by Government and the parent pays 45%.
*HON CHIDZIVA: I just want to find out from the Minister what plans Government has pertaining to children who are failing to have their schools fees paid by their parents and they are being told to go home and bring school fees. Because they know that their parents do not have money they then do not bother going back to school but join the drugs and substance abuse groups. This has become the norm all over the country. There are drug bases where all the children that are kicked out of school rush to.
HON. E. MOYO: Thank you Hon Member for the question. Children are not supposed to be sent back home by any school. If that happens, let us seek remediation by reporting that matter to the nearest Education office. Secondly, if parents are able to pay fees, they should pay but we believe that if they are genuinely unable to pay fees, they should be covered by BEAM. However, if the BEAM allocation is so low that those children cannot be reached, the concerned parents should make payment plans with schools and honour the payments all the time so that schools remain functional. We have communicated even through child protection committees that no child should be sent back home. If that happens, my numbers are open, please raise that with me and see what will happen. I thank you.
BULLYING IN SCHOOLS
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. E. MOYO): Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to provide the requested Ministerial Statement to the National Assembly regarding bullying in schools and the strategies to curb further bullying thereof. I wish to thank Hon. Members for providing the Ministry with the opportunity to clarify the matter at hand.
At legislative level, the Education Act is implemented together with the child protection imperatives that our Ministry observes, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. In addition, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and that of Health and Child Care jointly signed the Zimbabwe School Health Policy which, among other concerns, addresses the issue of safe school environments. Under this, issues of bullying and other psychosocial ills that impact on the physical and mental well-being of pupils are among the top priorities. At administrative level, Policy Circular Number P35 lists bullying among the most serious acts of indiscipline together with vandalism, intoxication and defiance of authority.
Zimbabwe has signed its commitment to the Global Safe Learning Initiative, in which our country has joined other countries on the prevention of violence in schools. I am aware that there have been unfortunate cases that have brought issues of bullying as well as drug and substance abuse under the spotlight.
Two pupils from Bulawayo Metropolitan Province have recently died allegedly due to bullying in schools. One is from Founders High School called Wayne Ndlovu and the other is Jayden Sauden from Hamilton High School.
Facts of the Matter
Wayne was murdered following an altercation that happened outside the school with pupils from Hamilton High School and he was stabbed with an okapi knife on the neck on 13 February 2023, and died before admission to hospital. He had confronted bullies from Hamilton High who had harassed his friend. The culprit is currently in custody awaiting judgement.
Jayden committed suicide on 8th March 2023, following a misunderstanding at home with his grandparents and nuclear family. However, media reports claimed that he had committed suicide due to bullying.
Strategies to Curb Bullying
My Ministry has completed stakeholder consultations on the alignment of policy implementation circulars to the Education Amendment Act. This has resulted in the updating of circulars on bullying as well as the production of a Standard Code of Conduct for all pupils across Zimbabwe.
I am happy to confirm that all senior and middle managers as well as school leadership participated in the consultations and made their inputs into the updating of policy implementation circulars aimed at improving the quality of pupil safeguarding at all schools. Such documents are now at final editing stage and will be in schools by the end of April 2023. It is a fact that children need to be peaceful if they are to perform well in their school work.
On the issue of drug and substance abuse, my Ministry is part of the inter-ministerial technical working group that the Government has set up. This drug menace is being addressed from a curriculum perspective, where age appropriate information and life skills empowerment is covered through different learning areas. A referral protocol has been developed for the management of identified cases of pupils at risk of various social ills. Admittedly, this is a very serious matter which requires more parental involvement than routine school matters. The same applies to bullying as much as the activities that occur away from school and require more community involvement to complement the effort of the education sector.
In order to ensure a higher level of safeguarding at all schools, my Ministry is currently rolling out a Standard Guidance and Counselling Package for the purpose of pupils. Such a package is the product of teamwork involving other ministries, National Associations of School Heads, civil society organisations, teacher organisations as well as representatives of pupils themselves, Junior Parliament and Junior Council.
Another package has been developed and is currently being rolled out to all school clusters in order to mainstream the effective functioning of Child Protection Committees at every school. Child protection Committees go beyond the school and bring in the Department of Social Welfare, health service providers, local leadership and parent representative into safeguarding the well-being of pupils at schools, in their communities as well as at household level. Superintendents, housemasters, senior masters and senior women have been advised to be on guard to ensure that bullying does not occur in their schools. It is not prudent to assume that bullying is non-existent. At times it may not surface while in actual fact the victims will be suffering quietly.
Need for Adequate Preparation of Staff for Guidance and Counselling
Provincial Education Directors and DSIs have been asked to arrange workshops where all concerned staff members would look into guidance and counselling issues with the aim of eradicating bullying in schools. Such workshops would enable those responsible for discipline in hostels to share experiences and good practices.
While schools are places of learning, they are part of the community. In the broader sense, learning occurs not just in the classroom but also in the environment that we live in, including the hostels where our pupils stay as well as in the communities. It takes a village to raise a child and my Ministry cannot do it alone. A school without an effective guidance and counselling programme is a fertile ground for bullying, substance and drug abuse and other social ills. It is the responsibility of all schools and supervisors to work with the school parent assemblies, local leadership and all stakeholders in order to ensure that their schools are safe havens for the human capital development of our nation.
All schools are therefore required to concentrate on the transmission of humanistic values through the teaching of guidance and counselling, heritage studies, family and religious and moral education and the indigenous languages. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. NDUNA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I just want to add an angle as to how the issue of bullying can be mitigated and if it pleases the Hon. Minister, he can inculcate the same in the issues of trying to alleviate or mitigate the issues of bullying in schools. There are just six issues that I want to proffer as positive solutions because this issue of bullying has taken center stage and it is bound to fall out of hand to actually go into the adult life of our schoolchildren…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May you go straight into your points Hon. Nduna.
HON. NDUNA: The first one, I ask Hon. Minister that the issue of teaching kindness and empathy in the schools can enhance and can curtail the scourge of bullying and also creating opportunities for connectivity or for children to connect with one another. It can also avert and avoid the issues of bullying. The identification of gateway behaviours can also help in mitigating. First, it is the eye rolling. If you see the child’s eye rolling, if you see prolonged staring, back-turning, laughing cruelly, encouraging others to laugh, name calling, ignoring or excluding causing physical harm and also spying and stalking. These are ways by which teachers and learners can see that there is bound to be some bullying.
The second last is to create content so that children can see issues from a different angle. That can also make you avoid bullying. Fifthly, minimising concentric circles in school. This means that it is true that most teachers do not like to talk about education as educators can be bullies and when teachers feel bullied by colleagues, their students can also become negatively impacted. The teachers are also involved in this.
Lastly, Mr. Speaker Sir, participation in simulation, theorising about how to prevent and respond to bullying in schools. It is one thing witnessing it for the first time and entirely another without adequately pre-servicing training. It can be difficult for new teachers to know how exactly they will react when bullying situations arise. The issue of simulation can actually make us avert, avoid and completely – there can be use of technology to recreate an experience….
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, you had said the last point, now it would appear you are extending.
HON. NDUNA: I was just trying to explain to her the issue of simulation. It is just to create…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, you need to address the Chair.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I just wanted to do it for her own benefit so that she can have take home or take away…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You do not debate for an individual Hon. Member.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for allowing me to ventilate on issues that the people of Chegutu West Constituency would have me ventilate on. I thank you.
HON. WATSON: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for this opportunity. The Minister speaks specifically about two instances in Bulawayo. One of them is of the young man murdered. It is the problem that he comes from Nketa, I believe and there is a clause in the Education Act that requires children to attend schools which are in their locality. Is the Ministry enforcing that because children are travelling long distances to attend school? A lot of the problems occur in school and outside school simply because the children are travelling.
Secondly, I agree with Hon. Nduna. I think there is insufficient work within our educational system and Government schools of extramural activities such as sport clubs, be they art, chess or whatever. Does the Ministry have any intent ever to regenerate those things? Thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. EDGAR MOYO): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Thank you to the Hon. Members who have raised issues. I will start off with the suggestions which were given by Hon. Nduna on what could be done. Yes, agreed but the critical point which I think is what society should now be focusing on is the issue of parents being models and also parental involvement. With this technology, people have abandoned their children. Everybody is on the phone. The mother is on the phone, the child is on the phone and everybody is on the phone. They are talking to people who are not within their environment on the time. Our parents are not so much involved in monitoring the behaviour of their children.
I want to call upon the people of Zimbabwe to be good role models and to monitor the behaviours of their children and take corrective measures as soon as they notice something is not right and even notify the school of certain behaviours that they see. Most of these things are originating from the environment where these children are coming from.
It is also important to also advise this august House that the Ministry has resuscitated what they used to call child study some years back which we now call profiling so that we can understand the home environment, the community environment and profiling a child. This is so that even as they transfer from one school to the other, it is not just a letter to confirm that this child was attending this school but there is more to it. There is a whole file of that child so that the receiving school can understand the child that they are receiving. These are some of the measures that we are already taking. You might have heard from your communities that this is already happening.
We also encourage parents to be good role models at home. Part of our research is to establish whether there is a positive correlation between bullying behaviour and the behaviour of parents at home. On a cursory note, it has been noted that where there is a violent home environment, the child tends to be also violent. However, our research department is working on that so that we can establish the facts and take corrective measures, not only on the child but also in the community and the home environment.
The second issue about children who are travelling long distances, there is a policy on zoning. However, we have observed in many instances that parents prefer certain schools. They do not want their children to be learning close to their homes. Sometimes it is because of resource levels in those schools, sometimes it is because the parents are attached to a particular school or they have a friend teaching there or they themselves attended that school and they have high regard for that school.
These are some of the reasons why some children have to walk long distances to school. In many cases, you would find that a school close to them has got vacancies but the parents do not prefer those schools. On the issue of co-curricular activities, we call them extra curricula. If we call them extracurricular, we then degrade their value in the school system. We very much encourage that and if you look at our curricular spectra in schools, you find that there is so much in terms of what you call co-curricular activities that schools can tap into. In some cases, in some schools, some children are doing as many as 15 to 20 subjects. That is not necessary. It takes a lot of their time when they would be doing theatre arts, sporting activities or going into clubs and so forth.
We encourage schools in curricular design to take care of all those important things. However, of late in the last two and half to three years, it has been largely due to COVID that most of those activities were suspended. However, the suspension has now been lifted and schools are encouraged to show that our children have something to do after hours. Thank you.
On the motion of HON. NDUNA, seconded by HON. L. SIBANDA, the House adjourned at Five minutes to Five o’clock p.m.