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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 30 JULY 2019 45-74
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 30th July, 2019
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, it has been long. It is good to see you here.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. It is good to you too in your
white beard. – [Laughter.] -
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. First of all, I think that there is a mistake with the documentation before us.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Which one?
HON. T. MLISWA: The Order Paper today is not Thursday,
neither is it 25th July?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Is that what you have there?
HON. T. MLISWA: I think has everybody got the same copy?
Yes - [AN HON. MEMBER: That’s the record for last Thursday.] – THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, today is 30th July and it is Tuesday, 30th so it should read. Can you correct that Hon. Mliswa?
HON. T. MLISWA: It should read, Tuesday 30th July, 2019 and not Thursday 25th July, 2019. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – No but I am talking about the first. Oooh sorry no, Mr.
Speaker Sir, sorry I withdraw. I had not …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Do not withdraw entirely because if you
go to the actual date today which is on Page 1731; you are right, it should read, ‘Tuesday but the date is 30th and not 31st’, so the 30th should be inserted there instead of 31st.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Sir. Then Mr. Speaker Sir, we
understand that if a ruling is made by the Chair, it remains so. I think you had made a ruling some time ago on the forensic audit report that had to be tabled before Parliament by the Hon. Minister of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Hon. Sekesai Kanhutu-Nzenza.
Unfortunately, the same matter was brought to the attention of the
Chair at that time who was Madam Speaker, Hon. Tsitsi Gezi …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Just a minute please… Sorry for the
interruption Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: I think you made a ruling which was very exhaustive and looked at all the areas. You mentioned that there had been a problem in terms of the law but again you also said that in terms of good governance, it was important that the Hon. Minister tables the report. You gave a timeframe of two weeks.
Madam Speaker, Hon. Gezi, at the time entertained that and still made a ruling that it would come later. Yet what was expected was for the report to be tabled before Parliament. I think that the Leader of Government Business must also appreciate that when a ruling is made by the Chair, he cannot continue to override your ruling. We expect him to actually be leading from a constitutional and Government point of view and to respect the Chair. The argument went on, which it was not even supposed to go because a ruling had been made. The only thing that was supposed to happen was for the report to be tabled.
Mr. Speaker, I say so because already credit must go to the new
Anti-Corruption Commission – especially the Chairperson, Justice Matanda-Moyo who actually went and I am told that the report finally came out after the officers went to see the Chairperson of the NSSA
Board to say, ‘We need a report’, and upon him trying to refer to the Hon. Minister; they said that ‘but you cannot, we are here to demand the report. You do not report to the Hon. Minister, we have come’. This is why now you see there have been arrests made of Hon. Mupfumira and so forth.
The reason why I am saying this is because it now leaves us to be a Parliament that is not proactive – as if we do not bring these issues up. Several times Hon. Members of Parliament rose to talk about the NSSA forensic report and now credit is being given to the Zimbabwe AntiCorruption Commission - yet we are the people who moved this. It is quite disappointing in that when decisions are made by the Chair, they are not adhered to. I think that it now brings doubt into this institution that so should we now be a Parliament that overturns decisions by the Chair? If anybody is not happy with your ruling, Mr. Speaker Sir, they have the right to go to the courts and challenge that but once a ruling has been made by you, that sticks and must be implemented at the end of the day.
We are a very important institution at a time like this and we have been accused by many for not championing the aspect of exposing corruption. The Parliamentary recommendations, the forensic audits which have come through you have often spoken about us following up but now they are in the public domain and it is as if we do nothing. It is important that the Leader of Government Business responds to some of the resolutions that come from the Parliamentary Committees.
The audits which come from your Auditor General, what are they doing in terms of implementing them because they go far back? She is outstanding. She has done her job but at the same time there is no political will on behalf of this Government in this House represented by the Leader of Government Business to see to it that things are done.
The Hwange forensic report – we have spoken about it and we have Ministers who are constantly hiding documents and not willing to be able to debate and to allow us to do our job. It is becoming difficult for us to be coming to this House. Therefore, Mr. Speaker Sir, I suggest and propose that there has got to be a discussion in support of Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga that the President must for now be told of the behaviour of his Ministers and their conduct in Parliament. He is being misinformed every minute and as Parliament, we have oversight over these Ministers, but they go and release a report to the police who we also have oversight over.
Who is it that we do not have oversight over? Mr. Speaker Sir, it is important that our role is defined and it is made easy for us to be able to be a force to reckon with and deal with the issues of this country. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The report, as so directed in my ruling, will be tabled on Thursday as the first item on the Order Paper, Thursday this week after tomorrow.
HON. T. MLISWA: But it is already in the public domain. We
also have it now.
HON. BITI: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker Sir. Hon.
Speaker, last week the esteemed Deputy Speaker made a ruling that the
Minister of Finance and Economic Development comes and gives a Ministerial Statement on the issue of foreign currency, 60% of which is going to an item called ‘others’ which we do not know - about $2 billion. I ask that on a point of privilege that I bring in terms of Standing Order 69, that when the Minister comes to make that Ministerial Statement, he also explains on the following –you recall Hon. Speaker that on 24th June, 2019, the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development himself gazetted and enacted Statutory Instrument 142 of 29 which demonetised the regime of multiple currencies and introduced the new Zimbabwean dollar which had been introduced by SI 33 of 2019.
The following day the RBZ Governor issued an exchange control directive in respect of which he directed that all companies that had external obligations should come and report their external obligations because the Central Bank had set aside the sum of US$1.2 billion that is going to cater for this external debt that is owed by these companies.
The question that we would like the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to answer is - where is the RBZ getting this money from when we know that the central bank is broke? Mr. Speaker, this is relevant because two years down the line we do not want this Parliament to be saddled with yet another Debt Assumption Bill.
Secondly, you are aware that in terms of section 327 of the Constitution, this Parliament has to approve any agreement that imposes fiscal obligations on the State. The US$1.2 billion exposes fiscal obligations on the State and the RBZ Governor cannot do that without the approval of this Parliament. So we would like the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Prof. Mthuli Ncube to come and explain on where the money is coming from and the legal basis of acquiring debt without Parliamentary approval, which is in breach of Sections 327 and 300 of the Constitution. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much Hon. Biti. I shall be meeting the Hon. Minister at 5.30 p.m. today and will bring these issues to his attention. He may either include them in the supplementary budget or he might make a separate statement all together. I shall discuss the matter with him today at 5.30 p.m. Thank you.
HON. HAMAUSWA: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker Sir, it is very important.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I am very averse to listening to more than two matters of privilege. You are the last one and be brief to the point please.
HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. We raised an issue which is very important, the issue of water. We requested the Minister responsible to give us a Ministerial Statement regarding what the Government is doing to avert the crisis, not only in urban areas but also in rural areas. We raised this request two times and this is the third time. Considering that Parliament will be on recess we do not know what is going to happen regarding the crisis of water. As I speak today, there is no water being pumped in Harare. The problem in Harare is a reflection of what is happening in most cities and rural areas. Mr.
Speaker Sir, it is my humble request that the responsible Minister may come to this House and give us a Ministerial Statement.
The second request is: may the responsible Minister also declare the water crisis a national disaster so that other development partners can come to assist. As we speak, people in most constituencies in Harare are using contaminated water for their laundry and it is not good because we had outbreaks of cholera in previous years. It is something that as parliamentarians and as Government, we also need to take the water crisis as a national disaster. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKR: Hon. Hamauswa, I have checked with the Hon. Leader of the Government Business and Clerks at the Table, this matter is being raised for the first time.
HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. With due
respect, I think when it was raised, the Hon. Minister was not around but then it goes back to our system as Parliament. How can something be raised three times and then it disappears and it is something of national importance. We are talking of water. It is different from fuel because water, even one who is using a bicycle will need water. It is something that is shocking because I raised it twice and Hon. Mushoriwa raised it twice in this House.
It is shocking when the Hon. Minister says the matter is being mentioned for the first time. I do not know Mr. Speaker. It reminds me of something that was raised in this House which you also applauded where there was a proposal to set up a committee that will make sure that the things we raise here are implemented. If we check, we have a lot of things we raised that are not being implemented. Where I am coming right now, I am addressing people who are fighting for water. Then we raise it and the Minister says it was not raised, it is being raised for the first time. It is shocking. That is what I can say. Thank you Mr.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you for refreshing our memories. I shall be in touch with the Hon. Minister and ask him to bring a Statement either by Thursday or early next week. Thank you.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that
Orders of the Day, Nos. 1 to 5 be stood over until Order of the Day No.
6 has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
MAINTENANCE OF PEACE AND ORDER BILL [H. B. 3, 2019]
Sixth Order read: Committee: Consideration of the adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill [H. B. 3, 2019].
Question again proposed.
HON. SAMUKANGE: Mr. Speaker Sir, I wish to move...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Procedurally, you should have approached theChair.
HON. SAMUKANGE: The Leader of the House approached you
THE HON. SPEAKER: I am unaware. You make me run the
House in staccatos.
House in Committee.
HON. ADV. SAMKANGE (speaking)…I have since received the
report that the Minister of Justice has made certain number concessions which the PLC is going to consider. In the circumstances, I am withdrawing this Adverse Report pending the new amendments that are being brought to the PLC and depending on the new amendments and the concession that had been made by the Minister, we will then reconsider whether to issue another Adverse Report or not. Thank you.
HON. MAMOMBE: On a point of order, we cannot hear
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon.
HON. SIKHALA: On a point of order Mr. Chairman. The
Chairman of the PLC is saying that he has withdrawn the Adverse Report against a Bill before this House. I do not know whether it is his unilateral decision or it is the decision of the Committee. Some of the Committee Members who sit in the PLC do not know that the Chairman has withdrawn the Adverse Report. The Adverse Report was not brought as a result of the Chairman but it was a collective decision of the Committee. Is the Chairman speaking on behalf of his Committee or he is speaking on his own behalf? That is what we want to know. He cannot simply withdraw a report of a Committee and that is why it is called a Committee.
HON. ADV. SAMKANGE: As far as I know, -[AN HON.
MEMBER: We cannot hear you.] - I do not want to scream please. Do you want to hear me or not? No, no.
HON. BITI: Hon. Chairman, I will suggest that instead of withdrawing the report, he simply moves for the adjournment of consideration until their Committee has seen the amendments that the Minister says he is conceding to. So, instead of withdrawing this Committee should adjourn so that they go back to the Committee and consider what the Minister is bringing. Instead of using the word withdraw, the Committee Chairperson Hon. Adv. Samkange must simply move for the adjournment so that the Minister submits to the Committee the amendments and their Committee will debate whether the report is still alive or not. If they are happy with the new amendments, then they withdraw. That is the formal procedure Mr.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.
Chair. What we did is, when the Committee sat, they invited us to the Committee and when they invited us, we deliberated on issues that they felt were unconstitutional. After the deliberations, we agreed on the amendments that had to be made. After agreeing, we submitted the amendments to Parliament but the Committee felt that perhaps what would be prudent would be for Parliament to acknowledge that they had flagged some provisions as being unconstitutional and issue an Adverse Report, but the agreement that we had is we have the amendments that were brought to Parliament which I will submit that they will be put on the Order Paper, and we proceed accordingly because even in their minutes we had a meeting and we agreed to that effect.
So, I am in agreement with Hon. Biti and with the concurrence of the Chair, if the amendments can be put on the order paper and then we will proceed. With the concurrence of the House, I seek that we report progress. We incorporate the amendments and we sit again. So, I seek leave that we sit again once they are incorporated and then we proceed.
Committee to resume: Thursday, 1st August, 2019.
ZIMBABWE INVESTMENT DEVELOPMENT AGENCY BILL [H.B.
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Reading of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Bill [H. B.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Speaker Sir,
I want to thank the Hon. Members for the debate on the ZIDA Bill. I want to indicate that we acknowledge the contributions by Members which we are duly looking into and as we move to the Committee Stage, we will be considering some of the contributions and making the necessary amendments so that we can move forward. I therefore move that the Bill be read the Second time. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: Wednesday, 31st July, 2019.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
Second order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Hon. Speaker
Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 6th August, 2019.
REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION FOR THE
YEAR ENDED 2018
Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of
the Judicial Service Commission for the year 2018.
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Hon. Speaker
Sir, I move that we adjourn debate on this motion.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 6th August, 2019.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Speaker Sir,
I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 5 to 38 on today’s Order Paper
be stood over until we have disposed Order of the Day, Number 39.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC
ACCOUNTS ON COMPLIANCE ISSUES FOR THE MINISTRY OF
FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Thirty Ninth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts on compliance issues for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (S. C. 8, 2019).
Question again proposed.
HON. SANSOLE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I think you will agree with me that sound financial management is at the core of any society. So to have a whole Ministry of Finance and Economic Development that is supposed to supervise all other ministries in the conduct of their financial affairs failing to comply with legislation that regulates such as the Public Finance Management Act is unacceptable.
We have a Ministry of Finance and Economic Development that is expected to lead by example because it supervises all other ministries which failed to abide by legislation which governs financial affairs in Government. I want to buttress the view expressed in the report that the
Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was uncooperative and very defensive. Instead of explaining the matters that arose, he apportioned them to legacy issues and said that he was not there when they occurred. As Accounting Officer, he is accountable for what happens in the Ministry regardless of the fact that he was not there because we look at the institution and not the person heading the institution. The Accounting Officer is expected to take full responsibility for the activities that took place in the Ministry.
Apart from the failure to avail information relating to the State’s indebtedness, the Ministry failed to also allocate 5% of the nation’s revenues as expected in the Constitution in line with the devolution agenda. It failed to allocate 5% of national revenue to local authorities and to provincial councils that were to be set up in terms of devolution which is clearly spelt out in the Constitution. There were cases of over expenditure which occurred without the Ministry seeking condonation from Parliament and no satisfactory explanation was given for those transgressions by the Accounting Officer.
Regarding the failure to submit monthly consolidated financial statements for the period and for each quarter, the Accountant-General could not give explanations. The Ministry is expected every month to give financial statements for each month and subsequent to that, every other month, cumulative figures for the quarter and half year leading to the year. The build-up also helps us in coming up with the budget for the ensuing year.
To date, the financial statements that have been prepared by the Ministry for the months of April and May 2019 contained numerous errors and that is not acceptable for a Ministry of Finance and Economic
Development. The Ministry’s failure to comply with Sections 11 (2); 13 (1); 20 (2) and 22 (2) of the Public Debt Management Act are all indicative of the lack of seriousness on the part of the Ministry in as far as the discharge of responsibilities is concerned.
The net effect of these transgressions is excessive borrowing with no regard to limits by the State and local authorities and that is not acceptable, Mr. Speaker Sir.
We also had incidents of keeping Parliament in the dark regarding such borrowings and that is also not acceptable because Parliament must be aware of the state of indebtedness of the country. In addition, failure by the Ministry, except in 2019 where there has been an allocation, to allocate at least 5% of the national revenues to provinces and local authorities is a violation of the Constitution. It is also a clear indication that the Government pays lip service to the issue of devolution.
As you can see from the report that was presented by the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, expenditure outside the budget has been a common occurrence for the past five years from 2014 and the Ministry has not bothered to come to Parliament to seek condonation for such excesses. This will not be allowed going forward, Mr. Speaker Sir. I think the Public Accounts Committee must use its teeth to bite and bite effectively.
Finally, I have noted that failure to comply with the law, particularly the Public Finance Act, is not only prevalent in the Ministry of Finance, we have found that in other ministries as well. There are directors in other ministries who are expected to provide their monthly and quarterly financial statements to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development who also failed to do so during the period under review. We expect all ministries to comply and also to comply within the set timelines. I want to thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me first of all commend the Committee on Public Accounts chaired by Hon. Biti, for a sterling job that they did in terms of highlighting a number of issues which have been outstanding for a long time. I think it is good that we have the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and it will certainly help him put things in order which have not been in order.
Part of his role is to take corrective measures.
The Accountant-General, does he really exist Mr. Speaker Sir, because if you look at all what is outstanding right now, it is under his purview. We see and read about the Auditor General, but we have never read about the Accountant General. It is actually new for us to think that such a person exists and what is the role of the Accountant General in this regard? One of the main roles of the Accountant General is to authorise, to issue a warrant for expenditure to every Ministry which means no Ministry can spend any money. If they want $20 000 you must sign for that.
Mr. Speaker Sir, since 2014 there is no paper work which has been signed from him authorising that expenditure. So, basically we have had a dysfunctional Government. We come to Parliament, we pass budgets and I think in a way Parliament has been lenient too in allowing the Budget to be passed without this due diligence being done. We must hold everybody accountable. So, how do we then keep giving ministries money when there is no corporate governance? We are seen wanting as Parliament. It is not the duty of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will come with the Budget here and we pass the Budget, but I think it is important for Members of Parliament to understand the role of the Accountant General in this regard.
The Committees here must be able to give us the direction. There are different Portfolio Committees in this august House which are responsible for ministries and they must be able to tell us no, we cannot pass this budget because of A, B, C and D. In a situation like this, Mr. Speaker Sir, what do you do about the outstanding issues from now going back to 2014? Not only that, he has not even come to this House to seek condonation. While all those mistakes have been done, he has not come to this House to seek condonation so that this House allows the mistakes done and at the same time says, moving forward the processes must be followed. So, condonation is not even brought to this august House.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the RBZ gives money to financial institutions but the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development borrows over what they are supposed to borrow which is 20%. They have done that, they have not come here. This is the reason why you see so much money floating around, people changing money because these are transactions happening without the knowledge of this House. The Treasury Bills that we are talking about were borne from these transactions. Today you read stories and audits about command agriculture.
Hon. Members, we cannot sweep things under the carpet. For too long, we have been known to be sweeping things under the carpet and who suffers at the end of the day - it is the people, it is us. The Auditor General has highlighted a number of issues and it is about time that we interrogate further and we are able to bring people to account. Today we are now having Ministers arrested for allegations which is a welcome move. For a very long time, they were sitting safe and comfortable on these benches. Today I think it was a miserable day in Cabinet when one of their own was not there and I am sure they were asking themselves where this person is. I hope it hit your conscience that when you are in public office, that is public money, it is not touched – especially when it is pensioner’s money.
So I am glad that the President has now decided to emerge. Popularly known as Ngwenya the crocodile, he had hunted the buffalo and went under water. He has now finished eating the buffalo and he is out again. So that is what we expected of the President, to do exactly what he is doing so that any Minister who is close to him and who serves this country must go to the prison. I am bringing this up because if
Ministers were accounting, if they knew the accounting systems in the Ministry, they would not be going to jail. At times you go to jail while you are innocent, but it is because of being complacent in not understanding what your subordinates must be doing.
Ministers today talk about the board but who does the board report to – the Minister. So how can you be sleeping on duty? Who does management report to - the board. These are the corporate governance issues which they have been ignoring for a long time and now they are coming to eat them. So, it is important these issues that we are talking about, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development must spend time in educating these Ministers at the workshop on how they must account for this money, how they must know that if anything goes wrong, it is the Minister who is responsible.
We want to talk about the issues of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development equally coming to this House because we hardly hear of Ministers coming to this House for a supplementary budget. We are in a situation where the money which we budgeted for is not enough, but because we budgeted for it, it must come through because that is an estimated budget. Failure to do that will not deliver. Which means, Mr. Speaker Sir, all the civil servants we have are not doing anything because there is no money. So, the question that I ask Mr. Speaker Sir is, what are civil servants doing in offices when they do not have tools for trade?
Basically, they are sitting there having coffee with heaters on. You cannot blame them because there are no resources. There is expenditure from the civil servants and at the same time there is no production which covers that expenditure. You are constantly in the red. So, Ministers must pay attention to detail or know these issues and so forth.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in this situation Hon. Biti must be commended. I think he articulated this well, being former Minister of Finance and so forth, he was privy to these issues. Thus the reason why even on that day, I was disappointed that Hon. Matangira would stop Hon. Biti from debating on something that he is knowledgeable about and no one takes that away from him. We have a situation where the Blue Book, we have a sovereign debt of $17 billion. This is now the Blue Book from the same team, brings it to $9.6 billion. To think that is not enough, the third Blue Book brings it to $9.4 billion.
These are the same people. From $17 billion, the same people are saying, it is $9. 6 billion and $9.4 billion. Mr. Speaker Sir, I want you to understand this. How did they reach the $17 billion, the $9.6 billion and the $9.4 billion? If we were to continue, it would even come to $1 billion or to 1 cent. What I am trying to say here is there is no work being done at all. These are figures which have a lot to do with the running of this country. For me, it is important that we talk about the inconsistence of the figures. When your figures are not coming in not very consistent, it has repercussions on the running of the country because you will budget high, then they come low. To me, that needs to be looked into pertaining that. The running of the budget in terms of the deficit of $2 billion in 2018 – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, may you
lower your voices.
HON. T. MLISWA: The 2018 deficit of $2 billion – what I want to understand Mr. Speaker Sir is that the Minister of Finance with the technocrats there, must be able to come before this House and say, before this Budget is approved, we are in deficit of $2 billion, is that $2 billion being factored in from what we pass here? If it is not being factored in, it will be taken somehow but the $2 billion again is an indication of another avenue where they are taking money illegally. Kune chikorokoza chenyika futi, kutora mari illegally, chisiri pamutemo but even my dear Hon. Brother and colleague Member Hon. Nduna has been pushing even for illegal miners to be legalised. Why do we not get these legalised too so that we deal with it because we are lying to the nation. We are lying that this amount of money that we have for the budget is true, yet they are continuously borrowing on the side. They do not come to Parliament and there is no condonation. This is impunity. You have the Accountant General sleeping and because there is an Accountant General who is sleeping on duty, they are used to it. To me, the Accountant General is the first person who in fact, must, resign.
We cannot have a situation where all these years, that office is quiet, yet it is critical for the running of the national budget of this country. It is critical for the accountability of the monies disbursed to Ministries. No wonder why so much is happening because there is noone looking over that money. You want $20 000, a warrant must be issued, what for – you now want more money while you are wanting more money, that $20 000 must be accounted for too. Mr. Speaker Sir, I want you to picture this. It is just like a running water tap, and you cannot stop it. Anybody can just put a bucket, they go, put a bucket, put a bucket, they go. This is what has been happening. I liked Hon.
Minister Mthuli’s remarks which I have borrowed from him that, I have closed the taps, but unfortunately, while he was closing this tap, the RTGs tap was being opened again. He totally was bold and he must be commended for that. Mr. Speaker, he was strong and he had to fight forces for closing that tap of the Treasury Bills but as soon as he closed it, we then had Cyclone Idai. I do not know which tap was opened. There was more money now leaking. You now have the situation - you have Treasury Bills blocked and you have this tap.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we can name companies but these companies do not go and get their money themselves, they are given money. Therefore, you cannot blame Sakunda, Themba Mliswa or Tendai Biti for getting money from the fiscus. We must question those who release the money from the fiscus not the companies who benefited. We must understand that. It is the source that we must look at, that is how porous the system is. We are more in control of the oversight of the
Government institutions rather than the private companies. Mr. Speaker
Sir, it is important that we have people who pay attention to details. I think His Excellency must appoint Ministers who have a basic understanding of Maths, Arithmetic and Economics because that is certainly affecting us.
If you look at NSSA for example, NSSA is a billion dollar institution and you cannot give, it with due respect to a Minister who has never done accounts or economics. You cannot, because this is pensioners money, it must be invested correctly. All the investments in NSSA have never yielded anything. They put $20 million in this bank and the bank closes. Every investment that they have put in a bank, all the banks have closed.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, may you
address the Chair and may I remind you that you are left with five minutes.
HON. T. MLISWA: To me, it is the same thing right now and it is an issue that the Minister must attend to. Talking about this, even the Metropolitan Bank owes the Ministry of Finance $50 million. The
Minister must commend me for knowing that. It came from the Grain Millers Association. Why do you still keep that bank running? Mr. Speaker Sir, a bank which even owes the Ministry of Finance money and is licensed by the same Ministry is still functioning, why? These banks must be closed down if they do not have money. They give you a payment plan to come and get your money and you have many Government Ministers banking in those institutions being given loans from other means, not from depositors’ money. I say this because it is the time to speak. While the other Minister is in prison, you cannot leave out Met Bank. I know Hon. Bvute is a Member of Parliament but I am talking about Met Bank not Hon. Bvute, the institution.
Mr. Speaker Sir, that institution needs to be investigated. This is where all the rot in the country has been happened. You have command housing there and they do not have money. They cry in the name of indigenisation and they hide behind that but they are stealing. The owner of that bank, Enock Kamushinda cannot be seen anywhere. He is gone, he has stolen money. I say so but why are we allowing in this country fsomebody who has been stealing money in banks, whether he gives you t-shirts or money for ZANU PF, it is not at the expense of the ordinary person. The money that they are getting from these banks is stolen money from the people, not their money.
I am glad that the President has sent the signal. You see them at the President’s Office all the time, you see them with the President – what I like is the President is a man of the people who sees everyone and he will allow institutions to play their role. In no time, with all these happenings in terms of corruption, if Met Bank is not touched, we have not started the game. They were given $72 million by NSSA and they did not pay it back. They owe the Ministry of Finance $50 million from the Grain Millers Association which deposited money there, the money is not there again but the Ministry of Finance still licenses them. Where are we going to have a due diligence of these financial institutions to see whether they have capacity to give people money or not, and inflation - I guess it is time you close banks until there is money. They are taking people’s money, they are using depositors’ money to go and build clubs and so forth. I say this with pain and emotion because people’s savings are going. These are criminals who need to go to Chikurubi and Hon. Ziyambi must start refurbishing Chikurubi for a VIP prison for them to go and languish in prison.
We need a supplementary budget to refurbish the prisons. So Mr.
Speaker Sir, I contribute to this in an honest manner and in being honest,
I am hoping that the Minister takes note of what I have said in terms of Met Bank and other institutions. I know of Ministers who have overdrafts there and have not paid. The Hon. Minister was right to get the Reserve Bank register for banks Mr. Mataruke Norman. He has an overdraft there.
These are things which I say which are there but because he has an overdraft, he cannot close the bank. How do you have a person monitoring banks with an overdraft in a bank which is not doing well and you expect him to close? This corruption must stop - Minister. It must stop. You have the power to remove him Minister. You have been appointed by the President to unravel these things because they are destroying the country, the people and they are destroying the President.
As for you, I know you are clean for now and with that clean reputation you have, take on the challenge and be the person that people said ‘yes’.
I know that they try and avoid you and politically they play politics. Do what you came for. Expose them and let us have a proper audit of all the financial institutions in this country and see if they have got the capacity, or else we are just taking money from Ministries. Just to finish off, most of the Ministries are banking with Met Bank because
Ministers are given overdrafts. Can you believe that? It is stolen money. They force them to go there. The former Minister of Local Government and Finance Hon. Dr. Chombo is a shareholder of that bank. Who does not know that? If you look at all Local Government and all what Hon.
Chombo was involved in was banking with Met Bank.
HON. T. MLISWA: I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me
this opportunity to speak.
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me
this opportunity to also try to speak to this audit report. I think the sad part in debating about this particular report is that it comes against a background where everyone else applauded the appointment of Hon.
Prof. Mtuli Ncube as Minister of Finance and Economic Development. His appointment on its own, had raised optimism that someone with an illustrious résumé had been appointed to that portfolio and the expectations of the citizens of this country were that the illustrious résumé is going to turn into tangible economic and welfare gains in the country. Sadly, that is not the case currently when we look at what is taking place on the ground.
We are aware that the Hon. Minister is renowned for saying that he is sitting over a budget surplus but he is sitting on a budget surplus with most institutions basically dysfunctional because of lack of resources, and that is quite sad. We are discussing this report at a time when everyone has come to agree that the real problem in this country that has affected our economic performance is not sanctions, but it is corruption and entitlement. I think for now there is a general consensus across the political divide of this country that the major cause of our economic demise is corruption rather than sanctions or anything else.
Hon. Speaker, even as we are seeing these newsworthy arrests and so on that is taking place - in my view, I believe that is a child’s play. We are playing small games. The real issue that we need to deal with is to tighten the screws in terms of our systems. The question is are we doing that? Are we complying with the systems that we have put in place as a country? No, we are not complying with them. Are we complying with the Public Finance Management Act, our Constitution and the Corporate Governance Act, the answer is no.
We are debating this report at a time when poverty levels are alarming. The poverty levels that we are experiencing in this country can only be equated to poverty levels that are in a country which is at war. Our poverty levels currently are so much comparable with those of Somalia or we might be even worse off than Somalia. We are not a country that is at war. We are a country that is supposed to be having a Government, a country that is at peace and we are supposed to be a country that is following the rule of law. If you look at the levels of poverty that we have in this country, they are amazing.
If you go to the rural area where the Hon. Minister comes from in Lupane East where I was on Saturday; if you look at levels of teenage pregnancies in that constituency, they are amazing. I went to St. Luke’s Hospital and of the pregnant women that are waiting to give birth at that hospital, 97% are teenagers. When you ask for the reason, it is simple. Those girls are dropping out of school at primary level not even secondary and that is the home area of the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
So, this is the situation that we are currently facing as a country. Then you want to ask yourself Hon. Speaker. We have put in laws as a country that are meant to guide how we conduct ourselves in terms of financial management. Those laws are being violated willy nilly. There is so much financial delinquence and financial truance, especially spearheaded by the same Ministry which is supposed to command over our finances, the Ministry of Finance.
Let me cite the examples Hon. Speaker. The Reserve Bank Act says that the Ministry of Finance cannot borrow more than 20% of their previous revenues but consistently and persistently since 2014, the
Government has been borrowing more than 20% of previous year’s revenues and nothing has been done to the Ministry after doing that. We have always been hearing about borrowing from China, different countries and different institutions. The Minister of Finance I am sure has the relationship with Afrexim Bank and that is the bank of his choice. That is where they borrow always.
Hon. Speaker, I have been in Parliament since 2013 and have never had a time when the Ministry of Finance has come here to seek for approval from Parliament as is provided for by the law, but they continue to borrow every day. If you look at the amount of money that they borrow and look at the level of infrastructure development that is in this country, you begin to wonder where all this money that we are borrowing is going to. We are borrowing that money in an illegal way without following the provided for statutory provisions.
Hon. Speaker, Section 327 provides that there are no agreements or loans that can be taken by Government without first seeking approval of Parliament but that Constitution is being violated willy-nilly by none other than the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development himself. As Parliament we have been silent, we have not done anything but we are charged in terms of Section 119, with the responsibility to protect the Constitution. How are we protecting the Constitution when we are allowing such truancy by the Minister of Finance taking place? What is it that we have done as Parliament to ensure that we rectify and deal with the duty that is sworn upon us?
So, Hon. Speaker, it is my view that Parliament should stand up and say enough is enough in terms of this delinquency and this truancy that is taking place of violating the Constitution that we are supposed to all abide to.
Hon. Speaker, I am informed through the report that in the audit report, the Ministry of Finance had about 57 qualifications and that is the highest number amongst all other Ministries that were audited by the Auditor-General. So, that means that the most delinquent Ministry is the Ministry that is charged with the responsibility to be stewards over the resources of this country.
Hon. Speaker, where are we going to? Then we want to go and start blaming a Minister that is at NSSA, who is stealing at NSSA when most of the leakages are actually taking place within the Ministry that is the custodian of our resources. So, it means that all these other corruption cases that we might try to report about are just nothing. The majority or the promoter of corruption in this country is the Ministry of Finance which is allowing all these things to take place in terms of leakages of resources.
Hon. Speaker, the Accountant-General in terms of the law is supposed to prepare monthly financial accounts. He has not done that since 2014, but he still remains the Accountant-General up to now. I do not know whose relative he is but obviously he is not in that position on merit. He is on that position because he has got a relationship with somebody else because if he did not have any relationship with somebody else; Hon. Speaker, this is a dismissible offence and that person should be dismissed as soon as yesterday. That is what the law provides. The law says he should provide those accounts monthly, he has not done that since 2014. Why does he continue to enjoy even a single hour in that office? I hope the Hon. Minister will answer to those questions.
Hon. Speaker, quarterly statements are supposed to be provided, yearly statements are supposed to be provided in terms of the law and nothing is being done. Hon. Speaker, you hear the Hon. Minister telling you that very soon inflation is going to fall down, very soon we are going to have stability, and very soon we are going to become a medium income country - that is a pie in the sky. It will never happen as long as we are not following the systems that we have laid down. That will be simply something that is theoretical.
The law says Government cannot borrow beyond 70% of GDP but they have been borrowing since 2014 contrary to the provisions of the law. I am not talking about any other conduct; I am talking about conduct that is contrary to the provisions of the law. When some people say that we do not have rule of law in the country, you say these are sell outs but the examples are coming out from the Auditor’s report.
In the year 2017, the National Budget was 4 billion dollars but as at the end of the year, Government had spent over 8 billion, over a 100% of the budget that had been approved by Parliament. The extra 4 billion was spent without seeking condonation of Parliament. It was done without the approval of Parliament. I am not going to talk about anything; I am simply talking about legal delinquency that is being practiced by the Ministry of Finance. They are supposed to come and appear before Parliament and seek that we condone or at least we have a budget supplement but they have not been doing that, they have been going on spending the National resources like confetti at a party. If this money was going towards hospitals, building of schools, the welfare of the citizens of this country, it would have been better but no one sees where this money goes to.
It is my view that as a Parliament that is charged with the responsibility to protect the Constitution, unless if we are aiding and abetting the Executive in this delinquency and in the manner that they are stealing, then Hon. Speaker, I think some action needs to be taken by this House. There is no better time to do that than to do so now.
It is my recommendation that some heads that have been pointed in terms of that Auditor- General’s report, including Muchemwa, of course, those heads should begin to roll. It is only that way that the bureaucrats will begin to obey the laws of the country – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER
OFFICIAL HANDOVER OF CYCLONE IDAI DONATIONS
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: The Presiding officers of
Parliament cordially invite all Members of the Committee on Standing
Rules and Orders, Members of the Chairperson’s panel and the
Chairpersons of the Committees to the official hand over of the Cyclone
Idai Relief donation to the Minister of Local Government Public Works and National Housing, Hon. J. Moyo, on Wednesday, 31st July, 2019 to be held in the Members dining hall at 0900hrs.
HON. NYOKANHETE: I just want to contribute and add my
voice concerning this report from the Public Accounts Committee. Personally, I was an accountant for the past 15 years. I remember and I know that a due date is a due date when it comes to the issue of producing financial reports. However, here we are having a person who is sitting in the high office, appointed by the President but failing to discharge his duties. The duties of an accountant are to prepare the financial reports, to do financial management and also to do some decision making in terms of advising. So, we are having a problem in this issue that the Accountant General has failed to prepare the quarterly financial statements which should be presented to the National
Assembly. Secondly, there is non-compliance in that the AccountantGeneral failed to prepare consolidated monthly financial statements and he is also failing – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – to do the transmission of the reports to the Auditor-General. To my thinking, that is a great negligence of duties and not something good for the person to be retained in this office for the longest time.
I just want to go to the effects of not submitting the financial reports timeously. The first effect is that fraud or theft can be conceived purposely by failing to submit the financial reports in time – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – So we are having a person in office who is concealing fraud/theft – that is something which is of great importance.
The other issue is that we are having a person who is also disadvantaging the Parliament of Zimbabwe. There is a great denial for the Parliament of Zimbabwe to know the spending priorities by denying the submission of the financial reports. Secondly, the Parliament of Zimbabwe is not able to know the sources and resources that support various programmes. We are also denied to know whether the Government obtained and used the resources in accordance with its adopted budget.
The other issue is that the Parliament of Zimbabwe is being denied to know that the resources are being channeled in an efficient and good way – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
Hon. Speaker, we have someone who is supposed to be teaching people how to walk but our challenge is we cannot do that because we move like crabs that move sideways and we are failing to do that. We have a problem of people who are being looked after for a very long time with so many perks from Government but without performing. They lead lavish lifestyles but in terms of performance – nothing is being done.
He is an Accountant-General of the nation of Zimbabwe but he is failing to discharge his duties. We are stating that kana munhu anenge asinganzwisise zvaanoita ari mu office …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order, Hon. Member
you are reminded to use one language.
*HON. NYOKANHETE: We are saying that once someone is in
office and cannot perform – that is the challenge for a person who is an
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order, you seem to be
switching from one language to the other Hon. Member. May you please stick to one language, if it is English – it is English and ChiShona is ChiShona. You may proceed.
*HON. NYOKANHETE: Thank you Hon. Speaker, in winding
up, I am saying that a stance should be taken by the nation of Zimbabwe as to what can be done to a person who is failing to perform his duties and yet receiving an income on a monthly basis.
In the private sector, when a person fails to perform and is not competent – the person is fired. I thank you.
HON. BUSHU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for allowing me to contribute to the debate on the report tabled by our Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of which I happen to be a member. The issue Hon. Speaker Sir, is that we all heard what the Chairman presented and the most critical issue is that there is generally a culture of noncompliance. I am glad that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is here and he happens to be new to the ministry and was not there during the era that the report is making reference to. Also the incumbent Accountant officer to the ministry was also not there when this non-compliance was taking place.
What this does is that it ties the new brooms to comply with the law into the future – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – The Public
Finance Management Act; the Public Debt Management Act and the Constitution are very clear as to what should be happening when we manage our own national finances and compliance is important. The laws are made here and compliance must be consistent with what we have asked ourselves to do. Therefore, we expect that ministries will conform to the dictates of the law.
However, I would like to point out that …
HON. HAMAUSWA: On a point of Order Mr. Speaker Sir! It is
glaringly clear that the Hon. Minister does not even care about the debate because he is not even listening – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - Yes, you are not listening. – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] - He is busy discussing yet we expect the Hon. Minister to be listening – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members.
HON. HAMAUSWA: He is busy speaking to the Hon. Minister of Defence and War Veterans. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - We expect the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development to listen because this is very important– [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members!
Order, order Hon. Member, your point of order is overruled. May you please resume your debate?
HON. BUSHU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir …
HON. MABOYI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir!
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order
again? We want to proceed with business of the House and debate. What is your point of order now?
HON. MABOYI: Hon. speaker Sir, I just wanted to interrupt what the Hon. Member - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Member, I
have already given a ruling on that. Thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] - Hon. Kwaramba!
HON. HAMAUSWA: Hon. Speaker why are they making this
sign when we have a record of people disappearing? Are we even safe in this House?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May you resume your seats
Hon. Members. Hon. Member, it is said you gave a sign. Did you give that sign that you are assumed to have done? I am told you have given a sign, I do not know what sign that is.
HON. MABOYI: Hon. Speaker Sir, we usually joke with Hon.
Banda – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
HON. BUSHU: Thank you Hon. Speaker. The position is that we are looking into a future where the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, which is a key Ministry, does not have the highest qualifications from the Auditor’s Report. Our thinking was that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, if it controls itself, it will then be able to control the other ministries in terms of managing the finances.
The Auditor-General’s report is not only important to Parliament, it is also important to ministries and Ministers themselves and it will assist in guiding us in managing our finances, which I think we can. The reward and punishment structure as provided by the law in the PFMA is very clear and this also will assist in whipping the administration into line, particularly the lower levels.
Reports like these with a sample size of 12.5%, and I looked into the 2018 one which is a 14% sample size, means that there is a lot of work to be done by the Public Accounts Committee and in particular the
Auditor-General’s Office. My request is that the Auditor General’s Office be empowered, be allocated more resources so that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is assisted in managing the other ministries in terms of managing finances.
Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for allowing me to contribute to this and I think I will leave it for now.
HON. ZENGEYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for allowing me to add my voice to the Public Accounts Report. I also happen to be a member of the Committee. I have realised that the issue of none compliance has been realised over and over again. I think that was done not because they did not know what they were doing, but because there were other issues behind that. It was so deliberate in the way they were doing their own things.
According to section 310 (3) of the new Constitution, it says that not less than 5% of the budget of that year should be proceeded to the provinces and local authorities, but ever since the inception of the new Constitution nothing of that sort has happened. So my question is, how do you expect provinces and local authorities to do their jobs and to do production in their provinces when what is due to them is not provided for?
You realise that in the 2019 budget only less than 5% of the budget which is of $6 billion was set aside for the provinces and the Accountant General agreed to say they had partially provided for the provinces and the local authorities, of which I think that was deliberate in doing so. My question is, where is the balance of the 5% going and how do you expect the local authorities and provinces to proceed when they are not provided for in the budget of the country?
So my prayer, Mr. Speaker Sir, is to see what is due to the provinces and local authorities being taken care of and being taken seriously so that we see our country moving forward. I so wish that this Parliament is going to take that seriously and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is going to look into this matter. I so rest my case. Thank you.
HON. RAIDZA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir. We want to thank our Public Accounts Committee on the report that was presented by our Chairperson, Hon. Biti and seconded by Hon. Nduna. I am going to discuss just a few issues on statutory responsibilities of the Accountant General.
The office of the Accountant General is an important office for the efficient running of the finances of the country, but what we discovered during our engagement with the Accountant General did not please us because of a number of issues. We realise that the Accountant General was failing to appreciate that his job was a statutory job where he was having statutory responsibilities, one of which was issuance of warranties. I think if we look at why the issue of issuance of warranties is critical in the management of the country’s finances, we realise that the Accountant General was not attaching the importance to that issue because from the Public Finance Management Act, the issue of warranties is critical in that it was going to help the Executive to manage the expenditures for each appropriation account.
The other issue was on statutory responsibilities of preparing the monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements. We have realised that some of these reports were not coming on time and the reasons that we were being given were not sufficient. So we want to encourage our Minister of Finance and Economic Development here present to look into that office and try to make it very efficient because we realise that the monthly reports that are supposed to come every month would build into quarterly reports and these quarterly reports would build into the annual report, but we realise that by not submitting these monthly reports at the end of each financial year, there were issues of non compliance.
The other aspect is that if the Accountant General cannot manage or he cannot carry out his duties, then it would be very difficult now for him to supervise the other finance directors as expected by the Public Finance Management Act because the other finance directors from other ministries are supposed to be feeding the information to him so that he prepares the consolidated financial statement. My encouragement is that the office needs to be relooked into and see how best we can improve its efficiency because the Accountant-General when he appeared before us, he did not tell us whether it was a structural issue in the department why he cannot perform or it is on a number of reasons. We want to implore our Minister to help us as Parliament to make sure that the law is abided by. Those are my contributions to say there are statutory responsibilities and I think in support of our President, His Excellency President E. D.
Mnangagwa’s efforts of fighting corruption, if we enhance the transparency of that office, it will help us as a country to fight the scourge of corruption. We realise that if the Accountant General cannot do his work properly as what is expected by the law, it will compromise many issues. Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move to wind up the debate and move for the adoption of the report. I want to thank Hon. Members who contributed on this very important report. I think today, we are also lucky that the esteemed Minister of Finance is also in the room, he would have heard the Members’ concerns and that report’s concerns as well as the Minister of Defence who is also very important. She will not just finish on the Ministry of Defence. Her ladder is very long. Mr.
Speaker Sir, this report raises five key issues which we hope the Minister of Finance will address.
The first one, as Hon. Members have been saying, Hon. Raidza,
Hon. Nyokanhete and Hon. Wesley Sansole, the issue of the Accountant General – [HON. T. MLISWA: My issues also.] – I will come to your issues. The issue of the Accountant General, Mr. Speaker, the Report founded the Accountant General as being a very lackadaisic gentleman. On one occasion, we had to suspend and adjourn our meeting because the Accountant General was unable to answer our questions. If a battle crane is unable to perform his duty, then he must be relieved of ...
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Biti. I do not know the way you are responding at the moment. Are you not giving the Minister chance to respond. If you would want to give the Minister chance to respond, it must be the Minister first then you conclude.
HON. BITI: The tradition Mr. Speaker is that he adopts and implements but if he wants to respond, he can because he is here.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker, I was
comfortable with the Hon. Member summarising things. He has raised the first point and I think he had four more points to go. Let us allow him to finish and I will respond but my response will be just to thank Hon. Members who were very robust and it is a very important debate. I thank you.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, we were disturbed that the Accountant General did not know his functions. As I have said before, in one of the meetings, we had to adjourn and postpone the meeting because the Accountant General was not very useful. The core mandate of the Accountant General and I need to over emphasise Mr. Speaker Sir, that the Ministry of Finance operates on three legs which are defined in the Public Finance Management Act. This is the Minister of Finance who is responsible or defined as Treasury. In terms of Section 7 of that Act, Treasury is responsible for formulating policy. The second office and a very important office is called the Pay Master General. The Pay Master General is the Secretary for Finance. He is responsible for making all payments consistent with the Blue Book. The third leg of the Ministry of Finance is called the Accountant-General. He is on par with the Minister, he is on par with the Pay Master General. The Accountant General looks after our accounts, looks after the books, looks after the corporate governance of the Ministry. The core business of the Accountant General is to prepare books. The core business of the Accountant General is to prepare financial statements.
We were disturbed Mr. Speaker Sir, that contrary to his statutory duties, the Accountant General has failed to prepare monthly statements. He has failed to prepare quarterly statements. He has failed to prepare annual statements. We met him in January Mr. Speaker Sir, when we interviewed him and he assured us that by March of 2019, he would have prepared the reports of last year. We are now in almost the end of
July Mr. Speaker, and he has not done so. The second omission was his failure to issue warrants in terms of the Public Finance Management Act. The way it acts is that when Parliament approves appropriations in terms of the Appropriation Act and approves payments which are detailed in the Blue Book, before a Ministry spends money, the Accountant General must issue a warrant under his hand or her hand to authorise a Ministry to spend money.
Since 2014, this Accountant General has not issued a warrant. That means that every cent that has been in every Ministry has been spent illegally without a warrant and that is dangerous Mr. Speaker Sir, because without a warrant there is no audit instrument. You cannot point out the Permanent Secretary of Defence or Health, that you overspent when you never gave him a warrant to say, spend $20 thousand. The whole gamut, the whole ecosystem of good governance and corporate governance collapses when the Accountant General fails to issue a warrant. What disturbed us most Mr. Speaker Sir, was that the Accountant General did not know that he had an obligation to issue the warrant, which is why we recommended in our report that perhaps he could be retired, given a nice package and someone who is more knowledgeable of the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act be appointed.
The second issue that concerned us were budget deficits. The Government has been running budget deficits since 2014, starting with a modest budget deficit of $380 million in 2014 to $2.8 billion in 2018. Mr. Speaker, when Parliament sits to approve a Budget, we approve proposals that come from the Minister of Finance in disposing of its constitutional functions defined in Section 304/305 of the Constitution. It is Government itself which says we want to spend $2 billion or $4 billion. It is an abuse of this Parliament when Government then proceeds to spend money outside that approved Budget but that can happen. Mr. Speaker Sir, that is allowed in our law but when that happens, the Minister of Finance must come up with a bill of condonation to ask for forgiveness from this Hon. House for spending outside the limit that is given in the Appropriation Act, also known as the Budget. We are disturbed as a Committee that since 2014, the Government has been spending outside the Budget, running a budget deficit which at times has run up to more than 100% but has not come to this august House for condonation. There are two things that must happen Mr. Speaker Sir.
First, there must be a Bill of Condonation to say, I am the Minister of Finance, we have spent outside the budget. We are sorry to you Hon. Members, then there is a Supplementary Budget or a Supplementary Appropriation to authorise the expenditure that would have been done outside the Consolidated Revenue Fund and that has not happened. We point to 2017 as a very disturbing year because the approved budget for 2017 was $4 billion but the expenditure was $8 billion. So you spend over 200% of what was approved. So we recommend that the Minister of Finance must now do the right thing and come up with Bills of condonation and supplementary appropriations for 2014 to 2018. Deficit financing is not good for the country, which is why the new Minister of Finance is speaking of fiscal consolidation and balancing of books because that is key to public management.
The third issue is debt contraction and on debt contraction there are three issues. The first one is the existence of multiple sources of debt contraction in the country. Everyone is contracting debt, in particular the Reserve Bank. The parastatals are contracting debt. So we make the recommendations that there should only be one debt contracting office in this country, which is the Ministry of Finance, authorised by the President in terms of the Public Finance Management Act. The problem of multiple centres of debt contraction is that there will be no respect to the Public Debt Management Act. There will be no centralised recording of Public Debt and that is multiple contracting of debt in this country.
The second issue is the recording of figures. As Hon. Sibanda correctly pointed out that in the 2018 budget, there were three sets of documents produced by the Ministry of Finance on the same day. There was the Budget Statement itself the main statements read out by the Minister which claimed that our public debt, sovereign debt was US$17 billion consisting of a domestic debt of around US$11 billion and sovereign external debt of around US$7 billion.
We had two Blue Books and up to now Hon. Speaker, we have not obtained a satisfactory explanation from the Minister of Finance why two Blue Books were issued for the 2019 budget. One Blue Book had a debt of US$9.6 billion and another blue book had a debt of US$9.4 billion. In fact, one budget statement had three separate figures of public debt US$17 billion, US$9.6 and US$9.4 billion.
So, our recommendation is that the Public Debt Management
Office must have a statutory mandate. In other words, the Public Debt
Management Office should not be set as a department of the Ministry of Finance like Zimstart. It must have a semi autonomous existence outside the Ministry of Finance so that there is legitimacy and credibility to our Public Debt figures. This office must also record all public guarantees issued by the State. In other words, anything that imposes direct or contingent liability on the State must be housed and quarantined in the Public Debt Management Office which should be located as a semiautonomous office outside the Ministry of Finance and we gave the example in our report of the Zimstart which we set up in terms of the Statistics Act of Zimbabwe.
The reason why we did that was that we did not want inflation figures to be influenced by the Minister of Finance. Equally, we also do not want our debt figures to be influenced by the Executive, the Ministry of Finance and so that is our key recommendation. The third issue on debt and this is where I want to thank Hon. Mliswa who also happens to be my father in law and I want to thank him for the point he raised that Section 327 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe says any agreement contracted by the President or on behalf of the President which imposes fiscal obligations on the Republic of Zimbabwe must be approved by Parliament before it becomes alive. Before that agreement is consummated, it must be approved by Parliament but since 2014, we have been contracting public debt, particularly the huge debt that has been contracted by the African Import and Export Bank but Parliament has not been told.
So the report makes strong recommendations that the Minister must present to this august House all the debt that has been contracted and seek condonation in terms of Section 327 but in future, all public debt, all agreements that impose fiscals obligations on the State must be brought to this august House before they are signed in consistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The fourth thing on public debt is non compliance with the Public
Debt Management Act. It puts a ceiling, a borrowing cap of 70% of GDP. We make the report and the observation in our report that although our GDP has been rebased, which retrospectively can make our figures look good, the fact of the matter is that when public debt was contracted in the years of 2014 to 2018 before rebasement, there was no compliance with the Public Debt Management Act in that the 70% cap was breached.
We were also concerned about non-compliance with Section 11 of the Public Debt Management Act. The Section says that before any public debt is contracted the Ministry of Finance must satisfy through a process of due diligence the following factors:
- is this debt in the public interest when we are borrowing;
- is this debt consistent with the macro-economic policies of the country;
- is the State able to repay its bebt?
In our analysis of the report, we found that there has been no compliance with Section 11 of the Public Debt Management Act. We found that there has been no due diligence that is envisaged by Section 11 and part of the problem is the fact that everyone is contracting debt, the Reserve etc, and not the Ministry of Finance. That is why we make the strong recommendation that there should only be one debt contracting office in the country. Here we are talking of external sovereign debt. If anyone wants money from China, Russia and Washington, he must go through the Ministry of Finance, because it is the one that can do the due diligence.
The fourth issue which we raised is the RBZ - there are two things that we raised in that report about the RBZ. The first one is the overdraft facility that the Ministry of Finance has been running with the Reserve Bank since 2014. Section 13 of the RBZ is very clear. Government cannot borrow more than 20% of its previous year’s revenue, but we found out that since 2015, the Central Bank has been exceeding when it borrows. It has been exceeding this 70%. The real fundamental issue that we raise in the report is why the Ministry of Finance, the fiscas borrows from a Reserve Bank and one that we know is actually broke and we are very pleased that the Minister of Finance in his 2019 budget said that will stop.
I hope it has not happened in 2019 and we do not know. That is the first issue that the Reserve Bank overdraft Section 13 must be revisited so that that cap is removed and the bank does not lend to Central Government. The second issue which we raised is the debt contraction by the Central Bank. The Central Bank is contracting debt. We are in the process of concluding a second report on the RBZ and its debt is over US$8 billion. So, it is imposing fiscal obligations to the Ministry of
Finance but it does not have the same oversights that are in the Public
Debt Management Act. Our submission in the report is that the Reserve Bank should stop contracting public debt. If it were to do so, it must be covered by the Public Debt Management Act and must do so through the Ministry of Finance.
In conclusion, we found that there is a culture of indifference, lackadaisicalness and of laxity in the management of accounts. As other Hon. Members have said, the Ministry of Finance had 57 qualifications, more than any other appropriation account, and that is not acceptable.
The Ministry of Finance is also an oversight Ministry, it looks after the health and hygiene and governance of all the other Ministries. So if the enforcer is limping then you cannot expect the other bodies to be okay, that is why we urge on the Minister of Finance to take our report very seriously and to ensure that the issues that we have raised are addressed very much. I therefore move that this House adopts the motion that:
This House adopts the motion on the Report of the Portfolio
Committee on Public Accounts on compliance issues for the Ministry of
Finance and Economic Development
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. M. NCUBE), the House
adjourned at Twenty Two minutes to Five o’clock p.m.