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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 6 FEBRUARY 2024 VOL 50 NO 25

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 6th February 2024

The National Assembly met at a Quarter past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member facing me, straight, without a tie, may you please stand up?  Yes, I think you are improperly dressed.

          HON. MAPFUMO: My apologies Mr. Speaker.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you, you may leave the House and get dressed properly.

          Hon. Mapfumo left the Chamber.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I am sure you have followed the recent event regarding the passing on of the former President of Namibia, His Excellency Dr. Geingob. Our President, His Excellency the President has conveyed his condolences and indeed, those of the people of Zimbabwe, on the untimely death of the former President of Namibia. Hence, our national flags are flying at half-mast.

          I bring to your attention that His Excellency the late President, was instrumental in the genesis of the SADC PF way back in 1992 and that seed indeed germinated in reality on 8th September in Blantyre, Malawi, where the SADC summit unanimously agreed that the SADC PF should be established as a regional parliamentary body for consultative purposes and later to be transformed into a Regional Parliament of SADC. Not only that, the late President and his comrades in Cabinet and in the Parliament of Namibia, agreed that Namibia would be the host country of the SADC PF and it remained so up to today. So, from a parliamentary point of view, we have a special relationship with Namibia, particularly the Government of Namibia and the host Parliament of Namibia.

          In that regard, I am requesting you Hon. Members, to join me for a minute of silence in remembrance of the late President of Namibia.

          All Hon. Members observed a minute of silence.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: May the soul of the gallant freedom fighter rest in eternal peace. Thank you. Please be seated.

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

ACCESS TO INTERPRETATION SERVICES

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  I have to inform the House that headphones for translations are available from the officers at the Serjeant-at-Arms Department for use by Hon. Members. In order to access interpretation from the vernacular to the English language, Hon. Members are advised to select Channel 1 on their microphones.

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH SERVICE

          THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that there will be a Catholic Church Service tomorrow, 7th February, 2024 at 1200 Hours in the Special Committee Room 1, First Floor. All Members are invited, non-members are also welcome.

          May I take this opportunity to welcome you, as I have been absent on duty when you first came back from the holidays and wish you compliments of the season – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Why are you hesitating, you were not expecting that? – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – We thank God that we all came back alive by his grace.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. TOGAREPI: Hon. Speaker Sir, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 10 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 11 has been disposed of.

          HON. TSITSI ZHOU:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

Question again proposed.

          HON. THOMPSON: Compliments of the new season Mr. Speaker Sir, esteemed Members of the august House and fellow citizens. I stand before you today with a sense of duty and respect.  First and foremost, I would like to congratulate our President, His Excellency, E. D. Mnangagwa for a resounding victory in the 2023 elections.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, your mandate reflects the trust and confidence that the citizens of Zimbabwe have placed in your leadership.  Allow me also to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Speaker and his Deputy for retaining their posts as Presiding Officers – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Your re-election signifies the faith placed in your ability to lead the sheep of our nation through these challenging times. I express my utmost confidence in your leadership and look forward to a fruitful collaboration in the service of our great nation. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, as we collectively embark on the journey toward Vision 2030 articulated by our esteemed President, I wish to reaffirm my commitment to the shared vision of leaving no one and no place behind. 

          The President’s dedication to this vision is exemplified by initiatives such as the Presidential boreholes schemes, a commendable effort to drill 35,000 boreholes across the country.  In particular, I applaud the foresight of these initiatives recognising their potential to enhance water, sanitation, and hygiene service delivery.

          In my constituency, Rushinga, a region predominately affected by arid conditions, this borehole scheme is nothing short of a lifeline.  The burden of women and girls who often serve as primary caregivers to travel long distances for clean and potable water will undoubtedly be alleviated.  Amid the Cholera outbreak, improved sanitation became paramount and the Presidential borehole scheme emerged as a beacon of hope.

          Turning our attention to youth empowerment, I commend the Government’s establishment of vocational training centers in Mashonaland Central Province.  These centers play a vital role in equipping our youth with essential skills.  However, as we acknowledge their significance, urgent refurbishment is imperative to ensure that they remain effective hubs of learning.  I implore the Government to extend funding for this refurbishment and consider introducing courses that align with dynamic development in our overall economy. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, as we celebrate our success, we cannot turn a blind eye to the scourge of drug and substance abuse affecting our youth.  Urgent intervention is paramount and I call upon the Government to robustly implement existing laws and policies addressing this issue.  Additionally, we must invest in constructing rehabilitation facilities across all provinces to provide accessible and life-serving support to those affected. 

          In conclusion, let us join hands in unity and purpose to build a Zimbabwe that truly leaves no place and no one behind.  Through collaborative efforts, we can transform Vision 2030 from a mere aspiration into a tangible reality.  May we continue to work tirelessly for the betterment of our beloved nation.  I thank you.

          HON. MASHONGANYIKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me this opportunity to debate this very important debate.  I want to thank the Hon. Members who moved this important motion, Hon. Nguluvhe, seconded by Hon. Tsitsi Zhou.  I would like to begin by expressing my heartfelt congratulations to our esteemed President for his victory in the 2023 harmonised elections.  The peaceful and fair manner in which these elections were conducted is a testament to our President’s leadership and his genuine concern for the people of Zimbabwe. I would also like to commend the Government of Zimbabwe and its citizens for their contribution to these fair and harmonised elections.

Furthermore, I would like to extend my congratulatory message to you Mr. Speaker Sir, on your appointment as the Speaker of Parliament in this august House and Hon. Tsitsi Gezi as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.  I would also like to congratulate all the Members of Parliament who have been elected to represent the people of Zimbabwe in this 10th Parliament.

Today, I stand before you as a representative of the people of Mashonaland Central, humbled and honoured to contribute to the State of the Nation Address following the President’s inspiring speech.  I would like to express my gratitude to our President for his insightful address which shed light on the progress we have made as a nation.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to commend the Government’s dedication to improving our country’s road network.  The substantial efforts made to enhance our infrastructure have not only improved accessibility, but also promoted trade and tourism.  The completion of major roads as highlighted in the President’s address is evidence of the Government’s commitment to laying a strong foundation for our nation’s development.

I am delighted to see that the special republic continues to prioritise the upgrading of our road network using local contractors and materials.  In particular, I would like to acknowledge the construction and maintenance of the critical road from Harare to Kanyemba which extends into Zambezi River to Zambia.  This road has significantly boosted the tourism sector in Mashonaland Central attracting potential tourism and facilitating economic growth.  Additionally, I would like to emphasise the importance of value addition and beneficiation.

          In Mashonaland Central, we have abundant resources such as masawu and mawuyu which can be processed and exported as valuable products.  These endeavours will not only create employment opportunities, but also generate the much-needed foreign currency for our nation.  I would like to express my gratitude to the President for facilitating the official opening of the Chilmund Water Plant which manufactures water treatment chemicals in Bindura Mashonaland Central.

          This investment has created numerous jobs for Zimbabweans and reduced our dependency in importing water treatment chemicals. It is a testament to the President’s commitment to the development of our nation and the mantra “nyika inovakwa nevene vayo’.  Moreover, I applauded the President for recognising the vital role of women in our country’s development.  Women’s empowerment is not merely a slogan, it is a fundamental human right that we must uphold. I am pleased to learn that the Government has taken steps to promote gender equality and ensure that women have equal opportunities in education, employment and leadership positions.  By investing in our women, we are investing in the future prosperity for our nation.  I also commend His Excellency the President for including women Members of Parliament in the Cabinet and ensuring 30% representation of non-ward female councillors. 

          The implementation of the devolution agenda by the Second Republic should also be commended, the disbursement of devolution funds to local authorities has significantly improved service delivery.  We have witnessed improvements in water supply through the drilling of boreholes.  The purchasing of refuse trucks and the effective collection of refuse has seen local authorities utilising devolution funds to acquire the necessary equipment, thereby enhancing their capacity to serve the community. 

          Furthermore, the President’s address shed light on the state of our healthcare delivery system. As a nation, we have faced numerous challenges in improving accessible and quality health for all citizens. However, the Government’s commitment to revitalising our health sector is encouraging. The increased investment in healthcare infrastructure, training of medical professionals and provision of essential medication as announced by the President is a step in the right direction.  It is our duty as representatives of people to ensure that these commitments are translated into tangible actions that benefit every Zimbabwean.

          Additionally, I urge the Government to address the issue of drug abuse especially among the youth, those who supply the drugs must be apprehended to protect our young generation.

          Finally, I would like to express gratitude to our First Lady, Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa for her exemplary work programmes like Nhanga ne Gota and the promotion of traditional foods, such as the one she spearheaded in Spain.  As women, we have learned valuable lessons from Amai through her tangible teachings. 

          In conclusion, the President’s State of the Nation Address has provided us with a comprehensive overview of the progress made in our beloved Zimbabwe, it is a call to action for all of us to work together towards a brighter future.  By addressing the issues of our road network, women’s empowerment and health care delivery system, we are moving in the right direction. Let us see this moment as an opportunity to unite, innovate and build a nation that we can all be proud of, I thank you, Hon. Speaker.

          HON. TOGAREPI:   Mr. Speaker, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. TSITSI ZHOU: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th February, 2024.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. TOGAREPI:  Mr. Speaker, I move that the House reverts to Order of the Day, Number 1 on today’s Order Paper.

HON. TSITSI ZHOU:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.   

THE HON. SPEAKER:  My duo on my left, please note that you are expected to be in the House at the latest by 2.05 p.m., so that you can join us in prayers.  Thank you.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION ON THE 2023 HARMONISED ELECTIONS

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MUZUNGUNYE):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I move the motion standing in my name;

That this House takes note of the Report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on the 2023 Harmonised Elections presented to this House of Parliament in terms of Section 241 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

As you are aware Mr. Speaker Sir, the report has already been tabled before the House and as such, I will not labour the House by going into details.  I so present.

*HON. TAFANANA ZHOU:  Thank you Mr. Speaker and congratulations for the new year.  I would like to add my voice on the report presented by ZEC.  Hon. Speaker Sir, I will start by congratulating the ZEC Chairperson for being reappointed a second time by our President, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa and also congratulate her team of Commissioners who are eight in number.

*THE HON. SPEAKER:  If you are referring to the Head of State, he is His Excellency the President like you are also called an Honourable Member.

*HON. TOFANANA ZHOU:  Thank you very much.  Let me repeat that Hon. Speaker Sir.  I would also want to express my gratitude to His Excellency the President, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa, for reappointing her to lead ZEC and her team and also for being able to run the general elections efficiently in Zimbabwe.

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate ZEC for a job well done before the elections when they dealt with the issue of the Delimitation Commission.  They did very well in delimitation of the constituencies.  We are all aware that the majority of us were in the Ninth Parliament.  Both the opposition and the ruling party, we are saying that the report was not good in terms of delimitation of the constituencies which showed that ZEC was independent and there was no interference when they came up with the delimitation exercise.  It is these 20 seats that were delimitated by ZEC that some Hon. Members in this august House are now occupying.  We thank them for a job well done.

Hon. Speaker Sir, I would once again like to congratulate them for a job well done when they allowed observers into our country during the general elections.  They allowed a lot of observers from different countries who came to observe the elections.  Indeed, the elections were conducted well and they were very transparent.  We were following in the footsteps of our leader, His Excellency the President, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa who says that this is an open country.  Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none and that was put into practice.  This was shown by the various independent election observers that came to witness the Zimbabwean elections.

We would also like to thank them for a timely production of their report which was done a short time just after the completion of the elections.  The report explained how the elections were conducted from the preparations to the actual elections and that we were using our own money and had no foreign influence in terms of assistance in conducting the elections.  The Government did very well and this Government led by His Excellency the President, Cde. E. D. Mnangagwa, did very well by providing sufficient funds for ZEC to be able to discharge its duties.  These elections were conducted independently without any foreign intervention in terms of the provision of funds.

We are also grateful that these elections were conducted by ZEC in a peaceful manner. These elections were free, fair and there was no violence before, during and after the elections.  All of us, for the first time, agreed with the outcome of the elections, which meant that ZEC did very well and no one petitioned the court in coming up with or challenging the manner in which ZEC had done its job.  I would like to give ZEC a pat on the back for a job well done.

          I would also want to thank ZEC for fulfilling the constitutional obligation in line with the Parliamentary Amendment that brought the extension of the Women Proportional Representation in Parliament, which was agreed to and that was done by ZEC. Also, the coming on board of the Youth Quota in Parliament is commendable.  The Youth Quota was introduced by His Excellency the President, Hon. E. D. Mnangagwa. We should not forget that in the local authorities, 30% proportional representation was also enforced.  This was meant to uplift women. 

          *THE HON. SPEAKER: Our mother tongue is rich.

          *HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: I will learn Shona from you Hon. Speaker.  You are now much better than me.

          *THE HON. SPEAKER: You will give me a beast.

          *HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would also want to thank the diverse political parties for making ZEC’s work much easier, which shows maturity in terms of Zimbabwe being a democratic State.  I would want to thank them very much.  It would be remising of me if I do not congratulate ZEC’s secretariat and staff for working from morning until the next day to ensure that our elections go well.  I thank you Mr. Speaker.

          HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  Compliments of the new season.  I would like to begin by congratulating the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, (ZEC).  I would like to also thank His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe for renewing yet another term for women and recognising that women always do a better job.

          I now come back to the report.  

           The Hon. Members having not clapped for Hon. Karimatsenga-Nyamupinga

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Aaa, imi, kana madzimai agona agona veduwee.

          HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) established in terms of Section 238 of the Zimbabwe Constitution, is central and pivotal to our right to vote and the degree of establishment and expression of democracy to our country.  Its establishment and structure and resourcing are fundamental to the legitimisation of the process of voting and outcomes.  I thank ZEC for its report which clearly spells out its mandate and role, and how the whole process of 2023 elections progressed from preparation, delimitation to elections.  They hold the key to the public and international perception of free, fair and credible elections.  They are at the heart of our democracy and I am honoured to be adding my voice to this report.  Once again, I thank ZEC for a well presented and comprehensive report on its work.

          Secondly, I thank the Government of Zimbabwe for respecting the important role of ZEC by providing adequate and timeous resources to ensure all electoral activities were executed within the legal framework timelines and in terms of electoral laws.  Whatever challenges were later encountered, they had nothing to do with lack of timeous funding, but only the work ethics and competences of ZEC and other factors beyond ZEC’s control.

          The delimitation exercise which preceded the 2023 Elections was fraught with a number of challenges in a number of constituencies and communities.  Some new boundaries created confusion and lack of sense of identity.  Without going into detail, it is important that the feedback on the exercise be given attention to avoid same mistakes in the future.  I also note that by the time of elections, there were a lot more registered voters than the figures used for delimitation.  More voters registered after delimitation.  My question is how do we ensure that delimitation is a correct reflection to the voters’ figures for the next 10 years?

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the 2023 Harmonised Elections were characterised by peace, before, during and after elections.  I commend the people of Zimbabwe for that and ZEC for laying that foundation, where generally the public awareness and access to materials was transparent, hence confidence and trust in the process.  However, it is important that ZEC should take note and avoid some of the challenges that were noted.  These reflect their own competences as the State and other key stakeholders had timeously provided resources.  There was late delivery of ballot papers at some centres, in my constituency and I am sure in other constituencies as well. 

          In their report, they pointed out that in Harare and Bulawayo, the ballot papers were late because there had been errors in the ballots.  Such challenges are to be avoided if they tend to overshadow an otherwise well-run election.  There were also challenges with polling agents lists, which again caused unnecessary delays to the voting process.  These issues are to be avoided as they can be negatively capitalised on and do impact on our democracy.  Granted, some delays were a result of reprinting, following court challenges and the lessons must be learnt on how to manage this in order to avoid delays.  In that regard, I am in complete agreement with ZEC recommendations that there be a limit in the legal framework for pre-election applications at the courts that will allow for completion of the cases well ahead of elections so that the material distribution and voting is not affected.

          Allow me Mr. Speaker, to commend ZEC for the voter education and information platforms and activities that were in line with international best practices. The voter education was balanced, gender and culture sensitive. The use of social media allowed for the timeous flexibility to respond and counter fake news whilst the public participated in the dissemination of information and education.

I would like to conclude Mr. Speaker Sir, by recommending that ZEC recommendations in their reports on addressing some of the challenges for the future, be adopted and implemented. Our democracy is sacrosanct and must be a shining example the world-over and be defended at all times. I thank you Mr. Speaker.   

          HON. ZVOBGO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to debate the report of the ZEC relating to the recently completed 2023 general elections and other related matters. Mr. Speaker Sir, too often we take our democratic rights and freedom for granted. Too often we forget the sacrifices made by our war veterans and the generality of the Zimbabwean people to get the simple right to vote. Democracy is important because it allows every Zimbabwean to make his voice heard. Elections are the process of listening to the people’s voice and without successful and transparent elections, the legitimate right of all of us in this House, to sit on these benches and speak on behalf of our fellow citizens, would fall into question.

          It must follow then that the report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on its work leading up to the general election, during the general election and after the general election, should be regarded as the most important report that this House will ever receive during the life of this Parliament. It is a report that explains and justifies our presence here today and justifies our right to speak on behalf of our fellow citizens for the duration of this Parliament.

          Having perused their report, I would like to pay my compliments to the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Justice Chigumba and her entire team, on their hard work and adherence to fundamental democratic processes.

The logistical and administrative challenges involved in the preparation and execution of the general election were many and varied, yet the Commission successfully overcame them and discharged their statutory obligation to hold a successful and transparent election. Many people will consider the elections as the actual two days of voting that took place and forget all the necessary preparations and procedures that had to come before that, beginning with voter registration and the delimitation of the constituencies, hence proceeding to voter education in the 16 languages recognised by the Constitution and then to the acceptance of nominations. There was inspection of the Voters Roll and the organisation for Election Observers, both foreign and domestic. There was the Organisation of Security and the investigation of complaints forwarded by the various candidates.

It is clear from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission report that the election process spanned months if not years of preparation and effort. That the elections that took place on the 23rd and 24th of August, 2023 was the culmination and conclusion of a lengthy process. While some detractors exist, especially amongst those who failed, it is my submission that the Commission deserves praise for a job well done.

As evidence of their good work, I notice that while the Commission was allocated 860 billion dollars for all the processes leading up to and including the election itself, it managed to spend only 76% of its budget or ZWL612 billion. Mr. Speaker Sir, to hold an election on time and under-budget, using, furthermore, a currency experiencing some volatility, is a testament to the ability of professionalism of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. It is my hope that they continue their good work in the months and years ahead. I thank you.

HON. MASUKU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I extend my gratitude for granting me the opportunity to contribute to this crucial ongoing debate concerning the ZEC report presented before this esteemed House. Allow me also to express my congratulations to the Commission for the successful fulfillment of its Constitutional mandate during the 2023 Harmonised Elections. Undoubtedly, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission faced various challenges, yet its resilience and resourcefulness in executing its mandate are commendable. I wish to center my discussion on Chapter 8 of the report, which focusses on resource mobilisation.

Mr. Speaker Sir, in the realm of resource mobilisation, it is only fair to commend the Commission for its adept mobilisation of both human and material resources necessary for the seamless conduct of the elections. This accomplishment was realised through a robust cooperation framework established between the Government and other stakeholders. However, in alignment with global norms, resources are inevitably inadequate, and ZEC encountered certain challenges.

Shifting our attention to procurement, ZEC deserves commendation for the strategic measures implemented to ensure the timely acquisition of sensitive and non-sensitive election materials before the election day. Despite market instability, the Commission demonstrated foresight by adopting early procurement strategies and judiciously utilising its residual stocks. Noteworthy is the support received from the Procurement Regulations Authority of Zimbabwe which facilitated the procurement of strategic resources despite market fluctuations. The expeditious acquisition of key resources was further facilitated by a waiver for shorter evaluation periods, with a specific focus on critical materials requiring foreign currency.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, regarding budget controls and expenditure, ZEC was allocated ZW$860 billion to support various election activities, and as of September 2023, 71% of the budget had been expended. I wish to commend the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion for their timely releases, coupled with the invaluable support from the ZIM-ECO Two project, which played a pivotal role in covering election-related costs. Looking forward, it is imperative that we concentrate on upscaling domestic resource mobilisation to ensure the electoral process become more self-sufficient.

          In conclusion, Mr. Speaker Sir, once again, I want to say congratulations to the Commission.  While the 2023 Harmonised Elections encountered challenges, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s adept navigation of these hurdles is a testimony of its unwavering dedication to conducting fair and transparent elections here in Zimbabwe.  I thank you.

          HON. MANGONDO:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir, may I send seasonal compliments to you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you.

          HON. MANGONDO: Mr. Speaker Sir, may I add my own voice to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) report on the 2023 Harmonised Elections. ZEC as established in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, is one of the 12 Independent Commissions.  In terms of Section 239 of the Zimbabwe Constitution, ZEC is mandated with the sole task of conducting elections in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, as a constitutional democracy, has never failed to hold elections since the birth of our young republic in 1980 – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – This shows the extent to which Zimbabwe, as a constitutional democracy, follows the Constitution of this country and gives people the opportunity to renew the mandate of Government as well as for the people to select their representatives in Parliament. We have, as a country, religiously followed the Constitution and therefore, I think it makes us very proud as a people.

          The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has done a wonderful job in carrying out its duty in discharging its mandate for the 2023 Harmonised Elections. ZEC is mandated to carry out delimitation exercise and in 2023, ZEC carried out a double mandate in terms of carrying out delimitation and running the election. This delimitation, as we all know, is the first one since we had the new Constitution, the last delimitation having been conducted in 2008. So, ZEC, in spite of the challenges, indeed managed to discharge its responsibilities in coming out within its constitutional boundaries.

          Yes, there were challenges in terms of people knowing which wards or constituencies they had been delimited in terms of the new delimitation boundaries. I think on the whole, the exercise was conducted with the utmost due diligence with regards to the people’s aspirations. I would like to congratulate ZEC for having been able to carry out, as I said, the delimitation exercise under very difficult circumstances. As I said, the first one since 2008 with the new Constitution.

          I would also like to congratulate ZEC for the conduct of a flawless election. The elections were held under very peaceful conditions and people were able to decide freely which party or candidate they were to vote for because of the enabling environment. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was able to extend voting for another day in areas where they had encountered logistical challenges. So, ZEC in this regard therefore, was continuously monitoring the situation and continuously assessing whether people would be given opportunity to cast their votes as required by the Constitution.

          I would like to congratulate ZEC for the very peaceful election that was conducted within an enabling environment and that produced a free, fair and credible election result. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – ZEC is also tasked with the responsibility of registering and accrediting observers.  ZEC rose to the occasion and indeed was able to accredit both foreign and local observers. Thus, also ensuring that the election was monitored independently and also that all the interested parties as expected, would have been satisfied with the conduct of elections.  Never mind, others were not satisfied with the result, but in terms of the conduct of the election according to the Constitution and Electoral Laws of this country, ZEC indeed rose to the occasion and they are an institution that we should be proud of – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate the Chairperson of ZEC, Justice Chigumba on her re-appointment as Chairperson of ZEC – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- which demonstrates the confidence in which His Excellency, the President, and indeed the people of Zimbabwe have in her ability to conduct elections in a constitutional democracy.

 Mr. Speaker Sir, I have had an opportunity to observe elections in South Africa, run by an independent electoral commission.  I have seen a lot of similarities in terms of the actual conduct here in the manner in which ZEC allows political parties to interact as well as to present issues they may not be satisfied with.  In terms of benchmarking, therefore, I think ZEC has done very well as I said and had an opportunity to observe elections in South Africa and have had the opportunity to compare and contrast the two – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          Mr. Speaker Sir, ZEC produced a voter’s roll based on our polling stations in terms of the Constitution.  The voter’s roll is a very important document and ZEC was able to produce the voter’s roll which enabled people to inspect the voter’s roll within proximity of where they reside.  So, the polling station voter’s roll was a major instrument in terms of producing a free and fair election and I would like to congratulate ZEC as well for having produced a polling station-based voter’s roll.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, ZEC also carried out extensive voter education. I come from Murewa South Constituency which has an excess of 60 polling stations, and some of them in very difficult areas to access due to terrain.  I must say I was quite impressed because wherever I went to the villages, I saw ZEC educators interacting and interfacing with the people, so congratulations ZEC for a job well-done.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, finally, I would like to thank ZEC, the Commissioners, the members of staff, and indeed the Government of Zimbabwe for having created an environment conducive to a free, fair, and credible election.  I thank you.

          HON. NJANJI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I rise to add my voice to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Report.  Mr. Speaker Sir, let me take this chance to proffer my judgments and critical view of the just-ended 2023 harmonised elections which were presided over by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) established in terms of Section 238 of the Zimbabwean Constitution.

          My presentation seeks to explore the extent and depth to which the Commission adhered to its constitutional mandate towards the entrenchment of democracy and the creation of a free and fair election platform in line with stipulated regulations regionally and internationally.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, whilst it is common that in every country, there happens to be logistical, financial, and legal drawbacks punctuating the election process.  There is no doubt that the prevalence of a peaceful environment during the election period, post, during, and after attest to a Zimbabwe that is maturing in democratic trajectories if we are to compare elections of yester years – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to commend the adoption of constitutional reforms that saw the inclusion of youth, women, and persons with disability in Parliament.  That is a good start towards the inclusion of marginalised communities in issues of representation and democracy.  Speaking from a background of rural constituencies which we hail from, the participation of these quotas in Parliamentary affairs is critical in ending the existence of stereotypes still prevalent in many parts of our marginalised societies.  Thus, I want to appreciate the upholding of these constitutional reforms by ZEC during the 2023 harmonised elections.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, democracy entrenchment is further guided by the ethos of universal suffrage whereby all people of legal age are supposed to exercise their right to vote despite colour, creed, race and ethnicity.  It is against this background that this election for the first time, saw new voters casting their ballot papers after a massive voter registration that was carried on by ZEC in line with constitutional obligation.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the accessibility of the Commission through the establishment of registration centers in most parts of Zimbabwe was a commendable move and ensured that every person eligible to vote registered.   

          A crucial and key component of elections in a democratic republic is the presence of monitoring bodies which we saw election observers displaying an empire roll of refereeing neutrally and the fair conduct of elections.  Like the Fourth Estate, they also played a watchdog role in every election setup.  It is the mandate of ZEC to see to it that every bona-fide election observer has been granted the right to monitor elections, Mr. Speaker, all observers under various flagships including the SADC Election Observer Team, the European Union Delegation, Commonwealth Observers to mention but a few.  The accreditation of observers by the Electoral body speaks towards the existence of a free and fair election environment.  A total of 12 512 observers made up of local, foreign observers and journalists freely participated in the coverage of the 2023 Harmonised Elections. 

          This attests to the existence of a mature and strong democracy in our motherland.  Mr. Speaker Sir, more than 1000 applications were filed during the election period arising from the nomination court process.  Whilst it was a noble adherence to democratic stipulations to allow fairness among political parties, candidates approach and challenges in whatever form of imbalance regarding the nomination procedure; there was a ripple negative effect in the printing of the ballot papers. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the latter led to minor blemish in the voting processes, where other areas had to wait longer than expected to receive voting material.  However, the Commission, in the spirit of democracy, implored His Excellency the President, Cde. Emmerson Mnangagwa to exercise his powers under section 38 (IV) of the Electoral Act and alter his area proclamation issue under Statutory Instrument 85/2023, that voting should be extended to the 24th of August to allow areas that have been affected by the right to exercise their right.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, it was the greatest test of our democracy which the Second Republic passed with distinctions, the allowing of candidates to approach courts for redress and subsequent considering action to extend voting period with another day, attest to the truest fact that ZEC contributed to the democratisation of the electoral process.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I do fully concur with the recommendations highlighted by the Commission in their electoral post mortem report, where Parliament is tasked with the enactment of reforms mainly to do with time limits for adjudication of pre-election applications.  I quote, “there should be established reasonable and appropriate time limits in the legal framework for the proceeding hearing framework and determination of pre-election applications filed at the courts in order for the matters to be completed and court decisions rendered well in advance of election day.”

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I do believe that if we have a task in this honourable august House, to preserve, nurture and entrench deeper, the existing mature democracy we experienced in the just ended 2023 elections by enacting guiding laws and formulating policies that are corrective of electoral nemeses which we encounter, we may achieve that higher beacon of democracy for our country Zimbabwe.  With this presentation, I do rest my case.  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: I thank you very much Hon. Njanji. In future, when we rightly quote from the report, it is very important that you refer also to the page where that quotation has been extracted so that there is full complement of the Hansard record.  I thank you.

          HON. MAPOSA: Mr. Speaker, Sir.  Mwayusa biyeni twayusa kabotu.  Allow me to…

          THE HON. SPEAKER: You are testing me, right?

          HON. MAPOSA: I can speak in Tonga Hon. Speaker  

THE HON. SPEAKER: I can see that.

HON. MAPOSA: Allow me to pass my compliments of the new season to the Hon. Members and Parliament staff after a long holiday and a happy new year.  The Parliament staff always do a tough job daily on our behalf.  I would like to thank them again on behalf of all Hon. Members. ZEC elections are the way of practicing democracy and that is the right of any person or citizen of any country, to afford them an opportunity to choose leaders of their choice, to govern them, to provide services and to give them mandate to rule or govern. 

          Hon. Speaker Sir, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in terms of Section 239, Amendment No. 20 of 2013, have the mandate to oversee elections which they did on the 23rd of August 2023.  Hon. Speaker Sir, it is critical to note that the 2023 Harmonised Elections where conducted in an environment informed from the 2018 elections.  This board has a mandate to process voter registration, to teach and enroll all the potential voters to do inspection exercise to make sure no one and no place is left behind.  ZEC does not work alone, it works with stakeholders for its support which it did in 2023 Harmonised Elections.

          Hon. Speaker Sir, therefore, 2023 Harmonised Elections, were largely conducted based on the legal framework that existed in 2018.  Voter education programmes were implemented.  ZEC also provided the provision of election observers.  Zimbabwe also invited foreign observers to the 2023 August elections.  Forty-six countries as well as regional bodies were invited.  The Government also invited several political parties from the region, in line with the standard practice. 

          Hon. Speaker Sir, ZEC is an independent body mandated to support and enrich human rights and democracy.  It also is mandated to manage elections and Referendum in Zimbabwe as well.  The 2023 harmonised elections were conducted with the framework of the vision and values. ZEC promoted transparent and thorough engagement of both international and external stakeholders.  They are the key indicators of transparency to the public through regular communication with the public as well as political parties, media and giving information to the needy, which they did in August 2023.  

          Mr. Speaker Sir, ZEC is an independent body in the provision of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The elections were conducted without leaving no one behind without any interference. Hon. Speaker Sir, ZEC also provided the right for any citizen to vote without fear or favour during elections.  Hon. Speaker Sir, ZEC integrity was upheld through various observers that are UN, AU as well as SADC.  All of these were invited.  All the groups of people were given a chance to vote. 

Hon. Speaker Sir, in conclusion, I would like to thank all the ZEC staff and all the voters who managed to vote in a very peaceful manner.  I would like to thank the President of Zimbabwe and the Government who managed to provide the funds for the elections to be successful and well observed by all the people and observers who had been invited in Zimbabwe.  I thank you.

HON. MASVISVI:  Good afternoon Mr. Speaker Sir and compliments of the new season.  Mr. Speaker Sir, thank you for affording me this opportunity to add my voice to the debate on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Report.

Mr. Speaker Sir, ZEC, established in terms of section 238 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as one of the chapter 12 Independent Commissions, mandated to support and entrench human rights and democracy, is mandated to manage elections and referendums in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the duties and functions of this Commission are outlined in the Constitution and the Electoral Act.  Section 239 of the Constitution mandates the ZEC as follows; -

  1. To prepare for conduct and supervise
  2. Election to the Office of the President and to the Parliament;
  3. Election to provincial and metropolitan councils and the governing bodies of local authorities;
  4. Elections of members of the National Council of Chiefs’ established by section 285.
  5. Referendums
  6. Ensure that those elections and referendums are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law;
  7. To supervise elections of the President of the Senate and the Speaker and to ensure that those elections are conducted efficiently and in accordance with the law;
  8. To register voters;
  9. To compile voters’ roll and registers;
  10. To ensure the proper custody and maintenance of voters’ roll and registers;
  11. To delimit constituencies, wards and other electoral boundaries;
  12. To design, print and distribute ballot papers, approve the form and procure ballot boxes and establish and operate polling stations;
  13. To conduct and supervise voter education;
  14. To accredit observers of elections and referendums, undertaking and promoting research into electoral processes, developing expertise and the use of technology in regard to the electoral processes, promoting cooperation between Government, political parties and civil society in regard to elections keeping the public informed.

All the above were done excellently by the Commission.  Mr. Speaker Sir, basing on the mandate, vision of the Commission, I commend them for a job well done on the adherence to the dictates of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I commend ZEC’s Vision, Mission, Values and NDS1.  I applaud ZEC in its Vision which reads, ‘to be a centre of excellence in the management of the elections and referendums’.  ZEC respects elections and referendums in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I also want to thank this Commission for promoting transparency though engagement of both internal and external stakeholders, key indicators of transparency including being receptive to the public, regular communication with the public, political parties, media and access to information.

Mr. Speaker Sir, ZEC exercised its autonomy in the conduct of the 2023 Harmonised Elections in line with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  It shows that it is an independent body which works without undue interference from internal and external spheres. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, the successful conduct of 2023 Harmonised Elections is attributed to the team work, dedication and commitment of ZEC staff members and stakeholders.  ZEC should be applauded for the job well done beyond any reasonable doubt for they managed to hold undisputed elections which were free and fair.  The results of local councils, the National Assembly and the Presidential results were announced within the stipulated time and this reduced the anxiety from the stakeholders and the populace.

ZEC promoted the constitutional rights of the citizens without fear or favour during harmonised elections.  The integrity of the electoral process was upheld through observance of various standards and protocols of the United Nations, the African Union and SADC governing the conduct of credible elections.

Mr. Speaker Sir, inclusivity was promoted throughout all the stages of the electoral process in terms of participation of women, religious communities, persons with disabilities, youths and the elderly people as defined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  Internally, ZEC human resource policies were guided by the principles of gender balance and inclusion.  The successful conduct of the 2023 Harmonised Elections deepened the democratisation process necessary for a prosperous and empowered upper middle-class income society envisaged by NDS1.

Mr. Speaker Sir, in conclusion, it is noted that ZEC is performing its duties according to the dictates of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.  I, therefore, appreciate the role being played by the Commission chaired by Justice Priscilla Chigumba and her team of Commissioners.  I also commend the Commission for its good work.  I thank you.

          HON. DHLIWAYO: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir and Honourable Members. Let me also take this opportunity to pass my greetings to my fellow Zimbabweans and Chipinge East in particular.  It is my singular honour to stand before this august House to share my views on the ZEC report following the harmonised elections held on 23rd August, 2023.  These elections were held on the crippling economic sanctions imposed on our country since 2001, tilting the electoral environment in favour of the opposition whose leaders were at the forefront of calling for these sanctions.  Despite the foregoing, let me commend the ZEC for doing a sterling job in ensuring the harmonised elections were conducted in a conducive electoral environment. The period before, during and after the 23rd August, 2023 was characterised by peace and tranquility, which augured well with the free, fair, credible and transparent electoral process witnessed throughout the country.

          Many observer missions from the region and beyond were satisfied with the manner and conduct in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, managed and conducted the electoral process.  I also applaud the electoral body for ensuring that Zimbabwe fulfilled its constitutional obligation, as is always the case that elections are held as and when they are due.  I say this cognisant of the numerous litigations against ZEC on the eve of the elections, a factor which could have derailed the electoral process.  As attested to in the ZEC report, various observer missions were given unfettered access to all the 10 provinces of the country and they did so according to their capabilities.  This is in line with the SADC Principles and Guidelines governing democratic elections.  Section 9 of the SADC Principles, guides member States on the rights of SADC electoral observer missions where observers are accordingly given rights on the following, inter-alia; freedom of movement within the country, unimpeded and unrestricted access to all polling stations and counting centres; freedom to communicate with all competing political parties, candidates, other political associations, organisations and civil society organisations.

          Chapter 10 of the ZEC report does justice in showing commitment by the Government of Zimbabwe in providing free access to foreign observer missions.  Like noted in the report, there was a departure from previous elections where only diplomats accredited on fulltime basis were accredited.  Recent elections held last year even saw well-known hostile organisations like Carter Centre being afforded the opportunity to observe the elections in all the 10 provinces.  This shows the extent to which our electoral body, the people and the Government of Zimbabwe were committed to upholding the values of democratic elections. 

          I also applaud ZEC for the outreach programmes it carried out across the country.  Gratitude goes to the Government which harnessed access to media communication by licencing community radio stations across the country.  These community radio stations ensured local communities could easily access voter education programmes in the medium they best understood.  Voters were educated on various issues pertaining to their electoral rights, encourage prospective voters to register, discouraging the electorate from engaging in violence among other things. 

          Other mediums of communication were also used which enhanced voters’ awareness on electoral issues.  The preceding was also in line with Chapter 11 of the SADC Guidelines on civic and voter education, which is considered as “indispensable to democratic consolidation, as they allow for the electorate to make informed choices on who decides on their governance priorities.”  It is thus appropriate to appreciate the great work done by ZEC in this regard. 

          The independence of ZEC, as in Chapter 12 Independent Commissions, cannot be overemphasised.  Despite accusations levelled against the Commission by agenda seeking people, the Commission stood its ground to ensure the delivery of free, fair and credible elections.  It is unfortunate that in their quest to outbid each other, some opposition elements resorted to smear campaign against ZEC on unfounded and unjustified grounds.  The independence of the Commission was best seen in how it handled the litigation raised by ruling party Members on the twelve candidates belonging to CCC candidates in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province.  ZEC stood on its high moral ground and proved to naysayers that it did not act on instructions from any organisation or body in the country.  It is unfortunate though, that the pomp and fanfare accompanying the victory of the twelve CCC candidates in court was not complemented by retractions by the political party in question on the smear campaign on ZEC.  It is a travesty of justice that one accepts decisions in their favour and reject those that are against them as there is potential to diminish the value of a democratic process.  In this regard, I recommend to this august House that legislation be enacted to regulate the registration and conduct of political parties with a view to have genuine political organisations that are home grown to participate in our elections.

          Despite the intensive voter education campaign by ZEC, what is worrisome is the voter apathy witnessed in the country.  According to ZEC, over 6 000 000 (6 million) registered voters were recorded across the country, but slightly above 4 million casted their votes.  While it is normal to have voter apathy, the margin of people who did not cast their votes is high and measures should be taken to conscientise the people on the importance of participating in elections.  Not only is it important because of the existence of the right to choose leaders of their choice, it also aids in the growth of democracy.

          ZEC noted in its report, the timeframe under which postal ballots are supposed to be received and they recommended that time should be reduced from not later than noon on the 14th day before elections to not later than noon on the 7th day before elections.  I second the proposal by ZEC in light of the litigations that arose in the 2023 elections.  Those who are serving the State in various capacities and are unavailable to cast their votes on polling day should not be disenfranchised in the exercise of their right to vote.  The same also applies to timelines on when electoral litigations should be lodged with the courts and the timeframes of dealing with such litigations.

          While ZEC did everything it could to ensure a smooth process, some polling stations, in isolated incidences, did not open on time due to non-delivery of voting material on schedule. Evidence on the ground however, points to the fact that no prejudice was suffered by voters in these areas as they went on to elect leaders of their choice.  Calls have been made in the past to have ordinary Zimbabweans living outside the country to vote.    However, the Electoral Act does not have a provision for such.  Those who can vote are citizens who are on diplomatic missions, civil servants and members of the armed forces on external missions.  The role played by the Zimbabwean Diaspora in the development of this country cannot be understated.  In future, there is need to look into this issue, however for now, the logistical nightmare of organising such elections on the part of ZEC is huge considering the economic sanctions imposed on the country.  Any future consideration of the Diaspora vote should be premised on a concerted effort by meaningful political parties to lobby for removal of sanctions.

          On Observer Missions, Zimbabwe opened its electoral space to Observer Missions from different countries and regions. Local observers were also represented.  Even though ZEC is well represented in the accreditation process, the prerogative of inviting foreign observers lies with the Government.

          However, conduct by some of these observer missions left a lot to be desired. The EU Observer Mission was fingered in some unprofessional conduct which brings into question their impartiality in the whole electoral process. Attacks on Zimbabwe’s legislation through repeating propaganda made by anti-government forces were unwarranted. Attacks on the patriotic provisions of the Criminal Code adopted in July 2023, showed lack of understanding of the political terrain Zimbabwe is faced with.

          Unfortunately, the EU bloc has extended their illegal sanctions for another year until February 2025. Most surprising though, was the Preliminary Report by the SADC Observer Mission which sought to dictate how Zimbabwe should run its affairs. Section 10 of the SADC Guidelines on Elections, clearly stipulate the code of conduct for observers. Among these, is the need to comply with all national laws and regulations, as well as maintain strict impartiality in the conduct of their duties, and shall at no time express any bias or preference in relation to electoral process.

          At some point, these clear guidelines were almost flouted. Let me hasten though to say, Zimbabwe enjoys good relations with all SADC member States, but the conduct of some individuals among members of the Observation Team was meant to bring into disrepute, the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe.

          Th elections held in 2023 saw eleven presidential candidates participating, even though it was a reduction from 23 candidates in 2018. The figure is testimony of the mature democracy Zimbabwe has achieved over the years. The elections in general were conducted in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Electoral Act. Zimbabwe in this regard, deserves a pat on the back for upholding democratic tenets, despite some challenges it is faced with.

          In my concluding remarks, let me end by congratulating ZEC and the electorate for maintaining peace before, during and after elections. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such a peaceful, free, fair and credible electoral environment. That shows respect for our institutions, our culture and our languages. It shows respect for who we are as a people and a nation. Keep it up Zimbabwe. God bless you! Thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: After your delivery, I have no doubt that you have some kennel of wisdom. More importantly, is that you have upscaled the debate and made it very regional and multilateral in your analysis of certain protocols that govern our elections, particularly within the SADC region. So, you are an example of going beyond the report in terms of analysis. Well done.

HON. DHLIWAYO: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER: I do not have anyone else lined up according to the Government Chief Whip’s list. I am sure the Government Chief Whip will intervene. I commended the Hon. Government Chief Whip Hon. Togarepi very quietly for the manner in which the range of debates on the motion has been arranged. This is a compelling development which must be commended highly, if you can keep it up Chief Whip. I could see a clear direction and also that the Hon. Members so lined up to speak were prepared to debate. Again, that is very commendable. Thank you.

HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to say I would not fail after going through the mill of one of the best headmasters. Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. TSITSI ZHOU: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th February, 2024.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I now move that all other Orders of the Day be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 6 has been disposed of.

HON. J. SITHOLE: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PROGRAMMES TO CURB DRUG AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE BY THE YOUTHS

          HON. MAPIKI: I move the motion standing in my name that this House

APPALLED by the unabated drug and substance abuse by youths nationwide;

GRAVELY CONCERNED that the situation is spiraling out of control as the youths spend most of their time idle and consequently end up taking drugs as a pastime;

WORRIED that such substance and drug abuse has extremely devastating and far-reaching consequences on our youths and the future generations;

NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon the Government to;

  1. a) Come up with programmes to curb drug and substance abuse by youths through self-help projects that ensure youths are fully occupied most of their time, thereby keeping them away from drugs;
  2. b) Establish rehabilitation centres nationwide to assist youths who are addicted to drugs to the extent of treating substance and drug abuse as an integral part of their lives;
  3. c) Legislate for much stiffer penalties than before on individuals who are the sources of supply for those substances and drugs which give rise to incidents of this unwarranted scourge of drugs in the country leading to this conundrum;
  4. d) Send to jail all repeat offenders without any option of fines; and
  5. e) Take all necessary measures to ensure that law enforcement agents bring to an abrupt halt, incidents of drug and substance abuse as a matter of urgency.

          HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: I second.

HON. MAPIKI: First of all, I want to congratulate the ZANU PF Party for descending heavily on the opposition. They collected all the six by-election seats. I say, aluta continua. Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to debate this pertinent motion about the drug and substance abuse.

Drug and substance abuse are a trans-organised crime involving human agents. There is value chain in the movement and selling of drugs and prohibited substance. To mitigate the threat, the peddlers must be accounted for. Globally, countries are searching for the best model to control the supply of drugs and substance abuse. There is strong political will in Zimbabwe to mitigate drug and substance abuse by controlling their supply.

Unique to Zimbabwe is the bold step taken by His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, of not only condemning drug and substance abuse but he went on to come up with a model. The model is to use the end user as an informer to the law enforcement agents. The model has seen zero tolerance to drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe. Police have been arresting drug and substance suppliers with even some prominent politicians arrested. The President was clear that this Government had no sacred cows.

So far, the model is yielding positive results Mr. Speaker. The model is an important milestone towards combating drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe. This grounded approach is likely to be adopted and generalised by other countries that are also facing the challenge of drug and substance abuse. The model is homegrown where police arrest anyone whom they come across highly-intoxicated with drugs or illicit substances popularly known in the streets as lingo, mutoriro or guka.

Once the person is arrested, the police will put the concerned individual in a holding cell until he or she gets sober. The police will release him or her on condition that the individual shows the police the supplier and if he or she protects the seller, then he or she is prosecuted. In addition to that, the police are complementing the model through their traditional methods of gathering intelligence including suggestion boxes, whistle-blowers and special constables. The police special constables are part of the community and can easily identify those who supply and abuse drugs.

The idea by the President is to address the cause and not the effects of drug and substance abuse. To achieve this, the President compelled the “Police bata akasticker, kana ava sober, let him show you the source, then arrest the drug peddler”. There is also need for a whole Government approach. The Presidential initiative calls for all stakeholder participation rather than leaving combating of drugs and substance abuse to the police alone.

The effects of drug and substance abuse are affecting everyone from all walks of life. There is a surge in cold blood murder cases because of intoxication as the sanctity for human life continues to diminish. The problem now extends to law enforcement agents, the security sector, drivers and other professionals, among others.

Rehabilitation centres are overwhelmed in the services being too exorbitant. The bipolar effect of drug and substance abuse is quite devastating in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is one of the countries where the President has formulated a model of combating drug and substance abuse. President Mnangagwa also established a national taskforce to work on the modalities to combat drug and substance abuse.

The Presidential Model should be made into a law for it to be easily enforceable. These homegrown solutions will go a long way in addressing the drug and substance abuse. World-over, the law deals with the end user and not specifically the supplier. Once the suppliers are accounted for, drug and substance abuse will be easily mitigated. It is also the desire of this motion that drug and substance abuse be given the same attention as was the case with COVID-19 – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – There is need for an all-stakeholder approach where a leading Ministry is nominated and all arms of the Government including non-State actors play a complementary role.

The need for a whole Government approach cannot be overstated. The scourge needs to be addressed before it becomes fluid and unmanageable. Family relations, accidents, cold blood murder cases, HIV/AIDS, STIs, road rage, emotional disposition continue to adversely affect the country. Drug and substance abuse lead to reckless behaviours. Courts are facing hurdles especially in handling murder cases as drug and substance abuse is being used to plead as an extenuating circumstance.

Whatever the explanation maybe, drug and substance abuse cannot continue to be used as excuses to loss of life. There is the social decay element as a result of drug and substance abuse. Most parents are being beaten by their children under the influence of drug and substance abuse. There is gross erosion of the country’s norms and cultural values. The social and cultural fabric is important in a State. For the sake of Ubuntu, the Presidential Model is long overdue, hence the relevant departments of the Government must treat the issue as an urgent matter

The Constitution provides for Presidential proclamation and in rare circumstances, had it been evoked to address non-emergency social decay like drug and substance abuse as the doctrine is often used when responding to state of emergency. There is need for the motion to be moved in Parliament and the Presidential Model made a law to protect citizens from the vagaries of drug and substance abuse. Unless a law is enacted, police can only enforce it by way of conducting operations of which operations are time bound.

The importance of the law is that it will make the policy legal. In terms of the Constitution, it is illegal to hold a person for more than 48 hours without being formally charged. At the same time, it is again illegal to hold a person incommunicado as the law and yet the Drug Mitigation Model involves holding an intoxication until they are sober and can identify the supplier. There is need to come up with a proper Act which stipulates the rights of drug and substance abusers.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries where the Head of State formulates a model that is both retributive and restorative. The restorative applies to those who buy and consume drugs and abuse substance and retributive justice apply to the drug and substance peddlers. The restorative justice is meant to motivate those who consume drugs and substance abusers to co-operate with the enforcement agents. These will function as whistle-blowers and State witnesses in the event of prosecution. Just like whistle-blowers, there is need to protect drug and substance abusers who are willing to help the law enforcement agents to identify the suppliers.

The Presidential Proclamation is a practical action model that can be implemented to contain drug and substance abuse. The study carried out by Government through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training in collaboration with Silveira House Jesuit Social Justice and Development Centre and the University of Zimbabwe Department of Applied Psychology in six provinces was presented during a strategic planning workshop and showed that the commonly abused drug was marijuana or mbanje at a use rate of 31.3%.

Drug and substance is the ‘harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances including alcohol and illicit drugs.’

Crystal Meth also known as mutoriro/dombo/guka is consumed at 24.4%; illicit alcohol such as musombodiya, njegu/tumbwa 21.7%; bronclear/bronco, 11.8% and inhalants such as glue, petrol and thinners 2.4%; prescription drugs (sleeping tablets, sedatives, diazepam, maragadu) taken at 2.3%; cocaine and heroine at 1.6% and 0.2% respectively.

Silveira House Research Officer David Bote said the study areas included Harare with an 11.7% characteristic; Bulawayo 9.0%; Masvingo 21.6%; Matabeleland South; Mashonaland West 28.4% and Midlands Province 24.3%.  Bote said the study focused on those above 18.

83.7% of people interviewed during the research knew of someone accessing or using drugs and substances while 16.3% of the interviewed population said they were not aware of anyone being involved in such issues. 

The commonly used drugs are mbanje or marijuana, crystal meth or mutoriro, illicit brews such as tumbwa, inhalants such as glue and petrol. Also, cocaine and heroin were being abused while the most easily accessible drugs and substances were marijuana, illicit alcohol, crystal meth and bronco, Bote told stakeholders during the workshop.

The report also highlighted that males are the most abusers of alcohol and substances at 72.1% and females 27.9%.

The users were mainly concentrated in urban areas at 73.9% whilst rural areas constituted 26.1%.

According to Bote, the secondary and tertiary institution students abused drugs and substances at 54.5%

Sources of drugs and substances included agents, bars, shops and shebeens, pharmacies and clinics as well as friends.  He said the driving factors that needed urgent redress were mostly economic.  Other factors included peer pressure, the pursuit of fun and happiness, lack of knowledge, lack of good parenting and shortages of recreational facilities in communities and social media were some of the main drivers of drug and substance use.

Most of those who contributed to the survey (69%) accused the Government of failure to take responsibility.

Bote highlighted that the effects of drug and substance abuse were enormous causing a 27% crime rate, deterioration of health at 25%; aggression at 11.9% and causing death at 7%.

The study also revealed that those wishing to leave drugs and substances faced obstacles such as painful withdrawal symptoms, addiction, peer pressure and absence of an alternative.

The church was contributing more than any other sector in trying to curb the scourge at 84%.

“Government must invest resources in organisations helping to curb the scourge because health institutions are not well resourced to deal with such issues,” reads part of the report.

A nurse at Parirenyatwa Hospital this year told a Parliamentary Committee on Health that the Annex Department for Mental Health Care was failing to cope with the number of patients coming to seek treatment at the health institution while there are no medicines and other accessories to deal with those affected.

The report urged the Government to adopt a Youth Employment Policy so that young people do not remain idle once they complete secondary or tertiary education.

Police were also urged to invest in public trust while local authorities were asked to establish youth interaction facilities country-wide.

Bote said Non-Governmental Organisations should move beyond awareness campaigns and do more to save the lives of young people whose future is at stake due to the abuse of drugs and substances.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth, working with different stakeholders, is in the process of drafting a strategic policy document that will be approved by the Government to help deal with the increasing abuse of drugs and substances in the country.

A Strategic Planning Director in the Ministry, Blazio Manobo said the document will help the Government in the planning towards curbing drug and substance abuse.

Under the Dangerous Drugs Act, Cannabis or mbanje is illegal to posses or use in Zimbabwe.  One can only use it or possess it if approved by the Government by obtaining a licence which costs US$46 000 with an application fee of US$11 250.  The Government has licenced a few individual farmers for huge production of the crop for export to get the much-needed foreign currency.  Police have reported that 25% of arrests of drugs and substance abusers use mbanje and mutoriro.

The Dangerous Drugs Act (1956), is a piece to control the importation, exportation, production, possession, sale, distribution and use of dangerous drugs and to provide for matters incidental thereto.  The Act aims to regulate and control drugs within the country.  However, like any law, it has certain gaps or limitations.  Here are some of the gaps of this Act:

  1. Lack of comprehensive drug classification: The Act does not have a comprehensive and up-to-date drug classification system.  This has led to confusion and inconsistencies in categorising drugs based on their potential for harm or abuse.  Without a clear classification system, it has proven to be difficult to determine the appropriate legal consequences for drug related offences.
  2. Inadequate enforcement mechanisms: The Act does not provide sufficient resources or guidelines for law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce its provisions.  This could result in challenges related to detecting and prosecuting drug offences which in turn may undermine the intended purpose of the legislation.
  3. Insufficient focus on prevention and treatment: While the Act may have provisions for punishment and control of drugs, it lacks emphasis on preventative measures and access to treatment for drug users. Without adequate support for prevention and rehabilitation efforts, the Act falls short to address the root causes of drug abuse and addiction.
  4. Limited international cooperation: Drug trafficking is often an international issue requiring collaboration between countries.  In the same light, the Act does not adequately address the need for international cooperation and coordination in combating drug related activities.  This has hindered efforts to tackle cross-border drug trafficking and the associated challenges it poses.
  5. Potential for unintended consequences: A complex legislation like the Zimbabwe Dangerous Drugs Act has unintended consequences; these include effects such as increased incarceration rates, disproportionately affecting certain communities or inadvertently driving drug-related activities underground. Ensuring a careful review and periodic updates of the Act to suit the new trends of drug issues can help minimise such unintended ramifications. 

In order to address all that I have been saying, drug abuse among youths in our country requires a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder approach that includes prevention, education, early intervention and treatment programmes.  Collaboration among Government agencies, civil society organisations, communities and individuals are essential to address drug and substance abuse comprehensively.

To effectively address drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe, a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach is recommended.  Here are some key approaches that can be implemented in a collective manner:

Education and prevention programmes; public awareness campaigns; treatment and rehabilitation services; strengthen law enforcement and border control; data collection and monitoring; international cooperation and many others. 

I think this motion is very critical.  It has become a menace because we are experiencing a dangerous war like wars being fought in Palestine and Ukraine.  The enemy is on us.  I rest my case. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

          HON. NYAMUPINGA-KARIMATSENGA:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  I am elated to add my voice to this very topical subject and debate on a matter that is threatening to become a pandemic and a security threat if our policies are not comprehensive enough to curb the scourge.  Hon. Mapiki, thank you very much for moving this very important motion.  I hope the culmination of this debate will be further enhancement of mechanisms and structures to prevent, control and manage drug and substance abuse in our communities and in our country. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, there are two issues in the debate which are substance abuse and drug abuse.  Substance speaks to a broad array of substances that are misused or used for unintended purposes, for example the misuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, tobacco, glue and pampers as well as many others that I have not mentioned.  The list of substances that are overdosed resulting in health challenges and distractive practices like violence, teenage pregnancies and other vices in the community is endless. How do you know who impregnated you when you were under the influence of drugs?  There is drug abuse involving hard drugs like cocaine and other imported drugs that are finding their way into our country, to our communities, schools and work places.  The consequences are disastrous including suicide and violence. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, we do not produce hard drugs in this country and I am surprised how these drugs are finding their way into this country.  It is food for thought Mr. Speaker Sir.  That understanding will help us to streamline and focus on each challenge and proffer relevant policies and solutions.  The challenge goes beyond the youths as it includes some adults who are also hooked on drugs and substances.  When we are talking about the wife being beaten by the husband, it is not the youths or the young boys but it is even the grandfathers and grandmothers and some of them are also hooked onto these drugs.  It is a very serious issue and some people are actually living on drugs and even forget to eat their food.  What do you do with a person who is ever sticking because of drugs?  In that state, they cannot do anything besides sleep.  We are destroying another generation Mr. Speaker Sir.

Yes, the youths constitute the majority of the affected for various reasons but key among them being unemployment.  However, there is an increasing number of adults abusing substances resulting in increased domestic violence.  The issue of violence came up a lot when I was listening to the debates on GBV.  It was violence after violence from every Hon. Member who debated on GBV.  The main cause of this violence being drugs and substance abuse.  It is a very worrisome problem in our communities and our country. 

Productivity is also affected.  How do you employ a person who is ever sticking to weed in your field?  He will not be able to distinguish between the weeds and the crops.  He will take out everything because the person does not even know what he is doing.  So, our labour is affected by this scourge. Also, at work and at home the impact is the same.  It might affect population growth because if the person’s mind and body is sticking, they do not even know how children can be made.  So, it means our population is affected and that is where the issue of security threat is coming in.  It means we will have a certain generation gap.

I would also want to add my voice on the issue of Vision 2030.  How do we achieve it if three quarters of the population is busy abusing drugs and different substances that are finding their way into this country?  I do acknowledge the current efforts by Government including work by the National Technical Committee on Drugs and Substance Abuse.  Their efforts are commendable with very limited budget provisions.  However, given the degree of prevalence of abuse, the current processes in place are inadequate with current efforts on identification and rehabilitation that is mainly at Sally Mugabe, which is the former Harare Hospital and Parirenyatwa.  Those are the two institutions that we have and they are greatly congested and inadequate.  There is need for Government to increase institutions where victims of drug and substance abuse can be admitted, treated and rehabilitated.  There are lots of private institutions but they are very expensive and they are ranging from $500 to $1700 a month and not affordable to many.  These will remain elite institutions whilst the majority will continue to be afflicted by the problem.  Surely, there is need for this Parliament to actually advocate for the Social Welfare Ministry to get more funding to have rehabilitation centres in every province, maybe every district, if not every ward. Mr. Speaker Sir, whilst there are commendable efforts by Anti-Corruption agents, we need to point out that corruption is worsening the burden of abuse. Peddlers are not being arrested. Mr. Speaker Sir, we understand they are paying bribes. How do you get a bribe for something that is destroying a bread winner? If you have destroyed a bread winner, it means you have destroyed the family that he was sending to school. You have destroyed the families that person is looking after and you go bragging that you have received a bribe. It is heartless, Mr. Speaker Sir.

Drug cartels highly connected – I am connected and even that connection should be asking himself or herself why should I entertain drug cartels who are bringing substances and cartels that are destroying your nation, that are destroying a whole generation. Mr. Speaker Sir, there is need from the Ministry of Home Affairs to make sure that the Department of Drugs and Narcotics should up the way they are working. They should increase the number of people who are working in these various and different wards and districts to make sure that a lot of these peddlers are arrested.  There should be police policing a policeman for those who receive drugs. If they are not policed also, the moment you give them the mandate to go and work in these wards, you have created a money link for them. They will just be receiving their money and people will carry on selling these dangerous drugs.

There are hide-outs Mr. Speaker Sir. They are closed one day and opened the following day. They just raid a place, close it and they have talks on the way. They do not even get as far as a police station and already those hide-outs are opened. By the time the Press is reporting that so many places have been closed and so many people have been arrested, already the places would have been opened. Even in our neighbourhood, we know that at this place or house, the issue of drugs is taking place but we remain mute. We do not even talk about it. Maybe we are also scared but for as long as we remain mute, it is going to spread like veld fire Mr. Speaker Sir.

Monitoring life after rehab is critical. So many may relapse as soon as they face the same environment and stress factors of poverty and unemployment. There is need for effective empowering programmes to ensure no going back to drugs. Psycho-social support should continue after rehab to help integration with families and communities. The National Technical Committee needs urgent resources to build and strengthen around the pillars they have introduced to deal with specific issues. Maybe the 1st Friday of every month for example, could be dedicated to programmes on drug and substance abuse the same way we are doing national clean-ups around the country. That will be public platforms for awareness and communication. There is need on an ongoing basis, for continuous review of availability and easy access to alcohol, drugs and other substances to close the channels and apprehend offenders.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I would recommend that the CID Drugs and Narcotics Unit up the way they work. The Liquor Licencing Board and ZRP should work together when they go around checking whether these people selling alcohol are licenced or not. They should go together so that police will immediately apprehend them and send them to court where they are sent to jail. Surprisingly, Mr. Speaker Sir, these were like what Hon. Nyabani alluded to last week during the question time that where is Liquor Licencing Board now? Everyone is selling alcohol everywhere.

On people’s gates, they just wake up, put a small table, a few vegetables there and the liquor is in a plastic underneath the table and they are selling. Sometimes you might find even the policemen buying alcohol from those places. What has happened to the Liquor Licencing Board to make sure that everyone selling alcohol should be licenced and what type of alcohol are they selling?

The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe should also up their control measures because medicines are also in the streets these days. Even those that need prescription, sometimes you come across them in the streets. I think they should also work with the police as they also go round checking what these pharmacies are doing. What drugs are being sold in pharmacies? Most of them, even the ones that need prescription, are given to people without prescriptions. I think the Medicines Control Authority needs to review the Dangerous Drugs Act and Medicines and Allied Substance Control Act [Chapter 15:03]

 – [Time Limit] –

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The laws need to be tightened to avoid loopholes that are causing dangerous drugs to find their way into this country. Before I conclude, the issue of parenting intervention and church intervention should not be left out. There is need for the technical committee to work with churches and parents because we are losing most of the children the moment parenting stops because each child in his own bedroom is watching his own TV. There are no family conversations anymore. Everyone is on his phone answering or reading what social media is posting. There is no more parenting and I think that is the moment we are losing the youths.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker Sir, the Government should establish activities throughout the provinces that occupy youths away from drugs. For example, empowerment development programmes and projects. Some of the projects also make them earn a bit of money to alleviate the poverty in their families. The Government should engage youths in national services and activities. Mr. Speaker Sir, I rest my case. Thank you.

          *HON. NYABANI: I rise to add my voice to the motion before the House. I will talk about Rushinga and then I will move on to the generality of Zimbabwe touching on cities such as Bulawayo where youth engage in vuzu parties and we come here and talk about drug abuse and people remain silent. I then begin to wonder, are they the same people that are giving people drugs or what? Things that damage us as a nation should be pointed out. I am passionate about this issue because I have got a young brother who has gone mad because of drug abuse. I tried medical attention at all institutions and apostolic faith healers, but it has failed. I have paid a lot of money, but my brother has not healed.

          As I am speaking right now, drugs are being sold willy nilly. You can get them freely and they are in free flow just like tap water. People are being raped and they are being raped by people who are under the influence of drugs and we talk of high crime rate. We have  high crime rates because people will be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

          When I grew up, I observed that the traditional healers do not allow people to brew beer during week days. If you spend the whole day drunk, work is affected and people will not work. Beer drinking is now in fashion. Police officers pass through places like Mbare where people will be drinking on the streets. That is why last week I asked if we now have a new law that might have been enacted without my knowledge. Substance abuse comes in various forms.

There are some people that are using drugs to lighten up their skin, it is all drug use. When they initially come to Parliament, they will have a dark pigmentation, but when they leave Parliament, they have a lighter skin. It is all due to drug abuse.  The use of various powders to enhance beauty is also drug abuse. Are these things not detrimental to one’s health? As a county, we must come up with a law that deters them from using these powders. It is not a mistake that we are black people. God did not make a mistake. I have seen people that are born as Tendai and later on change their names to James. We should learn to respect what God has given us. This is what our blessing is.

          On the issue of drugs, I listened to some Hon Members and they said because of high unemployment rate, people are busy taking drugs. I then observed that 13-year olds are abusing alcohol. What type of work should this person be looking for at such a tender age? I have observed that they are not eligible for employment.  We have gone mum and as a result, the entire generation is going to be lost. If this generation is to die, it is you my fellow Members of Parliament who are going to be tried because I am saying it. We are the people’s representatives. I would want to thank Hon. Members who have observed fighting drug abuse needs a collective effort. If all Hon. Members could add our own voices to the abuse of drugs, then it will carry a lot of weight.

          Our children are tomorrow’s leaders. If all the children are raped and infected with diseases, who is going to look after you? The wealth of an African person is his livestock and children. Children are our heritage. What will happen if we have a family that is prone to drug abuse? It becomes a home occupied by mad people.

          I want to urge Government to arrest all people that are peddling liquor without liquor licences. I urge Government to stop people from wholesaling alcohol in hardwares, shops and vegetable stalls. We should revert back to the time when people were given permission by the Liquor Licencing Board to be able to sell liquor, public drinking should be stopped. People should confine themselves to their homes when drinking. Whoever emerges from the home holding a beer bottle should be arrested. I urge Government to also look into these fly-by-night breweries, everyone should not be brewing beer. That is not development. People should open soap making factories instead of breweries.

          It should not be easy for one to go to Chiredzi and buy ethanol, mixes it with water and easily sell liquor and we say we have development. We then deliver all that liquor to people in Rushinga and we talk of VAT as development, that is not the case. We should not beat ourselves in the chest that we are having tax from those that are consuming beer. If those that are consuming beer are dying, where are you going to derive the tax from? Who are you going to tax?

          I reiterate that I will keep on speaking about the ills of such practices until the end of the life of this Parliament, in 2028. If I retain my seat up until 2032, I will still be speaking against it. Government should come up with a law that beer should only be consumed during weekends. Liquor should not be consumed during week days. If as a Member of Parliament you spend the night drunk, how can you come here and debate. If you are a teacher and spend the night drunk, how can you be able to work the following day when you are nursing a hangover?

          Beer is for recreational purposes and items that are for recreational purposes should be expensive. I cannot board a plane where I can use a bus. Beer is not a basic commodity, it is for luxury purposes unlike mealie meal. People should stop drinking beer because it is expensive. Beer is consumed by those that claim to have money. We are being inundated with requests to buy beer when we go to the constituencies. If you go to the farms, people are busy selling inputs and using the proceeds to buy beer because beer is now readily available. If you go to Centenary, you find all the people are at bottle stores and no one is tilling the land.

          I urge Government to put some funds into the Ministry of Youth so that those that are completing their education should learn skills from Vocational Training Centres. If we do not equip them with these skills, they end up buying crystal meth. We should not spend a lot of money developing institutions for the mentally disturbed, but we must prevent mental illness. Let us invest our money in Vocational Training Centres. Prevention is better than cure.  Let us put more money into preventative measures. Let us pay the police so that when they see someone selling crystal meth, they will not leave him going scot free.

          With those words, Mr. Speaker Sir, I hope that it will not end here, but it would cascade to all the constituencies even in rural areas. We are safeguarding the lives of those people that are in the rural set up. I thank you.

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Nyabani for the efforts that you have put. It shows that you are indefatigable in as far as the issue of drug abuse is concerned.

HON. MACHANGU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to air my views to this pertinent topic on drug and substance abuse.  This topic is worldwide in schools, churches, homes and villages. As such, we need to have a policy that will be able to manage and control drug and substance abuse. In rural places where I come from, Lupane East, there is a term that they use, I was also shocked because I did not even understand its meaning. They call it Injengu.

When a person takes the drug, they sleep for more than 48 hours. Even when you try to wake the person up, they will just be numb and if you are not careful, you will suspect that they are dead. So, this drug and substance abuse is an animal in the homes.  We need to take necessary precautions - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  and measures. Our youths are being destroyed. They fail to go to school because of these drugs. Even at churches, the pastors fail to curb this drug and substance abuse.

My submission today is, I do not know what can be done because the challenge is all over the world.  The suppliers are coming from all over and they are more than the users.  So, it is a serious issue that we have at hand and before we know it, our future generation will be gone; before we know it 20 years from now, we will have drunkards as Members of Parliament. Then, we wonder what kind of legislature we will be having and what legislative policies they will be setting - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] - 

Mr. Speaker Sir, as stated by my predecessor, how can a 12-year-old defend himself or herself by saying they do not have jobs instead of them focusing on attending school?  It is just an excuse. There is something that we are not privy to, but need to understand as parents and community leaders so that we are able to manage this disease.  It has become a pandemic and will continue to be a pandemic to such an extent that even the families will fail to control this new generation. When you try to control them, they tell you that you are outdated, you do not know that it makes us high – that is the term they use.  At the end of the day, when they are addicted, it reverts to the parents, communities and village heads.

Two months ago, a 17-year-old in my village who was always under the influence of either alcohol or drug abuse, forced himself on a 74-year-old gogo and was arrested. What future are we bringing to the children? What are we doing?  I believe as we make laws and as alluded by my predecessors, we need to be very careful because these youths are ahead of us in whatever they are doing.

In Sierra Leone, it was discovered that the drugs that they abuse is called kush.  I do not know what the drug is made out of, but there is a component of human bones. They dig graves, crash the skeletons and mix them with whatever ingredients and when inhaled, it goes straight to the brains and the person is zombified or uya sticker. So, this thing is worldwide and needs to be handled with care because we are losing future generations before we know it.  Some are emulating their parents and community leaders, but the issue is at hand – this animal is at hand.

Mr. Speaker Sir, these are my submissions. I thank you.

HON. C. MOYO: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir for affording me this opportunity to add my voice to a motion that was moved by Hon. Mapiki and seconded by Hon. Nyamupinga.  This is a very important motion Hon. Speaker, and maybe to begin with, His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe appointed an Interministerial Committee in April, 2022 and mandated it to come up with measures and solutions to deal with this drug menace.  When you see a whole President forming an Interministerial Committee, it means that he is committed and shows his seriousness. - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] - 

Secondly, around 12th December, 2023 the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage named 40 drug dealers. My concern Hon. Speaker, is on what has been done to those drug lords? It is a very important question.  When you read from The Herald, it says some were convicted and others were not. So, maybe we need a report from the Ministry or the Interministerial Committee to say, from the 40 drug lords, 20 were convicted and the types of sentences meted to them.  What action is to be imposed on those who are still in remand? Are they 40? I believe that they are more than 40 because there are several drug lords Hon. Speaker. What it then means is that the CID Drugs and Narcotics Section has to conduct further investigations so that we can have the total number of drug lords. I think it is very important Hon. Speaker.

When I was scrutinising the list, I realised that some were 32 years old like Evans Dube, their names were mentioned in The Herald. Leeroy Bruce 28 years old, Gift Maunda 31 years old, only one person was 67 years old.  Surely, we need to protect the future generation, but surprisingly that young generation is the one that is involved in these drugs.  So, we must come up with stricter penalties so that we protect future generations rather than this hopeless generation of 32, 28, 31, and 67 Hon. Speaker.

The other issue Hon. Speaker, I think is to do with the CID Drugs and Narcotics Section. I think they are not discharging their duties diligently or maybe they are involved in the drug cartels. So, we may need to review the people who are dealing or working in this section because they are not doing enough.  The Police Service, I believe is not doing well and something has to be done.  The Inter-Ministerial Committee which was set, I also believe is not doing enough because the 40 drug lords were supposed to unveil more people who are involved. Therefore, let us concentrate on the 40 drug lords first and then we get more information.

The National Committee on the Elimination of Drugs and Substances Hon. Speaker, I believe they are not doing enough because we cannot have all these menaces going up and up every day. It means somewhere somehow; we are missing the important points which we are supposed to touch on.  So, let us do an overhaul to all those committees involved in these investigations and then we also sort out the legal framework so that we can provide stiffer penalties to the perpetrators.  I thank you.

          *HON. R. MUSIIWA: I rise to add my voice to the motion that has been raised by Hon. Mapiki, seconded by Hon. Nyamupinga about drug abuse which is now a serious problem that we are facing as a country.  We need to put our heads together and fight against this drug abuse that is affecting children and adults.

          I am going to concentrate mostly on those readily available drugs that are found commonly in rural areas.  There is a type of substance called tumbwa or kitoko, a type of liquor sold at 0.50 cents per small bottle.  So, these youths work very hard to raise the 0.50 cents, and once they have drunk this intoxicating liquor, they become so drunk and zombie-like that they can hardly walk or stand. At a funeral, you will also find some people selling that type of liquor and no one is barring such people from selling illicit drugs and substances at those functions.  At the time when we grew up, we knew that the brewers of kachasu would be arrested as well as those who brewed what we used to call chi oneday beer.  I do not know if that law is still in place to arrest such people who are involved in illicit brewing.

          Drugs and alcohol are now being sold willy-nilly at all places.  Three people have died in my constituency including the village head because of such a liquor. There is a glut of such liquors in our constituencies as has been referred to by Hon. Nyabani.  In grocery shops, children who are at primary education level as well as those who are at secondary education level are also buying these illicit drugs and substances and no one is controlling the sale of such illicit brews. 

          Hon. Speaker Sir, if we were to leave this august House and go to Mbare in front of OK Bazaars, people would be busy selling this type of liquor.  Last week I passed through that place and bought such liquors, and I wanted to bring the liquors to this august House.  I showed Hon. Nyabani the liquors that we were talking about.

          Hon. Speaker, if we do nothing about this scourge, we shall have in the not-too-distant future, a generation of drunkards.  We need to look into this type of liquor and liquor outlets that are licenced should not be selling these types of dangerous drugs.  If you move along Samora Machel Avenue, there is Total Service Station and there are some people who are busy selling drinks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and you also find that those dangerous substances are being sold there under the full glare of police.

          I was disturbed on New Year’s Eve when police officers in my constituency went around the shops collecting such liquor.  They filled their vehicles with such liquor at the back and we were happy that the culprits were going to be arrested and whisked away but alas, I was surprised that the police officers were given money and everyone who was in handcuffs had their hands uncuffed and let off the hook.  What it means is that police officers are turning a blind eye to their law enforcement duties.  Our police officers are turning a blind eye to those who are peddling illicit beers, alcohol, and illicit drugs. 

          Hon. Nyabani has referred to his young brother who abused drugs and is causing chaos in the family.  If you have not experienced first-hand experience to such problems, you just think that it is not happening but if it knocks at your door and becomes your problem, you become affected.  I lost a son as a result of drug abuse.  It affects me when someone is selling these dangerous substances.  I remember when my late son could not find those illicit drugs, he would then grind cafenol or paracetamol to sniff as a substance, and as a result, he lost his life.

          It is an issue that we need to put our heads together as Zimbabwe and fight against drug and substance abuse.  Hon. Members, whenever we are in our constituencies, let us preach the gospel of drug abuse abstinence to our children. 

          Whenever I go to my constituency, I demonstrate to the young boys and girls to refrain from drug and substance abuse because these dangerous drugs are affecting men’s nerves, and as a result, marriages are being destroyed.  Where I come from, village heads and chiefs are in trouble for presiding over adultery cases.  Women end up being taken by other men and as a community, we rush to blame the woman asking her what she was lacking in the home that she had to engage in prostitution.  If given an opportunity, these young women would confess that every night their husbands are not giving them their conjugal rights because of drunkenness and intoxication.   In the morning, all these young men think of getting money to buy dangerous drugs. 

          On social media, there was a story of a grade six pupil who died because of these dangerous substances.  Therefore, as a nation, we need to come up with stringent laws that regulate the sale of liquor or intoxicating drugs.  We are having problems with these drugs and substances that are readily available.  Most households in the communities are selling these drugs and this affects me.  At times, my late son would come and whenever he has not found anything that is intoxicating, he would then grind Cafenol or Paracetamol tablets and then use that as sniff, as a result we lost him.  We need to put our heads together as Zimbabweans and fight against drug abuse. 

          Hon. Members whenever we meet people, lets us preach the gospel of drug abuse and alcohol to our children.  Whenever I meet my elders in my constituency, I remonstrate with the young boys and girls not to abuse drugs and liquor, especially the type of alcohol that we have  because these types of alcohol are affecting husbands nerves and the young ladies stand up ululating to confirm that this is what is happening in their families.  Where I came from, village heads and chiefs are in trouble of presiding over adultery cases.  The women end up being taken by other men and we simply blame the women for committing adultery. If we give them an opportunity to defend themselves, they will say that they spend nights without the husband realising that there is a wife next to him because he will be intoxicated, hence he will not be able to perform his conjugal duties.  In the morning when he wakes up, he will only think of getting intoxicated again.  

          A grade six pupil circulated on social media, the child was abusing drugs and this has destroyed our children as a country.  We need to come up with very stringent or strong laws that regulate the sale of liquor and intoxicating drugs. We are having problems with these types of drugs because everyone is selling these drugs. We must put a stop as Zimbabwe to the sale of these drugs.  Like what has been debated before me, let us set aside a day to speak against drug abuse and the sale of intoxicating drugs just like what we have done in terms of national clean-up campaign.  This is also destroying our next generation, our future leaders.  We will own the risk of having zombis that are incapable of doing anything due to drug abuse as they will be constantly under the influence of alcohol.

          We will end up with a generation that does not behave.  Let me go further and reiterate that the marriages must be held sacred so that at the end, the family will grow up together and a father and mother will be able to remonstrate their children.  One family parent household are difficult to control.  If a mother has a son, she may fail to detect that he is now taking alcohol or that he is under the influence of marijuana

          If the parents are together, the two of them will quickly nip the problem in the bud. It is my clarion call that we have laws that are in place to eradicate the abuse of drugs and alcohol so that even ourselves as elderly people are also educated of this particular menace.  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

          HON. NYATHI: Thank you Hon. Speaker for affording me this opportunity to debate on the motion raised by Hon. Mapiki, seconded by Hon. Nyamupinga.  I just want to have a look at the possible causes of having our youth taking drugs.  The major problem that we have at the moment is departed parents or death of parents. Normally from long ago when we were growing up, when you lose your parents, you would be adopted by your other relatives, but now life has changed.  When people pass away, we see those children having to fend for themselved and living on their own; extended families are no longer functional in the society. 

Poverty is also another cause for children or youths to be engaging in drugs.  Due to poverty, we have small girls and boys having to do some menial work around the communities just to earn a dollar to go and buy bread. Sometimes that dollar is then abused to go and buy musombodiya like it was explained earlier on.  These drugs only cost something like 50 cents.  If one has a dollar then they can afford to go and buy the subsistence.  The other cause or driver is broken homes.  We see children getting stressed and ending up taking these illegal substances because they are trying to forget or relieve stress which comes through the separation of parents.  We need, as a nation, to introspect and have a look at how we are bringing up our children and see that we have a close contact and close parenting of the parents of the kids so that we can be able to see when the children’s behaviour starts to change. 

I would like to commend His Excellency the President Cde. E. Mnangagwa for taking a step against substance and drug abuse. This has resulted in various operations being executed.  I know in Bulawayo there was an operation that was executed where they were stopping cars at random around the area in Bulawayo to search for these drugs; they had police search.  It helped a lot at that moment because the trafficking of these drugs was greatly reduced. Let me say we need to have a solid plan that we can follow.  We do not want to only rely on operations because operations come and go, but then these people go back to their daily routines. 

I am thinking as a Government, we should be very strict at the borders.  At the moment, policy dogs search at random, it is not mandatory.  I would suggest that maybe we would make it mandatory that each and every bag is searched as it comes into the country and each and every vehicle is searched. I would also suggest that maybe it is high time we introduce drug test kits in colleges and secondary schools.  It must be mandatory for schools and colleges to have these drug tests kits which will then be used at random and at least having it available at a college or at a school will help deter those that want to bring drugs into schools or colleges. 

I would also suggest that the Government increases public education awareness at schools starting with primary schools.  If we intensify these campaigns at primary schools, we will alert the young ones who have not yet started consuming these drugs.  If we alert them, they become aware of the consequences of indulging in this drug and substance behaviour. There was a drive that was spearheaded, I cannot remember which year, but it was on HIV and AIDS awareness. It was taught at schools and I think it has produced results. We can see for a considerable period of time, the infection rate of HIV/AIDS went down.  I would suggest that we take this same approach and stance to the schools, we educate the children from primary schools and secondary schools about the dangers of one getting hooked onto drugs.

          I would also encourage us, as leaders of our various constituencies, to have periodic interactions at schools, youth centres, churches, all the places where we can find people gathering.  Let us try and interact with them and also share the same message of the effects of one being hooked on drugs. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I have heard and noted the concerns by various speakers before me to say that probably the police and other bodies might be involved.  I would like to add that maybe we should look at remunerating our law enforcement agencies better so that they desist from taking bribes and confiscating these musombodhiyas and mutoriros and then selling them on their own because this is the practice currently happening.  It is very difficult for a policeman to apprehend an offender and the offender offers the police officer maybe US$50 or US$20, in some cases and the policeman resists that amount yet in his pocket he has got 1 000 or 2 000 Zimbabwean dollars.  It is very difficult.  So, we need to look at properly remunerating our law enforcement agents.

I would also suggest, Mr. Speaker Sir, that we reintroduce the breathalysers and drug test kits on road blocks.  I think for the past five or so years, I have not seen a road block checking for alcohol with a breathalyser or any other drug substance that one could possess.  I would suggest that the Government should take seriously reintroducing these breathalysers and drug test units.  At least in each and every town, the road blocks that we encounter on a daily basis, the law enforcement agencies must be equipped with drug test kits and breathalysers.  That would reduce the number of offenders as well because most of these offenders, we notice from Hon. Moyo’s submission, are mainly from 20 up to about 32 years old.  Most of these are the people who are busy driving mushikashikas along the city roads in Bulawayo, Harare and all these other towns.  So if we are to police that effectively, we might actually curb this problem that we have.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would want to submit that probably we need to review the way licencing of these night clubs and supermarkets that sell beer is done.  At the moment, you see almost every supermarket is selling alcohol.  Most of these supermarkets open around 7.00 a.m. or so and some open from 7.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m.  From that moment that they are open, they are selling alcohol.  So, we need to see how we can control alcohol being sold in supermarkets, how we can control the licencing of these chisa nyamas around the communities.  Everywhere where you go, there is a chisa nyama and there is alcohol being sold there.  Whether it is licenced properly or not, nobody cares.  The police come there only to get bribes, not to apprehend people.  If you see a policeperson around a night club or a chisa nyama, they are only looking for a bribe there. 

I would really plead with Hon. Members seated here that we really look at this issue of licencing and also the issue of nightclubs around our communities.  These so-called sports bars, because they have a sports bar, the assumption is that people are going there to watch football matches and other various entertainment activities, but then there is no age restriction.  There is no one who is looking at who comes in and what age they are.  Eventually, these young boys and girls are mixing with people 18 years and above, but because of the body structure, you cannot tell how old they are.  They are also getting involved in alcohol drinking at these places which we call sports bars or entertainment centres in the community.  I really implore all of us to really think deep.  Like various speakers have said, we are most likely to lose a generation out of this, a whole generation.  People being affected by this musombodhiya are not being productive.  It means that we might have at some point the population of Zimbabwe actually shrinking because these young ones will not be able to reproduce at this rate they are going.  Thank you Mr. Speaker.

HON. TSITSI ZHOU:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. KARIKOGA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th February, 2024.

On the motion of HON. TSITSI ZHOU seconded by HON. KARIKOGA, the House adjourned at a Quarter to Six o’clock p.m.      

 

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