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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 7 JUNE 2022 VOL 48 NO 49
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 7th June, 2022
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
HON. CHIKWINA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My motion of national importance is informed by the fact that in February 2021; having noticed that the state of our roads had been dilapidated nationwide, the Government came up with a policy of emergency road rehabilitation programme to assist local authorities. Now, I take note that the state of our water infrastructure delivery system nationwide has also dilapidated to the extent that residents cannot sustain rehabilitation of the same. I therefore move for two issues. Number one, that the motion by Hon. Hamauswa to discuss water as he implored the Minister of Finance to assist local authorities, be given precedence and this is directed to the Leader of Government Business. Number two, that the Minister of Local Government indulges Parliament to persuade Government to take upon the programme of water infrastructure development throughout the whole country as a priority so that we get taped water to our residents. Thank you very much.
THE HON. SPEAKER: While you are standing Hon. Member, on the water situation, I was not very clear on what exactly you want.
HON. CHIKWINA: Hon. Speaker, I implore the Government to, on the same thinking that they did on roads, take over water infrastructure development from local authorities and rehabilitate the same before they give it back because residents, through their rate payers, cannot sustain that. It is a massive project; it has to be sustained only either through a supplementary budget or by the Government.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The matter will be directed to the Minister of Local Government. Hon. Chief Whip, if you can liaise with the Leader of Government Business and let us hear from the Minister of Local Government what the Hon. Minister thinks about that situation.
HON. CHIMINA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of national interest is in regards to the examination fees announced by ZIMSEC. The fees announced are against the students from poor backgrounds. They will not be able to raise the fees due to the harsh economic conditions in the country. Chapter 4, Section 75 (1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for basic education, including adult basic education and further, education which the State through reasonable legislative and other measures, must make progressively available and accessible.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the fees were pegged in USD at prevailing bank rate while the citizens’ earnings are not pegged in USD prevailing bank rate. It is my considered view that examination fees must be charged in RTGS and be reviewed downward. Thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: A very good observation but it has been overtaken by a petition that we have received. The Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education is looking into the matter.
HON. MARKHAM: I have a point of order. A number of us Members of Parliament have not received any e-mails, including the Order Paper.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much. I will check with the Clerk of Parliament.
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
DEATH OF HON. LEONARD CHIKOMBA
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon Members, before we proceed. It is with deep sorrow that I have to inform the Hon. Members and this august House of the untimely death of our colleague the Hon. Leonard Chikomba who was involved in a car accident on 28th May, 2022 while we were on recess. I therefore invite all Hon. Members if you can rise so that we observe a minute of silence.
All Hon. Members observed a minute of silence.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
SWEARING IN OF NEW MEMBERS
THE HON. SPEAKER: On 31st May, 2022, we received communication from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on the appointment of the following Members of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-A) to fill in the vacancies in the National Assembly that have occurred following the recall of Hon. N. Mguni and Hon. Dr. T. Khupe in terms of Section 124 (1) (b) of the Constitution with effect from 27th May, 2022. The Hon. Members to be sworn in are Ndebele Visitor, representing Bulawayo Metropolitan Province and the other is Nyika Florence, representing Bulawayo Metropolitan Province.
Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that before a Member of Parliament takes his or her seat in Parliament, the Member must take the Oath of a Member of Parliament in the form set out in the 3rd Schedule. Section 129 (2) states that the Oath must be taken before the Clerk of Parliament. I therefore call upon the Acting Clerk of Parliament to administer the Oath of a Member of Parliament.
NEW MEMBERS SWORN
HON. NDEBELE VISITOR and HON. NYIKA FLORENCE subscribed to the Oath of Loyalty as required by the law and took their seats – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member on my left, can you observe protocol? I do not want to name you for the record.
HON. CHIBAYA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I will not give you because you are disrupting this ceremony.
HON. CHIBAYA: Mr. Speaker pane munhu akapfeka yellow – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Chibaya, you rise properly. Do not behave like we are at some beerhall. You rise, you are recognised and then you make your point of order.
The yellow you are talking about, as far as I am concerned, does not distinguish the Hon. Member as belonging to that particular party – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - Order, order, point of clarification from the Chair. A tomato is a tomato and is red. So, in this particular case, the Hon. Member belongs to Members on my right who are ZANU-PF and there is no generic association.
HON. BITI: Point of clarification Hon. Speaker Sir. Is your decision then that Members of the Citizens Coalition for Change are the only ones who are proscribed from putting on yellow? Anyone else can put on yellow except Members who were elected on 26th March 2022?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, as long as there is no generic relationship.
HON. BITI: So Members of the CCC cannot put on yellow?
THE HON. SPEAKER: As long as there is no generic relationship.
HON. BITI: But ZANU-PF has yellow.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, but that is not generic to triple C. It is as simple as that.
HON. BITI: Is that a fair and rational objective ruling Hon. Speaker Sir?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, I stand by that.
HON. BITI: Can that decision stand in a court of law?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you, I have heard you.
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON SPEAKER
PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM MR. K MAPHOSA, GUGULETHU MOYO AND MR. CLAUD KAHARO
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that on Thursday 26th May 2022, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from Mr. K Maphosa of the Matebeleland Institute of Human Rights requesting Parliament to amend the Traditional Leaders Act Chapter 29:17. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
I also have to inform the House that on Thursday 26th May 2022, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from Gugulethu Moyo of the Lower and Upper Rangemore Residents Forum, Umguza District, Matebeleland North Province, requesting Parliament to exercise its oversight role by holding the Umguza Rural District Council and the Private Housing Developers accountable on the provision of household water and sanitation services in the urbanised Umguza Ward 16. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
Furthermore, on Thursday 26th May, 2022 Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from Mr. Claud Kaharo of Number 4455, 75 Close, Budiriro 3, Harare, requesting Parliament to amend Section 74 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to bring sanity to the environment. The petition was deemed to be inadmissible and accordingly the petitioner has since been advised.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that all other Orders of the Day be stood over until Orders of the Day, Numbers 24 and 6 have been disposed of.
HON. L. SIBANDA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON BUDGET, FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ON THE PETITION RECEIVED FROM ZIMBABWE REVENUE AND ALLIED WORKERS TRADE UNION (ZIMRATU)
HON. DR. NYASHANU: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development on the petition received from Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Workers Trade Union (ZIMRATU) on retention of funds and funding model for Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I second.
HON. DR. NYASHANU:
1.1 According to Section 149 of the Constitution, read together with Standing Order No. 191 and Appendix E, every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to petition Parliament to consider any matter within its authority, including the enactment, amendment or repeal of legislation.
1.2 On 10 September 2021, the Speaker of the National Assembly informed the House that Parliament had received a petition from Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Workers Trade Union (ZIMRATU) whose prayer was for Parliament to consider a proposal for ZIMRA to have a retention fund through a fixed percentage funding model as provided for in Section 27 of the Revenue Authority Act. The petition was referred to the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development. The Committee conducted an enquiry into the issues and came up with this report with recommendations.
2.1 The Committee invited for oral evidence the following stakeholders to discuss the issues raised in the petition:
- Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Workers Trade Union (ZIMRATU) on 24 November 2021;
- Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) on 24 November 2021; and
- Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) on 28 February 2022.
The Committee inquiry had the following findings:
- Oral evidence from the Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Workers Trade Union (ZIMRATU)
- That the Retention Funding Model is supported by the current provisions of Section 27 of the Revenue Authority Act (Act). This section provides that:
‘At the beginning of each financial year, the Minister shall cause the Authority to retain sufficient moneys from the revenue collected to meet the expenditure which the Authority proposes to incur during that financial, as shown in the budget or supplementary budget approved by the Minister in terms of section twenty-six for that financial year.
Section 28(1) and Section 26 of the Revenue Authority Act [Chapter 23.11] has provision for a fixed percentage funding model and appropriation funding model. The Retention Funding Model will improve the predictability and availability of funds thereby enhancing operational efficiency for the Authority.
- That the above arrangement, though provided for in the Act was not being implemented, rather the current model is a funds release towards approved budget lines arrangement where ZIMRA receives funds, not as prescribed in section 27, but in tranches released by MoFED. This has been the source of inefficiency as the Authority is failing to timeously meet its financial obligations particularly those of interest to the trade union that relate to staff welfare over and above operational needs. In 2021, for example, ZIMRA received only 54% of its operational budget and this impacted on staff welfare issues over and above the other operational requirements of the Revenue collector.
- That the current arrangement has led to micro-management of ZIMRA by the MoFED limiting the powers of the Board to make decisions on operational issues. This is evidenced by a correspondence addressed in to the then Commissioner General, Ms F. Mazani reference 2018 ZIMRA Staff Costs Budget in which the MoFED made operational decisions on:-
- Salary review- In 2018 the Ministry pegged salary increases for Managerial and non-managerial grades at 10% and 15% respectively. This was a directive and rendered collective bargaining process immaterial. It reflects unsound corporate governance, strips off management’s power to remunerate and can create labour disputes.
- Staff recruitment – The Ministry made direct decisions as to how many staff is to be recruited at Beitbridge, Chirundu, Forbes and Loss control among other divisions. Without the Ministry concurrence to this recruitment, management could not proceed to recruit. Section 5 (1) of the Revenue Authority Act is clear that the operations of the Authority shall be controlled and managed by a board known as the Revenue Board. This board currently includes the parent Ministry’s Permanent Secretary. Interference in Board decisions creates bottlenecks in the system.
- Staff retention –The Ministry is overstepping its mandate when it does approvals which ordinarily should be management decisions which may be done with the concurrence of the Board. This current approval process has affected efficiency of decision implementations and suppressed ZIMRA from making quick administrative and operational decisions even within the confines of the budget. The MoFED must give autonomy in the real sense to the Board to run the affairs of the Authority as entrenched in the Act.
- That the current budget based funding model is posing the following challenges, among others;
- Inadequate funding for key operations for example staff uniforms and ICT equipment;
- Inadequate funding for key capital projects like motor vehicles (Conditions of service and patrols);
- Weakened Industrial relations- lack of collective bargaining;
- High staff attrition due to delays in addressing staff welfare issues;
- Limited on the powers of the Authority – Second Schedule of Revenue Authority Act 23.11, which provides for staff loans has not been exercised fully due to paltry funding of the authority. As such, there has not been any motor vehicle loan facility for workers in levels 10 to 16 and the majority of those in level 9 have not benefited since establishment of ZIMRA due to this funding and disbursement model.
- That the implementation of the retention model has several benefits such as:-
- Reducing bureaucracy in the approval process to finance critical administrative and operational decisions of the Authority;
- Facilitating for quick internal resource allocation in consultation with the Revenue Board;
- Grants acceptable autonomy in funds application and ensure timely funding of critical projects;
- Enhance Staff capacity and retention through timeously attracting, developing and retaining talent that is dedicated and motivated to support the attainment of Authority’s mandate;
- Efficient implementation of Human Capital policies for example Uniform Policy, Staff Motor Vehicle Scheme Policy, Housing Allowance Policy, Transport Allowance Policy, Staff Advancement Policy, Remuneration Policy and Staff Incentive Policy among others.
- Quickly embrace digital transformation through updating ICT systems, Data processing Centres and interfacing of tax systems to external systems in order to achieve mutual synergies. This will in turn maximise revenue collection and operational efficiency.
- That ZIMRA being a performance based organization, ZIMRATU is praying for five (5) percent retention of actual revenue collected in each successive three-month period in the fiscal year in excess of the amount estimated to be collected during that period, provided that the amount payable as retention and performance based does not exceed an aggregate of 3.5% of actual revenue collected for any three-month retention period.
- Oral Evidence from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)
- ZIMRA is a legal person created through the Revenue Authority Act. The concept is motivated by the need to bring out efficiencies in revenue collection. The current funding model for ZIMRA is in accordance with the Revenue Act 23:11 except for disbursements.
- That Section 26 and 27 of the Revenue Act provide for annual budgets and retention of funds by the ZIMRA. It submits a budget to the Board and the Board to the Minister who exercises discretion upon receipt of the budget. The discretion always leads to underfunding of the authority leading to inability fully exercise ZIMRA’s mandate. There is no flexibility in terms of the Board’s decision making and often leads to ZIMRA failing to attract the best skills required in the industry.
- That ZIMRA is convinced that the funding arrangements that are in place are in line with the current legislation. The authority also desires to have a reform of the current funding arrangement so that they are able to effectively discharge their mandate. Section 28 of the Revenue Authority Act is clear that where the Authority raises additional funding outside the normal revenues, those funds should form part of the Authority’s own funds. International best practise is that revenue authorities retain 3% to 3.5% and such an arrangement will go a long way in creating a flexible environment in which the Board and management can operate.
- That ZIMRA has sought approval, without success to use the extra revenue generated to fund its operations and has not received an express guidance and instruction to the effect that the money forms part of the consolidated revenue fund. ZIMRA, in its interpretation of the law is convinced that this money belongs to the revenue authority and is therefore in the process of making a submission to Treasury to this effect.
- That a framework for establishing a ZIMRA retention fund already exists and is enshrined in the Revenue Authority Act which empowers the Board to exercise its discretion and create avenues or invest monies or invest into opportunities that can generate funds for the Authority. However, the discretion to invest has been exercised because of the current arrangement where the budget is too restrictive. Retention, in essence exists but the funds are released on a quarterly basis instead of the beginning of the year as provided for in legislation.
- That ZIMRA is constrained to adjust employees’ salaries with flexibility as expected and that has affected employee morale. In 2021, for example, negotiations started in April of 2021 and the union was not amused that Management could not give a satisfactory response as they awaited concurrence from Treasury which usually comes very late. These challenges create very sour industrial relations within the organisation. As a key entity for mobilisation of Government revenues, ZIMRA’s workforce is one of the key inputs into revenue mobilisation programmes hence the need to ensure that they are well motivated to ensure maximum mobilization of revenue for the government and reduce corruption.
- That the ZIMRA Board does not have flexibility to guide management on the use of funds without express authority from Treasury. That bureaucracy creates inefficiency that has affected smooth flow of operations.
- That ZIMRA has not been able to purchase new fleet of vehicles for operations since 2016 and only received 10 in 2021.This is mainly because allocations are in local currency and like any other entity ZIMRA queues for foreign currency at the auction system. ZIMRA has a foreign currency component which it collects and could go a long way to assist in the area but authority to use it has taken long to come.
- Oral Evidence from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
- That the Constitution of Zimbabwe Section 302 states that all revenues are to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Public Finance Management Act Section 16 (2) and Section 18 (9) provides for the same.
- That the MOFED acknowledges the critical role played by ZIMRA in resource mobilisation and the importance of timeous release of funds for its operations.
That although Section 27 of the Revenue Act provides for retention, Government has since moved away from that arrangement. Finances are controlled from a central fund where Parliament does the appropriation. This aids in transparency and accountability in the management of resources.
That ZIMRA falls under the MoFED’s vote and as such its allocation is a grant/transfer in terms of classification. In practice, disbursement of funds for ZIMRA does not follow the same mechanism used for all Ministries, Departments or Agencies (MDAs).
- That ZIMRA as a collector of revenue receives disbursements per quarter which enhances predictability of budgets and makes planning easier unlike Ministries which are required to do payment runs. This kind of system is working efficiently though there is room for improvement.
- That the tax to GDP ratio for Zimbabwe fluctuates but compares well with other countries in the region. Zimbabwe is even better because it relies on domestic resources to finance the budget with very little Official Development Assistance (ODA).
- That engagement between ZIMRA and MOFED are currently ongoing with a view to improve on disbursements.
- COMMITTEE’S OBSERVATIONS
The Committee made the following observations:
- All stakeholders involved in the ZIMRATU petition were prepared for the oral evidence session serve for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development as displayed by their poor responses during the meeting.
- Section 302 of the Constitution provides that there should be a Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) into which all fees, taxes and borrowings and all other revenues of the government, whatever their source are paid. However, it provides for an exception in Section 302(b) that ‘Unless an Act of parliament permits the Authority that received them to retain them, or part of them in order to meet the authority’s expenses.
- ZIMRA was created as an agency of the state in terms of an Act of Parliament, the Revenue Authority Act Chapter 23.12. Therefore, the provision to retain such funds in Section 27 of the Revenue Authority Act is in compliance with Section 302(b) of the Supreme Law. Section 28 then specifies what then constitutes funds of the authority.
- There is no conflict or ambiguity between the Public Finance Management Act, Revenue Authority Act, Statutory Instrument 144 of 2019, Public Finance Management (Treasury Instructions) 2019 on the issue of retention. The PFMA does not prescribe retention and cannot supersede what the Constitution provides for. It is therefore clear that nothing in either Section 16 (2) or Section 18 (9) violates the right of ZIMRA to retain funds.
- The argument by the MoFED on issues of transparency and accountability are covered in Section 32 of the Revenue Act which provides that ZIMRA will be audited by the Auditor General with the full powers conferred to it under the PFM Act. Moreover, in the spirit of enhancing transparency, Section 33 of the Revenue Authority Act provides for appointment of an Internal Auditor guided by Section 19 of the PFM Act.
- In other jurisdictions like Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Rwanda, similar retention models are in use and the MoFED can use them as a benchmark. The report tabled by this Committee after a benchmarking visit to Rwanda highlighted that Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) is allowed to retain 3% of collected revenues although they noted that it is too high and is currently striving to reduce the cost of collecting taxes to between 1 & 2%. In addition to the 3%, the Authority is also allowed to retain 22% of any surplus on revenues collected, of which 10% is awarded to staff as cash, 10% retention fund (awarded to staff who have served RRA for a certain period of time while the 2% is set aside for staff training.
- That ZIMRA’s collective bargaining process has been constrained due to the interferences by the Ministry which dictates the salary increments for the employees [Annex 1]. The MoFED is breaching the provisions of Paragraph 9 of the Second Schedule of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act [Chapter 10:31] which peremptorily obligates that Government must-
(a) not be involved in the day-to-day management of public entities and should allow them full operational autonomy to achieve their defined objectives;
(b) let boards of public entities exercise their responsibilities and should respect their independence.
4.8 That the Permanent Secretary for MoFED sits on the ZIMRA Board was against the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act Section 11(5) (ii) which states that:
no permanent secretary of a line Ministry or other agency shall be appointed to or hold office as a member of any such Board.
- COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATIONS
The Committee, therefore, recommends that: -
- The MoFED should allow ZIMRA to retain three (3) percent of the revenue collected in each fiscal as stated in Section 27 of the Revenue Authority or otherwise review the percentage in accordance with the performance of the economy by December 2022.
- The MoFED should allow ZIMRA Board to make critical decisions on staff recruitment, remuneration, without interference but within the confines of the budget.
- Huge Capital Expenditure such as infrastructure and ICT development projects should be outside the 3% retention ratio and should be raised separately, according to best practice funding infrastructure.
- The Committee believes that ZIMRA as the sole government agent mandated to collect revenue on behalf of Government must be adequately funded. Zimbabwe as a country is losing a lot of revenue due to ZIMRA operational challenges that require predictability and timely funding to deal with. As such, the Committee recommends that government invests in strengthening revenue collection through allowing ZIMRA to retain a certain percentage of its collections and then give the board performance targets which they have to meet without excuses relating to funding challenges. Thus, the Committee tables this report with the hope that the 2023 budget will address the major concerns raised therein. I thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me the opportunity to second the report of the Budget and Finance Committee as presented by the Chairperson, Hon. Dr. Nyashanu. It is crucial for Members to understand that ZIMRA is the cash cow of this economy. It is ZIMRA that makes the wheels of this Government turn because it collects money on behalf of Government; including all taxes such as corporate tax, PAYE, VAT and other taxes. The query or the cry from the ZIMRA staff members was to say that in the previous years, it used to perform well and the workers were so happy in terms of their working environment. Over the years, that has now been eroded and this is the basis upon which the petition was brought to this august House.
I want to start by the presentations that were done by ZIMRA staff members and the board. It is the presentation which was then done by the Ministry of Finance that left a lot to be desired. The personnel that came to represent Ministry of Finance came unprepared. They had not done any research and just came to the Committee for the sake of fulfilling an obligation. The two directors that came were Ms. Chimhini and Mr. Kunaka. They did not do justice because they could have helped Parliament in terms of the issue. Secondly Mr. Speaker Sir, what we discovered and which is clear is we believe that ZIMRA needs to be allowed to retain that 3% so that it can function properly. Two years ago, your Committee on Budget and Finance went across ZIMRA borders. What we discovered was that ZIMRA is using some of the old vehicles and the level of ICT within the ZIMRA offices leaves a lot to be desired, the accommodation of staff members leaves a lot to be desired. So the call by ZIMRATU, supported by ZIMRA management for the retention of the 3% is important and hence the Committee recommends that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should actually allow ZIMRA to retain that.
Importantly Mr. Speaker Sir, one of the confusions in this issue is to do with the manner in which the board of ZIMRA currently is like. We have a situation where the Permanent Secretary of Finance and Economic Development Mr. Guvamatanga, sits on the board of directors of ZIMRA and yet the law is clear; the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act is very clear, no senior members of Government and it specifically states no permanent secretary should sit on a board of an authority. So what we have is, we now have a situation where there is confliction of roles. Mr. Guvamatanga is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, sits on the board and deliberates on the issues and then the board matters are then referred to the Ministry and he then makes another decision. At the end of the day, it confuses and makes ZIMRA Board redundant. So to that extent Mr. Speaker Sir, we support and we ask Members of this august House to support this finding by the Committee, that ZIMRA be allowed to retain 3% of their revenue so that the revenue generation and revenue collection will be enhanced in this country. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: It was not clear in your recommendations Hon. Dr. Nyashanu, did you recommend reconstitution of the board?
HON. DR. NYASHANU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. In our Committee report, we cited the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act to say the interference by the Permanent Secretary is in breach of that Act.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Why did you not include that in your recommendation because that is a substantial issue?
HON. DR. NYASHANU: I think it is an oversight really.
THE HON. SPEAKER: To make an observation is insufficient. You should have gone further to say the board must be constitutional and giving out the Permanent Secretary as provided by the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act.
HON. DR. NYASHANU: It is an oversight Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. BITI: Hon. Speaker Sir, modern States function on the ability to collect revenues from their citizens, which revenue they will then use to do the public good payment of civil servants, payment of public services like health, water and education. There is a reciprocal obligation between the citizens and the State. The citizens pay taxes to the State and they pay duties to the State. So it is an obligation on them. In turn, they expect the State to discharge its own obligations, the provision of security, territorial integrity, basic services, military intelligence, police, street lights, roads, railways and so forth. So there is a social contract between the citizens and the Government which is founded on reciprocal obligations.
The Tax Collection department becomes such an essential component of statehood, such an essential component of nationhood because without taxes, you do not have a State and equally citizens know that without taxes there is no State and we cannot expect reciprocal obligations, which is why part of the fight of the industrial revolution; the graduation from the feudal state into the industrial state was citizens rising against the Magna Carter and saying there cannot be taxation without representation. If you want to tax us, then you must allow us to create Parliaments that will represent us. So tax collection is therefore part of modern State building, part of modern nation building.
That being so Hon. Speaker Sir, the revenue collection entity becomes so key because without revenue, you do not have a State and which is why until recently, Tax Collection departments were departments of Ministries of Finance. In the case of Zimbabwe, the Revenue Authority was only created in 1990 by the Revenue Act of 1990 which created the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, now a parastatal but hitherto, it was a department and a huge department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development must recognise the importance of a tax authority because it is part of their job; it is part of their core business. So part of the core business of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is actually to collect revenue which responsibility they have passed to a parastatal, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, but I submit Mr. Speaker that for an efficient revenue collection authority to exist, it must be well funded; it must be well capacitated, which is why the standard across the world is that the Revenue Authority itself retains part of the money that it actually collects. It does not wait for an allocation like other ordinary parastatals. It is a parastatal sui generis because it is actually doing a direct job of the State and a precondition of the existence of the State, which is tax collection.
During my time Mr. Speaker Sir, the retention was actually as high as 11%. So the debate which we used to have with the authorities then - Mr. Pasi, was that this money is too much and we then carried out a base line survey which established that the average retention is 3% which in some cases, if you have got a huge cake, if the GDP is huge, 3% becomes too much, which is why in developed countries, the retention is 0.8%. It is under 1%, which makes sense and if you have got a trillion dollar GDP, the country retains more than 2%. So Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the petition and the findings of the committee. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority needs to be well funded to pay its staff. If you do not pay the staff sufficient or decent wages, you will leave them exposed to bribes. There are so many complaints over the ZIMRA staff at Beitbridge. Mr. Speaker Sir, US$5 billion worth of goods come through Beitbridge every year and we should receive at least US$500 million of duty through Beitbridge alone, but they receive far much less than that. Part of the reason being that they have underpaid staff who are then open to bribes and inducements.
For ZIMRA to operate in this day and age, you need technology. One of the systems that they use is a system called ASYCUDA, a system that makes the clearance of goods paperless. This system was developed by Zimbabwe International Tax Organisations. It needs renewal every single year but to renew it, you pay millions of dollars to the software developers. The only country in Africa that has developed its own system is South Africa. One of the challenges was to make ASCUDA talk to the South African system. That requires money Mr. Speaker Sir. That must also be sorted. There are also modern gadgets that deal with smuggling. If you have recently been to the OR Tambo Airport, they have a scanner at the entrance. That technology is 40 years behind. These days they use infrared technologies which, without scanning your bag, they can scan you. You know Mr. Speaker Sir, that our ports of entry including this Harare International Airport have been centres of massive leakages. Zimbabwe is annually losing gold worth a billion dollars through smuggling. Zimbabwe is also losing annually, cigarettes worth a billion dollars through smuggling. Part of the problem is that at our ports of entry, we are using archaic equipment such as weigh bridges that have been underwhelmed by thieves that are using modern technologies to by-pass 1950, 1940 technology. So, ZIMRA needs to be empowered so that it can buy this modern equipment that every other country is using. If you go to South Africa, you will not see those scanners, you will not be asked to put your goods through scanners but trust me they are watching you. They can even tell the colour of the underwear you are putting on because of the modern machines which they have. You cannot see them but the machines can see you but those machines require money. So, I submit that we need to fund ZIMRA so that it imports these modern gadgets that are equal to the challenges caused by modern smugglers.
Then we are talking about housing of the staff. If you go to Beitbridge, you will be shocked by the hostels that the workers are staying in. If you go to Chirundu, some of them are literally living in the bush with elephants and lions. If you go to Forbes Border Post, many of them are renting small residences in suburbs such as Sakubva, Devonshire and Chikanga. It is important that you build decent housing with schools, crèches, bars and sports clubs as well as other amenities, because most of the people in these borders live elsewhere. You could be staying in Dotito and you are transferred to Beitbridge or from Chiendambuya to Nyamapanda. Apart from houses, they also need vehicles to combat and empower these people.
Another thing that has been happening is you have people and you have seen reports about this. Zimbabwe is used as a major centre for laundering. Zimbabwe is used as a major excuse for smuggling. So many people will bring goods through Beitbridge, with the ostensible basis that they are being imported to Zambia or Malawi yet the goods are remaining here. There is technology now that allows ZIMRA and port authorities to actually trace those goods. If it is fuel, there is technology that can enable you to say this fuel passed through Zimbabwe and is now being off-loaded in Kinshasa or Lubumbashi but that technology requires resources. So ZIMRA must be empowered to have resources.
Finally, the ZIMRA head office is at Kurima House, Kwame Nkrumah but for an organisation that employs and does the kind of thing that it does, it requires its own head office. They have got land in lake Mturikwi and have plans in lake Mturikwi across the road. I submit Mr. Speaker Sir that they need to be given resources so that they have their own head office. The reason why they have to have their own head office is that they need to be central. Right now we have a situation where customs department is elsewhere, income tax department is elsewhere and income tax is split now between large scale tax payers like Delta and Econet and the rest of us who earn nothing in another office. VAT is in another office and so forth. That does not auger well for your normal decent tax administration. The current system where they get 54% of their allocations amounts to de-institutionalising of ZIMRA. There has been so much de-institutionalisation of our institutions in this country, be it the Judiciary, Parliament or the Civic Society. We need to build strong institutions. Modern democracies are founded on strong institutions. The tax collection authority needs to be a strong institution. The Judiciary needs to be a strong and independent institution. So, I support the motion.
Lastly, on Mr. Guvamatanga, the law is very clear. This Parliament passed the Public Corporate Governance Act in 2017 or there about and it is clear that a Permanent Secretary cannot sit on a Parastatal Board. Moreso, one that he is sitting on. It is embarrassing that Mr. Guvamatanga is sitting on the board of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. The Board is an executing agency. The Permanent Secretary is the overseer, so how can the overseer oversee himself. That is corporate incest Mr. Speaker Sir and it should not be allowed. I also want to say you heard the Chairman complaining about the officers who came to give evidence. If you read the report of the Auditor-General, the one Ministry where there are more complaints than anywhere else is the Ministry of Finance. In one report, there were 57 instances of non-compliance. This is a basic issue and I submit that the report must be amended by the inclusion of the recommendation which we all support that the Corporate Governance Act must be respected and that George Guvamatanga cannot sit on any of the boards let along the ZIMRA board. I thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir.
HON. TOGAREPI: Welcome to the House Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.
HON. TOGAREPI: Madam Speaker, I totally agree with the observation that ZIMRA should be funded adequately for it to be able to perform its very important duty -that is collection of revenue for the state. Surely, failing to fund ZIMRA adequately is like a recipe for disaster because once they are not funded correctly and adequately, we are exposing this organisation and its employees to vices like corruption, bad business practice and failure to perform effectively, as expected.
When we look at ZIMRA at the moment and it being underfunded, it is like when one goes hunting and catches an animal that must be enjoyed by everybody except the hunter. You bring in a kill and people decide to give you or not but they still want you to go out and hunt. I think the Committee should give us the finer details as to why ZIMRA is not getting what it is expected to get, especially when we are looking at the provision in the Act that is clear that they must be given some retention of the revenue (3%) that they collect. Why are we not doing it? Is there any specific reason? I think the report should tell us the reason. Is it intransigence on the Permanent Secretary or the Ministry that they just do not want to do it or there is a specific reason? I think we need more clarity on that or maybe the Minister should come here and explain why that retention is not being allowed at this juncture.
In the report, I read that there is so much demand or desire by the Ministry, employees and maybe the management at the authority that they would want autonomy. It is overemphasised. Is it for good intentions or good practice or it is because these people feel that if they have autonomy, they will either perform well or they will be free to use the funds they receive. I do not know for what reason - whether for the good of the authority or it is actually people looking at themselves and say if we have autonomy, we can use this money in the way we want. I am failing to get it. ZIMRA was established through an Act and it is doing whatever it is doing on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe under the Ministry of Finance. I am worried about why they are so much worried about autonomy because the way they are operating today is enshrined in the Act. What has brought this about? I think there are a lot of grey areas in explaining these challenges that are being raised in this report. We would either want the Minister or we go back to the authority and get information on why they are clamouring for autonomy when the Act defines their relationship with the Ministry.
I also would recommend that ZIMRA get enough funding so that they have enough vehicles and accommodation for the workers because as they are not looked after, they can be abused by those they would get service from. We need them to be looked after but they should be looked after in the context of the capacity of their employer and not to have one sector of our economy or one department in Government being looked after because they have access. They do this on behalf of Government and they cannot be found overnight being better than everyone – they are not the only department but they are only lucky that they are there but they cannot be given a free or open cheque for them to enjoy the resources of this country better than everyone else. While we really appreciate the issue of them being looked after very well and funded enough for them to collect more revenue for them also to perform for the country but we also want everything they expect to get to be defined in the laws of the land that govern the establishment of ZIMRA as an authority. I thank you Madam Speaker.
(v)HON. SANSOLE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to fully support the request by ZIMRA for them to have retention funding model to enable it to function effectively. Apart from enabling ZIMRA to meet operational policy, I think this will enable the organisation to not only meet but exceed its revenue. I am sure we all know - [Technical challenge] - ZIMRA is like a heart pumping blood to all the organs of the body – it supplies money to all the organs of Government. There is no need for the Ministry of Finance to micromanage like they are doing now especially in view of the fact that in the last financial year, ZIMRA had received only half of the so called budget.
I think that the management also ZIMRA staff issues by Ministry of Finance renders the board ineffective and board members will not perform as per their expectation because of constant interference by the Ministry of Finance – worse still having the Permanent Secretary sticking on the revenue. This is not proper Madam Speaker.
I agree with the recommendations of the Committee that ZIMRA be given autonomy to run its affairs and retain 3% of revenue collected to enable them to make key management decisions and also be able to procure capital equipment especially ICT equipment. Thank you Madam Speaker.
(v)HON. I. NYONI: Thank you for giving me the opportunity. Let me support the report presented by Hon. Nyashanu, seconded by Hon. Mushoriwa. ZIMRA plays a major role in collecting revenue for Government. Here we are talking about revenue such as VAT, PAYE and customs duty for our Government to fulfill its functions such as construction of infrastructure, payment of salaries to Government workers, fund efficient running of hospitals, schools and other obligations. It is important that efficient collection by ZIMRA is done.
In the report, it is stated that ZIMRA is currently underfunded and the result is lack of proper equipment by ZIMRA and underpayment of staff. We are also aware that staff who are underpaid, the result is corruption and below par-performance. It is therefore important to improve staff salaries and incentives as these are highlighted by the Committee in their report. The request by ZIMRATU that retention amount is increased makes a lot of sense; is reasonable and should be supported.
I noted that the Committee also highlighted disbursements on retention amount, which takes quite some time as far as the previous financial year was concerned – 54% of disbursements had been done. However, a reasonable time of three months makes some sense. It is from that platform that civil servants can import vehicles duty free. This includes Members of Parliament who have a rebate of duty and also includes other civil servants who can import up to a value of US$10 000 depending on their positions. This facility is not extended to members of staff at ZIMRA yet these are the same people who collect all the revenue and process all these imports. It is important that this incentive should also be extended to ZIMRA staff.
We are also aware that ZIMRA operates 24 hours in some areas particularly at Beitbridge Border Post. We usually hear of staff shortages at Beitbridge Border Post and the recent one was where staff were taken from other centres such as Harare to Beitbridge and there was an accident that occurred involving critical staff. It is important that there is decentralisation of recruitment of manpower and timely recruitment to improve on revenue collection.
Lastly, this has been said by other speakers - the Permanent Secretary should not sit in the ZIMRA Board because this is a clear conflict of interest. I submit Madam Speaker.
(v)HON. MARKHAM: Thank you to the Chairperson of the Committee for the presentation. I confirm and agree entirely with the contents of the report. I will just like to buttress some debates here and just bring to the attention of the House that it is very unusual for management and the union to agree as these did when they did their presentation on just about every issue.
However, the Ministry of Finance personnel who came to sit before the Committee must and only displayed the content as far as I am concerned and they gave the impression that they were above the law and were just going through the motions to sit before the Committee.
The second issue I would like to bring which has a major effect on the presentation is that the budget and the banking of their own funds is absolutely essential. When you consider the issues and shortfalls like ICT or vehicles, they have to go out and work on enforcement, assessment and travel because they are centred around Harare. This is a major issue for ZIMRATU and management to contend with. The issue has been covered well and I do not want to dwell on the board’s position. The board’s position is a blatant miscarriage of justice. I believe that the Minister should answer to all these questions that who appointed the Permanent Secretary into the position on the board. It became very apparent in the interviews that the board was being dictated to by the Ministry of Finance. Ministry of Finance must not do that. The abuse of the board’s positions must be changed immediately because this year the Ministry of Finance themselves have been glutting about ZIMRA being above what was budgeted. If that is the case, why did they not give the full budget allocation? This is again in my view contentious of Parliament when you do the budget. What is the point of our budget if it is not going to be adhered to by the people who are supposed to implement it, which is the Ministry of Finance? I so move and I thank you.
HON. DR. NYASHANU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Thursday, 9th June 2022.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. DR. NYASHANU: Madam Speaker, I move that the rest of the Orders of the Day be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 6 has been disposed of.
HON. L. SIBANDA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
HEALTH SERVICES AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 8, 2021]
Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Reading of the Health Services Amendment Bill [H.B. 8, 2021].
HON. TOFFA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I rise to present the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on the Health and Child Care on the evidence gathered during the Public Hearings on the Health Services Amendment Bill, [H.B. 8, 2021].
1.1 Following the gazetting of the Health Services Amendment Bill [H.B. 8, 2021], the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care undertook public hearings in accordance with Section 141 (a) and (b) which states that, “Parliament must (a) Facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes and in the process of its committees; (b) Ensure that interested parties are consulted about Bills being considered by Parliament, unless such consultation is inappropriate or impracticable.” The Committee split itself into two teams and conducted the public hearings in each of the 10 provinces of the country. Thus, this report is a summary of the key findings by the Committee.
2.0 COMMITTEE FINDINGS
2.1 Submissions in support of the Bill
2.1.1 Most of the participants applauded the aim of the Bill to replace the Health Services Board with a Health Services Commission. However, the participants stressed the need for the Commission to operate in the same manner as other Commissions established by the Constitution.
3.0 Submissions Opposed to the Bill
3.1 Clause 5, Section 16A Restriction of right to strike for Health Service
3.1.1 It was indicated that Section 65 (3) of the Constitution must be read together with Section 65 (4) which provides that every employee is entitled to just, equitable and satisfactory conditions of work. The participants stressed that collective job action is a strategy used by workers whose constitutional right to satisfactory conditions of work is being violated. It was also indicated that Section 16A of the Amendment Bill constitutes a serious intrusion into labour rights and constitutional freedoms of health service professionals.
3.1.2 It was also pointed out that Section 16A (3) criminalises being an executive member of a trade union group that organizes collective job action. As a result, this section is discouraging trade unions which contradicts with Section 65 (2) of the Constitution that provides rights for people to form or join trade unions.
3.1.3 It was further highlighted that the restriction of the right to strike for Health Service under Section 16A does not provide any compensatory guarantees which is expected under the International Labour Organisation. It also does not complement Section 104 (4)(a) of the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01] that provide grounds for essential workers, such as health workers, to resort to collective job action in the event that their health and safety is in danger.
3.1.4 The participants also raised that Section 16A (5) (a) involves relevant councils in employment issues yet under the Health Professions Act [Chapter 27:19], councils are not regarded as an employer therefore they should not have powers to make decisions of punishing a health worker or deregistering them.
3.1.5 Section 16A contradicts with Section 24 of the Constitution which enjoins the state to remove restrictions from labour relations. It was argued that Section 16A (4)(b) of the Amendment Bill that forces health professionals to return to work contravenes with Sections 54 and 55 of the Constitution that prohibits slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour. It was also stated that the Bill should align with Section 56 of the Constitution that emphasis on equality and non-discrimination, by foregoing the criminal punishment imposed on health workers who would have chosen to exercise rights available to other employees of the State.
3.1.6 The participants were concerned with health professionals being the only group deemed as essential services in line with Section 65 (3) of the Constitution. It was also stated that the term ‘essential service’ should come with deserving incentives that equals the term. Therefore, the Bill should address the grievances that are triggering collective job action by creating a platform for communication between Health Service and Government. The participants proposed that the Labour Act should not be repealed.
3.1.7 Delete Section 16A (2) (b) ‘no collective job action’ and substitute with ‘incentivize’3.1.8 Delete Section 16A (3) that reads, ‘Any individual who is a member of the governing body of any trade union or representative body of members of the Health Service which incites or organises any job collective action contrary to subsection 2(b) 25 or (c) shall be guilty of any an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 10 or to imprisonment for a period no exceeding three years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.’
3.2 Clause 2, Section 4 Functions of Commission
3.2.1 It was highlighted that, the proposed Section 4 (3) under Clause 2 of the Amendment Bill takes away the independence of the Commission from the Minister of Health and Child Care. Hence it was proposed that the Commission should be independent from the Executive and the Minister should be guided by the Commission. It was proposed that the Commission should be independent to make its own appointments. It was also proposed that the Commission should be answerable to Parliament only.
3.2.2 The participants stressed that the Health Service Commission should be regarded in terms of Section 321 (2) of the Constitution which advocates for the effectiveness or independence of Commissions not to be compromised.
3.2.3 The participants suggested that the Commission should be better in improving the health care system which the previous board has failed to do. The Commission should ensure that there is adequate medicine, personal protective equipment and all tools of trade required by healthcare workers.
3.2.4 The Commission should be granted an independent budget vote which is separate from the Public Service and Ministry of Health and Child Care.
3.2.5 A statutory independent tribunal like the Labour Court or Labour Officers should be created which will judge the legality or illegality of a collective job action. The proposed Amendment Bill should borrow from the Labour Act wherein Labour Officers determine the ‘show cause’ process before referring to the Labour Court for confirmation.
3.3 Clause 3, Section 5 Membership of Commission
3.3.1 The participants disagreed with the proposal for the Chairperson of the Health Service Commission to be the person who is also the Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission. The participants were concerned with the overwhelming workload that comes from bearing two positions that are demanding and cited that it may affect the effectiveness of the Commission. It was proposed that the Chairperson of the Health Service Commission should be separated from the Chairmanship of Civil Service. The participants stressed that the Chairperson of Civil Service is already failing to bring better results for the Civil Service.
3.3.2 The participants also expressed concern on the Minister of Health and Child Care being involved in the appointment of the Commission, which differs from the practice of other Commissions that only involve the President to make his own appointments. It was recommended that Section 5 should read as follows;
(1) The Commission shall consist of—
(a) The Chairperson and a deputy Chairperson appointed by the President;
(b) A minimum of two and a maximum of five other members appointed by the President;
(c) Three other practicing health professionals, recommended by the Health Professions Authority, of at least seven years’ continuous experience working at a public medical facility at the time of their appointment; and
(d) One person who shall be recommended by the Health Apex Council.
3.3.3 Some participants proposed that the membership of the Commission should include Persons with Disability.
3.3.4 The participants also proposed that the appointment of Commissioners should be facilitated by the various electoral boards that already exist in the Health Service and the Commission should not be appointed by the Executive because it will serve the interests of its appointer.
3.3.5 Some of the participants proposed that the Commissioners should appoint their own Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.
3.3.6 Section 5 (1) (c) should ensure that the Commission has 10 or 11 Members that represent the 10 provinces in the country.
3.3.7 The appointment process for the Commissioners should be transparent and stakeholders should have an input.
3.4 Clause 4, Section 10 Secretary and other staff of the commission
3.4.1 The Committee was also informed that, the proposed Section 10 (2) must not restrict the role of the Secretary to be reserved for Medical Practitioners only, which refers to a medical doctor when interpreted using the Health Professions Act [Chapter 27:19]. It was therefore proposed that the role should be open to any health practitioner and the term ‘medical practitioner’ should be substituted by ‘health practitioner’. The participants further stressed that making the Secretary role to be occupied by any qualified health practitioner will ensure gender balance in the Commission since the medical profession is highly characterized by male counterparts whilst the nursing field is mostly dominated by females.
3.4.2 Section 10 part 5 (b) should present clear conditions under which the Commission may revoke such functions to avoid spurious interference with the secretariat.
3.5 The Bill is not addressing pertinent issues to do with health financing which is required to revamp the health care sector that is in a deplorable state.
3.6 The Bill should provide clarity on what the Government should do to improve the health care system to ensure there is retention of healthcare workers instead of restricting the Health Service.
3.7 The Bill is taking away the responsibility of the Government to be accountable and burdens the healthcare workers to carry the weight of making the health care system work. It is also taking away the platform for engagement between employer and employee.
3.8 The participants also proposed that in the future, all Bills crafted should be done so in consultation with Health Service or interested parties so that the country comes up with feasible laws that address the shortcomings in the healthcare system.
3.9 The participants stressed that laws should address root causes than demotivate morale of the interested parties.
3.10 The proposed Amendment Bill should align the Health Services Act to the Constitution as is stated in its preamble. The proposed Amendment Bill has not shown where the old provisions have been misaligned to the Constitution.
3.11 The participants proposed for the whole Bill to be rejected and redrafted in consultation with the Health Service.
3.12 The participants suggested for Government to improve the efficiency of the current Health Service Board to address the grievances in the Health Service rather than replacing it with a Commission which is bound to fail as the current Board.
4.0 Committee’s Observations
4.1 The Committee noted that Clause 3 is silent on the critical skills that those appointed to be members should have for example, a legal person.
4.2 The Committee noted that there seemed to have been little or no consultation done by the MoHCC in the drafting of the Bill as most of the provisions of the Bill were rejected by the interested and affected stakeholders, especially the health workers during the public hearings due to its seemingly punitive nature towards job action by the health workers.
Flowing from the above findings and observations, the Committee recommends that:
5.1 Clause 3 should clearly stipulate the critical skills that those appointed to be the members of the Commission should have.
5.2 Given the overwhelming rejection of the Bill by the interested and affected stakeholders, the MoHCC should withdraw the Bill and conduct a thorough consultation process with all the interested and affected stakeholders in order to redraft the Bill.
The Committee is of the opinion that a good law must serve the interest of the people and it must be reasonable, it should not be too harsh or rigid. Thus, the Health Services Amendment Bill should be recrafted in such a way that it protects the health workers, boost their morale at work by creating good platforms for negotiations and cordial work relations between the employee and the employer as well as creating an enabling environment for quality health care services in the country. I thank you.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I rise to make my contribution on this very important legislation to us on the Health Services Amendment Bill. First and foremost, I would like to say I would have wanted the Hon. Minister of Health to be present during the debate on this Bill. I implore your office to relate to the Executive that when we are discussing these Bills, we are doing it so that at least we can have a national consensus. It is not an individual debate like mine. So a Committee Report carries the weight of the people who have been consulted. Therefore, I am sure the Hon. Minister, it is only fair for him to be able to be with us.
Nonetheless Hon. Speaker, the memorandum of the Bill speaks to aligning the health services profession of the health services regulations to the Constitution but the contents of the Bill intend to achieve the opposite. It takes away the right to strike yet the Constitution promotes the right to strike. It takes away the right to trade unionism yet the Constitution allows for the establishment of trade unions. It takes away the right for one to join a particular organisation of their choice with regards to collective labour organisations and yet the Constitution provides for that.
So I would first of all immediately want to agree with the last recommendation and observation by the Committee that this Bill should be withdrawn. It has no place finding itself under debate in this Parliament. We cannot have a Bill that has its memorandum trying to align the law of the Constitution yet in the contents, it is trying to achieve the same. We are actually wasting the time of Parliament and I will therefore move for the adoption of that particular recommendation that this Bill must be struck off and consultations be done.
We risk over-legislating with regards to civil service and our workers in Zimbabwe. I am not very sure of how many jurisdictions either in Southern Africa or in Africa or internationally who have a plethora of legislations trying to manage workers in your own country. We have the Labour Relations Act, the Public Services Act and now we are trying to come up with the Public Health Services Act. We are dealing with the same people. Let us look at what happens when they negotiate for their salaries. They go to the APEX Council which is one and the drafters of this Bill could not escape trying to locate the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission as the Chairperson of the Commission again under the Health Services Commission.
This shows you that it is supposed to be under one person because you cannot be a Chairperson of the Public Service Commission and you want again to be a Chairperson of the Health Services Commission. It simply shows that the functions, the authority, the powers and the intention and objectives are the same. In my view, I think instead of continuously rupturing the regulations with regards to specific sectors of the workers in our country, let us bring them to one. Let them all be managed with the Labour Relations Act as it applies to the various sections of the workers in Zimbabwe.
We have one Minister of Labour and therefore, every other employee must be guided by the regulations as monitored or as superintended by that one particular Minister of Labour to have Labour Relations as it pertains to health services professionals. Perhaps we can excuse the military and the police because of their disciplined nature of work, but we have teachers having their own commission, nurses having their own commission and dip-tank supervisors having their own commission. I do not think it is fair for us as legislators and people who are trying to make laws for the good governance of mankind. Again it falls back to the issue of saying this Bill must be struck off and further consultation be made.
The Bill promotes discrimination. As I was seated and listening to the presenter on behalf of the Committee, you can hear the militants in this Bill. You can hear the militarism of the Hon. Minister coming out now in a civil service space. He is trying to exercise his natural militaristic experience which he had in the army, trying to bring it to a civil space – it cannot be. Someone must be able to advice the Hon. Minister that he is now a civil servant leader and not a military leader. He used to be and we respect him so much with whatever he did as a military leader but he cannot bring military dictates to a civil space.
You cannot order nurses and doctors not to go on strike. They are workers and they must be able to express themselves. You cannot order nurses and doctors not to be able to join a trade union. They are not soldiers; they are not a disciplined force who takes command. They are not a commandant element. You cannot order nurses and doctors not to be able to bargain for their salaries because they are not a military commandant. So, I understand...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Chikwinya, I think you should debate the Bill and not the Minister.
HON. CHIKWINYA: No, but the Bill was sponsored by the Minister and therefore, he has to take responsibility of his actions over this Bill, he is the one who sponsored it. So if I come here with a Private Member’s Bill, he must also interrogate my intentions because law making is about the intention of the legislator. So, we cannot escape the character of the Minister.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You cannot debate the character of the Minister. You should debate the items in the Bill.
HON. CHIKWINYA: I stand here guided by you Hon. Chairperson. It is not my intention to debate the character of an individual in Parliament but the character of the contents of the debate depicts the character of the Minister himself. Therefore, it is one mirror and the other, if you see the militance in the Bill, you see the militance in the Minister, and so you cannot escape that. Anyway I will move on.
Hon. Chairperson, I think it is high time if we are a Parliament that prides itself in listening to the people, we must be able to…
HON. MUSANHI: On a point of order! I stand to be guided. Hon. Chikwinya is not following what the Chairperson has ruled. He is actually arguing with the Chairperson. So, I do not know whether he is chairing himself or what?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Musanhi. That is what I told the Hon. Member that he must debate the issues in the Bill not the person of the Minister.
HON. CHIKWINYA: I agreed Madam Speaker and I had actually moved two points forward but simply because he belongs to that particular faction and he wants to please his faction master, I also agree with him.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: May you withdraw that Hon. Chikwinya!
HON. CHIKWINYA: Which part?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: That you are saying faction, we are not talking about factions here.
HON. CHIKWINYA: Faction, faction, we are not talking about factions here, I withdraw.
Madam Speaker, I was saying if we are to call ourselves a Parliament of the people, we must be able to listen to the people and this report strictly takes us to that provision of Section 141 of the Constitution with respect to public consultations when we are trying to come up with a particular law.
Instead of calling for muscling of the space under which the workers can talk about their issues, we are removing that particular space. This Bill is removing that particular space. We must actually create a condition of dialogue. I want to believe that and I also want to believe that in your personal capacity, you have attended a funeral for nurses or doctors; they are always reciting this poem which they actually say that it is a calling. Those people are not there to make money as a pre-condition. They are answering to a call. Not all of us can be doctors and not all of us can be nurses because that job is not an easy job but when they are calling for conditions of service, that makes them to feed their families and children, you pull away the rug under their feet to say just work and shut up. You are simply providing for conditions of a soft genocide.
Your relatives, my relatives are going to die with no one caring for them in hospitals because we have taken away the right for the people who are supposed to take care of them to speak. Let us create conditions for them to speak out and let us hear them. Where they are saying we have no bread, let us say we have got half a loaf of bread, can you please take it whilst we are working on something? We have no cooking oil and you tell them we have got half a litre, can you please take it whilst we are looking for something else rather than to tell them to keep quiet forever as if they are working in a mortuary, that is not fair.
So, I would again agree with the report of the committee to say further consultations must be done. In fact, this Bill is wrongly placed at a time whereby we are promoting dialogue as a nation. We must be speaking to each other with regards to whatever issues which are affecting us, whether socially, politically or economically and we are trying to bring in a Bill that muscles that particular space. In view of this, the Bill must actually be struck off as a matter of urgency.
Lastly, I support the fact that we do not need a commission. We simply need to empower the board to be responsive to the issues of the health professionals, to bring in a Commission, and to me it is trying to simply sneak in these exuberant powers which are trying to suppress the rights of the workers through another name.
Let us take the issues as they are from the health professionals. Let us look at the powers of the board as is currently constituted and we see if it cannot deal with them. You are going to find that it is able to deal with them decisively, what we have simply done is to fail to give them resources.
We must be a nation that is shy among other nations. How come we are the only nation where a certificate of first aid is a passport for someone to go to UK? A certificate which is obtainable in two weeks is more valuable than a PhD in Zimbabwe. People with PhD’s are failing to find their way outside the country but a person with a certificate of first aid from St John’s is finding their way out of Zimbabwe. Let us create conditions which are conducive for our medical professionals for them to remain in Zimbabwe.
If we are going to pass this law, we have simply put the final nail on the coffin, we no longer have any health profession to talk about. We must be able to listen to them responsively as a listening Government like what you purport in your rallies. Listen to them and respond to what they are saying. Therefore, I move that this Bill as for the recommendation of the Committee, guided by the input of the citizens who were consulted throughout the whole country, this Bill must be struck of as a matter of urgency.
(v)HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this very important report. Let me begin by thanking Hon. Toffa for the presentation. I know a lot has been said in terms of the rights and everything else that goes with workers but perhaps to really refresh the minds of the colleagues in the House, Zimbabwe is a signatory to ILO Convention 87 and 98. In 2009 we had a commission of enquiry that came to Zimbabwe from the ILO to see that we had actually broken all the rules in terms of the right to collective bargaining for workers and the right for workers to join trade unions or organisations of their choice. We seem to be tracking back or to trap ourselves to going back into issues that we were thinking we had already surpassed. I am also not sure Madam Speaker, on the mischief that this Bill seeks to cure because from the presentation that has been given by Hon. Toffa, you can actually be taken down memory lane that the Labour Act is actually being violated through the back door. Why do I say so Madam Speaker? I belong to the Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and we are in the process of actually analysing the Bill on the Labour Management Bill.
These rights, the issues that have been mentioned in the proposed Bill by the Minister are also issues to do with the Labour Act. When we talk about the Constitution, it gives rights of the workers in Section 65 and precisely these are the rights. Madam Speaker, it would have been better or it is my proposal that we need to actually refer to the Ministers of Health and Child Care and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to actually take the issues where there is a conflict also on the realisation that we do not actually violate rights of the workers.
I want to appreciate the point which has been mentioned in the report that the bulk of the workers in our health services are women. This is an already impoverished constituency Madam Speaker from salaries, and work positions. Madam Speaker, they endure pathetic hours of work. We are debating this motion unfortunately. Where we have had COVID-19, who has been at the forefront? It is the Health workers. So when it comes to even their rights and when we talk about their rights, we need to do some kind of retrospection that we are not actually putting salt on an already bleeding wound.
Madam Speaker, to come to my conclusion, there is need for this Bill to actually be relooked because already we have the marginalised constituency of workers, majority being women. You are also a woman Madam Speaker and I hope and trust that you will also be persuaded, even the councils that are not regarded, we have a problem because when workers form their organisations they need to be recognised and the Constitution does recognise the rights of the workers. So we cannot give with the right hand and take away with the left hand. The right approach has to be respected and this Bill has actually to take into consideration that it might put Zimbabwe back to the track of 2009 where we have actually been reported to the ILO in violation of workers’ rights and also the Public Service Commission has to do its work in informing or advising Ministers on what has to be tampered with and what can not to be tampered with. I thank you for the opportunity.
(v)HON. WATSON: Thank you Madam Speaker for this opportunity. I will be very brief. I just wish to support the Committee report and thank Hon. Toffa for her presentation and to support Hon. Chikwinya and Hon. Mpariwa. The feeling - to sum up the feeling of the participants in the public hearings was that the Bill does not seek to address the root cause of the problems in our Government’s health institutions, that it merely seeks to clamp down on health professionals who will then simply be forced to migrate either into the private profession or out of the country. It will increase the problems in public health institutions, not decrease them because it does not seek to solve the root cause of the problems in public health institutions in Zimbabwe.
So apart from the fact that it is unconstitutional, it is against ILO, things that we have signed up to, it is against the Labour Act as it stands and amending the Labour Act to suit this particular Bill for a commission seems like ,how is that aligning the Constitution? That is merely changing the playing field to suit the moment and the strong feeling is that from the participants and from the Committee deliberations, is that the Bill needs to go back to the drawing board with proper consultation of the stakeholders as a whole, the health professionals themselves plus the public. Thank you Madam Speaker.
(v)HON. DR. MATARUSE: Allow me to thank our presenter Hon. Toffa for presenting the good report which was produced by our Committee. I am a member of the Committee. I want to just emphasise a few issues. The first issue is that the Bill was rejected by the workers and all stakeholders on the basis that they were not consulted and they wanted to give input into the Bill right from the start.
It is draconian and takes away the right of workers and the third issue is that it is unconstitutional. You will find that the Labour Act states that there should be satisfactory conditions of work. Further-more, this Bill is supposed solve problems in the health delivery sector, for example the exodus of health workers to greener pastures but this Bill seems to worsen the condition. A Bill is supposed to bring managers closer to their workers but this particular Bill actually drives them apart. The people were saying that if you pass this Bill, you will not find anyone in the hospitals because of the situation.
Parliament is supposed to make good laws for the good governance of this country. This law actually is bad and will bring ill in our health institutions and as a Committee, we recommended that this Bill be withdrawn and it should go back for redrafting. As a Committee, we actually recommended Parliament to give us a chance to discuss this Bill with the Minister before it is presented in Parliament and we have been denied that but I do not see why we are rushing to pass this Bill when the Committee still is not happy from the findings and we wanted to discuss this issue with the Minister before this issue is presented to Parliament. I am sure that there is a procedure for the Committee, if it does not want this Bill to presented to Parliament, to discuss with the Minister and sort the mess out before it comes to Parliament and it gives us a feeling that it might not be the Minister who really wants this Bill to really go through, it could be some other people because he did not actually present it in Parliament, he is not available to defend this Bill in Parliament.
I strongly recommend that this Bill should go back to the drawing board. I support my Committee report. Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me time to air my views, and the views of my Committee.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE (SPKNG): Thank you so much Hon Speaker for allowing me to add my voice to this debate. I would like to start by thanking Hon. Toffa for presenting the report on behalf of the Committee. I am a Member of the Committee and I was able to participate in the public hearings on the Amendment Bill. The Bill seeks to align itself to the Constitution of the country; in particular, I am focusing on Section 76 of the National Constitution as adopted in 2013, which says the right to healthcare; “every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to access basic healthcare which includes reproductive healthcare services”. In my own view, this Bill is very retrogressive and will not be able to align the Health Services Act to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, especially Section 76. What it will achieve is the opposite. If this Bill is passed in its present form, it will be one of the worst pieces of legislature ever passed by this Parliament. I am strongly recommending that as Parliamentarians, we do not accept but totally reject this Bill. When we were consulting the public during public hearings, almost every health professional who attended the meeting showed high level of shock and surprise that we were actually going around the country with such a shocking piece of legislation. As Parliament of Zimbabwe, we need to realise that this Bill does not achieve its intended purpose and must be returned back to the sender. It particularly violates the workers’ rights to unionise, collectively bargain and negotiate as a community. It also violates their right to negotiate with the employer and confuses their right to serve their country freely without fear of victimisation. Its net effect is to drive healthcare workers from the public healthcare service to the private sector and to the diaspora, thereby worsening the current situation because right now, access to public healthcare in this country is in a deplorable state. So, we strongly reject this Bill and it must not be passed.
We also recommend strongly that the relevant Minister consults further without coming up with another Bill. He has to consult all the relevant stakeholders maybe at an all stakeholders’ conference so that whatever the mischief this Bill intended to achieve is clearly identified and separated from the mass of confusion being presented in this current Bill. Let the Minister do further consultations and come up with a highly revised form of the Healthcare Amendment Bill. Let us reject this Bill in its present format. I so move Hon. Speaker Sir.
HON. DR. NYASHANU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. TEKESHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 8th June, 2022.
On the motion of HON. DR. NYASHANU seconded by HON. TEKESHE, the House adjourned at Eighteen Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.