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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 8 MAY 2024 VOL 50 NO 47

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 8th May, 2024

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON.  SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

PETITION RECEIVED FROM TINASHE MATIKA AND KHOSIKONA SIBANDA

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I have the following announcements; I have to inform the House that Parliament received a petition from Tinashe Matika and Khosikona Sibanda from Hwange Constituency, beseeching Parliament to review the policy that subjects Hwange Urban under dual administration and inquire into the operational modalities of the current Government matrix of Hwange, with a view of making not all the necessary policy recommendations and amendments but also devise a proposed timeline on the incorporation of the Hwange Colliery Concession Residential Areas into the jurisdiction of Hwange Local Board as prescribed in Section 274 of [Chapter 14] of the Constitution.  The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. 

NON-ADVERSE REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

          THE HON. SPEAKER: I have also received Non-Adverse Reports from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the following Bills and Statutory Instruments; The Private Voluntary Amendment Bill [H.B. 2, 2024], Statutory Instrument Numbers. 34, 35, 36, 37, 37A, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53 and 54 of 2024, published in the Government Gazette during the month of March 2024. 

ADVERSE REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

          THE HON. SPEAKER: I have also received Adverse Reports from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the following Statutory Instruments; Statutory Instrument Numbers. 17, 18, 23 and 24 of 2024, published in the Government Gazette during the month of February 2024 and Statutory Instrument Numbers. 31, 32, 33, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 52 of 2024 published in the Gazette during the month of March. 

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  I have received the following apologies from Members of the Executive;  Hon. O. C. Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence; Hon. M. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development; Hon. D. Garwe, Minister of Local Government and Public Works; Hon. K. Kazembe, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. Mazungunye, Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Hon. W. Chitando, Minister of Mines and Mining Development; Prof. Dr. A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; Hon. T. Moyo,  Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; Hon. A. Gata, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; Hon. R. Modi, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce; Hon. D. Soda, Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities; Hon. Dr. A. J. Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; Hon. V. Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; Hon. D. Marapira, Deputy Minister of Lands Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; Hon. Dr. Mombeshora, Minister of Health and Child Care; Hon. S. T. Kwidini, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care; Hon. Prof. M. Ncube, Minister of Finance,  Economic Development and Investment Promotion. 

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

          *HON. P. ZHOU:  My question is directed to the Leader of the House. What does the law say and how can we strengthen that law in connection with those abusing drugs and toxic drinks? Most of these drinks are being sold at reduced prices and are being manufactured by companies based here in Zimbabwe that have licences to distribute such items.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): If a company is licenced to do so, it means it meets all the requirements for it to acquire a licence to distribute or manufacture such beverages. On the issue to do with the reduced prices, it will then be looked upon by those companies considering whether they have any profits out of it. If the Hon. Member knows any company which is manufacturing anything which is harmful to human consumption or any other type of beverage which is dangerous, they have to write to those who are responsible to analyse and critically look into it to see if they are doing the right thing at the right time. I thank you.

          *HON. P. ZHOU: I have asked the question but while I am here I want to refrain from naming the products and the companies but from the farming community where I stay, there are those toxic beers which are manufactured; where you see some artisanal miners just pass out after taking the substance.  Looking on the manufacturers’ side, I discover that these types of beer are manufactured in Zimbabwe. I would like to put that on farms and other mining areas, these types of beers are being sold for US$1 and they are toxic to human beings. So how can the Government strengthen the law. I thank you.

          *HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: We have inspectors who are responsible for monitoring shops or areas where they trade such liquors. They monitor to see if they are licenced. We have a Committee which was put in place by His Excellency the President, which is being led by the Minister of Defence, to critically analyse those types of liquor whether they are harmful to human consumption. The pace and rate at which people drink those types of liquor will then lead to over intoxication by the public.

          For the past three weeks, Government has been putting in place modalities on how to constitute an agency to look into all matters and how the public can reduce the consumption of these substances. This is what Government is doing at the moment. If she knows where such things are being done, we have our Zimbabwe Republic Police to be there waiting to take cases and to investigate to see where they are getting such harmful substances so that we can ensure that Zimbabweans are safe.

*HON. MUTSEYAMI: On the issue pertaining to such harmful liquor manufacturing, we have areas where ethanol is being blended. During the production of ethanol meant for fuel, you find people taking this substance and using it to manufacture beer. The type of beer which is being manufactured has an alcohol percentage which is more than 90%. What should be done to curb the incidences of diverting ethanol to beer brewing in areas like Chisumbanje and Triangle?

          HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  He mentioned that the type of fuel which is being manufactured is being made with the intention to blend petrol for vehicle consumption but other people are using that same fuel to manufacture that harmful type of beer.  Therefore, people are abusing things which were not intended for human consumption, such as the harmful types of beers.  That should be avoided.  Amongst the Committees which went around, there is one Committee working on supply reduction and others are working on apprehension of people who are abusing such things and be rehabilitated to their normal senses.  So, we have a lot being done by our Government.  People have to be deterred from taking ethanol and abusing it by manufacturing those harmful type of beers and we have to reduce such harmful practices.  I thank you.

          HON. MURAMBIWA:   My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development.  The President of the Second Republic, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa has come up with very good policies where various schemes have been availed to improve the livelihoods of people.  Do you have any plans to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to avail such schemes such as the Presidential goat scheme, poultry scheme and fish scheme to schools so as to boost their revenue collection?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  If the Hon. Member recalls as he is from this side of the House, when we had our independence celebrations, the President handed over a company business certificate to Murambinda B. Primary School who are into horticulture, and the Ministry of Agriculture having spearheaded the drilling of boreholes and setting up of that business unit at that particular school.  This is being replicated in most of our schools so that they can be capacitated, not only in their teaching activities, having practical subjects, using the gardens and the horticulture fields that they have but also to ensure that they have nutritious vegetables for preschool and grade one learners in particular, who are supposed to be given supplementary feeding so as to learn well during this drought period.  This is the thrust that the Second Republic, under the leadership of His Excellency Cde. E. D. Mnangagwa, is doing to ensure that we capacitate schools to create business units that will uplift the status of all those schools.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Murambiwa, you want to ask a supplementary question when the response has been so comprehensive?.

          *HON. MURAMBIWA:  I just want to seek clarification.  The Hon Minister did give a very good response but my question is, when will these schemes be cascaded down to all the other schools in the country?  I thank you.

          THE HON SPEAKER:  The Leader of Government Business clearly indicated that the programme is ongoing and if you listened to the Presidential speech at independence, it covered the 35 000 homesteads throughout the country.  I do not know if the Hon. Leader of Government Business has anything to add.

          HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: No, Mr. Speaker, you have actually added comprehensively what was said by His Excellency in his speech pertaining to that.  I thank you.

          HON. MATINENGAMr. Speaker, now that we have the new currency ZiG, does the IMTT of 2% encourage the use of ZiG especially when we take cognisance of the fact that we need to encourage the use of the banking sector and avoid robberies which are rampant in this country?  I am directing this question to the Minister of Finance.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. D. K. MNANGAGWA):  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  Thank Hon. Member for the question.  To provide fuller context, this would be in comparison to the use of the US dollar.  The Minister of Finance, through the Minister who issued an S.I. a few days ago, increased the IMTT on the US dollar transactions.  Prior to that, the IMTT on US dollar electronic transactions was 1%.  It has now been equated to the ZiG IMTT which puts the two currencies at par.  What that does is that it becomes the same to transact in either currency, henceforth, one is not deterred by the IMTT itself on the currency of choice.  I thank you.

          HON. MATINENGANow that we have increased the IMTT for the US dollar yet you want to encourage the use of the banking sector, do you not think that you are encouraging people to keep money in their homes?

          HON. D.K. MNANGAGWA):  I think that is a fair comment.  Increasing the transaction cost does indeed dissuade the general populace from transacting electronically, but this is something we have had to deeply introspect upon trying to balance the need to collect revenue versus the effort of allowing everybody to be financially included. At this juncture Mr. Speaker, we are still leaning towards the revenue collection necessity and we will continue to monitor as we go along, whether this skew hinders people from entering the realm of financial inclusion and electronic transactions upon which we can review. I thank you Mr. Speaker.

HON. MADZIVANYIKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My supplementary question to the Minister is, increasing IMTT of USD to 2% actually jeopardises more because it does not create demand for ZiG. If you check for example, 2% of ZiG100 thousand, is equal to two thousand. It is a big amount. We thought that the Minister would take it down. Can the Minister consider reducing IMTT on Zig transactions from the 2% to probably 0.5% to encourage demand for the ZiG? I submit.

HON. D. K. MNANGAGWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to clarify for the Hon. Member of Parliament that the ZiG, which is our local currency’s IMTT was not increased. What was increased was the USD IMTT to equate it to the ZiG IMTT, but that submission is noted Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

*HON. MANANZVA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Roads. Firstly, I would like to appreciate the type of hard work which you are doing. A lot is being done. Thank you so much. Minister, we see some of the roads will be under construction and they are abandoned midway before rain starts. What will be the problem? I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: I did not quite get the question. Were you referring to the current road construction leading to Parliament or generally?

*HON. MANANZVA:  Generally.

*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank Hon. Mananzva for his question. He said, chamisa chii on the road constructions – [Laughter.] – I would like to respond that chamisa hapana – [Laughter.] – Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to thank the Hon. Member who appreciates the good developments under construction within road networks. If the Parliament continues like this, we will have limited funds to proceed with road construction. If you see us not working well, you can kindly add to our budget so that we can continue with the development. Way back, we used to have some other companies which used to take a tender to develop roads and they do it half-way. Now, in the Second Republic, we have a programme whereby, if the company bids for a tender and do it half-way, we do not pay them the remaining balance. We agreed that they have to complete the project and then we pay them.

Sometimes we know that we may face some difficulties with the budget we have towards road construction as a country, but we do not expect to do it half way without completing the road construction. I promise you that in all the areas where we have roads which are under construction, we will complete in time. I thank you.

Some Hon. Members having stood up on supplementary questions.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  You spoke to the Hon. Minister that there is nothing chamisa. So I think he is right – [Laughter.] –

HON. MANDIWANZIRA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to associate myself with the comments by the Hon. MP in thanking His Excellency, particularly through the Hon. Minister for the great work that is happening on our roads. My supplementary question Mr. Speaker, relates to the standard and quality of the roads that are being made. Because of the great work that is being done to fix and make the roads to this Parliament Building, we are now having to use some roads that we did not use often. We know that some of these roads were recently upgraded on Government space.

For instance, this afternoon, I drove through Lorraine Drive, but the state of that road does not indicate that this road was recently upgraded. My question to the Hon. Minister is, to what extent is the Ministry supervising the standard and the quality of the roads that are being built? Are there funds being retained on the amounts that are due to the contractors that within a specific period, if the road does not stand or withstand the demands of time, those resources are used to fix those roads? I thank you Mr. Speaker.

HON. MHONA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me also thank Hon. Mandiwanzira for that very important observation. Just like in a normal scenario where at times we need to take ownership, in this particular case, the Hon. Member has raised and indicated a particular road which is Lorraine Drive.  For the past weeks, it was topical during our debates and social media circulations where the road failed dismally. As Ministry, we have summoned the contractor, who has also acknowledged that yes, the road failed. For us, we are saying under the Second Republic, we do not pay when the work is not done properly. We have instructed the contractor to work on the road and take corrective measures where the system failed and the type of bituminous products used collapsed. 

He has learnt from that experience and it is not the only road that contractor has been working on. If we see, he has been attending to a number of roads across the country. The terrain and the nature of the soils and how the road collapsed is something that we interrogated. We have agreed that the contractor will take remedial action. We are saying this because we have our own engineers and the public is there to take us to account. We are grateful that yes, we are taking correction and we endavour, as we progress and construct our roads so that we do not have such recurrence in terms of road maintenance. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. KAPOIKULU: Thank you Mr. Speaker. What is the time frame for corrective measures for that road?

THE HON. SPEAKER: The target for corrective measures!

          HON. MHONA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  Let me also thank the Hon. Member for that very important question.  Hon. Speaker Sir, the contractor is working on Nemakonde Road, which is Lomagundi Road.  As soon as we open in just a few weeks’ time, then we will revert to Lorraine Drive.  Now, it is being used as a detour, as a diversion route, but as soon as we open the link to avoid congesting the traffic, then the contractor will revert to Lorraine Drive.  I can say after this month, you will see us back, rehabilitating Lorraine Drive because we will be having access to the Nemakonde Road, which is Lomagundi.  Thank you, Hon. Speaker Sir.

          HON. CHIGUMBU:  My supplementary question goes to the Minister of Transport.  What is Government policy pertaining to the timeframe that is required for roadworks to be completed?  We have seen instances whereby contractors start work and they take long to finish.  Do you have a policy that speaks to timeframes to say when work starts, it has to be finished within a certain period?  I can give an example whereby we saw recently where less than one kilometre stretch in Southerton is taking ages to be completed – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  The original question was investigating quality assurance and also specifically the example of Lorraine Drive.  Hon. Minister, would you like to respond?

          HON. MHONA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir, let me thank the Hon. Member again for the very important question.  I am sure he is relating to a particular road.  With your indulgence Hon. Speaker Sir, if the Hon. Member can engage me directly so that we ascertain why the stretch that he is talking about has taken long to complete so that we address it accordingly.  Thank you, Hon. Speaker Sir. 

          *HON. KARUMAZONDO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Good afternoon.  My question is directed to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.  I would like to thank the Ministry for the splendid job of broadcasting on challenges and development within this country.  What plans does the Ministry have for bureau chiefs within the provinces to be well resourced?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. MARUPI):  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  As a Ministry, we are busy preparing and putting in place logistics to assist our bureau chiefs to be in a position to perform their duties accordingly, by purchasing cars for all the provinces across the country.  Thank you. - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          *HON. KARUMAZONDO: I would like to thank the Minister for his response.  We have discovered that within the Ministry, the majority of bureau chiefs within provinces, the last time they got vehicles was in 2016.  Now, the types of vehicles that they have are no longer reliable.  That is my plea.  My question is; what programmes do you have so that you provide new vehicles and fuel for the whole country to know the developments being done by the Government?  I thank you.

          *HON. MARUPI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I have since responded to the question.  We are planning to purchase vehicles which will be distributed to all the provinces for them to do their duties diligently.  

          HON. ENG. MHANGWA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I just want to find out if the resources that you are availing to the bureau chiefs include capacity workshops to assist them in objective reporting and do their work effectively.   

`        HON. MARUPI:  I think you are just adding into what I have just said, to say we are capacitating them, yes, through workshops Hon. Member. 

          HON. MATEWU:  Thank you Mr. Speaker. My question to the Hon. Deputy Minister is that capacitation in the media industry especially the one that State runs is atrocious.  I can confirm that most of these media houses have gone for months without pay.  What is the plan from the Ministry to ensure that the people in ZBC,  the Herald and all the other Government State funded institutions are given sufficient salaries because most of them are complaining?  This will also lead to a lot of people taking advantage of them.  What are you doing to ensure that you adequately compensate those who are in the media industry?  Thank you.   

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Well, the original question was talking about bureau officers out there in the provinces, not generally those that are in the public media, including ZBC.   You can ask a separate question later on. 

          HON. KASHAMBE:  My supplementary question is; as they capacitate the bureau officers in our provinces, Hon. Minister, can you also include, with the devolution and decentralisation coming in, the whole equipment?  You find that some bureaus have one camera the whole province thereby not being able to cover all the programmes that will be happening on a same day.  Thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. MARUPI): Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir and I thank the Hon. Member for the suggestion, for the comment and compliment.  We are actually in the process of doing what you have actually raised. It is noted that we have just equally introduced district information officers, provincial information officers that support the bureau chiefs in the provinces, and we are actually also in the process of seeing to it that they get their equipment to assist them to do their duties, I thank you.

          HON. SAGANDIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask a question concerning people living with disabilities.  Section 77 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Amendment No. 20 provides for the rights to clean potable water to people living with disabilities.  Mr. Speaker, the normal scenario is that people should get water from their homes in urban cities.  Currently, people have access to water at boreholes.  What is Government policy regarding the same considering that the only reliable source of water in cities is through boreholes which are not sufficient, accessible or affordable to them?

          Hon. Speaker, I ask this question with particular reference…

          THE HON. SPEAKER: You do not have to elaborate on the question.  If you need elaboration, you can ask a supplementary question.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank Hon. Sagandira for the question.  Hon. Speaker, the policy is that urban water supply is done by local authorities within each particular setting.  What has happened over the years is that our urban local authorities have been failing to do that.  What Government is now doing is getting in to work with the local authorities with a view of ensuring that we solve the water problem.  Cabinet agreed that we would start with Bulawayo and ensure that we solve the water problem in Bulawayo first and we concentrate there and pool our resources to ensure that it is done in one area then we move to the other. 

          We have realised that the water reticulation system is now archaic. So trying to rehabilitate that water reticulation system has been a nightmare; not only for Bulawayo, even for Harare as well.  So the thrust now is to ensure that we improve the water reticulation system, have standalone treatment sites at particular locations rather than having one bulk water treatment system whereby we have noticed that we have so many leakages along the conveyancing line to particular households.

          So Government indeed acknowledges that the majority of our local authorities in urban areas have failed and we are coming now with a plan to ensure that we help the local authorities tasked with ensuring that there is potable water availability within urban local authorities.

          HON. SAGANDIRA: Thank you Hon. Speaker, my supplementary question regards those people living with disabilities in rural areas. I have a particular example of a person who is disabled, a war veteran for that matter, who is in my constituency of Makoni.  She does not children that she lives with and whenever she wants to draw water from the borehole, she has to wait for somebody to come to the borehole and make sure she pumps the water for her.  What plan does Government have considering that Government has rolled out a thirty-five thousand borehole-drilling programme? I thank you.

          HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  What is pleasing is that the Hon. Member is indicating that Government is rolling out a borehole facility in all the villages to ensure that there is clean potable water.  Then the actual question is very specific to an individual.  Government indeed assists our disabled people, so her case is specific, if she needs a wheel chair, she can be assisted by our Department of Social Welfare so that specific needs maybe catered for.  In terms of the availability of clean and potable water, Government is doing that, it is rolling out the drilling of boreholes so that every village  will not only have potable water, but can use that water for their livelihoods and sustenance.  I thank you.

          *HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir, my supplementary question; we agree that the Government is working flat out to have access to clean water in all urban and rural areas.  My question is, does our Government have a database to know that so and so has this type of disability and needs water close by? Most of the boreholes there are not drilled near the disabled persons’ homestead, they are centralised within the community, but sometimes it will be very far from a person living with disability.  Do we, as Government, have the statistics and knowledge to say so and so has a disability and needs water close by?  Some people are being sexually abused when trying to fetch water.  The other problem is that we have some touts or those bouncers who stand firm to challenge whoever wants to challenge them. 

          My question is, what is it that the Government is doing to make it simple for those people with disabilities to have access to clean water, especially focusing on rural areas?  I thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: The statistical question poses a problem.  Because if it were to come under a written question, then the Hon. Minister would have sufficient time to gather the data and present a response to that written question.  So if you may put that question in writing for next week and the responsible Hon. Minister will be able to give – [AN HON. MEMBER: Supplementary question.] – I am still speaking! So the Hon. Member please be kind enough to put your question in writing for next week and the Clerks-at-the-Table will then inform the Hon. Minister to prepare a response accordingly.

          HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Thank you Hon. Speaker, I will do so.

          *HON. HAMAUSWA: My question to the Minister is that, I heard that Government is going to take-over the different types of responsibilities which were directed to local authorities. My question is,  do we have any steps in place to empower local authorities so that they can have power to provide clean water? At the moment, most local authorities are seized with refuse collection problems where Government is saying they are going to take-over.

          *HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: In my response which I gave earlier on, I simply said Government is working flat out in collaboration with those local authorities that are responsible for providing safe and clean water. If I say Government is working with local authorities in those respective areas, I simply mean that we have some negotiations which are taking place in order to rectify the problem which is being faced by those cities. I thank you.

          *HON. NHARI: My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs. What does the policy say to drivers who are violating road regulations by using mobile phones whilst driving, which results in accidents?

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI):  We have a law which does not allow drivers to speak on the phone whilst driving. The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Republic Police actually enforce such laws to be followed. The problem with drivers is that most of the time they feel that those accidents do happen to other people, and not to them. So, they continue breaking the law. If you look closely, those people who enforce the law, be it traffic officers and those within the Ministry of Transport, were out in full force during the just ended holiday sensitising people. They were interacting with people to say kindly exercise caution on the roads. That is what the Government is trying to do, to promote and ensure compliance on the roads in order to make sure that we are free from accidents. I thank you.

          HON. MUTOKONYI: Of late, we have been witnessing the mahwindi, they are always being driven behind moving vehicles. Can the Government not impose heavy and punitive fines to ensure that menace is stopped?

          HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: It is a good proposal that we will discuss with our counterparts within the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Home Affairs.

          *HON. P. ZHOU:  My question is on mobile phones which have been referred to. I do not know how we can strengthen the law in terms of drivers who drive whilst conversing on the phones. Is it possible to put a law which can compel passengers and other motorists to arrest drivers who break road regulations? In addition, is it not possible for Government to put stiffer penalties for those who are caught using cellphones whilst they are driving?

          *HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: Thank you very much for the question. Our people have a right to report drivers who break the law, but our law does not allow people to pay spot fines. Our law allows that if a driver breaks the law, they should be taken to court where the courts have a right to prove whether they are guilty or not. The other thing is that if an accident happens, if passengers say he was using the phone, the Ministry of Transport may also want to check the roadworthiness of the vehicle so that when the case is taken to court, then they will find out what really caused the accident, was it speaking on the phone or the vehicle was defective. There are a lot of things that come into play when an accident happens. The VID and police come in so that when the case is taken to court, it will be clear what really caused the accident. I thank you.

          *HON. MHETU:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  The Minister of Home Affairs explained to us that many people who are being involved in accidents are found drunk and he said he will bring breathalysers and will install cameras on the roads so that the criminals will be prosecuted.  I would like to find out how far they have gone with that because we have not forgotten.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  The question does not arise.

          *HON. SHONGEDZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker.  My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government. What is Government policy in terms of vending stores that are old and falling down, endangering the lives of people, especially in the urban and growth point areas?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. ENG. KABIKIRA): Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for her pertinent question.  Our councils have Model building by-laws, which according to Section 48, say that after Council engineers have done their inspections and finding out that there are dangerous buildings, the councils are allowed by the law, to write to the owner of the building that he/she should vacate the place in the shortest period of time.  After vacating, they must ensure that no one gets into that building as it will be dangerous.  Councils have powers vested in them, which include destruction of the building if it is dangerous and if it needs renovations, the council has powers to alert the owners of the building.  I thank you.

HON. TSVANGIRAYI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker SirMy question is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education. State universities issued a statement that students who have not paid their tuition in full are not going to be allowed to sit for their exams.  Is it Government policy to prevent students from writing exams on account of not paying tuition?  I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINSTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION (HON. S. SIBANDA):  Thank you very much Hon. Speaker.  I would also like to thank the Hon. Member for the question. The Government policy is quite clear on the fact that students should pay fees.  That is the first port of call.  Then on the issue of writing of exams, the students who are having challenges in terms of payment of fees should approach the student affairs office for payment plans.  There are no students who are supposed to be barred from writing exams as long as they would have followed those proper channels.  Government policy is quite clear.  We have many programmes that are there to assist students who are having challenges in terms of payment of fees.  We have a programme such as the work-for-fees which has not been exhausted.  So those students who received such communication would not have approached the relevant offices in line with the several packages that are there at the universities in terms of payment of fees.  So we would encourage students to approach the relevant offices so that such issues do not arise.  I thank you.

HON. TSVANGIRAYI:  Thank you Minister for a clear answer.  I also want you to communicate with the State universities indicating that it is not allowed to prevent students from writing exams on account of not paying tuition.  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  That is not a supplementary question.  You could have asked a rhetoric question to get to where you want to get.

HON. GUMEDE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My supplementary question is; what is Government policy in terms of telling the students or sensitising students about these services that they can get when they are unable to pay their fees?  The Hon Minister talked about the work-for-fees programme, but most of the students are not aware of this programme within the tertiary institutions.  So what is the Ministry doing about giving students the information that is required for them to be able to help themselves?  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I do not think I can allow that question because you are being presumptuous.  If you have specific students who are failing to have access to those services, as an Hon. Member, you can assist now that you know such services are there.  We cannot ask the Hon. Minister on presumption.

HON. MAPFUMO: My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister of Education is, what is Government’s position regarding the BEAM facility? You would find that in the rural areas, a school with a capacity of 500 students, 450 are on BEAM, which is presenting a challenge towards the school to capacitate its operations. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

THE HON. SPEAKER: The BEAM facility is dedicated to Primary and Secondary Education. I think the Hon. Minister answered comprehensively that there are facilities at tertiary institutions which students can access. Your role Hon. Member, is to advocate for that so that students know what the Hon. Minister has said in terms of availability of the resources.

Hon. Hamauswa having stood up for a supplementary question.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Hamauswa, let us give chance to the other Hon. Member there, if you do not mind.

*HON. MHETU: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the Minister for the Work for Fees Programme, but my research in the universities is that a lot of students received the information and approached the Student Affairs Office. The universities are not able to accommodate all the students. That is why the students are failing to write their examinations. Minister, how can these students be helped because the universities are not capable of accommodating them in the Work for Fees Programme?

*THE HON. SPEAKER: The Minister said the services are there but as an Hon. Member, if you know the children who are in trouble, you should contact the Ministry and submit their names.

*HON. MAKUMBE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. What is Government policy on schools in the rural areas so that they are uplifted because they are not in good state?

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I thank the Hon. Member for the question. The Hon. Member’s question is not addressing the issues that the schools are not in right state. All schools in Zimbabwe are not the same. If he has specific schools that have certain things missing, he can put it in writing, then the answer will be provided. Thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you do that so that we can enquire to the specific schools that have no chimiro.

HON. MABURUTSE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Mines and Mining Development. The issue of EPOs is of serious concern among our people. Minister, what are you doing as far as these EPOs are concerned? I believe some two months ago, the Ministry suspended a number of EPOs but our people are not allowed to peg on those suspended EPO areas. Why is the Ministry refusing our people to peg on the suspended EPOs? I thank you. 

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMEN (HON. KAMBAMURA):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the question about EPOs. It is correct that we started processing EPO applications. During processing, some EPOs were not successful and others were successful. Some EPOs that were granted time back expired, but in a way, to control areas of high mineral potential for the benefit of Government through large scale development, the Minister has put some reservations over those areas so that we control highly mineralised zones for large scale development. If ever there is anyone who wants to peg over those areas, he can write to the Ministry for special approval, where we will be following up on progress being done and also for mineral accountability over those areas. Thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. For a very long time, the country has been grappling with some immense difficulties in the public health sector. Also, these challenges have undermined the public health system, particularly in delivering the services to women and also to children. Now Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to your attention that the women and children have unique challenges and special needs that require special attention. My question to the Minister of Health is, what is the Government doing to ensure that there is special attention and also some specialists in provincial hospitals, particularly the pediatricians and also gynecologists? I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI):   Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank Hon. Mamombe for the question.  The policy of Government is to ensure that as far as possible, our hospitals, especially our provincials, cascading to district hospitals, have specialists.  Mr. Speaker, you will recall that in Bindura for instance, only recently or a few weeks ago, we started a chronological surgery there.  That is a specialist service.  The availability of human resources is not dependent on Government alone, but by those personnel, whether they are available to be deployed to that particular area or not.  In so far as Government is concerned, that is the direction that we want to make sure that we have specialists’ services at the provincial hospitals.   Mr. Speaker, we have upgraded the hospitals, all the services are there, the same with Chinhoyi Hospital.  We want to cascade to district hospitals ensuring that what Hon. Mamombe is appealing to is realised.  I thank you.

          *HON. MAMOMBE: Let me thank the Hon. Minister for answering the question.  The question I raised has to do with women and children, particularly women, those who end up facing challenges and difficulties during childbirth.  Some of them sometimes end up giving birth on the floors.  Is there any Government policy to make sure that every provincial hospital has got a gynecologist and also a pediatrician, particularly for the women who are giving birth?  Thank you. 

          *THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MACHINGURA):  Hon. Mamombe, the Hon. Minister has responded to that.   He said that is what is needed at each provincial hospital.   He said Government is working on that programme and he gave different examples.      

          HON. CHAKAKURA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture.  When we opened the 10th Parliament, His Excellency, the President in his SONA address, presented a number of Bills to which two of them were under your Ministry.  These are the Sport, Leisure and Recreation Bill and the Sport Integrity Bill.  What is your position as a Ministry with regards to bringing Bills to Parliament?  When can we expect them?  Thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT, RECREATION AND CULTURE (HON. JESAYA):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for raising such a question.  Indeed, I want to agree that it is true that in His State of the Nation Address that was made by the President, he did mention two Bills which fall under our Ministry.  As a Ministry, we have managed to do what we call the zero drafts and we presented and submitted this to the Attorney-General’s Office.  As we stand today, we are making consultations and follow-ups with her office.  I am sure, after she is done with them, they will then be submitted to Cabinet and then they will be tabled in Parliament for debate.  I submit. 

          *HON. ZVAIPA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Sport.  She said that the Bills are now at the Attorney-General’s Office.  Is she not able to give us the timeframe so that we know how the process is going to take place? 

          *THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  That question is not emanating from the original question.  We take it as a new question because you are now talking of timeframes, maybe we can ask the Leader of the House to assist us.  The Hon. Deputy Minister of Sport, do you know the timeframe?

          HON. JESAYA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I cannot tell them the timeframe because I do not know how it works at the Attorney-General’s Office.     

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Thank you, I knew you would not know - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order Hon. Members.

          HON. MUTOKONYI: Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Driven by the mantra of leaving no one and no place behind and driven as well by the National Development Policy NDS1 on the cluster of digital economy,  my question is directed to the Minister of Information Communication Technology.  What is the Ministry’s position in ensuring that all communities do have network connectivity, the network of the telecommunication? Thank you. 

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (HON. DR. MAVETERA):  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  Let me thank Hon. Mutokonyi for that question.  Indeed, we are really pushing as a Ministry to make sure that we are also able to achieve a digital economy as asked by the Hon. Member.  In terms of connectivity, we have been able to work on our digital infrastructure whereby we are also going ahead deploying base stations across the country.  Definitely, because of limited resources, we have not been able to go to all areas.  Again, within that same thrust, we have also tried by all means to have a shared infrastructure policy which is a policy which is seeing us within the base stations having all these players able to utilise these base stations together.  We believe that within that same gesture, we also need to also utilise resources to their fullest and also be able to utilise resources for other uses. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, we are also making sure that we have got community information centres, especially to the rural population.  It is quite important for us to also make sure that we have them and people are be able to access networks and connectivity there.  These are some of the works that we are also doing.  However, more needs to be done in terms of our infrastructure.  Definitely we need to make sure that we have got more base stations which I believe we have been getting a lot of letters coming from even Members of Parliament.  Of course, resources have been a constraint, but we are continuously pushing so that at least we are able to make sure that we have more base stations and more fibre coming up.

          I am sure the Hon. Member is aware that we have also been trying to also make sure that we have got companies which are privately led, which are engaging in fibre in the country.  I thank you. 

           HON. CHIGUMBU.:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Much as we appreciate the good work that is being done by the Ministry, we are concerned particularly with the siting of these base stations which was done some years back.  In Makonde, base stations were sited two years ago but work has not yet commenced in the construction of these base stations.  So, when can we expect commencement of the construction of these base stations? I submit.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MACHINGURA): Hon. Member, have you not been answered when the Hon. Minister gave a response?  I will let her answer you but I think she has already answered that question.

          HON. DR. MAVETERA:   Thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir and I thank the Hon. Member for that question.  Indeed, resources are a constraint but of course, it is within our plans to make sure that at least all the base station sites that are there which have been identified, I think it is important for us to also make a plan for that.  Let me just say to him that yes, we might not be able to talk about the time, but we are hoping that we will be able to expedite time so that we can do it in the shortest possible time.  I thank you.

          HON. CHIGUMBU: Thank you Hon. Speaker.  We have had the Ministry complaining a lot about resources being inadequate. What are they doing in considering other technologies which are less resource consuming, for example Star Link?  I thank you.

          HON. DR. MAVETERA: I thank you Hon. Speaker and I thank Hon. Chigumbu for that question.  Our Government policy is clear, ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ and we are very much welcome to any other technology to make sure that we enhance our digital footprint as a country.  For the one that we spoke about, of course, it is a specific question but because it is quite an issue that everyone would want to really hear about,  Star Link has applied and we are waiting upon POTRAZ to finalise on the licencing, after that, we can then be able to see it coming through.

          HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker and I want to thank the Hon. Minister for the response.  My supplementary question is about the issue of resources that she is highlighting about.  We have a lot of Post Offices that are no longer in use in almost all of the districts in this country.  Is there a plan by the Ministry of ICT to make use of those dormant post offices to turn them into information centres where people can also go and access internet?  I thank you.

          HON. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker and I thank Hon. Mamombe for the new question that she has just raised.  Indeed, we are saying on the Postal and Courier Services, our President, His Excellency, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa is very clear; he has given us a mandate to make sure that at least we digitise all these post offices. I am saying, what we need to be able to do is to have smart post offices. Of course, you are also talking about having some information which I think we already have.

          I think from the post offices that we have, we have got more than 165 of them which have got community information centres. We are already utilising them.  In addition to that, I think we can also speak with the Ministry of Transport. You realise that now when you are going to go to a post office, you will actually be able to access even your driver’s licence from that place.  We are saying, we also need to utilise these places to be able to have all Government services that we have.

          However, we feel that there is a lot that needs to be done, especially to the Postal and Courier Services whereby now we need to be using artificial intelligence.  We also need to be using IOT so that at least we can then be able to also harness the power of ICTs.  We need to actually think outside the box whereby now we have tasked our ZIMPOST to also utilise some gadgets like drones in their delivery.  Just to make sure that at least they provide the post office as an e-commerce hub which we believe there is more that needs to be done and indeed, very soon we are going to be launching our smart post office.  I thank you.

          HON. M. C. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  It is Mxolisi Sibanda.  My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Statutory Instrument 67 introduced extremely high charges for vehicle licencing and registration.  What is the rationale in charging USD100 for a vehicle up to 1500 CCs, 500 dollars for a vehicle with 1500 CCs and above, and also 5000 for personalised vehicle number plates given that 5000 is charge for personalised number plate and that the material used for that is of the same size and may also be from the same supplier?

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): I thank you Hon. Speaker. Let me thank my hon. brother Mxolisi Sibanda.  He has raised a question that is important.  If you go back to school where we were studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where we talk of self-actualisation, this is where it comes into play.  Even if we were to lower the prices, those who want those personalised number plates are the ones who are advocating for higher prices because they want to be in their special niche market where at the end of the day, they will accord themselves with affluence.  For someone to then ask and say they are expensive, I am sure at that category, they are very happy.  It is not about the material but I want to assure the Hon. Member that whenever it comes to charges, they come through Finance. As we deliberate on the Budget, it goes through the Finance Bill which then becomes the Finance Act.  These prices will only be gazetted following what Parliament would have approved.

          So, these are some of the issues that we also need to take cognisance of that as we do our budget, when we are debating, at times if we are not happy, let us then finalise some of the charges as we then debate and make sure that when it is now law, we will not revert to the position where we were supposed to debate.  We also need to take cognisance of the fact that the funds are being ring-fenced towards infrastructure development, which is a noble cause.  So, it is something that we must be grateful as a nation that we are only doing and rehabilitating our infrastructure using our own resources.  It is also a humble plea to the people of Zimbabwe to bear with us that ndisu tinovaka nyika nemaresources edu.  I thank you. Hon. Speaker.

          HON. M. C. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. The background that I was coming from was the fact that transportation is one of the economic drivers and when we make it so expensive right from the onset, it them makes transportation and cost of goods in Zimbabwe quite expensive.  I submit.

          HON. MHONA: Thank you Hon. Speaker and once again to my own brother for the very important follow up question.  Yes, I do concur that transport is an economic enabler which must be affordable and we are talking of personalised number plates that he has highlighted.  So, we are saying at the end of the day, the moment you decide to personalise, it them becomes something that is your volition in terms of you wanting some that is extraordinary.  There is a cost, a premium to that and the premium is what has been charged.  Like I indicated, those who are in that category are happy that when it comes to the number plates that he talked about, the purpose of that fund is what we must also factor in as we then deliberate and debate to say what is the purpose of the fund? 

          The purpose of the fund is to make sure that we resource-mobilise domestically, that is using our own resources which is my humble plea to the people of Zimbabwe.  I thank you Hon. Speaker.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon Minister, I think he asked two questions. The first one was on number plates and the second one was on the general increase of licencing fees where he was saying transport is an enabler and if goods are expensive, then it means the cost of living goes high.

          HON. MHONA: Like I indicated that I do concur that it is a cost factor when you are also considering your business in terms of the cost implication. The question behind, like I indicated is that fees come from this House. We are talking of budgetary line items which were passed by this august House. As we debate and discuss on these charges, let us make sure that when the Minister of Finance comes to present the budget, if we are not happy, we will then make sure and announce that we are not going to pass because we are the ones who are going to pass the budget. The onus will then rest within the august House to make that whatever is approved is in tandem with the expectations of the House.

          HON. MADZIVANYIKA: My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister is that, is it tacit admission by Government that it is policy to discriminate the people on the issue of personalised number plate? This is against the background that US$5000 is equivalent to buy two Toyota Aqua vehicles and for that matter, it cannot be argued that it is for the rich and so forth. Is it the position of Government through the Ministry of Transport to discriminate against its people?

          Secondly, is it true that S.I. 67 was passed and approved by Parliament as the Minister is insinuating.

          THE TEMPORTARY SPEAKER: The Minister spoke about a market niche. He even indicated that those who are being charged US$5000 are quite happy. On the Statutory Instrument, you will get some feedback tomorrow because I am not seeing it on the S.I.s that the Speaker of Parliament presented to us this afternoon. We will check whether it has come to Parliament or not. I thank you.

          *HON. JARAVAZA: Let me take this opportunity to thank you for chairing this House properly. I also want to thank His Excellency, the President for road construction which is happening in the country. Most of the roads are now in good state, hence I want to thank His Excellency for this work.

          What is Government policy concerning the issue of grass and trees which are growing on the shoulders of the roads?

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): I also want to thank the Hon. Member for raising a pertinent question. Yes, most of our trunk roads are covered with trees and grass. Long back, we used to have maintenance units and Cabinet saw it fit that we must reintroduce the maintenance units which were found in each and every province. I want to promise this House that we are going to start next month to open about 20 maintenance units.

          These maintenance units are going to trim the grass so that we do not see the menace in which there is litter, trees and grass along the highways. These units are going to maintain the roads and hygiene alongside the roads where litter bins are going to be put at lay byes. We are going to work with RIDA and RDCs to make sure that our roads are properly maintained.

          HON. CHIWA: My question is directed to the Minister of Lands. Sugarcane as a crop was declared a strategic crop for years now and we have not seen the Statutory Instrument designating intervention associated with the strategic status. When can we have that done to unlock the economic value of the declaration? I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  What I will do is to go and check with the Minister and the Attorney-General on the status of the S.I. and will advise accordingly.  I thank you.

          HON. MHETU:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Could the Minister of Transport provide an update on the progress for the implementation of proposed measures to curb road carnage, particularly the installation of speed limiters on all public vehicles as stipulated in S.I. 118 of 2023.

HON. MHONA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  Let me thank Hon. Mhetu for the very important question.  I do concur with Hon. Mhetu on that S.I. 118 of 2023, which came into effect on the 1st January and we were mandating public service vehicles to be fitted with speed monitoring devices, which is an exercise we are doing.   I will be glad to also furnish the august House with the status quo relating to those who are compliant.  We have said that given some of the accidents that we are witnessing, we have noted that some of the vehicles will not be having these very important gadgets.  We continue to raise awareness and giving the mandate that whenever they ply our roads, they must have these speed monitoring devices.  I will bring to this august House a report on the status quo of these speed monitors.  I thank you.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER in terms of Standing Order No. 68

          HON. TOGAREPI:  Hon. Speaker, with your indulgence if we could defer Questions With Notice.

          HON. KARIKOGA:  I second.

          HON. TOGAREPI:  I have the Minister of Finance to move a motion.

HON. MUTSEYAMI:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.  My point of order is to do with procedures which have not been followed.  You did not recognise me but however, on the proposition by the Hon. Chief Whip of Government business, he did not explain why we should suspend Questions With Notice.  It was just a request.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  I think he mentioned that the Minister of Finance has something to present.

HON. MUTSEYAMI:  But today is not Government business which is meant for Tuesday and Thursdays.  Today is a day for Members to ask questions and interact with the Ministers.  Government business has more room on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Questions With Notice have been on those papers, some for more than three months.  With all due respect to our Government Chief Whip, if that can be considered?  It is very noble.

HON. TOGAREPI:  I really understand what the Hon. Member is saying but we had one Minister who had prepared answers to questions.  Now, that Minister has gone out and has just been invited to go and see the Speaker.  So, I thought we could proceed with other business than wait for the Minister to come back. 

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Thank you Chief Whip.  The Chief Whip has said one of the reasons why he requested for the deferment of Questions With Notice is because there are no Ministers in the room to take up the questions, and the only Minister who was in here has left.  So, when the proposal was put, we asked for a seconder which we got.  So, I will now ask the Minister of Finance to proceed.

HON. MHETU:  On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker.  On the Order Paper on Questions with Notice…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  I have not recognised you but you can go ahead.  Next time you can not just start speaking before being recognised.

HON. MHETU:  Thank you.  On the Order Paper, there is a Question With Notice, which we expected the Minister of Finance to respond to and it has been on the Order Paper for more than two months.  So, I humbly request the Minister of Finance to attend to that question first before going on to the business which he is here for.

HON. TOGAREPI:  We have already requested for a deferment of business, but I understand where he is coming from and it is important that our Ministers respond to Questions With Notice.  We are really going to work on that so that when we come back next week, these questions will be attended to.  For now, it is my request that we proceed with that business and next week we deal with the cases where the concern is being raised.  I also want to see our Order Paper clean, and we are dealing with that.

MOTION

AMENDMENT TO THE SCHEDULE OF THE EXCHANGE CONTROL ACT NOTICE 2024

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. D. K.  MNANGAGWA):  Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise to move that the amendment to the schedule of the Exchange Control Act Notice 2024 be now debated.  Mr. Speaker Sir, the Exchange Control and the Schedule provide for the power of the Reserve Bank to issue several penalty orders.  The Act also provides that when the Minister, after consultation with the President, if he so wishes to amend the schedule, shall draft a Statutory Instrument amending the schedule and bring it before the National Assembly.  The main objectives of the amendments to the Schedule….

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Minister, just wait a bit.  I am being advised that the Chief Whip should have stood over Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 10.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. 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. DHLIWAYO: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. D. K. MNANGAGWA): Thank you Mr. Speaker. Shall I continue from where I left off?

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Yes.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. D. K. MNANGAGWA): Thank you. Mr. Speaker, I was describing the main objectives of the amendments we seek in this S.I. which are amendments of the Schedule of the Exchange Control Act, which is firstly, to repeal the provision within the Schedule that allowed sellers of goods and services to sell at a 10% margin above the exchange rate. This amendment will also provide that sellers of goods and services will be guilt of a civil infringement if the offer of such goods and services are above the exchange rate as published by the Reserve Bank. We also seek, Mr. Speaker, to put a fixed penalty of ZiG200 thousand for offenders in the Schedule.

This penalty Mr. Speaker, is meant to be a deterrent to those businesses that offer goods and services above the stipulated and market determined exchange rate. This 10% margin, while was fit for purpose before the Monetary Policy is no longer fit for purpose. Mr. Speaker, in that regard, I move that this motion be adopted. I so submit.

HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for this opportunity. I would want to debate the amendments of the Schedule of the Exchange Control Act. Mr. Speaker, you might be aware that the background to this amendment of Schedule of the Exchange Control Act was as a result of the promulgation of S.I. 118 (A) of 2022, the Presidential Powers. This S.I. 118 (A) of 2022 was then presented to this august House under the Finance Bill. It then led to the amendment of the Exchange of the Control Act when the Finance Bill was signed into Finance Act.

Now, when we introduced the ZiG, the provisions of S.I. 118 (A) allowed traders to charge margin of 10% above the official rate, which then meant that with the coming in of ZiG, anyone who was trading above the market determined rate, within a margin of 10%, it was legal. I think this is why the Hon. Minister brought this Amendment of the Schedule of the Exchange Control Act to make sure that we are all guided by the rate which is determined by the market and also to set punitive rates on those who seem to wonder away from the rate which is determined by the market.

Mr. Speaker, when the 10% margin was allowed by the Ministry of Finance, it did not stop the depreciation of the parallel market rates. The rates continued to plummet and there was a thriving black-market rate, which according to market watchers, was because of the perceived distortion of the exchange rate because of the general intervention of the Reserve Bank and Ministry of Finance

The other reason was the shortage of foreign currency and also illegal dealers exploiting shortcomings in our banking sector. The main recommendation that was coming from the market was why can we not just float the currency so that the rate is determined by the market force. An attempt to float the rate resulted in the speculative attack of the Zimbabwe dollar and there was rapid depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar in both the official market and the parallel market. This again, resulted in a volatile exchange rate and runaway inflation.

Mr. Speaker, I may want to bring to your attention what a distorted exchange rate has done to this economy. We have seen the exchange rate being indexed in the pricing of goods and services. Because of that indexation, this has resulted in high inflation. We have seen the erosion of people’s incomes and we have seen the non-functionality of our National Budget. If you remember last year, when we had the Supplementary Budget, it was mainly because of the erosion that was happening to the Votes had been allocated by the Ministry of Finance.

We have also seen a dampened market environment when it comes to FDI inflows and challenges when it comes to business and national planning. These are some of the challenges that we are facing as a result of a distorted exchange rate. As I see it, the operations of the black market, the parallel market rate is a cancer that is affecting the economic fabric of this country. The parallel market rate is fighting the core-values that defines who we are in terms of where we want to be as a country.  If you look at Vision 2030, it has about six pillars and I want to speak specifically on the pillar on macroeconomic stability and financial re-engagement. Under the NDS1, there is a priority area on economic growth and stability.

If you look at NDS1, the Vision 2030, they are giving prominence to economic stability and financial re-engagement. All these will come to not when the core values of our economic fundamentals are being undermined by parallel market activities. What we need to define from now, going forward is anyone who is fighting the vision of Zimbabwe is an economic saboteur – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – we need to clearly define that parallel market activities are economic crimes. These are economic crimes that are fighting literally everyone.  The moment you see an activity that is fighting the National Budget which is being used for us to realise NDS 1 and Vision 2030, we know that we have got people who are fighting the aspirations of Zimbabweans.  Let us look at it.  The currency that is being attacked here is a feared currency.  A currency that is being issued by the Government and is not backed by any commodities.  This was not only peculiar to Zimbabwe, the US dollar that we all talk of is a feared currency.  It is just a currency that exist because of confidence.  It is not backed by any commodity.  You go to our neighbours, the South African Rand, it is not backed by any commodity, any gold or anything.  It is just a feared currency, issued by the Government and people have got confidence in it. 

          Mr. Speaker, because we had confidence issues, the RBZ, Government then introduced the ZiG on the 5th April, 2024.  The ZiG currency is backed by gold, it is backed by minerals and it is backed by forex reserves.  It is different from feared currency. On the back of it, the exchange rate of the ZiG is determined by the market.  I know Hon. Speaker, quite a number of people were saying why do you say the exchange rate is determined by the market but at the same time you are saying it is determined by international movements in gold. 

The international movements in the price of gold will only act as an indicator for the RBZ to intervene.  Our exchange rate is determined by the market.  The role of the Reserve Bank is only to publish the rates that are determined by the market.  I had mentioned that if there was any market player who added a premium of ten percent on top of the ZiG rate, there was nothing illegal because of the existence of Statutory Instrument 118 which is now under the Exchange Control Act Schedule.  This is what then prompted the Minister to come before us to regularise things.

With a market determined rate, there is no justification for providers of goods and services to offer their services above the prevailing market exchange rate.  What we have seen in the market is the parallel markets for ZiG, which is beyond what is obtaining in the market, yet we are saying our currency is backed by gold.  It is backed by precious minerals and it is backed by forex reserves.  Based on that, I have already said where we have said the market is the one that is determining the rate, anything outside that is done by economic saboteurs.  It is promoting money laundering.  What we are saying is we would want to applaud the Ministry of Finance for coming in at the right time to deal with the behavioural issues that are guided by economic saboteurs and that are not guided by market fundamentals. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, we would want the economic agents to go back to the basics.  The motion looks at the removal of the ten percent margin and the motion is also looking at fixing the penalty at 200 000 ZiG on those who violate the exchange control.  Mr. Speaker, we have got enough forex in the country.  As, I speak, we have roughly around USD2. 5 billion in nostro balances.  I think this is an area where we would also want the Ministry of Finance and the RBZ to make sure that there is optimal allocation of the resources that are available.  It is not that we do not have the foreign currency, the foreign currency is there. Imagine a country that is sitting on USD2. 5 billion in nostro balances.

Hon. Speaker, of those offending individuals and institutions, I think, in addition to the 200 000 ZiG, I am proposing a jail term for repeat offenders – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – A jail term is very critical for those who are engaged in economic sabotage and those who are harming national interests.  I think this is very critical.  At this point in time, in the economic history of this country, we cannot afford to fail with regards to the ZiG. 

Hon. Speaker, we also want to call upon the Ministry of Finance and RBZ, those who are engaged in these economic crimes are making use of our banking platforms.  It is not like they have got ZiG notes. They are making use of our banking platforms.  Are you saying we are so backwards that we are not in a position to track some of these transactions?  They have got digital footprints; we can see what is happening.  I think there is need for us to improve on that.  On the financial institutions, I think there is also need for the financial institutions to be charged for failure to do proper KYCs.   We are also calling on Ministry of Finance to make the ZiG our primary currency and the US dollar to be an optional currency – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Chiduwa, you are left with five minutes.

HON. CHIDUWA:  Noted Hon. Speaker, I am almost done.  With regards to enforcing compliance, to the Exchange Control Act, I have noted we have been using the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).  Having the advantage of having worked under the Ministry of Finance, I know the FIU has no capacity to go after all these issues that are coming to its offices.  What we need is a multi-stakeholder approach where we are going to involve all the stakeholders.  There is need for inter agents’ involvements from district level.  Are we satisfied that FIU is going to be in a position to follow-up on money laundering activities that are happening in Chiendambuya?  Are we satisfied that FIU is going to follow-up on money laundering activities that are happening in Zaka, where I am come from?  Why can we not make use of inter agents’ involvements, the police and the security arms.  We can have task forces at district level.  These will build up to FIU.  There is also need for the Government to develop system operations to allow the operationalisation of Bureau De Changes.  How do we say we should not have black market activities when there are no alternatives where people can buy these small amounts.  We need Bureau De Changes

So as I conclude Hon. Speaker, let us all support the success of the ZiG.  This is the actual currency which is supported by gold, precious minerals and forex.  The amendment to fix the penalty at 200 000 ZiG is deterrent enough and is fully supported for approval.  I therefore support the approval of Statutory Instrument tabled by the Hon. Deputy Minister of Finance, Investment Promotion and Economic Development. I so submit.

HON. MUTOKONYI: I also rise to debate on the motion tabled by the Deputy Minister.  It is very imperative that the country without its own currency, its stability is always compromised.  So Zimbabwe as a nation, is driving to get its own currency so that we can actually exchange our money outside the country using the ZiG currency.  The proposed structure by the Hon. Deputy Minister, I do support it because if we are to stop this menace, we have to come up with punitive fines and the Hon. Deputy Minister has proposed 200 000 ZiG to those who are going to break the law and it is us here in this Parliament who make the laws for our country. 

For the economic growth of the nation, for the nation to sustain stable economic growth, the currency of its status should always be in good mode and as such, the 10% that was being charged now with the new proposed instrument, let it be removed and whoever is found working against the Government should be penalised.

Mr. Speaker Sir, in this digital era, a lot of payments are done electronically and it means that we need to ensure that in our banks, there is a proper flagging system.  The banks should actually flag these huge payments that are done at once.  I remember sometime, I used to have a Barclays Card and I made a huge payment in the United Kingdom; I gave someone the card.  I actually then got a call from United Kingdom asking whether it was myself who was making that payment.  So we are saying our digital systems in the banking sector should also ensure that these huge payments that are made locally should also be checked and flagged because this is where these money changers are playing.

Mr. Speaker, we have got the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission together with the Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU) and I have heard that Hon. Chiduwa has also proposed that we need to devolve the structures of this, even up to district level because this is where we are seeing these things happening.  So we need to have more people that are made to encounter the acts that are taking place in the country because we do not want our currency to lose value and particularly that these currencies are backed by gold and other metals, we cannot then see a rat going amok. 

So, Mr. Speaker, I support the proposed structure.  In fact, I was thinking that to bring sanity and discipline to the offenders, I think 200 000 ZiG is a bit on the low side, particularly on what we want to achieve. The objective Mr. Speaker is to stabilise the economy and we cannot stabilise the economy without first stabilising the currency.  So I submit, thank you.

HON. MADZIVANYIKA: Thank you for according me the opportunity to air my views on the motion brought by the Deputy Minister of Finance regarding the issue of repealing SI 118.  I think what is important is to understand the background or the fundamental circumstances that led to the imposition of that 10%.  Previously businesses were allowed by SI 118 of 2022 to put a 10% margin in terms of pricing their commodities. 

Let me put things into perspectives, goods costing $10, businesses and supermarkets were allowed to sell those goods at $11 after factoring in a 10% increment.  Why did the Government do so in the first place? It was intended to protect the business against the consequences of volatile exchange rates as well as to protect the businesses against the consequence of run-away inflation.  Now, we have introduced a new currency and then we are saying that currency is backed by gold as well as other precious minerals such as diamonds as well as the US$.

We have actually got to a point where we say the challenge of exchange volatility and inflation has gone – that is what is important, Mr. Speaker Sir.  Why am I saying so? The new currency was promulgated on the 5th April 2024, barely a month ago, are we so certain that in the short to medium term, the exchange rate will remain static to an extent that we will not come back again to say let us replace or re-introduce the 10% like what we have done before?  So the bark stops with the Government itself, the bark stops with the Ministry to ensure that volatility is a thing of the past and to ensure that inflation is a thing of the past. 

The new currency should provide confidence to the citizens.  Let me put things into perspectives, a good example is the fact that our currency is said to be a backed currency.  There are two types of currencies to put things into perspective, there is what we call a fiat currency, such currency is not backed by anything it is actually backed by the trust in the Government policies.  For example, the USD is backed by trust so it works like that without any reserves. 

So when we say a currency is backed, we are saying whenever you feel that there is a problem with the currency, do not look at the currency, look at the underlying asset, which is in this case gold, diamonds as well USD.  Now the question comes, how will the business community trust the Government on this issue because one of the fundamental features of such a backed currency is convertibility?  I am saying whenever I am in doubt that this currency works, I should go and get the underlying asset in place of the currency.  In other words, I should go and get USD in place of ZiG at any local bank in Zimbabwe. So when that is not happening, under the current circumstances, that is only limited to importers.  Those are the ones who can access the backing which is the USD.  Everyone else is not allowed to do so.  So when have that kind of situation, it ceases to inspire confidence, especially to me as a lawmaker to say that the currency is fully backed.  So those issues continue to linger around.

          Secondly Mr. Speaker, are the fundamentals right to repeal this SI.  Why?  The same currency that we introduce is only applicable to certain areas.  There are some certain areas which are being ring-fenced for United States dollars and we cannot use this.  So, all these things remove trust to say things are now okay to repeal this SI.  It is a good idea to repeal the SI but honestly, we need to get to a point whereby we make sure we protect everyone.

          The business community is part of the economic fabric of this nation.  We also need to consider their issues and their plight.  So, have we also consulted them on this very important issue because we are only a month after the promulgation?  Can we wait at least six months then we are sure everyone is convinced that this currency is ready, everyone is convinced that everything is now in the right direction and then we now change the policy.  That is my submission Mr. Speaker.

          HON. TOGAREPI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I think what we are now looking at is an issue of defending our currency.  When there is a gap, when there is room for arbitrage, people exploit that and when they exploit and get used to a situation, it might be very difficult to then deal with it.

          If the reasons why we had that margin of 10% is no longer there, I think the Governor of the Reserve Bank was very forthright.  He said if you want gold, if you want your United States dollar at any stage, it will be available, but I want to pose this question.  We are going back to the basics when we are dealing with a backed currency.  Ninety percent of all the currencies in the world are not backed.  They are backed by perception and trust.  Is that not true, but because of the canibalisation that has happened on our currency, the perception that is created by those who want to exploit the 10%, those who would want to go on the black market, if you look at the monies that trade in that space, it is very little but the problem is the perception they then create and that perception then drives the economy in the direction that you have not planned.

          Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister has done this at the right time.  We cannot allow a disease to grow.  When a person is about to be amputated either a leg or an arm, then we decide to  look for medicine.  It is better to deal with the tell-tale signs now and I support that we deal with it and we take the word of the Governor that there is gold backing our currency, there is not going to be more supply of ZiG in the market beyond what is being backed by our Unites States dollar which we have in our reserves, our gold and other metals.  We are not going to have more.  They are going to balance the two in order to defend our currency.  So, there is no need for anyone to be scared that this 10% will affect those who are in business.

          I think if I tell and listen well people like CZI and many other people in business are really in support.  In fact, if it was possible to move away from United States dollar overnight without distortions, we could move because everyone would want to use our own currency and no economy anywhere in the world has survived on a currency they have no influence over.  We do not have influence on the United States dollar and if we have to deal with the United States dollar either through monetary policy or through fiscal policy and we do not know when it is coming in our economy, where it is being printed, we will not be able to run this economy successfully, but we need to move gradually.  I agree with that but those areas that create loopholes need to be dealt with now.  So, I am very much in support of this motion and we must ensure that it passes.  We will be the first to smile if our currency is not disturbed and price distortions will go as long as that margin is not being taken advantage of.

Those who are playing around with the rates today are using that S.I. and why do we keep it if it has no purpose anymore?  If we have our currency backed now, the issue of inflation would not be an issue, but if we allow the 10% to remain there, we are actually giving fertile ground for people to manipulate that 10% and then we have inflation again.

Mr. Speaker, I think this is the right time, the right dosage of medicine to treat this illness and we will move forward as a country.  I thank you.

HON. DHLIWAYO:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I would want to commend our Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion for introducing this proposal to this House to repeal the S.I. 118 of 2022. 

I understand when it was introduced we did not have any reserves, gold or any other mineral that was backing our currency, but now with the introduction of the ZiG, we have something that the monetary authorities can use to intervene in the market if there are some challenges.  The removal of this 10% will ensure that people will not take advantage of the premiums that were created by this 10% where some individuals will buy the United States dollar at 10% less and sell it at 10% higher so that they gain the 10% at their profit margins.  Removing that will make sure that our markets do away with such underground challenges.

Of paramount importance again in our financial market or goods market or any type of market, is certainty and that certainty brings market confidence.  If we remove these variations in exchange rates that will ensure that we have a certain exchange rate that we are dealing with and of course, that will not cause issues when it comes to evaluation or accounting systems.  So, having a sure rate that we know, that is consistent, will bring in no confusion to accounting systems, to our markets or other types of markets is a good thing. 

I would like to commend the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion and I would also like to appreciate; I heard another Hon. Member from that other side saying that removal is good.   That is one thing he said.  Yes, he had his issues but he said the removal of this S.I. is good.  So, I would like to commend our Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion for this timely intervention, especially given that the monetary policy on its own is not sufficient to introduce market confidence.  There is need for that fiscal support.  There is need for that support from the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion to ensure there is market confidence.

I would like to commend our Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion for this timeous introduction.  It is only a few weeks ago when the ZiG was introduced and within those few weeks, they have come up with several measures that are meant to ensure market confidence and stability in our ZiG.  Then maybe of particular interest, I would also request our Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion to continue engaging different stakeholders, especially the heads of associations for different groups in our economy.  We understand that the underground economy, though it is not formally regulated ,but it is regulated through associations.  So, I think continued engagement with these associations will ensure that they have sufficient information to defend our ZiG. I would request our Minister of Finance to make sure that there is a proper channel that they can use to meet with our informal traders; to meet with our cross borders; to meet with different stakeholders within the economy as they try to increase the demand for the use of our local currency.

Another thing that I would also request the Minister of Finance to pay particular attention to in ensuring that our ZIG is strengthened, there is this approach that was done by Russia, when it had challenges with its own currency.  What they did was to identify a strategic commodity within their economy.  They found out that their strategic commodity without any close substitutes was oil.  What they did was to demand that their oil be sold in the Russian currency only.  That meant that those who wanted the oil, had to buy the Russian currency first before they bought the oil.  By doing that, they were dishing in the foreign currency into the Russian economy.  That increased the demand for the Russian currency to such an extent that the exchange rate for the Russian currency versus other foreign currency actually improved.  It appreciated within a short space of time.

So I am of the opinion that Zimbabwe or the Ministry of Finance, should try to identify a strategic commodity that we have.  Is it lithium; is it diamond, is it gold and may be try to copy from what the Russians did?  I think that may also assist in ensuring that our ZIG appreciates in value against other currencies.  All in all, I would want to say to our Minister of Finance, thank you for introducing this.  I think it will help in ensuring that there are no speculative tendencies within markets and our ZIG appreciates value against other currencies with such timeous interventions in our markets.  Thank you.   

*HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to add a few words to the motion that was raised in this House.  Firstly, if we say the ZiG can be strengthened if we remove 10% before people have never accessed that ZiG, I do not see it working.  If we were to ask each other, from the Government Chief Whip to the Minister of Finance in this House, if there is anyone who has ZiG in their pockets, we would find very few with ZiG in their possession.  Let us wait and see that people have the ZiG and manage to build confidence in the currency, we can now talk of removing 10%.  I am also of the view that the process of the 10% is Government should have other services be paid in local currency and other currencies like USD can be by choice.  For example, number plates for vehicles are being paid in USD.  All those things like passports and other services offered by Government, should be paid in local currency so that people have confidence in our ZiG.  If we are going to remove 10%, it is not going to strengthen the currency. 

The other thing is, there is a country which is near us which also faced the same economic crisis, although right now they have other problems with their currency, but managed to go for around 15 years, whilst their currency was strong.  We used to condemn them saying they go to buy bread with money in wheelbarrows.  As a country, let us go for bench marking visits, we should visit such countries which had similar problems when their money lost value, but right now their money has got value, to learn how they managed that.  I do not think it is too expensive for Parliament of Zimbabwe to send Members of the Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance to learn how the Zambian Government’s money managed to gain power.  Let us learn from other countries.  In Shona, they say kugara nhaka huona dzevamwe. So we say all the ways, let us look at other countries who have faced similar problems so that we can follow suit in how they managed to overcome that. 

In conclusion, there is an issue that a company can peg their prices at 10% higher. I think that 90% of that 10% comes from the political landscape and Government.  If we look at the issue of money, let us look as a country, where we are on the issue of political landscape.  Has our country managed to reach a level where people have confidence with the Government which is there?  If we have achieved that as a country, if all those are in place; if we look at the statements which were being given by the Minister of Finance, some of the Hon. Members did not read.  I read all those statements from 2018.  They do have a section where they wrote about the issue of re-engagement and stability.  So on the stability which I am mentioning, let us also have the hope and aspirations that if we have the rule of democracy and everyone has got power, if our money is going to have more value…

HON. TOGAREPI:  On a point of order, we were debating and I got a lot of debate coming from the other side of the House which was very focused on the issue that the Minister brought to this House.  If then somebody starts dramatising and trying to be a political guru when we have enough to discredit his political taps, we will not enjoy that.  Let us concentrate – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Let us concentrate on the motion and the motion never talked about politics and yet the Hon. Member wants to bring politics; you are too young for politics.

*HON. HAMAUSWA:  Hon. Speaker, I am sorry…

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I have not recognised you yet Hon. Member. I had not even seen that you have risen.  May you now take the floor?

*HON. HAMAUSWA: I would like to applaud what the Government Chief Whip is saying.  My issue is not drama, but I was speaking from my heart.  I was talking about the issue of confidence.  These are issues we see from the policies being brought by the Minister of Finance.  Government must look at all spheres so that we can come up with a viable solution.

The Government Chief Whip also mentioned that he has heard good and vibrant debates from the opposition side – he has had meaningful contributions from the same.  Let us work together as Zimbabweans so that we can build the confidence of the currency and we can have a proper approach and the confidence of people must be included. 

HON. TOGAREPI:  We cannot allow impunity in this House.

*HON. S. SITHOLE:  On a point of order, the Minister brought this Instrument in this Parliament so that we defend our currency.  I think we need to teach this Hon. Member how things go in this House.  Since 1980, we had 100 strategies in elections and we only used two during the time of the late President Mugabe.  We were left with 98.  Now on this issue of the currency, we are head and block now.  It is because this is the last solution to us as the ruling party. That is why we are backing it with gold.  We are here to defend it…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: There is no point of order Hon. Member. Please sit down.

An Hon. Member having stood up to raise a point of order.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKERHon. Member, you cannot raise a point of order when there is someone already standing on a point of order.

Hon. Hamauswa having stood up to contribute

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  I have not recognised you Hon. Member.

HON. S. SITHOLE:  I was trying to say we are here to defend our currency – [AN HON. MEMBER: The Speaker has made a ruling.] -

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Member…

HON. S. SITHOLE:  The Minister of Finance …

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  You can take your seat Hon. Member – [HON. MEMBERS: Sit down.] –

HON. S. SITHOLE:  Hon Speaker, I take instructions from you alone.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Yes, please take your seat – [AN HON. MEMBER: Gara pasi Sithole.] -  Hon. Members, please do not shout. Thank you Hon. Member, you can take your seat.

HON. S. SITHOLE: Yes Hon. Speaker – not them to tell me because they are against this issue.  We are here to defend our currency.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Member.  Hon. Hamauswa, you had finished debating?  You were responding to what the Chief Whip had said.  There is no further debate.

*HON. MAPIKI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. It is very common for people to be easily misled. When someone is sent to Tarshish, they end up going to Nineveh, but it is pertinent to find people who can correct them. I also want to thank the Minister of Finance for bringing in this motion

HON. MUTSEYAMI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  What is your point of order?

HON. MUTSEYAMI: May the august House take into consideration our traveling arrangement considering the nature of the roads?

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon Mapiki, may you kindly conclude your debate.

*HON MAPIKI: I want to thank the Minister of Finance and Economic Development for bringing a pertinent issue into this august House.  There is need for political will.  Everyone in Zimbabwe has a role to play to make sure that we believe in our currency. There is an Hon. Member who talked about the issue of money from Zambia. I wish I had managed to debate before the previous speaker.  People from Zambia, when it comes to policies for the development of their country, they speak with one voice and they do not listen to the opposing voice. I am encouraging all political parties in this country to work together when it comes to something which benefits the country.

We must desist from taking the approach of looking at political parties.  Let us unite as Zimbabweans and come up with viable policies. The other issues are on laws.  Those who are tasked to make sure that people build confidence when it comes our currency must work together to make sure to achieve that. Today, I saw money changers in Harare’s First Street. These money changers were arrested and taken away by police officers.  They were later released and charged for obstruction of justice and loitering. This is an indication that there is no proper execution of duties on the side of the law enforcement agencies. Hence, I implore them to execute their duties properly.

The other issue which needs to be looked into is the issue of fines which are being paid by the perpetrators.  Some of the big companies who are running big businesses are the biggest money changers. These big companies are fined the same amount as the small money changers. For example, if a big company is found changing money worth one million, the fine is just an amount of USD100. For this business, it is a small drop in the ocean hence they will continue to change money since they sometimes manage to get one million dollars yet the fine will be only USD100. Right now, if you look at the rate which is being charged in supermarkets like Ok and TM, some of these shops are charging their goods at a rate of 20 and 25. When it comes to the law, the law which is being applied to small companies is the same law which is being applied to the small money changers. I suggest that if some supermarket is found overcharging goods worth USD50 000 their fine must be 50% of that amount. If you pick a one-dollar coin and you recoin it into two dollars, if the fine is higher than the benefit, people will desist from committing the same crimes. 

At the border posts, we must have bureau de changes where people are going to change their monies and not being welcomed by money changers. When we went to Zambia, if you produced your US$20 for you to get a Kwacha, you would not get it at a certain rate at bureau de changes and the shops would not accept United States Dollars. They needed the Kwacha. Hence, there is need for us to make sure that we follow suit. When money changers were being arrested, they said that the rate is now at 20.00, who is pegging that rate? I saw another money changer being arrested. That person was changing money in his car and when the police officers tried to arrest him, he said he was paying a credit from someone.

          The issue of money laundering must be looked into on how best we can tighten the laws. We have a lot of work to do and as a country. These money changers have got many ways to run away from their crimes. Right now, the banks are giving out ZiG and that money is being distributed in the streets to buy forex. If the banks are going to be punished for channeling money to the black market, let it be done. We can trace the money which is on the streets using the serial numbers. One Hon. Member said let us not follow book economics and everything, but let us use unorthodox means like the military approach.

We have many minerals in the country and let us not take a long time before we decide on how we are going to export them. Right now, it has been six months with lithium being mined by very few people. We have a lot of minerals which have been suspended from mining, but these minerals need to be exported outside the country. Countries like Russia are prospering despite being put under sanctions. They have a lot of gold bars under their reserves. If they get the opportunity to export or send their gold to other countries, they are ready. Let us not spend a lot of time without deciding what we must do with our minerals. There must be a law that makes us prosper in terms of mining and exporting our minerals. There is nothing that is stopping us from having confidence in our currency. I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. D. K. MNANGAGWA): I will take into cognisance one of the contributions from the Hon. Members that we need to be expedient, given the roles that we have and the time that we have. I will try to summarise the responses from some of the Hon. Members that came around some of the same issues.

Allow me to highlight some of the issues that came a few times that is of importance and that is the issue of confidence. Indeed, our currency the ZiG needs to have the confidence of our people. How does Government and the RBZ gain the confidence of our people? That will be done by doing two things.  Number one doing the right thing and number two doing the right thing long enough and consistently. This is something that Government has committed itself to. What is this right thing that we are going to do to make sure that the currency ZiG is a success and this was highlighted in the Monetary Policy Statement?

Because we now have this structure to our currency that is backed by gold reserves and other minerals and a liquidation policy where all our export of minerals, a certain percentage is then converted into gold, the Governor and the Reserve Bank will not print any money that is beyond what is in the reserves. That will ensure that money supply will remain what is within the realm of what the Governor is able to take back from the market. This point is very important because I am going to break down the black-market activities into four.

Before we go into S.I. 18, I think there was a misunderstanding on why S.I. 18 was in place and why it is being repealed now. In breaking down into four, I am going to answer some of the questions that came from the Hon Members.

We have analysed the black market into four parts. The first part are your importers. These are your suppliers of goods and services that import goods traditionally because there was no foreign currency available, they would go to the streets and dealers. This is where the willing buyer and willing market was. Because we had an auction which probably was not accessible to everybody, the remnants then went to the black market. What has the Governor done to address this first cluster of people? He has said anyone with a genuine import invoice should go to their bank and they will get their foreign currency. If you want to import whatever it is you are selling in your grocery store or an invoice for school fees, for example – all you need is go to your bank and you will get the foreign currency for that. The Governor has enough foreign currency to buy all the ZiG that is in the market three times over. This is the structure of the currency.

If the banks decide that they want to hold on to their foreign currency, if the willing sellers decide they want to hold on to their currency, the Governor will come in and satisfy those invoices which means that there is no reason for this first group to go on to the black market. I will then explain how they fit into the third and fourth group, but I will explain the second group which is the one that touches all our constituents. These are youth, women, people in the rural areas who might not necessarily want to export, but need foreign currency for something, maybe go to the hairdresser to have a haircut. There are some barbershops that are not accepting ZiG for now. This group is not necessarily malicious, but still has a need for foreign currency. Many service stations right now are not taking ZiG, henceforth there is a need for that day to day transacting. In the Monetary Policy Statement. Even as we go forward with some of the policies that we are introducing, you would find that the gap had been left behind.  Where that gap is left behind is where we then involve the private sector. 

What Government has been doing is that we have reached out to our mobile network operators.  I will point out Econet in particular because of the history that they have dating back to a few years where the licences for agencies got suspended.   We called Econet for national duty and asked them to come forward and come up with a solution knowing that we have the Monetary Policy Statement that needs to be financially inclusive.  We requested two things from them.  Econet, Netone and Telecel that firstly, we have people who want to transact in small amounts.  Sometimes you just want to see your USD20 or USD50 in your pocket, can we not have a Netcash platform, a Bureau-De-Change that can allow exchange from ZiG to USD and from USD to ZiG?  That is currently under discussion and you should see that happening in the next few weeks.  This is important because it will remove the need for those who want to use small amounts of USD for their day to day use. 

They do not need to be going onto the streets and getting caught up in the melee of the FIU operations where money changers are being chased by the Police.  The second aspect to that is, after conversation at the Bureau-De-Change or mobile platform which everybody can access, someone might still want to have physical cash hence the second task was that we get the agents reinstated.  These are the Ecocash agents where you would go and cash out and cash in.  This is also under discussion and will be coming in the next few weeks.  This means that our rural constituents will be able to access ZiG and USD at these agents.  So, these issues are being addressed through a combination of Government and private sector efforts.  The nitty-gritties and administrative issues are still being ironed out but the framework is in place.  This means that in terms of financial inclusion in this second bracket of our people who are looking for foreign currency, no one and no place will be left behind. 

  Now, Hon. Speaker, it leaves two more groups, which I will describe as numbers 3 and 4 who have traditionally gone to the black market.  These people will probably always still exist.  There are people who have local currencies they have earned in a way that might not be legal or that might not be hard work.  The intention of this group of people is always to convert their proceeds into hard currency so that they can hide it away.  This is what we call money laundering and usually these money launderers would want to convert their money into an untraceable format and there is a lot that is going on.  So, you will find that money launderers will always be insensitive to the rate, henceforth they will propel and subsist a black market. 

The number 4 group is those who try to evade tax.  In their computations, they realise that if they are operating in USD, they can evade ZIMRA and will still make more money than the premium that is on the black market.  These are areas that FIU is now actively looking at.

  To answer Hon. Chiduwa, when we talk about the Exchange Control Act and the Schedule, as much as we would want to criminalise this offence, the schedule only speaks to civil penalties but money laundering is indeed a criminal offence.  Hon. Mapiki mentioned that some criminals are being let go because they come up with brilliant excuses.  We will be going out to these people for money laundering because if groups 1 and 2 are satisfied, then it is either you are evading tax or you are laundering money, hence there will be no need for a black market unless it is for the purpose of money laundering and evading tax.

Hon. Chiduwa mentioned the need for the FIU to be restructured and decentralised.  I think this is something I have taken note of as well as the issue of bureau-de-change is an effort that we, through the mobile platforms, are engaging that we have mobile bureau-de-changes – electronic as well as the physical ones that used to be operational to be reinstated to ensure that there is availability.  The infrastructure might not be as widespread as some of the mobile network operators but these are being re-instated. 

  We welcome that the 200 000 ZiG is perceived to be a bit on the lower side but I think the rationale was that 200 000 ZiG, which is an equivalent of about USD15 000 should be punitive enough to deter both small and large businesses from this practice. 

Hon. Madzivanyika gave a background on S.I. 118 and it is unfortunate that she is not in the room but might not have understood why this S.I. 118 came into being in the first place.  Prior to this Monetary Policy Statement and structured currency, we had the exchange rate being determined by the auction.  What that would do was, Government would support the auction with foreign currency and bidders would come and rates would come from that.  On the parallel market, it would seem that there was a very big discrepancy between the foreign auction and parallel market rate.  This law was put into place cognisant that the parallel market has a somewhat higher rate and gave supermarkets and traders officially the leeway to deviate from that exchange rate up to a 10% cap.  That would then allow them to somewhat compete with the parallel market because at the time the parallel market would oscillate between the 0 to 10%.  It was only more recently when it started going beyond 15 to 20%.  This was the import of S.I. 118. 

What then happened is that when the Monetary Policy Statement came into place on 5th April 2024, with S.I. 118, these supermarkets could still legally and unjustifiably charge 10% above the prevailing rate.  The rate that is there is not determined by the RBZ.  The exchange rate that we see today is being determined by the interbank exchange.  The interbank exchange is a willing buyer/willing seller where businesses or sellers and buyers of foreign currency trade their foreign currency.  The RBZ will not interfere in determining the exchange rates.  All the RBZ does is, take the averages and publish that rate. 

Now, because our currency is backed and structured, the RBZ will always know the intrinsic value of the currency, henceforth if the interbank exchange rates start to run from what we believe the exchange rate to be, the Governor has reserves to inject into the banking system to defend the currency.  This is the import and context of the structured currency.  It is not to interfere with the market forces or the exchange rate but to have a gauge of what we perceive the value of the currency to be and to intervene in the event that the market might not be in congruency with what we believe the rate to be.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I think having exhausted debate on this S.I. 118 and there being no further comments or questions, I move that the Exchange Control Amendment of Schedule to Exchange Control Act Notice 2024 be approved by the National Assembly.  I so submit.

Motion put and agreed to.

Motion put and agreed to.

On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON. HAMAUSWA, the House adjourned at Ten Minutes to Six o’clock p. m.

 

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