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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 8 NOVEMBER 2023 VOL 50 NO 11

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 8th November, 2023

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

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Members for your patience. We had an outage and there was some delay on activities. Let me start with the apologies that I have received.

          Hon. Vice President, Gen. Rtd. Dr. Constantino, G.D.N. Chiwenga;

          Hon. J. G. Moyo, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social

Welfare;

Hon. K. D. Mnangagwa, Deputy Minister of Finance and

Investment Promotion;

Hon. R. Bila, Minister of Industry and Commerce;

Hon. W. Chitando, Minister of Local Government and Public Works;

Hon. O. C. Z Muchinguri, Minister of Defence;

Hon. Amb. Dr. F. N. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade;

Hon. Z. Soda, Minister of Mines and Mining Development;

Hon. P. Kambamura, Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development;

Hon. Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development;

Hon. M. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises;

Hon. L. Mhlanga, Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community and SMEs; and

Hon. Prof. A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.

Some of these Ministers are out of the country and others are on national engagements.

PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM THE NURSE AIDE ASSOCIATION OF ZIMBABWE TRUST, THERESA NYAVA, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SANITARY AID ZIMBABWE TRUST AND HARARE RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION

THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that on Friday, 28th October, 2023, Parliament received the following petitions;

  1. Petition from the Nurse Aide Association of Zimbabwe Trust beseeching Parliament to enact the Nurse Assistance Council’s Act regulating all missions of nurse aides in Zimbabwe. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care.
  2. b) Petition from Theresa Nyava, the Executive Director of Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust beseeching Parliament to enact legislation of menstrual health and Hygiene Management that provides free sanitary products and services to individuals in need. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committees on Primary and Secondary Education, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation and Technology Development and Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development.
  3. c) The petition from Sexual Morality Internship for Life Empowerment (SMILE) Foundation beseeching Parliament to amend the Matrimonial Causes Act and to repeal Section 41 of the Marriages Act amongst other things. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. 
  4. d) Petition from Children of War Veterans and Heroes Dependence Forum and the (CWVHD) and REDREV Youth Empowerment Fund beseeching Parliament to amend Sections 23 and 84 of the Constitution to accommodate budgetary support for the dependence of the gallant sons and daughters of the soil who perished during the war of liberation. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee of Defence, Home Affairs and War Veterans Affairs and finally;
  5. e) The petition from the Harare Residents Association beseeching Parliament to align the Urban Councils’ Act, Rural District Councils’ Act and the Electoral Act with the Constitution on Gender Equality in terms of political representation. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing as well as the Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. 

          HON. CHIBAYA: On a point of privilege Hon. Speaker. Hon. Speaker good afternoon

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Did you say point of privilege?

HON. CHIBAYA:  Yes Hon. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  You have forgotten veteran politician.  We do these on Thursdays and Tuesdays.

HON. CHIBAYA:  It is a new Parliament.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  It is a new Parliament with old Standing Orders.  So, you can have it tomorrow.  Thank you.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

HON. MHURI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.  What is the Government policy with regards to the establishment of Zimbabwe Republic Police posts in areas which are in villages far away from major growth points or rural service centres?  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Do we have the designated Leader of Government Business?  Hon. Mhona, please proceed and respond.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for raising that very important question.  Indeed, it is also of paramount importance for the august House to know that we also have a listening Zimbabwe Republic Police.  In the event that you require the services of any global police station, they are amenable and you have seen that in a number of stations, if you so require, that can be facilitated.  So, if you have got such areas where you need extra security, the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage is also willing to entertain such requests.  Thank you Hon. Speaker.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I should have announced that Hon. Mhona is the Acting Minister responsible for Government Business as Leader.

HON. SHUMBA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.  What is Government policy on re-gravelling rural roads?  There is the Rural Rehabilitation Programme.  They are resurfacing roads, but they are not putting the gravel.  During the rainy season, these roads are not accessible yet they lead us to critical public institutions like hospitals and clinics.  So my question is, what is Government policy on regravelling these roads?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I do concur with the Hon. Member.  We have taken some time to rehabilitate our roads and we find that in the rural constituency where some of us come from, year in and year out, we grade our roads, but some of the roads are now weaker and they require re-gravelling first.  So I do agree with Hon. Shumba that yes, we can regrade and at the end of the day, you find that upon rains, the road will be in a sorry state again. 

Going forward, Hon. Speaker Sir, as a Ministry, we are busy through research and development, we are pursuing other contemporary measures to rehabilitate our roads where we can talk of nano particle technology where we can mix some of the said and some very important articles so that we have roads that are durable.  You can see that it can take three, four or five years without attending to the same road.

So precisely, this is the way forward for the Ministry, but as the Hon. Member has alluded to, you have got four road authorities and you find that the road authorities are mainly found in rural constituencies – you talk of RIDA which was DDF before, and we also have rural district councils.  We have also said and I can say to the august House, now we are thinking of going an extra mile as the Ministry where instead of waiting for the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, we are saying let us reason together, do your compilation of the roads that you require to be graded and the amount of fuel that you require so that we start funding for fuel through your rural district council and  through RIDA, so that you will also be in a position to rehabilitate your roads before the advent of the rains.  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.

*HON. HWENDE:  Murikuita zvekucheserana maquestion –[Laughter.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Is that Hon. Hwende?

HON. HWENDE:  It is like a prepared question.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Well, you must watch the House of Commons.  They do have written questions.  Where they get them from, is none of our business – [HON. MEMBERS:  It is questions without notice.] – Yes, it still remains questions without notice.

Just a small reminder.  If any Member comes after prayers please do not cross in front of the Speaker, you go behind.  I have been very indulgent today.

*HON. KARUMAZONDO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My question goes to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement.  Minister, what are Government plans with regards to the delivery of inputs to cotton farmers, does the Minister know that date when these inputs will be delivered?

*THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  On the question on whether I know the date that these inputs are going to be delivered, yes, I know when.  Let me go on to explain that today we held consultations with about eight stakeholders of the cotton industry and we discussed how we were going to help cotton farmers this year.  It was agreed that these companies would provide all the necessary inputs to the cotton farmers in each district through what is called Common Inputs Delivery Point and they are starting today giving Agricultural Marketing Authority…

Hon. Mahere having passed between the Chair and the Hon. Member speaking.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Mahere, I have just announced that when you are late…

Hon. Mahere continues walking.  

THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you stop walking when I am talking! I have just announced that when you are late, come through the other side, not in front of the Chair. Alright! I do not want to repeat the steps, so I indulge you for today. Thank you.

HON. MAHERE: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you and please take your seat.

HON. DR. MASUKA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, each entity or organisation will be responsible for certain farmers. They will take their list of farmers to AMA and AMA will work together with the councillor who will be the Chairperson, assisted by any appointee, by the Chief, followed by the village head, will agree on the quantities to be given to farmers. They have started doing that today. I believe that as we move forward, we hope that this year the system will be efficient. This year, we are expecting 270 000 hectares of cotton to be grown. I thank you.

HON. NGWENYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary question is, the Minister just indicated that they talked to some companies for the delivery of the said inputs. I just want to know the quantities involved. I want to know the quantities that will go towards the scheme to each family. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much Hon. Ngwenya. When you talk of quantities, your question must be quantified in written form because you cannot expect the Hon. Minister to start giving you the quantities now off his head. It is not possible. If you want to know the quantities, next week have a written question and you will be given the quantities. What we are stressing is more of policy than functionality.

HON. MAMOMBE: Supplementary question Mr. Speaker.

*THE HON. SPEAKER: I was thinking that the Minister was on point. Please proceed.

HON. MAMOMBE: Thank you very much Hon. Minister for your response. My supplementary question Mr. Speaker Sir is, what is Government doing in terms of ensuring that when distributing the inputs there is no partisanship? Thank you Mr. Speaker.

HON. DR. MASUKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I thank the Hon. Member for the question. I do not know where partisan distribution would come in when I say this is a contracted programme with eight contractors, COTTCO being one of them. We have said this goes to common inputs distribution points in the open, where the councillor for the area is the chairman. The chief’s appointee is the Vice Chairman, all the headmen and all the village heads are members. The Agritex is the secretary, the headmaster of the nearest school is the Vice Chair and everyone is involved for distribution. This is the lowest structure of elected Government distributing at ward level, the concillor. If the Hon. Member has suggestions on how we can improve this and avoid non-partisanship, I would really appreciate this in writing, indicating how this would be improved. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER: I was going to say, the supplementary question was a bit presumptuous because the programme has just started and if the Hon. Members from my right or left have any incidences of partisan distribution, please raise the alarm with the Minister and corrective action will be taken accordingly. Otherwise the inputs are for all Zimbabweans.

HON. MATAMBO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir and good afternoon. My question… 

THE HON. SPEAKER: Good afternoon.

HON. MATAMBO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Leader of the House, Hon. Felix Mhona. What is the Government policy regarding the involvement of civil servants in politics, especially those in the military? Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me also thank Hon. Matambo for that very important question which also gives us the platform to clarify. Mr. Speaker Sir, our Constitution is very clear, not only the Constitution but the Hon. Member has raised the question pertaining the appointment of public servants into politics. We are saying it is very clear, even from party positions. If you want to join politics, it is clearly stated that there is nowhere you can mix the two. You have to resign and be into politics. Precisely, you find that civil servants, if they join politics, even some of the MPs who were in Government, they resigned from their respective posts to pursue politics. It is very clear that when you are in politics, you will not still be serving under the Public Service. Precisely, this is the position Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. MATAMBO: Supplementary question Mr. Speaker Sir. We have seen the recent announcement by the President E. D. that Army General, V. P. Valerio Sibanda is an Ex-Officio member of ZANU PF. Is that not in violation of the Constitution like you have mentioned that when one gets into politics, he has to resign from the Civil Service? Thank you.

HON. TOGAREPI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. A Member is allowed to raise a point of order. It is within the Standing Orders. Do not disabuse that.

HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Mr. Speaker for protecting me. The supplementary question is becoming too specific for a specific individual. I do not think that is fair. What we should be dealing with is the policy issue. The policy issue was explained by the Minister but if they have a specific issue, they do write a question to the Minister and the Minister will deal with that specific question.

THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister, did you want to say something?

HON. MHONA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want also to thank Hon. Togarepi for that follow up statement. Let me hasten to say to my colleague MP, my brother Hon. Matambo that if you go to the Constitution, you will be answered in terms of those who fall under the Public Service that I have alluded to and also those who are in the Police and the Army, their description. I am happy that there are a number of learned colleagues from your side. You can be guided accordingly to say, are the soldiers under the Public service? You can get that from the Constitution. However, to buttress what has been said by the Chief Whip, since it is now a specific question, we would be very happy to have it written and you will be answered accordingly. Thank you.

  *HON. CHIBAYA:  Thank you very much Hon. Speaker. My question is directed to the Acting Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mhona.  Currently, people are having problems with electricity.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Chibaya, normally you address the question through the Chair.

*HON. CHIBAYA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  My question is directed to Hon. Mhona, our Leader of the House for the day.  In this country, we are having problems with electricity which is now impacting negatively on industry work performance.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, if you will indulge me.  Hon. Mahere, we do not allow photo shooting in the House.

HON. MAHERE:  Pardon me Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I am sorry to interrupt you.

HON. CHIBAYA:  Thank you very much Hon. Speaker.  In this country, we are having problems with electricity which is impacting negatively on production in industries and our household usage.  Can you please tell this august House the plans that you have in place to address this problem so that it does not continue to recur?

HON. MHONA:  Hon. E Moyo, the Minister of Energy is here. 

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Chibaya and myself are sharing some temporary blindness.  Hon. Minister.

THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. E. MOYO): Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to thank Hon. Chibaya for the question.  Yes indeed, we are going through depressed generation in all our power stations in the country at the moment.  The reasons being: firstly, hydrological issues at Kariba Dam where our water levels have since gone so low that we now have depressed generation at Kariba.  Our normal storing capacity in Kariba is 1050 megawatts but we are currently running between 250 and 300 megawatts and that is already a depressed capacity of generation.  Secondly, coming to Hwange, which is our other major generation point, we recently commissioned Units 7 and 8 and those units have given us a combined output of 600 megawatts but two weeks back, Unit 7 tripped and that was two weeks before it was due for Class C maintenance.  So, in an effort to reduce the time-out, we had to combine the inspection and repair works of the actual displacement Unit together with the Class C maintenance which is going to run up to the end of this month. 

In place of that, between Units 1 and 6 which are also at Hwange, we are expecting to bring on board Unit 4 which was also out due to some faults that had developed and it will come on board on the 21st of November.  That will add a bit on the generation of power.  We are also working on bringing in more inputs into the country although they are a drain in our foreign currency situation, we are currently negotiating with our neighbouring countries and we have been able to raise our imports between South Africa and Mozambique.  So, these are the measures that are being taken to bring our situation to normalcy.

 However, in the medium to long term, the idea is to increase our solar outlay because our solar is the easiest of the fruits that we have.  We are looking at different independent power producers who have presented their projects and some of them are currently on-going.  We think that by the beginning of the first quarter of 2024, we should be able to reap quite significantly from our solar projects.  There is also a programme to repower Units 1 to 6 in Hwange so that we improve generation because they have outlived their life-span. So the idea is to do some repowering so that we can increase the efficiency of production of power within those units and those efforts are under way.  I thank you.

HON. ENG. MHANGWA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I see the proposals that the Hon Minister gave do not bare any timelines and water seemingly is vulnerable to seasonal variations.  So, it means every year this time we will have the same problem.  In as much as you proffer solar as a solution, it comes with system instability unless you are putting batteries.  So, what is the plan that will make us secure within the medium and long term?

HON. E. MOYO: Thank you very much Hon Speaker Sir.  I also want to thank my Chairman of the Committee on Energy.  These things have timelines.  In fact, we have developed a roadmap which has been adopted by Cabinet on how we are going to solve the energy issue through to 2025.  That roadmap has timelines but unfortunately, I did not bring the roadmap.  Had it been a written question, I would have done so to enable us to share the information because it has already been adopted.  All these things we are talking about have timelines.

Then on the issue of solar, yes, batteries are very important as a storage facility for solar to avoid the inconsistencies that come with the absence of sun during the night.  Technologies have been developed and just last week, there was an international solar alliance assembly where these technologies were on display.  We made an arrangement with ISA for them to come to Zimbabwe in January to assist the country in terms of acquiring the storage facilities in the form of batteries and also to do feasibility studies, teach and power reports on the floating solars on Kariba.  Whilst we have the hydrological issues in Kariba, we can still reap benefits from the dead water in Kariba through installing floating solar systems up there.  The major question was timelines and those are available in our detailed roadmap.  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you very much Hon. Minister.

HON. ENG. MHANGWA:  Follow up question Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Engineer, you should be engineered by the Standing Orders.  You are not allowed to ask two supplementary questions unfortunately.  However, since the Hon. Minister has acknowledged that you are the Chair, I am sure you can have further conversation beyond this session.

HON. MARKHAM:  Good afternoon Hon. Speaker.  My question to the Minister is pertaining to Kariba.  Last year I followed the Zimbabwe River Authority website which is very accurate.  Last year this time we had less water in Kariba yet Kariba was generating twice the amount of power that they are today.  Can the Minister give us an explanation for that?

HON. E. MOYO:  I think he is speaking about what happened last year if I heard him correctly.  Last year we overused our allocation of water in Kariba.  What happens is that the Zambezi River Authority has the responsibility of allocating water to both Zimbabwe and Zambia on a 50/50 basis.  So, the expected water inflows in Kariba last year were about 30 billion litres. So, during the process of generation and when we had some issues in terms of our generation centers in Hwange, there was an increased generation to reduce the power supply deficit in the country and therefore, there was a level of over-use.  But when I went through the records and following further discussions that we had last month in Kariba with our Zambian counterparts, it was clear that the matter was not as bad as it was reported. In fact, both countries at some occasion have overused the water, but when we overuse the water, there are penalties that fall. Therefore, the offending country has to pay a penalty and those penalties were paid.

For this year, we have been very careful not to overuse the water so that we are able to run our generators in Kariba up to the next inflows. Only 23% of the inflows into Kariba comes to the Zimbabwe and maybe 80% inflows come from the northern catchment area. The northern catchment area begins to experience those inflows between April and June. So, that is what we are trying to do to reduce so that we can ramp up our production of electricity at Kariba starting from April onwards. That is why I said at the moment we are at 250 – 300 megawatts production levels.

HON. DUBE: Hon. Speaker, I hear the Minister quite well and he is trying to inform this House the challenges that are being faced in the electricity generation, but I just need to understand, maybe we are getting things wrong. Only recently, the President of the Republic was addressing the nation that electricity is here, those that want to boil their water in the morning, afternoon and evening can do so. The electricity is here, where are we getting things wrong? Is the President okay or is something wrong? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Do not overstretch the English language. You must withdraw the aspect ‘okay’ because it means quite a lot in English.

HON. DUBE: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker. I might have crossed the red line. I withdraw, but we just need to – [HON. MEMBERS: Withdraw!] –

HON. E. MOYO: Let me give a bit of statistics. Assumptions are made on the basis of given statistics. Our installed production capacity in the country is above 3 000 megawatts and our expected peak demand is about 1 850 megawatts. When we look at the two statistics, it indicates that…

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Zhou and colleague there. We are addressing a very important national issue here. You need to report back accurately and I want you to pay attention towards what the Hon. Minister is saying.

HON. E. MOYO: Assumptions and conclusions are dependent on given statistics and the statistics that I am going to give here are the statistics of the Zimbabwean situation in terms of power generation.

Our installed capacity in all our generation areas amounts to 3 050 megawatts and our peak demand is normally around 1 850 megawatts. Given the installed capacity versus expected demand, we are okay, but however, generation of power is not a constant phenomenon. It goes up and down depending on a number of variances, one of which is in our case, old equipment which frequently breaks down some of which has to do with foreign currency issues where sometimes it is difficult to get spares in good time and we experience long times of outages.

We are currently at around 1 300 megawatts, giving us about 500 megawatts power supply deficit in the country, which has been occasioned by the outage of Unit 7 which I alluded to earlier and is undergoing maintenance. The remaining 200 megawatts is normally accounted for through power imports. So, what was said was correct given the statistics in terms of power generation in the country. I thank you.

HON. MAHERE:  I would like to ask a supplementary question to the Hon. Minister. When can we expect load shedding to end? Currently, both homes and industry are experiencing up to 23 hours of load shedding. He gave us the Ministry’s statistics, but the statistics we want is when the load shedding is going to end.

HON. E. MOYO: We are going to begin to experience reduced load shedding at the end of November when Unit 7 comes on board. However, on complete load shedding, at the moment I cannot give a timeline because we are working on repowering Units 1 to 6 and each time we are repowering these units, we are going to be taking one unit out at a time. Once it is repaired, we take another unit. It is going to take a little bit of time, but however, we are banking mainly on independent power producers that I have said are currently projects which are ongoing are up to about 600 megawatts. I cannot give that timetable, but we are working towards that. In terms of power import, we expect to eliminate that by 2025. That is how I can respond – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -

HON. MUGOMO: Afternoon Mr. Speaker and afternoon colleagues. My question is directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

THE HON. SPEAKER: You only greet the Chair – [HON.  MEMBERS: She is in yellow.] – [HON. MEMBERS: It is a national dress.] –

          HON. HADEBE: On a point of order Hon. Speaker.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

           HON.  HADEBE: She is putting on a yellow dress and that is a regalia Hon. Speaker Sir.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, the yellow I see does not have the accompanying nomenclature. I thank you.

          HON. KARENYI: On a point of order Hon. Speaker, I just want clarification.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: I have ruled.

          HON. MUGOMO: Thank you Hon. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  What is the Government current position on re-joining the Commonwealth of nations in view of the UK Government continually blocking the re-admission of Zimbabwe into the organisation in spite of the things that have been said to date towards the re-engagement? I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Hon. Speaker and I want to thank Hon. Mugomo for the question.  Indeed, Hon. Speaker, we want to applaud His Excellency for the re-engagement and engagement policy which has seen him extending his gesture for any country that is willing to engage Zimbabwe and like he always says, Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none.  Precisely, this is what His Excellency is pursuing, and I am glad the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs would come to the august House and brief on the major milestones that we have achieved.  I thank you.

          HON. S. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon. Speaker.  My question is directed to the Minister of Environment, Climate and Wildlife.  Mr. Speaker Sir, we have noted with concern the accelerated land degradation as a result of rampant brick moulding in peri-urban centres and some rural areas.  What is Government policy with regard to brick moulding? I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Hon. Speaker, and I also thank Hon. S. Ziyambi for that very important question.  Precisely, he has asked about brick moulding which I think is very specific but we not allow as a nation the degradation of our land which is something the Hon. Minister is pursuing.  We are not only talking about the degradation of land but we are also talking of littering our country which is also a policy that the Hon. Minister is looking into to see how we can safeguard and protect our environment.  We will also look at those who are degrading in terms of not only of brick moulding.  We also have some who are mining within restricted areas where we are talking of infrastructure being damaged.  So, I commend the Hon. Member for bringing this very important question.  I also want to say we are not targeting only a particular industry but this is the wake up call for us as Zimbabweans to continue maintaining our environment.  I thank you.

          HON. MAPFUMO: Good afternoon Mr. Speaker Sir.  My question has been answered.

          HON. C. HLATYAWAYO: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to ask my question to the Minister of Agriculture. Farmers who delivered their cotton to COTTCO are yet to be paid.  What is Government policy in paying those farmers so that they can go back to the land? I thank you.

          *THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA):  Thank you Hon. Speaker and I thank the Hon. Member for his question.  What happens is that companies that deal with cotton and the cotton farmers will have to make arrangements but Government will oversee that the cotton farmers have the necessary inputs and are paid in time.  Government looks forward to cotton companies paying the farmers on time so that they can prepare for the next farming season.

          I only know of COTTCO, these are the farmers that are behind in being paid.  Government has 30% shareholding in COTTCO.  We discussed about it yesterday and they said they still owe US$6.8m, and they have promised to pay their farmers before the end of this month as they are now able to sell the cotton.  As Government, we are urging that farms prepare well for the season in terms of having enough inputs.  We had meetings with companies that help farmers, like the Zimbabwe Farmers Union and others and these companies add up to eight, that we will be supervising as Government that farmers get the necessary inputs so that farmers are paid early if they deliver their cotton early.  These are the measures that we have put in place as Government.

          HON. C. HLATYAWAYO: My supplementary question is, when are they likely to be paid? I was suggesting that they be paid before the rains come.  Farmers are worried about the non-payment of cotton delivered last year.  The money is now being eroded by inflation and farmers are not being advised on the issue of payment, they are just assuming.  Those companies that are representing farmers are not updating them.

          *HON. DR. MASUKA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker. Maybe you did not understand.  We said COTTCO is the one that has been owing farmers and they said right now they have $6.8 million that they expect to pay the farmers before the end of this month.  I repeat before the end of this month.  It is not Government.  It is the contractors that engaged the farmers and made contracts with farmers.  Government is actually troubled by this.  That is why we called them to tell us when they are going to pay the farmers and they assured us that they are going to pay before the end of this month.

          We also need adequate information between all the contractors and the farmers so that we aggregate the information and see where there might be gaps in terms of information so that we ensure farmers are paid on time.  So, if you may make a follow up written question.  I thank you.

          HON. S. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Madam Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections] –

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, order!  Hon. Ziyambi did you ask a supplementary question?

HON. S. ZIYAMBI:  No – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] -

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order! May we have order!  Hon. Hwende please take your seat.

HON. S. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  To the Minister of Agriculture, I want to applaud you for all the effort that you are making in trying to pay all the outstanding cotton farmers,  however I would like to know at what time or stage do you come up with the producer price of cotton so as to encourage other farmers to venture into cotton production.  Thank you – [HON. MEMBERS:  That is a new question, not a supplementary question.] –

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  You are not the Speaker.  It is not a new question.  May you allow the Minister to respond to the question.  We want order in this House.

HON. DR. MASUKA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I thank Hon. Ziyambi for the question and the comment.  Indeed, the role of the Ministry is to be able to facilitate the transformation of the agricultural sector and anything that we do, we will be willing to consider irrespective of colour, creed or political party. 

It is in this context that the Government is pained by the delayed payments, which is why Government summoned COTTCO to understand why these delays are persisting when others have almost completed paying their contracted growers.  We take their word as COTTCO that they will be able to make good on the outstanding $6.8 million paying by the end of the month.

Going forward, one of the aspects that has led to the decline in cotton production is lack of viability.  Viability of a sector is under girdled by viability of the grower.  Sustainability for the sector must begin to build on a viable grower. So, it is in this regard that Government is interested in pricing of cotton so that there is fair return for the farmers effort.  Last year we introduced for the first time a grid differentiated pricing system that is sensitive to the hard work that farmers had put in and we had started at 40c a kilogramme which is comparable to other jurisdictions in the region.  I look forward this year to better pricing. 

I highlighted this afternoon the eight contracting companies that there are modalities that we have introduced for distribution of inputs.  The extension monitoring system and using our own Zimsat satellite will substantially reduce the operating costs of cotton companies.  My expectation and Government’s expectation is, this benefit will be passed on to growers.  I therefore look forward to better pricing and an announcement at an appropriate time in due course.  Thank you Madam Speaker.

*HON. HWENDE:  Supplementary question Madam Speaker.  Thank you Madam Speaker.  My question to the Hon. Minister is, what is Government policy or plans with regards to paying cotton farmers money that can enable them to buy inputs so that they continue growing because right now the money that you are paying farmers does not give them the capacity to continue growing cotton?  I thank you.

HON. DR. MASUKA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  That is exactly what I was explaining in English. I said today we had a meeting with eight contractors or companies that go out there in the rural areas.  As we speak today, those eight companies will be interacting with the farmers out there in the rural areas that we represent.  So, we expect the country to grow a lot of cotton.  This year we are at 90 000.

*HON. HWENDE:  On a point of order Madam Speaker.  Hon. Minister, answer the question.  We do not want to be given useless stories here.  We want him to respond to the question.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order! What is your question?

*HON. HWENDE:  My question is, what is your plan with regards to paying farmers money that is valuable enough to enable them to continue growing cotton?  I thank you.

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  We want Hon. Members to ask questions whilst we are all listening.  Let us not try to assist them.

HON. DR. MASUKA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I wanted to give a background of where we came from up to now, how the good price can motivate the farmers to grow. The Government does not set prices or conditions of how to pay. As Government, we receive from the contractors, the cost of growing cotton on a specific area, like a Pfumvudza plot. As for the farmers that we give inputs, that is when we state the price that we expect to buy, but the other private contractors agree on the prices they are going to pay. Government does not go into contract with farmers. Farmers get into contract with the private players. Listen carefully! Government does not set cotton prices. Government set cotton prices to the farmers that they give inputs and that is what I was referring to as 40c/kg because we gave them the inputs. That 40c, we will be subtracting the inputs that we have given them and I think it is a very good price. I thank you.

*HON. HAMAUSWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.  I am afraid that this is an important question, but the Minister did not fully explain. What is happening is…

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Hamauswa, the Minister explained clearly that the contractors who go to the farmers set the prices not Government. I thank you.

*HON. HAMAUSWA: Madam Speaker, you did not understand what I was trying to say. Government has got some ways that it can use just like other governments, of providing inputs just like what they do to maize production. I raise this issue because it is very important. Agriculture is contributing a lot to our economy. Some governments subsidise…

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Hamauswa, please be on point, do not go in circles.

*HON. HAMAUSWA: I am winding up. The Minister did not explain what Government does. He only said Government has 30% stake in COTTCO, but did not explain what Government does with that 30%. I thank you.

An Hon. Member having stood up on a point of order.

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order. Hon. Butau, when someone stands up on a point of order, you cannot stand up on top of a point order. You have to sit down and wait for the Hon. Member to finish.

 *HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My issue is very short. I am saying to the Hon. Minister, he said Government has 30% stake in COTTCO. The duty of Government is supposed to protect the interests of farmers. As I am about to take my seat, other governments subsidise and assist farmers. What is Government doing to ensure that there is viability? Last year in Gokwe, farmers grew BT cotton and they celebrated because they got very good yields on small pieces of land. That is what we expect to hear from Government. We expect the Minister to be clear on that rather than telling us that he does not know.

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Hamauswa, I understand what you said, but I hereby request you to prepare a new question with regards to subsidy for cotton.

+HON. NCUBE: Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member of Parliament who is wearing spectacles…

AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of order Madam Speaker. The Hon. Member who is speaking is a doctor. The Hon. Member whom he is talking about is sick – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Why is he criticising those specs? You are a doctor, do not criticise those specs.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, may we behave honourably.

AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Can he withdraw his statement?

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What did he say, I did not hear it – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Members, do not force me to send you out of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Madam Speaker, you said you did not hear what the Hon. Member said. The Hon. Member is criticising the spectacles which are won by the Hon. Member there, which means he is criticising the disabled team – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Withdraw your statement. What if he is disabled? Why are you doing that doctor? With draw your statement.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! May we have order. Hon. Member, if you are an Honourable Member, you must behave honourably. Please, may you withdraw your statement.

+HON. NCUBE: I withdraw Madam Speaker.

*HON. MUWOMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Mines. What is Government policy with regards to EPOs that are all over the country right now? Small scale miners are failing to access and peg land because of these EPOs.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me also thank Hon. Muwombi for that very important question. With your indulgence, Madam Speaker, I will relay the same question to the Hon. Minister so that he can appraise the House. Thank you.

HON. ZIKI:  My question is directed to the Minister of Lands. - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Please, may we have order.  Hon Members sitting to my left side - please.

HON. ZIKI:  I noticed the Minister has just gone out but I am sure the Acting Leader of Government Business is competent enough to answer this question.  I want to find out if there is a policy to protect tobacco farmers on non-payment of their dues by tobacco contracting companies. 

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Hon. Madam Speaker.  Let me also thank Hon. Ziki for the question.  Apparently, the question that he has asked pertaining to the protection of tobacco farmers which are contractual means that the moment you enter into a contractual arrangement, there are the dictates enshrined in that contract.  I am sure in terms of the protection it will be well covered.  However, in terms of late payments, with your indulgence Hon. Madam Speaker Maam, my colleague Minister who is the Minister of Finance can appraise us since we have got a model on that particular model.  I thank you.

HON. MARKHAM: On a point of clarity on that issue Madam Speaker Ma’am.  Madam Speaker, the Hon gentleman...

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Markham, we do not have gentleman in this august House.  It is Hon. Acting Leader of Government Business or Hon. Member of Parliament.

HON. MARKHAM:  Madam Speaker, I was referring to the Hon. Member who asked the question and not the Hon. Leader of the House.  If people would listen instead of talking, they would understand what I want to say.  The question is very important because the very same companies are the same companies that opened here and some of them with the assistance of indigenous funding by government and they have done exactly the same in Tanzania where they bought tobacco and did not pay the farmers yet they were sponsored by our government. Madam Speaker, I beg you to ask the Minister to give us a written statement on the tobacco because there are farmers who cannot farm because they have not been paid for last year’s produce.  This also goes back to the question on cotton which is exactly the same.  So, can I ask the Minister to bring a Ministerial Statement.  I thank you.

THE HON DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Thank you very much Hon. Markham.  Hon. Ostallos, please may you leave the House because you were playing….

HON. MAMOMBE:  His name is not Ostallos. Thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Whatever his name is, it is the Hon Member who was switching on the mic whilst Hon. Markham was speaking.  Please may you leave the House, may you leave the House

HON. SIZIBA:  I am Siziba are you referring to me Madam Speaker.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave the House.

Hon Markham, I will not ask the Minister to bring a Ministerial Statement but I advise you to put your question in writing so that the Minister will come with a comprehensive answer.  -[HON. HWENDE: Inaudible interjection]-

Hon. Hwende, you do not tell me what to do, do you understand me?

HON. MAHERE:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker. - [HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: Inaudible interjection.] -

Hon. Zhou please, we want order.

HON. MAHERE:  On a point of order Madam Speaker, before I ask my question, I would like to raise a point of order. You just chased out Hon. Siziba because he switched on the mic and he yelled when someone else was speaking.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Mahere, you cannot tell me what to do.  Go ahead and ask your question. It was not the first time that Hon. Siziba was standing up whilst other Hon. Members were speaking. 

HON. MAHERE:  It was a point of order my lady but I will proceed with my question. It is just fairness but I will proceed with my question.  If I can be protected please Madam Speaker. My question is, what is government policy on increases in fees at State Universities and tertiary institutions?

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Madam Speaker, I do not fully understand the purporse of the question, but I will attempt to answer it. It is Government policy to increase fees at State universities, but when it is necessary. In order for those universities to operate optimally and efficiently, there has to be increases. I am not sure whether there was a specific increase recently, but if there was, I would assume that it was occasioned by the need to make sure that our universities are providing sufficient services to those students who are going to those universities. I thank you.

          HON. MAHERE: Just to supplement the question, the Hon. Minister might not be aware, but there have been increases in State university fees across the board and these increases are in United States dollars. Your Government has gone to the extent of chasing students out of examination rooms as they are writing. Does your Government in circumstances where half the population is living in poverty and a civil servant does not earn anywhere near US$700 or US$800, what justification could there be for such an increase? I thank you.

          HON. PROF. MAVIMA: I have listened to comparisons that the Hon. Member is making between what a university maybe charging and what a civil servant may be getting. That comparison is very inappropriate. What determines the amount that students should pay at a university are the requirements for the university to operate efficiently and optimally. If there have been increases they should be justified. Remember universities have to offer services ranging from students services, to teaching and learning infrastructure that should be top notch and that require those who go to those universities to pay commensurate amounts to make sure that our universities are well funded. I thank you.

          HON. MHANGWA: As a follow up to Hon. Minister, is this a tacit acknowledgement that they have privatized tertiary institutions? Ideally, it is not the burden of the students to bear the full cost of university education. If this was the condition, many of us would not have gone to university including the Hon. Minister.

          HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Again, erroneous assumption. Erroneous assumption is one that says whatever students are paying at this particular point in time is the full cost of what it takes to educate the students. In actual fact, at any one-point, State universities would receive State funding for various facilities and programmes. It is the same in Zimbabwe right now. We are basically saying when everything is said and done, what the student has to contribute is such that it has become necessary when the increases are made, it has become necessary for increases to be made so that we continue to provide good education at the tertiary level.

          +HON. R. MPOFU: The road from Bulawayo to Kezi and Maphisa is too narrow. What plans does Government have in widening this road?

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): I want to thank the Hon. Member for raising that important question which makes me to announce in this august House that we have got a number of roads which are now narrow and some have more potholes, which means that the road to Maphisa is very important. It has a history because it goes to some other areas where some heroes lost their lives fighting for the liberation of this country. We have other roads like Bulawayo-Nkayi and Bulawayo-Tsholotsho among other roads and as a Ministry, we are taking into consideration all these roads to make sure that they are refurbished.

Most of the roads were constructed more than 30 years ago, which means that these roads are dilapidated. Right now, we are not only filling potholes, but starting the reconstruction so that we can construct durable roads. However, it will take a long time because the funds that we expect to get from Treasury are being disbursed to other Government departments. I promise her that the road she has mentioned is one of the roads which we intend to rehabilitate. I believe that we are going to notify the Hon. Member when we are going to visit the area with a view to rehabilitate the road which she has raised.

          +HON. R. MPOFU: I propose that we have a tollgate so that the road can be refurbished.  I know very well that my country is under sanctions by Britain and there are a lot of roads like that, but Government is committed to rehabilitate those roads - shut up.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -  I suggest that we put a tollgate so that the road can be rehabilitated urgently.  The President is always saying the nation is built by its rightful owners.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Before you sit down, I request you to withdraw the words ‘shut up’. 

          HON. R. MPOFU:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am, I withdraw.      

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Thank you.  

          *HON. MHONA:  Thank you Madam Speaker, I also want to thank Hon. Mpofu on the issue of the roads that she raised and also the sanctions that are disturbing us to improve livelihoods in our nation.  It is one of the ways that we can build transformation.  I think that this is a rightful view which we are going to be discussing with these companies and that will be considered as we engage with the Government.

          HON. S. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is doing a sterling job in upgrading most of our roads across Zimbabwe, we would like to applaud that.  My question is that the rains are upon us now, we have just approached the rain season and we have got bridges which need to be repaired.  For Example, if you go to Alaska-Copper Queen Road, there are two bridges where pupils cannot cross to go to school.  What is Government policy with regards to fixing of those bridges to enable students to go to school during this rain season?

          HON. MHONA: Thank you Hon. Madam Speaker Ma’am, let me also thank Hon. Ziyambi for that very important question relating to the rehabilitation of our infrastructure with specific reference to bridges.  I do concur that yes, a number of our infrastructure relating to bridges are in a sorry state.  Like I indicated earlier on that for some time, our roads and bridges were not being rehabilitated, but I want to thank again for the Government’s ERP2 programme which is running where we are addressing some of these concerns.  Apparently, the particular road cited by the Hon. Member Alaska - Copper Queen, if you remember, we have been working on that particular road.  We are progressing again, but relating to the issue of bridges, this is something that is long term.  Where there is urgency in terms of accessing or if it is a crossing point, you will see us descending, and I will also say to the august House again, we have got provincial road engineers in each province and it will be also wise for us to then have their numbers in case where you think you also need urgent help.  It is within your purview to get hold of them and they are accountable to you as representatives.  Feel free anytime, there is PRE from the Ministry.  They also have their respective staff in their respective districts who can actually attend to such very important infrastructure which requires urgent rehabilitation. 

          I want to thank the august House and that we have just passed through a Pre-Budget Seminar where you have seen that the Ministry requested close 7.3 trillion and in terms of the figures that we got, it was almost 10% of that, which means that in terms of the progress and the expectations of the House, that might not be addressed with the speed that they require.  It is my humble plea as we gravitate towards budget deliberations so that you lobby for the Ministry to get adequate funding.  Thank you.

          HON. HADEBE: I am concerned about the impact of poor road conditions on the distribution of food aid in marginalised districts of Matabeleland.  Reports indicate that private transporters are refusing to deliver food aid to these areas because of the risk of damaging their vehicles.  This is leading to delays in the distribution of food aid which has a serious impact on vulnerable populations of our marginalised districts.  I want to know what the Government is doing to address this issue and ensure that food aid is delivered in a timely and efficient manner.  I expect the Minister to be very serious in answering these questions…

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Member, you are out of order, please may you withdraw that statement.  

          HON. HADEBE: I withdraw the last statement Madam Speaker. 

          HON. MHONA:  Let me also thank Hon. Hadebe for that question.  Like I indicated that our roads are in a sorry state, we must also commend the speed at which we are trying to address the concerns given that we have got close to a 90 000 kilometre road network in this country.  You find that a larger percentage is in a sorry state and there is no way we can wake up the following day having rehabilitated all the roads given the inadequacy of resources. 

          However, to address the question, surely it is also in the interest of Government to make sure that the vulnerable people get their food on time.  It is also our wish as you know that according to the Chinese proverb, if you want to be rich you need to construct a road.  Precisely, any destination, you need a good road which is an enabler to any given economy.  Yes, we will continue so that every place is accessible.  Like I indicated, this calls for a holistic approach where we are saying as Hon Members, let us all put our heads together so that we try to see how best we can resuscitate some of these roads   Some of the roads just need re-gravelling or re-grading so the Hon. Members should work closely with their rural district councils or the Ministry so that we expedite the process of rehabilitating our roads.  Thank you.

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

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

INTRODUCTION OF THE MONO CURRENCY REGIME AND MEASURES TO CURB PRICE SHOCKS AND INFLATION

  1. HON. MUTODI asked the Minister of Finance and Investment Promotion to inform the House on
  2. When the mono currency regime would be introduced in the country; and
  3. What measures have been put in place to deal with price shocks and inflation that may arise when the mono currency is introduced into the country’s money market.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam Speaker Ma’am, thank you for the question. This requires a written answer and so, I move that we defer these questions until we have properly written answers which I will happily read to the House. Thank you.

HON. DR. MUTODI: On a point of Order Madam Speaker. I was asking if the Minister could read the question because we were not served with the Order Paper. None of us here has the Order Paper and I ask if he can read the question before he can answer the question. Thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sure the Order Paper is now being shared on your e-mail addresses and I am being advised that the Order Paper was sent in the morning to all Hon. Members of Parliament on your e-mail addresses.

*HON. MATSUNGA: Madam Speaker Ma’am, the problem is that there is no network in this Parliament. They have sent the Order Paper but there is no network. My appeal is to make sure that there is network. We are now going  paperless and hence we expect network to be available. Thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.  We really understand your issue but you are requested that early in the morning before you come here, you check your e-mail so that you see what is there. I am also being advised that Hon. Mutodi’s questions were not sent to the Hon. Minister of Finance in time. So, we expect the Hon. Minister to bring the answers next week. I think we are having a challenge Hon. Members in that we do not have Hon. Ministers in the House and Hon. Members do not have the Order Papers.

HON. MARKHAM: Madam Speaker, may I humbly suggest that while we are exchanging into the New Parliament that Order Papers be  printed out for Members of Parliament to find access to the internet or to the WhatsApp group. Secondly, in the last Parliament, we have had an absenteeism of Ministers right from the beginning for all the five years during Question Time. Today I counted 13 apologies and yet we have 48 Ministers. We had a handful of Ministers and I counted 10 maximum and that is 28. Others did not even bother to apologise to this House. I am imploring the Chair that this does not continue for five years like the last House. I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Your concerns are noted Hon. Markham.

*HON. TAFANANA ZHOU: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. We can blame that we did not receive the Order Paper but the ICT Department created a WhatsApp group. Most of Hon. Members are there and I am surprised if they are saying they did not receive the Order Paper, it was sent on the 10th Parliament WhatsApp Group. Thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Zhou. Hon. Members, let us understand that as Parliament, we are still in the process of moving and most of the things are not yet settled. Like what Hon. Zhou has indicated, it is very pertinent that we take into consideration the notices that are being posted in that group. If you are reading on that group, it will help a lot. Some of the things are to your benefit, which is not the Order Paper. Sometimes it is the issue of saying come and collect your bonusses rather than Order Papers only, hence it is very important for us to work together and bear with us. 

HON. TOGAREPI: My observation I think we cannot do anything for these Questions with Notice. Why do we not postpone them and go to another section of business and proceed with work because the challenge is, Ministers do not have the documents and may be Parliament did not send to them and we do not have the Ministers as you can see. I think let us go to another part of the business.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAEKR: I hear you Hon. Togarepi. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.

MOTION

REPORT ON THE SECOND SUMMIT OF THE COMMITTEES OF THE FUTURE HELD IN MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY

          HON. SHAMU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I move the motion standing in my name that that this House takes note of the Report on the Second Summit of the Committees of the Future held in Montevideo, Uruguay from the 25th  to the27th  September, 2023.

HON. KARIKOGA:  I second.

  • SHAMU: INTRODUCTION

1.1      The Parliament of Uruguay, in collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), hosted the Second Summit of the Committees of the Future from 25 to 27 September 2023. It was a befitting venue given that the Parliament of Uruguay is now at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence (AI) application.

  1.2    The Second World Summit of the Committees of the Future 2023 was held under the overarching theme- “BRINGING THE FUTURE TO THE PRESENT: THE DEMOCRACY OF THE FUTURE, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) AND PARLIAMENTS”. In attendance at the Summit are 160 delegates representing the five Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Geo-political groups, namely, Africa, Arab, Eurasia, Grulac, Asia Pacific and Twelve plus 2. Additionally, the Summit drew participation from non-IPU Members such as the United States of America, representatives from leading technological companies and developers of applied artificial intelligence, academia and experts in the field of the future studies, specialised agencies and civil society to anticipatory decision making in the future.

1.3 The Parliament of Zimbabwe was ably represented at the highest level by Hon Advocate Jacob Francis Nzwidamilimo Mudenda and he was accompanied by support staff.

1.4 En route to Montevideo, Speaker Mudenda was met by His Excellency, Ambassador Meshack Kitchen in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the South American bloc, specifically Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Subsequently, the Speaker received a brief from the Ambassador covering various aspects of the Summit host nation, including its preparedness.

2.0      BACKGROUND

2.1      The Summit continued on the trajectory as outlined in Helsinki, Finland in 2022 on the occasion of the First World Summit of the Committees of the Future held in Helsinki. Participating parliamentarians recognised the fundamental importance of incorporating the Future paradigm in present day use of AI. Accordingly, they reached a consensus on the need for sustained inter-parliamentary dialogue in order to address emerging global common AI positive impacts and attendant challenges.

2.2      The theme offered an opportunity to reflect on experiences and exchange views on the challenges and opportunities in embracing AI democracy equity, anticipatory decision-making and responsible parliamentary digital processes. Furthermore, the Summit sought to analyse the impact of AI on society in general as well as its impact on electoral processes.

2.3      As the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in parliamentary processes becomes increasingly prevalent, it is necessary to establish ethical and operational guidelines that ensure accountability, transparency and human autonomy, while promoting sustainable development goals and protecting privacy, security and diversity. While AI has made significant technological advances in recent years, it has raised questions about its potential to replace human being parliamentarians in so far as its efficacious efficiencies are concerned.

2.4      AI can speedily analyse complex legislative issues, identify patterns and make predictions based on historical data. This speed allows for faster decision-making in parliamentary processes. However, human being parliamentarians bring experience, knowledge and the ability to consider ethical and moral aspects that AI may struggle with. They also provide a diverse range of perspectives and values, fostering debate and ensuring that multiple viewpoints are considered.

2.5      Regarding these Parliamentary processes, the complex relationship between AI and human autonomy needs to be taken into account. Human autonomy is already threatened by existing technologies. The use of AI tools could enhance or decrease human autonomy, depending on how they are designed and which domains they are built to cover. The human element is an essential aspect of democracy. Human being parliamentarians possess empathy, emotional intelligence and the ability to connect with constituencies on a personal level. These qualities enable them to understand the needs and concerns of the people they represent, making them more relatable and responsive. AI, while efficient, lacks the ability to empathise or understand complex human emotions, limiting its capacity to fully represent the interests of diverse population. It is thus imperative to protect human autonomy applying AI technologies.

3.0      OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE SECOND SUMMIT OF THE COMMITTEES OF THE FUTURE

3.1      The Second Summit of the Committees of the Future was officially opened on 25th September 2023, by the President of Uruguay, His Excellency, Luis Lacalle Pou. The other high-ranking dignitaries in attendance included Rt Hon. Beatriz Argimón, Vice President of the Republic and President of the Senate of Uruguay, Hon. Sebastián Andújar Alvarez, President of the House of Representatives of Uruguay and Hon. Duarte Pacheco, President of the IPU.

3.2 President Pou opened the Summit by underlining the centrality of AI and the metamorphosis of Science in various sectors of digital technologies. The State President challenged Parliamentarians to take a positive approach towards AI usage as well as reinforcing that the AI evolution, like water, will always find a way of navigating around rocky and mountainous terrains of human existence.

3.3      In her welcome remarks to Summit participants, Rt Hon. Argimon noted that the Summit provided a quintessential platform to introspect and exchange views on AI applications. Additionally, she shared the remarkable strides taken by Uruguay in embracing AI to the extent that she is convinced that as the country prepares for its elections in 2024, all political parties will embrace AI usage in their manifestos during the campaign trail.

3.4      The President of the House of Representatives, Hon. Sebastián Andújar Alvarez, focused on the positive transformative use of AI in socio-economic development, particularly in the areas of health, education, communication technologies and climate change future impacts. However, he also noted areas of negative concerns such as infringement of human rights, tempered transparency, accountability, creation of inequalities and intrusion of privacy and lack of empathy where AI is applied. Nonetheless, the House of Representatives President welcomed the opportunity to exchange views on this critical Summit regarding the use of AI currently and in the future.

3.5      On the other hand, Hon. Pacheco, the IPU President, underpinned the need for active participation of Parliaments in conversations around the Future given their hallowed legislative, representation and oversight mandate of being the institution of the voiceless electorate who cannot be privileged to be physically in the Parliaments.

3.6      Furthermore, the Uruguay Chairman of the Committees of the Future noted that AI should benefit humanity. In the same vein, there is need to renew trust and protect human rights and freedom as the global community embraces changes associated with AI application.

4.0      MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT OF URUGUAY

4.1      The Hon. Speaker met the President of Uruguay, His Excellency, Luis Lacalle Pou, on the sidelines of the Official Opening of the Second World Summit of the Committees of the Future. The meeting was orchestrated by Ms. Beatriz Argimón, State Vice President of the Republic and President of the Senate of Uruguay.

4.2      Speaker Mudenda congratulated the President of Uruguay for putting in place impeccable modalities for the excellent Summit which sought to evaluate mechanisms for the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the constitutional mandate of Parliaments.

4.3      Furthermore, Speaker Mudenda lauded President Pou for a well-received official opening address which contextualised the task before delegates in so far as the conundrum of AI is concerned.

4.4      Speaker Mudenda also applauded President Pou on the successful official opening of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Regional office in Montevideo, Uruguay. This is the first pilot scheme by the IPU. Its success will pave way for the future establishment of similar IPU Regional Offices in the other Geopolitical Groups.

5.0      OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE IPU REGIONAL OFFICE FOR THE GRULAC GEO-POLITICAL GROUP

5.1      On 30th June 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, on the sidelines of the IPU Executive Committee Meeting, the IPU and the Parliament of Uruguay signed an agreement to open an IPU Regional Office for the GRULAC Geo-political Group in Montevideo. This was in line with the decision adopted by the Governing Council of the IPU on the occasion of the 146th Assembly of the IPU and Related Meetings held in Manama, Bahrain.

5.2      The establishment of this strategic IPU Regional office for the South American Parliaments had been mooted 15 years ago. Another regional office is set to open in Cairo, Egypt, to service Parliaments from the Africa and Arab Geo-Political Groups. These regional offices are pilot projects designed to deepen the IPU’s engagement with parliaments in the Latin American and Caribbean region and Africa as well as within the Arab region area by encouraging inter-parliamentary cooperation and helping the IPU to implement its global strategy through a visible localised regional presence.

5.3      Subsequently, the historic Official Opening of the Uruguay Regional Office took place on 26 September 2023 in the presence of Hon. Duarte Pacheco, President of the IPU, Rt Hon. Beatriz Argimón, Vice President of the Republic and President of the Senate of Uruguay and distinguished participants to the 2nd World Summit of the Committees of the Future.

            5.4    In his address at the Commissioning of the IPU Regional Office, Hon. Duarte Pacheco congratulated Uruguay for its tenacity in leading the way in the long-mooted idea of opening up the IPU Regional office. He further indicated that he was now looking forward to the opening up of the Egyptian office.

6.0      WORKING LUNCH UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (UNDP)

6.1      Speaker Mudenda attended a working lunch under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which ran under the theme 'USES OF THE FUTURE IN PARLIAMENTS: BUILDING A TOOL FOR ACTION'. The workshop was attended by several delegates from various countries in an effort to exchange the application of AI experiences for now and in the future uses relative to global Parliamentary processes.

6.2      In his intervention, Speaker Mudenda exhorted Parliaments to embrace the future as it is inevitable, using the analogy of former late US President John F Kennedy who envisioned that America should land an astronaut on the moon sooner rather than later, an inconceivable feat then in 1963. Indeed, that happened.

6.3      Speaker Mudenda further opined that Parliaments should ensure that MPs and their staff are not left behind in the trailblazing AI revolution. Within the scope of President Mnangagwa’s mantra of leaving no one and no place behind, Speaker Mudenda advised on the need to ensure that there is accelerated capacity building for MPs and staff through anticipatory research so as to upskill all the demographic groups in the AI ecosystem. As Uruguay and Finland have taken the lead in designing paradigms for AI use within their Parliaments, Advocate Mudenda extolled other Parliaments to take a cue from the two pacesetting countries.

6.4      Additionally, the Speaker underpinned the need for collaborative efforts with the Executive so that the two organs of the State can walk side by side while implementing AI applications in their e-governance without leaving the judiciary behind. In the same vein, the Speaker called for an appropriate legal framework which should guide the Committees of the Future on how to manage the AI phenomenon as a tool for accelerated socio-economic development, which digital tools can be a double-edged sword where AI creates negative impacts.

6.5      Concomitantly, Speaker Mudenda conveyed gratitude to the UNDP for its continued support to the Parliament of Zimbabwe and accordingly appealed for more support for the hallowed institution of Parliament, especially within the purview of AI usage.

7.0      WORKSHOPS

7.1      The Hon. Speaker participated in two workshops which provided an opportunity to further interrogate, reflect and deliberate on the impact of the phenomenal development of AI as it impacted the human being autonomy in the digital world. The outcomes of these intense deliberations were captured in the Summit’s Declaration.

8.0      DECLARATION OF THE SECOND WORLD SUMMIT OF THE COMMITTEES OF THE FUTURE

8.1      The Declaration of the Second World Summit of the Committees of the Future was unanimously adopted after a few amendments proffered at the conclusion of the Summit. The full text of the Declaration is contained hereunder:

I - Awareness of the current context

  1. We are at a historic turning point. Rapid technological advances, intertwined with diverse political, social and environmental Phenomena, are resulting in profound, complex and uncertain changes. As artificial intelligence grows in capacity and becomes more deeply immersed in our society, we must face its potential for positive innovations and solutions, and also the threats and challenges it poses to democracy and society at large. As artificial intelligence evolves, it could act autonomously to solve novel problems with novel strategies beyond human abilities (referred to as artificial general intelligence or frontier AI). Many experts believe this is possible within five years. We recognise that this accelerated and potentially disruptive evolutionary phase of AI may generate problems of compatibility with our current knowledge and work models, values and democratic systems, and compels us to re-examine our governance approaches and regulations.
  2. We also recognize that our societies, while facing similar challenges, are also at different levels of development with regard to AI. Initiatives and solutions will need to build on lessons learned from across the globe, be inclusive, facilitate coordination and collaboration, and work towards common objectives while being tailored to specific needs and situations.
  3. We highlight the exceptional responsibility of large technology platforms concerning big data models, which evolve at exponential speed, and the need for corporate accountability and transparency as well as a willingness to collaborate with public actors.

II - Our commitment to democracy in the age of AI through anticipatory governance

  1. We acknowledge that AI challenges our democratic institutions in ways we are only just beginning to understand. Issues of surveillance, data privacy and even AI-driven “deep fakes” can undermine truth, justice, fundamental rights and democratic processes. We recognise the need for a nuanced and multidimensional approach that respects both innovation and human rights.
  2. Our conventional reactive mechanisms are being challenged and are ill-equipped to manage the rapid advances and risks presented by AI. To address this, we call for a paradigm shift towards an anticipatory stance in governance, focusing on proactive measures and responsible foresight, including long-term vision and taking account of evolving complex dynamics. These are essential in safely ensuring beneficial AI outcomes for our societies and preventing undesirable trajectories.

          III - Integrating anticipatory capacities in parliaments for more effective decision making

  1. We welcome the fact that many parliaments today are taking steps to enhance their capacity to “enter the future” into the present (vision, imagination, prospection, aspiration, possibility analysis) in a rigorous and systematic way, and in doing so, that they are stepping up the leadership they provide in dealing with the future through proactive action with anticipatory and transformative capacity. In an era marked by accelerated, interdependent and disruptive changes, our governance institutions need to be able to anticipate. Parliaments can serve as focal points for collective intelligence-based knowledge creation to better understand the evolution of AI, discern potential hazards and recommend anticipatory and proactive local and international practices and regulations.

          For parliaments to play their role, they need to build their understanding, knowledge and ability to integrate future-oriented methodologies and approaches in their work across the board. This is not a question of capacity, but also of political will and culture-shift. We call on parliaments to make this an objective and to develop strategies and look at all opportunities to begin transformation towards more Futures-literacy-oriented work.

  1. We recognize that Committees of the Future are key instruments and unique mechanisms to lead future-oriented transformation in parliaments. Unlike the traditional parliamentary ethos of reacting to change, Committees of the Future are designed to proactively anticipate, respond and be creative in order to transform policy. Committees of the Future can detect emerging challenges early and acting in an agile fashion, envision opportunities and ensure governance remains relevant and effective. We call on parliaments to consider establishing permanent Committees of the Future and to provide them with the necessary resources and mandate. We commit, wherever possible, to foster their growth, evolution, effectiveness and wider proliferation.
  2. Today’s challenges demand systemic, holistic and complex approaches. We call on parliaments to engage more strongly in inclusive and effective multi-stakeholder engagement and recall that Committees of the Future inherently promote inter- and transdisciplinary dialogues, integrating insights from various actors and fields to create collective knowledge.
  3. We underscore that policy decisions must be more evidence-based than ever and encompass diverse, comprehensive perspectives.

Committees of the Future serve as a critical bridge between scientific advancements and legislative processes. They ensure policies are informed by the latest research, making the knowledge underpinning governance more robust, evolving and dynamic. The work of Committees of the Future enhances understanding of the interacting patterns of threats and opportunities and of alternative futures, including visionary futures, which informs the work of other committees across and beyond their own policy areas.

  1. Well-informed citizenry and public engagement are also crucial in ensuring the effective future-oriented work of parliaments. Public consultations, participatory initiatives and outreach programmes foster an environment in which the public is both a beneficiary and an active participant in shaping future-focused policies. Committees of the Future are instrumental in facilitating such engagement. These Committees, with their dynamic ethos suited to networked action modes, can engage in fruitful exchanges with their counterparts, promoting collective solutions to shared challenges.

IV - Reflection on current AI regulations and the road ahead

  1. We advocate for a balanced approach to AI regulation, harmonising the need for innovation with ethical considerations. We

acknowledge the urgent need to build legal frameworks related to AI and recall the importance of keeping the human being at the heart of all initiatives. AI or any other -discrimination. International cooperation should ensure that global AI developments are equitable and universally beneficial, preventing potential “AI races” devoid of ethical and rights-based considerations. International human rights standards must be built into the process of developing new technology from the onset and be the starting point of any regulatory process.

  1. Across nations, foundational AI principles have started to emerge — transparency, fairness, human oversight and accountability

being the mainstays. Entities from the European Union to the Global Partnership on AI have laid the groundwork through frameworks that balance innovation with rights and safety. However, with the possible advent of artificial general intelligence (AGI), there is a pressing need to go further. This requires:

  • Global harmonization of AI standards: AI by its very nature, defies national boundaries. Thus, a coordinated international set of standards, underpinned by a shared understanding of ethics and safety is paramount.
  • Anticipatory regulatory mechanisms: We must not just respond to the present, but also prepare for the possibilities of the future. This involves anticipating future AI trajectories, potential applications, misuses and harmful side effects; incentivising beneficial applications; and pre-emptively creating regulatory buffers. We therefore call on parliaments to consider developing national digitalization and AI strategies including regulations for both current narrow AI and future forms of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) from an anticipatory perspective.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration: The multifaceted challenges of AI demand insights from technologists, neuroscientists, sociologists and anthropologists, as well as human rights, policy and legal experts, among others. We advocate for interdisciplinary committees that can offer holistic viewpoints on the AI regulatory landscape.
  • Public involvement and literacy: As the ramifications of AI permeate society, a democratically engaged and AI-literate citizenry is essential. We recommend national programmes focusing on AI education and public consultations on AI policy decisions.
  • Sustained human rights-based approach, gender mainstreaming and future generations: Any action and reflection on the future must take stock of lessons learned and address historical inequalities and discrimination. We urge all relevant stakeholders, in particular parliaments, to proactively ensure that AI does not impede the full enjoyment of all human rights by people, without distinction of any kind. Particular attention should be paid to integrating a gender perspective at all stages and levels of policies, programmes and projects related to AI. The voice of youth and the most marginalised populations must also be taken into account as well as the interests of future generations. This is our duty towards future generations.

V - Strengthening inter-parliamentary collaborations

  1. We recognise that current challenges related to AI require a collective and collaborative response. We encourage the facilitation of

platforms of exchange, coordination and networking among parliaments and committees of the future. This Second World Summit is a testimony of how such initiatives serve to amplify and enhance impact. An online interactive world map of parliamentary actions on AI issues, reports and draft regulations would facilitate such shared learning. We also call on the IPU to continue its engagement on anticipatory governance and building parliaments' use-of -the- future capacities, fostering the establishment of Committees of the Future in parliaments and integrating these issues into its current structures and debates with a view to catalysing parliamentary action.

VI - Appeal to the United Nations:

  1. We call upon the United Nations to spotlight the centrality of anticipation and foresight in parliaments through their main functions –

accountability, oversight, legislative and representative – in addressing the multifaceted challenges and opportunities posed by AI. The 2024 UN General Assembly and the 2024 UN Summit of the Future should prominently feature parliaments, including through the IPU as the global organisation of parliaments. Parliaments’ democratic mandate and future-oriented initiatives hold the key to sustainable solutions.

  1. We must aim to create a universally shared AI governance framework considering the accelerated, powerful, uncertain and

disruptive evolving nature of AI. This framework, which must take into account the interests of all nations, irrespective of their economic and social system, will have a dual focus: first, protecting human rights and humanity’s interests, safety and security, and second, harnessing AI’s positive evolution for the global good. An anticipatory AI global framework needs to address these challenges, and we call on parliaments to collaborate with the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General and his Envoy on Technology to develop a UN Convention on Artificial Intelligence and design adequate global processes and structures to meet this objective and ensure its implementation.

VII - Next steps

  1. Through the plenary sessions and workshops, the consensus of the participants on the importance of continuing the initiatives of

Committees of the Future in parliaments, globally networking, became evident. A next step will be to propose and organise pathways for international exchanges and collaborations. There was also a consensus that Summits of Committees of the Future should continue to be held at least once a year. This was confirmed by the final message from the President of the IPU. Chile’s offer to host the Summit in 2024 was noted, with confirmation to be agreed upon during the next IPU Assembly in Angola.

  1. In conclusion, our democracies, while tested by the evolving context of AI, need to advocate for anticipatory capabilities to

strengthen anticipation, resilience, creativity, responsibility and wisdom, to navigate the complexity and uncertainty that the world is facing. Through unity, foresight, ethical considerations, collaboration and an unwavering commitment to human rights and democratic values, we pledge to champion a future where technology serves humanity. The global collaboration of our parliaments, the role of the parliamentary Committees

9.0      RECOMMENDATIONS

9.1      Parliament should include artificial Intelligence and the Future in the Committee business. With the ultimate aim being the establishment of a stand-alone Committee of the Future, the Committee on Information, Communication and Technology should immediately include in its mandate and work plan the agenda of the Future.

9.2      Parliament should include AI and the Future in its 2024-2029 Institutional Strategic Plan as well as Monitoring and Evaluation framework. The Plan should give clear targets indicators and timelines.

9.3      Parliament should collaborate with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) who are the Millenium Project mode in Zimbabwe. The Millenium project is a leader in research for the future. Mr. Simbarashe Nhokovedzo, who is a lecturer at HIT is supported by the Millenium project. He is currently undergoing PHD studies in the Future with the Finland Future Research Centre at the University of Turku in Finland.

9.4      Parliament should engage the Executive and establish working modalities on the AI and Future agenda. 

9.5      Parliament should engage the UNDP local office to leverage on the engagement with the UNDP office of the Future who met the Hon Speaker in Uruguay. The engagement should result in crowding resources into the 2024-2017 Parliament Support Programme. 

9.6      Parliament should conduct benchmarking visits to Finland and Uruguay to learn from their future ecosystem templates. 

9.7      Parliament should sensitise all Members of Parliament on AI and the Future. Resource persons can be drawn from the register of Expert of the IPU.

9.8      Parliament should develop a detailed work plan for the Committee tasked with the agenda of the AI and the Future. 

9.9      Parliament should conduct targeted training of the Committee tasked with the agenda of AI and the Future. The training should also cover support staff.

9.10    Parliament should send research and ICT staff on attachment to the Millenium project, the Finland Future Research Centre and other institutions of similar nature in order to build their skills.

9.11    Parliament should use various media platforms to engage and sensitise stakeholders about the AI phenomenon. I thank you.

HON. SHAMU (speaking…) I thank you.

HON. CHIDUWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I rise to first of all thank Hon. Shamu for a detailed presentation in his capacity as Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He made the presentation on behalf of the Hon. Speaker of Parliament, who is a Member of the IPU Strategic Committee. The report on the Second Summit of the Committees for the Future is critical. It touches on the efficiency of Parliament and a deepening of our democratic State in Zimbabwe. I think the presentation is also in sync with the vision that we have as a country. If we check what is provided for under the National Development Strategy 1, one of the critical priority area is Zimbabwe embracing digital technology. I think this is where artificial intelligence is.

The report is saying as Zimbabwe, we need to embrace artificial intelligence and this enhances and improves on productivity, but personally I may not support being replaced by artificial intelligence as an Hon. Member. I think as a country, we need to come up with a national strategic plan in terms of where we want to go with regards to artificial intelligence. Whilst we can borrow here and there, benchmark here and there, we need a road map on artificial intelligence that is specific to Zimbabwe. There is need also for us to say, in as much we have got benchmarks there where we said within a period of five years, we should be in a position to be at that level. As a country, I think we have got our own limitations and one such limitation is budgetary support. If we are to reach the level of the Committees of the Future as mentioned, I think there is need for budgetary support.

With regards to the implementation of artificial intelligence, we cannot relegate or confine it to Parliament. I propose that we need to mainstream it, not only in the ministries, but even all the institutions given that artificial intelligence is going to assist us in terms of engendering productivity and enhancing production. For those of you who followed the presentations that were done at the Pre-Budget Seminar, one area that was echoed by quite a number of our Honourable Members was us as Zimbabweans to embrace artificial intelligence, not only on day to day activities, but even when it comes to revenue collection. I think this is an issue that came out that we need to embrace artificial intelligence. When looking at governance frameworks, they need to be in sync with our Constitution.  You cannot parrot government frameworks on their own.  There is need for them to be in line with our Constitution, otherwise I am very happy with the presentation that Hon. Shamu made.  It was a well thought-out presentation which shows where we should go as a country, but in the process, whatever frameworks that we are going to get, we need to domesticate them.  They need to be in sync with our Constitution.  Otherwise, thank you so much.  I fully support the recommendations, but we will continue to have our identity as Zimbabwe.  I thank you.

HON. CHIGUWA:  Thank you Hon. Shamu for the good presentation.  I want to say it is a good initiative that as a country we should adopt for the future.  I want to recommend that this be done quickly because technology moves so fast.  That is why I am suggesting that whilst you are coming out with frameworks, you also consider that we have got marginalised areas in our country. So whatever frameworks you are going to propose, you must consider the marginalised societies which must fit in whatever framework that you come up with.  This goes maybe to the Ministry of ICT and there must be capacitation and supporting infrastructure to ensure that when they start to roll-out whatever programmes that will assist our country to develop each and every one in this country, is going to be covered and is going to participate. I thank you.

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

HON. TSITSI ZHOU:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to. 

Debate to resume:  Thursday, 9th November, 2023.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 2 and 3 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 4 has been disposed of.

HON. TSITSI ZHOU:  I second.

HON. MAHERE:  On a point of order Madam Speaker Ma’am.  My sincere apology Unfortunately, as was highlighted by Hon Markham and a number of others on this side of the House ,we do not have hard copies of the Order Paper.  I see a number of Order Papers circulating on the other side.  We want to be able to participate usefully in the debate.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I can give you mine.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PROSECUTING AUTHORITY FOR THE YEAR 2022

          Forth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the National Prosecuting Authority for the Year 2022.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. NGULUVHE:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Section 258 of our Constitution talks about the National Prosecuting Authority which is responsible for instituting and undertaking criminal prosecution.  If we go further to Section 262 of our Constitution, it compels the Prosecutor General to present to the National Assembly the annual report of its activities through the relevant Ministry, which in our case is the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

 I would like to commend the NPA for timeously presenting their annual report which covers the period 1/1/2022 to 31/12/2022.  I take note of their highlighted concern on the issue of recruitment.  There was a shortage and they recruited over 50 new officers.  I think this was a good thing to be done.  It is normally very bad for one to be kept waiting if he or she is the accused and they do not know when they will be prosecuted.  We also appreciate the partnership between NPA and the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe who signed a Memorandum of Understanding.  This actually assisted the new prosecutor to be trained and equipped in the fight against corruption.  When I went through the report, I discovered that although the clearance rate of cases generally is around 68%.  There are still over 60,000 cases to be done, so I therefore call upon the National Prosecuting Authority to speed up these outstanding cases. I then looked again in the report, and I saw that there is a special unit in the National Prosecuting Authority. My suggestion is that these units which are based in their headquarters here in Harare, should be decentralised so that every corner of the country gets the same service.

          I then again checked in the report and discovered that under the economic crimes leaking was done, and only 38,38% of people were prosecuted.   You are talking of people whom we might call economic saboteurs and get only 38,38% of prosecution.  One wonders why we have such a low prosecution of such people.  If our country is developed economically, we have to make sure that such saboteurs are prosecuted.  My suggestion is that the National Prosecuting Authority, in the future, must actually bring the figures of the amounts of those who would not have been prosecuted.  When I look at these economic saboteurs, currently out of 1000, we still have over 600 outstanding cases of these economic saboteurs.

          I checked again in their report on the issue of drug-related cases.  In their report, they indicated that the rate at which they get results when they are summed for analysis is very slow.  Therefore, I  call upon the National Prosecuting Authority to buy modern equipment so that this issue of delaying bringing results is resolved. 

I also looked at their establishment and I want to commend the National Prosecuting Authority for their gender sensitivity.  If you look at their establishment, by December 2022, their establishment stood at 61, and out of that figure, 374 were female and 287 were male.  So, I think they are in the right direction as far as the issue of gender is concerned.  I would suggest that the Treasury affords the National Prosecution Authority enough money so that they can recruit.  They recruited last year 47 members and they are actually looking for 189 more, so I believe we should afford them the finance. 

          The issue of training workshops:- it is very important that they continuously train, and do research so that they move with the times of what is happening all over the world.  Otherwise, if I look at those recommendations, I totally concur with what they have recommended.  So, I would like to give a thumbs up to the National Prosecuting Authority.  I thank you.

          HON. JERE: I had the privilege to go through a report that was sent through by the National Prosecuting Authority.  I am generally happy with what they have put in their report but I have got grey areas which I would want to point out to this august House.

          To start with, their report was not put on a letterhead. It is just on a piece of paper that looks like a bond paper, so for proper corporate governance and impression management, they should address that. 

          I also had an analysis, there are some copies that I shared with you, if you have them for the purpose of my analysis, they put their report in four quarters.  Their presentation was in a bar graph, the bar graph is not more incisive in the way they have dealt with cases that are pending.  The report gives us the cases that were received in each quarter, like the first quarter they gave us the numbers, for example 43 000 cases were received and 28,000 cases were prosecuted leaving 14 271 pending cases.  In the next quarter, the report is not showing us the balance brought forward of the cases that were not dealt with, so there is a gap which is in their report which they might need to look at and maybe re-submit to the House for consideration.  You will notice that this continued to the third quarter and the fourth quarter.

          I would also want to recommend based on that to also have footnotes to their report indicating some of the cases which might be prolonged because of various reasons which are not given.  So, if you try to put the cumulative figures, you will notice that the success rate is changing in terms of percentages.  So that is one area which I might want a report to also address.

          The issue of staff turnover is quite worrisome looking at the centrality and importance of the NPA, the generality of the Zimbabwean people.  They lost quite a number of people due to the issues of remuneration. This is an issue I am suggesting for the budget, the Ministry of Finance looks at its budget and makes sure that we retain these very critical and very important staff.

          There is also an issue that was addressed by Hon. Nguluvhe about the equipment they are using.  It is in their recommendation, we recommend that with where we are going, right now we are reading an issue about Artificial Intelligence.  This is one area that needs to be equipped for them to be effective in their prosecution.  If they do not have resources, it is a problem for the country and that is when we start talking of catch-and-release issues which might not be there because prosecution evidence is quite important for one to be prosecuted. 

          I would like to commend the NPA for the programme which they came up with in trying to retain their staff where they spoke about Government Mutual Employee Saving Fund in which they are giving loans to their employees. It is a very good initiative to retain staff. It is a very good aspect which we encourage them to keep on doing that.

          In their report, I noticed that the report did not cover the issues of internal control systems which are very critical to any organisation when giving a final report because we would also want to appreciate their internal controls systems which are not even covered in the report. My humble request is for such things to be included in their report. Just as much as after recomputation of the copy which I was given, they have done a wonderful job because you will notice that in the last quarter, there is a 14% reduction of the prosecuted cases. This is quite commendable.

          Overally, our expectation when getting a document of this nature into this august House, we expect some of the issues which I pointed out so that we will be able to see the direction which we are taking from such an influential organisation. They have put at the end of their report, some recommendations which I would want to agree with that they need to be looked at and considered for them to be more effective.

          In conclusion, I would like to commend them for the job well done in the way they have prosecuted, and the reduction of cases by 20% in the last quarter of 2022. I thank you.

          HON. SAKUPWANYA: Madam Speaker, taking note of the NPA report, Section 258 of the Constitution gives prime responsibility for the NPA to institute and undertake criminal prosecution on behalf of the State. The independence of NPA means that it is not subject to the control of anyone in the discharge of their duty. The Constitution even further highlights in Section 260, where it speaks to the independence of the Prosecutor General who heads the NPA. On this note, I would like to highlight the milestone in the appointment of Hon Justice Matanda Moyo as the first female Prosecutor General in this country – [HON.  MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-.  The tone set by President Mnangagwa on gender inclusivity has been evidenced within the NPA report as their staff component comprises more than 56% of females.

          Some of the main highlights in the report include high labour turnover, the shortfalls in training, lack of ICT equipment and the overall clearance rate of 68.37% and a general lack of funding to operate efficiently. I want to highlight specifically with regard to the specialised units and on this one, I am targeting the one on drug related crimes.

Considering the scourge that has befallen the youth in terms of drug and substance abuse, I also want to thank President Mnangagwa for setting up the national taskforce to deal with this problem. At the centre of it all is the National Prosecuting Authority as they are handed the responsibility of ensuring that action is taken against the illegal drug peddlers as swiftly as possible.

          In this report, a clearance rate of 52.79% which is considered low has been evidenced in this particular sector and it is mainly due to the delay of results from the Narcotics Department under ZRP which at times can go on for months. This means that further support is needed to support even our ZRP and capacitate them with equipment as this is directly linked to the ability of the NPA to conduct its cases on time. Equipping the NPA and supporting it in this light saves our youth from the claws of drug dealers. To add on to that, adequately resourcing our NPA goes a long way in ensuring that these perpetrators of these harmful substances are not only brought to book but prosecuted based on sufficient appropriate evidence.

          I want to take note of the positive development in the judicial system as it has included ICT in its operations. The electronic management system introduced in the courts is testament to our commitment to move towards digitisation as a step ahead in increasing efficiency within our court system. The NPA therefore must be adequately trained to continuously incorporate ICT developments which also helps within themselves as ICT keeps on being updated and the training must be continuous.

          It is also important to equip the NPA with ICT tools adequate enough for the public prosecutors to do sufficient research that will ensure a water tight case. Doing so would also mean we have less complaints on the catch and release issue. I would not do justice to NPA if I left out the conditions of service. Currently, NPA is using JSC offices in most if not all provinces and at times as is the case in Manicaland, you will find four prosecutors sharing an office, this poses a security threat because we will be dealing with sensitive cases.

          Residential accommodation for more staff is a challenge as most of them are lodgers. Transport is another problem as they do not have buses in a lot of provinces. Addressing these issues is in turn addressing the major challenge of high staff turnover. In spite of these challenges, I must applaud the NPA for carrying on diligently and playing a crucial role in curbing crime and corruption as per their mandate. I thank you.

          HON. MAHERE: Madam Speaker, we have to say that we are quite concerned with the report that was brought by the NPA. They have got a constitutional duty to be independent and obviously to prosecute crime. What was lacking in the report is qualitative analysis especially around some of the very concerning statistics.

 I would like to zone in to make the point on the economic crimes section. We saw very concerning figure of only 38% clearance. We all know that Zimbabwe loses US$2.8 billion annually to corruption. A special anti-corruption court was established to tackle corruption. So, there is really no explanation in the report from the NPA as to why they have got such a low clearance rate for economic crimes, particularly in light of the fact that most of the people who get to court or arrested for economic crimes are political elites. Hon. Members from the other side have also highlighted the scourge of catch and release, so what explanation is there for this very low clearance rate?

          What was also missing from the report is an explanation as to why the NPA has a special unit in what they call the Office of the President. Constitutionally, they are meant to be independent and not subject to anybody’s control, especially not the Executive. So, we wanted to see in that report an explanation as to why trials take so long.  We can only highlight one example of Mr. Job Sikhala, over 520 days of trial, what explanation is there for a simple alleged public order offence to be dealt with over such a long period.  There was no explanation or report as to why trials are taking long.  What we expect from the NPA is constitutional conduct like any other institution.  They are bound by the provisions of Section 46, they have a duty to uphold the Constitution; to uphold the right of accused persons.  You see the NPA report was manifestly silent on the rights of accused persons which they have a duty to uphold them.  We would have wanted to see better qualitative analysis on that aspect.  Just throwing in a few bar graphs, two sentences and recommendations that do not even address, for example, the law clearance rate on economic crimes simply does not make sense.  The NPA’s report falls short of the Constitutional standard.  Thank you.

          HON. NDUDZO:  I am indebted Madam Speaker, Good afternoon.  The most conspicuous aspect of the report of the National Prosecuting Authority is that the mandate, work and success of the NPA evolves around the human element which in the main ought to be a properly qualified, trained and also subject to continuous training that must be rendered to our prosecutors.  Madam Speaker, it is a point of concern that emerges from the report that our National Prosecuting Authority appears to be trapped in a vicious cycle of continuously recruiting and training new members of staff as has been noted in the report on pages 3, 15, 17 and page 24.  The NPA is losing a lot of its experienced personnel through resignations. 

          Madam Speaker, people are coming into the NPA, there is a huge cost being incurred in training them at a point when they have attained  some level of experience, when we can count on them to be of good service to the NPA, they are taken away through resignations as they move to greener pastures.  Madam Speaker, as the National Assembly mandated to safeguard the Constitution and to support institutions created in terms of the Constitution, we must resolve to recommend, perhaps, the categorisation of the NPA in particular, of the prosecution profession as part of the critical skills that must be subject to certain safeguards so that we are able to retain experienced prosecutors. 

          Madam Speaker, prosecutors are not like light bulbs where you can mechanically replace one burnt light bulb with another.  It is not just a question of headcount to say we have 700 prosecutors, and if five resigned tomorrow we can replace them.   It takes a lot for one to be a knowledgeable and properly skilled prosecutor.  Focus must therefore be on adopting measures that will assist us to retain our experienced prosecutors.  We therefore, need to provide conditions of service which will retain our existing prosecutors, but also conditions of service which will motivate many to aspire to pursue prosecution as the ultimate profession of choice.

          Madam Speaker Ma’am, we know that prosecutors are pitted in the courts against well paid private lawyers who are experienced private lawyers.  We need to retain the experience that we have within our prosecution so that we are able to have personnel that can adequately serve the interest of the State in the fight against crime and in the fight against corruption.  Crime and corruption get more sophisticated with the passage of time especially in this digital era where now there is cybercrime and there are more other sophisticated means by which people will try and avoid being caught for the crimes they would have committed.  Some will seek political colour when they have committed crimes, some will seek to abuse other prejudices that exist in society so as to avoid crime.  When the NPA is well equipped with experienced prosecutors, they will be able to see through the tricks and chicanery that may arise from those other sanctuaries that people may seek. 

          It is my respectful submission that we need to support the NPA and make sure that we create an environment that is conducive for the retention of our prosecutors.  We have just received the report that was speaking to the Committees of the Future.  It is clear that ICT is now at the epicentre of our lives, the report notes that we do not have adequate ICT facilities and connectivity for our prosecutors.  The research is of critical importance in the discharge of quality services by our prosecutors.  Therefore, we need to support that our prosecutors must get all the support they require in order to make sure that we continue to enjoy a country where we have control and we have got measures that safeguard communities and society against criminals. 

          I also note Madam Speaker, the challenges that have been outlined on page 17 of the NPA report.  In my view, the challenges are well set out, but by no means insurmountable with support of this House, with support from Treasury.  It should be possible for us to have an NPA that we all can be proud of to serve our nation and to serve our people.  I thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. 

          HON. CHIDUWA:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  I will just pick on a few points that I have here with regards to the NPA report in terms of appraising it, looking at it whether it is a report worth noting or not.  I looked at quite a number of issues that are supposed to be in a report, to me an annual report as presented, should be a valuable source of information for this august House to be in a position to understand the operations of the NPA. 

          I am also saying we should be in a position to understand what took place during the year in terms of activities and also the expected future direction.  I was also looking at the report as an instrument that can be used by Parliament to assess the performance of the NPA as in this case.  We should have been availed with the strategic plan document so that whatever measurement that we are going to use it should be read together with the strategic plan document.  Obviously, on a year to year basis they do their strategic plans and this is where they map out what they want to achieve in that year.  The report should in a way also promote accountability and transparency. These are some of the issues I was looking at and when I looked at the report, there was supposed to be ownership and the official presentation. Literally, all annual reports are supposed to show the four words from the Minister and then the four words from the accounting officer, the structure of the organisation in terms of who is in there. You also get to know the organisational structure and all that. I saw all these were missing and then I looked at the issues to do with governance to say what are the risks that are involved when it comes to the day to day operations of the NPA.

These were not clearly captured and one area where quite a number of people have raised concern is the issue of corruption within the NPA and one would need to say given that, the issue of corruption is being raised, do we have safeguard mechanisms to ensure that we control and prevent the incidence of corruption.

The issue of staff attrition, this has been mentioned already but I think as the august House here, I have noted that about 189 positions that were supposed to be filled for two years were deferred and the major challenge that has been raised is the issue of funding. I think it is for us as the august House to make sure that we support them.

The issue of the economic crimes clearance has been highlighted but where I also needed to bring to the attention of the august House is,  there is a statement where they say no revenue was received from the Courts Administration Fund as Treasury instructed the NPA to close the accounts. I am not sure if we are saying they are no more receiving revenue. If they are receiving revenue, where are they putting it because here it appears like they were told to close the account. Are we saying there is nothing that is going to the Treasury Account?

In terms of the challenges, they have highlighted quite a number of challenges but literally, all of them have got something to do with finance. So, what is coming out is for this august House as we debate the 2024 National Budget, I think there is need for us to support the NPA in terms of their requirements and maybe given their targets, they would be able to scale up on the crimes clearance rate. I submit.

HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I also want to add my voice to the debate on the report concerning the operations of NPA. I want to first highlight the issue of high staff turnover whereby the period under review, 41 public prosecutors resigned. This is a huge turnover. I would suggest that there is need for further inquiry as to why there is huge turnover. Of course, the report stated that there is need to improve the conditions of service, but possibly there is need even for Parliament to look further into this high turnover because as other speakers have said, it will have ripple effects where they also stated in the report that they train new staff and they also have to go through induction process and the continuous training requires a lot of funding.

This will also be a burden even to Treasury. So, there is need to  find out what are the reasons behind this high turnover and this may also be a tip of an iceberg to what is happening in the civil service because this is also part of what the Government is giving to our civil servants and it is a reflection of the bigger picture of what is going on regarding the remuneration of the civil servants.

We also noted from the report that there is also a fund that was set aside where prosecutors or employees from NPA can borrow money and they said at a very low rate which was not also explained. It looks again that less than 30 members were willing to get the loans. So, we also need further explanation. The interest for the loan was not high. What was the reason for that? I also want to appreciate the role being played by development partners, specifically the civil society organisations, the international organisations like there is Transparency International Zimbabwe which also supported NPA through training of its staff. This also covers the gap when the Government is also failing to support its own programmes through its own resources.

Transparency International Zimbabwe came in and supported them and they acknowledged it in their report. TIZ also supported NPA for an awareness campaign that was carried out in December. This is where we also see progressive civil society and international organisations coming in to help our Government and we also need to continuously recognise their role and also to make sure that their operating environment is also conducive so that they also continue to support our Government. Unlike other reports which are also trying to overshadow the role of these organisations where we have seen they are being viewed from a political point of view but in this case, they are also development partners which are also a good development for our country.

The issue which relates to staff turnover which is the rate of the clearance of cases, we noted 68%. I think this rate, whilst it is more than 50%, but there is also need for improvement to make sure that the cases they deal with are cleared since we know that the accused persons are innocent until they are proved guilty. In this case, this rate is not really good.

I will conclude by taking note of another worrisome rate of cases that were before the NPA in terms of assets forfeiture where the section that deals with that will be dealing with money or property acquired through some proceeds that are deemed to be acquired through some actions of crime and there were four cases. These 46 cases involved 112 million. This is a worrying case Madam Speaker Ma’am where 46 cases – if you divide 112 by 46, it gives you two million per case. It then shows that the moment we reach 100 cases, it is a lot of money and it shows there is a lot of criminal activities that might be going on within our country and there are reports that we are losing billions of dollars through illicit financial flows in this country. There is need also to tighten the screws within our legal systems and make sure that in Zimbabwe we do not continue to lose such amounts of resources, especially when we are a country that is failing to deal with disease like Cholera and we are losing huge amounts of USD like this. I do not think this is really good. 

There is also another worrisome case that happened when the NPA sent people to India, we read in the report that they were not fully supported and they had no adequate funding.  It gives a bad picture where those people who are being sent by a public institution are found to be struggling whilst abroad.  So, there is also need to make sure that as we are within the budget period, we need to push for adequate resources that will be given to NPA and other institutions that equally require funding rather than to send people and become a shame to our country.  It does not give a good picture, especially when we are at a period where we want to improve the image of our country outside.  Thank you.

          HON. KAPOIKILU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  I do not have much to add, but I am concerned about the prosecutors’ conditions of service.  We have noted that our prosecutors get into public transport after work.  That will make them interact with the accused; the chances of them interacting with the accused are very high, which is not safe for them.  Secondly, it exposes them to corruption because they will end up negotiating with the accused.  So, I suggest that prosecutors get private vehicles to minimise this. 

          Also, when it comes to high staff turnover, we are very concerned.  I feel that the conditions of service for prosecutors must be improved and must match those of their counterparts in the private sector.  Thank you.

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

          HON. C. HLATYWAYO: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 9th November, 2023.

          On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON. C. HLATYWAYO, the House adjourned at One Minute to Six o’clock p.m.

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