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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 9 NOVEMBER 2023 VOL 50 NO 12

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 9th November, 2023

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER

PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM CLAUDE KAHARO AND THE COMBINED HARARE RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that on Monday, 2nd October, 2023, Parliament received a petition from one Claude Kaharo beseeching Parliament to urgently consider enacting a law that empowers the electorate to recall non-performers from Parliament and councils as a way of strengthening the performance of public institutions. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

 

          I also have to inform the House that on Friday, 13th October, 2023, Parliament received a petition from the Combined Harare Residents Association imploring Parliament to align the Water Act, Environmental Management Act, Regional Town Planning Act and Urban Councils Act with Section 77 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe on the right to water. The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

           HON. MARKHAM: Good afternoon Madam Speaker, my point of national interest refers to the meeting that the Zimbabwe Electoral had with the international observers on 17th August 2023, before the elections.  They read out and advertised that sufficient ballot papers had been printed to the extend, on the Presidential ballot papers totaling 7.6% more ballot papers that were required were printed and ready for distribution.  The same for the National Assembly ballot papers and Madam Speaker, for the local ballot papers, 3.5% ballot papers more than required were submitted in paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) they were ready for the elections come what may. 

          Madam Speaker, my request is why the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was ready 10 days before the election had an issue with ballot papers on election day? For the first time in the history of this country, we ran out of ballot papers during the election, despite ZEC telling us they had printed enough.  Madam Speaker, my request is, in the national interest, could the relevant Minister or Commission…

          HON. HAMAUSWA: On a point of order?

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are out of order Hon. Hamauswa, please sit down.

          HON. MARKHAM: Madam President, how can the ZEC continue – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can we have order in the House.

          HON. MARKHAM: How can the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission tell international observers we have 7.6 more and then fail by 1400hrs in the afternoon, rural and urban polling stations had run out of ballot papers?  I request your ruling on an Independent Commission or a statement from the relevant Hon. Minister to explain what happened.  Further to this, this issue amongst others were brought up in the SADC which has just recently been adopted.  Can that SADC Report be laid on the table of this House so that we can debate it?  I so move and I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can we have Hon. Members – [HON. MAMOMBE: It is your right-side Madam Speaker.] –

          HON. HAMAUSWA: On a point of order.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are out of order Hon. Hamauswa, please take your seat.  Allow me to respond to Hon. Markham.  Hon. Markham, I advise you to put that in writing and ask the responsible Hon. Minister so that he will bring a comprehensive copy to this House.  At the moment, I cannot answer to your concerns. Put that in writing and ask the Hon. Minister to respond.

          HON. MARKHAM: Madam Speaker, may you rule on the SADC Report being laid on the table.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I cannot rule on the SADC Report.

          HON. MARKHAM: Just on a point of clarity, are you refusing to rule or you are ruling that I must include it in my…

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You know very well that I cannot do that.

          HON. MARKHAM: Really?  I do not know about that Madam Speaker. You are the Speaker.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You know very well that I cannot do that.  Please may you take your seat – [HON. MEMBERS: Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo.] –

          HON. MARKHAM: Ko inini ndinobva kupi, wakakwana here?

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: May we have order in the House – [HON. E. ZHOU AND HON. HAMAUSWA:  Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. E. Zhou and Hon. Hamauswa ndinokubuditsai panze monotaura izvozvo zvamuri kutaura kusvika svondo rinouya muchitaura. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – ZveFAZ izvozvo nezvaTshabangu ndokubuditsai panze monotaura.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TSITSI ZHOU: I move that Order of the Day Number 1 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. MAHLANGU: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PROSECUTING AUTHORITY FOR THE YEAR 2022

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

          Question again proposed.

HON. MAHERE: On a point of order.

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

HON. MAHERE: Thank you Madam Speaker for recognising me.  I just wish to place it on record that there is a misleading statement in the Hansard of yesterday which indicates that I walked in late and that the Hon. Speaker said that I should stop walking when he is talking. I just want to place it on record that it was not me Hon.Mahere who was late, and I did not walk in front of the Speaker’s chair.  In fact, I was seated long before the Hon. Speaker entered and long before the Speaker’s procession came in.  So, the simple point I wish to make is that, the entry in the Hansard is misleading, it is inaccurate and I respectively pray that the record be corrected accordingly – [AN. HON. MEMBER: Waitauraka uchinzi hoyo, waitaura nezvei.]-

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Mahere, I am sure the Hansard department has taken note of that.

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am for affording me this opportunity to add my voice on the NPA Report. Madam Speaker, let met begin by saying that even if we are legislators and are supposed to understand the Constitution and therefore be aware of the mandate of NPA, it would have been good if the report had actually outlined its mandate so that when we are reading the report or if anyone is reading the report, you do not have to look for the Constitution or go back to the Constitution and read what their mandate is.

          Madam Speaker Ma’am, strong institutions are key pillars of advancement of democracy and justice.  Strong as determined by the structure, skills and adequate resources.  As an independent institution pivotal to advancement of justice, the NPA must be properly capacitated in terms of technical skills and tools to ensure effective delivery of justice and avoidance of corruption.

          Madam Speaker, I applaud the NPA for partnering with other stakeholders like Transparency International Zimbabwe in addressing and benchmarking for the best practices in skills, technical knowledge, justice and fight against corruption through its specialised units focused on specific areas relevant to its mandate.  Checks and balances enable the NPA to improve on the justice delivery system. 

Madam Speaker, of concern to me on the presentation performance quarterly graphs, is that they do not show what happened to the pending cases of the previous quarter.  It is assumed that the pending cases of previous quarter becomes the starting cases of the new quarter, but that is just being assumed.  We do not know.

Madam Speaker, focusing on the inspectorate, training, complaints and anti-corruption unit, the role of awareness by the public for the complaints handling and anti-corruption reporting is critically important.  The question is; to what extent is the public aware of this unit so that they can also go and complain and they know that anti-corruption is also available within the NPA?  The role of awareness by the public for complaints handling, anti-corruption reporting is critical, but this awareness programme is not visible in our areas.  Where I come from Madam Speaker, the degree of awareness is very low.  People do not know what activities to report, where and how. 

Madam Speaker, when I look at the graph of gender based violence cases, it shows good clearance of 70.66%, but it is one area afflicted by corruption and both cases prosecuted on and cases that are withdrawn before plea.  I have been following cases Madam Speaker, where young girls aged 17 and below report their cases, go to court and they are represented by NPA. but at the end of the case you find that some of these girls are the ones who are actually convicted.  They become perpetrators and the actual perpetrator becomes the victim.  Like the case I just followed a few weeks ago, where a 40 year old man claimed to have been raped by a 17 year old girl who had actually reported her case and the case was turned around and we do not know why NPA stood on this case.  So we are saying we have to protect the society by fighting this scourge of corruption and ensure justice for all. 

Madam Speaker, it is good to talk about gender mainstreaming.  In this case, in the report, it is demonstrating the NPA is employing more women than men on their figures, but it becomes window dressing  if these women are not seen anywhere in decision making positions. If people have been following the report, there is where they quote these numbers and at the end, they quote two men who are actually leading the NPA and women are not seen there.

The high turnover of staff at NPA compromises service delivery.  There is need to implement a competitive staff retention scheme to address welfare needs.  We cannot afford to have new and inexperienced personnel all the time constituting a higher percentage of staff complement.

In conclusion, Madam Speaker, it is important that Parliament pleads with Treasury to adequately support NPA in meeting its critical requirements so it can fulfil its mandate.  Failure to do so opens the institutions to mediocre performance and failure to fight corruption and ensure justice.  I thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.

HON. TSITSI ZHOU:  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 14th November, 2023.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2022

Third Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission for the year 2022.

          Question again proposed.

HON. DR. MUTODI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Madam Speaker, the report on the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission for the year ended December 2022 covered several issues including governance, the mechanisms of combating corruption, prevention of corruption, the means with which the Commission was to engage and network with the stakeholders and implementation of its corruption prevention strategies as well as budgetary issues. The Chairperson of this Commission came up with a statement so appetizing to readers inasmuch as it shows, not only the establishment of ZACC but also the strategies that it has been using to fight against the scourge of corruption. Among this, the statement noted that the Commission had set up a committee to provide an independent review of cases submitted or referred to it.

Madam Speaker, this was a noble move by the Commission as you are aware that the public may not be acquainted with what corruption may really mean and how it should be handled. The issue of establishing the Committee to assess cases that are brought before the Commission was very important for the Commission to make in order to screen the matters that may really need attention by those responsible for combating corruption. The Commission also established a training manual for the year 2022, which had a tag line, ‘prevention is better than cure’. This is something that us, as legislators, must support that as a country, we must not only focus on raising areas where corruption is happening but we must also come up with legislation that tends to prohibit members of the public into indulging in corruption.

Madam Speaker, the number of cases referred to the Commission during the year 2022 were many but the Commission managed to send 134 dockets to the National Prosecuting Authority, which can only show us that the Commission did much. A lot of work was handled by this Commission during this year. It is commendable that the Commission managed to fulfil its mandate and give us a reason why it should consume part of the taxpayers’ money as it handled many cases. The Chairperson noted also that the ZACC deals with cases of high economic value. It also deals with profile people and the cases it handles are of national interest. This gives us the impetus Madam Speaker, to really support the ZACC not only in terms of financing its activities but also improving the conditions of service of its employees.

Madam Speaker, you know that if the person being investigated has got a fat pocket, that person is most likely to use his or her resources to conceal the crime of corruption, hence the need to ensure that members who deal with corruption cases under the ZACC have been provided with conducive conditions of service. The Commission also reported that 72% conviction rate was realised. I can only say this is commendable. We encourage the ZACC to continue on this path of ensuring that it handles issues effectively and it results in the conviction of those who would have been accused of corruption offences.

The Commission noted also that there was need to enact two Bills which include the Witness Protection Bill. This essentially is supposed to protect our witnesses who report corruption and also the public interest disclosure, thus the protection of whistle blowers and all these Bills were noted as very important in enhancing the operation of the ZACC.

The Commission noted that the Bills were very important in as far as they help to fight corruption and would also increase public confidence in the institution of ZACC. Madam Speaker, you will realise that the ZACC was established as an integral part of our Constitution under Zimbabwe Amendment No. 20 Act and also is provided for under Sections 254 and 255 in the 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution.  The main purpose or thrust of the Commission is to combat corruption, combat theft and misappropriation of funds, abuse of power and any other improprieties in both public and private sectors.

To elaborate on this, the Commission investigates and exposes cases of corruption in both private and public sectors and also promotes honesty, financial discipline and transparency. In this era where we are handling huge amounts of resources, be it financial resources or any other resources, it is important that the ZACC be supported by the legislature in ensuring that it carries out this important mandate because if a country is affected severely by corruption, severely by theft and misappropriation of funds and abuse of power, it will result in anarchy and lawlessness. It will also entrench poverty in our societies, hence the need for this commission to be fully supported by the legislature.

Under the governance of this Commission, it was clear in their report that the Commission had a chairperson by then, who is now the Prosecutor General and has also six commissioners, six managers and several staff members. The Commission in its establishment with such organogram manages to undertake various investigations that are of importance to this country in as far as corruption is concerned. It follows a system of all or most corruption cases to be easily reported, easily dealt with and concluded through the other arm of the Government which is the National Prosecuting Authority. I believe Madam Speaker, that this system of identifying corruption, investigating corruption and ending the process by having accused persons prosecuted, in some cases jailed will continue to make sure that our community is safe from corrupt practices and as legislators we must support this noble initiative.

It is also noted that there were a number of corruption cases that were reported mainly in Harare, Midlands and Bulawayo. These are the three towns that have huge number of corruption cases. If you look on the nature of corruption cases, Madam Speaker, it is mainly involving criminal abuse of office which is being perpetrated by public officials, who out of the 684 cases had more than 335 cases. Madam Speaker, this can only indicate to us that the focus for our corruption fight should concentrate in the public sector. It is in the public sector Madam Speaker, that we are having many corrupt people. Government must therefore, enact, compliance measures that ensure that public officials are prevented from abusing public resources, maybe through procurement procedures or through any other means that they are using to enrich themselves unfairly at the expense of the generality of the members of the Zimbabwean nation.

Madam Speaker, there is also indication that there was high corruption activities in local authorities. This informs the legislature that the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and Social Amenities may need to have some legislation crafted to ensure that councillors who get elected into office desist from corruption. I suggest Madam Speaker that workshops be carried out by the Ministry of Local Government or by the Portfolio Committee involved to ensure that they unearth the sources of corruption or the activities that actually lead to corruption in local authorities such that there can then be some initiatives to create laws to prevent such activities.

Madam Speaker, the report noted that asset recovery during the year 2022 amounted to USD29 million. This is a huge amount of money that if it had been allocated to services such as the provision of schools, clinics, boreholes and other important facilities in rural areas, it would have made a big change in our societies. It could have improved the lives of many poor Zimbabweans. It exhibits that we have got a lot of work before us Madam Speaker, to ensure that we block this leakage of these huge amount of resources that are pertinent to the survival of Zimbabweans. Exhibits were in the form of buildings, expensive cars and many other luxuries.

What we note Madam Speaker is that corrupt Zimbabweans, after siphoning money from either the public service or local authorities, take this money out of the country to build mansions.  They do a lot of investments in other countries.  It is not corruption money that they use in Zimbabwe, otherwise it may have helped in some way to create jobs and even to enrich their own families.  It is actually money that they take out of the country so that it then benefits people of those host countries.  So, it is something that we need to fight seriously on a united front and ensure that we end this scourge as it is draining the resources that are supposed to benefit us as a country. 

On its prevention mechanisms, the Commission proposed some compliance checks, training programmes and there are awareness programmes to ensure that people are aware of the areas where corruption is happening, and that they are able to confidently report.  I also propose that we implement some corruption prevention prizes whereby the people who report corruption end up being given some prizes for alerting authorities to take action. Such practice will encourage those people who have been sitting on the fence and saying we have been reporting corruption, but have not been able to benefit anything out of it.  Such people will then be able to take part and contribute to the reporting and ending of corruption.

The report also noted that there was need for research in terms of how corruption has affected economic growth and I agree with this report in a great way.  We need to ensure that we know the correlation between the corrupt practices and economic growth.  We know that corruption has a tendency of affecting our economic growth and to hinder us from attaining our targets in terms of job opportunities and education achievements.  So, we have got to ensure that we support research in this sector.  We may actually need to come up with a fund to support a Master’s Degree and PHD thesis on corruption research, for instance on how corruption has affected our economy for a certain period of time maybe between this period and that period.  Such research will be used as a starting point to further unearth other avenues that may help us to understand how to deal with corruption. 

On the budgetary concerns, the report mentioned that out of what the Commission was asking in terms of funding, normally it was given 50% or less of what it was asking for and this tended to constrain the Commission to deal with as many corruption cases as it would have intended.  It is my recommendation that in future, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission be fully resourced to ensure that it performs its duty more efficiently.

I also propose that in future, there be an indexation of the impact of corruption on economic growth and other economic targets.  If an index is high, we know that our anticipated economic growth figures are likely to be lessened by a factor of the magnitude of the corruption parameter.  So ZACC needs in some cases, to produce maybe in conjuction with the ZimStats, panel data to ensure that we have this data which itemises sector by sector corruption figures for which we can determine corruption hot spots.  We must be able to digitalise corruption figures, so that we will be able to tell that for instance in the mining sector, the corruption index is so much and in the agricultural sector and education sector, the corruption index is so much so that we are able to estimate the transmission mechanism of corruption as a variable against economic GDP growth.  We will be able to use quantitative methods to determine without financial loss what percentage of financial loss to government is possible for every one dollar that is transacted in a certain financial year. 

So, this generally is what could be my recommendation as we tend to be more sophisticated in our follow up and research in terms of how corruption has affected our economy.  I thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.

HON. MARUPI:  Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to also add a few observations in accepting the report that we got from ZACC.  It is a report that I believe is very comprehensive.  It touches many areas that I believe if we are to go through the report, we will agree that the report tries by all means to touch areas that I believe some of them cannot just be read and we fail to add one or two words.  For starters, I would like to appreciate the number of cases that were done by ZACC. According to the statistics and percentages, out of the 253 cases approved and brought before the Commission, a total 157 were investigated, making it 62% of the cases handled by ZACC.  They referred 134, which is 53% dockets, to the National Prosecuting Authority and you would agree with me that in the NPA Report, it was actually felt that along the way, some of the cases were still under investigation and were not yet done or were still to be concluded. 

I would also like to applaud the ZACC for the job well done.  However, we still believe that more can be done if resources could be availed for them to execute their duty.  It is very critical to appreciate that for them to perform and do their duty, they need resources that would make them cast their nets wide.  They do many investigations that sometimes require them to spend a lot of time dealing with individual cases because some of these cases are high profile and by their nature, they also need not only time, but need resources. 

When we are looking at the issue of resources we should also appreciate that by the nature of the cases, some of them would also require high expertise that would mean they involve officers or people dealing with the cases also  understand and be in sync or in tandem with the cases they are dealing with. Taking note that nowadays we have got a lot of white collar crimes that are taking place world-wide, and as such, we need to also appreciate the need to have most of these people also trained in these areas. You will notice that as they try to conclude or as they go deeper into the investigations, along the way, some of the cases just fizzle out just like that probably because of lack of knowledge and expertise from the people who would be handling the cases. 

It is very critical and prudent as an august House to embrace this report, and on the same token look at it with critical eyes to see that when some of these reports are brought before us, we try to analyse them and see where there are loopholes so that whatever recommendation that we make is going to benefit us as a country.  We have noted with concern that along the way, maybe if I may use an adage of a farmer who will make a hyena midwife to a goat giving birth is what is happening sometimes and find ourselves recommending people who do not have the expertise to handle some cases. 

I would actually recommend or suggest that when it comes to some of the office bearers, maybe it is critical that ZACC as an institution, should also try to be found in each and every corner of Zimbabwe.  Having recommended that, it is also important that the awareness campaigns include or bring in the locals and take cognisance of the languages spoken in Zimbabwe because we have some cases that I believe are not investigated truly or actually taken into consideration probably because of language barriers because of probably distance as a barrier and the issue of culture is also very important. As a country, we have a culture of withdrawing when it comes to people participating in some of these investigations and being included or involved to participate as witnesses. As such, the Bill, I am sure is going to go a long way in assisting or making people getting to accept and embrace the importance of this organisation in our society.

        On the same token, I would say having noted that a lot of these shenanigans are happening in the towns, maybe it is high time that we also try to come up with a mechanism that is going to make our towns habitable by probably creating or embracing organisations that are involved in some of these activities to take note of the damage that they do to society and the economy. We may then make them sign an agreement to say that once involved or be part of some of these illicit activities, they be suspended or there be a fine that is going to deter or make people realise the importance of not embracing or taking some of these issues lightly.

        Lastly, I would like to commend the approach to business that I see in the report, especially when it comes to issues of governance because we see that they have included a plan on how they carried out their office work for the year. This, I believe is very important to follow and makes us appreciate and get to know, and probably make a follow up if we are to ask them to then give us a record or timetable of how they actually do or carry their day to day duties in their office. With this, I rest my case Madam Speaker.

        HON. E. MASUKU:   Thank you for giving me this opportunity to debate on the ZACC Report. I am sure we are all aware that corruption remains a significant obstacle to the achievement of national Vision 2030. That is why through Section 254 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, ZACC was established as a body with the mandate of investigating and exposing corruption in public and private sectors. I must therefore, from the onset, commend the Commission for their ongoing efforts to uproot this vice from the society. I must also hasten to acknowledge the adherence of the Commission to Section 257 as evidenced by tabling of the annual report to Parliament.

        In that report Madam Speaker, I identified the following key issues which were striking; firstly, asset seizures and legal action. It is commendable that the Commission conducted multiple seizures and initiated legal actions involving significant amounts of assets and wealth valued at US$29 million indicating a high level of illicit activities and wealth accumulation. Secondly, compliance spot checks; I further acknowledge the Commission for conducting comprehensive compliance, assessments and spot checks in various public institutions, revealing several issues such as unprocedural sale and allocation of commercial and residential stands, non-compliance with procurement procedures, misuse of devolution and incomplete projects. These issues were noted in institutions like local councils, Government funded projects and other organisations.

        Thirdly, impact of compliance checks; as a result, the compliance checks resulted in several positive outcomes including the resumption of abandoned devolution funds projects, including renovation of community facilities. The arrest of councils’ officials involved in criminal activities and civil forfeitures of assets purchased from the proceeds of crime. Additionally, diverted devolution funds were returned to the relevant councils, unlawfully seized were restored and capacity buildings initiatives were implemented in some councils.

        Lastly, anti-corruption awareness campaigns; I was also encouraged by efforts of the Commission to enhance awareness through rural awareness campaigns to target the rural population which constitutes a significant portion of the Zimbabwe population. These campaigns aimed to mitigate systematic corruption, improve Government economic programmes and encourage reporting of corruption cases. The campaigns identified several key issues including the need of increased presence in remote areas. Corruption in the distribution of Government schemes, illegal land occupation and sales, corrupt allocation of land, illegal sale of natural resources and corruption in mining claims issuance. To that end Madam Speaker, having recognised the key issues identified above, it is crucial that we are cognisant of the following recommendations;

          Strengthening asset recovery efforts, the Commission should continue its efforts to cease and recover assets acquired through illegal means.  This may involve and enhance coordination with relevant authorities and international partners to track and repatriate assets hidden abroad.  Improve institutional compliance, public institutions especially local authorities and Government funded projects ought to adhere to legal and administrative frameworks. 

          The Commission should work with these institutions to provide guidance training and oversight to ensure compliance with regulations and good practices.  The Commission should continue to promote transparency and accountability in public institutions.  This includes addressing issues such as the unprocedural sale of land, misuse of devolution funds and incomplete projects. 

          Training and capacity building initiatives should be a part of this effort.  Lastly, Madam Speaker, investigate and prosecute corrupt practices.  The Commission should continue to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption identified during compliance, spot checks and awareness campaigns. This will serve as a deterrent to potential wrong doers and promote a culture of accountability.  Above all, the Commission must be adequately be funded in order to ensure that it can effectively discharge its mandate.

          In conclusion Madam Speaker, corruption remains a challenge for our country and must be addressed.  It is imperative that this House also joins in the efforts to ensure that corruption does not emanate among us.  We all know that our President Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, is always saying that no one is above the law.  I thank you.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUSA NCUBE): I have got a short announcement to make.  An Hon. Member missed her cellphone at the main entrance to Parliament building.  Please kindly check among your belongings for the cellphone which has a black pouch and a blue lining on the edge. 

          HON. MAHERE: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker, the report of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is of concern indeed, in light of the fact that Zimbabwe loses USD2.8 million to illicit financial flows and corruption every single year.  We would have expected to hear more from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission concerning what they are doing especially in light of their constitutional prerogative. Section 255 of the Constitution makes it abundantly clear; they have an obligation to investigate and expose corruption.  When all is said and done, we saw zero exposé reported in the 2022 report.  This is not withstanding a plethora of corruption incidents. 

The Ministry of Finance Prof. M. Ncube even reported in the operative period that a US100 million was lost every single month to gold leakages.  The report is silent on all that.  We are aware of the COTTCO scandal involving a former Hon. Member from ZANU PF, Hon. Wadyajena, there is absolutely nothing said in the report about these key important cases. 

          What the Constitution requires in Section 257 is that this report should include particular matters relating to improper conduct in the public and private sectors.  There is not a single particular matter that has been reported in this report.  All we hear is engagement and networking.  This report is not meant to be a window dressing or box ticking exercise.  We are supposed to ensure that they expose corruption.  It cannot be the case that the incidence of corruption that are taking place in Zimbabwe should be investigated by ZEC, actually investigated by external investigators. We saw the same report in 2022 that went into detail around corruption and a number of other issues including an exposé on Kuda Tagwirei, we would have wanted to see some sort of s exposé attempt by ZEC to do something. The conduct we have seen on ZEC is that whenever corruption takes place at the high levels, they suddenly become incapacitated.  They are making low level officials sign, that is what we hear in their report.  They do not speak about the important corruption cases that are taking place and are robing this country of important funds.

          On some of the data that comes out in that report, you will see that only 147 cases were referred to the police.  That is done in a country that is losing US2.8, almost US3 billion.  What is ZACC doing? Why are they being funded if only 140 cases are referred to the police? If you remember yesterday, NPA Report, the prosecutor is saying all these economic crimes that come before them, they have only completed 38%, a low clearance rate together with the inactivity on the part of ZACC is what is costing corruption.  So, we see that the report by ZACC proves the inefficiency in their failure to attend to their constitutional mandate yet it does not stop there. If you look at the majority of, I believe it is part 5 where they are dealing with combating corruption, you can see that ZACC sits back and expects corruption to be reported to it, they are waiting for complaints to come to them. However, section 255 of the Constitution says that they are meant to be proactive and go and investigate but they completely failed.

          What we see is that the sentiment exhibited by public that ZACC is actually captured right at the top and we are going to see that and when the 2023 report comes out, we expect ZACC to be attending to particular cases.  We expect the 2023 report to cover the gold mafia scandal.  They cannot shy away from important corruption cases that were exposed and reported by others because they are politically captured.   So, we expect ZACC to do more. This report simply does not meet the constitutional standard.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mahere but next time you should avoid mentioning the names of the people who are not here and who cannot defend themselves.

          HON. CHIDUWA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I do not have much to say, but only to comment on the good work that was done by ZACC in terms of the structure of the report, the content and the ambiance.  It is an example of how reports should be done.  The issue that I may want to bring to light is, ZACC mentioned that they had a strategic workshop and in terms of their strategic workshop, they had specific objectives in terms of what they wanted to achieve.  One area is where they wanted to carry out a national anti-corruption strategy, but unfortunately the national anti-corruption strategy was deferred.  It was not implemented because of lack of financial resources.

They also wanted to decentralise the operations of ZACC to provinces, but I think they only managed to do that in six provinces.  These are some of the issues where in terms of their efficiency they could have done more, but because of lack of resources they could not achieve what they had set for themselves to achieve in the strategic plan and as has already been alluded to by other Hon. Members, corruption negatively affects the ease of doing business.  It affects the realisation of Vision 2030 and NDS1 objectives.  It also affects service delivery across sectors.  What I would want to implore on this august House is for us to support ZACC, to also support their request for further budgetary support from Treasury so that they are in a position to deliver on their mandate.  In terms of the recommendations, I have also seen that they seem to be quiet on forensic investigations and the detection of cyber-crimes and because of technology what is happening these days, there is need for ZACC to also invest on cyber crime investigations and forensic investigations.  I submit Madam Chair.

HON. MUTOKONYI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  Yes, the ZACC 2022 Report is quite detailed.  Also as mandated by the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Section 254 and 255 on their objectives which include to promote honest financial discipline and transparency, we see that in this report, there is quite a lot of detail on it.  I will start on the 72% conviction to NPA, 72% of cases were convicted.  That shows that much work was done particularly in as far as investigation is concerned because at times you see that a lot of other dockets, in some instances, they are then thrown out especially at the NPA level.  So that is quite commendable in terms of its mandate to investigate such cases.

Madam Speaker, in their report they described what they call the system review checks.  This is a corruption prevention approach that ensures that if the systems are checked, particularly in the public institutions, a lot of this corruption is actually avoided because at times if the systems of the institutions are porous, they will allow corruption to take place.  So the report is stating that they have that as their prevention strategy to ensure it is minimised at prevention level than at combating.

Looking at their case by sector analysis, Madam Speaker, we are witnessing that there is quite a lot of challenges, particularly in the local authorities.  This is purely an issue of land barons where we see 9.65% - I want to also recommend  that as the legislators here, we have a task to ensure that, particularly in our Committees where we represent the relevant ministries, we also discuss and come up with possible measures and solutions that can minimise and reduce this cancerous thing.

Madam Speaker, on their report as well, I have seen that in terms of the staff complement, we see that 46% of the staff complement are women and we are seeing that they are actually exercising the gender balance, trying to balance within the institution.  This is quite commendable and I am sure other Commissions also do the same.  The report, Madam Speaker, also confirms that they are only in six provinces.  Where I come from, Mashonaland East Province, there is no ZACC office in that province.  This then gives a challenge of their feasibility because there are also cases that could have been reported or investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.  I want to recommend that in an effort to drive or eradicate corruption, they have to be visible in all the provinces, even at district level, to ensure that we combat this scourge.

Also, I have seen that in their report, Madam Speaker, the Commission has got three departments which are the Corporate Affairs, the Corruption Prevention and Combating. It shows that they are working hard enough to make sure that we reduce this and also from their strategy, I see they have got their prosecution liaison which is actually a legal department within the institution that ensures that before the docket is sent to NPA, it is well done. I think this where we then see conviction rate. As such, I want to applaud the Commission on that. I just did a small research Madam Speaker, in terms of trying to benchmark the same in other regional countries around. I have realised that in terms of their human capital capacity, I think it is very low given that other institutions in Tanzania and Zambia have over two thousand manpower. If you see, the staff complement is very low in this institution. This will also affect the turnaround time of all the processes from investigation up to prosecution. The institution should also be equipped, particularly in terms of the resources to ensure that they have enough human capital to ensure that all the necessary investigation issues are dealt with,

I have seen also Madam Speaker, in terms of their asset recovery, where a building was recovered out of unexplained source of wealth. This shows that quite a lot of work is being done by this institution and it is entirely up to us the people of Zimbabwe, to make sure that wherever we are, we should report this corruption in public and private sectors. Also, Madam Speaker, I have seen that in terms of their expenditure, they were given an extra $1 billion by the Treasury to ensure that they can meet their mandate to deliver the duties as required by the law. We also want to applaud on that and to commend the Treasury because if we live these key institutions not well capacitated, the effects will be the rampant corruption in the society.

Without taking much, Madam Speaker, I would want to conclude. One scholar, Robert Klitgaard defined corruption with an equation where it says, ‘corruption is equals to discretionary power plus rent seeking behaviour minus accountability’. We need to make sure that us as legislators here, we need to hold people accountable. We also need to make sure that as Zimbabweans, we should not get into rent-seeking behaviours because this will lead to corruption. Madam Speaker, as recommendations, this anti-graft body should be well resourced with human and financial resources to ensure that it delivers its key mandate as required by the law. I submit Madam Speaker.

HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank Madam Speaker Ma’am. I also want to add my voice on the Anti-Corruption’s Report. I want to first acknowledge that the Commission has been able to comply with the requirements of the laws of the land to make annual reports which then enables us as parliamentarians to further interrogate the reports and make recommendations.

An analysis of this report reviews that corruption is now a cancer in our country. Madam Speaker Ma’am, this is a worrying revelation from the report. It exposed the magnitude of corruption in this country. When you check on their report, when they explained their findings through the urban and rural campaigns, you will see that corruption is involving people or officials who are supposed to be protecting natural resources, who are supposed to be champions of good values and corporate governance in our country. When you see chiefs and headmen being implicated in illegal selling of land, even in the rural areas and when you also read from the report, corruption involving Rural District Council officials – it is worrisome Madam Speaker. This why I concluded that, now we have a serious cancer affecting the Zimbabwean society. I have checked also on the report the Commission said – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Even when you also check on Pomona, it is corruption. It is another high level case of corruption. Madam Speaker, it is also worrisome to see even in urban areas where there is corruption in the medical facilities where people have to pay bribes for them to have access to medication. It shows a society that is rotten. A society where values are no longer existing. My recommendation is that the national leadership…

HON. MATANGIRA: On a point of order.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order Hon. Member?

*HON. MATANGIRA: My point of order Madam Speaker is that there is no corruption in the rural areas. Corruption is found here in the urban areas. I ask the Hon. Member to withdraw. He is insulting the chiefs – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members.

HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to reiterate and bring before you that, indeed in the report, the Anti-Corruption Commission carried out awareness campaigns in the rural areas and they got 69 reports of corruption in the rural areas, this is not a joke. This is something that is serious where as Hon. Members, we are not finger pointing. There are also cases – rural areas do not belong to ZANU PF or to any political party, neither do urban areas belong to a specific political party we are talking about Zimbabwe. We are talking about building a Zimbabwe that we want, a Zimbabwe that is free of corruption. A Zimbabwe that we want is a Zimbabwe where we are allowed to debate things as they are.

Madam Speaker Ma’am, there is need to make sure that we join our hands together without focusing on political affiliation because corruption is affecting everyone. Imagine Madam Speaker, you have to go to hospital and for you to access medication, you have to pay a bribe. As we all know we have economic challenges in our country, how then can we allow this situation to go where we have corruption within our medical systems? We also have corruption affecting even the education sector. For you to find a place for your children at ECD B, you also have to pay a bribe. This is contained in the report Madam Speaker. These issues revealed by the Anti-Corruption Report are so serious. They require Members of Parliament who are also serious. I am happy that even in the rural areas, people are now aware and they were actually complaining that the problem is not that we do not know that corruption is happening. They were saying the offices of Anti-Corruption Commission are centralised. They are found in provincial offices. So, there is need for easy access in terms of reporting. I recommend that the Anti-Corruption Commission should also use modern technology to find ways whereby they can report through their phones.  During the election campaigns Madam Speaker Ma’am, we were using *265# to check our details on whether you are registered or not.  Such kind of related technology can be used also to make sure that those in the villages are able to report corruption.  Artificial intelligence - I received a message on my phone from Econet saying you can get assisted by artificial intelligence when doing your homework.  The same technology can be applied to the Anti-Corruption drive and this will save our nation from the much-needed resources and from corruption.  I also recommend the move taken by the Anti-Corruption Commission to decentralise its offices.  This will also support the point that I have alluded to on easy access.

I also noted in their report that they are not focusing on arresting only but on prevention and they quoted that prevention is better than cure and I support this.  This should also be supported by Treasury to make sure that we focus more on prevention and they say they do not enjoy arrests - yes, that is good but there is need for more support.  To this end, they also through the urban awareness campaigns, introduced what they call Anti-Corruption Champions so that we have neighbourhoods that are free from corruption.  As a champion myself Hon. Speaker Ma’am, I support this idea that we need more champions even in the rural areas.  We need to establish more champions who will spread the gospel of anti-corruption in our country.  They will also be able to report suspected corruption activities.

As I conclude, I would also want to see the Anti-Corruption Commission mentioning something about people with disabilities, that they should also be able to access their offices.  I did not see it being mentioned in their report but we know we have a number of persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe and they are also affected by corruption.  They need to be given space and support when they are reporting and also to be protected from corruption activities.  I thank you for giving me this opportunity and I hope as a nation we are going to kill this cancer of corruption in our country. 

HON. JERE:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  I rise to contribute to the report which was produced by ZACC.  Let me commend the Commission for coming up with such a comprehensive report.  This report has got everything that you expect of an annual report.  The Commissioner started with the ownership of their own report, which is a commendable thing.  The report also had a detailed coverage of the governance of the Anti-Corruption Commission, which is also a commendable issue.  What makes this report more impressive is that it is informed by standards and it is following the IPSAS, which is also a commendable thing. 

The report is also giving us details on the demographic structure of its employees, which is what is expected of a report in summary.  The report at the end is giving us in summary, the financial statements of the Commission.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, we should understand that a report is not an operational manual where you expect details of how the cases were dealt with and how they were concluded.  It is a summary of the activities which took place throughout the period.  So, this is a very well articulated report in as far as I am concerned when I was analysing it.  The report is also giving us a strategic plan in as far as the Commission envisioned to do in the year 2023, which is quite commendable. 

The cases which the Commission dealt with and handed over to NPA were summarised in numbers as these are the cases which were dealt with, which is what we expect from a report.  Otherwise, if an annual report is to give details on how each and every case was dealt with, we could be having a 2000 page report.  So, it is a summary of the activities that took place throughout the year.

 I would also want to commend the Commission for being involved in the social corporate responsibilities in rural areas.  Their visibility is very clear for all of us to see.  The Commission is very visible in the way they are articulating their duties.  I was impressed Madam Speaker Ma’am, two days ago when I was watching on television. The Commission partnered with the University of Zimbabwe and other universities with the thrust to try and catch them young. They want to catch these guys because as they go into business, they should understand the purpose and the responsibility of ZACC and what is bad about corruption. In their own report, when I saw them on television, they were talking about these things. When these guys are young, they are going to be the captains of industry and that is inevitable.

                   So, this report is an example of a report we should expect. Yesterday we were talking of another report, but this one is quite a comprehensive document which has got everything. With this report Madam Speaker, if I am interested to follow up on a particular case, it is very easy for me to walk into the ZACC office to get the details because it is very clear and it is talking about the number of cases which were dealt with and the conviction rate of 72% is commendable. What we should understand is, there is an issue of natural justice. You are only guilty when you are found guilty, but you realise in this country, especially these high-profile cases where one will be having maybe ten lawyers, it should be expected that they take long. If we can have a success rate of 72% in one year, it is commendable. The Commission did a wonderful job in the year 2022. On that note Madam Speaker, I submit.

                   HON. MADZIMBAMUTO: I have also taken note of the report by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and I have some observations which I also believe are very pertinent if we all agree that corruption is the number one cancer in Zimbabwe. It also then follows that the report itself must reflect, specifically speaking to the output. More particularly, if we consider that ZACC has taken a position that their drive is not for arrests. So, fundamentally, we are speaking to issues of prevention of the ZACC, the efforts that have been put in place to prevent corruption. If we are going to consider the status out there in our society, can we safely conclude that Zimbabweans fully appreciate the impact of being involved in corrupt activities?

                   I will give an illustration Madam Speaker. The report under item 3.2 speaks of assets recovery. It then goes further to talk about civil forfeitures which is a very interesting and new phenomenon, specifically in our jurisdiction and territory. The drive is not about arrests. It is a 72% conviction rate against what output. So, as a way of giving an illustration – you can convict 100 people and send them to prison at the taxpayers’ expense, but these individuals would have been convicted for corruption and amassed wealth at the expense of the country. The fundamental question therefore becomes, what is it that the country has recovered from these convictions? So, you have a 72% conviction. We measure it against that which would have been recovered so that at least we can track that there is significant progress.

                   Madam Speaker, I am very much disturbed to note that other Hon. Members have been submitting that there is a lot of work that was done when they talk of buildings that they said were recovered. With respect, this is a misdirection because there is a fundamental distinction between forfeiture and seizure. So, assets can be seized and I will give an illustration to further explain to the House. You can go to Beitbridge or Chirundu Border posts, ZIMRA has seized a lot of vehicles that are in those warehouses for years. That does not translate to an immediate benefit or does it translate to any benefit to the State because these are properties that are seized on condition of investigations that will be underway. However, we then need the report to clarify to us to say over this period we seized so much properties and after the conclusion of investigations, we then recovered or forfeited to the State so much properties valued at this particular figure.

                   Item 3.2 of the report clearly places a thumbsuck figure of USD $29 million. What about this USD$29 million? How much was recovered by the State? The report, fundamentally is silent. So, if the report speaks of items or buildings or trucks that would have been seized, that does not translate to a benefit to the State, but actually places a burden on the State because of the costs associated with keeping those items. It talks of Lamborghinis and all these high valued vehicles, it also speaks even to the issue that I earlier on highlighted with respect to 72% conviction rate. What we are particularly interested about in this House is to say, we had 200 people who were convicted of corruption and the State managed to recover unexplained wealth as a result of corruption at the tune of US$750 million. I think Zimbabweans would appreciate it much better to say there has been a recovery of wealth obtained through corruption rather than to say these people are going to prison because they are going to go to jail at the expense of the taxpayer. That little purse is continuously being strained without us actually focusing on the issues that matter.

                   Again, for the benefit of the House and this is so fundamental, we have only one case which is contained in the report of civil forfeiture the whole of 2022, one. I deliberately thought this is a very fundamental issue because before people speak about a 72% conviction rate, it is also fundamentally important that we appreciate that we have only one conviction. Maybe for the benefit of the House, I can further explain to say when we talk of civil forfeiture, we are saying you obtain for argument’s sake a residential stand valued at USD$25 000.00, but you buy that stand with proceeds from corrupt activities. After buying that stand, you then go on to build a double storey building even with other funds probably that you would have worked for. Now, the concept of civil forfeiture is to say, notwithstanding the value of the building now valued at USD$5 million but because there is USD $25 000.00 which we trace from proceeds of corruption, that property is then forfeited to the State as a USD$5 million property, notwithstanding the value that one would have bought that particular stand for.

The one case that the report is speaking to is exactly or rather falls on all four with what actually happened of individuals that bought a particular stand and built a house which was then forfeited to the State. For the benefit of the House, it is so fundamental that we know that the whole country, we have just one case. Madam Speaker, with respect, this is not something that really we can go to town and praise specifically this report. When we talk of a report being detailed and comprehensive, we are not measuring activity, but results. So, there can be a lot of activity, but the fundamental question becomes against what result, recovery and to what benefit have the Zimbabweans received from these arrests? How much money has been forfeited to the State? This Madam Speaker, is also important.

Maybe as a recommendation going forward, I did not hear the report speak to a framework in place, of how the Commission can expeditiously deal even with items that would have been seized. I gave an indication earlier on, you go to Beitbridge, Chirundu or even to another border post in Mutare. You will find vehicles there that would have been seized, some for more than a year and half. This is the crux. You have properties that are seized over a delayed period of time and by the time these properties are then auctioned by the State, they are sold for a song. The report again on this particular critical issue is silent. So, for us to justify to say we have a comprehensive report that meets all fundamental tenets that we can actually measure it against, we are looking for a clear report that will tell us there is a framework, to say if we have seized these trucks. Interestingly, it talks about 63 heavy duty trucks with 23 trailers, seven properties, and several vehicles including a Lamborghini and conducted five cases involving extraterritorial investigations.

You read from face value, indeed it appears as if there is traction, but you then go to the fundamentals that are very important to say what then does the report articulate in terms of a proper framework of translating these seizures to something that is tangible for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe, to say indeed, there is a genuine fight against corrupt? The report is silent. So, if the report can be silent on this critical aspect with respect, it is my humble submission that more needs to be done because we cannot celebrate arrests, we cannot celebrate convictions.  For us to effect arrests Madam Speaker, you would note it involves the police who are again on Government pay roll, State resources from the Zimbabwe Republic Police, there is the National Prosecuting Authority and those again are on Government pay roll, State resources.

          They are taken to court, the Judicial Services Commission become involved, there are Judges, there are Magistrates again who are on Government pay roll, State resources are involved, then we secure convictions, at what cost? We are dealing with economic crisis, we are dealing with issues of criminal abuse of duty.  We are dealing with issues of externalisation of foreign currency, we are dealing with fundamental issues whereby assets are illegally obtained, even outside the country.  What purpose do that 72% conviction rate serve us when we cannot point out the exact amount of money that could have benefited the country out of those fundamental arrests and even in terms of the costs that could have been involved for these investigations?

          The report Madam Speaker, speaks to extra-territorial investigations where we send our investigators to South Africa or to these others countries to say we are following up on properties that might have been illegally obtained and are in this country.  Again, at a serious cost, the net effect Madam Speaker, should then translate to say out of all these efforts, the State managed to recover money amounting to USD850 million dollars, then we can give a thumbs up to the report.

As the report stands, with respect, I am very disappointed.  It fundamentally ignores the issues that are important.  When we are talking of economic crimes, when we are talking about the fight against corruption, the thrust Madam Speaker is with respect to recovery.  We are not interested about sending someone to jail, they can go to jail for two years or three years, they could have stolen USD25million that should have benefited the country, they come back from prison, and they continue with that loot.  That is not the purpose of fighting corruption. The purpose of fighting corruption is to send a deterrent measure to say you stole 20 000USD and build something which is not valued at USD5 million, we recover that thing worth USD5 million, that is the pain that should actually accompany economic crimes. 

          So, if we are going to discuss, somebody made reference to even issues in other jurisdictions, you go to South Africa or other jurisdictions in Europe, economic crimes Madam Speaker with respect, are taken very seriously because this is what brings up a country.  At the same time this is also some of the things that can bring a country down and to scalpel all efforts for economic recovery with respect to our beloved nation.

          So, Madam Speaker, as a recommendation and as I conclude, we want a report in future that we can relate to, that is measurable that answers to the critical aspect specifically with respect to recovery to say what has the nation benefited. It will be very disappointing as a way of example to say a particular Commission has received a budget of USD 3million and they have recovered 25USD, that will be very disappointing and a let down to the country.  So, Madam Speaker, my contribution with respect to this debate is that this report fundamentally left the people of Zimbabwe down.  It ignores the critical issues that Zimbabweans must hear.  It fails to address the benefit, what the benefit to the ordinary Zimbabwean is to say we are fighting against crime.

          As I conclude, the efforts really which this House going forward should then be looking into is a clear framework that is measurable and clear amounts that we say have been recovered so that we give a thumbs up to this report.  As this report is before this august House for purposes of rating, it is a very fundamental disappointment.  I thank you.

          HON. MAHERE: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I am extremely concerned with the data that is contained particularly in paragraph 3.1.6 of the report.  There is continued reference in this debate to a 75% conviction rate.  When you look at the data of the ZACC report, you will actually see that, that conviction rate is misleading.  Clause 3 says 134 cases – [AN. HON. MEMBER: She is debating the second time on the same motion.] –

          HON. MASHONGANYIKA: On point of order Madam Speaker.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

          HON. MASHONGANYIKA: My point of order is that she has already debated before on this motion. She is now allowed to debate the second time.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mashonganyika, I was about to tell her that. Hon. Mahere, you cannot debate twice.

          There being power outage

          HON. TSITSI ZHOU: Madam Speaker, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. CLIFFORD HLATYWAYO: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 14th November, 2023.

          On the motion of HON. TSITSI ZHOU seconded by HON. CLIFFORD HLATYWAYO, the House adjourned at Thirteen Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 14th November, 2023.

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