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SENATE HANSARD 01 OCTOBER 2020 VOL 29 NO 55

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 1st October, 2020

The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Schools have opened for examination classes so far but teachers have not gone to school to teach and take care of these students. With COVID-19 still raging on, we risk our children contracting COVID-19. So what is Government doing to ensure that teachers go back to school as soon as possible.

          *THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): The Government has taken a decision to reopen schools especially for examination classes, that is Grade 7, Form 4 and Form 6 who have already resumed classes starting on the 14th September for ZIMSEC. Before reopening of schools, a lot of consultation was done by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with all stakeholders. This is still on going to make sure we do everything to protect our children and teachers. Government set aside a budget of plus US$600 million to procure all PPEs to make sure our schools are disinfected and our children and teachers are safe from COVID-19 pandemic. The issue of our teachers’ welfare is very important to Government. Thus no effort is being left out to make sure the ongoing negotiations bring all our teachers back to school to ensure our children are not disadvantaged anymore considering they have not been in school since March 2020 when COVID-19 lockdown measures were put into effect.

+HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE: What is Government’s policy in relation to vandals who are destroying agricultural equipment? What measures are being put in place to make sure that the culprits are brought to book?

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Makumbe for his question. The question so asked falls under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Indeed, there are people who are stealing and vandalising electricity cables and irrigation equipment and as a result this contributes to low levels of agricultural production. Government is quite seized with the matter as it has laws that are deterrent enough to curb this vice. In the past vandalism of electricity cables carried a lighter sentence as thieves would pay the fines and get away with it.

Government reviewed and imposed a custodial sentence on all vandalism of ZESA infrastructure. Vandalism to ZESA property carries a 30 year jail sentence. Government through the police is making sure that all the developments on the farms are protected so that we maximize on our yields.

HON. SEN. A. DUBE: My question is directed to the Leader of the House. What plans does the Government have to prevent the cholera outbreak as many households have no supply of water for a long time especially cities like Bulawayo?

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I would like to say issues of supply of water to our cities and rural folks is very important to the Second Republic. A lot of work has been done and there is work still to be done. Since the advent of COVID-19 there has been a significant amount of budget which has been put aside to make sure that a number of boreholes are drilled in the urban areas and in the rural areas.

In Bulawayo, there is a big project going on there to make sure that piped water gets to the suburbs where we have this serious problem of water borne disease. This is an issue which ZINWA and DDF are seized with as they are drilling boreholes. In addition, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works has also come on board to drill more boreholes. This is an issue which we have to fight as a Government because the health of our people is very critical. As we get closer to the rains, it is important to make sure that there is good supply of water. In some places where there are no boreholes there is bulk water supply which is going on in those areas. We will continue working hard despite the challenges which we have as a country in terms of resources. I thank you.

*HON SEN. CHIMBUDZI: How far has Government gone in implementing the Education 5.0 Programme?

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON PROF MURWIRA): The main purpose of Education 5.0 is that education must not be theory only but must be seen through its fruits. Education must be seen through the revival of industries. Education must be seen through provision of services. Many countries with learned people have manufactured different things. Since the launch of Education 5.0 which replaced the education system that we inherited from the colonial era which promoted people to learn to read and write but not learning about the country and how you can use the natural resources for the benefit of the people around you. we decided that we must add two things which we call innovation and industrialisation. Our education is now teaching and learning, research, working with people, innovation and establishment of industrial hubs. That is what we call Education 5.0.

How have we gone with this programme; when we started this programme in December 2017, it seemed like we were giving lip service only that we are building innovation hubs. This year we witnessed some progress and it was very successful. This education must be in the forefront in fending for the country. We saw universities manufacturing sanitizers and we had many sanitizers at hospitals. The sanitizers were manufactured by Great Zimbabwe, Mutare Polytechnic, NUST, HIT, MSU and Bindura universities.

Another measure of success is seeing things changing. They also manufactured face masks. Right now they are manufacturing swabs used for COVID testing; they are also manufacturing drips which we used to import from other countries. The drips are 99.9% water and salt, we used to get these drips from other countries. On agriculture, we saw that this country was buying bull semen from other countries. Our Chinhoyi University started to produce bull semen. Right now we are able to preserve the bull semen and this has been brought about by education 5.0.

We are now building industrial parks, if you watch the television tomorrow at 1100hrs to 1200 hrs, you will see the opening of an industrial park at Chinhoyi University and their innovation hub, and this shows it is moving forward. It is in the process of finalizing the manufacturing of a ventilator, the machine used to breathe when people are being operated. Our people are genius; they only need to be given an opportunity to use their talents and minds. If we do not give them the opportunity, we will not discover their full potential. Under education 5.0, we gave them the opportunity.

At Great Zimbabwe University they built a factory that produces clothes for doctors. We used to buy all these things, but because of education 5.0 we are now a country which is focusing on manufacturing. If a country does not manufacture its own things, it shows that the education offered in that country is not helpful. Education 5.0 is now at the manufacturing stage, if we put that in to practice, this will help our country. People who train for nursing are seen by treating people after completion , if they train in law, we see them in courts and if they train as soldiers, we see them defending the country.

If a person is being trained for something, we must see that being taken into practice for the benefit of the country and this is what we are doing. I have given an example of what we have done, we have built many innovation centres and we are going to see a graduation centre in every area. We will do this gradually but we are going to witness the results.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to ask my question. Let me say I do not know which Ministry is responsible because the question I am going to ask is very important but it is covering two ministries. My question is directed to the Minister of Health and Child Care. Minister, we have heard that there are post graduate students who are specializing, who have been prohibited from visiting State or Government hospitals - effectively saying for the time being that is so, as long as they have been expelled. What is the Ministry of Health doing knowing that these cadres are central to the service delivery in central hospitals? I am sure the Minister knows the role played by them; they actually are between consultants and the junior doctors. The students who are training provide more than 60% of the training. Can the Minister tell us what was the rationale and what he is going to do as it is going to affect service delivery for the patients and also training for future doctors?

Whilst I am on that Madam President, we also heard that there is a circular which said of the current 230 medical students who are graduating this year, the Ministry of Health is not going to recruit anyone and all of them are going to be given to the Ministry of Defence. My question is; the Ministry of Health - these are junior doctors who are going to be after they finish their rotation, they will have to go to Government institutions outside; is the Minister oblivious of that fact, or what arrangements are they going to have, to make sure we are not going to get a gap where we will not have doctors going to the rural clinics because the whole crop has been given, allow me to use that word, to the Ministry of Defence.

Finally, we are forcing all doctors who are graduating this year, 230 of them to join the army. It means if you do not join the army, you are not going to be employed by the Government. It means every doctor has to join, whether you like it or not, you are going to join the army. I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. DR. MANGWIRO): Thank you Madam President and Hon. Mavetera for the interlinked questions. I will tackle the last one first. The circular you are purporting to, I do not know where it came from. Yesterday, I was speaking to the Health Services Board, those are the ones who are supposed to be giving out that circular, and we will get more details from them. As of now, we spoke to the Secretary, he was oblivious of where that letter came from. So, we will get a detailed and clarified position from him because it is not the Ministry of Health that deploys those cadres, it is the Health Services Board.

Secondly, the one about post graduates, these are students under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and I think they can give a clearer position as to really what is happening because the Ministry of Health receives these students they will be working in hospitals but these things are handled by the universities, not by Ministry of Health. All we want is when they have finished we deploy them. The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education Minister is here, he can clarify issues because he is the one handling such an issue. I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA): It is very important that as an education system, we provide people that save people. There was communication that your students are no longer working in hospitals. Therefore, they are now not having any access to the hospital anymore because they are making demands that the Ministry of Health cannot meet. To that extent, the Ministry of Health had to withdraw their hospital service. To that extent, once the students do not have access to the hospital because of reason that it is the students themselves who withdrew their training; the University Senate has no choice except to suspend those programmes.

It is the issue of students who withdrew their studentship by not doing the duties that they were supposed to do and the Ministry of Health had no choice except to bar them from access to hospitals because the Ministry of Health can only have students as long as they are doing what they are supposed to do. They told us that your people are no longer going to hospitals. The university had no choice but to suspend – I am using the word suspend the programme until such a time that the issue of access to hospital has been solved.

It therefore came to a point whereby when those services where withdrawn and the programme was suspended, the students are writing their letters of apology on their own volition to say they had made a mistake and they should not have done what they did. We are now considering the whole thing. It has to go back to Senate and Ministry of Health. The main issue which we are talking about here is discipline and when disciplinary processes are taking place, it is very important that the nation rise behind discipline. It is very difficult to have a rogue doctor, soldier or scientist. All our people must know that they are serving people. I will give you an example – there was a picture that I saw where a mother worked for her children. She was pounding stones and making sure that her children went to school. When the children were now scientists or whatever, they were then asked; who is the greatest woman in your life? They mentioned somebody who is not their mother. They mentioned someone in America.

This country uses a lot of resources to train its people and it wishes that those people bring back the services to the people. When they withdraw their services, we cannot force them but disciplinary processes have to take place. This is what happened and the students also realised that what they did was bad. It is important for them to know that what they did was bad. It is important that the university does not contribute to unrests that happen within the health system. The university must be a place where people are trusted and are disciplined.

Hon. President, what is happening now is a process where we have to find out when they want to go back to school without compromising on principle no matter you are an engineer, aircraft engineer or what. You must have discipline and we are going to enforce this within the higher education system. I am happy that the students realise the gravity of the matter and they are retracting from those actions and we expect that to bring everything to normalcy. Our job is not to punish students but to train them though they have to be present. If they are not there, we close the classroom. I thank you.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: I hope I do not seem to be targeting or attacking the Minister. The issues that I raised are issues of national importance and the health of the nation.

Would both Ministers think the decision because I have said these doctors are responsible for serving patients that are referred to central hospitals for internal medicines, obstetrics and gynaecology are attended to by these doctors and they also train the junior doctors. Is the response proportional to what has happened? This is where the issue is. I am privy to what the issues were but I am not here to say what they were but one of the most important issues which actually triggered this because they are on the forefront because of the role they play in the health delivery system; is the issue of protective clothing (PPEs) – safe environment.

Is the Minister of Health saying that he had to chase student doctors who are more exposed; is that why they came out? Chasing doctors because they want a safe environment and sacrifice the health of all the patients who are now being referred to - Are you just sending your university students to Government hospitals with are poorly resourced to the extent that your students are exposed and you give a green light to say they cannot because that was the fundamental issue? I will not go into the other; I am talking about things which affect the nation...

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, Hon. Sen. Mavetera, you asked a question which has been responded to. You requested for a supplementary question. May you ask the supplementary question? If you want to debate on this important motion on health, you can raise a motion and then you can debate. Today’s session is for questions without notice. Ask your supplementary question.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: My apologies if I diverted because it is emotional, it is the health of the nation and I am sure I will be understood from that point. My question is on the response given by the Ministry of Health. Is it proportional or worth it to chase away doctors who are actually holding part of the central hospitals where patients from all over the country are being treated and also suffocating the training which is happening to junior doctors and undergraduate doctors.

The other one is related to the Minister of Higher Education whose Ministry is said to be the custodian of those students. Is it their policy to expose their students to environments which are not safe and if they raise this, they are actually stopped from attending classes and forced to apologise. You cannot apologise for PPEs Mr. President. I thank you.

HON. PROF. MURWIRA: The question that has been asked by Hon. Sen. Mavetera is very important. When people are not at work, that question of saying they are serving people or not does not arise. If they are not there, they are not there. It is the students themselves who withdrew themselves. The result of it is that they were not there. The result of the Ministry’s being proportional or not proportional does not arise because the students were not there at work. So when they are not there, they are not there. If they are there we can talk about issues. It is not the policy of the Ministry of Higher Education to expose its students to danger but that is not solved by vitriol and shouting. It is solved by sitting down and taking the PPEs to the students. It is a culture of discussion that we have to nurture amongst our people not the culture of beating. Sometimes when people beat, they forget that beating is not good because when you beat people, they cry and when they cry, they are not paying attention. They are paying attention to the pain that you caused. I am hoping that I am saying that we should have a culture at universities of discussion. Discuss your issues. Do not threaten people by over emphasising your importance. We know you are important, that is why we are training. We do not want to put you in danger. The issue here has to be taken in its context. If you are not there, you are not there. You cannot say get back, you have two thousand people, because you are not listening to me, no. You are not there. If you are not there ,I can close the door because you are not there. The issue is this is encouraging proper airing of views. That is why I am saying I am also happy that the students, after explanation, because they withdraw without question. When they apologised, we really welcomed them because it is making us come back to the issues of discussion. We do not want to endanger our students. If they think it is too dangerous and they withdraw, they cannot expect us to keep the class going because there is no one to teach.

So it goes back to the issue that we need to discuss. This nation has to allow discussion not flexing of muscles because it is not good on any part by anyone. You cannot flex your muscles and then claim victory because the system has to respond. You are not there. So the system has to respond and everybody is using the regulations that are available in order to normalise the situation. We are very happy and pleased that the students have realised that it is wrong but we have not been forced by anyone. In actual fact, we never talked to anyone. The university never talked to anyone. They were just told that there is nobody in class. So how can you go and teach an empty class, you will suspend the programme. This issue is not an emotional issue at all. It is a factual issue. If a doctor is not there, they are not there. The fact that they say I am not there but I am very important, your importance is seen by your presence. If you are absent, then your importance is not seen. It is very important as citizens of this country that we know this country belongs to us all and there is nobody that just demands and the other one is just providing, another one just demanding and the other one is providing. We work, we produce, we share and everybody in the education system has to remember that the country is looking up to them for good behaviour and ways of solving problems. Not this thing of threats, withdrawals and so forth and over inflated ego, either on the part of me as a Minister or on the student and an officer. It is about discussion. I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. MANGWIRO): Thank you Mr. President and thank you Hon. Sen. Dr. Mavetera. The CEO of the concerned hospital was asked and NatPharm was checked with and they said they provided PPEs but PPEs have no takers particularly on that section. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Leader of the House. My question is in line with the opening of schools for ‘O’ and ‘A’ level students that are going to have their examinations. Parents are worried because the students have been staying home for many months because of the COVID-19. We understand there were online lessons and radio lessons but only a few were able to access these services. Are school children going to be able to write their examinations properly? I thank you Mr. President.

*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you Mr. President Sir. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Tsitsi Muzenda for her question. We are in a very difficult time. There are no countries that were prepared for the coming of COVID-19 was coming. It is something which came to us not knowing how we are going to deal with it. It is something which has affected many things including economy but we have reached a negotiation level looking at the issue of the people’s health and the issue of school going children. We know the pain people are having. We know that most people in Zimbabwe go out to work to feed the family. The rules that were put in place because of COVID-19 were not just put because the President wanted to but we looked at what other countries are doing and listening to what the World Health Organisation is doing and giving us time to prepare as the disease is already in the country. All these things affected a lot of things. Schools were closed since March but children were supposed to be at school. She spoke about the issue of education that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education tried their level best for online classes and radio lessons and those that are able to do one – on - one lessons who have parents or brothers and sisters who teach them at home. We know that the issue of digitalisation is another thing which has not reached rural areas and the issue of Wi-Fi is not something which reached everyone. We agreed that there is the issue that creates imbalance. Equality is very important so that we can see that both rural and urban kids have got all the things needed. The Government’s future plans are that every child should have access to everything and be able to be online. It is difficult. We now understand how difficult it is, these are not normal times. Therefore, we are trying by all means to do what we can do although things are difficult. It is not the same as other years that school children have gone to school for all three terms but we can be out of this problem working together with our kids. Thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF NTABENI: My question goes to the Leader of the House. Are you aware of the fact that things are not well at Customs and I feel they are tarnishing the image of the country?

*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I want to thank Senator Chief Ntabeni who is passionate about the issue of corruption. That is corruption before us because once someone sends goods, the recipient is supposed to get those with the correct duty being paid. That is corruption Senator Ntabeni and other Senators. We are saying let us fight corruption as a nation and as leaders. Wherever we are, when we see such things happening we want to applaud our President for setting up ZACC which is assisted by whistleblowers who report any acts of corruption taking place in order to bring these corrupt individuals to book as it affects our nation.

HON. SEN. CHIEF NYANGAZONKE-NDIWENI: Hon. Leader of the House, we are starting to witness accidents along our major highways whereby fences have been removed that protect our livestock. A case in point is a tollgate that is along Bulawayo-Harare Road, what is your Ministry doing to conscientise the farmers that are resettled along the highways in terms of safety to the motorists and when are we likely to have these repairs?

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I think that is a very particular question which requires the Ministry to actually put it in writing to give you exactly what the implementation activities which are happening are. It is a very serious concern and will lead us to lose lives. In protecting our population, we want to make sure that we do not lose any lives through fences which are being taken out and issues of livestock running into the roads. I suggest to the Hon. Senator to put it in writing so that he gets a full comprehensive report.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: First, I would want to congratulate Hon. Masuku, the Minister of Agriculture. Minister, may you inform us on Government policy concerning people who are engaged in building without Government approval, especially in A1 resettlements. More people are settling there building their homes. There are so many of them which destroy our land. Thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. MASUKU): That question is now the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment. We are only focusing on farming, agriculture, water and resettlement. I want to thank Chief Charumbira for that important question. When we were planning for resettlement under different schemes such as A1, people were given land that had pastures but now in some of the area there are corrupt people as homes are being built on such land.

The Government is disturbed by such happenings. What we have done is to send people to disseminate information to stop these corrupt tendencies. Those have built on such areas and the people who avail that land are both guilty. We are also looking at the matter of engaging the District Lands Committee so that we put emphasis on the issue of just building anywhere, that it is not progressive in our nation at all. My request was for all of us in this august to assist us with such a challenge. The pastures are important. We wanted this to be well-planned and to engage in productive farming that will uplift the nation. If you come across such individuals, it is important to bring the information so that we work together and address the matter to avoid such tendencies.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Minister, we thank you for your response but your Ministry says if they apprehend those people who engage in illegal dealings concerning the land, your employees do not want to cooperate.

HON. MASUKU: I want to thank the Chief for clarifying the question. The past two weeks when we heard rumours that our employees in the provinces were doing all these activities we immediately relocated them. Those who were in Masvingo were sent to Midlands and those who were in Midlands were sent elsewhere. We thought this would be brought to an end. We have noticed that the gravity of this issue is more than what we expected. It is an issue that we need to address as a united force. When we leave this House, you should report to us so that we can address the matter because we have departments that are there solely to deal with such matters. I thank you.

HON. SEN. CHIEF MATHUPULA-KHUMALO: Last week we asked a question regarding the deaths of elephants. ZIMPARKS has since released a statement that these elephants are dying from a bacterial disease which has got a high mortality rate, both in elephants and livestock. ZIMPARKS is saying cattle, goats and even chickens are at a high risk of death. Now the communities around the parks are asking if there are any ways that are being looked into to protect their livestock since the infection can also pose a threat to cattle in areas like Tsholotsho which are around the parks.

*THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON DR. MASUKA): The question that was raised by the Senator is good but it seems to touch on a lot ministries. We deal with cattle, domestic animals and soil. When you refer to elephants, that is not within our jurisdiction. We also read from the media and we are also disturbed by the death of so many elephants. What I know is that at Gonarezhou, Chizarira, Hwange and Chirisa there are wild animals that have foot and mouth and then they spread to cattle. If these wild animals mix with cattle this foot and mouth can then be passed on to the cattle.

We want to put a fence and we want to look for vaccines for our cattle. I will ask the Leader of the House to continue and explain to us on the issue of dying elephants and where we are as of now. I thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I think Hon. Dr. Masuka has already responded to the question fully because the way we value our wild animals especially elephants is the same way we value other animals. Government policy is such that we want to protect our heritage. The protection of wildlife is done by the Ministry of Environment and they look into such matters through ZimParks and other organisations. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I want to thank the two Ministers for the responses. The Minister of Agriculture said his jurisdiction is only with cattle – what are you saying concerning cattle? So many cattle were lost due to January diseases in Gutu, Zaka and other areas. Individuals lost up to 30 cattle per household. The Veterinary Department tried hard but they failed. They were not successful. For those who lost their cattle, there are plans for restocking because people lost their wealth and some had used their pension funds to buy cattle but now they do not have anything. I thank you.

*HON. DR MASUKA: I want to thank the supplementary question on the way cattle have died. Just a few days ago, I was in Mhondoro and I witnessed that their kraals were closed because of this disease known as January disease which affects cattle. What it means is that we have failed because of two reasons. When we say that things have changed in terms of dip tanks, we are saying we only have 4000 in the whole country. Out of those, only 2700 have water and are functional. So it is difficult to take cattle to the dip tanks. You need three months to get water for the dip tanks whereas before it was just three weeks.

Our intention is to put boreholes at every dip tank so that women can also have vegetable gardens there. Currently, we are in the process of buying teak grease to service one million households. Before the end of the month, we want to give them 1kg each so that they can apply on their cattle before the rain season commences. Those are the measures that the Government has put in place to protect cattle from January disease.

We also want to resuscitate and rehabilitate the dip tanks to ensure cattle dipping. For those who have lost their cattle, what can they do? During the past two weeks, people from Gutu got 97 bulls under the Presidential Programme to assist those who lost cattle. What we want as we proceed is that we should know that the cattle we have are different from the ones that were there long ago. Ours should be treated as cattle business whereby we feed them more like a feed stock. Livestock has become a business and that is what we want. We can only do that if we unite. That is the other measure that the Government has put in place.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order Number 62.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

POLICY ON SPREADING FALSE INFORMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. SEN. TONGOGARA asked the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to explain to the House the Government policy regarding the spreading of false information by social media.

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Mr. President, I want to thank Hon. Sen. Tongogara for the question. I will begin by defining fake news which is a term that has come to mean different things to different people. In specific terms, fake news is those news stories that are false in which the story is fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes.

Sometimes those stories may be propaganda that is intentionally designed to mislead the reader, or may be designed as ‘clickbait’ - written for economic incentives in which the writer profits on the number of people who click on the story.

In recent years, fake news stories have proliferated via social media, in part because they are so easily and quickly shared online. Some fake news exist within a larger ecosystem of misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is mistakenly or inadvertently created or spread in which the intent is not to deceive but happens due to error on the part of the writer. On the other hand, disinformation is false information that is deliberately created and spread in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth through falsehoods.

Whilst traditional media in the form of newspapers and broadcasting stations seek to share accurate information, there are instances when media houses have erroneously published fake news. Media laws, especially the Freedom of Information Act, driven by a desire to guarantee freedom of expression which is provided for in Section 61 and 62 of the Constitution, seeks to give the benefit of the doubt to the publishing media house and as such, provides for retraction and correction of any falsehoods peddled in the course of giving out news.

Should a media house refuse to retract or correct a falsehood, the law can be invoked by the offended party in the form of demanding a retraction or even suing for damages so incurred as a result of the fake news. The responsibility lies with the offended party to furnish the courts with the necessary evidence. In situations in which such fake news affect the State, it can institute legal action against the offender. Such reprieve can equally be sought in the case of misinformation.

With the proliferation of new media or simply social media in which every citizen can originate and share news on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, there is a rise in fake news. This is because governance of the internet is a problem for most states and governments because of an information overload that flows online and the difficulties associated with pinning down online evidence to the case against an offender. In addition, social media players (citizen journalists) have no professional ethics to guide them and at times because of distance in which information can be shared from far-away places, users at times have a sense of being untouchable as domestic laws may have no jurisdiction in foreign lands.

Whilst globally there has been an exponential increase in the proliferation of fake news owing to the almost ungovernable nature of social media, recent events in the country speak to a well coordinated attack on the image of the country. Zimbabwe has in recent months experienced a systematic and well coordinated attack on the leadership including the President, First Family, Government and the country. Twitter, Facebook and some online news agencies have deliberately peddled misinformation about Zimbabwe with a deliberate intention of making the country ungovernable, create a negative and gloomy picture of the country and its leadership, all aimed at pushing a regime change agenda. Sources of such misinformation include citizens within Zimbabwe and abroad as well as foreign media houses and journalists that have their own agenda against the country.

In recent months, there was an attempt to smear the country through an online movement that used the hashtag Zimbabweanlivesmatter’ that gained momentum globally riding mainly on fake news which sought to portray Zimbabwe as a pariah State which violates human rights. There was also an attempt to incite Zimbabweans to protect and institute an unconstitutional change of Government. Thanks to the maturity of Zimbabweans, the effort failed to gain traction and collapsed as citizens refused to be misled by the detractors.

The Second Republic under the visionary leadership of President E. D. Mnangagwa has nothing to hide and as such, carried out legal reform in the media sector aimed at aligning laws to the Constitution as well as match best practices in providing a conducive and enabling environment to the media. The aim is to create a vibrant media in Zimbabwe in which plurality and diversity are welcome. This saw the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) being repealed and succeeded by the Freedom of Information Act as well as the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Protection of Personal Information Bill that are currently at various stages of enactment into law. Despite these efforts by Government, there has been a rampant and mischievous abuse of the Government’s efforts to improve the media environment.

The object of Government information dissemination is to marshal the country to prosperity, targeting a middle income economy by 2030. To that end, it seeks an informed nation and an informed international community to create a narrative that inspires national development. To the contrary, fake news distorts the narrative and as such, Government does not condone the peddling of fake news. However, Government’s response to fake news is to a great extent affected by the same issues that affect or militate against effective internet governance at the global level. To mitigate debilitating effects of fake news, Government is implementing the following strategies:

  1. Proactive disclosure/setting the national agenda.

The Ministry has made considerable success in setting the agenda and propagating the true Zimbabwean narrative through mainstream media as well as on the social media platforms that are mainly used by purveyors of fake news. On mainstream media, the Ministry regularly dishes out information on national issues, including the post Cabinet media briefing, regular statements as well as gathering and disseminating news and information. On the digital front, the official Ministry Twitter Handle (@inforMinZW) and Facebook page (Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services) are pro-active in setting the true narrative obtaining in the country giving indications to genuine media on important issues affecting the nation. Through consistent monitoring of the cyber space, it has become possible to counteract negative unsubstantiated news, in the meantime providing official platforms that provide factual and verified information pertaining to the country. In addition to this, the Ministry has established an online news platform that operates in the mould of the now defunct Zimbabwe Information Services by way of gathering news from the districts. Short and precise articles are aggregated on a daily basis and uploaded on the site, Zimreport.

Furthermore, the Ministry is working on a comprehensive cyber and digital communications strategy. The strategy will deploy digital initiatives to ensure that Zimbabwe is made more visible online propagating the true Zimbabwe narrative in real time.

  1. The Cyber Bill

Government is working on a Cyber Bill, a law which seeks not only to criminalise the peddling of fake news but also aims at ensuring that perpetrators of falsehoods on social media can be made to account, giving the courts to impose the punitive sanctions when it is appropriate. This is a common practice worldwide as exemplified by the Patriot and Logan laws of the USA. The Bill is at an advanced stage and the hope is that this will act as an adequate deterrent to would be offenders.

However, it is important to admit that pinning the offenders is not a walk in the park as most of them hide behind fake accounts and trolls which are difficult to unmask. In this regard, the most effective way to counter fake news remains that of setting the national agenda through correct and true information so as to flood the cyber space and suffocate the fake news.

  1. Campaign against fake news

The Ministry regularly publishes information and education on its platforms on the negative effects of peddling fake news as well as to help citizens on how to identify fake news. The intention is to encourage responsible use of social media by citizens as well as to equip them with the skills and abilities to identify fake news and hopefully discourage them from sharing such. I thank you and also Hon. Sen. Tongogara for that very good question.

Questions with Notice were interrupted by THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 62.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. MUSABAYANA): I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 6 be stood over until Orders of the Day Numbers 7 to 12 have been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF ZMBABWE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF KOREA ON THE PROMOTION AND RECIPROCAL PROTECTION OF INVESTMENTS

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. MUSABAYANE): I move the motion in my name that: WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an international treaty which has been concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

AND WHEREAS the Agreement between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the and the Government of Korea on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments was signed in 2010 on behalf of the Republic of Zimbabwe;

AND WHEREAS Article 16 of the Agreement provides for entry into force, duration and termination;

NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC ON THE PROMOTION AND RECIPROCAL PROTECTION OF INVESTMENTS

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. MUSABAYANA): Mr. President Sir, I move the motion in my name that:

WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an International Treaty which has been concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

AND WHEREAS the Agreement between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Czech Republic on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments was signed on the 13th of September, 1999 on behalf of the Republic of Zimbabwe;

AND WHEREAS Article 12 of the Agreement provides for entry into force, duration and termination;

NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND THE KINGDOM OF SWEDEN ON THE PROMOTION AND RECIPROCAL PROTECTION OF INVESTMENTS

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. MUSABAYANA): Mr. President Sir, I move the motion in my name that:

WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an international treaty which has been concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

AND WHEREAS the Agreement between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of Sweden on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments was signed on the 6th of October, 1997 on behalf of the Republic of Zimbabwe;

AND WHEREAS Article 10 of the Agreement provides for entry into force, duration and termination;

NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Mr. President, I rise to support what the Minister has brought but I am begging him that tomorrow, especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he always comes most of the time with old programmes. It is 23 years now from 1987 to date and in terms of law, this ratification would already have lapsed. All those agreements would be lapsed by now. The time is too long. Maybe the purposes of the agreements during that period are now different from the purposes of this year. What made me to support is that it is an investment and has a good future. We support it because there is the issue of investment in the document but in situations like this, you must explain why it took us 23 years. Why were we hesitating to ratify the law? It is good to tell us why this agreement on investment, which is good law, was taking time? Why was it taking time for us to have investment? We are supporting it but it took too long. Let us ratify the agreements while they are still current.

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. MUSABAYANA): Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for his vision. It is true these ratifications must have been done long back but that time, the country had its own different vision about the issue of relations with other countries, the issue of disagreements between Zimbabwe and other countries. Zimbabwe was being labelled as a country which was not working together with other countries through sanctions and what other countries have said about Zimbabwe.

However, the President, His Excellency E.D. Mngangagwa started the new dispensation, he did a very good thing and had a vision. His vision was to renew the friendship with other countries. He saw it fit that Zimbabwe cannot be a country which can survive on its own as if it is on an island, not having relations with other countries. It is not possible concerning the state of the economy around the whole world. He dedicated himself to the manifesto which he used during campaign since he resumed the presidency to renew the friendship and relations with all the countries, and the ties which had been cut with those countries and rejoin international groupings.

As the President of the country, a visionary and someone who foresees the future, Hon. E.D. Mnangagwa is the one who foresees the plans of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its relations with other countries. He also gives us the work to renew the relations and bridging the gaps which were there with other countries. In doing so, that is when we as Zimbabwe are not trustworthy. We had signed an agreement in terms of the economy but Zimbabwe did not return the signed document. So they said what type of relations do you want to build when you are not trustworthy?

So your vision Chief Charumbira is a good vision. Some of the things which were there when the documents were created cannot be around during this era but it was seen that it was important. For us to renew the relations, we must be able to fulfill our previous promises so that we can be able to support and work together with other countries so that we show ourselves as a country which stands by its words. That is why we see it fit to fulfill these documents so that our relations will be okay. We want to thank you for your vision; it is a very good vision. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to try and give an answer to the issue raised by the President of the Chiefs Council, Senator Chief Charumbira. I thank you.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ON THE PROMOTION AND RECIPROCAL PROTECTION OF INVESTMENT

THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND

INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. MUSABAYANA): I move the motion standing in my name that;

WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an International Treaty which has been concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

AND WHEREAS, the Agreement between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Government of the United Arab Emirates on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments was signed on the 16th of June, 2018 on behalf of the Republic of Zimbabwe;

AND WHEREAS Article 19 of the Agreement provides for entry into force, amendments duration and termination;

NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF THAILAND ON THE PROMOTION AND RECIPROCAL PROTECTION OF INVESTMENTS

THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND

INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. MUSABAYANA): I move the

motion standing in my name that:

WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an international treaty which has been concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

AND WHEREAS the Agreement between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments was signed on the 18th of February, 2000 on behalf of the Republic of Zimbabwe;

AND WHEREAS Article 12 of the Agreement provides for entry into force;

NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON THE PROMOTION AND RECIPROCAL PROTECTION OF INVESTMENTS

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. DR. MUSABAYANA): I move the motion standing in my name that:

WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an international treaty which has been concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

AND WHEREAS the Agreement between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Government of the United States of America on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments was signed on the 20th of January, 1999 on behalf of the Republic of Zimbabwe;

AND WHEREAS Article 19 of the Agreement provides for entry into force and termination;

NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.

Motion put and agreed to.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE), the Senate adjourned at Twenty Six minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 6th October, 2020.

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