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SENATE HANSARD 03 DECEMBER 2019 29-08
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday 3rd December, 2019
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF
SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: May I
remind all Hon. Senators to switch off their cellphones or put them on silence.
APPOINTMENT OF A PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE TO
INVESTIGATE OF CONDUCT OF MDC-A MEMBERS
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: On the 14th
of November, 2019 Hon. Togarepi raised a matter of privilege in the National Assembly regarding the conduct of Hon. Members of the
Movement for Democratic Change Alliance Party (MDC- A), whereby since 2017 each time His Excellency Hon. E. D. Mnangagwa attends Parliament in his official capacity as head of State and Government they either do not rise as a mark of respect or they walk out of the House. Hon. Togarepi found the behaviour by the Hon. Members to be grossly disrespectful of the office and person of the Head of State and Government in terms of Parliamentary customs and practices which the institution of Parliament in any jurisdiction is expected to observe. He also found such conduct to undermine the dignity and integrity of the august House. The Speaker ruled that there existed a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament and accordingly the National Assembly resolved that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders appoints a Privileges Committee to investigate the conduct of the MDC-A and come up with corrective punitive measures.
On Thursday 28th November 2019, the Committee on Standing
Rules and Orders nominated the following Members to serve in the
- J. Samukange – Chairperson;
- J. Chirongoma;
- O. Hungwe;
- C. Kashiri;
- S. Mathe;
- L. Mayihlome;
- P. Misihairabwi-Mushonga;
- K. Paradza; and
- A. Samson.
Terms of reference for the Privileges Committee
The terms of reference for the Privileges Committee are as follows;
- To investigate the conduct of Hon. Members of Parliament of the
MDC- A in consecutive instances whereby they;
- did not rise for His Excellency the President;
- walked out of Parliament on His Excellency the President; and
- did not bother to attend Parliament whenever His Excellency the President attended Parliament
- To establish whether such conduct as outlined in 1 (a), (b) and (c) above constitutes contempt of Parliament;
- Any other incidence that may arise from the investigation; and
- To report its findings and recommendations to the National Assembly by the 28th of February 2020.
TREE PLANTING EVENTS
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Further, I
have to inform the Senate that the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and hospitality Industry, through the Forestry Commission has proposed to involve Members of Parliament in efforts to curb deforestation by organising tree planting events in all parts of the country. Every Member of Parliament is encouraged to establish two wood lots of 1600 trees each which you will be provided with. Hon members are requested to check in their pigeon holes for more information on this noble initiative.
For any clarifications, Hon. Members are kindly requested to contact the Director of Public Relations. Rtd. Major E. Mbewe in office number 312 on the Third Floor Parliament Building.
PETITION RECEIVED FROM ZIREWA KUDAKWASHE
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I also have
to inform the Senate that Parliament has received a petition from Zirewa
Kudakwashe of Mhondongori Primary School in Zvishavane beseeching Parliament to ensure that investment in the mining sector benefits local communities through enforcement of the Community Share Ownership Schemes by the Executive. The petition has since been referred to the
Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce and the Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment.
THE ZIMBABWE INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
BILL, [H.B.2A, 2019]
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to
inform the Senate that I have received the Zimbabwe Investment and
Development Agency Bill [H.B. 2A, 2019] from the National Assembly.
REPORT OF THE DELEGATION TO THE PAN AFRICAN
PARLIAMENT HIGH LEVEL SUMMIT ON HIV AND HEALTH
FINANCING IN AFRICA
HON. SEN. FEMAI: I move the motion standing in my name
that this House takes note of the Report of the Delegation to the PanAfrican Parliament High Level Summit on HIV and health financing in Africa held in Brazzaville, Congo from 11th to 12th July, 2019.
HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: I second.
HON. SEN. FEMAI: Thank you Mr. President. My report is about the delegation to the Pan African Parliament High Level Summit on HIV and health financing in Africa.
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in collaboration with the
Republic of Congo and the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), convened a High-Level Pan-African Summit on HIV/AIDS and health financing in Africa from 11 to 12 July 2019 in Brazzaville,
Congo. The Summit was graced by Mrs. Antoinette Sassou Nguesso, the
First Lady of the Republic of Congo. Participants were drawn from
African Union Member States, International Donors and Bilateral Partners.
2.0 PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE DELEGATION
The Parliament of Zimbabwe delegation comprised of the following:
Hon. Sen. Lit. Gen. (Rtd) Nyambuya M.R -Deputy President of the
Senate and Head of the Delegation;
Hon. Gezi T. -Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly;
Hon. Khumalo M. -Member of the Speaker’s Panel
Hon. Chombo Marian -Member of the Committee on Standing Rules and
Hon. Sen. Femai M. -Chairperson of the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS;
Hon. Dr. Labode R. -Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on
Health and Child Care; and
Mrs. Mafuruse E. -Committee Clerk and Secretary to the delegation
3.0 OBJECTIVES OF THE SUMMIT
The objectives of the Summit were:
- To engage African Union Member States, International Donors and Bilateral Partners on the need to mobilise domestic resources; and
- To engage African Union Member States, International Donors and Bilateral Partners on the need to maintain and sustain investments for the AIDS response in Africa, in a bid to meet fast-track targets and to eradicate AIDS.
4.0 KEY ADDRESSES
Address by the President of PAP: RT.HON. Roger Nkodo
The Rt.Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the PAP stressed the importance of Parliamentarians in leading advocacy efforts to ensure the availability of adequate funding at national level to finance HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programmes. He added that more high-level engagements would certainly spur stronger political will, global solidarity and shared responsibility to build momentum and deliver on the goal of ending AIDS by 2030.
The Rt. Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang also reiterated the significant role of Parliamentarians in holding governments accountable for mobilising resources in support of the Global Fund Replenishment. The President of the Pan-African Parliament said that “it is time to walk the talk and act on our promises to make health a priority.” He added that Parliaments have the responsibility to scale up national financial contributions allocated to health before counting on international donors. He further stated that African countries have the resources to achieve this, all that is needed is firm political will. He concluded by stating that “Agenda
2063 cannot be realised if our people are sick.”
Address by the Fourth Vice President of PAP: Hon. Sen. Chief
In his address, Hon. Sen. Chief Fortune Charumbira, the 4th Vice president of PAP, reiterated that Speakers of Parliaments from SADC
Member States have recommitted to encouraging countries to ratify the
PAP / MALABO Protocol. The pledge was made on the sidelines of the
45th SADC Parliamentary Forum Plenary Session in Maputo
Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira started his speech by giving a brief background to the PAP/MALABO Protocol. He informed the Summit that the PAP originated with the Abuja Treaty (1991) which called for establishment of a Parliament to ensure Africans are fully involved in the economic development and integration of the continent. The Sirte
Declaration (1999) repeated the call. The protocol relating to the Treaty
Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the PanAfrican Parliament was adopted on 2 March 2001 at the Organisation of
African Union (OAU) Summit in Sirte, Libya; and entered into force on 14 December 2003. He added that the Parliament’s first session was held in March 2004. The Malabo Protocol was adopted at the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government meeting in 2014 and is intended to extend the powers of the PAP into a fully-fledged legislative organ.
Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira addressed the Speakers of Parliaments about the slow pace of ratification of this important instrument, particularly in the Southern African region, reminding member-states that the PAP is hosted in the region. He stated that the Southern region cannot be the last to legitimise this institution, emphasising the need to follow in the footsteps of Madagascar that has fully ratified and deposited its instruments at the African Union
Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira also stated that to date, South Africa and Zimbabwe remain the only two countries in the Southern region that have taken the first step of signing but would still need to ratify. He further stated that 16 more ratifications are still required for the protocol to enter into force, indicating that it has taken at least 15 years to garner 12 ratifications. He concluded by making a clarion call on the remaining member states to ratify the protocol.
5.0 MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESENTATIONS
MADE DURING THE SUMMIT
Compliance to the Abuja Declaration
In April 2001, the African Union member states met in Abuja and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector and urged donor countries to scale up support. To date, only two African Union countries have reached the target of allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector in line with the Abuja Declaration. As such, Pan-African Parliamentarians are called upon to ensure that decisions taken by Heads of State and Government are translated into concrete action and commitment to effectively increase investments in health.
While 36 countries have increased the proportion of government expenditures allocated to health, the share of expenditure allocated to health in national budgets in Africa decreased from 7.9% to 7.5% for the
2000–2016 period. However, over the same period, economic conditions in Africa were quite favourable, with an annual average growth of 4.6 percent, making it the second fastest growing region in the world.
Attaining the Health Coverage: The Role of Pan-African
Parliamentarians and African Parliaments
Hon. Sen. Gen. (Rtd.) Nyambuya, the Deputy President of the
Senate for Zimbabwe also shared the experience on the role of Parliamentarians in achieving health coverage. He reiterated that health cannot be divorced from developmental issues as it is one of the fundamental determinants of economic growth and poverty reduction. Thus, his speech began with reference to the partitioning of Africa that began with the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885. Hon. Sen. Gen. (Rtd.) Nyambuya stated that the European partitioning of Africa contributed to conflict, civil war, and artificial political boundaries. He also stated that this gave African countries a hard time establishing stable governments and keeping the boundaries set by Europe upon gaining independence. In support of the above assertions, Hon. Sen. Gen. (Rtd.) Nyambuya argued that the poor demarcation of territories in Africa by the Europeans is a contributing factor to the various border disputes between African states which can sometimes degenerate into wars. He added that this cripples development on the continent since much time would be spend on conflicts. He also argued that the colonisation of Africa by the French, Portuguese and British led to the underdevelopment of the African indigenous languages as the colonialists imposed their languages as language of business and trade, adding that this has led to further divisions among Africans thereby crippling development. He further argued that exploitation of natural resources to serve as raw materials for European industries led to the underdevelopment of Africa and the development of the Europe into economically, politically and socially strong nations.
Hon. Sen. Gen. (Rtd) Nyambuya further stated the existing neocolonialism that is being perpetuated by the strong nations. He said that one form in which this manifests itself is noticeable in the unequal power relations on trade and business negotiations between the developed and developing countries which leads to unequal distribution of material resources. In view of the above arguments, and much to the applause of the participants at the Summit, Hon. Sen. Gen. (Rtd.) Nyambuya made a call to all African nations to unite and overcome these obstacles for the economic, political and social development of Africa as a whole. He said that it is only when we overcome these obstacles that Africa is able to meaningfully and gainfully mobilise resources and maintain investments for the health of its people.
Sharing the Zimbabwe experience, Hon. Sen. Gen. (Rtd.) Nyambuya, informed the Summit that Zimbabwe Parliamentarians have been continuously and vigorously performing oversight function on the Executive to ensure health sector is provided with the necessary resources and that they are used for the intended purposes. He told the Summit how Zimbabwe Parliamentarians rigorously engaged the Executive and lobbied for the health levy as a resource mobilisation strategy for the health sector in the country. He stated the benefits this levy has brought to the health sector through the purchase of medicines and drugs, provision of free blood and blood products.
Winding up his speech, Hon. Sen. Gen. (Rtd.) Nyambuya encouraged the Parliamentarians to start dialogues on other health related issues that are rarely talked about because of religious, traditional or cultural reasons. These issues, include safe abortion among others. He bemoaned the high maternal mortality rates that are currently experienced in some parts of Africa due to unsafe abortions, adding that this gobbles huge sums of money from the fiscus as the survivors would still approach the public health institution seeking for post-abortal care services.
Mr. Scott Boule, Senior Specialist for Parliamentary Affairs at Global Fund stated that African Parliamentarians are leaders within the society and within their communities. They have both the mandate and public trust to act in the interests of every citizen and every community. They control the government actions, enact laws and vote the national budget. In this role, Parliamentarians are at the cornerstone of public advocacy for mobilising and allocating adequate resources to secure progress in achieving SDG target 3.
Hon. Aurélien Simplice Zingas, Chairperson of the PAP
Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs challenged African Parliamentarians to play their oversight role to ensure that finance budgets cater for urgent health needs of Africa. He also stated that the PAP, as the legislative body of the African Union, is best placed to advocate in collaboration with African governments, international donors and bilateral partners to ensure that the current investments in health are maintained and increased. He supported this assertion by stating that “Cognisant of this responsibility, the PAP adopted in May 2018, a resolution on The Role of Parliamentarians in Realising the Right to Health and achieving Health Targets in Africa, to signal that investing in health should not be considered as a sole responsibility of the international community. African governments need to walk the talk by delivering on their promises to care for our people.”
Hon. Aurélien Simplice Zingas, concluded by stating that in February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the 32nd Ordinary Assembly of the African Union Heads of state and government adopted a decision
(Assembly/AU/Decl.4 (XXXII)) entitled “The Addis Ababa commitments towards shared responsibility and global solidarity for increased health financing”. He explained that the decision calls for member states to increase domestic resources and mobilise health financing to strengthen health systems while improving efficiency through enhanced accountability.
6.0 COMMUNIQUE ON THE HIGH-LEVEL PANAFRICAN SUMMIT ON HIV AND HEALTH FINANCING IN
The Summit ended with an adoption of a communique calling upon on all stakeholders to prioritise health in the African nations. The communique reads as follows:
We, participants: pan -African parliamentarians, presidents and members of Regional and National Assemblies, presidents and members from the Senates, ministers of health and finance, technical and financial partners, private sector, civil society across Africa, met under the auspices of His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo on the 11th and 12th July 2019 in Brazzaville to underscore the need for increased domestic financing for health and HIV, review the progress and challenges faced in that regard, and to formulate collective ways-forward to improve health outcomes of our citizens;
- Considering the need for a sustainable financing for health in Africa, especially domestic investment in the light of Africa
Leadership Meeting-Investing in Health of the 10th and 11th of
February 2019 held in Addis Ababa and subsequent African Union Assembly Declarations while addressing the diseases of highest burden such as HIV and AIDS;
- Considering the need of high-level advocacy to support the forth coming Global Fund replenishment in October 2019;
- Considering the need to achieve Universal Health Coverage goals and to accelerate progress towards monitoring the improvements of the health outcomes in African Union Member States in general, and particularly HIV/AIDS epidemic, Malaria and TB through innovative partnerships.
During the High-Level Pan-African Summit, which was hosted by H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, we adopted the present Communique:
We resolve to:
- Ensure the progressive and effective implementation of the African
Union Declarations adopted following the “African Leadership
Meeting: Investing in Health” at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the
Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU)
(more specifically Assembly/AU/Decl.1 (XXXII) and Conference / AU / Decl.4 (XXXII) Declaration of the Africa Leadership Meeting- Investing in Health “Addis Ababa Commitments towards shared responsibility and global solidarity for increased health financing”) (10th-11th
February 2019, Addis Ababa)
- Follow up on commitments made at the High-Level Pan-African
Summit on HIV and Health Financing on the 11th and 12th July 2019, in
- Build and enhance the capacity of parliamentarians and their networks to effectively monitor international funding commitments;
We urge African Union Member States to:
- Implement, progressively and effectively, the Resolution on the role of parliamentarians on realising the right to health and achieving health targets in Africa adopted by the Pan -African Parliament (PAP.4/PLN/RES/01/MAY.18) and the decisions of AU Assembly 2019 that endorsed the outcomes of the Africa Leadership Meeting: Investing in Health (specifically, Assembly/AU/Decl.4 (XXXII) (February 2019); 5. Strengthen political commitment and accountability to front load investments to strengthen national health systems, end the AIDS epidemic, TB and Malaria and provide long-term domestic resources needed to achieve the HIV targets and health goals, grounded in principles of inclusivity, transparency and accountability, with the full participation of the communities, civil society;
- Advocate for the increase in domestic investments in health at rates in line with economic growth and government budget, tracking progress with consideration of the indicators of the Africa Scorecard on Domestic
Financing for Health developed by the African Union;
- Support the expansion of the fiscal space by strengthening national public financial management (PFM) capacity in order to improve tax collection and/or increase the proportion of tax revenue collected as a percentage of GDP through equitable and efficient general taxation and improved revenue collection. Ministries of Finance and tax revenue authorities should be strengthened to achieve this;
- Advocate for innovative funding mechanisms and solutions for transitioning HIV-specific funding sources to mainstream health financing mechanisms as many countries are moving towards Universal
Health Coverage ;
- Urge governments to systematically analyse the future costs of HIV treatment in order to plan for the long term, while reflecting on innovative domestic funding opportunities as well as health insurance coverage for HIV and social security;
- Ensure effective and multi-sectorial coordination among relevant ministries to ensure strategic resource planning and effective disbursements for health programme implementation;
- Recognise that bringing the elimination of the diseases of higher burden in our countries is a pre-requisite for the long-term sustainability of health programmes and that ending AIDS, TB and
Malaria as public health threats by 2030 is a Social Development Goal (SDG) for country health investments and an aspiration of the Agenda 2063;
- Reinforce accountability mechanisms for Country Results: Use the mandate of voting health budgets and holding governments accountable to progressively and effectively increase domestic resources for health, a multi-sectorial AIDS response and community-led programmes; promote principles of good governance and accountability to ensure transparency and management of funds
- Launch a debate on the advantages and risks related to the investments in a local production of essential medicines leveraging the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), taking into account the local technological and regulatory capacities, and opportunities for cost reductions and projections of the future needs for treatment.
- Foster greater cooperation between the public and private sectors to create synergies for accelerating progress towards the 2020 Fast-Track Targets and Universal Health Coverage with a view to deliver sustainable, effective, efficient and equitable health for all;
- Remove legal barriers, policies and practices that hinder access to comprehensive HIV and health services and promote policies that are gender-responsive, that are free from stigma and discrimination for vulnerable and marginalised populations;
- Renew the call for global solidarity to support countries in achieving the goals of the 2016 Political Declaration on AIDS, Universal Health Coverage and Social Development Goals and the African Union Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB; and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030;
- Urge the governments and Members of Parliaments in our respective countries to support the forthcoming Sixth Replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria [October 2019] in order that it meets the replenishment target of at least $14 billion. As this replenishment is critical for the success of the HIV response and the objectives for UHC and the SDGs, African countries that can contribute are encouraged to pledge towards this ambitious target.
Adopted in Brazzaville on the 12th July 2019.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Mr. President. I have
only stood up to support the motion that has been brought by Hon. Sen. Femai. We want to thank him for that and appreciate the fact that the delegation which represented Zimbabwe did well. It was headed by the Deputy President of the Senate and it was a very big meeting. I am sure you heard from the report and everything you did. Thank you Mr.
HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you very much Mr. President for
giving me this opportunity. I want to first thank the delegation that you led to Brazzaville Congo – Hon Sen. Femai, Hon. Labode, Hon.
Chombo, Hon. Khumalo who is in the Speaker’s Panel like I heard and Hon. Gezi, our Deputy Speaker.
Mr. President Sir, this is a very critical topic that was being discussed. The issue of HIV and AIDS is a concern to a lot of countries but as Zimbabwe, we had moved very well when we had the AIDS Levy which is being administered by the National Aids Council which was formed by an Act of Parliament. The National Aids Council has gone and worked very hard to actually end HIV by 2030. They have been doing very well so far.
Unfortunately Mr. President, of late they have been having a lot of challenges because of foreign currency. In most instances, we get our ARVs from the Global Fund and then the second line is meant to be bought by National AIDS Council but because of the foreign currency shortages they now have challenges. So, I am appealing to this House as Senators for us to plead with the Minister of Finance and Government to avail these funds to National AIDS Council so that they can buy the second line.
Mr. President, it is very pleasing to know that African countries are concerned. I actually want to thank and feel very proud that Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira is the Deputy President of PAP. He was there when this important topic was being discussed. From the report that has been just presented, he actually chaired one of the sessions which as a country we must be proud of. This can actually help this country to improve on HIVAIDS side so that we can advocate for the National AIDS Council to provide ARVs second line. I am sure Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira since he is now the Deputy President of PAP; he knows what other countries are doing and the benefits of looking after the health of the nation.
Mr. President, I am also happy that Hon. Sen. Femai’s report, the country is also being pushed for the Abuja Declaration to be realised.
As Zimbabwe, our country signed the Abuja Declaration 20 years ago.
What does this Abuja Declaration say? It says that if the country’s budget is 10 billion, this is just an example, the health sector should get at least 15% of that budget.
Mr. President, unfortunately, ever since we signed the Abuja Declaration, as a country we have never ever succeeded to reach the target of 15%. I was hoping that together with the Thematic Committee on HIV/AIDS and Health Portfolio Committee, at least this year the Minister should sacrifice 15% towards health because our health sector is facing many challenges. Health personnel for example doctors and nurses are not happy because there are no medicines in hospitals. I know the Minister is coming this week for budget debate, I think the Minister should consider this issue. I went through the budget and we did not get the 15%. With the challenges that we are experiencing, I think the Minister has to do something because seven percent is not enough. There was a time that we went up to about ten percent and now we have gone down, it is not good. We have to go up so that we improve the health of the nation.
I am happy that at these meetings, the Abuja Declaration was discussed. This should actually encourage us to copy other nations and improve the health of our nation. Mr. President, I do not have much but I just want to thank the delegation for going to Congo Brazzaville and I am also happy that HIV/AIDS is on the agenda of each and every nation in SADC and African countries that are member states to the PAP. Back home, we should encourage our Minister to take the health of the nation seriously. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHABUKA: I want to thank you for giving me this
opportunity. I want to thank the delegation that went to Congo Brazzaville. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Femai for moving this motion. Mr. President, let us eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2030. We do not want to see HIV killing people. We were thinking that we have defeated this disease and people were going to be cured. We were looking forward to get cure for cancer but because we do not have foreign currency, it is becoming a mammoth task. We plead with the Minister to allocate 15% of the budget to the health sector.
Mr. President, our country has a lot of natural resources. People are not supposed to die of HIV/AIDS. We have donors who want to work with this country. When we went to Uganda, we asked why donors were supporting other countries like Uganda but not Zimbabwe, they told us that they are charged a lot of money in declaring medicines, equipment and so forth. I encourage the Government to reduce the duty being paid on medicines, if we could put our heads together and for our people to survive and improve our health system. If our people die we will not be able to do anything. Let us be in good relationships with the donors so that they do not face difficulties when bringing medicines to our country. We have to put more money to companies like NATPHAM so that they can manufacture more medicines.
I am pleading with the Government that we put our heads together and see that our natural resources are used to help in the improvement of our country. We cannot just be going outside the country and not coming back to implement what we would have seen. I thank you.
HON. SEN. FEMAI: I move that this debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. SHOKO: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 4th December, 2019.
REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON GENDER
AND DEVELOPMENT ON THE PLIGHT OF PEOPLE WITH
DISABILITIES AND CHALLENGES FACED BY WOMEN
AND GIRLS WITH DISABILITIES IN ZIMBABWE
HON. SEN. NCUBE: I move the motion standing in my name; that this House takes note of the Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on the plight of people with disabilities and challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities in Zimbabwe.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: I second.
HON. SEN. NCUBE: Introduction: - Given the prevailing harsh socio-economic situation in the country, the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development embarked on a fact finding enquiry to centers of persons with disabilities (PWDs) on their living conditions. This report highlights the findings of the Committee pertaining, among other things, barriers faced by PWDs in the physical environment, access to health, education, awareness and access to social services, discrimination and abuse, assistive technology and availability of social amenities.
Objectives of the fact finding exercise
ascertain socio-economic challenges being experienced by
people with disability particularly women and girls, as well as men and boys counterparts who have different disabilities.
assess the state of facilities and services at different centres,
available to women and the girl child with disabilities.
ascertain specific vulnerabilities faced by women and girls
with disabilities in accessing sexual and reproductive health services.
ascertain government provisions of per capita grants and
other social welfare services towards persons with disabilities.
The fact finding exercise was conducted through various methodologies. On 5 July 2019, the Ministry of Labour and Social
Welfare made oral and documentary submissions to the Committee at Parliament Building. From 29 July to 3 August 2019, the Committee toured six (6) centres for people with disabilities in the following provinces: Mashonaland East (National Rehabilitation Centre, Ruwa); Mashonaland West (Kadoma Jairos Jiri); Midlands (Jairos Jiri Naran
Centre, Gweru); Zimcare Trust Sir Humphrey Gibbs in Bulawayo;
Masvingo (Hennery Murrey School of Deaf); and Manicaland (National Rehabilitation Center Lowden Lodge). In Bulawayo, the Committee participated in the National Disability Expo 2019 and received submissions from organisations and PWDs.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 15% of any given population has various forms of disability translating to over 1 billion people with disabilities in the world. 1. Over 75% of people with disabilities are in developing countries. 2. very often without the optimal technical, medical or social support that can improve their quality of life. In Zimbabwe, WHO estimates that there are about 1,8 million people with disabilities, which is about 15% of the total population. 3. Persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe, according to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare are vulnerable to constricted livelihood opportunities and have limited access to basic services, therefore, are the worst affected by poverty4.
- (WHO, 2011)
- WHO, 2011
- National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe (NCDPZ)
Zimbabwe is State Party to the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child.
The national legal framework governing the welfare of PWDs, include the Constitution, Section 3 (1) (e) which recognises the inherent dignity and worth of each human being. This provision is of utmost importance in as far as it relates to persons with disabilities. Other relevant pieces of legislation concerning the welfare of PWDs include the Disabled Persons Act and the Social Welfare Assistance Act which provides for the granting of social welfare assistance to persons in need and their dependents.
FINDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE Stigma and discrimination:- Disability, from the perspective of many diverse cultural interpretations is often still regarded as a hindrance on a family or as a symbol of evil phenomena within a community. The Committee was told that due to perceptions and stereotype attitudes, PWDs continue to be subjected to derogatory and abusive language. This was confirmed when the Committee received reports indicating that society in general views people with disabilities from a medical and welfare framework which perceives them as ill, different from their non-disabled peers and in need of care. The Committee was told in Masvingo and Kadoma that this view of PWDs oftentimes leads to neglect and isolation from any socio-economic activity such as land allocation and access to loans. The Committee noted that these discriminatory practices are a result of Zimbabwe having no disability policy as lamented by different organisations representing PWDs.
Double Jeopardy on Women with Disability
Women and girls with disabilities told the Committee that they were subject to double discrimination based on gender and their disabilities. Women who have disability are always abandoned by men after having children who will also need extended care, in support of their welfare. The Committee witnessed that in most cases, women with disability are the head of the families and they are responsible for providing food, shelter, clothing, etc. for the children. The Committee noted that while any person can experience disability at any time in life, on the event that this situation occurred to a married woman, this automatically leads to another tragedy of divorce and family break up. The Committee was told by women with disabilities in Bulawayo that after they got disabled, they were abandoned by their spouses together with the siblings.
On another note, children with disabilities are viewed as a source of stigma and a burden to families. The Committee was disturbed when it was informed that oftentimes fathers who are the breadwinners abandon the family so that they will not be part of child with a disability. The Committee was told that it is unknown how many disabled children have been abandoned, often in the care of their mothers who are unemployed, thus subjecting them to socio-economic challenges related to malnutrition, inadequate medical care and inaccessibility to education opportunities. The Committee was informed that due to denial and stigma, families with disabled children tend to hide them, locking them in doors all the times away from any government services. Rich families even send them overseas to hide them from local communities. As a result, national statistics of disabled children in the country remains unknown. Officials at Jairos Jiri Centres in Kadoma and Gweru reported to the Committee that their institutions were viewed as dumping places for children with disabilities. Some families were said to be unwilling to take their disabled children from Jairos Jiri Centres during school holidays. In addition, these families do not provide any support in the form of groceries and toiletries for these children.
Lack of equal support and opportunities in entrepreneurship
The committee noted that a large number of people with disability depend on small to medium entrepreneurship. Country-wide, most of the PWDs are vendors; they sell common products such as airtime, cigarettes and sweets in streets. However, the biggest challenge is that there are no proper designated places and/or reserved areas for them that can avoid jostles from council and police. In Harare and Masvingo, the Committee was informed that PWDs cannot afford to pay rates for market tables or to rent a building for business and as a result, they resort to streets in which they encounter chases by the council authorities and police.
Lack of Sports Facilities
All children have rights to play. The Committee made an observation that generally lack of appropriate equipment at schools and communities, coupled with a lack of professionals trained to support physical activity among children with different disability levels has resulted in low participation in sports by the disabled children and youths. In Masvingo, disabled children and youths informed the Committee that they were not active in sporting activities due to lack of facilities for the disabled persons in communities.
The Committee was also concerned to note that at all the visited disability centers facilities and equipment to support sport and entertainment of children with disability was not available, for example at Jairos Jiri Kadoma, visually impaired boys wants to play soccer but the institution does not have the balls and the grounds. It was also the
Committee’s observation that fitness equipment to assist those people who need physiotherapy are also not available at any institution visited, for example at Sir Humphrey Gibbs there are different handicapped people of different ages including old women and men and they are in need of these facilities.
Denied access to justice
Disability on women and girls apparently increases their vulnerability to sexual abuse. Women and girls reported to the Committee that they were at higher risk of psychological, physical abuse, including in particular sexual abuse and rape. Further to that, the Committee was dismayed to be informed that rape cases involving women with disabilities are oftentimes poorly investigated leading to no detection and conviction of accused persons. A touching submission was made to the Committee in Bulawayo at the National Disability Expo – 2019, by a woman from Matabeleland North with mental handicap and speech impairment, indicating that she had been raped and reported the case but the accused had not been arrested. She reported that she was traumatized to see the rape perpetrator everyday walking freely in the village.
The Committee made an observation that women and girls with disabilities who have survived violence are often unable to turn to the justice system because of a number of barriers. Difficulties in communication, mobility challenges and the need for personal assistance make it difficult for people with disabilities to seek for help and to access justice. The Committee's view is that getting help is even more challenging when the abuser is a closer relative to the disabled victim. As a result, women and girls who have been sexually violated are faced with threats of dual stigma of rape and disability, and many choose not to report crimes against them.
Disabled victims of rape do not have access to Post Exposure Prophylaxis to protect them from HIV and AIDS exposure. This is due to the channel of procedures taken like to get police report to the clinics or hospital that one has to go through and at the end most of the disabled will not be able since they require assistance.
Access to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) services
The Committee made the observation that women with disabilities need greater access to sexual and reproductive health services than their able-bodied counterparts. Prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination against people with disabilities have resulted in serious violations of their sexuality and reproductive rights. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which Zimbabwe is State Party and has become part of international law, stipulates that governments should guarantee access to sexual reproductive health to people with disabilities5. The Committee was however, concerned to receive reports that women and girls with disabilities were facing a plethora of barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services. The Committee was informed about the existence of institutionalised stigma and discrimination at hospitals and clinics, isolation and stereotyping of people with disabilities in Kadoma, Gweru, Masvingo and Harare. The Committee was told that persons with disabilities were often not part of family planning, HIV and AIDS, and SRHR programmes. In addition to this, women and girls are subjected to sterilisation as a way for them not to further reproduce.
United Nations, 2007
Such discriminatory practices and stereotype attitudes are in violations of the sexual and reproductive rights of persons with disabilities. Submissions received showed that disabled persons were unfairly viewed by society as people who cannot or should not be sexually active and so should not take part in sexual and reproductive activities, yet it is their right to be sexually active and so should access SRHR services, just like all other citizens. The Committee was further informed that children with disabilities do not have equal chances of going to school as their able-bodied counterparts; hence they do not get a chance to be taught about sexual and reproductive health in schools. Their parents often do not educate their disabled children on sexual and reproductive issues. The Committee was told that majority of disabled women are uneducated and unmarried. On the other hand, like their female counterparts, disabled men find it difficult to get married, and are also not considered as in need of SRHR information.
The Committee noted that in schools of visually impaired and deaf such as Jairos Jiri Naran and Jairos Jiri Kadoma as well as Sir Hennery Murray School of Deaf, it is difficult for teachers to educate children on sexual reproductive health and adolescence because of lack of equipment since they learn through pictures and some through feeling the objects. The school curriculum does not extend this to disabled community. The Committee made the observation that the marginalisation of women, girls, boys and men with disabilities in sexual and reproductive health services presents a challenge in the provision of SRHR services.
Further to that, the Committee noted that women with disabilities were of the view that the medical profession discourages them from having sexual relations, for example by making it difficult to obtain prescriptions for contraception.
The Committee also note that in all programmes to do with SRHR, information dissemination also is another hindrance since there is always communication barrier due to lack of sign language.
Lack of standard sign language
Unequal access to information is exacerbated by lack of standard national sign language. Section 6 (4) of the Constitution includes Sign
Language as one of the official languages of Zimbabwe. In addition, the Constitution mandates the development of communication suitable for persons with physical or mental disabilities. However, the Committee received reports indicating that people with disabilities are missing out on basic vocabulary in most sectors. For instance, deaf and adolescents due to communication barriers do not have the opportunity to learn about sexual and reproductive health as compared with their peers because teachers, parents and counselors fear to discuss sexual and reproductive health with them because they are perceived to be nonsexual. Similarly, deaf women face similar challenges pertaining accessing SRHR information services.
The Committee was told that there was no standard national sign language, and that different Sign languages are used in different regions of the country. King George VI Centre and School, Bulawayo complied with the National Sign Language Dictionary, but the speech impaired people were not using the dictionary because they were not consulted in its compilation process. The Emerald Hill School of the Deaf in Harare has its own Sign language. It was the Committee's observation that the development of literature in Braille and standardisation of Sign language remain huge a challenge. Medical staff at health centers, law enforcement officials, and other services providers, are not literate in sign language and so cannot effectively communicate with the deaf and those that are blind when they report at their offices seeking assistance.
Infrastructure and public buildings accessibility
Disability activists argued that most buildings, buses and kombis are not accessible by people with disabilities. To that end, they demanded that the Constitution guarantees that every building in Zimbabwe shall be made disability-friendly. The Constitution responded by stating that the State must take appropriate measures to ensure that buildings and amenities to which the public has access are accessible to persons with disabilities. Accessibility is quite important because in its absence, people with disabilities will not be able to work and visit offices located in such buildings. The Committee witnessed this in Gweru where the booked public hall does not have a ramp for those using wheel chairs to get access.
Assistive devices and technologies
The Committee was concerned that all the disability centres toured and at all public hearing proceedings, the shortage of assistive devices was mentioned as a major stumbling block affecting the development and welfare of people with disabilities. Without assistive devices, people with disabilities may never be educated or able to work, so the cycle of poverty continues. Mobility aids such as wheelchairs, tricycles, crutches, walking sticks/canes, and walking frames/walkers were said to be very expensive.
Daily living devices which enable people with disabilities to complete the activities of daily living (e.g. eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, home maintenance), which include adapted cutlery and cups, shower seats and stools, toilet seats and frames were said to in short supply. Vision devices which include large print books, magnifiers, eye glasses/spectacles, Braille systems for reading and writing, audio devices such as radios, talking books, mobile phones, screen readers for computers were not being provided to schools of children with disabilities. At Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre it was submitted that the institution had received 10 mobile tablets as a donation from South Africa which were handed over to the Minister of Public Service during a ceremony at the Ministry offices sometime in March 2019. The institution was informed the tablets would be released after all due processes had been undertaken. The tablets were still with the Ministry when the Committee visited the centre. Also in short supply were hearing devices, such as headphones for listening to the television, and amplified telephones.
The Committee was told that while customs and excise regulations provides for a waiver of duty for all specially adapted vehicles for use by persons with disabilities is a good policy; there are challenges that should be addressed to make it more effective. There was a call from the public in Masvingo, Harare, Mutare and Bulawayo that the vehicle allowed to be imported should be only five (5) years from the date of manufacture. The other requirement of this policy that was viewed as an impediment is that the disabled person importing the vehicle should
have a drivers' licence. This could not be possible for the majority of disabled persons on account of their disabilities.
The Committee also noted with concern that some disabilities need special treatment such as mental treatment medication, sun screen lotion for albinism and eclipse medication and testing since they are centralised and are not easily accessible.
It was the observation of the Committee that the government, by not providing these assistive devices was violating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Articles 4, 20 and 26 which ask States to promote the availability of appropriate devices. The government is also violating the Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities which calls upon States to support the development, production, distribution and servicing of assistive devices and equipment for people with disabilities.
Disability grants and social protection
The Committee noted with appreciation that there is a number of policies and legal framework with regards to disability grants. The Social Welfare Assistance Act, the Disability Persons Fund, the Harmonised Cash Transfer to Vulnerable Households among other things, seek to provide for public assistance, school fees, vocational training fees, monthly per capita grants, and medical fees.
However, at all disability centres toured and at public hearings conducted, the Committee received reports indicating that people with disabilities were not receiving these grants at all.
In Gweru, representatives of National Council of the Disabled
Persons of Zimbabwe (NCDPZ) and the Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Association of Zimbabwe (focusing on bladder and bowel management) reported to the Committee that persons with disabilities were not receiving any form of assistance from the government. Persons with disabilities in Gweru, Kadoma and Mutare expressed deep dismay about government's neglect of its policy on safety nets and social protection of the vulnerable at time of severe adverse macro-economic environment caused by drought. It was brought to the attention of the Committee that per capita grants had been suspended 20 years ago. It was also reported to the Committee that in 2018, persons with disabilities in Gweru received from Social Welfare only two litres of cooking oil and one 50 kilogrammes of rotten rice. People with disabilities were made to pay for transport services.
Access to revolving loan facility
The Social Welfare department is mandated to provide resources to enable persons with disabilities to embark on self-help income generating projects through a revolving loan facility. The Committee was told that section 22 of the Constitution provides that state should develop programmes for the welfare of persons with disabilities through facilities consistent with their capabilities. Further to that, the Committee was told that while that section was critical, what is questionable is the conditionality put on that section relating to resource availability. That conditionality was viewed as giving the State an excuse in the event of failure.
The Committee also received submissions indicating challenges bedeviling the loan application process, making it difficult for the majority of people with disabilities to be given the loan. The Committee was informed that disbursing the loan through commercial banks was expensive for people with disabilities, and that they preferred POSB which they viewed as cheaper and well represented in all regions of the country. The Agribank was reported to be turning away person with disabilities on the basis that they could not disburse a loan below $3 000. The other challenge cited regarding the loan facility was that the few who were granted the loan got it after a long delay of four to six months. Therefore, by the time the loan is disbursed it would be valueless due to inflation. Even of more concern was the loan collateral security requirements for someone who earns three times the loan being applied for. The view of people with disabilities was that these requirements and conditionalities were too stringent and prohibitive for them and as a result, majority of them who applied for the loan could not be given the loan.
Concerning Women Development Fund, women with disability informed the Committee that they could not get the loan because they were being compelled to access the loan through group lending model. Being disabled, non-disabled women are not readily willing to incorporate disabled women within their groups.
The government has put in place relevant laws and policies to promote the welfare of people with disabilities. However, given the Committee findings and observations outline above, the Government is urged to seriously consider the following recommendations.
To address challenges of denial and stigma associated with disabilities, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in conjunction with key stakeholders, should begin by October 2019, to embark on disability awareness campaigns to improve society's understanding and their perceptions towards citizens with disability.
There is need for Parliament of Zimbabwe, during its second session, to amend the Constitution section 120 (composition of Senate) and section 124 (composition of National Assembly) to include a section on the disabled persons quota, in order to increase the representation of people with disabilities who can mainstream disability issues in laws and policies.
Parliament of Zimbabwe, during its second session, should carry out the necessary consultation and pass a law to fully domesticate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
(UNCRPD), which it ratified and signed in2013.
Parliament of Zimbabwe should have an oversight on the enforcement and compliance with policy on accessibility by the disabled persons to all public buildings, infrastructure and public transport system, through ramps and other mechanisms.
Parliament should facilitate the amendment of the Customs and Excise (Suspension) (Amendment) Regulations of 2004 by removing the requirement that the vehicle being imported should be five (5) years from the date of manufacture, and that the disabled person importing the vehicle should have a drivers' licence and also remove the privilege that the disabled can only be allowed to import another vehicle after a period of 5 years.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should increase budget allocation towards percapital grants, safety nets and social protection and ensure that these grants for the disabled persons are disbursed on monthly basis as and when they are required without intermission starting from 2020 budget.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare should come up with a comprehensive policy by 2020, that ensures that persons with disabilities are given preferential access to key resources such as land, residential stands and medical treatment in order to improve their welfare and livelihoods through subsidising and payment of deposits.
As from 2020 the Ministry of Health and Child Care should put in place a deliberate social policy that exempts people with disabilities and their children from paying consultation fees as well as purchasing their life saving drugs at subsidised prices in order to improve their access to health facilities and critical drugs.
Beginning with the 2020 National Budget, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare should fully consult key stakeholders and people with disabilities, compile the required assistive devices and equipment at national level and in order to get adequate budget allocation from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for procurement.
With effect from 2020, the government should adopt measures aimed at promoting the deliberate employment of persons with disabilities in both public and private sectors through sanctions and incentives.
There is urgent need for an Act of Parliament or policy that compels parents and households to disclose presence of any child with disability so that he or she can be referred to specialised schools and get skills to begin income generating projects.
The Government should, by 2020 consult and put in place a policy that makes it mandatory for all public officials to be trained in Sign language and Braille writing system including health training institutions, teachers training colleges, law enforcement, judiciary and also Parliament interpreters in Sign language. This will go a long way in enabling officials manning public offices to effectively communicate and interact with clients that are hard of hearing and visual impairment.
Beginning 2020 budgeting, there is need for adequate allocation towards the improvement of accessibility of all public buildings and infrastructure to people with disability by putting among other facilities, ramps and disabled-friendly toilets.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care and its agencies including
National AIDs Council (NAC) and Zimbabwe National Family Planning
Council (ZNFPC), in conjunction with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, should within two years, disseminate to all places and produce information on sexual and reproductive rights of people with disabilities through Sign language and Braille system documents.
Political participation of women with disabilities must be encouraged in political parties including increasing their representation (particularly representation of women with disabilities) in Parliament, to ensure that their issues are mainstreamed in all policies and legislation.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare should in 2020, broadly consult and compile a National Sign Language Dictionary for use by all institutions and general citizens. On the same note, all teachers that have specialized training in handling special education for the disabled children should with immediate effect be awarded special allowances.
The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should with immediate effect release the 10 mobile tablets donated to Ruwa
Rehabilitation Centre and formally inform the Committee of the same.
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education to ensure HEXCO exams suitable for students in their different disabilities beginning with the 2020 national exams.
The main conclusion made by the Committee was that people with disabilities are experiencing acute challenges related to discrimination, limited access to health and employment opportunities and unequal access to credit and other productive resources to become self-reliant. In particular, women with disabilities are confronted with numerous difficulties in accessing SRHR services. In turn, the government through the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has not done enough to enforce policies that facilitate access to sexual and reproductive services by women and girls with disabilities. I thank you Mr. President.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: Thank you very much Hon. President of the Senate for affording me this opportunity to also add some few words on this report. As part of the contribution today, I just wanted to let you know Hon. Senators that today, the 3rd of December, is the International day of the Disabled Persons. It is a day which was set aside by the United Nations, which includes our Republic of Zimbabwe, to commemorate and encourage the rights of persons with disabilities. Today this morning, and even now, we have been gathered at the National Arts Gallery where Government officials and some agencies were urging Zimbabweans to join in commemorating this day.
Further, this report is also presented incidentally and it is a positive incident that this 3rd December is a Day of the Disabled and also it came within the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence where Zimbabweans and other countries also take note to try to discourage gender based violence. I am very happy that this report has come during these days.
What Hon. Sen. S. Ncube read in the report is what was captured from the people. We had no reason to edit anything and you took it as it is because we are agents of Government – agents of the Senate and agents of Parliament. We had a genuine desire to take exactly what they said but I want to add and say our Government, the Republic of Zimbabwe, when it comes to education, I think it has done extremely well to afford disabled people the opportunity to go to school.
What becomes difficult now is to get employment. I can confirm as a disabled person that the Government offers free primary, secondary and tertiary education to persons with disabilities and that should be applauded by everybody. The reason why disabled people are not employed is that, the buildings, that is the infrastructure either in Government, rural areas or wherever, are not accessible by persons with disabilities. Even if the Ministry of Education or Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare offers you a teaching post in Mutare, in Marange or in Madhlambuzi in Plumtree, you will discover that when you are in a wheelchair, the entrance to the toilet, the entrance to the headmaster’s office or the entrance to the classroom is not accessible.
So, I call upon the Government and the constructors to take note that when we say please construct buildings which are accessible, we are not only doing that for ourselves, but you are actually investing for yourselves because you cannot guarantee that tomorrow you will not be disabled. You will be a constructor of a building, a high rise building without a lift but with steps and only two weeks after completing it, you will find yourself in a wheelchair and maybe you are so big that you need seven people to lift you into that building. So, it is not a case of charity by having accessible buildings but it is a case of human rights.
Then on the question of women with disabilities, I think it is a well known fact that when it comes to abuse, people with disabilities are the most abused, not by Government but by the public who include even us Members of the Senate who are here. So, I think wherever we go and wherever we are, we should take note that disabled women and girls are also having rights.
By the way, we have come across a situation where children with disabilities become a ground for divorce. For example, people are married and the third child has a disability, then there is a fight because when a child is born, if it is not disabled, there are ululations and people are happy and all those totems are raised. But, when a child is disabled, a fight begins. Somebody says no, in our culture or in our clan, we do not have such kind of disabilities and it came from your culture, then there is fighting and suppose that child grows up knowing that her parents divorced because of her, how would that child feel?. I think it will also cause a lot of problems. So, I do not want to go on spoiling the good report which was presented by Hon. Sen. S. Ncube and which was compiled unanimously and endorsed by all of us. On that note, I will end here. Thank you Mr. President of the Senate.
HON. SEN. S. NCUBE: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. SHOKO: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 4th December, 2019.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.
Question again proposed.
HON. SEN. S. K. MOYO: Mr. President, I have the honour and pleasure to register my observations to the SONA debate as moved by Hon. Sen. Muzenda and seconded by Hon. Sen. Chirongoma in this august House. The SONA delivered by His Excellency, President E. D. Mnangagwa to Parliament on 1st October 2019, was incisive, focused, informative, factual, educative and well tailored. Its contents remain fertile food for thought begging digestion and implementation. The focus was no doubt on transformation, economic growth and job creation as articulated in Vision 2030 with the Transitional Stabilisation
Programme as the key building block.
Mr. President, as stated by His Excellency the President in his address, it is heartening to note that appropriate measures have been and continue to be taken to address the cash situation. Indeed, the ongoing fiscal consolidation measures are already paying off. I need not to say more.
Mr. President, His Excellency the President spoke at length on the urgency of infrastructure rehabilitation and development throughout the country. This includes roads, dams and the damaged infrastructure like those in relation to communities affected by Cyclone Idai. A lot has been done in addressing these challenges with the assistance from various countries and organisations. Mr. President, a friend in need is a friend indeed.
Mr. President, whilst we must focus on social service delivery, the sustained turnaround of our economy must anchor on production; production and more production in all sectors particularly in agriculture, mining and manufacturing. Given the vagaries of the weather and clearly climate change on us, more irrigation will need promotion wherever water bodies exist. His Excellency the President has gone further to encourage communal farmers, A1 and A2 farmers, to grow traditional grains because of climate change.
Mr. President, in line with the President’s address, it is clear that efforts are being made to render inputs more affordable to farmers including duty free importation of fertilizers and provision of dipping chemicals to improve animal husbandry practices. His Excellency the President refreshed our minds that with development of various infrastructure, modernisation of our border posts in Victoria Falls and Beitbridge underway, promotion of trade and exports should be easier and Zimbabwe can become a transport and logistics hub in the region.
Mr. President, a number of Hon. Members in this august House have spoken at length on tourism, SMEs, ZESA, health, price hikes and fuel challenges. I need to reinvent the wheel. We must however assist ZESA by paying our bills and protecting its infrastructure like cables, transformers from wanton vandalism. Criminals live and thrive amongst us, they do not live on mars. Mr. President, on the other hand, ZESA must be protected from corruption from within. There are court cases without end, not only ZESA but across the board. His Excellency the President has spoken his voice hoarse about malignant corruption in both public and private sector. Mr. President, enough is enough!
His Excellency, in his address stated “it is incumbent on us all to ensure that our nation grooms proactive patriotic young citizens capable of protecting their heritage”. The message is loud and clear. It calls for discipline, respect, hard work, diligence and purposeful life, away from drugs and alcohol with of course, elders playing an exemplary front role, in other words leading all the time from the front always. Also contributing to this august House in such manner that we are demonstrating the faith we have to those who elected us and also to ensure that whatever we do contributes to the development of this nation.
Mr. President, I will give an example of a situation which has concerned me for a long time. It is my understanding that one Member of Parliament, be it in the National Assembly in this case or here, the Senate spent five years in such an august House and never spoke a word, except when being traced, he or she - I will not identify the person, spoke only once in five years. It was a request to the Sergeant at Arms to open the window because he or she was feeling slightly hot. I do not believe that we are here to demonstrate that. Our people should really look at us as Members of Parliament and not as missing persons as they say.
I am pleased to note that the Empower Bank as they call it is being capacitated so that the youth can have their lives moulded in such a manner that they become very useful and useful leaders tomorrow.
Therefore, they need financial support…
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, order!
Your time is about to expire.
HON. SEN. MOYO: Thank you Mr. President. They need financial support through workshops and bankable projects.
We must also continue to support Government in its engagement and re-engagement efforts with the international community. I especially applaud SADC for its steadfast solidarity with Zimbabwe against illegal sanctions by the West.
Finally Mr. President, His Excellency in his State of the Nation Address, turned to the Legislative Programme which the Second session of the 9th Parliament must pursue with renewed vigour. I commend the progress registered in the alignment of our country’s laws to the Constitution. The proposed 27 Bills including devolution are clearly laid out in his address. Let us all participate in their debate when presented. We cannot afford to be spectators within our own agenda. I thank you.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: Mr. President, allow me to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to you for affording me the opportunity to add my voice to a very informative speech which was delivered by the
President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency E.D Mnangagwa.
Indeed, it is always pleasing to listen to a speech by a visionary leader, a statesman and a freedom fighter. I am aware that some among us, Hon. Members of the Senate, adequately contributed to the Presidential Speech. Therefore, to avoid repetition, I will say some additional few words as an appreciation to the wise words of our President.
On agriculture, His Excellency was clear and to the point. I was extremely happy when the President said, “let me hasten to state that only those with a proven track record of delivering to GMB and repaying their loans will be supported under the Command Agriculture Programme”.
With the above words, our President was reminding the nation and also emphasizing that agriculture is big business. In addition, His Excellency was reminding us that our economy is agro based. In an agro based economy like ours, agricultural activities must never be approached as just an extra mural activity or a social activity. Not at all! The good health of an agro based economy like ours; revolves around good agricultural activities. In his speech, His Excellency also touched on an important topic of traditional grains. He offered us all good advice, when he said, “Government is encouraging communal, A1 and A2 farmers to grow traditional grains.” We all know that climate change has been adversely affecting agricultural production throughout the country. Consequently, resorting to traditional grains mitigate against total loss of agricultural production among farmers. Even with little rainfall, those who grow traditional grains are able to at least harvest something. We are all aware and know of the benefits associated with eating food from traditional grain. Therefore, I want to thank the
President for the important encouragement on growing traditional grains.
Hon. President of the Senate, it is now common knowledge that a lot of cattle have been dying in many parts of the country. Some cattle are dying because of lack of vaccines and lack of water or grazing pastures. It is therefore important for His Excellency to touch on
Government’s current strategies to improve availability of dipping chemicals and also improve general animal husbandry practices.
Above all, His Excellency said that “The Persons with Disabilities
Bill which seeks to entrench the protection of the constitutional rights of persons with disabilities will be tabled in Parliament.” Mr. President, I can inform you that I nearly jumped up in happiness from my wheel chair when the President mentioned about the constitutional rights of persons with disabilities in his speech. The President stated, “I am also pleased to report that in line with Government’s policy to empower women entrepreneurs, the Zimbabwe Women’s Micro Finance Bank
continues to disburse loans to clients throughout the country.”
Mr. President, I appreciate this noble idea from our visionary Head of State and Government. Allow me to say on this one, I call upon the responsible Ministry and departments thereof, to make sure that accessibility to Zimbabwe Women’s Micro Finance Bank is disability friendly. I suggest that an inclusive policy has to be crafted with the active participation of women and girls with disabilities; so that the banks facilities and services can be accessible without disability based discrimination.
In conclusion, I wish that the entire nation could adhere to the wise words in the speech delivered by His Excellency on 1st October, 2019.
Only then, as a united Zimbabwe that respect its leader will we be able to achieve Vision 2030 goal. I thank you.
HON. SEN. MUZENDA: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 4th December, 2019.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR
MASHONALAND CENTRAL PROVINCE, (HON. SEN.
MAVHUNGA), the Senate adjourned at Quarter to Five o’clock p.m.