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SENATE HANSARD 06 APRIL 2021 VOL 30 NO 30
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 6th April, 2021
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam President, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 and 2 be stood over, until Order of the Day Number 3 has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
ADOPTION OF SENATE VIRTUAL STANDING ORDERS
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam President, I rise to move that:
WHEREAS Section 139 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act (No. 20) provides that the proceedings of the Senate and National Assembly are regulated by rules known as Standing Orders, which are made by the Houses individually or jointly on the recommendation of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders;
NOW THEREFORE, in terms of the Constitution, this House resolves that the Virtual Standing Orders be adopted.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Madam President. I also want to thank the Minister for bringing this issue. There is nothing wrong in us going virtual. That is the trend world over. That is the route we should take because of technology, so the Government should make sure that it has upgraded the machines which are required. As of now, people who come from rural areas like Muzarabani, Chiredzi, Chivi et cetera, it is very difficult for the gadgets to connect because of poor network connectivity. We are lagging behind when we want to contribute in Parliament. We are glad that the Minister of Information is here. She should work on that because we do not know what other pandemic or problems will befall us after COVID. So, we should always be ready, forewarned is forearmed.
Last year we lost a lot because of COVID. Most Parliamentary business did not take place. So, I support this motion that Government should take it as a priority.
HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Madam President, I will not take long, I know we have a very important business coming. Madam President, we now live in a world called a ‘new normal’ in terms of technology and the way we conduct meetings and the way we meet, all Parliaments now across the world are holding virtual sittings. I am part of the delegation that sits at the Pan-African Parliament which is a continental Parliament with MPs from Egypt across to East Africa and West Africa and I am actually the Acting President. We are holding meetings virtually, Committee sittings and sessions virtually. We cannot be an exception. So, the proposed amendments are well supported and I think we should move to adopt them and be part of the new normal. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam President, I want to thank Hon. Sen. Komichi and Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for their contributions. The reason why the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders decided that we must amend our Standing Rules was because of the trend that is happening and also to take care of the pandemic whereby physical meetings were limited. This is exactly what led us to say let us sit down and amend our Standing Rules so that we can have virtual meetings as properly constituted meetings of this august House. So I want to thank Hon. Senators who contributed. Also while I am still on the floor Madam President, I want to congratulate Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for the honour that was bestowed upon him – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – I think it is an honour to all of us as Zimbabweans that he got that position. Having said that, Madam President, I move that the amendment to our Standing Orders and Rules by insertion of the virtual orders be adopted by this august House. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam President, I move that Orders of the Day Number Four be stood over until Order of the Day Number Five has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE AMENDMENT (NO. 1) BILL [H. B. 1A, 2017]
Fifth Order read: Third Reading: Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill [H. B. 1A, 2017].
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam President. Madam President, the Bill before you is a resubmission of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill, published as Act (No.10, 2017). Act (No. 10, 2017) as you all know, was ruled invalid in March last year by the Constitutional Court in the case of the President of the Senate and Others vs. Gonese, Majome and Others for the reason that two-thirds majority vote was not reached in the Senate at its meeting of 1st August, 2017.
Initially, the Senate was directed to conduct a vote in accordance with the procedure for amending the Constitution prescribed by sub-section (5) of Section 328 of the Constitution within 180 days of the date of the court order, that is to say, no later than 28th September, 2020.
Madam President, as fate would have it, just before 1st April, 2020 our country went into a strict national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meetings of Parliament were suspended, the operation of the courts were stopped except in the most restrictive circumstances and even by-elections were postponed to stem the ravages of the pandemic from which we are still not free as I speak to you now.
Madam President, just before the expiry of the grace period granted by the Constitutional Court, an urgent ex parte chamber application was lodged to extend the window to allow the Senate to vote on the Bill again. Thankfully, this application was granted on 25th February, 2021. It is not my intention Madam President to rehearse the technical legal arguments used for and against the applications in both cases. Suffice for me to say that in the first application, the Bill was found to have been validly passed with the requisite super majority in the National Assembly, but failed by a single vote to pass in the Senate.
In the second application, the court granted us an extension of the grace period for 90 days from the 25th of February, 2021. I cannot reiterate enough what a legal and constitutional quagmire, you Hon. Senators will help our country avoid if you secure the validity of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 1 Bill by your vote in the Senate today. You will be aware that already another amendment to the Constitution has been published and is pending before Parliament. The second amendment somewhat assumes the validity of the first amendment before you today.
The Constitutional Court took a principled and pragmatic stance in relation to our application and we in the Senate must now play our part to ensure the integrity of the constitutional rule of law in our country. I thank you Madam President, and I now move that the Bill be read the third time.
Madam President, I am advised that I was not audible so I seek your indulgence to repeat.
The Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs having now been connected on virtual repeated his presentation.
HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Madam President, I also wish to thank the Minister for bringing this report to this House. I picked up a very vital principle that I would like to acknowledge which is the rule of law. Here we have a Senate that was taken to court by certain individuals and a judgment was passed by the Constitutional Court and we have to abide by the judgment. Today, we are meeting again to consider the opposition. I want to respect this position that we have taken that we are now in the process in which people are going to respect the rule of law as a fundamental principle.
I am quite aware that the rule of law has been one of the contentious issues in this country where we had perceptions that certain judgments from the courts will not be respected but here today we are respecting a judgment that has come from the Constitutional Court. Let us continue to do these things, let us continue to show that we are a new generation, we are a new people and you are a new dispensation. There are a number of things that we would request so that we can conform to the issues and have a country that is respected inside and outside.
The rule of law has been challenged in the country but today I witnessed a change in attitude. We debated on the issues that were in the amendments and we raised our concerns but I believe the country must move forward. We should have more things to put on the table so that our country can move forward. Our country needs all of us to be united and all of us to put the issues that affect the people of Zimbabwe on the table and we can succeed and do a lot for the people of Zimbabwe if we put our heads together. I strongly call upon the people of Zimbabwe to be united and become one family, to move away from politics of hurt, politics of unnecessary fights but politics of brotherhood and sisterhood. We must take it as a challenge as Zimbabweans that we should see our country being one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. We can only achieve this goal if we are united. Let us not be proud by living in a country with high level of poverty. Zimbabwe is rated as one of the countries that has got 40% people living under abject poverty and as leaders, we cannot be proud of that. As leaders, we can be proud when people are in the locations, rural areas wherever they are and are living happily. Let us put smiles on our people because of our work. I would probably want to make sure that from now onwards, let us relate to each other with love. Let us make sure that we put national interest on the table and have Zimbabwe as the first agenda.
If we do that, we will leave a legacy to our own children, leave a legacy to the people that will come after us. With these few words Madam President, I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to add onto what Hon. Sen. Komichi has said. I would want to take this opportunity to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this issue to be reviewed again by this august House.
Madam President, I think we are almost getting into three decades where Zimbabwe is labeled for wrong reasons. One of the things which comes at the forefront is the lack of the rule of law – the partisan judiciary and the uneven application of law. I hope as a nation, we will see that some of the things are being dispelled. I want to take this opportunity to applaud the position taken by the Constitutional Court in declaring whatever had happened to be unconstitutional. I think those who look beyond would see that the Constitutional Court did one of the most progressive things to dispel those notions that there is partisanship when it comes to arbitration of laws in Zimbabwe.
Madam President, I would also want to applaud those people who brought that case against the deficiencies which had occurred during the passing of that Constitutional Amendment. I think they did that; instead of them being probably labeled somehow, they should be taken as patriotic Zimbabweans because they gave an opportunity for Zimbabwe to prove to the whole world that we believe in the rule of law and it cannot be done if we do not have examples like this.
So, I would say both sides played their roles as patriotic Zimbabweans, which is the legacy which we should leave to the generations to come. We have suffered enough as a people and most of the things we can actually do them ourselves. We do not need anyone from outside to come and tell us how we should apply our laws – these were not imposed, they are our laws. So, we should take pride in upholding our laws and behaving according to the dictates.
Madam President, to me, it is a historical moment because we are going to re-affirm our belief in the rule of law. To fellow citizens, I think it is time for us to be Zimbabweans and to think like Zimbabweans.
Without going further, I would urge Hon. Sen. Colleagues to exercise their conscience and do the right thing for Zimbabwe so that we move together as a people and achieve our aspirations as the jewel of Africa. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for the Bill that has been presented in this House. I stand up to say that as children of Zimbabwe, we should concentrate on the Zimbabwean law; we should not follow the influence that we get from other countries beyond the borders. We are learned people in this country who understand the law very well, better than those who claim to understand the law.
As children of Zimbabwe, let us not allow people to divide us. It does not mean that if you belong to the opposition party, you are not a Zimbabwean; it is just the difference in perceptions. We might be coming from different areas of influence but we are one and have one President in this country. We might have a desire or look forward to being a President but we should concentrate as a nation and look up to the leader that we have. We should not be divided or allow influence from other countries to divide us. Let us not allow to be divided as a people.
We have people who have their own hidden intentions; there are things that they are looking forward to achieve in this country. So let us not allow them to divide us as a people. I thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I stand proud here that following the Constitutional Court ruling declaring our vote in the Senate that it was short by one vote – it was 53. The Constitutional Court states that it should have been 54, so, following that ruling, as Zimbabweans, we have complied with that court ruling which in other legal language you say, ‘we have observed the rule of law’.
It is a great moment, we have demonstrated to the outside world that attack us on issues of judicial independence, that the decision by the Constitutional Court against President of the Senate demonstrates the independence of courts, which means they are not partisan.
We took our time, we tried to get the numbers right, I remember in the Senate Chamber we tried several times when the late Hon. Sen. P. Shiri was Leader of Government Business and we could not succeed. However, we remained patient and said until the numbers are right; we will not ignore the court ruling. We tried for more than three times to vote and it failed. Here we are now and I know the numbers today are right.
However, the numbers are right for two reasons. As traditional leaders, we are a full complement but the two political parties; from what I know and also heard in the corridors this afternoon, even if ZANU PF Senators were short, the number was going to be fine because we are going to vote united, which is good for us as Zimbabweans. It is no longer a Parliament that – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – this afternoon, as people count, Madam President, it is very insignificant. It is not about how many are from ZANU PF, the Chiefs Council or the MDC; we will go beyond 54. That is the spirit we need.
My second point is, in the past three weeks, surely in the Senate during debates Madam President, we have a totally new political atmosphere. It does not matter whether it is ZANU PF or MDC-T debating; there is convergence. You listened to the two Hon. Senators, Hon. Sen. Komichi and Hon. Sen. Chifamba; we will tell everyone that the nation is moving and we are united. We are listening to sweet debates. The acrimony which characterised previous politics is fading away and I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mwonzora’s party for what it is doing, “muvengi osvoda.” Please keep that spirit.
Lastly, there was a lot of noise around the judgement by the Supreme Court directing the MDC-T to hold elections. The Judiciary was criticized along partisan lines but this afternoon we stand tall and say those attacks were based on false grounds. Our Judiciary is independent. This is a good afternoon and it should be recorded that this happened on 6th April, 2021. We meet here as a united Senate. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. MBOHWA: Thank you very much Madam President for giving me this opportunity. I do not have much to say. I just want to thank the Minister, Hon. Ziyambi for bringing back this amendment into this House. I would like to say congratulations. Some things are done by the Lord. God will be having his own intentions, just like what we are seeing in this Senate today.
Truly speaking, there is no law that comes with the intention of harming its citizens. There is a proverbial statement saying, ‘the good that you do, you have done for yourself’. We had people who had divergent ideas not coming from the heart but was due to influence coming from others. On this Amendment Bill, I am happy because it shows that the Constitutional Court will bring back things if they are not properly done. That is the Zimbabwean law that we know. The truth has been shown. The return of the Bill shows that a point has been proven to this country.
As legislators from the Senate, we now have a view that whatever we are doing in this Senate, we are doing for the future generations. This is good because it is for us and for generations to come. Despite political affiliations, this will benefit everyone. No one will pass a law that is not good for them because it will affect the future generations and even themselves. I would like to say thank you very much Hon. Ziyambi. I would also like to thank everyone and say this is what we desire to see. This is what Zimbabweans expect to see. We might have different views but it reflects unity in this Senate for things that help in development of this nation. We are united as a people. I stand up to say thank you very much for the Bill. We support this.
*HON. SEN. MURONZI: Thank you Madam President for giving me an opportunity to contribute to this debate. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister who gave us the Bill. I am in support of this Bill. What has brought joy to me Madam President is that we now have the new dispensation – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] - Like others have spoken, we should stop politics of fighting each other. We should instead concentrate on things that bring people together. Everything that we do Madam President, people will be watching. We should strive as Members of Parliament to bring people together. We should preach unity where we come from in our constituencies. Thank you Madam President.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam President. I want to thank the Hon. Senators for the debates and the contributions that largely centered on the need for all of us to respect the rule of law to show that we are a united nation that speak to our national agenda. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Komichi, Hon. Sen. Mavetera and Hon. Sen. Chifamba for their contributions; not forgetting Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for his contribution and emphasis on the new political atmosphere in the Senate. Madam President, Senate “imba yevasharukwa inofanira kuratidza zvataurwa na Senator Chief Charumbira kuti kana wauya muno, kana wanga uchibhabhauka, unosvikodzikama.”
I want to thank Hon. Senators for that spirit and also thank Hon. Sen. Muronzi that we must unite our people. Many times, people fight because of leaders but if we unite our people, they will live in harmony. So, I want to thank you very much for your contribution. Having said that, Madam President, I move that the Bill be now read the third time. I thank you.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Minister. Section 328 (5) of the Constitution provides that a Constitutional Bill must be passed at its last reading in the National Assembly and the Senate by the affirmative votes of two-thirds of the membership of each House. In order to comply with the provisions of Section 328(5), it is necessary that the number of affirmative votes cast by Hon. Senators be recorded. I therefore direct that the Bells be now rung after which the votes of the Hon. Senators will be counted.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: The question upon which the House shall divide is that the Constitutional Amendment Bill [H. B. 1A. 2017] be read a third time. The Ayes will field on the right and the Noes on the left. The tellers will be Hon. Sen. T. Mavetera, Hon. Sen. T. V. Muzenda, Hon. Sen. T. Mathuthu and Hon. Sen. M. R. Dube.
Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira; Hon. Sen. Chidawu; Hon. Sen. Chifamba; Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi; Hon. Sen. Chief Chikwaka; Hon. Sen. Chimutengwende, Hon. Sen. Chinake; Hon. Sen. Chirongoma; Hon. Sen. Chief Chitanga; Hon. Sen. Chief Chundu; Hon. Sen. Denga; Hon. Sen. Dube A; Hon. Sen. Dube. M. R; Hon. Sen. Femai; Hon. Sen. Gumpo; Hon. Sen. Gweshe; Hon. Sen. Hungwe J. D; Hon. Sen. Hungwe S. O; Hon. Sen. Kambizi; Hon. Sen. Khupe W.; Hon. Sen. Mabika; Hon. Sen. Chief Makumbe; Hon. Sen. Maluleke; Hon. Sen. Chief Mapungwana; Hon. Sen. Chief Mathupula; Hon. Sen. Chief Masendu; Hon. Sen. Mathuthu; Hon. Sen. Chief Matsiwo; Hon. Sen. Mathema; Hon. Sen. Matuke; Hon. Sen. Mavetera; Hon. Sen. Mavhunga; Hon. Sen. Mavima; Hon. Sen. Mbohwa; Hon. Sen. Mkwebu; Hon. Sen. Moeketsi; Hon. Sen. Mohadi; Hon. Sen. Moyo G; Hon. Sen. Moyo S. K; Hon. Sen. Moyo T; Hon. Sen. Mpofu S; Hon. Sen. Mudzuri; Hon. Sen. Munzverengwi; Hon. Sen. Mupfumira; Hon. Sen. Muronzi; Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa; Hon. Sen. Muzenda; Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane; Hon. Sen. Mwonzora; Hon. Sen. Ndlovu D. M.; Hon. Sen. Ndlovu M.; Hon. Hon. Sen. Chief Nechombo; Hon. Sen. Chief Nembire; Hon. Sen. Chief Ngezi; Hon. Sen. Chief Ngungumbane; Hon. Sen. Chief Nhema; Hon. Sen. Chief Ntabeni; Hon. Sen. Nyambuya; Hon. Sen. Nyathi R.; Hon. Sen. Chief Nyangazonke; Hon. Sen. Parirenyatwa; Sen. Hon. Rwambiwa; Hon. Sen. Sekeramayi; Hon. Sen. Shumba; Hon. Sen. Chief Siansali; Hon. Sen. Timire; Hon. Sen. Tongogara; Hon. Sen. Tsomondo
Hon. Sen. Komichi.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: The results of the count is that 70 Hon. Senators have voted in favour of the Third Reading of the Bill and one has voted against the Bill. The number of the affirmative votes recorded is not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House. I therefore declare the final votes in the Senate on the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.1.) Bill [H. B. 1A.2017] to have been in accordance with the provisions of Subsection (5) of Section 328 of the Constitution.
Bill read the Third time.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam President, I want to thank Hon. Senators for a joyous and historic moment where we showed that we can become a united House for a common purpose and move our country forward. I want to thank all the Senators for the maturity that has been exhibited in this House. More so, there was no noise. Everything was done in peace and harmony. I think if we can exhibit that spirit, going forward, we will move our country in a manner that will be admired by a lot of people.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the House adjourned at Seven Minutes past Four o’clock p.m.