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SENATE HANSARD 07 APRIL 2021 VOL 30 NO 31

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 7th April, 2021

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Madam President, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 4 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

HON. SEN CHIRONGOMA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs) ON VELD FIRE MANAGEMENT

Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Veld Fire Management.

Question again proposed.

*HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: Thank you Madam President. I want to add my voice on a motion which was raised in this House on SDGs. Madam President, experiencing fire is a very painful scenario. When we are talking about this fire, it destroys a lot of plantations, many homes and crops. It is a very painful experience because when you plant, you will be expecting to harvest, but trees get destroyed by fires. Farmers expect livelihoods from trees, assisted in building houses but all those dreams are shattered because the fire would have destroyed everything.

Madam Speaker, people are not taking care of this situation, they are letting fire destroy a lot of crops and the environment. People should be more precautious as they deal with veld fires. They should be taught and trained to make use of fireguards so as to protect the vegetation, plantations and the environment. If a person is found without a fireguard, that person should be fined. We advocate for a deterrent fine so that it acts as an example to many people. They will learn a lesson.

Madam Speaker, some of these fires are caused by people who are hunting, including those looking for mice. It is a very painful scenario if you see some of the causes of these fires. Some of the fires are caused by people who will be smoking. They throw away their cigarettes stubs everywhere without taking precaution of where they are throwing their stubs. It is my plea to this House that people are fined hefty fines because they would not have put fireguards on their farms. I do not know, is it that people are lazy to put these fireguards? Some people are starting fire with the intention of harvesting honey. We may as well lose peoples’ lives - people can die in their sleep without knowing that there is raging a fire outside. It is my wish that people are able to protect themselves, plantations as well as their crops. Thank you Madam President.

*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this motion. The issue of fire Madam President is a very critical issue. I think the law with regard to veld fires is weak. When we talk about fire - this year it is different from all the other years because this year we received heavy rains and grass grew in response to the heavy rains. It is my wish that we implement the hefty fines on those who are caught starting fires. In most rural areas, there is no problem as much because there is not much grass but on the farms there is a lot of grass. Farmers should make sure that farms are divided by fireguards so as to demarcate and protect other areas in the farms from fires.

Madam President, it is my wish that to demonstrate that there is authority, every person that starts fire, that individual should get a harsh fine. Every farmer should pay that fine if caught on the wrong side of the law. At one time, there are farmers who came together to prevent these fires from spreading because they wanted to avoid hefty fines. Veld fires destroy plantations, crops and where you were expecting to harvest, you end up getting nothing because of the fires.

Let us deploy officers who go to these farm areas and teach about veld fires. People should be taught on how to safeguard this, if we are not careful, animals are being destroyed by these veld fires. In my home area called Chitomborwizi, a family lost everything because of veld fires. They had not put a fireguard at their homestead. Madam President, the relevant offices should move in and assist. Those people who walk past fires and do nothing about them should be fined because they are not doing anything. Those who stay in compounds should be fined if they are found not to be doing anything about this issue, they should take action and work on stopping the spread of fires.

Let us emphasise to the relevant department so that our minerals are protected and so that we do not lose valuable items and properties to fire. We should engage everyone who is involved so that people are equipped with knowledge on how to deal with fires to ensure that both people and animals are protected and also our properties are protected. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: Thank you very much for this opportunity Madam President. I also want to contribute to this motion as I was also part of the Committee that went around looking at this critical issue of fires. Fire does not happen naturally but we should look at it closely to see what is happening.

The issue of fires is still a problematic issue in this country. Some of these fires are caused by hunters and those trapping mice or clearing land for farming. This is one of the activities that cause fires because people do it without precaution and not taking due diligence. It actually spreads and ends up destroying people. The other issue is not only of cigarette stubs caused by smokers, but those who are waiting for transport at bus stops light up fires to warm themselves up as they wait for transport. For some it is due to arson, those who have the intention of destroying property totally for no apparent reason…

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, order, if I may remind Hon. Senators to reduce the volume on your gadgets we are now hearing feedback from your gadgets and not from the Hon. Member on the floor. You may proceed Hon. Sen. Mupfumira.

*HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: Thank you Madam President. We are saying that since 2001, over a million hectares of land have been lost to fires. Since 2001, people are dying from fire and we have lost more than a hundred lives due to fire that is caused by a lot of things and property worth almost half a million has been lost annually due to fire.

I mentioned that when other people are clearing land for farming purposes, they are clearing land using fire and it destroys a lot of thing, especially when people are expecting a bumper harvest. This period that we are in, a lot of crops can be destroyed by this fire. There is a mammoth problem amongst newly resettled farmers because that is where we witness the issue of fires destroying properties. The law actually states that people should be having fire guards to protect them. The law is in force but people do not abide by the rules and regulations with regard to the use and control of fire. We have a big task of teaching and imparting knowledge to people with regard to the importance of fire guards. People should be taught and conscientised on how to protect themselves from fire and keep fire from destroying properties.

It is my wish for chiefs to be given jurisdiction to control what is happening amongst the newly resettled farmers. Even in the rural areas, you will find that chiefs should be able to control these newly resettled farmers where there is a very big problem regarding the issue of fire. We should have teams that go around teaching people about fire, on how to safeguard themselves, their crops and properties. People should be taught in groups on the importance of making use of fire guards. This will be important when we look at safeguarding people and properties.

The other issue is of illegal settlers. For example, in Manicaland Province, we have a lot of illegally settled farmers in forests. In some places, people are finding gold in these places and they are settling illegally. In Matabeleland Province, we had the same issue. We need people to come together and work as a team. We should work together as a people. Ministries should come together and work towards dealing with this critical issue of fire. We should educate our people on these issues. When we look at ministries that deal with these issues, the most important issue is funding. People should be given the resources to deal with veld fires. There is an issue that should be looked at by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Money is not being channeled to its correct destination. I would like to thank the Hon. Senator who raised this issue but it is our responsibility to deal with the issue of veld fires. Our Government declared that from 1st July to 30th October it is fire period and it is during this fire period that we do not allow any fire that is left uncontrolled. We also do not allow uncontrolled veld fires during harvest times because our crops will be destroyed.

We should ask ourselves whether it is necessary to start fires. We should educate people on the importance of safeguarding themselves and the environment. I thank you very much Madam President for this opportunity to debate on this motion.

^HON. SEN. MALULEKE: Thank you Madam President. I want to add my voice on this important debate. Where I come from in Chiredzi and Chikombedzi, we are at the border line and we have got a national park called Gonarezhou where there are a lot of wild animals. Unfortunately, we have witnessed fire coming from that side and a lot of animals have died.

It is good to try and prevent veld fires when the fire season has begun. Many people have a role to play especially in the month of July like constructing a fire guard so that the fire cannot end up destroying the environment. When cooking using firewood outside a bird can come and pick a small stick from the fire and fly away and it will be dropped in the forest and then a fire will start. We have been blessed by the Almighty with many wildlife like madora. We can have these in abundance if we prevent veld fires. If we are not careful in safeguarding veld fires, we lose a lot of these edible worms. Like in my area, right now, we no longer have madora but in the past, there were many of these madora, trees like Mopane and these are now scarce in Chikombedzi and Chiredzi due to veld fires.

We now find these things in areas like Tsholotsho. I witnessed a situation where there was a veld fire, wind blew and the nearby homestead caught fire because it was thatched using grass. Long ago, we used to build our houses and thatch them with grass. EMA officers must work together with councillors, headmen and chiefs and the ministry must also put the Agritex officers to supervise in order to eradicate veld fires. Veld fires cause more harm than good. God gave us wildlife to protect and preserve and chiefs must give stiffer penalties to people who go around starting fires so that this will teach would be perpetrators not to do the same in future. The stiffer sentences will also scare people from practicing such bad things.   Magistrates’ courts must also do the same thing. I thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity and I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane for raising this motion.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF MTSHANE: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 8th April, 2021.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President. I move that we rivet to Order of the Day, Number 3 on Today’s Order Paper.

Motion put and agreed to.

SECOND READING

MARRIAGED BILL [H. B. 7A, 2019]

Third order read: Second Reading: Marriages Bill, [H. B. 7A, 2019].

Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President Sir. I want to thank the Hon. Senators for the robust debate that we had on the Marriages Bill. We debated a lot on issues that dealt with conflict of laws between our very own customary laws and the civil laws as well as the modern human rights laws that pertain to the rights of several individuals.

Mr. President Sir, this culminated in several meetings that we held with the chiefs to find a way of bridging the gap between the two competing laws, so to speak, to say, what do we do moving forward in terms of the issues that were debated in this august House?

To that end, the chiefs also engaged some renowned legal practitioners to help them to unpack the Marriages Bill and to propose solutions. They came up with a paper that they presented to say can we not deal with issues that have been raised, particularly lobola issues; issues that pertained to old clause 40, where a lot of married couples expressed reservations that ‘small houses’ would end up benefiting from property that was not theirs. We came up with amendments that I then gave a notice of amendments so that we can try and improve the outlook of our Marriages Bill.

Most notably is the issue whereby there was a lot of debate that we should legislate for lobola? After much debate with the chiefs, we agreed that we put a clause that would then take into consideration that our customary practice dictates that we pay lobola.

We were also mindful that some people may actually decide to stay without having been married. So, we prescribed that let us put a provision that if five years lapse and a couple is staying as husband and wife, they can proceed to the Marriage Officer, a chief, to have their marriage regularised.

However, we would then give a period whereby the aggrieved party can actually approach the chief’s court to say my daughter has been taken in for marriage for a year, two or three years and yet my lobola has not been paid. We believe that within that particular time, that would have been resolved. Failure to resolve it beyond five years, it means there are some problems. Like I said, we have competing laws. We have to allow certain processes to happen consistent with some of the conventions that we signed.

Therefore, I have put forward some amendments that we are going to deal with at the Committee Stage. We have also tried to improve on the ‘civil partnership’ clause to ensure that the concerns that were being raised are taken care of so that anyone who enters into a partnership with somebody else when they are married, when there is a dissolution of that union, due regard must be given to the property that that union did acquire so that we can protect the interest of the innocent souls.

Therefore, I believe that at the Committee Stage, we will deal in more detail, with some of the amendments that we are proposing. Once again, I want to thank the august House for the robust debate but we have tried to balance conflict of laws so that we come up with a Marriages Bill that is balanced, that takes into account our customary laws, customs and practices as well as our obligations in terms of the human rights obligations that currently obtain in the new world order. Having said that, I move that the Bill be now read the second time. I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Having said that Mr. President, I move that the Bill be read a second time. I thank you.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage: Thursday, 8th April, 2021.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that we revert to Order of the Day, Number 1 on Today’s Order Paper.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PROSECUTING AUTHORITY OF ZIMBABWE FOR THE YEAR 2019

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President Sir. I move the motion standing in my name;

That this House takes note of the Report of the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe for the year 2019, presented to this House in terms of Section 262 of the Constitution.

I have before the Senate, pursuant to the requirement of the Constitution that dictates that all constitutional bodies must have their reports tabled before Parliament within three months of the previous year having ended. In that regard, Mr. President Sir, I have tabled before the Senate, the Report of the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe for the year 2019. This is being presented to the Senate for debate and adoption in terms of Section 262 of the Constitution.

I must apologise it was late in coming, but we are almost ready. In fact the report for 2020 is ready - our desire being to ensure that we satisfy the requirements of the law that all reports must be tabled within three months. We are in April and the 2020 Report will be tabled. However, we need to have this one adopted and debated in this august House. Therefore, I lay before the Senate Mr. President Sir, the 2019 National Prosecuting Authority Report for debate and adoption in terms of Section 262 of the Constitution. I thank you.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President Sir for allowing me to add my submissions to the Report on the NPA presented to this august Senate by the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Mr. President Sir, I stand here to express my personal disappointment on the way we deal with issues of national importance. Like the Hon. Minister has said, the Constitution obliges us to have these reports presented to Parliament three months after expiry of the respective year, but now we are debating or we are supposed to debate the 2019 Report.

I think there is a reason and wisdom why that time was given because most of the issues which may have been raised in that report would be overtaken by events and it would just be academic rather than to be of practical significance. Mr. President Sir, I also look or view it as lapse on our role as the Legislature in supervising what the Executive should be doing. I am sure the respective portfolio committees should have actually implored the Minister to present those reports in time so that they could be relevant. Having said that Mr. President, I think we take it as a lesson and I am sure the Hon. Minister has promised that they would try as a Ministry or as the Executive to comply with the Constitution, which is very encouraging. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is the hallmark or the pillar of our Judiciary. All the issues which are attached or related to the Judiciary, especially our criminal justice system which raises a lot of human rights and other issues emanates from the NPA.

So as such, it is very pertinent that as the Legislature, we should be very much interested and take it as one of our core-business to make sure that we safeguard the Judiciary by ensuring that issues which need to be done are done and we comply with those issues. I cannot over emphasise the importance of the NPA. I am sure right now Zimbabwe is trying to go the world over trying to secure investments. One of the issues any reasonable investor would look at is the function of the NPA, its independence and professionalism before anyone could decide whether to put his money into our coffers.

It is very important Mr. President that we realise it as legislators that this is a very important function and it has got a ripple effect on whatever benefit we are going to accrue to the country and even the position Zimbabwe will be occupying in the family of nations in terms of the laws and all the attendant human rights implications. With those few words, I think I would stop here and just implore on the Minister to give us the next report in time so that when we discuss issues, those issues will be relevant and we can correct past mistakes and also those recommendations which may have been brought by that report. I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President Sir. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera for his contribution and the issues that he raised that we must comply with the Constitution are very important. I want to take us back a little bit so that we can appreciate the reasons why this report came towards the end of last year to this august House. Hon. President, in March last year is when we had a national lockdown and a national lockdown that resulted in only critical staff going to work, a national lockdown that resulted even in most of our traditional printers closing down. I think we all agree that the first national lockdown was one of the most effective when we had it.

Therefore, that also affected the processing and the production of all the reports that are required in terms of the Constitution. When we relaxed a bit, again we never got back to the full complement of staff that was working to ensure that the reports came on time. I am sure you are also aware that even as Parliament, we adjourned for a long period last year and we only started sittings when we had devised ways of dealing with the new normal that is COVID. We are still learning the new normal that is COVID and we are still learning and trying to come up with innovative ideas. Only yesterday, we approved rules to deal with virtual sitting.

So, this is what happened and for this year, the report for 2020 is almost ready and I think it is being processed and there is liaison with Parliament so that by next week it should be tabled. We tried as much as possible within the new normal to ensure that we are now prepared. We had lived with COVID for one year and we knew that with or without COVID, we had to produce it - but last year everyone was caught unawares when we had that spike in March and Government had to take those measures under the Public Health Act to ensure that we preserve lives. I agree with him that under normal circumstances, we must always bring the reports on time so that Hon. Senators can debate issues that are current and not issues that are outdated. I thank you Mr. President Sir. I now move that this report be adopted by the Hon. Senators.

Motion put and agreed to.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the Senate adjourned at Twenty-two Minutes to Four o’clock p.m.

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