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SENATE HANSARD 08 DECEMBER 2020 VOL 30 NO 11
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 8th December, 2020
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MASHONALAND CENTRAL PROVINCE (HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA): Mr. President Sir, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 4 be stood over until all the other Orders of the Day have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.
Question again proposed.
+HON. SEN. MKWEBU: Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to add my voice on the speech that was delivered by the President to the nation; the motion was moved in this House by Hon. Sen. Chirongoma, seconded by Hon. Sen. Dube. A lot has been said and there are a few issues that I will talk about. Firstly, I will talk about what was said by the President in his speech which was raised by the Minister in the past few days on the transitional stabilisation programme. I will talk about how this has improved our economy and other issues that can help improve our economy.
There has been instability of currency in this country but nowadays our currency is now stable, which makes prices to be stable, especially if we look at urban and rural areas. You find that the prices would change with time from the urban to the rural areas and this was changing things on the market. Nowadays, the currency is stable and we can now buy basic goods from the supermarkets. The other thing is micro-stability. It was not very easy to borrow money because if you borrow money, it was going to change as our inflation was not stable at all. It was making our life difficult in this country but with the forex exchange market, it has made business to function well.
We can now even borrow money on loan at a low interest rate. It was making the lives of all Zimbabweans difficult. Even the President said the prices were rising each and every day and there was nothing that the President could do if the economy was not stable. We have been trying to do many other things; for instance, we constructed the road from Harare to Beitbridge and we used our own resources as Zimbabwe. We did not borrow any money from IMF but we used our own local resources and this was not going to be possible without the intervention of the President.
There was a dam which was constructed using Zimbabwean dollars. We did not borrow any money from the IMF, we used our own resources. Even this shows that we are in deep plight. We ensure by all means as Zimbabweans to use our own local money without borrowing. I am applauding the President for he is trying by all means to help this country. COVID-19 attacked this country and we did not have any resources in terms of money to deal with the disease but Zimbabwe managed to raise $18 billion so that we buy all the resources needed to fight COVID-19. We did not borrow this money from anyone. Mr. President, with these few words, thank you very much.
HON. SEN. MWONZORA: Thank you very much Mr. President Sir. Mr. President, for the first time in two years, I rise to debate the Presidential Speech. At the onset, I wish to state that the politics of this country must change. We must get rid of the politics of hate, acrimony, polarisation, violence and replace it with the politics of rational disputation and tolerance. The mistake that we as politicians across the political divide continue to make for years is to assume that our people, the people of Zimbabwe think politics everyday. To the contrary, our people think of their daily struggles, school fees, health and the well-being of their loves ones. They think of all their physiological needs first and foremost. It is therefore important that we deal with these issues that matter to Zimbabweans irrespective of their political persuasion.
I should state that we have seen enough rancour and bloodletting in our nation and it is time for change. It is time for the ruling party to change its attitude towards the opposition and vise versa. Our people must be completely enfranchised wherever they are. They must be allowed to choose from time to time the men and women who must govern them freely. Our electoral system must thus guarantee the secrecy of the vote, the security of the vote and the security of the voter.
In his speech, the President acknowledged the role of the diaspora in Zimbabwe’s economic development. They must be encouraged to do more. However, there cannot be responsibility without rights. Therefore, this country has to allow the diaspora vote. Other countries like Malawi, Mozambique and Russia allow their nationals stationed in Zimbabwe to vote in their national elections while they are in Zimbabwe. My party - the MDC-T is working on concrete proposals on how to make the diaspora vote safe, fair and credible.
Our country has experienced uneven development and economic injustice in its regions. To forestall this, our Constitution provides for the principle of devolution. Under this principle, local communities have a say in the development priorities within their regions. Resources found in those regions must benefit the local people first and foremost. It is unfair and ironic Mr. President Sir, that in Marange where we find rich fields in diamonds, you also find some of the poorest and unhappiest Africans on earth. It is equally unfair that the people living along the Zambezi in Tongaland and who have populated that region for years are regarded as poachers when it comes to fishing in the Zambezi. A special quota of fishing rights must be given to the local communities as a matter of right. It is sad that seven years after the promulgation of the new Constitution devolution laws have not yet been finalised. The provincial councils elected two years ago are not yet fully operationalised.
The President talked about the provision of farming inputs to the rural and urban communities to ensure food sufficiency. While this is a good proposition for the programme to succeed, the provision of agricultural inputs must be completely depoliticised. The continued politicisation of the provision of these inputs only leads to resentment and exacerbates the polarisation of our country. Therefore, politicisation of the provision of inputs must be criminalised and the culprits brought to book. Zimbabwe has just concluded a compensation agreement with the white former farm owners. The agreement also relates to black former farm owners although it was not negotiated by the black former farm owners. It is important that the compensation for black people who lost their land should be prioritised also.
One of the black people who lost their land in a clear case of political victimisation was the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole whose Churu Farm was expropriated for political reasons. To date, his family has not had any justice. The greatest omission in the compensation agreement is the failure to provide compensation of predominantly black former farm workers who lost their jobs due to the Land Reform Programme. These people who were disadvantaged by circumstances any way have been totally forgotten. As a labour backed party, we as the MDC demand that there must be immediate negotiations between the State and organised labour for the compensation of these former farm workers. It is not fair that this Government must compensate capital and forget labour. It must compensate and compensate labour as well.
It is vital that the Government deals with the plight of the victims of political violence. These include victims of Gukurahundi, 2008 violence, Operation Murambatsvina, the August 1, 2018 shootings and the January 14 to 16, 2019 shootings. We just have to deal with this blight in Zimbabwe’s history and compensate these victims and their families. For any meaningful national peace and reconciliation to happen, there must be truth telling. The MDC T is able to provide a database of some of the victims of political violence. Some of these atrocities happened after the formation of the MDC and we do have a database of these victims.
Here I am making an assumption that everyone wants to have a clean start and we are calling this new dispensation the second republic. Now we must deal with the atrocities by the first republic, it had a lot of victims and we must compensate them. We must also learn from other countries how they have dealt with their post conflict situations. We must derive motivation from the State of Rwanda which recovered from one of the worst genocidal wars on the African continent to become a leading power economic powerhouse on the continent. Before his sad demise, the Late Morgan Tsvangirai set the tone for the integration of Zimbabwe in the international community of nations. Zimbabwe is internationally isolated and this is not helping its people. The MDC is prepared to play its part in ending this isolation. We state it as obvious that the positive movement by the international community in his regard must also be matched by a positive movement on our part as a nation in instituting key political, social and economic reforms.
In this regard, the MDC T has prepared a proposed list of those reforms that we are suggesting. Mr. President Sir, this is a time for new politics within the opposition, we are no longer going to be opposing the ruling party for the sake of it without proffering solutions. We are going to be proffering solutions and what we have already done is to prepare a list of those things that we think need to be set right in this country and we are offering that list for discussion with Government and other stakeholders. We agree with the President that we must prioritize a programme that empowers the youths. In this regard it is a grave mistake to regard the youths as leaders of tomorrow. The youths are leaders of today, however the programmes meant to empower the youths must be completely depoliticized.
The national Constitution and the constitution of most political parties, in particular the Constitution of the MDC T and the constitution of ZANU PF provide for the 50:50 gender principle. However, in practice political parties have only paid lip services to this principle. This is unfair, undemocratic, hypocritical and criminal. For political parties to espouse a 50:50 principle that they do not follow, therefore, political parties must now be compelled to actualize this principle. Our country is to be deviled with corruption at both central and local government levels. This scourge must be dealt with as firmly and as mercilessly as possible. Research shows that corruption has led to massive leaks within our economy. There must not be any holy cows Mr. President when it comes to dealing with corruption.
The fact that a person is more prominent in society must be regarded as highly aggravating to justify a higher sentence. Now Mr. President Sir, it is a truism that the MDC is running almost all the local authorities in this country and therefore, it is running local government. It is a truism and I state it for the sake of completeness that ZANU PF is leading central government. We must have division of labour here. We in the MDC are going to deal with corruption at local government level and mercilessly as we can. We invite our brothers and sisters in central government to follow suit.
In the fight against corruption, we must follow the examples of other countries. I want to invite ZANU PF, you cannot follow China half way, and you must follow China all the way and look at how China deals with corruption, especially corruption of people who are in authority. Mr. President, as I have said before, this is the time for new politics and the time for a new approach. I am just hoping that the Minister of Agriculture who is going to see the distribution of farming inputs will take this into account that we need to completely depoliticize the institution of agriculture. I thank you Mr. President.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and greed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 9th December, 2020.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. President, I move that Orders of the Day, Nos. 1 and 2 be stood over until Order of the Day No. 3 has been disposed of.
ZIMBABWE MEDIA COMMISSION BILL [H. B. 8A, 2019]
Third Order read: Second Reading: Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill [H. B. 8A, 2019].
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President Sir, I rise to present the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill. This Bill makes additional provisions with regards to the Zimbabwe Media Commission which is established by Section 248 of the Constitution and whose functions are detailed in Section 249 of the Constitution with the objective to protect the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the media granted under section 61 of the Constitution.
The Bill must be read with and subject to various provisions of the Constitution such as Part 1 of Chapter 12 relating to the nature of independent commission supporting democracy, of which the Zimbabwe Media Commission is one. Part 1 of Chapter 18 with respect to general and supplementary provisions relating to all constitutional commissions covering the juristic status of commissions, terms of office of members, funding of commissions et cetera, as well as Section 17 relating to gender balance. These aspects have not been reinstated in the Bill. Essential Mr. President Sir, the Bill elaborates the functioning of the Media Commission for easy of reference, the relevant provisions of Chapter 12 of the Constitution relating to the establishment and functions of the Commission are set out verbatim as a preamble to the Bill. So too is Section 61 which sets out the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
Mr. President Sir, even if the Constitution had not established the Zimbabwe Media Commission, some such body is needed in any functioning democracy. The media of a country is called the Fourth Estate by reference to the other estates of the political nation, namely the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. It is so called because like the other three branches mentioned, it plays a decisive role in the governance of the State, but whereas the Executive is accountable to the Legislature and ultimately to the voters, the Legislature is accountable to the voters and the Judiciary operates by virtue of a Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct under the Judicial Service Commission Act which is enforced by a formal complaints mechanism. Under that Act, the media was not similarly constrained until the enactment of the so called Access to Information and Protection of Privacy in 2000.
As defective as that Act was, it gave notice to the media that since it has access to the public space in the exercise of its freedom of expression, it must accept some of the responsibilities that go with that access such as being disciplined when it infringes the constitutionally protected right to privacy or when it breeches the Common Law rights of individual human dignity and reputation as well as the corporate manifestations of those rights and freedoms held by companies and other corporate bodies.
Mr. President Sir, the State in every democratic country in the world has a vital interest in not only promoting the freedom of expression but also in preventing its abuse, whether directly through its executive agencies or through the courts. Free speech, as we all know, is not a licence to peddle falsehoods or to engage in certain expressions or behaviours with complete disregard for their impacts on the society in which they occur. There are also legitimate concerns where the right to freedom of expression impinges upon other rights and freedoms held by individuals such as the right to privacy or the protection of intellectual property rights of authors in their works. This is the case in the country where the freedom of expression and the jurisprudence associated with it is perhaps the most advanced and zealously guarded, I mean of course the United States of America.
Mr. President Sir, I propose to illustrate our own national experience on this topic by reference wherever possible to what is called in the United States First Amendment jurisprudence, the First Amendment being the primary constitutional guarantee of free speech in the United States. The depth and continuity of the American jurisprudence on issues of media freedom provides a useful benchmark against which to measure the experience of other nations young and old.
Mr. President Sir, I think from the outset, we need to bear in mind an important point that is peculiarly pertinent to developing countries such as our own. This is what forging nationhood naturally features more prominently in the calculations of policymakers in young developing countries than in the more mature nations. Creating a sense of national identity in the space of only one or two generations is an ambitious but not impossible goal and certainly one cannot deny that the deployment of the media to help in bringing this about is indispensible. Accordingly, there is a greater sensitivity in developing countries over what role the media may play in alleviating or exacerbating political and other tensions simply by virtue of them being younger and therefore more fragile nations.
We may here benefit from a useful analogue drawn from an American Supreme Court case 100 years ago by a famous American jurist, Oliver Wendel Holmes. The case in question, Schenk vs USA, involved the prosecution of the general secretary of the Socialist Party under the Espionage Act for distributing anti-conscription leaflets to prospective draftees in the war against the Bolshevik regime in Russia. The court held that it was not a breach of First Amendment Rights to convict someone for prohibited words that did have the intended results so long as the prohibited words were used in such circumstances and were of such a nature as to create a ‘clear and present danger’ of bringing about the substantive evils Congress sort to prevent. To quote Homes, ‘the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting FIRE in a theatre and causing panic’.
Now Mr. President, in our context, I think it is fair to say that irresponsibility on the part of media in dealing with issues of particular sensitivity pauses a greater and more immediate threat to the social peace and national cohesion of most developing nations as it would to most developed and mature democratic countries. There is little doubt that such irresponsibility played some role in Kenya’s 2009 election violence leading to the enactment in that country of the Communications Amendment Act of 2009 curbing media content in the interests of national security.
Mr. President Sir, in the United States, illegal immigrants are a frequent target of numerous syndicated right-wing radio talk shows. Imagine if similar rein had been given to radio broadcasters in South Africa in whipping up xenophobic sentiments in the time before and during the terrible riots that led to so many deaths of foreigners.
Governments in societies such as ours bear a greater burden in attempting to strike a balance between freedom of expression and restricting that freedom in the interest of social peace and national cohesion. If Governments stray too far in the direction of paternalistic protectionism, that error is perhaps preferable to the opposite one of complete neglect. Mr. President Sir, we can and should aspire to the standards of free expression of a country such as the United States but it may not be fair to hold developing societies like our own too closely to those standards.
Zimbabwe’s legislature and courts have been particularly active on issues of media conduct and freedom, especially in the last two decades, resulting in the creation of the constitutional body with which we are now concerned, called the Zimbabwe Media Commission, whose composition and functions now form part of our Constitution since the promulgation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act (No, 19) on 13th February 2009.
I would like to draw a brief parallel between some of the issues addressed by our media law and those addressed by First Amendment jurisprudence, in order to show that, to a very great extent, we share common values and concerns, albeit not with the same emphasis in every case. Mr. President Sir, to save time I will divert only infrequently to the particular provisions of our laws addressing concerns similar to those mentioned by the United States Supreme Court.
I will now turn, Mr. President, to obscene and sexually explicit expression. It has long been held in the United States, as indeed in most democracies, that obscene and sexually explicit expression is not to be accorded the same standard of freedom that is given to other forms of expression, and for obvious reasons. In the 1969 case of Ginsberg vs New York, the US Supreme Court held that states have an interest in limiting the distribution to minors of sexually explicit material, even where that material is not obscene, in the interests of ensuring the growth of our youth into “free and independent well-developed men and women”. In 1978 case of the Federal Communications Commission vs Pacifica Foundation, the Court held that the FCC did not violate the First Amendment by sanctioning a radio station for use of indecent language in this case George Carlin’s “Dirty Words” monologue), on the basis that indecent speech should not be allowed to intrude into one’s home uninvited. In the 1991 case of Barnes vs Glen Theatre, Inc, the Court upheld an Indiana law banning nude dancing, ruling that there was no First Amendment violation if the law aimed to protect “public morals and public order”.
On the issue of campaign funding, it has often been argued, here and in the United States and elsewhere, that unlimited expenditure for political campaign purpose is an exercise of free speech that should never be abridged in any way. This point was argued before the US Supreme Court in the case of Buckley vs Valeo, which ruled that the statutory election-spending limits provided for under the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act were an unconstitutional restriction of free speech but not the restrictions of contributions to candidates, since these may conduce to corruption.
In 2002, the United State Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold) which among other things, regulated “soft-money” campaign contributions in the US (contributions paid on behalf of, but not to candidates, especially for advertising) by requiring any such contributions paid within 20 days of an election to be publicly reported, and prohibited foreign campaign donations to state as well as federal elections. The following year, United States Supreme Court in the case of McConnel vs Federal Election Commission upheld the McCain-Feingold Act as not violating the First Amendment. It also incidentally, upheld the ban on foreign donations to election campaigns, on the sound basis that foreigners should not be allowed to derogate from the right of voters to determine their domestic affairs.
Given our political history, it is not surprising that Zimbabwe and other developing countries are particularly sensitive to speech or forms of expression that are politically, racially or religiously inciteful. In our Criminal Law Code, for instance, there are sanctions against “Causing offence to persons or a particular race, tribe, place of origin, colour, creed or religion” (Section 42). As I have argued before, the proximity of the threat to social peace and order of such speech in developing countries tends to be much greater than it would be to a mature democratic society. However, as I will show, concern for the hate speech is not entirely absent in such societies.
In the 1942 case of Chaplinsky vs New Hamshire, the US Supreme Court held that: “There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the libelous and the insulting or “fighting”” words, those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are not essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to the truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.” The case in question involved a Jehova’s Witness, whose activity in passing out pamphlets calling organised religion a “racket” caused by public disorder.
However, in the 1969 case of Brandenburg vs Ohio, involving the punishment of a member of the Ku Klux Klan for making inflammatory statement at KKK meeting against Jews and African Americans, the Court held that “constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”.
In recent years, the Supreme Court has displayed a far more relaxed approach to hate speech than in the past, or rather it is striven to be more even-handed in its approach as between left-wing and right-wing purveyors of such speech. In 1992 case of R.A.V. vs City of St Paul, the US Supreme Court invalidated a City Council “hate-speech” ordinance, under which a teenager was convicted for burning a cross on the lawn of an African American family, as a breach of the First Amendment, by concluding that, though it thought the conduct to be reprehensible, the City Council had “sufficient means at its disposal to prevent such behaviour without adding the First Amendment to the fire”.
Reputation of public figures
The United States and other democratic countries of the West are generally less deferential to the reputation of prominent political figures than is the case in the developing world. In Zimbabwe, for instance, we have sanctions in the Criminal Law Code against “Undermining the authority or insulting the President” (Section 33). This is partly a reflection of the greater respect for authority inherent in conservative and traditional societies, and is conducive to national cohesion in developing countries if applied in clear cases of abuse. Even in developed countries, the law extends some protection to the reputations of public figures, albeit that it holds to a much narrower standard of protection than our own. The strict standard that public figures must meet in protecting their reputation is illustrated by the US case of New York Times vs Sullivan, which involved a defamation suit by a Police Commission from Alabama against the New York Times for publishing an advertisement in the South for his subordinates’ brutal tactics against civil right protesters. The United States Supreme Court held that public officials could only recover damages for defamatory falsehood on clear and convincing proof of actual malice, that is knowledge that the statement was false or reckless disregard for its truth or untruth.
Preservation of cultural heritage
A concern that does not feature much in the free speech jurisprudence of the United States is the use of the media in the promotion or preservation of the cultural identity and traditions of ethnic groups particularly of indigenous groups. So for instance, the first explicit statutory recognition of Native American values came only in 1978 with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. This Federal statute extended and guaranteed access to the sites and sacred objects necessary to practise traditional Native American religions.
In our context however, the need to preserve cultural heritage is more acute, given that the cultural heritage in question is in fact the inheritance of people who make up the majority population in our societies. Furthermore, American and European cultural values as well as European languages especially English, French and Portuguese threaten in varying degrees the existence of the rich cultural diversity that still characterises much of Africa. Cultural diversity like bio-diversity is a thing to be valued for its own sake. A contribution to our common human provisions of our Broadcasting Services Act must be understood and supported. We hope that the Zimbabwe Media Commission will have equal regard to protecting our rich cultural and linguistic expression in the other forms of media.
In conclusion, I urge you Hon. Senators to pass this law and in doing so, raise another important milestone in the development of our democracy. I thank you
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on what the Minister has just presented.
If we look at the history of our nation up to date, some of the issues or challenges that we are facing as a people emanate from our culture and how we handle media space in our country. I would want to applaud the Minister for bringing this Bill to this august House and I hope that the august House will look at this Bill much more seriously because it is going to define how we are going to perform as a nation. I do not want to go back into history but what is important with this Bill is that it is going to give an outlook or the operation modalities of the media space in Zimbabwe which has caused a lot of problems.
I remember at one time our country was ranked among the worst countries in terms of how we handle our media. I hope there is wisdom in the Minister bringing those clauses which have ended up with us being labelled like a pariah State because of the media laws which were draconic and not suitable in a democratic country. I hope with this new dispensation, the Executive will pay more attention and respect the media. We hope that this will provide enough independence of that Media Commission so that it will be able to perform its duties without interference from whatever quarters. I think that will uplift us to a level where we are well regarded within the community of nations as a people who are tolerant to divergence of views, which is a pre-requisite for national development.
I hope it will also be able to address the abuse and justified abuse which has been coming from some quarters who have labelled or published news which ended up affecting us as a nation, which is a threat to national security and development. I would want to urge my fellow Hon. Senators that we take this as one of the most important Bills which has been brought to this august House since we started this term of Parliament. I hope we will do justice so that we start to prepare our country for national development. I thank you Mr. President Sir.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you very much Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to debate. I would also want to thank the Minister for bringing this Bill to this House. We should continue to be people who try to do the right things on our own in this country.
Zimbabweans are very educated and they need to express their rights before their leaders and country. They want their leaders to be accountable for what they would have done. However, there is a clause that I do not like as Hon. Sen. Komichi alluded to. If I was able to persuade the leadership, I would persuade them to remove this clause. The clause says that the President cannot be insulted in a democratic State. If one has become a President of a nation, he or she should have taken the burden of the whole country of 15 million people. You will now be doing their work by serving them. If one woman needs a hospital or road, you should provide it. You would have taken the burden of all the people in the nation.
Time and again people see you not doing the things they expect you to do economically or otherwise. I do not see any reason why anyone should not say anything they want about the President. I have seen the current President being insulted at rallies during the first dispensation. The patience that he demonstrated amazed me. I established that he is a very strong man. In West Africa, if you want to be a President or Chief, you are subjected to public abuse, shame and insults. You should withstand the insults and criticism in order to be a leader because you would have shown your strength.
We are seen as people who are very stringent if people are not given rights to express themselves. If you are insulted, what is the problem – if someone in Mufakose insults me, there is nothing that is taken away from me. I still remain a president. Let us have a difference between the Mugabe dispensation and the current President. Let us look at that closely Hon. Minister. We gain national reputation if we are to remove that clause. What we want is to join the family of nations that tolerate others. We are actually isolated.
Again, it their wish as Zimbabweans to say let us have a lot of television stations. Let us not continue to just have ZBC. I understand Zimbabwe is one of the first countries in Africa to have a television station but we still have one television station. It is actually embarrassing for us as a nation. If I am not enjoying the programmes on ZTV, I have no other option. Even if it is soccer, I cannot change channels but to get stuck to one. Let us work to bring a change with regards to that area and allow people to have a choice of what they want to watch. That is where development of the area comes from and if we allow freedom of expression, new ideas come in. Ideas do not come from someone who is sad or confined in a stringent environment. That is my plea and cry Hon. Minister. That is one of the reforms we should consider.
We should allow ourselves to compete with other countries internationally. Yes, we compare Zimbabwe to America but the level of education is now the same. Let us compete internationally with other countries. My wish is that our country be removed from the sanctions list so that we can go and compete fairly in the economy of the world without restrictions. I was really pained to note that other countries were supported financially when the Covid pandemic started and Zimbabwe got nothing. Zimbabweans are regarded as highly intellectual people and they should be having solutions to some of these problems. Someone who seeks something is always persuasive and will only rise when he has glued his hands on that which he desires. Let us have a collective effort working towards achieving a free from sanctions stance. Let us deal with it practically collectively as a nation. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Let me first thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this Bill. It is important that this Bill passes and we get a framework of doing things in this country. Let me thank the previous speaker for what he has said. I have just a few issues that I want to mention. Zimbabwe has people who are well cultured and so we should maintain our culture. We should not lose our dignity as a way of persuading or giving in to western countries.
I read about Guatemala. There were a lot of sanctions against that country from western countries and that country was given a lot of requirements to fulfil yet sanctions were never removed. This issue of allowing the President to be insulted or criticised to extremes as a test of leadership does not augur well with me. We cannot allow children to insult their father as a test case. A father should be respected. Those who went to ask for sanctions should go back and ask for sanctions to be removed. With those few words, I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Starting with Hon. Sen. Mavetera who is supporting the Bill but insisting that we need to look at ourselves and ensure that as we deal with the process of enacting this law, we must have due diligence to the provision of the Bill. Also, that we ensure that this august House becomes recognised and appreciated for this historic event of ensuring that we give effect to the issues that are enshrined in our Constitution. I want to agree with him that the reason why we are bringing in this Bill is that, in my remarks I said in the Bill, we will quote verbatim provisions of Section 61 that we relate to what we need to do to ensure that we give effect to free speech as well as Section 49. So the guiding principle is the Constitution, to say that the Constitution has guaranteed freedoms and how do we now go about doing that. This is the process that we are doing, so I agree with him in that regard and I want to thank him.
*Hon. Sen. Komichi spoke well about the rights of the people in this country. Indeed, they are well educated but they argue why the President should not be criticised. He gave an example and I heard what he said but when I was giving a background to the Second Reading of this Bill, I said as Zimbabweans, we cannot just copy everything from different places. Mr. President Sir, a child would take any adult or elderly person as a parent. If your cattle had run into someone’s field or grazed in that field, you would be disciplined by even a neighbour, not necessarily your biological relative and you would still keep quiet. These days you will hear a child telling you that you are not their parent. That is why we encourage that some of the things that are spoken are unnecessary.
Sometimes even in this august House when we argue, we do it differently but with a lot of respect. Mr. President Sir, you even refer that such language is not acceptable in this House. Even myself as a Minister if I use unacceptable language, indeed I am liable to correction. If we are referring to freedom of speech, why then do we want to insult the President? That is what this law is talking about that those may be extreme. Some people are saying why do we not open the airwaves to allow more stations, but this is what we did. Recently, we licensed some other television station players so that people may have an option, those who may not be interested in ZBC. That is in fulfillment of Section 51 of the Constitution.
I would also like to thank Sen. Kambizi for referring to our culture. That is exactly what I am trying to say that we should try to balance between Western freedoms and our freedom in the context of our culture. Mr. President Sir, it would be a very good thing if you go to another country, you are taught about the culture of that place or country. That is exactly what we envisaged. When somebody visits us, they should come here and learn our culture. If you go to Beitbridge, you should be able to be taught the culture of that area, be it the Tonga speaking, Shona or Kalanga. So we would like to preserve our culture and I would like thank the Hon. Member very much. Even the bringing in of sanctions, let us say as a country, we unite and argue and call for the removal of sanctions whilst we work. Whether the sanctions are going to be removed or not, it is neither here nor there. I thank you very much and take this opportunity to move that the Bill be read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
ZIMBABWE MEDIA COMMISSION BILL [H. B. 8A, 2019]
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 9 put and agreed to.
On Clause 10:
HON. SEN. MAVETERA: On Clause 10, under the part for investigation where the Bill states that the Commission may have to involve the police in making investigations. I do not know what the Minister feels about it, but I think we need to have a better way or a better body to do those investigations because the moment when we include the police, we are criminalising the whole process and the police is an arm of the criminal justice system. So by virtue of just inviting the police in the activities of the commission we are putting the name of the commission in the public Bill. I think we actually discredit it because it is now working like an arm for criminal investigation which is contrary to the objective of this Bill. I would urge the Minister, probably he may not as of now get it is saying but the Commission must be fully equipped to make the necessary investigations for itself. I think that is why we have to make sure that when we are choosing commissioners, we choose those who are competent and qualified for the job.
I would strongly urge the Minister to remove the police in this as part of the investigation team. Once the Commission makes its recommendations for criminal proceedings to be taken for whoever is involved, then that is the time to invite the police, not at this early elementary stage. I hope the Minister will try to see the wisdom in what we are trying to put. We are trying to protect the Commission to make it appear that it is a people’s Commission and people will not actually be afraid to approach it. I am sure it is a common cause that right now, the moment you see police, people are not free to express themselves. So let us get rid of the police from this early phase of investigation. Police must be invited by the Commission not to be part of the Commission’s work. I think we need actually to separate that, otherwise the police is part of the Executive and we are bringing the Executive to make these investigations into something which actually defeats the whole purpose. This Commission will not be independent in term of the investigations.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon. Chair, the import of this provision is that the Commission is not obligated to invite the police, however they may. So what we are saying is in the wisdom of the Commission, if they need the assistance of the police, they may do that. You may realise that a hearing may have been convened, but there are security issues because there are people who are rowdy. We are putting this provision to ensure that they must be free to call them. It does not mean that the police are part and parcel of the investigations. They are coming in upon an invitation to merely assist the Commission do whatever they are doing. So, I believe the provision as it stands does not in any way cause any harm, but it will allow the Commission to do their job effectively. I thank you Madam Chair.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam Chair, I think probably it is the way this clause is couched because if they are invited to investigate, it is different from them being invited to provide security or to provide a better environment for the Commission and to execute its constitutional duties. They may be invited to be part of the investigations - that is where the problem is, but being invited to play their duty to provide a conducive environment for the Commission to do their work then we have got no problem. What the Minister has said is that they will come to provide a conducive environment but that is not what this Bill is saying.
So if that is what he said and if that is what he thinks the Bill intends to do, then it must be rephrased and actually captures what he said which I do not have any problem with. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Hon. Chair I just gave one example that there might be need for security at a hearing. The way it is couched - if I may read ‘the Commissions may request the assistance of the police during an investigation, hearing or enquiry.” The Commission is at liberty if there is something that they want to understand or appreciate, they may request the assistance of the police either in writing or to come physically and assist them with whatever they want.
We do not want to narrow the role of the police in assisting the Commission, it is just assistance which you may or may not request. I believe we must leave it broad so that whatever the Commission requires within the framework of their independence, it is the Commission that is requesting the assistance of the police and the Commission has a constitutional mandate and functions that are clearly defined in so far as interference with the Executive is concerned. Be that as it may, we are all interrelated, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. That is why you see we have police manning the Parliament building at the request of Parliament, to assist Parliament to ensure that things move. The way it is couched, we do not want to narrow it but broadly speaking, leave it open mindful of the fact that the Commission know their constitutional obligation. I submit Hon. Chair.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Madam Chair, first of all I would to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing up this Bill, he explained it very well and it is clear to understand. The Commission indeed can do its work but if the Commission needs help or assistance from the police they should be free to call them, if they need the police. So, police as trained people can be called.
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS: Thank you Hon. Chair, I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chirongoma, indeed I concur with him. The police should be able to be called in when there is need for the police, be it for security reasons or for their expertise or if the Commission wants to ensure that they carry out their duty in a fair or just way.
Clauses 11 to 21 put and agreed to.
Schedules 1 to 2 put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
ZIMBABWE MEDIA COMMISSION BILL [H. B. 8A, 2019]
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. President Sir, I now move that the Bill be read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that Orders of the Day on today’s Order Paper, Numbers 4 and 5 be stood over until Order Number 6 has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT ON THE VIRTUAL EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION (IPU)
Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Extraordinary Session of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Question again proposed.
HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Mr. President Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 9th December, 2020.
On the motion of HON. SEN. MUZENDA seconded by HON. SEN. MATHUTHU, the Senate adjourned at Nine Minutes past Four o’clock p.m.