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SENATE HANSARD 11 JULY 2024 VOL 33 NO 64

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 11th July, 2024

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM HON. MINISTERS

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have been told that there was a meeting that most Hon. Ministers were attending.  I do have a long list of apologies which have been tendered and they are as follows: Hon. D. Garwe, Minister of Local Government and Public Works; Hon. B. Kabikira, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works; Hon. Kazembe, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Hon. C. Sanyatwe, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. Masuka, Minister of Lands Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement; Hon. V. Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement; Hon. D. Marapira, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement; Hon. B. Rwodzi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and her Deputy, Hon. T. Mnangagwa; Hon. Prof. M. Ncube, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion and His Deputy, Hon. D. K. Mnangagwa; Hon. E. Moyo, Minister of Energy and Power Development and his Deputy, Hon. Simbanegavi; Hon. Chitando, Minister of Mines and Mining Development and his Deputy, Hon. P. Kambamura; Hon. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Deputy, S. Chikomo; Hon. Prof. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; Hon. Paradza, Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate and Wildlife, Hon. E. Jesaya, Deputy Minister of Sports, Recreation Arts and Culture and Hon. J. Mhlanga, Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development. 

We have been joined by Hon. Gata, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.

 It goes without saying that it is an extreme disappointment for us in the Senate to have this huge number of absent Hon. Ministers when we are supposed to ask questions that our constituents would like to have answers on. Certainly, it is something which again we would like to bring to the authorities, our displeasure, disappointment and dismay that we are being treated in such a manner.  For the Ministers we have, can we have questions from Hon. Senators.

I am just being told that Hon. Minister Soda had hinted that there was a meeting which was being addressed by His Excellency, the President and most Hon. Ministers were there and we have received a message that they are coming and are held up in traffic at the moment.  In the meantime, can we engage the Hon. Ministers who are present in the Senate?

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

*HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: Thank you Hon. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Housing.  I want to know, Government said it will construct housing for civil servants as an incentive in addition to their salaries.  I wanted to know how far has the Government gone in implementation of this, especially in rural areas?

*THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES (HON. SODA): Thank you Hon. President. I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the pertinent question as regards the construction of Government houses to civil servants that are in the rural areas.  It is Government’s intention to give civil servants housing schemes as a form of non-monetary benefits.  People should have accommodation so that they will be alleviated from paying rent.  We are constructing in line with the budget that this august Senate would have approved.  At the moment, we have a scheme in Mutawatawa, eight blocks of flats are being constructed.  The first phase has started with four blocks, it will produce 64 flats, but the whole scheme should give civil servants in Mutawatawa accommodation for 128 families.  It is not only Mutawatawa where we are carrying out these construction points, but I have to answer directly to the question because it wanted rural dwellers.  So, the scheme started in Mutawatawa although we have a lot of other places where we are building, such as Lupane.

The 20 houses in Lupane were completed three weeks ago.  Lupane is the capital city for Matebeleland North.  People were unable to move to Lupane and work from Lupane because Government workers are coming from Bulawayo to go and work in Matebeleland North, which is not a good thing.  If we have a lot of such houses in Lupane, the civil servants should be in a position to work from Lupane near their stakeholders.  In Marondera, we are also constructing flats but this is an urban settlement, yet the question wanted rural setting.  Thank you. 

          *HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I wanted to know if these houses had already been constructed.  Are they going to be on rent-to-buy or just official scheme because these are non-monetary incentives?  Furthermore, how is the Ministry going to select the beneficiaries?  In Mutawatawa, it is said that the flats are going to benefit 64 people although we have many more civil servants.

          *HON. SODA: Thank you, as I explained earlier on, this is the initial phase of the project.  We are using what we are receiving from the National Budget. If we continue benefiting from the budget, we will continue construction.  Once a civil servant has been allocated accommodation, nominal rent is going to be paid for occupancy of the house.

          We have various schemes, that is, rent-to-buy and as the term implies, they will eventually own the house.  The scheme that I spoke about is for civil servants official residences, these are not rent-to-buy scheme but is meant for civil servants who would have officially transferred to Mutawatawa.  Sixty-four are being constructed and in the second phase, we should be having 128.

          The same applies to other districts and provinces, we are not going to be concentrating on one area.  We are going to consider other areas where there is need so that we do not leave anyone and no place behind.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  Thank you Mr. President.  My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister is, at the moment, you are doing very well to ensure that our civil servants are having houses constructed for them.  I also want to find out since Zimbabwe is a large country, we have civil servants all over the country.  Has a feasibility study been carried out to establish the population of civil servants in various areas and the number of houses that will be required or they are just building willy-nilly?   I thank you.

          HON. SODA:  Thank you Mr. President of the Senate.  There has never been a project that we have started without conducting a feasibility study.  We will have done our research even if we are building, like I indicated in Mutawatawa – they are a drop in the ocean compared to civil servants who are entitled to houses.  So, there is no way we can embark on a project without carrying out research and feasibility study.

          We are not ending in Mutawatawa, Lupane and Matabeleland North only, I gave an example of Marondera as well.  We should be building houses all over the country.  At the moment, we have focused on the completion of projects that had already been started so that people can occupy the completed houses.  We do not want to be starting projects that are never finished and having foundation levels at all housing schemes.  We have a presence in all provinces but we are at foundation level – that will also delay the process for beneficiaries to enjoy their benefits.

          It is our intention to carry out a project to completion.  Too many cooks will spoil the broth. We do not want a piecemeal approach since our budget may not adequately cover all the projects.  Hence, we are doing those that we are able to carry out.  Thank you.

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI:  Thank you very much Mr. President.  I have got a supplementary question.  The Hon. Minister is talking about 20 to 30 units and that sounds paltry compared to the demand.  What is the target number of rural homes the Ministry is contemplating putting together up to 2030?  Thank you. 

HON. SODA:  Thank you Mr. President and I also thank the Hon. Senator for a good question.  According to the National Settlements Policy which was promulgated in the year 2021, it established that about 1.5 million housing units are the deficit that we have in the country.  The policy also acknowledges that in order to provide for the houses that we will require as we gravitate towards 2030, this must be a multi-stakeholder approach where it is not only Government that should be putting together the houses but the various other stakeholders that we are working with as a Ministry will participate. 

We have non-governmental organisations, they are also building houses for their employees.  We also have individuals, especially the people that are in the diaspora. We have some schemes by which people that are in the diaspora are able to own land and build houses in Zimbabwe.  We also have banks and other organisations that are also participating with the view that as we get to the year 2030, we cannot just become an upper middle-income society when people do not have homes or houses to stay in. 

So, this is a multi-stakeholder issue where many people are participating and houses are being constructed.  I thank you Mr. President.

          *HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities.  I am grateful for what he has said in a bid to assist civil servants and others who are less privileged.  There is a bank, the National Building Society (NBS) to assist those who have low salaries especially civil servants so that they can be in a position to have their own houses before retirement.  Are you working in conjunction with that particular bank that was specifically set with the civil servants and the less privileged in mind so that they can have houses of their own?  I thank you.

          *THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES (HON. SODA): I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mupfumira for the question.  It is true that as a Ministry, we are working hand in glove with several building societies, NBS is one of the banks, FBC is another, and there are about four of them that we are working with.  We aim to ensure that people have modern houses that can be afforded by civil servants bearing in mind their earnings.  So, we are working together with such banks.

 The only problem that we used to have that has now been resolved by the new currency, Zimbabwe Gold, ZiG, was the issue of the value of the money because those mortgage holders or building societies, build a house and given someone a loan that someone will pay in instalments.  So, will the banks be able to carry out a meaningful enterprise and be able to get back their money because the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) is stable?  We are all expected to accept it and use it.  It has made prices of basic commodities to be stable and inflation rates have gone down even the confidence of banks and building societies to embark on lending money.  We have building societies that have since approached us so that we can enter into partnerships in constructing houses for people so that people become landlords.  I thank you.

          *HON.  SEN. MUPFUMIRA: Thank you, Mr. President.  I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for his response.  However, I was looking at a specific bank that the Government established so that the less privileged and low-income workers can be assisted.  I believe that the Minister could have statistics to compare what the Government banks have built because when you talk about the issue of the ZiG, our Government banks should not have problems with working with the civil servants.  So, to date, looking at the statistics, how many houses have the bank managed to build?  I thank you.

          *HON. SODA: Thank you once again Mr. President of the Senate. The statistics require me to carry out thorough research so that I will be in a position to fully answer what the Government-funded bank has done so far.  However, it is the intention that is important taking into cognisant the plight of our civil servants and how they repay the loans using our local currency. 

NBS is not the only bank that the Government has empowered.  When the loans are being repaid in terms of their value, it is now not being lost, so because of the loss of value of inflation, the fund will be reduced but such banks together with NBS borrow the money that they use.  At one point, NBS once approached us as a Ministry; they wanted us to be their guarantor so that they could access funds for the construction of houses.  So, some of these things, because it is a Government bank will be affected because of inflationary issues and the money that we use.  It is not only the budget funds that are going to be given to the bank but they also borrow funds from other sources so that they can be able to fulfil their mandate.  Though this was being affected by the variations in our local currency, I will bring the statistics next time I come to the Senate.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN.  TONGOGARA: My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.  There is a challenge that is being faced in our schools.  We have teenagers who are falling pregnant.  These school children are dropping out of school.  Those that would have gotten a chance will go and conceive and then come back to school. 

However, going back to school has got its own challenges. Yes, they may go back to school but the child that they would have given birth to will have no one to take care of them because some of these teenage girls will no longer be having their parents.  Again, if the girl goes back to school, she will be stigmatised that she is now a mother and she may not be in a position to continue with her studies very well.  So, what is Government policy regarding such issues?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. GATA): I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Tongogara for the question that she has posed. Firstly, the Hon. Member indicated that teenage pregnancies have become rampant in our schools. Yes, it is true that teenage girls of school going age are getting pregnant whilst they are still in school.

However, as a Ministry, we have a policy that says should a girl child fall pregnant whilst in school, she should go back to school so that she continues with education.  It is her right for her to go to school.

We have what we call guidance and counselling and, in that subject, we are teaching children because as a Ministry and parents, we should work hand and glove to ensure that our children do not fall pregnant before they are ready to be mothers. We should work together with all stakeholders and the community to ensure that we raise our children well.

          As a Ministry, we have a policy that leaves no child that has fallen pregnant behind. They should come back to the normal channel of learning together with her school mates. The second part is, what should we do when the girl child has fallen pregnant and there is no one to look after her? I will give the question to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare on what they do.

I will go back to the community and society that we need to assist each other to look after our children. It is our duty to look after our grandchildren. There are girls that fell pregnant and we have statistics to the girls that went back to school and attend their degrees. They are now employed and it is now the duty of the Government, society and the community to put our heads together in looking after our children. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: Thank you Hon. President of the Senate. I wanted to understand about these teenage pregnancies whilst they are still in school. The majority of them will be 13 years or 15 years. Will the law allow us to terminate such pregnancies bearing in mind that they may have difficulties in delivering safely and looking after the babies?

          *HON. GATA: This is a pertinent question, but it is not directed to my Ministry. This should be dealt with by the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health so that if an offence has been committed, the law can take its course so that this can be looked into properly. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. HUNGWE: I want to give advice in terms of a supplementary question. There was an Hon. Senator who asked as to whether this pregnant child, after delivery, can go back to the school where she was learning. It is true that she will be stigmatised. Was it not better for such a child to be allowed to be transferred to another school where she is not well-known or where it is not known that she has given birth to a child?

*HON. GATA: Thank you Hon. Senator for the advice or question that you have given us. If you were to allow me, I will give an example from where we are coming in terms of Schools Joint Monitoring that we did last week. We met such problems in Nyanga at a school where we were monitoring, but we have other examples of children who are helped through Guidance and Counselling and they go back to school. So, because characters differ, school children may stigmatise the girl. As a Ministry, we allow the child to be transferred to another school once we observe that this is what is taking place. You are entitled to request for a transfer to another school because policy does not bar a child from being transferred.

If we come back to Ubuntu through Guidance and Counselling that we would want to achieve, it is a subject that is being done not because someone falls pregnant or there are drugs that are being abused or there is now lack of peace, it is a subject that is being taught on a daily basis. So, these children know that such things can occur and that they are also being taught on how best to avoid child pregnancy. Once there is a pregnancy, they are also taught on how they should relate with the girl who has fallen pregnant. Our policy allows for a change of school. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHINYANGA: I wanted to ask Mr. President if it were possible for these children to be allowed to have contraceptives so that they do no fall pregnant? A stitch in time serves nine.

*HON. GATA: I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chinyanga for her question on family planning pills to be disbursed to the school children. We are deciding as Senate, but their Ministry does not deal with such issues. It is a question that could be written so that the responsible Ministry can come up with policy because for the contraceptives to be in the school, we work together with the Ministry of Health. If the issue has arisen, we then need to liaise with the relevant Ministry to see if condoms and contraceptive pills can be disbursed from schools. I thank you.

+HON. SEN. SIBANDA: I want to find out whether if a child gets pregnant, you are saying we will take her back to the school.  My question is, if she falls pregnant for the second and third time, will you still take her back to school? If we do so my question is if she gets pregnant and she knows that she is going to be given a chance to go back to school what measures do we have that she will stop falling pregnant.  What measures have you put in place to try to stop these children from falling pregnant over and over again, I thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY (HON. GATA): Thank you Mr. President Sir, I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for asking the question.  If I get you correctly, you asked that, as a Ministry and as a policy we re-admit girls who are pregnant.  What about if they fall pregnant for the second and third time and it goes on like that.  It is not something that we wish that it keeps on happening but our policy spelt out correctly that we readmit that child in the school so that they are not left they must get their education like everybody else.  The measures to prevent that, we will also ask you to work with everybody who is responsible for the wellbeing of our children like parents, guardians and community support that we all hope in.  As a Ministry, we do guidance and counselling, we do have professional people who talks to them, who counsels them.  This issue now like I said our policy stands; we readmit them into the class.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. BVUMO: Thank you Mr. President, it is a good thing if explanations are being given on the basis of the real things that would have transpired to our children at school. When we talk about such issues, we should have statistics at hand so that we can tell the gravity of this case.  Do we have statistics province by province so that we know who is mostly affected?  Do we have isolated cases that need intervention of the Government?  We can say that we can do this and that but we do not have specific cases about what has happened at particular schools and that intervention that the Government came up with so that we witness the intervention of the Government.  I thank you.

          *THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Senator but this question would have been better if you had put it in writing so that the Hon. Minister can come up with the statistics that you would want to enable us get the correct statistics. 

          <THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY (HON. GATA): Thank you Mr. President and I thank you Hon. Senator Bvumo for a question.  Yes, the statistics about the percentages of the numbers should be written.  Allow me to have it written and I will bring the statistics next week so that we can have a correct record of such stories.  What happens is that these girls fall pregnant because of difference circumstances, some might have been raped and others it is because of being naughty.  That is the reason why they end up being pregnant. In the end we end up being responsible for them and end up readmitting them to the school so that they end up finishing their education and they will be somebody in society.  We have isolated cases, last week like I said we went for evaluation, they are children that went back to school and sat for their examinations, they did well and we end up having professionals like teachers and engineers.  If you put it in writing, I will give you the relevant statistics.   I thank you.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Are these supplementary questions or new questions now. If they are new questions, I am going to write your names and I will continue with the list that I have been given here.

          +HON. SEN. NYATHI: Thank you Mr. President, my question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Information, my question may seem to be in two parts but it is one question. What measures are put in place on broadcasting programmes – there were programmes that used to intertain people, programmes like Abancane Qa and Guga Sithebe Kade, these programmes were educational programmes that were put for children for example FM classic 263? How many languages are being aired?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. MUSWERE).  I thank you Hon. President and I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question. What we have done is to review first of all the Zim Digital project and the Government communications strategy.  At the same to enhance Government communication plan which takes into consideration the print electronic and broadcasting stations.  So, what is actually taking place currently is that any inclusive Committee has been put in place in order to make sure that each and every community and language in terms of the Constitution contributes towards education, contributes towards information dissemination.  Also contributes towards entertainment because vision 2030 is about a collective responsibility which also includes a collective responsibility to educate and inform the nation and to entertain the nation.   So, a number of programmes have already started including at Classic 263 which is mainly focusing on the Southern Areas in terms of the provinces.  So, a number of programmes have been put in place which also include drama and educational programmes as an inclusive strategy as we seek to ensure that an informed nation is beneficial in terms of national building so I can assure you that almost all the languages have been included. 

          In order to enhance our support in terms of infrastructure development and deal with specific issues related to different regions within the country, we have legislated community information centres and we have also supported community radio stations, so they speak specifically to a particular geography in terms of supporting our national languages.   I thank you Mr. President.

+HON. SEN. S. MOYO:   Thank you Mr. President. I am happy to hear the Hon. Minister saying that everyone will have access to National FM or any other radio station.  I come from Bulilima District.  Since 1980, there are no radio stations that are accessible in that area.  I want to know how we are going to benefit as people coming from that area.  I thank you.

HON. PHUTI:  Thank you Mr. President.  I will give a bit of background.  In 2006, the International Telecommunications Union made a decision to migrate from analogue to digital.  In the process, they put a cut-off date which is 2015. So, the first phase of the ZimDigital project started in earnest and has covered significant populations in terms of the regions within the country to an extent that now in terms of radio, we are at 62%.  So, within a month, we are introducing another second phase to Cabinet, which is the ZimDigital Two, which will take care of all those border areas, especially areas that he indicated including Bulilima.

In order to support the development of radio and television under the leadership of President E. D. Mnangagwa, a licencing framework was then revised to take into consideration the establishment of community radio stations.  I can assure the Hon. Member that this year, I went to Bulilima and commissioned the Bukalanga Community Radio Station as a stop gap measure.  It is fully functional and educating that particular geography. 

At the same time, the ZimDigital Two, Phase 2 project as it starts, is going to concentrate explicitly and mainly first and foremost in the border areas as we move to seek to ensure that we leave no one and no place behind.  So, the licencing framework has allowed the proliferation and development of community radio stations.  It has also allowed the development of commercial radio and television stations.  At the same time, the national broadcaster is now expanding towards those particular areas but of importance, is the ZimDigital Second Phase project that seeks to financially resource Transmedia and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.  Thank you. 

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you Mr. President.  My supplementary pertains to the community radio station.  They are there and working well.  My observation is that they do not have wide coverage. Do you have any plans to expand the existing radio stations so that coverage reaches areas where there is no communication at all? I thank you.

HON. PHUTI:  Thank you Mr. President.  As I have already indicated, in terms of radio, we are currently at 62% in terms of national coverage.  The launch of the second phase of the ZimDigital project will ensure that we have 100% coverage in terms of the geography of our country.

So, mainly, it involves the procurement of transmitters across the country, the powering of those transmitters and also involves connectivity in terms of ICT because we have reached that point of convergence.  In order to speed up the process, we have already done a digital infrastructure masterplan working together with the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and have identified that in the majority of cases, we are going to do infrastructure sharing between our two ministries.  So, this we believe, is going to accelerate the deployment of the second phase of the ZimDigital project.

Meanwhile, we have the community radio stations.  They are mainly focused on a small geography in terms of coverage but as soon as the second phase or the ZimDigital Two project kicks in, we are very sure that we will be in a position to cover the entire country.  So, the current plan that has been informed by the digital infrastructure masterplan is that we seek to finalise the second phase which will give us 100% coverage in the country within a space of two year; because we are already behind in terms of International Telecommunications Union deadline.  Thank you. 

HON. SEN. KUNAKA:  Thank you Mr. President Sir.  My question is directed to the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities.  As we all know that shelter remains a fundamental basic right, to date, we continue to see the mushrooming of illegal stands owing to land barons when it remains the full mandate of councils to allocate stands under the Urban Councils Act.  We also see some areas that are occupied as residential stands and are yet to be regularised.  The Government and council continue to lose much of their revenue because the settlers just settle without contributing anything to council.

My question is, what legal action is being taken by the Ministry to make sure that they deal with these land barons who are acting with unbridled powers in allocating stands when it remains the core mandate of councils?

In addition, what is delaying the regularisation of stands in these occupied places yet they are occupied by people?  These should be a source of revenue to both the council and Government.  Some of the unregularised areas have become hot spots for political violence.  They are used by politicians as pools where they canvass their votes during election time and are no-go dangerous areas.  Thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order, order.  Your question was supposed to be directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.  I will request the Leader of Government Business in the House to respond to your question if he can.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE):  Thank you Mr. President.  You are right to say that the question should have been directed to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works but we usually work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.

Regarding the issue of land barons who continue to allocate stands that fail to meet the standards in terms of regularisation and sanitisation, the local authorities are empowered through the law to deal with such elements. They also enact their by-laws to empower themselves to deal with such cases.

 However, as Government, we are moving towards the regularisation of some identified settlements, for instance in Harare South.

At the moment, we are working together with the Local Government and Public Works, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Rural Resettlements which allocates the land, and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. We are handling or treating those issues on a case-by-case basis, they have different circumstances. That is what we are doing at the moment to come up with a mechanism of regularisation and ensuring that services are provided, but being handled or treated on a case-by-case basis because circumstances in those settlements are different. I thank you, Mr. President.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 67.

HON. SEN. PHULU: Thank you, Mr. President, I move for the extension of time for Question Without Notice by 20 minutes.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: I second.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESENT OF THE SENATE: Time for Question Without Notice extended by 15 minutes.

HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you, Mr. President. My question goes to the Hon. Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities. What are your plans for the housing schemes that were started more than ten years ago? The houses were left at different stages, but now we are seeing that there are new schemes for civil servants whereas those schemes are not yet complete. How are you planning to deal with those houses? I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES (HON. SODA): Thank you Mr. President and allow me to also thank the Hon. Sen for that question. As I indicated earlier in one of my responses, we are prioritising such projects where the Government has already spent some money. The Government intends that a project which has commenced must be finished. Once it is finished, benefits start to accrue from that project. So, this is the policy of the Government.

We want to avoid the piecemeal approach, where we are all over, and at the end of the day, the projects are not being completed from the resources that will have been allocated for such projects. So, the policy or the intention is to complete those projects so that people will start to realise benefits from the projects. I thank you, Mr. President.

HON. SEN. KATUMBA: Thank you, Mr. President. My question goes to the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities working together with the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.  I want to understand the issue of people who are paying lodgers` cards. Most of them have been paying for quite some time while on the paying list. What is it that you are doing for those people to benefit from what they are paying for? I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE): Thank you Mr. President and the Hon. Senator for the question. My response is that according to Government policy, if we have land available or if we have stands, the law tells us that those people be considered when some people are being allocated stands.

However, I am kindly asking the Hon. Senator who asked to say, maybe she has other people whom she knows who have been paying for years. I think it would be good for her to write them down so that the Government would look into those names so that they can be considered and that question goes directly to those people with such queries. I thank you.

HON. SEN. S. MOYO: Thank you, Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Veterans of Liberation Struggle Affairs.  We have war veterans who are aged and some who have passed on. We have children that are suffering and unable to go to school. I would like to know what Government policy is for children of war liberators who are unable to go to school. I thank you.

 THE MINISTER OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE AFFAIRS: (HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA): As a Ministry, we provide educational assistance to dependents of deceased war veterans as well as dependents of surviving war veterans. So, if there are some dependents you know who are not being assisted, if you can bring that to our attention through our district field officers or our provincial field officers, we will be happy to assist you with that. Thank you.

HON. SEN. C. NDHLOVU: Thank you, Mr. President. My question to the Minister. My question to the Minister of Veterans of Liberation Struggle Affairs is that they have four to five years of vetting people. These people were asked to have bank accounts, but nothing has been paid to these accounts.

  THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: That is a new question. It is not a supplementary.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to send my condolences to the whole House for the loss of one of our Hon. Senator Chabuka.

My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education regarding the deployment of teachers to schools. It is the right of every child to go to school and young children need to learn in their language, but for what is happening especially in Lupane

whereby a teacher cannot teach in the language that is spoken in the community, then it is a challenge. What is the deployment criteria in these schools, especially for ECD children?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. GATA): Thank you very much Mr. President. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa for the question. We have 16 official languages in this country which include Ndebele, Ndau, Tonga et cetera. All of them are recognised in Zimbabwe. As the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, we are not the ones who deploy teachers. All the deployment is done by Public Service Commission, but simply because you have asked me, I will kindly respond on what I know and then in future, you put your question in writing so that that can be responded to by the Ministry which does the deployment of teachers. All of our teachers are being taught so that they can be able to teach the children in all languages. We will further have those who work on specialty. The teachers are being taught so that they teach all the children and we have specially trained ECD teachers, but they are deployed by the Ministry of Public Service. I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa, I think if you ask the question in writing, the appropriate Ministry will be able to give a perfect answer to that and that will benefit every one of us in here.

HON. SEN. FANUEL: Thank you Mr. President. My question is to the Minister of War Veterans. I want to speak in Tonga, is everything in order? There are some war collaborators who were vetted two years ago; my question is, these vetted collaborators have bank cards and if they die today, will their children benefit? Secondly, there are those with their forms in offices, when are they going to have their papers processed?

*THE MINISTER OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE AFFAIRS (HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA): Thank you Mr. President. If I got the question from Hon. Sen. Fanuel very well, I think her question is directly focusing on those who were vetted in 2022 and their accounts were opened, they are expecting payments and they are still waiting. We have others who should go through the vetting process. I would like to thank you very much for this question because it is going to help a lot of people who are not here. I said we were currently waiting for the approved fund for this Parliament to be allocated money to our budget for the 2024 period which we intend to use to finish up on those who are to be vetted.

          We currently have that amount and we received it, but the programme to the whole country is called mop up vetting which will target every citizen in the country. We are communicating with those from the Ministry of Finance to release the funds so that we can do everything together. Why are we doing all this together? During the liberation struggle, we used to have a lot of people from various provinces. So when vetting all our war collaborators, they will be taken to their respective areas where they fought the liberation struggle and then we can select a few who will go and vet them. We got this programme and we are planning as we seek for the additional funds to our budget.

          I promise that in the short space of time, since we now have the funds, we are going to do the vetting process. After vetting those people, we will then gazette to notify the general public to say these are the people who assisted during the liberation struggle. If we only have someone who did not come, or somebody who was within the liberation struggle from the other side, we are only focusing on all those people who were working together with us and not those people who were working against us. Those people will tell us that this person who came in was not part of us. Before the end of the year, I promise we will be done on the vetting process.

          We want everything to go in collaboration with the determination of their benefits. We are working together with the Ministry of Finance. After vetting, they get their dues and I promise that we now have everything ready.

          *HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI:  Thank you Mr. President Sir. My question goes to the Minister of Defence. This week we discovered something which went viral. Those soldiers who were wearing uniforms and they were chanting slogans, I simply want to ask the Government to say what does the policy say with regards to those people who are still in the service and are chanting slogans?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE (HON. BRIG. GEN. RTD. MAYIHLOME): Thank you Mr. President. I think the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013 is very clear on the participation of serving members in politics. If the Hon. Senator has specific incidences that he witnessed, I think he can put it in writing and then the Minister of Defence can appropriately investigate. Thank you.

          THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. KAMBIZI): Hon. Sen. Zvidzai. The Deputy Minister advices that you can cite incidents, that is not an offence.

          HON. SEN. R. NDLOVU: Thank you very much Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and since the Minister of Transport is not here, I will direct my question to the Leader of the House. Hon. Minister, can you please give justification for the increment of number plates of the cars from USD80 to USD500.

The number plates used to be US$80 dollars and now they cost US$500.  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE): Thank you very much for that question in relation to the increment on the price of number plates. I am sure it deals with economics where the Ministry is not supposed to incur losses when they produce number plates.  I think the justification is about where number plates can be produced at a break even.  Normally, business does not make profit. If you find that the price is stretched to US$500 from US$80 dollars, it could be to try and recover the cost.  However, I would want to make a slight research on that question to see whether the difference you are talking of is real.  We may want to ask the Hon. Minister to come and give a statement on that. I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you very much Hon. Minister. It would be very proper that the Minister comes and gives a statement. 

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

DANGERS OF CUTTING DOWN TREES AND CAUSING VELD FIRES

  1. HON SEN. TONGOGARA asked the Minister of Environment, Climate and Wildlife to inform the Senate:-
  2. a) what the Ministry is doing to come up with a co-ordinated programme to educate the public on the dangers of cutting down trees and causing veld fires; and
  3. b) whether there is a database for all trees that are planted on the National Tree Planting Day and if so, to give details on the numbers of such trees, province by province.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE): Thank you Hon. President, I will first respond to the first question.

          The Ministry, in collaboration with Forestry Commission, is carrying out ongoing public awareness on dangers of tree cutting through the following initiatives:-

          This is a routine activity under Forestry Commission as it exploits every opportunity where there are gatherings at all levels to educate the public on the state of forestry in Zimbabwe, the current issues like illegal tree cutting for firewood trading and commercial charcoal production.

          Top among such gatherings, is the Annual National Tree Planting Day commemoration led by His Excellency on the first Saturday of December every year to launch the tree planting season. The increased surveillance on hot spots through conducting blitzes and patrols along highways and inspections.

          The Patron for the Environment, the First Lady, has been leading pre-National Tree Planting Day campaigns, and through the integrated programmes such as Forests4She, Agric4She, Cook-Out competitions, Clean-up events and similar other gatherings. Each event is preceded by tree planting and talk about current issues to do with climate change and a clarion call for all citizens to take part in conserving and promoting tree growing at their homesteads.

          The International Day of Forests (IDF) and the Indigenous Tree Day (every 15th of April) are some of the platforms that are being used to make the public aware of the importance of preserving our indigenous forests and all dangers associated with destruction of these forest resources. This year’s IDF was commemorated in Buhera in Mavangwe Hills where the mountain range has been earmarked for active management in collaboration between communities, RDCs, traditional leadership and FC, together with other sister agencies.

          Establishment of Natural Resource Management Committees that work directly in communities for the conservation of forests through Sustainable Forests Management Practices.

          The 2024 Independence was celebrated in Buhera at Murambinda B Secondary School where FC pledged a legacy plantation to mark 44 years of independence. The whole country converged at this place and His Excellency announced this event which will run from now till the 2024/25 tree planting season.

          The FC is working in collaboration with the private sector to advance afforestation, reforestation and restoration programmes across the country. Some of the organizations have sought collaborations with environmental groups such as Trees4ED which is taking the campaign to higher national levels

          Radio and TV programmes raising awareness on the importance of conserving forests and tree planting initiatives. Collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement on implementation of Horticulture Recovery Growth Plan (HRGP), targeting rural households by promoting planting of at least 10 fruit trees. However, the programme has not been adequately funded.

          Capacity building on bee-keeping to communities and agroforestry projects. Case study of Mutase Beekeeping and agroforestry projects. Tobacco Wood Energy Programme (TWEP) targeting the tobacco growing provinces. This programme is supposed to be financed by a Tobacco Levy re-introduced in 2015, but its implementation is still to be perfected.

          Emerging importance of conserving forests and derive benefits from REDD+ projects and Carbon Credit Trading. Educating farmers on the dangers of veldt fires and encouraging establishment of standard and suppression measures, management of fuel load through hay baling.

          When all the awareness raising has been achieved, the enforcement of legislation follows. My Ministry is currently processing a new Statutory Instrument on Fire Management Coordination, as well as Amending Statutory Instrument 116 of 2012. Yet another new Statutory Instrument to control the illegal commercialisation of indigenous tree resources is in the making to support the awareness raising.

  1. b) The series of tables below are an attempt to address Honourable Senator Tongogara’s question. I have tabulated National Tree Planting Day (NTPD) targets, achievements and comments by province for the period 2017 to 2023 (but with an omission of year 2018) by province. It should however be noted that these tables cover just the commemoration venue only (organised around the first Saturday of December annually to launch the tree planting season) while many more trees are planted countrywide before and after the first Saturday of December.

Hon. Members will note that they are recorded under achievement through this report attributed to low mobility of filed officers in Forestry Commission. I am currently seized with efforts to address the gross under-capitalisation of the Forestry Commission through various approaches.  For now, I will concentrate on the business at hand of NTPD targets and achievements.

During the period under review, His Excellency launched the tree planting seasons at Robert Gabriel Mugabe Square in Harare (2017), Masvingo primary schools in Mberengwa (2021, at Tsindi Secondary School in Makoni District (postponed) and at Domborutinhira Secondary School in Mutasa District (2023).

Table 1: NTPD 2017 Statistical Summary

Province

Venues

Trees

Achievement

% tree Planting Achievement and Comments

 

Target

Achieve

Target

Achieve

Area (Ha)

Attendance

 

Mash Central

16

12

33646

35646

18

3196

Tree planting target was lightly over-achieved by 7%, though with less commemorations than targeted.

Mash East & Hre Metro

23

24

34444

28247

22

6126

Tree planting target was under-achieved by 8% though commemorations were achieved as planned. Hre Metropolitan Province hosted the provincial venue at the Robert Mugabe Square Where his Excellency planted a Muchechete Tree

Mash West

16

14

16877

15570

13

2370

Both tree planting and commemorations were marginally under achieved by 9% and 12.5% respectively.

Manicaland

17

21

19142

11297

20

4156

Tree planting was underachieved by 41% while commemorations were under-achieved by 12.5%

Midlands

22

58

34077

23390

37

14554

There was overwhelming response to commemorations which over-achieved by 264% while trees planted under-performed by 31% due to the small number of trees planted at most commemoration venues

Masvingo

23

2

9824

2471

13

11002

The province is generally a low rainfall region, and hence tree planting is usually under-achieved.

Mat South

21

22

12650

3764

6

3938

Just like Masvingo, Matabeleland South usually under performs in tree planting

Mat North Byo Metro

30

37

6847

7616

9

6247

The wo provinces over achieved in commemorations due to a larger number of urban venues that came forward to commemorate NTPD, while number of trees planted marginally over achieved by 11%

TOTAL

168

20

13226

128001

148

47433

Overall provincial tree planting achievement during NTPD commemorations for the season was 78%

 

 

Province

Venues

Trees

Achievement

% tree Planting Achievement and Comments

 

Target

Achieve

Target

Achieve

Area (Ha)

Attendance

 

Mash West

20

16

37286

26422

29211

7554

70.9% Achievement.  Three venues from Kariba were not planted because the district FEO was transferred to Chegutu.

Mash East

24

19

43700

22309

16.9

3246

The activity was affected by the short rainfall season, coupled with a very late start to the rainy season.  Planting stock was also limited since Forest Commission had not produced own seedlings for most of the events.  The province hosted the Presidential Venue at Goromonzi High School where His Excellency planted a Mutunduru Tree.

Mash Central

45

5

100600

9600

43.2

13352

Most trees were dry-planted; some were planted using early rains and 95.5% was achieved.

Mat South

23

32

20030

10870

19.5

10134

54% of the targeted planting was achieved. Failed to rich the target due to limited mobility and dry weather conditions.

Masvingo

22

34

25000

12247

28.11

26335

49% achievement; seedlings production was low.  The period was characterized by low rainfall patterns which negatively affected tree planting rates.

Midlands

44

39

32000

14168

20

13864

44% achievements.  This was largely due to low rainfall received in the province as well as low field staff mobility challenges.

Manicaland

17

17

15905

7927

13.29

4351

49.8% achievement. Tree planting was done under very dry condition for most of the venues in the province.

Total

195

192

27521

190003

170.211

78836

Overall achievement was 69% in the province for the season.

 

 

Table 3: 2020 NTPD Statistical Summary

Province

Venues

Trees

Achievement

% Tree Planting Achievement & comments

 

Target

Achieve

Target

Achieve

Area (ha)

Attendance

 

Mash Central

20

17

57185

43262

18.15

4403

The wet spell provided a conducive environment for tree planting across the province.76 % was achieved on tree planting. Under – achievement was largely a result of incapacity to coordinate tree planting events due to low field staff mobility

Mash East

27

29

61160

34303

28.69

2563

The province had a commendable achievement on venues commemorated which had 107% success, though the number of trees planted were low due to delays in land preparation and limited capacity to distribute seedlings to venues, resulting in only 56% achievement on tree planting

Mash West

17

13

49511

31927

19.7

1805

The province managed to commemorate all the tree planting events under wet conditions. 76% was achieved on the number of venues.

Manicaland

18

15

27730

12713

13.34

2801

46% was achieved on overall tree planting on all the sites. Tree planting was affected by inadequate resources such as fuel and vehicles. The province had a fleet of only two vehicles running while the rest were down. As a result, preparations could not be done adequately. COVID 19 restrictions also impacted negatively on this year’s commemorations as people were not keen to attend gatherings let alone hosting functions

Midlands

27

57

41652

50408

38

3635

121% achievement on tree planting. Generally, the plantings were successful across the province except for Gokwe North where poor road access due to heavy rains resulted in suspending other planting sites. Most of the seedlings planted on planed sites were supplied by central nurseries. There was a wide adoption of tree planting initiatives in the province, particularly in Chirumhanzu District following the launch by Her Excellency –Amai A. Mnangagwa at Gangarabwe Primary School

Masvingo

23

25

26907

11302

16.7

26436

49% overall provincial achievements due to unreliable vehicles to transport seedlings to sites and shortage of staff in Chiredzi District. The province hosted the Presidential venue where His Excellency planted a Muuyu tree at Chombwe piped water irrigation scheme in Chivi District.

Mat South

29

32

22705

3329

9.3

3316

14.6% achievement on overall tree planting. There was over achievement on the number of sites commemorated due to public private partnership involvement particularly in Gwanda and Matobo districts. Generally, the province did not perform well due to insufficient rains that was received and compounded by the COVID 19 restrictions.

Total

161

188

286850

187244

143.88

42 396

 

 

Table 4: statistical summary

Province

Venues

Trees

Achievement

% Tree Planting Achievement & comments

 

Target

Achieve

Target

Achieve

Area (ha)

Attendance

 

Mash Central

24

34

60388

64569

46.06

13622

The province had a target of 60388 and achieved 64569 which translates to 106.9%. All the districts managed to have a tree planting activity with the majority exceeding the targets except Rushinga and Muzarabani. The provincial achievement was boosted by the First lady tree plantings in Mazowe and Guruve districts

Mash East

26

38

48780

36580

27.33

3956

75% achievement. This was a fair attempt given that the rainfall season delayed. Delayed onset of the rain season affected plantings, especially for sites that were hosted by schools. Some schools closed for the December holidays before trees could be planted. Again, when the schools opened there was no significant rainfall during the month of January and March.

Mash West

20

20

22266

18261

15

2487

82% achievement. Target was not met due to COVID 19 restrictions. More trees could have been planted in the province

Manicaland

19

17

39995

28744

29.99

4825

71.87% overall achievement. Other venues could not be commemorated due to logistical challenges. Resource to fund the program were also a limiting factor.

Masvingo

22

38

20707

14896

29.4

15908

72% achievement. Masvingo district recorded the highest number of NTPD sites with 11 planted sites form a target of 5. A total of 4520 assorted trees were achieved from a target of 3 500. This was achieved through the provincial NTPD venue and other stakeholders NTPD commemorations such as the ZPCS’s NTPD, Chief Mugabe’s Zunde raMamabo’s NTPD Commissioner Shoko’s sponsored NTPD, Masvingo Mayor’s NTPD among others.

Midlands

30

62

29482

31848

51.602

24419

108% achievement. Target was met for the province due to participation by the private sector within the province. Meberengwa district hosted the Presidential National Tee Planting Day commemorations on 04 December 2021 at Masvingo Primary school which is in ward 6 under Mberengwa East in Chief Negove area. The province hosted the Presidential venue where His Excellency planted a Musekesa Tree at Masvingo Primary School in Mberengwa. The President established an orchard at Masvingo Primary School where the late Rtd. General S, B Moyo attended his primary school education.

Mat South

30

30

8119

7761

20.6

3770

96% achievement. Most of the sites were commemorated jointly with stakeholders and partners within the province

Mat North

20

30

5026

3213

5.39

 

64% achievement on tree planting. Mobility has remained the major challenge in the province to facilitate tree planting initiatives.

Total

191

269

234763

205872

225.37

68984

87.6% achievement on overall planting.

 

 

Table 5

Province

Venues

Trees

Achievement

% tree Planting Achievement and Comments

 

Target

Achieve

Target

Achieve

Area (Ha)

Attendance

 

Mash Central

9

29

32000

48816

32.62

98745

152% achievement.  Target was met as most sites received sufficient rains for the tree planting.  Some of the sites were supplied seedlings from the Tobacco Wood Energy Program (TWEP)

Mash East

25

26

39680

33707

22603

9438

85% achievement.  Mudzi and UMP were seriously affected by limited rainfall that was received and could not meet the set target. The rest of rainfall that was received and could not meet the set target.  The rest of the districts met targets with Goromonzi having 85%. The other parts of the province received relatively effective rains to enable three planting.

Mash West

20

29

29630

29204

27.47

12345

99% achievement.  Tree planting target was almost met due to an increased number of venues that were supported under Tobacco Wood Energy Programme, particularly Zvimba, Makonde and party of Sanyati.

Manicaland

19

25

26492

35522

27

8954

Commemorations target was met. The Province was supposed to host the Presidential site which was later postponed.  However, a Mukute tree orchard was established at Tsindi Secondary school in Makoni district in honour of the President.

Midlands

33

69

37375

47981

 

 

128% achievement. Target was met due to stakeholder collaboration and massive community engagement by the Deputy Minister Hon. B Rwodzi in Chirumhanzu District through promotion of avocados which registered 45% of the total planting. However, more could have been planted in the other districts but they faced an extended dry spell and mobility challenges on some sites.

Masvingo

22

38

13600

21625

30.91

15743

Commemoration target was met. The province hosted friends of the environment (FOTE) annual walkathon which boosted the tree plantings in the province.

Mat South

28

48

9100

7660

2204

10081

84% achievement. Beitbridge and Matopo districts registered significant plantings due to collaboration with other organisations under achievement was attributed to delay in the rains.

Mat North

33

79

3734

9213

31.95

6542

Commemorations target was met due to some additional tree planting activities within the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province.

TOTAL

209

343

191 611

233728

 

 

 

 

Table 6

Province

Venues

Trees

Achievement

% tree Planting Achievement and Comments

 

Target

Achieve

Target

Achieve

Area (Ha)

Attendance

 

Mash Central

24

26

39710

41269

103

9876

104% achievement target was met due to increased awareness and some TWEP projects established within the province

Mash East

24

17

35630

25395

20.44

7994

71% achievement, target was not met and this was attributed to the drought that was experienced during the season.

Mash West

20

34

25040

23415

20.9

8473

93% achievement, tree planting target was not met due to the dry weather conditions that prevailed across the province and the most affected district were Kariba and Hurungwe

Manicaland

19

18

49925

39865

53.2

12672

The overall tree planting achievement stands at 79.4% of the planted sites including plantings organized by partners. Condition for the tree planting seedlings remained critical despite efforts by school to continue watering planted trees.  Further plantings were not done due to dry weather conditions. The province hosted the Presidential site at Domborutinhira Secondary School Mutasa District, where the then acting President (Rtd.) Gen. Dr. C.D. G. N. Chiwenga planted a fever tree.

Midlands

26

41

39525

23310

92.402

8406

58.97% achievement despite having an increased number of venues commemorated in the province as a result of increased awareness the province could not meet the tree planting due to the effects El Nino phenomenon.

Masvingo

22

41

18300

10498

28

27313

57% achievement under achievement is attributed to the drought that was experienced in the province.

Mat South

33

32

6950

7064

23.1

5099

102% achieved most of the identified sites had sufficient water for irrigation.

Total

168

209

215080

170816

341

79833

79% overall achievement.

*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for the explanation he gave us. I would like to say since they said they are teaching people and those who are on the deforestation side, they said that they are paying levy to the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife.  They think that the levy that they are paying makes them free to cut down trees whenever they feel like.

My second question is, does EMA follow-up after planting the trees to check on their state, that is, whether they are in a position to be used for firewood?  I thank you. 

*HON. SEN. MATUKE:  Thank you for the question Hon. Sen. Tongogara.  The first one stated that for those people who do the tobacco farming, since they pay levies and are allowed to cut down trees, and would have paid levies; firstly, let me say that it is not Government policy to start cutting down trees.  The policy states that tobacco farmers must plant trees.  After paying their levies, they must continue planting those trees and continue planting more trees so that we avoid desertification.  So, there is no law that states that since you have paid levy, you are free to cut down trees; you will be violating the laws. 

The second question was since we have tree planting days, do you do some follow-ups to check on the progress of the trees planted to assess their growth and survival?   We have a lot of Forestry Commission officers on the ground who will be placed in those different areas tasked with checking on the state of those trees across the country. If you look closely, tree planting days are done during rainy seasons, that is when we expect people to plant trees.  So, we expect that when trees are planted, they will survive because of the rains.  There are certain circumstances whereby there are instances of dry seasons with very little rainfall, there are people from the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife who are expected to take care of the trees.

If you look at the various areas, we have community leaders, we have a law which was put in place which states that no one can cut down trees without the authority of the headmen or the chiefs.  The same issue needs more sensitisation to the general public.  If they do such things, it will help us.  These Committees are mandated to monitor those who cut down and to see whether they survive or die out.  In short, that is my response.  I thank you. 

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:   Allow me to thank you Hon. Members for all the questions and supplementary questions that we had in the House today. 

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE), the Senate adjourned at Nineteen Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 16th July, 2024.

 

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