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SENATE HANSARD 11 NOVEMBER 2021 VOL 31 NO 10
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 11th November, 2021
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE
INVITATION TO A TWENTY-MINUTE THEATRE PLAY BY COMPLETE ARTS PROJECT TRUST
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I wish to inform the Senate that the Complete Arts Project Trust is inviting all Members of Parliament to a twenty-minute theatre play on the death penalty to be held on Wednesday, 17th November, 2021 at 1000 hours in the Parliament Court Yard. Hon. Senators who wish to attend physically should be seated by 0950 hours whilst those who want to watch the performance virtually may do so.
APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I wish to inform the Senate that I have received apologies from the following Hon. Ministers:
Hon. General Rtd. Dr. C.G.N. Chiwenga –The Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care;
Hon. Dr. E. Ndlovu –The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education;
Hon. Sen. M. Mutsvangwa -The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services;
Hon. O.C.Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri – The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs;
Hon. M. Ndlovu – The Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry;
Hon. Dr. Masuka – The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement;
Hon. Mhona – The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development;
Hon. Dr. K. Coventry – The Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation;
Hon. J. Moyo – The Minister of Local Government and Public Works;
Hon. Chitando – The Minister of Mines and Mining Development;
Hon. Dr. S. Nzenza – The Minister of Industry and Commerce;
Hon. Prof. Murwira – The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development;
Hon. Dr. Shava – The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade;
Hon. D. Garwe - The Minister of Housing and Social Amenities;
Hon. C. Chiduwa – The Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development;
Hon. M. Chombo – The Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works;
Hon. P. Kambamura – The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development;
Hon. Haritatos – The Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement
Hon. Karoro - The Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement
Hon. M. Madiro – The Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development;
Hon. K. Kazembe – The Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.
I must say the list is very long and I do not know why.
HON. SEN. KOMICHI: On a point of order Mr. President. Thank you Mr. President. This is quite pathetic and very unfortunate for the people of Zimbabwe. This is one of the serious abuses which the Senate can endure. A few days ago, they could just absent themselves without giving any reason. After the Senate had made a vehement complaint against their behaviour, they have now found a solution and the solution is to simply send an apology. My question still stands Hon. President; can these Ministers give apologies on Tuesday when there is Cabinet, the answer is no because it is planned from the schedule of the year that every Tuesday they go to Cabinet.
It is also known according to our Constitution and our Parliamentary practice that every Wednesday and Thursday, Ministers do come for question and answer sessions, which therefore means they can put it on their plan as well. Their work plans should always leave out a day like Wednesday and Thursday. Surely, this means a lot as far as the value and importance of Senate is concerned. This means a lot when we look at ourselves and say why are we here, what are we doing yet the people outside there, the tax payers and ordinary people expect us to oversee Government activities but here today we have only four Ministers.
Hon. President, this is quite unfortunate and we have complained for a long time about this behaviour. In my view, it is a sheer waste of time to go through this session but however Hon. President, you have the final say.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Sen. Komichi. I totally agree with your sentiments. I feel the Senate is getting a raw deal from what is supposed to be a constitutional obligation. We will take it up with the relevant authorities. In the meantime, I suggest we go ahead with what we have. We have the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Ziyambi; the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Hon. Musabayana, the Deputy Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities, Hon. Simbanegavi and the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Hon. E. Moyo.
*HON. SEN. FEMAI: Thank you Mr. President. I saw it fit that I contribute; if this was happening in our rural areas and if people are supposed to converge and drink beer in our rural areas and there are few relatives, we would cancel the whole event. My point is that this is a futile exercise for the few Cabinet Ministers who are here. I believe that theremight be need for the cancellation of the Question and Answer segment so that we demonstrate our seriousness.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I made a ruling pertaining to that Hon. Sen. Femai.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
*HON. SEN. CHINAKE: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Leader of the House. The rain season is imminent and so what stage are we at especially during the Pfumvudza era?
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President for that pertinent question which was asked by Hon. Sen. Chinake. Pfumvudza is an ongoing programme. Fertilizers and inputs have been distributed to different households who deserve to be given these inputs. The Grain Marketing Board is busy receiving and distributing Pfumvudza inputs to different parts of the country. The President also instructed GMB to take inputs from their depots to different wards. This is what is happening. We look forward to the completion of the distribution before the rains start falling so that our farmers would benefit. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President. My supplementary question is: I am glad to hear that GMB depots are distributing, but are they aware that there are agricultural extension workers who move around claiming monies from people? I thank you.
* HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. President and thank you Hon. Sen. Tongogara for that pertinent question. It is true according to the reports that we get from the Ministry of Agriculture, after their findings which led to the President engaging the Minister to discuss with GMB so that inputs are distributed to the people. This is a Presidential Input Scheme, which means that this scheme has no subsidiaries. It has no middlemen but the President is sending inputs to the GMB and from the GMB to different wards for collection so that beneficiaries can use scotch-carts and different forms of transport to ferry their inputs from their wards. It is true, the GMB is working on resolving any disputes regarding the distribution so that this is done according to the plan. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Health but during their absence, I will direct the question to the Leader of the House. In the past, our fore-fathers would treat ailments using allopathic medicines or indigenous knowledge systems which are found in our communities. So, through the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council under the Ministry of Health, what is Government’s plan regarding indigenous knowledge systems and the preservation of such indigenous knowledge systems? I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President. I would also like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Chundu for his pertinent question in which he is seeking to understand the Government position regarding the use of indigenous knowledge systems to treat different ailments and those who are traditional healers, especially the preservation and protection of such traditional medicines. I would also like to take the Hon. Senator back, that at one point we came to this august House saying that there is a treaty in Africa which prescribes that we should examine African medicines. This treaty was given support and this is the stance that we are taking so that we look at our traditional medicines and how we can better them because they benefited our fore-fathers. They also benefited us when we were growing up. So, this is the stance that we are taking Hon. Sen. Chief so that if we are guided accordingly, we need the innovation hub to be found in Zimbabwe where different researches are going to be done regarding traditional medicines. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Mr. President. We have noted that petrol and diesel is not available in RTGS and in local currency. We have expressed our concern but we are not getting any feedback. We were told that this is going to be corrected but so far there is no response. My issue today is that even gas which is now being used in most urban households is not found in local currency. We know that we are facing severe shortages of electricity and as a result, many people are using gas. Does it mean that the country is going to full dollarisation whilst workers are not getting salaries in USD? This has put a lot of pressure on our people, so what is the Government doing to better the people’s livelihoods? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Let me thank the Hon. Senator for his pertinent question regarding petrol and diesel charges which are now being pegged in USD whilst our local currency is not being applied to petroleum.
Our currency is the ZWL, it is no longer referred to as RTGS, so the Hon. Senator is saying that local currency is in short supply. He also mentioned that gas is not readily available. Let me say that petrol, diesel and gas in local currency are in short supply. So the biggest thing that we need to do as Zimbabweans is to eliminate corruption before pointing fingers at the Government. The total eradication of corruption, our RBZ and the Ministry of Finance are busy promulgating legislation and policies which seek to guide the nation on fiscal and monetary issues whilst people are busy engaging in corrupt activities.
May you allow me Mr. President Sir, that since the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development is in the House, he could respond to this issue? However, in short I would like to say as Government, we have got policies which support our currency but because of speculators and corrupt individuals, you will discover that our exports and foreign currency earnings compared to other countries, Zimbabwe is supposed to be one of the most stable currencies or economies. So we ask where this is coming from, the RBZ gives USD to Petroleum industry but people are engaging in deals instead of using those monies to procure fuel. The biggest thing that we need to do as Zimbabweans is to eliminate corruption because it is detrimental to the success of the economy.
We know that when a new policy is promulgated, there are people who seek to compromise that policy but the Hon. Minister of Finance’s team and the Governor of the RBZ are busy working on correcting these anomalies. Recently, they mentioned that we are seeking a way of guiding people in terms of money markets. Some of the things cannot be shared but Hon. Members of Parliament and Senators should take it upon themselves to educate people so that corruption is eradicated. I thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Prof. M. Ncube, a question has been raised by one of the Hon. Senators concerning the fact that fuel now appears to be available in USD; there is no fuel which can be bought using our local currency.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): It is certainly true that if you go to most of the service stations, there are more of them that are selling fuel in USD and not in ZWL as they would have promised us. Some of these fuel operators would come to the auction to source USD to purchase fuel. They are successful in doing so but they go on to pay for this fuel but the condition is that they should sell in ZWL, they do not comply, they proceed to sell in USD. They also go further and pay the taxes as well which ought to have been paid in USD; they pay excise duty in ZWL. So, there are two offences here - depriving the public of ZWL fuel and then depriving the fiscus and the public of rightfully earning taxes.
That is an issue we are dealing with and we have decided to really narrow the space and put in a facility through NOIC so that it is part of the architecture of accessing the fuel in the first place, making sure that it is available in ZWL. It is our expectation that this will improve the availability in ZWL. The moment you have these kinds of Shenanigans, you also now have interplay between the fuel market and the parallel market feed into each other. People looking for arbitrage gaps, it is part of the game that they play but we are working hard to close that gap to make sure that the public are better treated by the fuel companies.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Mr. President. We talked of petrol and diesel. After having said this, you have taken too long to solve the problem with these fuel companies and other companies have joined in to do the same practice, such as the company that sell the LP gas. You know the LP gas now is very important, it is being used by ordinary people. Now, people can no longer afford to buy this gas using the Zimbabwean dollars because the companies are saying they want to sell in US dollars. Have you put these companies under your list of investigation?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Mr. President. Hon. SEn. Komichi has raised a very important issue and I wholly agree with his observation, that again there are some shenanigans coming out of the gas companies as well. Very similar to the fuel companies, we have put them definitely on our watch and investigation list. Again, we want to close that loophole where they access money from the auction in US dollars but then end up selling in US dollars when they should give the public relief and selling in Zimbabwean dollars. They are certainly on our investigation list. I thank you.
HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Mr. President Sir for giving me this opportunity. My question is directed to the Minister of Finance. My question pertains the border posts. When are you going to officially open the borders? As it is now, a lot of money is no more going to the fiscus because the rich and clever ones are no longer using the border but the illegal entries and they are looting in and out of the country. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mohadi for the question. Firstly, there is the issue of porosity which is a multi-agents challenge. It involves the Police, President’s Office and ZIMRA, which falls directly under myself; we are working hard to deal with the issue of porous borders. One of the programmes that we are launching is a drones programme, which we are launching next month where we use drones to really make sure they move around the fences. It is not intimidating; they take pictures and send us the pictures. I even said that I want a screen in my office for goodness sake, just to make sure perhaps work goes on and other people are watching rather than just officials at the border. So we believe that will go a long way in stopping that kind of activity or at least lessening it. It is never easy to stop because of corruption.
Then the second thing is about just balancing lives and livelihoods. When we closed borders because of COVID-19, it was for a good reason. We were trying to make sure that we control the inflow of COVID-19 from other countries into our own territory but then the smugglers then moved in. So, that is always a delicate balance that we end up saying that if the intention is to protect lives, may be that is something we can leave but not for too long. So that is always difficult to have but we will deal with borders nonetheless.
There is the specific issue of Beitbridge Border Post. I am pleased that the commercial port; all the challenges that we were facing there have been overcome and the traffic is flowing again. So if anyone was circumventing that border because things were not going well and so forth, I think they should realise that things have improved and should get back to the normal commercial route. We will be rolling out similar programmes on other border posts so that they become more efficient in transacting public across borders better. We are certainly sure that we are going to become a more solid transit economy because that is what we are as these borders will not just save us Zimbabweans but our neighbours as well. So, for us to maximise on that transit economy, we need to invest in our borders. I thank you.
HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Hon. President, may the Minister explain to this House, what are the programmes, projects and interventions by Government through his Ministry they are implementing to reduce extreme poverty on the generality of our people and also improve access to basic social services across the life cycle of the vulnerable groups in Zimbabwe?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. SEN. MATUKE): Thank you Mr. President Sir. I would like to thank the Hon. Sen. for that question. The Ministry is running quite a number of programmes. The first programme is dealing with vulnerable students where the Government is paying school fees through BEAM. The Ministry of Finance has deployed quite a big budget to cater for the students who cannot pay school fees. This is due to a number of factors. One of the factors is those kids who are vulnerable due to extreme poverty, where parents are there but do not have the money. We also have a number of kids who lost both parents, the Government is again paying.
We have since exhausted the backlog and would want to urge the Members of Parliament that if they have school kids in their constituencies who cannot afford to pay school fees, they should approach our offices at district level and get assistance from Government. We have a number of orphanage centres. A good example is Chambuta in Chiredzi. In every province, I am sure we have got a number of institutions that can accommodate a sizeable number of vulnerable children. In those places you would find those who have lost both parents and some are coming from the streets. The Government is taking care of that constituency. We are urging Hon. Senators that, if there are kids who are loitering around, we can take them to those centres and they can receive food and clothing. Government can pay school fees up to A’ Level.
Through our Social Welfare, the Government has set aside quite a huge budget to support the vulnerable families through food distribution. In the next few weeks, we are going to start distribution of food to vulnerable families. Usually, the councillor and the local leadership would identify the beneficiaries and they can receive the food items.
The other constituents that we look after as a Ministry are the disabled persons. Government will take care of wheel chairs, clutches and related items. Again, Government is responsible for providing that equipment. In case somebody is vulnerable and cannot meet hospital bills, the Ministry will take over the hospital bills and ensure that they pay for those vulnerable members of our community.
We are doing quite a number of projects in order to help our vulnerable members of community. I am trying to summarise but we would maybe request, through the President of Senate, that in future we bring a package of what the Government is doing to help the vulnerable members. Thank you.
HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank the Hon. Minister for a host of programmes that he has favoured this House with. However, I want to further investigate from the Minister what policy of Government is in relation to transport. In the rural areas, the food that you spoke about is coming but the vulnerable groups have to pay in excess of US$10 to access a 50kg bag of maize. Thank you Mr. President.
HON. MATUKE: It is Government policy that we should provide transport to the end user. I think the challenge we had is mostly when we get the payment for transport from Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, it is pegged today and maybe after six months, we will be using the same rate. In the process, the money can be eroded by inflation. It becomes a bit difficult now to keep the food at GMB. So, people would then take an initiative to try and subsidise the transporter in order to get the food. It is not Government policy. The policy is, Government should pay up to the end user. At times, release of transport cost can delay but we always try to insist that we make sure that we pay for the food and deliver it to the consumers without charging them. If there are specific areas where people are being over-charged, you can bring it to the attention of our Ministry and we can investigate.
*HON. SEN. RWAMBIWA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. We are seeing the distribution of Pfumvudza inputs. What are the Government plans regarding the elderly who cannot dig holes for Pfumvudza? What is Government planning to do for the elderly who cannot do that on their own and because of that, they cannot receive input? Some of them have got cattle which they can use for tilling. Thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I would like to thank the Hon. Senator. If I got the question well, it is about the elderly. We know that the policy is that those who have dug holes for Pfumvudza are the only people who can receive inputs. Yes it is true, this is what has been happening. Like I said before, the Pfumvudza Programme is not for Agricultural Extension workers but it is the President’s programme. The President is distributing fertilisers and inputs to all the people. Whatever challenges people face, the President said that this is his initiative, so people should be given inputs so that they can take advantage of the initiative. If this information has not cascaded down to the beneficiaries, I believe that the Minister of Agriculture is busy disseminating that information so that all those who deserve to receive the inputs are going to receive them.
*HON. SEN. FEMAI: Thank you Mr. President, my supplementary question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. For the first time in the history of this country, the Hon. Minister has admitted that there is corruption and the Government is working hard to eliminate it. He also acknowledged that corrupt individuals remain ahead. My question is that corrupt individuals who steal from the Government; because corruption is so rampant, it is not just corruption but it is also sabotage to the economy. As a Cabinet Minister responsible for legal issues, why not enact legislation that is deterrent enough so that perpetrators are incarcerated for 25 years so that individuals will not continue to do that? I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President, I want to thank Hon. Sen. Femai for his question which is proffering a solution. The eradication of corruption, I agree that we need to promulgate deterrent laws which will incarcerate the perpetrators of corrupt activities. Sometimes you would find that during budget time, we end up suffering because we are losing a lot through corruption. This is what we are doing right now. We are reviewing the different laws that apply to corruption because we want deterrent sentences like what we did on livestock. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to ask my question. My question goes to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. I think it is Statutory Instrument 6 of 2016 - it allows companies to import capital equipment without paying duty and sometimes probably VAT. There are due processes which are laid down in the law that the applicant should apply to the relevant ministry which will then approve whether that person qualifies for tax rebate. My question is this process is working very well and the relevant ministries are not taking time to make that approval to try to make sure that people bring in equipment so that we turn around our industries.
The problem we have in your Ministry is that when the letters which have already been approved by these relevant ministries come to your Ministry, they stay there for good actually prejudicing the importer and also having them being asked to pay storage duties by ZIMRA. Does your Ministry have a policy of determining how long should a letter which has been approved by a relevant Minister spend in your office? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. President and I thank Hon. Sen. Dr. Mavetera for the question. He is alluding to a very important policy that is driving investment right across our industry which is that of providing a rebate on equipment that has been imported for purposes of bolstering production. I have noticed that there have been delays. The policy of rebates for imported equipment for investment purposes is a very good one. It is explained why our industrial sector has remained robust and progressive even in the face of some economic challenges we have experienced in the past. It is a policy that we want to see continue and it is certainly true that there has been some bureaucratic delays and I have received complaints personally.
We are putting in a policy that we should be able to clear any request like that within a period of 5 days. We have no reason to delay further than 5 days because we do this for a living. We know what qualifies and what does not very quickly where we should be able to access this, so we have a five-day rule now for turnaround of any such queries at request. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MATEVERA: Thank you Mr. President, I want to thank the Minister for the response but my supplementary question is what sort of remedy should applicants take when this does not happen? Minister probably is talking about a policy but that policy Minister is not working. We have got applications which have been approved staying for more than two months in your Ministry right now as I speak. So, what are the remedies or the options when people face that hurdle? It is now you Minister breeding a lot of corruption, your officers now trying to say if you bring so much, I will now facilitate to have your letter approved quickly.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you very much I thank again the Hon. Senator for the supplementary question. In the Ministry of Finance, I do not tolerate corruption but that is not to say that people never try but we do not tolerate corruption. This five-day policy is a new policy that I have put in place. Let us see how that is working and if it will result in the turnaround that we expect. We have, let me call it all dispensation in terms of modus operandi, we have abandoned, and we are now on this tide window of a week, with five working days for us to turnaround any of these applications. We know what to do, we do this for a living, we are so experienced, it should not take long. Let us see how this five-day rule works and let us assess it going forward, I think you.
*HON. SEN. CHINAKE: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. I am lucky today because he hardly comes to this House unless he has some Bills. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development came here in April and requested for 144 million to assist in the rehabilitation of Hwange Power Station. Now, it is eight months down the line and the load shedding has actually increased. Are we progressing or we are regressing since the time we approved the loan? How far have you gone in terms of that project? Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Those resources are now available, we have authorised them to use them but the implementation does not sit with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, it sits in the Ministry of Energy and its parastatals. I would like to dig further as well to understand how far they have gone in using those resources and what challenges they are facing so that this project is speeded up. I will have to check with them, the resources are available and we authorised them to use those resources. Thank you.
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SENATOR CHIEF CHARUMBIRA) in terms of Standing Order No. 67.
HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU: Mr. President, I move that Questions Without Notice time be extended.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: I second.
*HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: My question is directed to the Leader of the House. There are people who have questions but they do not know who to ask. They are saying Mr. Strive Masiyiwa sold decoders and satellite dishes through Kwese and we decided to support him as one of our own but for some time now, we have been unable to use those Kwese decoders. So, people are asking why the decoders from Mr. Strive Masiyiwa are not functional.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): The question is directed to a specific issue but the matter was taken to court and the court gave judgement which was not in favour of Mr. Strive Masiyiwa. What it means is that what they had agreed on with his partners had not been sorted out. Thank you.
HON. SEN. SHUMBA: My question is directed to the Leader of the House. If we listen to the news, we understand that the COVID pandemic which we thought was now a thing of the past seems to be resurfacing. You find that abroad, people are dying and in schools such as Zvishavane and Masvingo, we have a number of COVID-19 cases reported. So, we are now approaching the festive season and the majority of the people come to spend the festive season with their families. What measures has the Government put in place to ensure that we avoid more cases of COVID surging in the country? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I want to thank the Senator for that question. It is true that in some countries, there is a surge in COVID cases and in English they say there is a fourth wave. She has highlighted that there are quite a number of COVID-19 cases. The awareness that the Government is giving us to protect ourselves is that the Ministry of Health is encouraging people to go and get vaccinated. The Government, through the Minister of Finance, is in the process of sourcing funds to ensure that we get vaccinations that will enable us to reach herd immunity. If we are able to go and encourage each other to be vaccinated, if the fourth wave eventually gets to us, our immune system will be able to fight it and it will not be affected much by the fourth wave. It can affect us but it will not be severe.
Secondly, Government is encouraging us that we should not relax but we should continue to adhere to COVID protocols like social distancing, washing of hands and sanitizing our hands. These are some of the measures that are being encouraged to curb the prevention of COVID-19. We are encouraged to do so as we approach the festive season. The most important issue is that we need to get vaccinated so that when it eventually strikes, our immune systems will be able to fight the severity of the virus. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU: My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. In the rural areas where we come from, we are facing challenges of children who want to access birth certificates and I.Ds. The district offices that you gave us are working but in terms of human resources, there is limited distribution. There are about nine chiefs coming from nine communities where children have to go and get the important documents. My question is - what does Government have in place to ensure that there is decentralisation of the offices to ensure that people can access the services in rural areas and business centres where we come from?
THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. KAZEMBE): Thank you Mr. President. Let me thank Hon. Sen. Chief Chundu for his question. Yes, the issue of access of these identification documents is a challenge. There are people who are travelling long distances in order to get the documents. He said that we have limited human resource. In terms of decentralization, the Government, I believe last week we were in Guruve where we were officially opening one of the offices with the hope of opening in other districts. We opened the Guruve District and this reflects Government commitment.
We also opened in Chitungwiza and another office in Murambinda and we will be going to Hwedza in a few days. That is what we have put in place. It is the commitment of Government to take the services close to the people. So, we have those plans in place to ensure that people have access to these documents. It is also provided for in NDS 1. We are in line with getting services to the people. We again have a programme for mobile registration and before that, we were in Tsholotsho, Binga and Bikita with the same programme.
We are working well with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and they are assisting us here and there. Our aim is to cover all areas. I think I said it when I was in Guruve, that our aim is to decentralise all areas to ensure our children get identification documents. It would be good for all people who have attained 18 years to be able to vote. So, we now have those mobile registration points.
We have computerisation and I think I mentioned it before that the Government is working together with the GP company to access technology which will also enhance decentralisation. It will enable people to apply using digital technology or online application. That is our plan as Government but this is already in the pipeline. The company is already in Zimbabwe and it is setting up and putting infrastructure in areas that they will be operating from. All this is in order to ensure that people get identification documents easily with the services close to their areas. I thank you.
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 67.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE
STATUTORY INSTRUMENT 127 OF 2021
- HON. SEN. TONGOGARA asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to explain to the House the provisions of Statutory Instrument 127 of 2021 which seeks to regulate the foreign exchange market through the imposition of fines on individuals and companies that do not comply with the regulations.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. President. The Statutory Instrument 127 was introduced to deal with market indiscipline to make sure that companies and individuals comply with the law in terms of the pricing, access and allocation of foreign currency, that is what it was designed for. We are aware as well of the reaction from the market in terms of raising prices in USD once that SI was put in place. However, that impact has been subsided and we are enforcing the law through this SI, we have certain individuals who have spent a few nights behind bars because of breaking the law and companies have been fined so we are enforcing this SI. It has helped a lot in stabilising the market, the indiscipline that we saw, at least now we have a tool that we can make use of to deal with errant behaviour in the market. I thank you.
NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES WHO HAVE FAILED TO COMPLY WITH THE LAW
- HON. SEN. TONGOGARA asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to inform the House;
- the number of individuals and companies who have failed to comply with the law,
- the penalties that have been put in place to remedy the situation, and
- why the parallel market rates continue to spiral on a daily basis,
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): In terms of the number of individuals and companies, I do not have the actual figure with me. I think they want a precise figure and I am happy to supply that in the subsequent few days.
Secondly, the type of penalties has come in a form of three types; are individuals and companies being barred from accessing the auction? Secondly, are individuals being fined for breaking the law selling their goods at prices that are not consistent with the auction rate? For those who have committed a more serious offence, we have even decided to take them to court where they have been arrested, put behind bars and will stand trial and probably fined further for their actions. So, we are very clear on that one in terms of the fines but if again the issue could be to provide more details in terms of the size of the fines under each category, I will be happy to provide a written response. This is an ongoing issue in any case, it was not a once off, it will always exist, I can always give a continuous update on it.
Finally, on the issue why the parallel market rates continue to spiral on a daily basis – I must say that in the last week or so, they have stopped spiraling on a daily basis because we took certain action. First of all, we had to try to understand why the parallel rate was going high and we increased the gap between the auction rate and the parallel rate. These reasons have nothing to do with macro-economic fundamentals but it is the reasons of arbitrage.
If you look at the fundamentals, they are very strong, I am not aware of any other country in Africa, in the middle of COVID-19 which is showing such strong growth in terms of recovery over 7% that is running a near balanced budgets as well, that has got a strict monetary targeting framework practiced by the central bank and that is also experiencing a balance if not a surplus on its current account position when you compare what is leaving the country in terms of capital and what is coming in. We have more coming in on a net basis than leaving the country. So, those fundamentals are what drive your currency. To add to that, when the rates started moving, we have just received SDR’s valued at about 1 billion USD. We did not have those before, so suddenly our reserves grew by 1 billion dollars just like that and then the rates started to move, clearly, that has nothing to do with fundamentals. So it is arbitrage opportunity, we know that companies come under pressure when they approach year end, they want to show good results so those results depend on the exchange rate that is coming out on the auction. So they want to use mechanisms to force the exchange rate that improves their profitability in ZWL terms.
Number 3, we also have the gap as well in the auction market causing further speculation and the Government is determined to close that gap. A few weeks ago, we managed to put in 70 million USD to close that gap and Treasury is every week putting in 15 million USD into the auction again to help close that gap and to fund the demand from the private sector. You can see we are doing everything and above all we have been enforcing SI 127 to make sure market indiscipline does not spread. All of that put together has managed us help to stabilise the rate and we believe that it should stay stable for a while but discipline is our challenge and arbitragers are always afoot and we have to work hard to deal with them. I thank you.
Questions with Notice were interrupted by the TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 67.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I move that Orders of the Day No. 1 to 5 on Today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day Number 6 has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
RATIFICATION OF THE LOAN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE AND THE INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT (IFAD) FOR THE SMALLHOLDER AGRICULTURE CLUSTER PROJECT (SACP)
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I move the motion standing in my name;
THAT WHEREAS, Subsection (3) of Section 327 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an Agreement which is not an international treaty but which has been concluded or executed by the President or under the President’s authority with one or more foreign organisations or entities and imposes fiscal obligations on Zimbabwe does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;
AND WHEREAS, the Loan Agreement between Government of Zimbabwe and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for the Smallholder Agriculture Cluster Project (SACP) concluded on 7 May 2021 with the following terms:
Loan Amount : US$35 700 000.00
Purpose of the Loan : To finance poor smallholder farmers in value Chains selected through stakeholder business planning and competitive matching grant mechanism and will be implemented in five out of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North (the “Project Area”). The Loan will be utilised for sustainable smallholder irrigation development, climate-smart agriculture and market access, promotion of COVID-sensitive production and productivity enhancement, increasing the availability of diverse and nutritious foods for household consumption, improvement of knowledge, attitudes and practices on health eating habits and care giving practices and improvement of performance of selected nutrition sensitive IFAD’s investments.
Agriculture is one of the economic pillars for Zimbabwe and the support for smallholder farming will go a long way in achieving the thrust of the National Development Strategy 1 of food security. The implementation of the project will result in the following benefits:-
- Sustainable smallholder irrigation development;
- Employment creation for the local communities;
- Capacity building for the local communities;
- Climate-smart agriculture and easy market access;
- Improved food nutrition and security;
- Increased household incomes;
- Improved resilience to climate change effects and economic shocks; and
- Increased production and productivity.
Conditions Precedent: Loan ratification by Parliament
Interest Rate: zero percent (0%)
Service Charge: 1.5% per annum
Tenor: 40 years
Grace Period: 10 years
Repayment Modalities: Repayment of principal and interest shall be made from the budget
Repayment Frequency: Principal and interest payments shall be made twice a year on 15 June and 15 December of each year.
NOW THEREFORE, in terms of Section 327 (3) of the Constitution, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.
Mr. President, according to our blue print, the NDS 1, which covers the period 2021 to 2025, Government has prioritised recovery production and productivity in our agricultural sector as an enabler of the economic growth towards achievement of the objectives of Vision 2030. So, the agricultural sector is important for the attainment of Vision 2030 objectives where we intend to grow the economy at an average rate growth of just over 5% and that will just do the trick for us in terms of attaining upper middle income status.
The agricultural sector is very crucial especially the small holder farmers who in terms of numbers are the bulky of our citizens who participate in the agriculture sector. Within this sector IFAD, International Fund for Agricultural Development which is based in Europe, it is an international institution has really come in handy to partner the Government of Zimbabwe to support small holder farmers. They have done it in three ways, first of all they gave us a grant in 2016 of about 25 million or so, and then they gave us another grant of 1 million which is administered by the International Research Centre in Matopo for the livestock sector. What I am bringing here today is a loan for 40 years, which has zero interest, which again is supporting our small holder farmers. It is in three different ways in which they are supporting us. As they do that, they bring in other financiers such as OFAD from the Middle East and of course, as Government we also chip in. Also the beneficiaries, in terms of small holder farmers, they are also chipping in, in terms of their time and labour. Everyone is involved but all for the benefit of our small holder farmers.
This project, I said they were three but today we are talking about one. The other two, I can elaborate on them so that you can see the total picture. This project called Small Agriculture Cluster Project is meant to benefit the poor small holder farmers in value chain so that they do not just sell their raw commodities but they seek to improve on the quality and value of their produce. They can only do so if they are clustered together; they work together as clusters. So, they are identified through business planning, business ideas and also what we call competitive matching grant mechanisms. Of course you do not expect a rural farmer to have their own matching capital. It is about what they will do, nemavoko avo (ngezandla zabo) to support the development of the specific project.
The project will be implemented in the following five out of the ten provinces of Zimbabwe: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North. This is considered to be the project area. I am sure someone from Matabeleland South is thinking, how about my province, I have been left out. You were not left out because you were included in the first project, in the grant. I will even tell you where you were. So no province has been left behind, in terms of the drier provinces especially. All of them are covered.
So, the goal of the project is to increase equitable small holder participation, market oriented and climate smart value chain. A lot of words but the issue is that we protect against climate because it is irrigation, you have assured water. Also, you will improve on the value of your project. The objective of the project is to realise increased household incomes and improved nutrition through sustainable transformation of the small holder farming sector. To support those programmes, as Government, we have negotiated and signed a loan agreement with the IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) on 7th May, 2021 for the small holder agriculture cluster project.
The loan will be utilised for sustainable small holder irrigation development, climate smart agriculture, access to market because they are now clustered. There is promotion of COVID-19 sensitive production and productivity enhancement, increasing the availability of diverse and nutritious foods for household consumption and improved knowledge. People will learn on their attitude and practices on healthy eating habits and care giving practices and improvement of performance of selected nutrition sensitive IFAD investment.
I will now proceed Mr. President, to read the more legalistic portion in terms of this motion. That whereas subsection 3 of Section 327 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any agreement, which is not an international treaty but which has been concluded or executed by the President or under the President’s authority, with one or more foreign organisations or entities and imposes fiscal obligation on Zimbabwe, does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament.
And whereas the loan agreement between the Government of Zimbabwe and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for Smallholder Agriculture Cluster Project (SACP) concluded on 7th May, 2021 with the following terms:
Loan amount - US$35.7 million.
Purpose of the loan, to finance poor smallholder farmers in value chains and selected through stakeholder business planning and competitive matching grant mechanism and will be implemented in five out of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North, which is the project area.
The loan will be utilised for sustainable small holder irrigation development, climate smart agriculture and market access, promotion of COVID-19 sensitive production and productivity enhancement, increased availability of diverse and nutritious, full of health for consumption, improvement of knowledge, attitudes and practices on healthy eating habits and care giving practices and improvement of performance of several nutrition sensitive IFAD’s investments.
Agriculture is one of the economic pillars of Zimbabwe and support for smallholder farming will go a long way achieving the thrust of the National Development Strategy (NDS1) of food security and implementation of the project will result in the following benefits:
Sustainable small holder irrigation development;
Employment creation for the local communities;
Capacity building for the local communities;
Climate smart agriculture and easy access to markets;
Improved food nutrition and security;
Increased household incomes;
Increased resilience to climate change effects and economic shock and
Increased production and productivity.
There is a condition precedent to the loan, that the loan must be ratified by Parliament. So it has already gone through the National Assembly. It has come to the Upper House today. The interest is 0%. The service charge is 1½% per annum; we only have to pay for servicing the loan. Then the tenor is 40 years, there is a grace period before we start paying the premiums, which is 10 years. Then repayment modalities, repayment of principals and interest shall be made from the budget. We have resources to make loans paid. Repayment sequence, the principal and interest shall be made twice a year on 15th June and 15th December of each year.
Now, therefore, in terms of Section 327 (3) of the Constitution, this House resolves that the foresaid agreement be and is hereby approved. I thank you Mr. President.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President. Allow me, through you Mr. President, to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing forth to this august House, the proposed loan. Mr. President, I think this is one of the few loans which are very secure and which does not burden the country and future generations but which has got a chance to catapult production within small holder farmers. The Minister has highlighted the areas to which the grant will be used, value chain addition but allow me through you Mr. President, that I would want to propose to the Minister that when this is being implemented, let us add a portion of creating small industries in rural communities which will actually turn and ensure that the farmers will actually have value for their produce rather than for them to export their products. I think that is one of the key things that I would propose that this loan be targeted industrialisation of rural communities. As we all know that Zimbabwe’s economy has always been supported by agriculture, this is the opportunity for us to resuscitate that industry, and make sure that we create employment.
Mr. President, I hope that this loan will be accessible to the intended people and also Government should put in measures to make sure they train and appraise the projects to which this loan is going to be used so that we do not end up with a scenario where after the said period, we have nothing to show. So I hope before the funds are disbursed, we have to make sure that the people and the community have been empowered to practice good business and to work as communities for the greater good. I thank you Mr. President.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank the Minister for what he has brought before this august Senate. This shows that those empowerment projects that bring sources of livelihoods were concentrated in urban centres. Those in rural areas experience more challenges and poverty than those in urban centres. I want to thank the Minister that today he has looked into their plight. We heard the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs talking about middlemen, that when something is done, they try and find ways in order to get some money. What we want to say to the Minister is that as this project is being rolled out, have you put measures to ensure that no middlemen come and steal from the rural population, in terms of what you have prepared for them and to enhance their sources of livelihood?
*HON. SEN. MABIKA: Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank the Minister on the issue he has brought into this House. We want to thank the Second Republic. We can see tangible developments that are happening in our country, most importantly the small holder irrigation and it is the way to go. We experience dry spells but with irrigation, you can harvest the whole year and look after your family.
There is also the issue of employment creation. That is an issue being addressed by this development. We also see that there is the issue of food nutrition and production. It gives us hope that we are in the right direction. So, Zimbabwe can once again be the breadbasket of Africa. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. President. I thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera for his intervention question. He began by appreciating the projects targeting the rural areas. He wanted to know to what extent the project will create rural enterprises so that we support industrialization and productivity in the rural areas. First of all, the project is expected to create 800 groupings in terms of clusters across the five provinces. We are calling them agricultural producer groups. Secondly, we aim to create 200 rural micro-enterprises right across the five provinces. Finally, we expect to create 40 leading value chain enterprises. These are the ones at the cutting edge of the value chain, whatever it is. Whether it is tomato paste manufacturing, we expect them to get to that stage as they process tomatoes in Mutoko, for example. This is what is envisaged in terms of enterprise development and rural industrialization.
You are so right in terms of targeting the right people and make sure they are not cheated. Hon. Sen. Tongogara talked about the issue of “makoronyera” in making sure our people are not shortchanged. Those are linked but in terms of targeting, the Ministry of Agriculture officials who are advisors to farmers in the first place will be involved on the ground. They will play that monitoring role to make sure that there is proper targeting. Each investment opportunity in terms of irrigation will be negotiated in any case. Government is involved, the Ministry of Agriculture is involved and the loan provider is also involved. That process will make sure there is targeting and we will weed out the “makoronyeras” who slip behind and take the benefit. The Agritex officials will ensure that this is minimized.
To add a little bit to that, there are specific districts that we want to target. In Matabeleland North for example, the Hwange area, Binga, Tsholotsho and Lupane districts, of course though broad but kind of narrow things down a bit. In Mashonaland West, we have Chegutu, Mhondoro-Ngezi, Sanyati districts. In Mashonaland Central, we have Rushinga, Mt Darwin, Muzarabani and Shamva districts. So that further narrows into specific districts. In Mashonaland East, we have Goromonzi, Murewa, Mutoko, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe districts. Finally in Midlands Province, we have Kwekwe and Chirumanzu districts. We are going into those districts, targeting citizens in those districts.
Coming back to Hon. Sen. Tongogara’s intervention, she welcomes the project or rather, the loan that will finance these projects. We will make sure that the Agritex officials do their job, minimize the role of these “makoronyeras” and close the opportunities that are available to make sure that the targeted citizens benefit to the full.
Hon. Sen. Mabika, you were grateful for the project that shows what the Second Republic is trying to do, targeting small holder farmers, climate proofing the agriculture, creating employment and also upgrading the quality of nutrition and production. This is exactly what this project will do. It is complementing the earlier projects which I mentioned, which were signed in 2016 and also to meet production of these targeted projects administered in Matabeleland South in the Matopo Research Station. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE), the Senate adjourned at Twenty-Five Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 16th November, 2021.