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SENATE HANSARD 12 December 2019 29-13

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 12th December, 2019.

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

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

       THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: May I

remind Hon. Senators, once again to put your phones on silent or better still switch them off.

MOTION

LEAVE TO MOVE FOR SUSPENSION OF THE PROVISIONS OF

STANDING ORDERS NUMBER 50, 61 (2), 62 (2) AND 128

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I seek leave of

the House to move that the provisions of Standing Orders Number 50, 61 (2), 62 (2) and 128 , regarding automatic adjournment of the House at

Five Minutes to Seven o’clock p.m. on sitting days other than a Friday and at Twenty-Five Minutes past One o’clock p.m. on a Friday, private

Members’ motions taking precedence after Question Time and that Question Time shall be on Thursdays, Stages of Bills be suspended with effect from today and for the next series of sittings in respect of the Finance ( No. 3) Bill [H. B. 21, 2019 and Appropriation Bill [H. B. 22, 2019].

Hon. Sen. Mwonzora having sought clarification from the Minister of Justice pertaining to Question Time.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: You shall be

guided accordingly; the Minister is only seeking leave of the House.  I support you strongly in terms of Question Time.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

SUSPENSION OF THE PROVISIONS OF STANDING ORDERS

NUMBER 50, 61 (2), 62 (2) AND 128

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. President, I

move that provisions of Standing Orders Numbers 50, 61 (2), 62 (2) and 128 regarding automatic adjournment of the House at Five Minutes to

Seven o’clock p. m. on sitting days other than a Friday and at Twenty-

Five Minutes past One o’clock p.m. on Friday, Private Members’ motions taking precedence on Thursdays after Question Time and that Question Time shall be on Thursdays.  Stages of Bills be suspended with effect from today and for the next series of sittings in respect of the Finance (No. 3) Bill [H. B. 21, 2019 and the Appropriation (2020) Bill [H. B. 22, 2019].

Motion put and agreed to.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I do not

have any apologies from Ministers who are not present.  I must say I share the concerns which have been raised by the Hon. Senators concerning the way Ministers are not making themselves available for a very important and constitutional obligation of answering questions.  I take note of that concern and will raise that issue with the appropriate authorities.

In the mean time, we have three Ministers in the Chamber; the

Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Hon. S. B.

Moyo; the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development, Hon.

Magna Mudyiwa and the Hon. Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Harare, Minister Chidhakwa.  Let us make do with what we have while we wait for the staff that has gone to try and raise the other Ministers who are not here present.

HON. SEN. MWONZORA:  Thank you very much Mr. President

Sir.  My question is directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.  First of all it is nice to see you Minister but my question is, at the beginning of the second republic, your Ministry and the Government made an announcement that Zimbabwe was going to apply to join the Commonwealth.  How much progress has been made?

What are the impediments, if any towards the joining of the

Commonwealth?

THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND

INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. S. B. MOYO):  Let me thank the

Hon. Member who has just asked the question and particularly for being nice to having seen me today.  Indeed, the second republic’s focus right from its advent has been to ensure that it reengages the rest of the international community.  It engages not only member countries but it also engages international organisations and financial institutions.  In the process of that it so happens that the Commonwealth is one of them and  as a nation, were not sort of removed from the Commonwealth but we left on our own as a resolution which was made some time ago.

None-the-less, in order for us to rejoin we had to do the needful and that needful was to initiate the interest of that part of rejoining the Commonwealth.  In terms of the laws of the Commonwealth their first point was that they needed to send the first assessment team, but the first assessment team was to do with assessing the elections which took place in this country, but again a Commonwealth organisation is not allowed to observe an election of a none member state. Therefore, we had to express that aspect with the secretariat until it was accepted and we had, you recall, the Commonwealth observer mission which came to observe our elections during last July.  That was the first assessment which was informal.

There was a second assessment and that second assessment team actually came to Zimbabwe when I was in London; when I was having a meeting with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth.  At that particular time she indicated that she was waiting to hear the report which comes from the second assessment team.  So far we have not heard any dissenting voices in as far as our rejoining is concerned, formally from the Commonwealth and as far as we are concerned, we believe everything is on course for Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGUM) 2020, in Kigali.

However, there are individual members states who express their reservations in terms of their perception of what is going on in this country and who may want to link up what is going on here with whether they would take a position to support us to rejoin the Commonwealth. Never-the-less as far as the systemic process of rejoining the Commonwealth in terms of the secretariat is concerned, so far everything is on course, I submit.

        HON. SEN. MWONZORA:  Hon. Minister, it is common cause

and it is all over the social media that some members of the British Parliament, in particular, expressed concern about the Human Rights situation in Zimbabwe and said that posed an obstacle to Zimbabwe’s rejoining the Commonwealth.  What as Government are you doing to address that concern?

HON. S. B. MOYO:  Again, I would like to thank the Hon.

Member for the question.  Let me say that foreign policy is an extension of your domestic policy in real terms.  Therefore, what happens in here is what we communicate and that is what we propagate externally so that there can be a level of understanding at international environment with this country about the activities.

Yes, there have been those allegations and the allegations arise from certain clashes like the 1st August event, the January occasions and also what I can call the 16th August events.  Some Member States or some British House of Commons Members think that there were serious breaches of Human Rights abuses but that is their perception.  Whether it is true or not, that is something which is different but I think you are aware as an Hon. Member that some of the events that characterized those periods have been investigated, subject to a Commission of Enquiry and police investigations as well as a matrix that is dealing with various activities.  Some of them even highlight that the observers’ reports and recommendations that were made by observer groups during the elections constitute a major breach of certain Human Rights activities.

All we can say is that there has been a Human Rights rapporteur who has been here and other personalities who have come to the country and expressed their own different opinions as far as the situation is concerned.  What they say is their perception in as far as Human Rights abuses are concerned.  They believe that this Government has banned demonstrations for good or something like that.  As far as I know, it is not the policy of this Government to ban peaceful marches and demonstrations – that is not the case.  I thank you.

     THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you

Hon. Minister.  We have also been joined by the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and the Minister of Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland East.  Supplementary question Hon. Sen. Mpofu.

HON. SEN. B. MPOFU:  Thank you Mr. President and thank you

Hon. Minister for your answer.  The question that I am going ask possibly may be answered by you or maybe by the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.  It is …

     THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order,

order, if it is a supplementary question then it must be a supplementary.

HON. SEN. B. MPOFU:  Yes, I will keep it supplementary.  –

[Laughter.] – Thank you, it is littered in the social media that the Deputy Minister of  Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services has indicated directly or inferred to the extent that the country is not interested in joining the Commonwealth.  Is that a Government position or his personal position?  If it is his personal position, what is the Government doing about it?  Thank you.

HON. S. B. MOYO:  Thank you very much Hon. Member for the

supplementary question.  I am sure now that the Hon. Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services is here – I think that she will be able to address that particular question.

As far as I am aware, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade – the position is still the same.  We join international organizations not for the benefit of those organizations or those who constitute those organizations.  We join international organizations for the benefit of our people and all Zimbabweans.  Therefore, when we see that there is an advantage in joining an international organisation like the Commonwealth – that has been the position and it is part of the reengagement process. We are re-engaging with the rest of the international community and the rest of the international organizations.

In as far as the issue to do with the Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services – I am sure that the boss would be able to respond to that.  I thank you.

     THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you

Hon. Minister – I am sure you have answered that question adequately.

We have been joined, as you can see, by two other ministers: - Hon.

Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development and also the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for the Midlands and I think the Minister of State for

Provincial Affairs for Manicaland.  I had recognised Hon. Sen. Komichi.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Thank you very much Mr. President.

Let me also take this opportunity to join my camaraderie Hon. Sen. Mwonzora to welcome the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to the House.

My question is directed to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.  Hon. Minister, the country has almost gone through 40 years…

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order,

order, may you speak up please.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  I am saying that the country is now aged 40 years since Independence and we still have one broadcasting station.  I believe that many people including myself long to have an independent broadcasting station so that we can have different views other than from one station which is ZBC.  What is Government doing to make sure that at least we have independent broadcasters?

   THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND

BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): 

Thank you Mr. President, I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Komichi for the very good question.

Yes, you are right, Zimbabweans deserve a variety of television channels.  Zimbabwe is one of the first African countries to have a television.  What we have been doing as a ministry since the Second

Republic is to make sure that we provide that diversity to our people.

We want to have several television channels so that those who want to watch educational programmes can do so and those who want to watch sports can do so.  The process is moving a little slower than we anticipated because it also requires resources for the digitilisation to be completed.

What we have done, just to make you understand, is that we have put together the board which is now looking at the spectrum that we have as a country and see how many television channels they can allocate.  The board is in place and will soon be inviting those interested in attaining broadcasting licenses.  The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is the statutory body that issues out licenses and this will be done as soon as possible.  We should be able to have about six channels within the next three months.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  Thank you very much Mr. President.

My question goes to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Hon. Minister, I am sure by now you know that Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Arms Trade

Treaty...

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Sen.,

can you please speak up.

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Hon. Minister, I am sure you know by now that Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty.  As

Zimbabwe, we signed this treaty in 2014.  What I want to understand Hon. Minister is when we are going to ratify the treaty and domesticate it. We have so many treaties that we have signed as a country and some of these treaties are really helpful for the country. So I want to understand and know when the ratification is going to be done for the Arms Trade Treaty.

      THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you

Hon. Sen. Timveos.  That is a specific question, we are supposed to ask questions on policy.  Can you put that in writing because I do not expect the Minister to be a moving encyclopedia unless he does know anything about that.

*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI:  My question is directed to the

Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development, Hon. Mudyiwa.

May you please tell us what the Government is doing to fight the illegal sale of fuel because this is disturbing the equal distribution of fuel and even Members of Parliament are affected by this shortage.

    *THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER

DEVELOPMENT (HON. MUDYIWA): I want to thank the Hon.

Member for asking this question.  As a Ministry, we have been seized with this problem since the advent of the shortage of fuel in the country. We made a thorough research and our findings were that some of the fuel which is being sold at the black market is leading to people failing to access fuel and it is really a problem to the country.  As a country, we have an organisation called Zimbabwe Regulatory Authority whose responsibility is to look into problems such as the functioning of the service stations and the distribution of fuel in the country because they are responsible for the regulation.  ZERA inspectors have been going around the country visiting fuel stations looking for cases of black market.  Those who will be found guilty will be given the necessary punishment such as the withdrawal of trading licences.

As a Ministry, we are also monitoring the movement of fuel from the depots in Mabvuku up to the service station and again the distribution of such fuel.  We are hoping that in the near future we will be able to use satellite tracking for the movement of fuel so that we beat up the black market.  At times if we only rely on the presence of human beings in such assignments, there could be some instances of corruption which may creep in.  Let us computerise so that anybody can monitor the movement of fuel from the bulk storage to the filling stations. We will look at all the registered filling stations in the country so that we know that they have collected from the bulk storage and they have been delivered to the intended filling stations.  These are the steps we are taking at the moment.

HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI: My question is a supplementary

to the Deputy Minister of Energy.  You have just talked of corruption, is the Minister aware of garages that demand cash to buy fuel, those that do not allow swipe and ecocash but only want cash.  The problem is that people are only allowed 300 bond per week in banks and they give 100 bond cash per day which makes it very difficult for the common man.  It ends up on the black market because they are not allowing any means of buying other than cash.

HON. SEN. MUDYIWA: Thank you Mr. President and I would

like to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  The policy is that all garages should sell fuel using bond notes and coins, Ecocash and swipe. If there are garages that are demanding cash only, that is outside the policy.  I would like to ask the Hon. Member if he has specific garages that he knows to pass that information to our Ministry so that we can follow up on what exactly is happening at those garages. Like I said before, we have ZERA who are charged with monitoring what happens at the garages.  That should not be allowed and I think action will be taken against such garages.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President Sir.

My question goes to the Minister of Finance and Economic

Development.  What is the Ministry of Finance doing in view of the fact that the situation on the ground appears that the economy is redollarising?  Wherever you go, people are asking for payment in US dollars.  What practical steps – first, is the Minister aware and what measures are you putting in place because out there life is very difficult for all Zimbabweans?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC

DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr.

President Sir.  I thank the Hon. Sen. for the question.  In terms of what we are doing to deal with the re-dollarisation challenge that we have so far noted, we are doing a few things.  First of all we are making sure that there is more cash in terms of Zimbabwean dollars that is pumped into the system.

In the last month, we have put in cash to the tune of ZW$110 million and we have said that in the next six months, we will continue to put in more cash.  There is a strategy to doing this; if we put in all the cash that is needed in one moment, that will increase inflation sharply but also, that may impact the exchange rate and even cause more inflation.  So what we are doing is using a strategy that is called a swap.

We are swapping RTGS balances for cash with the bank.  We say to the bank, you give us RTGS and we give you the equivalent in cash then we cancel the RTGS.  What that does is that it helps you pump cash into the economy but without increasing the aggregate amount of cash in circulation.  What we will do going forward is to also increase the size of the denomination; you can imagine if it is $2 or $5, you have to pack quite a bit into the ATM machine if you have to make withdrawals.  So high denominations like $10 or $20 are really needed going forward and we will be doing that.

On the target; at the moment the cash in circulation in Zimbabwe as a percentage of the stock of cash is just above 4%.  This is well below that of similar countries in the region.  We should double that and that means we have to put in about ZW$1 billion into the economy.  That is the first strategy.

The second strategy is a legal enforcement one which says, we must make sure that the Central Bank is given enough teeth, powers and legal instruments to enforce the use of domestic currency where it is supposed to enforce and also impose adequate penalties to dissuade those who use US$ when they need not do so.  So I will be bringing before this august House as part of the Finance Bill some provisions and amendments of the RBZ Act to give more teeth to the Reserve Bank.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. WUNGANAYI: Thank you Mr. President.  Your

English is so fluent Hon. Minister and I wish that it is the same with what would happen…

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon.

Senator, ask your question clearly and do not try to sound sarcastic about anything.

HON. SEN. WUNGANAYI: Thank you Mr. President. Hon.

Minister, I heard you saying you want to add more cash into the market.  Last time we heard the same thing that cash will flood the banks but we are only finding it in the streets.  What are you doing to end this anomaly rather than saying what will not happen?

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  Thank you Mr. President.   I explained that the RBZ requires teeth in order to make sure that there is no violation of the regulations.  Last time cash was released it was found out that some banks had released more than the cash withdrawal limit as required by the RBZ statute.  For example, some people were allowed to withdraw more than $10 000 and the banks concerned were asked to explain and dealt with accordingly to make sure that it will not happen again.  So the Central Bank needs you as Hon. Senators to support and give them teeth through the statutory instruments we are bringing for consideration.  The issue of cash-in and cash-out with the cash concerned means that some of these institutions are now working as mini-banks. Rules have been put in place and even their margins in terms of charges have narrowed and this will lead to more stability in the Zimbabwean dollar and narrow down this cash-in cash-out.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. B. MPOFU: I am still not answered.  The question was - what are you doing to ensure that the country does not redollarise?

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: What I was trying to explain in terms of measures is the promotion of the currency in the first place, enforcing on those who want to continue to use the US$ without permission, putting more cash into the system.  It is also an issue of supply. All of that will go a long way in strengthening the use of the ZW$, building confidence around it and discouraging those who are using US$ as a choice of currency.  I thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Mr. President.  My

question is directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Hon. S. B. Moyo.  On the 25th October, 2019 there was a demonstration which was carried out throughout the country, the region and the international world calling for the immediate removal of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.  Did those countries which imposed illegal sanctions heed our message that they are fighting against the people’s rights?

         THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND

INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. S. B. MOYO): Thank you Mr.

President and the Hon. Member who has asked this question. The genesis of the October 25th, 2019, which is the anti-sanctions day emanated from the SADC Summit which took place in Dar-e-Salaam. SADC Member States looked at their economic figures in terms of the growth of GDP within the region and realised that there are certain countries which would be called pull down sort of, in terms of the growth of GDP of the region. It was not only Zimbabwe, but there were other countries with different reasons but Zimbabwe was the major one.

Therefore, they took a decision that these sanctions are now hurting not only Zimbabweans but they are hurting even us the rest of the region in this particular aspect, hence the advent of the October 25th. All over, in different parts of the world and the different parts of the region and the continent, there were quite a lot of gatherings and messages. I can assure you that the impact was there between the US and the EU. The EU was more hurt because they thought that they did not want to be packaged together with the USA because the USA is quite clear about sanctions.

The EU was saying we thought we were progressing very well in terms of reducing the impact of sanctions and we were only remaining with just a small portion which we were working on. That aspect and reaction was indicative of the fact that the word had gone into it because sanctions had been classified as human rights abuse especially illegal sanctions.

Secondly, I have said in many foras that sanctions are a mass destruction weapon because they are not discrete in terms of who they are going to affect. It does not matter who and therefore, because of that even for the first time, the UN Food Security Rapporteur who came into this country highlighted that one of the reasons why Zimbabwe was having certain difficulties is because of sanctions and she went further not to say sanctions only, but to say ZIDERA. In that light, that is a formal organisation the first time that it recognizes is that sanctions have got an impact on Zimbabwe. Therefore, we believe that this psychological mobilisation of the world to sympathise with the position of Zimbabwe is actually having an impact. I thank you.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Mr. President. Minister, why is it that USA seems to be very difficult - are you not able to engage them, starting with discussing those issues that are being raised by ZIDERA and the US so that we can have a permanent solution and trade with them?

         THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND

INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. S. B. MOYO): Thank you Mr.

President and Hon. Sen. Komichi for that question. Let me say that in terms of our engagement, the major target for our engagement has been UK and Europe and also the United States of America. Before the second republic, there was no communication between the USA and the first republic. What I can assure you now is that we have communication. We speak to each other directly with the USA. Even if we differ, but we differ as we discuss. There has been quite a lot of progress, to an extent that there is discussion which is taking place within the US now.

Of course, there are some who believe the internet Zimbabwe which is generated in different foras and there are some who are seeing the light of reform in terms of the second republic. We think that this engagement is a process and it cannot be an engagement, particularly with the US - it takes time. You will recall that even the former

President N. Mandela died when he was still classified as a terrorist. It is not easy to actually remove. ZIDERA is a congress issue – it is like your Bill and it is not necessarily the Executive.

The Executive may have to sympathize because they need sport in terms of the separation of powers, but we believe that we are progressing very well, even with the United States of America. The Embassy had to have certain reflexes in terms of speechifying. It was mainly because of pressure of the campaign on sanctions and they had wanted to try and also create a different narrative. Otherwise, the impact is that there is progress. I thank you.

Questions without Notice were interrupted by THE HON.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No.

         HON. SEN. KOMICHI: I move for the extension of time for Questions without Notice.

HON. SEN. NCUBE: I second.

HON. SEN. S. MPOFU: I object.

         On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the Senate

adjourned at Half past Three O’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 17th December, 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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