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SENATE HANSARD 13 DECEMBER 2022 VOL 32 NO 5

A                          st230-240                                        13th December, 2022

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 13th December, 2022.

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

SWEARING IN OF A NEW MEMBER

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Good afternoon Hon. Senators.  I have an announcement.  In terms of Section 39 (7)(a) of the Electoral Act, [Chapter 2.1.3], the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) notified Parliament that Ishmael Zhou was elected by the persons with disabilities Electoral College, to fill in the vacancy in the Senate that occurred following the death of Hon. Watson Khupe with effect from 19th November, 2022.

          Section 128 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, provides that before a Member of Parliament, takes his or her seat in Parliament, the Member must take the oath of a Member of Parliament in the form set out in the Third Schedule of the Constitution.  Section 128 (2) states that the oath must be taken before the Clerk of Parliament.

NEW MEMBER SWORN

          HON. SEN. ISHMAEL ZHOU subscribed to the Oath of Loyalty as required by the Law and took his seat – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. SEN. MUZENDA: I move that Order of the Day Number 1 be stood over, until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

          Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. MABIKA: Thank you Mr. President. I would like  first of all to thank Hon. Sen. Mpofu for the motion and Hon. Sen. Siansali who seconded.  It is in very good order that we assess and commend on His Excellency, Cde. Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address.  Overally, the country performed….

          THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, it seems you are not connected.

          HON. SEN. MABIKA: Thank you Mr. President.  I was saying it is in very good order that we assess and commend on His Excellency, Cde. Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).  Overally, the country performed above expectation, in nearly all sectors except energy.  Despite sanctions, COVID-19 effects, climate change issues and the general global economic turmoil, we are focused to have a minimum economic growth rate of 3.8%.  With the stern direction of His Excellency, a lot was achieved in the areas which formed the foundation of a sound economy. 

          Output explosion in the mining sector is quite evident in all areas, especially gold, PDMs, coal, chrome et cetera.  What is fascinating is the step-by-step approach towards the value addition which saw several processing plants being commissioned.  Rapid investment in lithium has also been a pleasing development, which is set to have the value chain from extraction, all the way to processing.  The efforts to stop the bleeding via illegal exports of minerals are also commended.  A bit more work is still required in this area and use of technology to boost this capability is something that our security sector may need to promote.

          The economic growth and energy growth are directly co-related.  Industries are being revived more rapidly than energy production can keep at this point.  However, we are aware that this is a medium to long term problem to be solved urgently.

 His Excellency has fully supported the development of Muzarabani oil and gas project which is now at a very advanced stage. Armed with gas, power generation can be significantly boosted to cover more than our requirement.  We appreciate that the development of gas fields takes time but what is most encouraging is that His Excellency is fully in support of all programmes around this wonderful God-given resource which will solve many of our headaches, including energy, fertilizers, fuel, plastics, chemicals for pharmaceuticals et cetera

Many solar power plants were licenced.  We look forward to seeing progress in this area which is dogged by capitalisation issues due to the sanctions.  Infrastructure development also sits at the foundation of any economy.  Road rehabilitation has made tremendous strides.  Zimbabwe is seen as being the most dammed country in the region.  New and modern hospitals have been commissioned with more being under construction.  Airport modernization and expansion plus new air strips have been under construction.  Tourism and hospitality industry is being promoted enough to recover from the COVID -19 pandemic. 

As for parastatals performance, His Excellency is on point when he proposes increasing efficiency of the sector to profitable levels.  As is acknowledged by many joint ventures, partial privatizations, engagement of technical partners and so on are the keys to unlocking value in majority of the parastatals.  Apart from the potential capitalisation prospects, the work ethic and commitment levels of the parastatals will increase with such similar arrangements.

Chimurenga Chepfungwa - the Education Revolution is of paramount importance.  As a basis for capturing innovation and creating new global industries, the platform is now set for putting Zimbabwe’s brains and products on the world map.  We commend with pride the launch of ZimSat-1 Satellite which comes with tremendous capacity to manage many critical facets of our motherland from agriculture, mining to land management and so on. 

The importance being attached to the development of e-government systems cannot be overlooked.  Ease of doing business is much more easily enhanced by the use of IT.  We stand proud to see that the functionality and efficiency of the Civil Registry Department has so greatly improved.  Winding queues littered by the touts has become a thing of the past.  Thanks to His Excellency for ensuring that the solution was delivered to our people.  Provision of housing has been a nightmare to many, especially given the population increase of several millions over the past 10 years.  Current and future planned housing projects are all visibly sound and achievable. 

The Youth Build Zimbabwe Programme is yet another demonstrated vision of where His Excellency wants the nation to go.  With a well disciplined and well trained nationalistic youth, the country can scale ladders rapidly.  Love thyself is the beginning of commitment and progress.  The refocusing of tertiary education towards tangible production and services for our youth is an inevitable cog which has eventually arrived.  We cannot speak about youth development without paying attention to the current new menace of drugs within our youth communities.  It is recommended that we pay extra attention to this plague and that we deal with it decisively. 

Although certain sectors prefer to try and put the blame of drug menace on Government, those who know about the machinations surrounding the opium wall in China will soon realise that this was actually an externally driven menace meant to wipe out the potential in several generations of youths in that country.  Cultivation of opium was in India but its trade into China was by the British.  Our menace should as well be considered a war technique from the outside world. 

Our foreign policy is plausible to say the least - friend to all the enemies to none.  We have no need to meddle in matters of other sovereign’s internal activities or politics.  By the same token, other nations should also not have foreign policies which are intended to mess around with our domestic policies and matters.  We have made the first move to open ourselves to all who feel like interacting with us constructively.  This, we have also demonstrated by participating in peace initiatives all over the world but only through internationally accredited institutions such as SADC, AU, UN, et cetera

We take pride in the recognition that His Excellency is giving to all our war veterans.  We look forward to seeing the successful capitalisation of the Veterans Investment Cooperation. 

On the legislative side of issues, it is highly commended that the Attorney General’s Office has been weaned off from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  We anticipate that the reduced red tape and function conflicts will see the AG’s efficiency increasing dramatically.  Proposed amendments to various agricultural acts are welcome. As we step up to the next gear in food security, indeed sugar must be considered a strategic resource. 

Conflict between farming and mining where mining was legally given higher priority by colonialists deserves attention.  We look forward to a balanced act which considers both sides in their merit.  The issue of taking a look at ICT online transactions is also critical, given that the world is heading towards central bank digital currencies but appearing to transit through the disastrous crypto currency regime where billions of dollars were lost globally with no recourse.  Our populace certainly requires such protection. 

In his conclusion, His Excellency correctly calls for the critical bottom line for attaining Vision 2030; production and productivity in all sectors of the economy.  Everyone must therefore contribute by working hard and smart each in his corner.  The time to wait for outsiders to come and build things for us is over.  He further calls for peace, unity and harmony during the upcoming harmonised 2023 elections. This is critical.  It helps each and every Zimbabwean to ensure that the political risk rating of the country improves from where it is. 

Lastly, caution on the COVID-19 risks must be maintained.  The health of our people and economy do not require recklessness to hinder our hard won progress so far.  In conclusion Mr. President, it goes without saying that Zimbabwe has made tremendous progress since the Second Dispensation took office.  The greater part of the first term of the Second Dispensation has successfully delivered stability and has set the foundation for growth via policy adjustments, infrastructure building, work ethic improvements, e-government adoption, education realignment and taking a step by step approach towards a sustainable self-reliant economy.  We applaud His Excellency, Cde. Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa for taking the bull by its horns and staying the course on our socio-economic development programmes.  I thank you Mr. President.

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

          HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th December, 2022.

MOTION

CONSTRUCTION OF SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE AND RECRUITMENT OF ECD TEACHERS

          HON. SEN. MABIKA: Mr. President Sir, I move the motion standing in my name that;

          ACKNOWLEDGING that education is a right for every citizen and permanent resident in Zimbabwe;

          COGNISANT that the State, through reasonable legislative and other measures, must ensure that education is progressively available and accessible even to adults as constitutionally obligated;

          FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING the importance of Early Child Development (ECD) in laying the foundation for children through education;

          CONCERNED that Early Child Development (ECD) is confronted with a myriad of challenges such as inadequate funding, shortage of classrooms, information communication technology (ICT) equipment, teachers and reading materials, among other things;

          This House calls upon-

  1. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to prioritise the construction of school infrastructure and recruitment of teachers for Early Child Development (ECD);
  2. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to provide adequate financial resources for Early Child Development programmes.

HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: I second.

HON. SEN. MABIKA: Thank you Mr. President.  Zimbabwe considers access to high quality education as a basic right for all citizens and permanent residents.  Education is also the foundation for cultural, social, economic and demographic growth of our nation.  The architecture of our education system is a 2-7-4-2-structure, meaning two years of ECD, seven years of primary education, four years secondary education and two years higher secondary education.

The 92% literacy rate that we boast of is built of this structure.  However, the latest population census has shown a significant increase in population, which therefore points at a requirement to increase school infrastructure and all the associated resources.  ECD as at March 2017, the sector had 427 800 learners taught by 4000 teachers, with 5800 more teachers required.  Only 21.6% of age 36 to 59 months were attending ECD programme.  It was also identified that there is need to build the capacity of existing educational officials to provide sound grounding in ECD philosophy approaches and methods. 

It was also identified that required is the right age, appropriate infrastructure and equipment; this is focused on creating resonance between the play and learn approach that ECD requires.  It was also identified that there is a requirement for feeding programmes at ECD schools due to the current economic status of our country. A large number of ECD learners, 27.6% of learners are stunted while 11.3% were underweight; to develop a health brain one needs good nutrition.  Distance travelled by some ECD pupils leaves a lot to be desired.  In today’s world, ability to use ICT equipment for accessing information, processing data and making decision is very critical.  Proficiency in the area at an early age will provide a sound grounding for modern citizens of the future.  Ability to utilise ICT equipment will provide room for stronger student development as they advance in their studies and into the workplaces; use of ICT must be in their blood like the way a child develops the ability to walk without thinking about every step. 

Not being ICT proficient is a bit like a person who thinks in vernacular language and translates the response into English before responding.  The Education Sector Strategic Plan of 2016 to 2020, highlights all these issues but at a more global scale.  What is actually missing is visible action on ground.  Some private sector ECD services have tended to take the space but being private sector, the monitoring and compliance management becomes significantly complex especially in a situation where demand is outstripping supply multiple times. 

According to the Ministry of Education Declaration, our education architecture is a 2-7-4-2-formation with only about 22% of learners having access to ECD education, that means, most of our children are going into Grade 1 totally unprepared.  This has got a number of implications on the future academic performance of our children going forward.  The Majority of the children who skip ECD begin to feel that going to school is very hard stuff and some of them get totally dejected thereafter, unrecoverable as they compare their initial performance to that of their peers who will have gone through the preparatory stage. 

Grade 1 teachers get into a frenzy trying to level out how they teach concepts to classes of skilled development levels.  In the end, it slows down the entire class as the teachers are attempting to mix some ECD concepts with Grade 1 concepts.  The culture of learning begins in ECD and starts to be implemented full time in Grade 1.  Over 78% of our junior school learners get into the grove unprepared.  National culture and the sense of belonging to Zimbabwe require to be built into the children at the earliest stage possible.  The repercussions of such an educational component are evident in a large number of our new adults who do not show any sense of belonging to the nation.  We also see how they ululate when something like exchange rate chaos happens, they get excited and happy yet they are the ones who are going to be suffering; some of them even to the extent of aiding further chaos deliberately.  ECD develops a culture of focus at an early stage; there is no better time to develop a national culture than at the youngest age possible.  The children get to know that there is a time for everything.  There are rules around which the world works on, your brain brings glory.  Interacting with other people selflessly, the optimum way to co-exist with others and so on, it is not about parents not having a maid; they must dump their children somewhere for the day.  It is a human development process; our country badly needs this area to be cleaned up by providing adequate and relevant facility for this critical development of our future leaders, engineers, lawyers, Members of Parliament, Senators, et cetera.

The main stumbling block to the development of the ECD sector is funding, the current budget for the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is largely consumed by staff salaries, both the administration officials and teachers.  There is hardly anything more than 5% of the entire budget left to capacity development.  In 2017, only 3% of the entire budget was left for development whilst the rest went to staff expenditures.   There is not enough ECD focused teachers in the country, the majority of parents send their children to ECD for the wrong reasons.  They consider ECD as somewhere to dump their children while they carry on with their day to day chores. 

Other parents do not consider ECD as a critical part of education at all and they will not even bother themselves with it.  As a result, it will appear as though there is not much demand for ECD access in the country and the problem tend to go unnoticed as a result. Low disposable income in most families also hamper the zeal to send the children to ECD but now given that His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa has declared free education to all from 2023, a huge influx may be experienced but the physical infrastructure to cater for that is not nearly sufficient.  There is not enough trained ECD teachers. The equipment and other related facilities for ECD are nonexistent.  Most parents cannot visualise the potential impact of the curriculum that was set up for ECD learning.  So some public relations exercise will be required within communities.

To achieve or correct all above, one thing is very critical – funding. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education needs to protect and emphasise its development plan to satisfy the ECD requirements.  The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development must be encouraged to place high priority on the development of ECD infrastructure and its associated requirements.

In conclusion Mr. President, a nation is made up of people and the lack of full development of a people will result in the lack of development of the nation in the future.  The development has got to officially start at ECD by developing relevant curriculum and providing affordable access to the entire Zimbabwean population with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education providing the route plan and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development delivering the required resources.  I thank you Mr. President.

I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. MUZENDA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th December, 2022.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MUZENDA, seconded by HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI, the Senate adjourned at Two Minutes past Three o’clock p.m.

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