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SENATE HANSARD 13 FEBRUARY 2024 VOL 33 NO 25

PARLAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 13th February, 2024

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

PRAYERS

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE

ICT LITERACY TRAINING PROGRAMME

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Good afternoon Hon. Senators. I have some announcements. I wish to inform the Senate that there will be an Information Communication Technology literacy training programme to be conducted by the ICT Department from Tuesday, 27th February, 2024 to the 21st March, 2024. The training will be conducted during sitting days only and in groups of 40 participants per day. Hon. Senators are required to register the day they wish to attend the training with Ms. A. Kondo on 0772772565. Staff from the ICT Department will also be stationed in special Committee Room No. 1, from today, 13th February, 2024 for registration.

INVITATION TO JOIN PARLIAMENT SPORTS CLUB

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I also with to inform the Senate that the Zimbabwe Parliament Sports Club is inviting all Hon. Members of Parliament who are interested in sports to join the club. The key objective of the club is to promote fitness and wellness of Members of Parliament and staff. To register, please contact Mr. A. Nyamuramba on Ext. 1135 or on his mobile Nos. 0717460435/0775409209 or Ms. Charewa on Ext. 1211 or mobile Nos. 0772874565/0724647395.

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH SERVICE

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I wish to inform the Senate that there will be a Catholic Church Service that is Ash Wednesday tomorrow, the 14th February, 2024 at 1215 hours, in the Special Committee Room No. 1. All Hon. Members are invited and non-Catholic Members are welcome.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE PROVINCE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA): Thank you Mr. President. 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.

          Motion put and agreed to.

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: On a point or order Mr. President Sir. In terms of Section 61 of the Standing Orders of this Senate, a Senator who is not a Minister can give a one-minute statement on a matter of public importance provided that is done before 1440 Hours.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: So, why is this a point of order? Did you request from me and I refused?

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: I am requesting from you Mr. President Sir.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Because a point of order is pointing to something which has gone amiss or something like that.

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: I realise that you did not provide for that in the order of events.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Does it have to be put on the Order Paper?

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: Well, I mean it is a provision and it is provided in the Standing Orders that a Senator who is not a Minister can give a one-minute statement and it is your pleasure Mr. President to refer to that Standing Order.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: What I am saying Hon. Sen. Zvidzai is that it is not a point of order. You can simply stand up and say I have a point of national interest or whatever it is and then I will recognise you, but you did not do that. You are choosing to make a point of order which is not a point of order.

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: Thank you Mr. President Sir. On a point of privilege, in terms of Section 61 of the Standing Orders of the Senate, a Senator who is not a Minister can give a one-minute statement on a matter of public importance.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Yes, you should have stood up and say I have a point of national interest. You can go ahead Hon. Sen. Zvidzai.

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: Thank you Mr. President. I wish to make a one-minute statement in connection with Section 129 (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. This is to do with the recall clause. A clause which used to be called the “Tekere Provision’ after the recall of Cde. Edgar Tekere in 1989 following his opposition to one party in this country. Mr. President Sir, even in recent time and particularly during the course of this Parliament, we have seen numerous recalls of parliamentarians, senators mayors and councillors from Parliament, according to Section 129 (k) of the Constitution.  These recent events have impacted very negatively on the fiscus and there was a by-election that followed - these have been very costly.

It is my suggestion Mr. President Sir, that the House and as a nation, we sit down to agree on developing regulations on the application of Section 129 (k) of the Constitution so that people are not recalled on the whims of individuals to the detriment of the fiscus of the nation,   the stability of Parliament and indeed, the harmony and happiness of the nation.  Indeed, these unregulated recalls are a serious diminution of the august House of Parliament as well as of Senate. I thank you Mr. President Sir. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:   Thank you Hon. Sen. Zvidzai. I have heard what you have said.  I will study it and make a ruling at the appropriate time.   

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR THE 2023 HARMONISED ELECTIONS

Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the 2023 Harmonised Elections.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA:  Thank you Hon. President of the Senate. Good afternoon, Sir.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Good afternoon to you.

HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to debate on this motion which was presented to this House by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the recent elections that were held in 2023.

Mr. President Sir, Zimbabwe enjoys peace and harmony as a result of the way we conduct our elections.  The country has held elections since 1980 whenever elections are due and has never suspended any elections – which is a good move by the country.  We used to hold elections for Members of Parliament and local authorities separately from the Presidential elections. These were harmonised in 2008, a move that was good for the country as it would save money.

Mr. President Sir, besides the elected 210 Members of Parliament, the country also has 80 Senators who are elected on proportional representation, 60 women’s quota, 10 youths and also 30% in the local authority. This has shown that the President and our country are very sensitive to the all-inclusive approach as women and youths who find it difficult to contest against men are allocated their quotas so that they will also have more representation in Parliament, especially in the Lower House so that their voices are heard. This is because if we wait for them to make the 210, very few women and youths will make it to Parliament. We applaud the President, Dr. E.D Mnangagwa and his Government for extending the women’s quota by a further two–five year terms for this election. The first two-year terms had expired in the Ninth Parliament but now, we have seen that Government has extended another two-year term, introduced the youth quota and the 30% women’s quota for councillors.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should also be applauded for accepting all political parties and individuals who wanted to contest in the 23rd and 24th August, 2023 elections. It shows that democracy is being practiced in Zimbabwe just like in every other democratic country. I would like to applaud ZEC for holding free and fair elections that were commended by SADC, the international community and some individuals – save for few individuals and organisations with sinister agendas who discredited our elections. Very few organisations and individuals tried to discredit the good work by ZEC. Due to logistical challenges, the electorate in some areas of Harare, were given a chance to exercise their voting rights and choose their leaders. Elections were extended from the 23rd to the 24th  in the affected areas and this was a good deed by ZEC. The extension showed that ZEC is very sensitive to the rights of Zimbabwean citizens.

I also want to applaud ZEC and the Zimbabwe Government for creating a conducive and peaceful environment during the election period. Every voter was free to go to their designated polling stations to exercise their right without any fear. Page 46 of the report, ZEC indicates that voters went to their respective polling stations as early as 0700hrs.  ZEC also allowed political parties and individuals to second their polling agents to represent them as indicated on page 45 of their report.  This shows that ZEC wanted every candidate to have representation at polling stations. It was up to individual candidates to field polling agents or not, though some were unable to fund their polling agents. However, it was not ZEC’s problem because the Commission had allowed contestants to have their agents at polling stations.

The President and Government of Zimbabwe should also be applauded for mobilising financial resources for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to be able to conduct the elections. The elections were well funded and all those who were deployed received their remuneration. We did not receive any challenges or problems from ZEC on the payment of their recruited officials. ZEC also managed to have adequate presiding and polling officers to conduct the elections.  I am happy that the recruitment included women, youths and the disabled – which is also part of best practices. Women, youths and the disabled were given equal opportunity to form part of the team conducting elections.  An inclusive way in the running of our elections. The country also accepted the ZEC accreditation of foreign and local observers to monitor our elections.  They freely moved around the country before, during and after the elections monitoring and observing what was happening there.

  However, I would also want to condemn some individuals who accepted to be used by our country’s detractors and some political organisations who overstepped their mandate by trying to involve themselves in the domestic issues or running of our country instead of observing elections. They were now looking into some issues that had nothing to do with the observation of elections.  We have one Dr. Mumba from Zambia who made a report here purporting that it was a report representing the SADC organ, yet it seemed it was only a report of his perceptions, not an organisation’s perception.  So I condemn such action from observer missions or people who are invited and allowed to monitor elections in our country.  This shows that we still have puppets of the West who are being used to reverse the gains of independence in Southern Africa.  Our countries in Southern Africa got independence through armed struggles and now some are still being used by those people to promote neo-colonialism. 

          As a citizen and representative of the people, I am happy with the way the August 2023 harmonised elections were conducted by ZEC.  They did a wonderful job which should be applauded by every Zimbabwean citizen. 

          I would also want to congratulate the President, E.D Mnangagwa, for winning the Presidential elections during the 2023 election and also the Members of Parliament, Senators, and Councillors who also made it during this election.  ZEC also coordinated elections of chiefs into the Senate on the 24th of August 2023 and the process went on very well.  It was so smooth, with no challenges and hiccups. This followed the election of chiefs into the National Council of Chiefs and the election of the President and Deputy President of the Chief’s Council on 30th August 2023 and 10th August 2023 respectively.

  On the 26th day of August 2023, ZEC also conducted elections for two Senators representing persons with disabilities, whose electorate comprised of representatives from associations and institutions for persons with disabilities.  ZEC also supervised the election of presiding officers of the Lower and Upper House of Parliament on the 8th of September 2023.  The election was smooth and I would like to congratulate the winners who are our President of the Senate, Hon. M. Chinomona and her deputy, Hon. Gen. Rtd Nyambuya.  In the Upper House also, Advocate. J. F. Mudenda as Speaker of the Lower House and his deputy Hon. Tsitsi Gezi – congratulations to our Presiding Officers.

          ZEC and the Government of Zimbabwe should keep up the good work they did in future elections and continue to exhibit the professionalism they showed in the 2023 harmonised elections.  All political organisations and individuals who advocate for instability before, during and after elections should be banished and prosecuted also.  Observer missions should stick to guidelines laid down on the observation of elections and do not have to interfere with the internal affairs of the country when they will be observing elections. Thank you Mr. President, for the opportunity that you have given me to add my voice to the motion by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: Thank you very much Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this very important motion that was tabled before this august House by the Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs. 

          Mr. President, the history of elections all over the world and in this country is very important.  For the black Zimbabweans to get the ability to vote, a grueling war was fought and the driving call was universal adult suffrage.  This is the clarion call that was made by Cde Ndabaningi Sithole, Umdala wethu Nkomo. This was the clarion call that was made by all the children of Zimbabwe who decided to take up arms to fight for that particular right, the right to vote.  That suffrage is so important.  The right to freely make your choice as to who will lead the nation and the right to happily decide as to how the nation can be moved forth through the electoral process.

          Mr. President, our electoral process started with the delimitation exercise which, in my opinion, produced a very flawed report, an unconstitutional report.  In terms of the Constitution and the electoral laws, no constituency in this country should be bigger than another by more than 20%.  I think it is very clear that we had to shrink the gap between constituencies to not beyond 20%.

 Alas, Mr. President, if you look at the delimitation report, you will see that in Harare, the average constituency size is 31 000 people and if you look elsewhere in Masvingo, Mashonaland East perhaps, you will find there are constituencies that are made up of just about 20 000 to 21 000 people.  If you see the difference between 21 000 and 31 000, it is more than 20% that is required.  So we went to an election using a completely unlawful document or an unconstitutional document.  In this respect, ZEC needs to be condemned to the worst level because they nearly put this country into a constitutional crisis. Indeed, we remain stuck in a very bad place because we went to the election using a document which in my opinion was unlawful and completely unconstitutional. 

          Mr. President, let me move to voter registration.  This country has got a voter population of close to 10 million people.  I am talking of voter population, people that are 18 years and above.  The voters’ roll has got 6.6. million people, which means that the voter registration process left nearly 3.4. million people.  Clearly, it means that ZEC is not doing a good job.  There was that departure there, beyond the natural Pareto principle of 20% unordinary circumstances.  The 3.4. million out of 10 million is a staggering 34% of people who were denied their right to vote because of the incapability of our institution called ZEC.

          So Mr. President, this is disturbing. It puts to question the credibility of our elections, it puts to question kunaka kana kushata kwama elections and I think ZEC could do a better job to make sure that there is harmony in this country and to make sure that people exercise a right that was not given for free, a right that was died for.  That right should be respected by every single institution in this country and it must be respected by every single individual in this country.  No one should be able to deny any single person a right to vote.  The right to vote is sacrosanct, the right to vote was paid for by the precious blood of sons and daughters of this country.

          Mr. President, let me talk about the Nomination Court.  Our Nomination Court has gone fairly smoothly, but the huge problem is around nomination fees designed to deny people a right to be voted for, denied to discriminate based on economic circumstance of a person. So, in my opinion, that also puts to question the credibility and good standing of the overall elections.  If I do not have 20 000, if I do not have 1000 dollars and many people do not have, then I cannot stand for elections.  There are people out there and peasants who might want to actually step forward to be elected into office, could not do so on account, not of incapability in terms of capacity to represent people, but incapability based on financial circumstances.

          Mr. President, I would like to talk about our national institutions and the bearing of these institutions on the conduct of elections.  Where I belong, we got denied more than 40 rallies where we would have gone out there and campaigned. We were denied smooth door to door campaigns and we had to tortuously go and apply to the police to do these processes, and yet I know I am very clear that compared to the brother across, no requirements of that matter were required.  So, our national institutions should act impartially.  Our national institutions should promote the peaceful handling of national elections.

          Mr. President, I would like to talk about the election day logistics, we must all bow our heads in shame that people of Zimbabwe, particularly women, were denied the opportunity to vote on the voting day.  In Harare, ballot papers did not arrive on time, in some cases they arrived the next day.  In many cases, the papers arrived in nocturnal hours of the day while people stood patiently in the queues, but we all know the circumstances of women.  Most women who might have had children at home, had to leave the queues to go home and take care of children, some of them were afraid of potential abuses in the night and Mr. President, I am very definite that a lot of women were denied their suffrage in the past election because of inadequate logistical arrangements.  Ballot papers arrived late and we all know what happened.  Many people argued that it affected the people in the same manner and that sort of pronouncement can only be made by people who do not understand statistics.  If you understand statistics, you will know that the ballot papers did not arrive in time in Harare, Bulawayo, Manicaland and obviously, there are some science in that disorder.  The ballot papers did not only arrive in time in areas which were perceived to be the strongholds of the opposition thus suppressing opposition votes.  Ballot papers arrived in time in areas like Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe where the roads are distant, but did not arrive in Mufakose where the polling stations were within walking distances. There is clear…

          HON. SEN. MBOHWA: On a point of order Hon. President.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: What is your point of order?

          HON. SEN. MBOHWA: I think we are not analysing elections; we are debating on the report which was forwarded by the Hon. Minister Hon. Ziyambi.  I think it seems we are debating out of topic if we are anaysing elections. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. GOTORA: Thank you Hon. President, I wanted to say what the Hon. Senators have said, but in addition, when we speak in here, we need correct statistical facts.  I come from Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe where ballot papers arrived in three wards the following morning on the 24th and I am the most senior politician in that area.  We tried to pursue ZEC to give us ballot papers on time, the fact that the logistical things were not in place in Harare did not mean it was only Harare.  I am also an Hon. Senator of Mudzi, another very big stronghold of ZANU PF and in that district called Mudzi, ballot papers arrived the following day in four wards of that administrative district.  So to allude to say it was only Harare and Bulawayo that were affected is totally not correct.  In Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, we lost close to 35% of votes that we were supposed to have for the President and ZANU PF because of these logistical things.

          So, I am saying it is not factual to say it was only Harare and Bulawayo and perhaps Gweru that were affected. My district which is known as the biggest and the largest voter for ZANU PF in this country also was disadvantaged, but we are not crying; all we are saying is we know what is in the country.  We know how the economy is performing, we know that we have sanctions in this country and therefore, we cannot blame ZEC for that because ZEC is operating in an uneven playing field.  Thank you Mr. President.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Zvidzai, I think you have heard the other side.  Avoid generalising, be factual and discuss the report which was presented in the House.

          HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI:  Thank you very much Mr. President.  I am fully aware that in the very same ward in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe that he is talking about, is where we have got our strongest support.  So there is absolutely no material in what he said.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order, order.  Avoid having a slinging match against yourselves – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]- Those were points of order and you are just speaking without seeking my permission.  Avoid slinging matches between yourselves as Senators.  We are supposed to be mature in here and debate.  I am moderating and advising the Hon. Senator to be factual.  I did not ask the Hon. Senator to respond.  If you want to make a point of order, make your point of order.  I will give you the opportunity.  Let us be mature and debate facts on the report. 

          HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI:  Thank you very much Mr. President, dzahwa moto.  Election day logistics – the fact that Mr. President, we all agreed in this House that the logistical issues around ZEC; the distribution of ballot papers was questionable, is at least a convergence across the aisle and across the political divide.  We are all agreeing that ZEC did not do a good job.  So this is the fact and Mr. President, I would like to say in terms of voter suppression, leading from the failure to avail ballot papers on time was very major.  It actually, to a very good extent, influenced the divide of the results.

          I think it is very important and we must take this seriously.  Elections are important issues and there is no reason why we should begin to protect an incompetent institution of this State.  ZEC should do their job well.  They must provide the logistics well.  They told the whole country and the region that they were ready with all the logistics a few days before the elections, yet they knew very well that they did not have enough ballot papers, particularly for Harare and Bulawayo which are the strongholds of the opposition.

          Mr. President, I would like to talk about something that my colleague Hon. Sen. Mavenyegwa talked about regarding the inclusion of women in important institutions of State.  Chapter 17 of the Constitution demands equality that women and men should be posted to institutions equally.  It does not talk about 20% or 10%.  It talks about 50/50 and reductionists will applaud an improvement of 10%.  What is stopping us from satisfying the requirements of the supreme law of the land which demands that women and men must be equal in Senate, Parliament and councils?  What is stopping that?  Why are we celebrating minimums instead of celebrating the whole? 

I simply cannot understand.  The Constitution is clear.  Why are we not pushing for equality and pushing for qualified processes?

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order.  Hon. Sen. Zvidzai, avoid being petty and picking fights.  You have now moved away from what you were saying and you are attacking what your fellow Senator said.  Your fellow Senator celebrated the fact that the quotas for the youth and women are extended.  There is nothing which stops you, Hon. Zvidzai, from advocating for a 50/50.  You are very free.  You have got the floor.  Stand up and shout as much as you want about the need to have 50% of women.  I would support you myself.  Avoid picking fights and debate the report which was presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI:  Thank you very much Mr. President.  I am sorry to think completely differently from others who celebrate minimums.  I celebrate maximums.  I celebrate the best.  I want the best for this country, not the best minimum and the best for this country is that we must have equal numbers of women in Parliament, equal to the men.  I would like to see in all our councils 50/50 provision with equality of gender representation in councils, mayors and permanent secretaries.  This is the desire of the people of Zimbabwe Mr. President,

when we sat down as a nation in 2013 and we all agreed.  97 % percent of the people of Zimbabwe voted for this Constitution and it must be respected.  Mr. President, it is always better, it is always good for people to join the dance floor with others properly dressed, kempt and with properly brushed teeth so that you do not stink.

Mr. President, as a nation, there is no possibility of us surviving in isolation.  We need our brothers in the region.  We need our brothers in the whole of Africa and we need to respect the institutions that we built ourselves, the institutions that we contributed to build, like SADC.  SADC was very clear that it is unheard of in Zimbabwe that an election can be such a shamble.  For the first time, SADC was courageous enough to say, brother today you did not brush your teeth and we know very well how our institutions work.  It is unfortunate for us to begin to cast aspersions on institutions such as SADC that we must respect.  So we should respect the AU and other institutions so that we are a good citizens of the global world.  It is good for us.  It is good for the country. 

Indeed Mr. President, for the first time, our election was condemned by our own brother.  Yes, in the past it could have been the imperialists, it could have been Tony Blair, but this time it was SADC, our own brother that told us to dress properly for the good of this nation and if we are people of good reason, we must listen and make sure that we produce elections that are not contested because an election that is not contested is the panacea to economic development and harmony.  An election that is not contested at all enables us as brothers to shake hands and say congratulations brother, move forward.  This did not happen at the last election.  Thank you, Mr. President.

          *HON. SEN. CHABUKA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion.  This is an august House and we need to be honest so that we can be well developed.  I rise to speak on the harshness and bad things that were done by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order Hon. Sen. Chabuka.  That is unparliamentary and unacceptable language to use.  Please withdraw your statement.

          *HON. SEN. CHABUKA: I withdraw Mr. President.  Let me remind you that Hon. Sen. Mavenyengwa was insulting SADC, but you did not call him to order.  Be that as it may, I withdraw.  ZEC performed something unheard of.   Mr. President, we come from the same province.  You are aware of the time that the ballot papers arrived.  It was a first of its kind that we voted for two days.  The elderly were patiently waiting to vote. I was a whisker away from them, I was drawn there in a wheelbarrow because I was seriously ill.  I spent the whole night waiting for the ballot papers and they only came in the afternoon the following day.  I was a candidate, but when I called ZEC, they would say we are following instructions.  I do not know who was instructing them.  There was an animal called FAZ that was disrupting people from voting and ZEC was aware of it. 

          Headmasters and teachers would stand in queues alongside FAZ members, I do not know where it came from.  I do not want to lie that any political party was behind it.  They would say we want to tell you how to vote and the teacher or headmaster would be accompanied by a FAZ member into the ballot box. They would vote with a cloth wrapped around their waist.  Elections were not conducted properly.  As the opposition party, we were not even given the voters’ roll.  We were denied to access the voters’ roll by ZEC, not any political party.

          How come we come here as leaders and lie, misleading this House that these elections were free and fair?  They were not at all.  How can someone come here and lie when you are an Hon. Senator?  I plead with you Mr. President that when we are in this august House, as leaders, we would want our country to be developed, we should not mislead the people and lie that everything was well.  For two days, people were waiting to vote.  Elderly people had to come around 0200 a.m. to vote and we mislead this august House that the elections were free and fair.  We had a resounding victory, which resounding?

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Sen. Chabuka, stick to one language.  You know how we debate in this House.  Please take your seat.

          HON. SEN. KATUMBA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me the opportunity to add my voice.  Some of my submissions have already been made by previous speakers.  Be that as it may, that the elections did not go very well, as a country we are still going ahead conducting elections.  We hope that in future, ZEC will put its house in order and get its act in order so that we do not face the problems that we are speaking of now that the elderly had blankets and food being brought to polling stations.  They had to put up at polling stations.  It would be a good thing in future that when elections are being prepared for, the Ministry that is responsible for funding should give ZEC adequate funding so that the materials are made up in time so that we do not meet these challenges that we are talking about in this august House. In truth, things did not go well. As a country, we say that things should be done the right way. I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE PROVINCE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th February, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2022

          Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the report of the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission.

          Question again proposed.

          *HON. SEN. MUZODA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity. I am happy that you have said I am very quiet and ordinarily I am a very quiet person. Compliments of the season Mr. President. We hope that during this year, we will move better and that you lead us to prosperity as a country. I am going to start by coming up with a few items on the issue of corruption. I thank those that tabled the report and I will now have an opportunity to debate about things that our country has suffered from corruption.

          Corruption is a cancer, it is a disease and if it is not nipped in the bud, it can kill the entire country and we will be left without anything meaningful or good to say. I would like to say that this cancerous disease called corruption is found especially in the urban areas, it is not found predominantly in the rural set up, but it is found in our government offices. It is found in private companies that are meant to uplift the image of this country, especially in this Government, we should encourage one another to eradicate corruption.

          My elders once told me that when a fish rots, it starts rotting from the head, but today we would want the fish to start rotting from the tail so that the head can see that the fish is now rotting because if the fish rots from the head, it will not see the decay of the entire body up to the tail which will cause us problems. We will forever be poor and a few would be enjoying. We may like it and defend one another and accuse each other of why pointing out one’s problems, but the most important thing is not between us as friends. Our aim is to ensure that Zimbabwe develops.

          Mr. President, corruption is not good for me, it is not good for you and it is not good for everyone else in this country. We may turn a blind eye or keep quiet about it because at times I may see that it may not be proper for me to speak evil or to name and shame my brother, but if my brother nicodemously does his eating of the food in the night, it will cause disharmony amongst the family. Corruption does not start from the bottom, but it starts from the top where we are. These are the people that are in control of the national pace. Some talk about State capture, and being captured is that you are being controlled by money…

*HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: On a point of order Hon. President. May I plead with the speaker on the floor that corruption does not start from us. We are not corrupt. His statement should actually accuse people that are involved in corruption because we have not been arrested because of corruption. So it would be unfair for him to say corruption starts from here. I thank you.

*HON. MUZODA: Our elderly say that the guilty are always afraid…

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. KAMBIZI): I am of the view that we are losing track. We are debating the report that was submitted in this august House. It is that report that we need to interrogate and speak about it only. Once we do that, we will be able to achieve our objective. The moment we leave what is contained in that report, then we will go astray. Please proceed.

*HON. SEN. MUZODA: In truth, whenever we speak, we should speak as Parliamentarians. We have come here to debate on the issue of corruption. This issue of corruption is not the first time that we are debating it. I cannot come here and accuse anyone. Here, I did not point at anyone. I still have the floor and you shall allow me to talk about issues that have to do with corruption…

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Sen. please confine yourself to the debate.

HON. MUZODA: Hon. President, some of us are diabetic and we tend to quickly forget. We are talking about the problems that the economy faces as a result of corrupt activities, which corrupt activities are being conducted in our country. It is our plea mostly to ZACC, to carry out their work diligently. We have observed that people are being arrested. It is now five or six years down the line after a person has been accused of corrupt activities or tendencies, but we hear the last of it.

Initially, they would appear in court, but at the end of the day, the issue of the matter dies a natural death. We do not know what will have become the end of it because no sentence or judgement will have been pronounced as the majority of the Zimbabwean people about allegations that a certain individual was facing. Corruption includes the manner in which we are living in our urban settlements and rural homes. We have people who are corruptly selling State land that does not involve traditional leadership in the form of chiefs, headmen and village heads.  Such acts are causing problems to our people, our people are having problems in having a place that they call their own.  They stay here for two years, they are chased away and their money is stolen through deceitful methods.

Sorry Mr. President, it has been said that we should not speak to the issue of lying, but in our language, we speak of liars because of the behaviour of a particular person.  Mr. President, I believe that for us to end corruption, we should have all hands on the deck and everyone should be policing their neighbour from the village head to the top. Mr. President, I am talking about the topical issue these days that talks about people aged between 27 and 28 years residing at certain settlements and no longer have anywhere to go.  They find themselves in such circumstances due to corrupt activities and there are people who sell land without the knowledge of the chiefs, to desperate people who are looking for places to live.

I felt pity on a farmer with three hectares of tomatoes who was given 48 hours to vacate the premises.   Corruption should be dealt with from the bottom to the top and if we look at the manner in which our people live in the villages under our chiefs, it will help us as we move upwards.  Around the risk of being evicted as 40 or so groups after residing at a single place, they had not been resettled free of charge, but had paid money and built homesteads, some had already been buried.  Issues of corruption should be taken seriously Mr. President. 

I wish we could revert to our golden days of our culture where we used to respect our chiefs.   I do not want to call them Chiefs because a Chief is only but a Chief Secretary to someonethese are kings, they must be given the respect that they deserve. They are the custodians of our culture. Once they nip corruption in the bud in communal lands, it will be easier to control corruption in the urban centers.  Today, you find the chief being taken to court, but he has his own land, an area of jurisdiction and a piece of land has been sold by someone who is in that area.  He is the one who alleges and causes the chief to appear before the courts.  These are corrupt activities; you cannot take someone’s property because of certain things that you might have - that is corruption.   

          Mr. President, corruption can start from our homesteads, if you see a father leaving his house, he is being corrupt and if you see a father being involved in adultery, this is corruption.  – [HON. SENATORS: Inaudible interjections.]- You have heard what I said.  I am proud of my mother tongue.  Certain cultures speak in their mother tongue, not meaning that they cannot speak English, but will speak in the mother tongue so that those that have sent him will be able to understand… 

          *THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. KAMBIZI): Order, order, let us confine ourselves to the report on corruption, that you are now enlightening others, you are losing the track.

*HON. SEN. MUZODA: They asked me here, so I will be trying to get into detail. 

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Be that as it may, you are left with five minutes.

*HON. SEN. MUZODA: Thank you Mr. President. I believe I will not belabour the point, but the point is, within the remaining few minutes from abinitio, our fish should not rot from the head, but should rot from the tail so that the head is able to see the corrupt activities that surrounds it. I thank you.

HON. SEN. ZHOU:   Thank you very much Mr. President Sir for giving me the opportunity to say a few words. Let me appreciate the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for bringing this motion to Parliament and also allow me to thank the Chairperson of ZAAC, the team of Commissioners, staff and their stakeholder network for bringing this detailed report. The report has a lot of milestones and successes, of course, with some challenges like all other systems…

HON. SEN. MUZODA:    On a point of order Mr. President. I think we are now debating on corruption. I hear the Hon. Senator is talking about ZEC.

HON. SEN. ZHOU:  Zimbabwe Anticorruption Commission (ZACC).  I am talking about ZACC – Z-A-C-C not ZEC – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Let me explain that the name implies that the body is mandated by law and by our Constitution to fight corruption or graft. I am saying the body is doing exactly that from the tables and outcomes that are in the report.  I testify that I am happy that for the past four to five years, ZACC has been doing a good job.

When I looked at the report, it is defaced by a report that was prepared when the country was just coming out of the COVID era.  The report acknowledges that this had not been a very easy period.  Let me also say that since the coming of the Second Republic, we have seen a consented effort of eradicating corruption. This is a testimony of the report that we are discussing before us. Mr. President, I will not talk much about the other mundane details that are in the report, but simply to say that it is true that the report also was premised around the adage of ‘prevention is better than cure’ and also the fact that corruption should be a multi-faceted approach to all stakeholders and individuals including all our social structures in Parliament. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, Hear.] –

The message that I get from reading the report is that we are all desirous to deal with this animal called corruption. The Second Republic has really demonstrated its commitment to fighting corruption because in the report, I have also seen some VVIP including Ministers who have been arraigned before the courts.  To me, this is fair and just and I think this is a fair way of fighting corruption. I commend ZACC for bringing all these very important people who had messed around and tried to promote graft to book. 

So Mr. President, I will say that we still need to work around our mindsets to make sure that we report, as indicated in the report, ZACC will require all our support as individuals and as entities. I also want to say that we have not seen any corruption being reported on private companies.  I still think that our Government is very open and has allowed us to discuss this topic from 13th October when the Hon. Minister tabled this motion last year. 

I think that as we go forward in 2024, if we can be able to address certain issues to deal with staff retention, capacity strengthening, also finding ways of rejecting whistleblowers and witnesses – I am sure we can go a long way.  It is the duty of all of us as Zimbabweans to fight graft.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. GOTORA: Thank you Mr. President.  Let me take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and also the leaders of ZACC who tabled a comprehensive report about their activities the previous year.

 First and foremost, I would like to thank them for indicating that they conducted training with other countries that we believe have better standards than ourselves in terms of terminating corruption.  We are aware that in the report, they also talked of the training that they conducted within the countries in different areas.

 It was also indicated in the report that they were going around the country setting up integrity committees. Integrity meetings are meant to uplift the morality of the people.  We should accept that because they are making an effort to remedy the situation.  They also showed in the report where corruption is mostly taking place, which shows where the majority of these cases are occurring. We should be putting a lot of effort into eradicating corruption. However, they did not indicate whether corruption is most rife in the public sector or the NGO sector.  They gave specific areas where corruption has been found, in such places, there are people that are in different sectors. 

The report also states that they have problems with having to retain their workers because their remuneration is low. I urge the Government to ensure that they are properly remunerated and that Independent Commissions such as ZACC carry out their duties properly.  Furthermore, they would also want their offices to be devolved out of Harare or decentralisation of their offices country-wide. I would like to thank ZACC and the responsible Minister for their vision because it will be difficult for someone coming from Mt. Darwin to come to Harare to make a report on corruption. If their offices are in that district, it would be easier for people to report to ZACC on corrupt activities that will be occurring in their area.

  Their definition of corruption is too wide; if I ask for payment for a service, you will say that is corruption.  If you only say that corruption is only found in this august House whereas in the places where we believe things are not so sophisticated like ourselves, people are paying chickens for services.  Chickens are being demanded so that one could get a service, this is also corruption.  I urge this august House to support ZACC to be properly resourced so that they will be able to carry out their work. 

Personally, if I had the power to end corruption, I would end it tomorrow.  Certain things could be done that would ensure that all of us will be afraid, but we should know that no one is said to be guilty unless they go through a competent court of law.  Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. 

Secondly, in our Constitution, prisoners have rights and freedoms as enshrined in our 2013 Constitution.  Some of us contributed to the making of that particular Constitution.  No one can be incarcerated before they have been tried by a competent court and found guilty. So, if we allege that Gotora is corrupt and put it in social media, we will be committing an offence because it is only the judge and magistrate who will pronounce judgment on one’s innocence or the lack of it.

This particular report is urging us in this august House to assist them in eradicating corruption and reporting it stating the facts so that when ZACC conducts their investigations, they cannot spend years trying to look into the area when we do not clearly state the matters.  We should state that so and so on such and such a date committed this particular act which is an act of corruption and they need to be arrested.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. HUNGWE: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to say a few words on this report that was tabled by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

 I thank ZACC for a job well done. I  would also want to thank the Government for setting up that board because the Government is not tolerant of corruption.  This particular Commission was created through an Act of Parliament, it does not belong to the Government, it is a Commission that was created by Parliament.  We interviewed the Commissioners as Parliament. What is pleasing is that I was part and parcel of those who were conducting the interviews.  What I would want to say is to thank them for a job well done.  I will not repeat what the previous speakers have already said.

          I rise to stress the point that ZACC should be well supported by Parliament when we are dealing with the National Budget, they should be well resourced.  They must have adequate funding, the responsible Minister should ensure that ZACC is well funded so that they can do their work properly. Some Hon. Senators were saying that some people are arrested, but at the end of the day, nothing ever comes out of it. I am urging ZACC to ensure that their investigators who would have arrested culprits on or before the arrest of an individual should thoroughly carry out their investigations to see if an accused person, for instance Hon. Sen. Sipani-Hungwe, is expected to have committed an offence, the process is that everything should go through the court.  ZACC arrests culprits, but it has no power to try the matter.

          It is the courts that then try the cases. At times culprits are arrested and at the end of the day, they are acquitted.  I am saying that ZACC should be capacitated, they should not arrest in order to investigate; they should first investigate, but you then see that persons that are arrested are acquitted thereafter.  It is not Government that does that and even His Excellency the President will not be aware of the happenings.  As an august Senate and as leaders, regardless of your political affiliation, wherever you are in this august Senate, you are a leader.  We should also see to it that even if I am a Member of the ruling party or opposition party, am I saying the right thing.  I cannot just be opposing for the sake of it. 

          We are saying that ZACC should be funded so as to carry out its mandate.  In the communal lands, offences are committed.  If you ask someone to do something in return for something, that is corruption like saying give me a goat so that I will not talk about the offence that you have committed.  All of us are important, we should be treated the same. Commissioners do not belong to any political party, be it ruling or opposition, they belong to us as Parliamentarians because it is Parliament that interviews the Commissioners.  The panel that interviews is made up of all political parties.  We help each other to select the suitable candidates.  Commissioners do not belong to a political party or to an individual person.  I wanted to set the record straight that we should support them.  We will support ZACC, but I must make sure that it has done its investigations thoroughly before arresting people. We have several people that are arrested and before the end of the day, they will have been acquitted.  I thank you.  

          THE MINISTER OF WOMEN AFFAIRS, COMMUNITY AND SMALL TO MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (HON. SEN. M. MUTSVANGWA):  Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 13th February, 2023.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE SENATE

THE MINISTER OF WOMEN AFFAIRS, COMMUNITY AND SMALL TO MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (HON. SEN. M. MUTSVANGWA):  Mr. President, I move that Order of the Day, Number 4 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 5 has been disposed of.

          Motion put and agreed.

MOTION

GBV AWARENESS PROGRAMME TO PROMOTE POSITIVE       SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CHANGE

          Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on Commemorations to mark the 16 Days of Activism against-Gender-Based Violence.

          Question again proposed.

          *HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity.  I also want thank Hon. Sen. Mbohwa who moved this motion.  One Hon. Senator spoke saying that we should set aside 16 days every year to debate this motion.  Some of the things that cause Gender-Based Violence is the abuse of drugs. That is the main cause of Gender-Based Violence.  The father of the house will come home intoxicated with drugs.  He will then arrive home and see the wife having prepared sadza and vegetables. He will beat the wife notwithstanding the fact that he did not buy any meat for the family and this will be as a result of the abuse of drugs.  This is a problem that affects women mostly.  There are men’s pressure groups, they must sit down and discuss as men about the issues that they do when they reach home and discourage Gender-Based Violence.  This does not completely solve the problem because even if these men are told that Gender-Based Violence is wrong, but once they take drugs, they will do it because they will be under the influence of drugs.

          Some men are lazy.  His Excellency the President has reiterated that Zimbabwe is open for business. It is not a month which refers to those who are outside the country, but it also touches those who are in this country that we must find something to do.  We must not wait to get employed, but we must engage in business.  You must also use your mind and hands to get employed.

          In most cases, women stay at home and some of them go to work in other people’s fields to get money while the man is enjoying at beerhalls.  There are also other women who are engaged in drug abuse.  Sometimes the man has left the house and the woman stays at home and begins to take drugs.  When the husband is back home, he finds out that there is nothing at home and the woman has not prepared something for the children.  All these things need us as leaders to sit down and put our heads together to find a solution to end these problems.

          If you see someone beating up another person, it seems that this person is no longer thinking properly.  He has now run out of ideas to solve the problems.  We are saying that the issue of Gender-Based Violence must not end with 60 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence, but it must be a whole year from January to December where women and men and as Zimbabwe, we continue to encourage each other to desist from Gender-Based Violence because as a country, we are facing a lot of problems because of these abuses.

          This other day I met a child whose parents are not staying together.  The child was no longer performing well at school.  When investigations were done, they later found out that the father had left the family.  They did not know where the father had gone and hence, it ended up affecting the performance of the child at school.  You as the other women whose husband has left for a small house, must sit down and encourage him to take care of family because this issue of separation is affecting children.  The children are no longer participating in class or performing well at school.  Zimbabwe is a nation which is known for being properly organised, but it is now being affected by the issue of drug and substance abuse.  Hence, we are saying let us go and sit down and educate each other on the issue of drug abuse.

          Let me say a lot of things have been said by others and I also encourage people in their households to desist from fighting each other.  I also encourage the nation to avail enough resources to go around the country and educate people against Gender-Based Violence throughout the year from January to December.  Thank you, Mr. President.

          *HON. SEN. SHIRI:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice.  It means that all people are equal and they are very important, be it men or women. The only difference which is there is on the issue of dressing, that this dressing is for men and this dress is for women.  Even the toilets are labelled for men and women, but when we die, we are buried at the same graves, meaning that we are all equal.  All of us were created by the image of God and we also have the rights which need to be protected, but if we look at our way of living in our societies, we see that women and the girl children are facing a lot abuse in their lives.

          Sometimes people tend to abuse women and girls and they hide under the cultural beliefs.  Even in our culture, there is a law which rebuked the abuse of women when the person was told if you beat your mother, you are going to face some consequences.

          If we look at the issue of Gender-Based Violence concerning women who are disabled, we find that if those that are able-bodied are facing a lot of Gender-Based Violence, what about those who are disabled, especially women face a lot of problems in their health?  Yes, God created us differently so that his name would be praised.  Those who are deaf and those who are dumb, you will see that most of the times they are being beaten, they are being abused, but they fail to express themselves because their language is not respected and a lot of people do not understand them.

          There is also the issue of looking down upon one another.  It ends up with those that are being looked down upon by others failing to think properly.  Hence as a country, we are not going to prosper.  As leaders, we are there to protect those who are disabled and our other role is to end Gender-Based Violence and encourage people in the communities and constituencies.  We must encourage each other and give opportunity to women and the girl child. 

          If women are given the opportunity, they are going to incorporate everyone and help each and every person.  They understand that there are kids and the elderly who need to be taken care of.  There is also the issue of the opportunity of going to school.  In the past, women and the girl children were not given enough opportunity to go to school, but those who got the opportunity excelled very well in school.  Still in schools, we see that there is an element of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) on girl children, hence there is need to protect them so that they perform better in school. 

          Girl children also face GBV in schools, especially when they are living in poverty and lack some essentials.  Sometimes they are regarded as useless if they do not perform well in school compared to their male counterparts.  Even from their families, they are not valued and their voice is regarded as nothing.  In families, those who are disabled are facing a lot of discrimination.  Even in marriage, if a disabled man marries a girl who is able-bodied, the family does not accept that son-in-law.  The same applies to the girl child, if she marries someone who is able-bodied, they are not well accepted. 

          We are all people, let us treat each other equally.  I want to say let us end GBV so that we can protect the girl child and the mothers.  There are many types of GBVs.  Sometimes men are the ones who perform manual labour at home, so when it comes to ownership, most of the things are owned by the men.  Most properties or all of them are in the name of men even though the women are the ones who are working harder.  This is another form of GBV.  As leaders, let us give equal opportunities to all children despite their gender.  If we look at this country, 52% of the population is women, showing that they are the ones who have more power, but when we look at the powerful positions, we see that there is no equality.  Let us unite and end GBV and give opportunity to women to stand for themselves and be able to represent themselves.

          Let us also include those who are disabled.  We must not address them by their conditions.  If someone addresses me with a language which demoralises me or looks down upon me, for example saying someone is mentally ill or is disabled.  It is not something that motivates anyone in that condition.  Like a father who is suffering from mental illness, let us address each other properly so that everyone will feel respected.  GBV causes a lot of disturbances in the country, hence there is no development. 

          Those who are affected by GBV will end up not performing to their best.  Hon. Minister, I am saying opportunities must be equal.  Let us use affirmative action to make sure that women are empowered, women are treated equally despite their physical or mental conditions.  Let us make sure that women are given equal opportunities for high posts in terms of finances and politics of the country.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. CHINYANGA: Thank you Mr. President for according me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), which ran from 25th November to 10th December, 2023.  I seek to focus on the following areas:  Interventions made by the civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations to alleviate the incidences of GBV; the imposition of stiffer penalties to the perpetrators of GBV and the need for improvement in the accessibility of psycho-social support, health and justice.  These are some of the pertinent points as we make submissions on this topic.

          Allow me to bring to the attention of the House, the interventions that are being implemented by the Government, Civil Societies and Non-Governmental Organisations in combating the scourge of GBV.  Initiatives by organisations such as Shamwari yeMwanasikana and Padare have made it possible for our country to make great strides towards achieving a society that is violence free.  These initiatives have promoted dialogue and peaceful resolutions of conflicts between men and women.  The Government, through the chiefs, also has been able to influence the community to have their conflicts solved amicably by the local leaders, thus reducing conflicts.  Government continues to hold meetings with the people of Zimbabwe, conscientising them on the need to stop perpetrating GBV, especially in the rural areas.

          Moreover, we have seen the First Lady, Amai Dr. Auxillia Mnangagwa travelling across the country meeting with people from all walks of life talking about GBV.  Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, Dr. Amai Mnangagwa has been able to interact with people at grassroots level and encourage them to solve problems amicably.  This is quite a commendable effort that is progressive towards realising a society that is peaceful and free of GBV.

          Coming to the second issue alluded to in the introduction, over the years, we have seen imposition of stiffer penalties to perpetrators of GBV.  This has significantly helped reduce the incidences of GBV in our communities as those who are found guilty are given stiffer penalties warning others to refrain from such acts.  Sexual abuse cases have significantly declined, a positive impact complementing the great efforts to eradicate GBV within our society.  The Judiciary has made itself a fortress in delivery of effective corrective sentences in order to warn malcontents of the society against such delinquency, rogue and obsolete skirmishes.  The imposition of mandatory sentences for crimes such as rape, physical assault being implemented serve as stern measures in putting an end to GBV, have helped in establishing safe community for all.

          As I articulate my final point, I call upon all stakeholders to actively participate in the fight against GBV.  I strongly advocate for measures to be put in place so that everyone can access social, health and psycho-social support services for integration into society.  Victims of GBV must be provided with quick and easy access to the justice system and services such as legal aid to the disadvantaged, protection order and we call for the expeditious handling of cases to do with GBV through establishment of dedicated specialised courts.  I implore all the citizens to be vigilant in guarding against GBV in our communities.  Post traumatic counselling and support services should be decentralised so that they can be accessed by people in the rural areas.  I put it to the House that we facilitate more community outreach programmes, the creation of support groups and increase economic emancipation of our people so that they develop themselves more.  There is need for delivery of immediate medical attention and sexual and reproductive health services as well as referral and follow-up care for victims of GBV in communities.  I thank you.  

          ooHON. SEN. FANUEL: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity and I will speak in Tonga. I am talking about GBV, the man and his woman having violence in the house. This violence is mainly found against women. Men are abusing women and when women get to the police station, they change statements because the men would have intimidated them. Women have no power, but they have a lot of challenges in the house. Women have a right to education, a right to educate their children, a right to proper clothing and a right to marry.

          When men see other women, they end up not liking their wives. In my tradition in Binga, a man can marry as many as four wives, but the time when you find out that there is violence is when the wife does not get sexual satisfaction. I will give an example; if they are having a big farm, you find that the harvest is mainly given to the second wife. Women should be taught projects so that they can empower themselves. Women are being abused in the homes because they are not empowered. So because of women abuse, you find that children are not sent to school because a lot of money is taken for beer drinking and also to other women or buying drugs.

          Women have a lot of challenges, especially when they are pregnant and  when they go for testing at the hospital because the Government has a policy that when a woman is pregnant, they should go with their spouses for testing, but you find the men are refusing to go for testing together with their wives. The violence is found even with children because they are not attending school. The husband is fighting in front of children instead of showing love to the wife. The man should show love to the wife so that the community can develop. The government is helping a lot in giving out food through social welfare. Therefore, with those words, I thank you Mr. President.

THE MINISTER OF WOMEN AFFAIRS, COMMUNITY AND SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (HON. SEN. M. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank Hon. Senators in this august House for this very vibrant debate. It is truly an honour for me to stand here as the Minister in charge of Women Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises to respond to a number of issues which were raised by a number of Hon. Senators in this House, including the four Senators who have contributed to the debate today. Hon. Members, the spirited debate in this House which was conducted after Hon. Sen. Mbohwa raised this motion, just shows that my fellow Hon. Members, you are very much concerned about the issues of women empowerment.

Issues of women empowerment are not just about human rights issues. These are economic issues. I have heard clearly from those who have debated that if we empower the mother from grassroots level, they will be able to bring up empowered children. If we bring up our children in a violence free home, those children will definitely succeed in their future lives. The issues which you were talking about cut across. I am glad that  in this august House, Hon. Senators did actually debate with that spirit that we need to prevent GBV. We need to make sure that we deal with child marriages because those are things which will not make us achieve Vision 2030 which our President is always talking about.

The issues which I would like to respond to are many because they were raised and there were a number of issues which were raised, but just talking about the Commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, I would like you to know that our Ministry and as a country, the issues about GBV, the issues about making sure we deal with child marriages is not a one day event or during the day of 16 days. It is an everyday issue. We are looking at the 16 Days of Activism. It is like spotlighting on GBV during that time.

So I want to say Hon. Senators, through you Mr.  President, that the debate really gives us a greater impetus as a Ministry because all what was said in this House means a lot to us as we carry out the mandate of empowering women of this country, as we carry out other mandates which we do have in the Ministry, of supporting the Small and Medium Enterprises as we carry out the other mandate of the Ministry which is community development.  So I want to thank all of you in this House for that spirited debate.

I also want to say indeed, we must acknowledge the seriousness of this issue.  This is for each and everyone to think deep and when we think deep, clearly, we should take all that has been debated in this House and all the efforts that the Government is making to ensure that we all work as a multi-sectoral approach towards solutions – and it can be done.

Allow me therefore, to provide detailed responses to the issues that were raised in this House concerning the recommendation that the Government initiates enactment of laws that will deter Gender-Based Violence to perpetrators and also provide for stiffer penalties.  My Ministry applauds the passing of a mandatory sentence for rape, that I hope will provide sufficient deterrents to would-be offenders.  

However, we note with concern that there are no guidelines for sentencing GBV perpetrators.  Guidelines for sentencing GBV perpetrators need to be statutory. When they are statutory then they can ensure that they are implemented.  There is need for clear articulation of the definition of consent in the Criminal Law Code and ensure that the victim is involved in the sentencing process by making use of victim impact statements in considering sentences.  This will then help to inform courts on the extent of harm suffered by purposes of imposing an appropriate sentence. The Act should also increase jurisdiction or special jurisdiction for regional magistrates in respect of sexual offences. Special and separate courts for sexual offences should be created to provide for the protection of victims by having in-camera courts sessions and dedicated sexual offences court to expedite the sentencing of cases. 

My Ministry will continue to work with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in ensuring that our laws to continue to be reviewed. They have to continue to be amended and developed to ensure that deterrent sentencing is exercised in the courts.  I will also continue to engage the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs regarding specialised courts that handle sexual offences to be in place at all levels.

We heard Hon. Shiri talking about no one being left behind, even people with disabilities.  The Ministry wishes to take this opportunity to applaud Statutory 2 of 2024 Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) on the protection of children and young persons that harmonises the age of 18 as the age of sexual consent and marriage. 

Concerning the other recommendation that came out of this debate in this august House, is that GBV should also be included in the Educational Curriculum from ECD so that our children as they grow up refrain from GBV.  Indeed, it is important to have GBV as part of the curriculum to ensure that awareness is raised among our children and as a tool for mindset change.  It is important when we talk about issues like these, it is a mindset change.  This curriculum starting from that early stage will help a lot. 

We are also working with mothers as they bring up their children to make sure that a boy child, a girl child are all children with talents, born with them and if we nurture those talents, that will help the development of this country.  So, we are working hard to make sure that is done.   

Another concern that was raised in this august House concerns the recommendation that GBV should also be included.  We will definitely be working with you Hon. Members to make sure that the empowerment of women, when it comes to grassroots level, we will do it together and this is what we applaud the Government of the Second Republic that has managed to actually equip and make sure that we have engaged ward coordinators who will report to our Ministry.  In your wards, we have the Ward Coordinators and the District Development Coordinators in all the 10 provinces.  Provincial Coordinators are waiting to work with you as leaders in those areas so that we eliminate Gender-Based Violence. 

With respect to the recommendation that Government creates Government funded GBV systems to systematically gather the segregated data on the prevalence of femicides based on the types of GBV and identify the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, the Ministry, in partnership with development partners, and in this particular case UNFPA and UNICEF, have initiated the process of developing the GBV Information Management System.  The system, when fully functional, will assist in collecting GBV data and this data will include data on femicide.  The system is yet to be functional as it is facing resource constraints for its full implementation and roll-out.  There is need for funding to enable procurement of hardware equipment for the system and to provide for the running costs of the system.

I however, wish to acknowledge the Zimbabwe Republic Police who are currently collecting data on all the major forms of GBV and we shall engage them to include data on femicides.  ZIMSTAT will also support the operationalisation of this GBV Information Management System. 

With regards to the recommendation that the Government puts in place safe houses in every ward or constituency, I would like to let this august House know that the Ministry notes that this is ideal.  It is ideal that the Government establishes safe houses in every ward or constituency as highlighted by Hon. Members.  However, running these shelters is very costly and requires a strong budget to sustain them in an effort to ensure that services are availed to those in need. The Ministry, in partnership with development partners, civil society organisations to establish shelters – a lot of work has been done. 

Talking about safe shelters, this is a very key call-in preventing Gender-Based Violence.  We cannot continuously talk to the women and say you should stay in a home where you are being oppressed, where you are being hit every day, where Gender-Based Violence happens, where your children are being abused, where your children are actually sent for marriage at a tender age without providing a place for that woman to go.  It is not enough for that woman to say go and report to the police because obviously if the police have no safe shelter, that person will have to go back to the perpetrator and you know what that means.  So, the issue of safe shelters is critical because we want the Gender-Based Violence victims and survivors to be able to go somewhere where they will be looked after, where they know their children are safe, where they know they can work and if they want to sell their wares there is a market.  We have already started working on that.

 To date, we have established 23 safe shelters in this country through the Government of the Second Republic.    Hon. Members in your areas, you can visit these safe shelters, we have one in Muzarabani, Mbire, Murehwa, Buhera, Bocha, Mutare, Mutasa, Hurungwe, Masvingo, Bikita, Gutu, Mwenezi, Mazowe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Gwanda, Tsholotsho, Hwange, Gokwe, Chivhu, Umzingwane and Bubi.  Our target Hon. Senators, is to have that shelter in each of the administrative districts of our country.  So we are working hard, we have 61 districts and the Ministry is working hard to make sure that our district officers are well equipped in terms of being mobile so that at least where they hear a cry of a woman being abused, a child who is being abused can go there and help.  So these are the works which your Ministry is doing.

          I agree with you Hon. Senators, it is therefore crucial that the Government dedicates resources to the running of safe shelters and supports these operations from the fiscus to ensure sustainability and continuity of service if support from partners is no longer available.  Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo, so we need that sustainability.

Whilst I am at this stage, please allow me to thank the Hon. Senators for the vibrant debate at the pre-budget workshop where we saw Members of Parliament talking with passion about increasing the budget of the Ministry in charge of the people, the Ministry in charge of SMEs and Community Development.  I want to thank you for that.

Mr. President, the other concern that was raised in this House is the recommendation that the Government strengthen the GBV council so that it can launch a task force to assess institutional responses, Gender-Based Violence, and key gaps.  Hon. Members, allow me first to clarify that there is no legal framework that provides for the establishment of the GBV council but instead, the Domestic Violence Act provides for the establishment of the anti-domestic violence council.  The Domestic Violence Act is administered by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  My Ministry will be engaging the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to map a way forward about constituting and operationalising the council to ensure that it carries its statutory mandate. 

Another issue was raised in this august House and I am going to respond to all.  About the recommendations that the Government strengthen measures to prevent GBV, protect women and prosecute cases, the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry, developed a High-level Political Compact on ending GBV and harmful practices.  This Compact was signed by our President Dr. E.D Mnangagwa together with other stakeholders including UN agencies, donors, independent commissions, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, and religious leaders.  The Compact presents commitment from the highest office towards ending Gender-Based Violence and harmful practices. 

In addition, the Ministry has reviewed the national strategy for Gender-Based Violence.  This document gives strategic guidance and enhances the coordination of programmes on GBV.  The Ministry is running prevention and response programmes to Gender-Based Violence.  Some of the prevention programmes include awareness campaigns on GBV and child marriages, conducting dialogues with traditional and some religious leaders, promoting the economic empowerment of women and girls and male engagement sessions. 

Hon. Senators, it is critical to empower the women and this is our mandate.  Our mandate is to make sure we empower women from the grassroots level. Yes, through many interventions, we do that through funding but before you even avail, whether it is a loan to a woman, you need to give them skills and business entrepreneurship skills and this is what the Ministry is doing.  We are happy you all know that after that debate during the debate sessions, a little more was put into the Women Micro Finance Bank.  This is critical because when you empower a woman; I listened carefully to Hon. Sen. Fanuel, although I could not hear the whole debate because there was a technical problem here.  I think what was critical in her contribution was to say let us empower women.  When we empower women, we know that whatever cent a woman gets, will go into the family upbringing, family development, making sure the children have eaten and making sure the children have gone to school.  All this is an economic debate, it is not about women's rights only. 

As a Ministry, when we look at Gender-Based Violence, we are aware that there are also males who are also confronted with Gender-Based Violence but in terms of numbers, we know that most of the Gender-Based Violence victims are women and girls.  We are saying we are going to increase male engagement sessions; it is important and I feel that as a country, together with Members of Parliament, should all be going out there to make sure that we engage everyone and  all stakeholders to end GBV.

The boy child must know that as they are growing up in a family, her sister is capable and can do a lot of things.  It is critical to avail the same kind of time for them to do studies so that they can compete fairly as they go to school.  So these are the issues that we will be discussing as we continue to engage with women.

The establishment of one-stop centers and safe shelters to provide protection services to GBV survivors, I cannot over-emphasise that. We want a place where if a woman is being victimised, like Hon. Fanuel was saying, these men get money and go to the bar, take drugs and come home with no money for food or school.  As Government, we are looking into all those issues and I will talk about that.

However, what is important is that Gender-Based Violence survivors need a safe house to go to.  When they go to report, they should be able to talk to the police, they should be able to talk to a legal officer or a counselor.  When somebody gets violated, it does not mean they have stopped loving that person, so one needs to go through counselling, and report to police to see that justice has prevailed.  They also need to know if their children are safe and have food and shelter.  So a safe place which we are creating as a Ministry, there will be a market, a safe market so that the Gender-Based Violence victims can sell their wares, there is a creche which is well secured so that the children are well taken care of whilst they are looking for money to provide for their children. 

There is also a one-stop center where there is a counsellor, we work with a lot of CSOs, Musasa Project and many others where there is also a health person. We know all these issues issues are critical in dealing with Gender-based Violence survivors. So women’s economic empowerment is key in the prevention of GBV and child marriages. My Ministry will continue to assist women through the Women Development Fund as a way to train our women and also various income generating projects to support their livelihoods.  It is a revolving fund; it requires you as Hon. Members in your areas to help organise women in your areas so that they come together and come up with a business project proposal.  We are not given enough in terms of resources that we all know, but this is important to make sure that at least in your areas, women of the same level should come together as a consortium. 

          There are different levels in business. One who is looking for money to feed children and one who is looking for an investment to get a return on it cannot be joined. They form a consortium and go to the district officer or ward officer to make sure that they at least access this revolving Women Development Fund.   They need training in those income generating projects so that at least they support their livelihoods. 

Mr. President, concerning the recommendation that Government coordinate efforts across different sectors to end GBV and improve oversight of the police and security personnel to prevent abuse of power by providing gender responsive training, this is very critical.  Hon. Members, you may be aware that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community SME Development is the Government’s arm mandated to coordinate gender mainstreaming and women empowerment as well as GBV programming across all Government ministries as well as other stakeholders outside of State institutions in the implementation of gender equality and women empowerment programmes frameworks and action plans.

          The Ministry is decentralised and as I said before, we are very grateful because we have officers all the way to the ward level. There are ward coordinators in your wards.  We have got district coordinators in all the 10 provinces, make use of them.  The objectives of coordinating the meetings is to ensure that programmes are well coordinated.  In addition, the Ministry is in the process of revitalising the national gender mainstreaming, the gender machinery which is a key mechanism in coordinating all gender related programmes in the country.

          Mr. President, another issue of importance was raised in this Senate and I will respond to it. With regard to the recommendation on the need to increase interventions that ensure that men can comfortably report cases of GBV without facing stigma, it is important when we speak about GBV, the damage it causes to human beings whether male or what, a person living with disability, it damages a human being.  We as a Ministry, as I said, are actually upping our engagement with males Padare.  We want to understand.

          Truly speaking, when you look at the statistics today, we have more women and girls as victims of Gender-Based Violence, but we know there are men who are also being abused and we are looking at that and helping on that note.  So there are these male engagement programmes which are in place that seek to promote men and champions for ending Gender-Based Violence.  These engagements create platform for men to share their ideas.  The Ministry acknowledges that there are fewer men that are reporting cases of GBV and maybe this is emanating from some societal beliefs regarding gender violence to address these challenges, the Ministry has initiated the process of developing a male engagement strategy and this strategy will look into issues of access to services by male GBV survivors also.

          Talking about the Victim Friendly Unit, the VFU has been capacitated to support both female and male survivors of GBV in a supportive way, young men and boys are engaged through the Gota programme which was initiated by our First Lady.  This progamme enforces positive masculinity and the word is positive masculinity.  It encourages them to speak out should they fall victims to any form of abuse. 

          I agree these are opportunities where boys and men share their views and we now want to come on board even the women to talk about the evils of Gender-Based Violence, how it is detrimental to a development of a country.  A lot of people think that when we are talking about women empowerment issues, it is derogatory and it is for women.  No, it is an economic issue, if we are going to achieve vision 2030, we need to take seriously these evils of Gender-Based Violence, child marriages and all the empowerment we need to do. 

          There is another issue Hon. President, with regards to the august Senate’s concern that the Sexual Harassment Policy remains effective until enacted into an Act of Parliament.  Hon. Members, please be informed that processes are under way towards enacting a comprehensive sexual harassment and gender equality legislation.  This also emanated as a recommendation from the sixth cycle of the CEDAW Committee in which we as a country are a member.   We have to do it, it is important.

          The Ministry, in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, have drafted the principles which are being worked out at the Attorney General’s Office for consideration. Currently, it may be noted that indeed we have all these covered in several statutes such as the Criminal Code and others which might need to be harmonised to clearly address these gaps which are being highlighted.

          Mr. President, my Hon. Senators, with regards to the recommendations that the Government finalises the alignment of Gender- Based Violence related laws with the Constitution, especially child marriage laws, particularly harmonisation of the age of consent and legal age, marriage including the introduction of punitive and deterrent sentences to perpetrators of all forms of Gender-Based Violence, a very important issue indeed which was raised in this august Senate.

          Hon. Members, as you are aware, His Excellency, President Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, through Statutory Instrument 2 of 2024, has ensured that our laws are harmonised on the issue of age of consent and the legal age of marriage in an effort to protect young women and men from those who may try to sexually exploit them.  I am grateful for these positive steps we have made as a country.  As people of this country, we should applaud this Statutory Instrument that our President has put in place. This Statutory Instrument has also increased more punitive measures in an effort to deter and eradicate child marriages, Gender-Based Violence and the sexual exploitation of minors.

Mr. President, there was another issue that was raised in the Senate.  I would like to respond to it.  With regard to the recommendations that Government adopts and implements the SADC Model Law on preventing and addressing Gender-Based Violence.  Further, as we seek to review the National Action Plan and Communication Strategy on ending child marriages, our interventions will be guided by the SADC Model Law.  We are a member of SADC and it was developed by SADC.

          I move on to issues that were raised in the House which I am responding to Mr. President.  Concerning the recommendation that the Government reviews the labour laws so that sexual harassment is legally recognised and criminal sanctions and compensation provided for through the enactment of the Sexual Harassment Act; issues of Sexual Harassment Act, especially at work places, we are seized with those at the Ministry and we will be starting to carry out a number of workshops in workplaces in the public service, private sector, farms and rural areas because it is important that we stop that harassment.  It makes a woman lose her dignity.  We need to highlight and talk about it and be able to create a place where women who are sexually harassed at work report too.

          We are looking at creating a toll-free line.  Maybe it can be managed by the Gender Commission because we are seeing sexual harassment at work places.  When you report to the boss at that place, maybe that will be one of the perpetrators and so nothing will happen to him or her.  We really need to work on that one.

          Let me also say the Labour Act Amendment No. 11 of 2023 expands the provision of sexual harassment to include a clear definition of what constitutes sexual harassment.  Some people think Gender-Based Violence is just about physical violence.  Sexual harassment is Gender-Based Violence.  It is violence and when it is directed to a person, it needs to be dealt with.  So, in the context of section C of 3 and section 8 which goes further to outline that sexual harassment refers to a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices, I think this goes to what Hon. Shiri was talking about, even using derogatory language is harassment.  Threats are harassment, whether they are a single occurrence or occur many times.  These are harassments, so we need to look at all that.

          What is the result of these harassments?  What is the result of this Gender-Based Violence?  Physically, psychologically, sexual or economic harm includes Gender-Based Violence and harassment, so we take sexual harassment as part of Gender-Based Violence.

          Through this amendment, the perpetrator of sexual harassment may face civil law suits and criminal charges depending on the severity of the harassment.  It is important to note that the specific legal consequences may vary depending on the nature and circumstances of the harassment.  My Ministry continues to engage key line ministries, you Members of Parliament and other stakeholders, to ensure that sexual harassment is dealt with.

          Mr. President, with regards to the issue that the Treasury adequately fund the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Small to Medium Enterprises Development so that it can perform its mandate effectively, we are so very grateful once again.  I really have to say this,  I saw a very spirited debate.  It was robust and I think the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion listened very well to the debate which was carried here by a lot of Hon. Members.

          Hon. Senators, we did not get enough to carry out this mandate we are talking about, but we got something and of course for that, we thank you.  Hon. Senators, particularly at this point, I want to thank our Committee especially the Hon. Chair.  I also want to thank Hon. Shiri who raised the debate to a certain level for the need for the Ministry to be empowered.  I want to thank specifically Hon. Sen. Mbohwa as the Caucus Chair for the work you did and the passion which you have been really getting out within the House and outside.  That is appreciated.

          Let me assure you Hon. Members, all those who debated before and today, your efforts will not go in vain.  As your Ministry, we will increase our drive towards increasing safe spaces, addressing an increasing Gender-Based Violence awareness and empowering and uplifting women and communities and we are talking here of both women and men and not leaving, in particular women and people living with disabilities.

          Mr. President, another concern was raised in this House.  The concern was the recommendation that there is need to address human trafficking as a form of Gender-Based Violence as women and girls are being exploited and subjected to all types of Gender-Based Violence because of the push and pull factors which are present in our societies.  This is happening through internal trafficking or external trafficking.

          Hon. Senators, the strategy to prevent and address Gender-Based Violence which I talked about, 2023 up to 2030, identifies human trafficking as an emerging form of GBV which is also very complex in nature and requires the Government to employ effective strategies through a multi-sectoral approach.  The department of Immigration has gone a step ahead in setting up a GBV toll-free line to assist victims of human trafficking and this can be accessed by Zimbabwean citizens who might find themselves in such a predicament.  As leaders, we need to trickle down this information.

          Our embassies abroad and regionally, have also been instrumental in supporting victims to find their way back.  Our Parliament has been very instrumental in bringing back our people as seen in 2021 when at least 100 trafficked victims were repatriated home.  So the work you do has actually found these results, bringing 100 people who had been trafficked.  That is a lot of work which our Parliament and our stakeholders have been doing.

          Before I conclude, I think it is proper for me just to mention, I know I have responded to a lot of the issues which were raised by the four who debated the motion today.  Hon. Hungwe, on the the drug issue.  True is it exacerbating Gender-Based Violence and this is why the Government is not taking it lightly.  That is why an Inter-Ministerial Task Force was formed and is being led at a very high level by the Minister of Defence.  That task force brings in stakeholders like religious leaders, that is the church and the traditional leaders, our revered chiefs.  They come and we are talking to say, how do we stop this?  We can see a whole generation being destroyed.  How do we safeguard our borders which have become so porous?  How do we teach our children in the home?  How do we deal with child-headed families where there is no one to give them the right direction? These are issues which the Government is dealing with through that Inter-Ministerial Task Force.

          Hon. Shiri, I think you emphasised that every human being is the same.  We have all our rights enshrined in the Constitution, which is the supreme law of this country.  It is only fair to make sure that those rights are upheld and when they are trampled upon, action should be taken.  We have a very good Constitution which enshrines a lot of good provisions about women, but I think it is about time that we work hard for implementation of each and every section in that Constitution.

          It is important to come up with Braille so that those who are not able to hear what is going on, they can be able to read.  All these are issues we are all working together.  Empowerment issues are all for women, I talked about that.  Women should benefit from affirmative action.  You cannot run away from it.  The fact is, women were doubled or trebled oppression before independence, oppressed in their homes, oppressed in the community, oppressed by the colonialists.  What we are happy about are the policies of the Revolutionary Party that after attaining independence of this country, we educate the girl child.  We have to make sure that, that effort and those policies, we actually receive the benefits from them. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          We have seen zvipo hazvinzi ndezve vakomana kana ndezve vasikana.  Every child, boy or girl is born with some talents and as mothers, we continue to teach them, please harness those talents, help them to come out.  They will change this country.  We need each and everyone to bring this country to Vision 2030 of Upper Middle-Income Economy.  I think Hon. Fanuel, I have answered to what you were talking about, the issue of pregnant mothers who are suffering.  The issue of refusing to go with them and the violence around that.  I want to say, as I conclude, it is evident, truly effective and comprehensive measures are essential in addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV).  As a Ministry, we are committed to work in collaboration with all other stakeholders. Specifically, with you Members of Parliament, to ensure the enactment of laws, provision of services and implementation of awareness programmes to combat GBV and achieve positive social and cultural change. 

I want to end by thanking Hon. Sen. Mbohwa for raising such an important motion in this august House.  I also want to thank all Senators who have actually debated this important issue.  I thank you.

          THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you very much Hon. Minister.  This is exactly what we expect.  We expect the relevant Ministers to come and respond to debates related to their ministries. It gives all of us encouragement to continue bringing up motions because we know we will have responses.  In this instance, thank you once again Hon. Minister Mutsvangwa.  You did not only do what is expected of you as a Minister, but you really showed that you have some passion over such type of motion that was brought in here.  I want to make a clarion call to all other Ministers, whose ministries are related to motions that are being discussed here to follow suit. 

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

          HON. SEN. GOTORA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th February, 2024.

MOTION

PROGRAMMES TO CURB DRUG AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE BY YOUTHS

          Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on drug and substance abuse by youths.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to support the motion on drug and substance abuse.  I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Dube for bringing this very important motion which has caused havoc in our country.  Over the past 20 years, there has been a 40% increase in drug and substance abuse worldwide. According to statistics by Accountability Laboratory, Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to experience an additional 40% increase by 2024. 

          However, it is worrisome to note that Zimbabwe has the highest number of 15 to19 year olds in Sub-Saharan Africa who engage in episodic drinking, which is about 70% among men and 55% among women according to the research.  Patients in mental health institutions admitted for drug and substance abuse reported in Zimbabwe were about 60% of the total patients in 2023.  Madam President, allow me to appreciate His Excellency the President, Hon. E. D. Mnangagwa, who instigated the development of the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan on Treatment and Rehabilitation Guidelines of Alcohol and Substance Disorder in Zimbabwe, through an Inter-Ministerial Committee.

          The Master Plan provides a comprehensive and integrated approach to tackle substance abuse in the country.  The plan establishes a coordinated, inclusive, holistic response to drug abuse and pursues three broad objectives to:

  • Reduce demand
  • Reduce harm and
  • Reduce supply

The treatment and rehabilitation guidelines focus on infrastructure development, support groups and patient care.

          However, while we have talked the talk on addressing drug and substance abuse through policies, some of the key challenges that have the potential to undermine Government efforts include limited public access to information on the nature and extent of substance use in the country and the slow implementation of the Master Plan and the Treatment and Rehabilitation Guidelines. The slow implementation of the Treatment and Rehabilitation Guidelines has left two significant problems unaddressed which are;

  • Limited specialist treatment facilities

Public health treatment specialists which results in high patient-staff ratio.

          The state of mental health professionals in Zimbabwe is as follows:

Registered mental health nurses

Psychiatrists

Clinical psychologists

Clinical social workers

Occupational therapists

917

17

6

13

10

Source: Accountability Laboratory

          Madam President, it is against this background that the Government should:

Develop and adopt a national monitoring system

This monitoring system should provide accurate and timely information on progress toward realising the goals set in the Master Plan and implementing related policy statements. The creation of a National Monitoring System is also in line with the broad objective of the National Strategic Plan for Mental Health Services in Zimbabwe, which advances the need for the formation of a mental health research database compiling all research done on mental health issues nationally and  coordination of relevant national studies on pertinent mental health issues.

Improve public access to information on progress in implementing the Master Plan.

          Systematic and speedy implementation of the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan (ZNSMP) as well as increasing public awareness on this instrument and all other existing plans and programmes designed underway to curb drug and substance abuse.

-        A shift in response from a heavily legalistic approach towards public health accountability and human centered approach that increased the uptake of treatment services and promotes healthy living, especially among the youths. This entails a dial-down on the criminalisation of some elements of drug and substance abuse in the country’s various laws to ease the challenges and increase the chances of young people seeking help when they suffer from substance use disorders.

Parliament should also consider prioritising the review and straightening of the Dangerous Drugs Act (Chapter 15:02) and the Criminal law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) in line with international standards. This should include more recent drugs such as methamphetamine (guka/mutoriro or dombo). The ambiguity arising from Schedule II of the Dangerous Drug Act with regards to the scientific debate on what constitutes methamphetamine and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and the Interpretation that the former is not a listed dangerous drug as it is distinct from the latter, should be addressed to expressly include crystal meth (mutoriro) and remove the undesired technical leeway that offenders take advantage of to be freed drug during appreciation and prosecution conducted by officers of the law.  According to Accountability Lab, drug peddlers are released on minor technicalities because existing laws do not name new types of drugs on the market.

As I conclude, allow me to mention that drug abuse is a growing public health and security problem not only in Zimbabwe but regionally and all over the world. There is therefore, urgent need for a holistic approach to protect our youths from the drug abuse pandemic, in particular declaring it a national state of disaster.

THE MINISTER OF WOMEN AFFAIRS, COMMUNITY AND SME (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th February, 2024.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF WOMEN AFFAIRS, COMMUNITY AND SMALL TO MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA), the Senate adjourned at Twenty-Two Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.

 

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