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SENATE HANSARD 13 JUNE 2013 VOL. 22 NO. 25

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 13th June, 2013

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

PRAYERS

(THE ACTING PRESIDENT in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

THE ACTING PRESIDENT:  May I remind all hon. senators to

switch off their cellphones before commencement of business.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

      SENATOR MUMVURI:  Thank you Mr. President.  I have got

two questions to ask the Deputy Minister of Public Construction.  Can the minister update this Senate on the building of the new Parliament, especially since the next coming Parliament is going to have more members than we have today?  The second question is, what is the policy of the ministry on the already existing and dilapidated buildings that are owned by the State?  They seem to be in a dilapidated condition.  Most of them have lifts and many other functions that are not operating.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (SENATOR

GEORGIAS):  The first question about the new Parliament - yes, there is a site allocated for the construction of a new Parliament and my ministry was tasked to put plans in place in order to build the new Parliament but unfortunately, this project was later taken away and given to the Ministry of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development.  So, we just have to wait for the Ministry of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development to come up with a plan on who is going to be the contractor or maybe, the ministry will do the construction.  That is the best I can tell this Senate.

On the second question – yes, there are a lot of dilapidated houses and we are doing our best to keep all Government houses in good shape.  We are also trying to renovate some which we can afford to but as you know there is a scarcity of resources.  It is a serious problem because we have over 550 partially finished projects which we cannot complete.  It is really a problem as far as finance is concerned and we are also having quite a bit of a problem with some tenants who rent property from the Government.  They do not pay on time.  I thank you.

SENATOR MANDABA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I would like

to find out from the minister, hospitals used to have a handy man and now everything has to be done by the Ministry of Public Works.  A lot of equipment is being dumped outside hospitals when sometimes it just needs a screw.  Is it not very expensive to wait for construction instead of maintaining whatever they have?  I have also noted that at the DA’s offices, a lot of boxes I think they were the old voting boxes, are lying outside.  Could these not be made use of?  I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (SENATOR

GEORGIAS): What is happening at the moment, like I mentioned earlier, is the scarcity of resources.  Each ministry that has finances of its own, tasks the Ministry of Public Works to repair or renovate that building and they pay by themselves.  They buy the material and we just go in and do the labour work and rectify whatever has got to be repaired.  Mpilo Hospital and Parirenyatwa Hospital, for instance, they put projects out there and we had to engage our professionals to build houses for the doctors.  The financing of the projects came from the hospitals.  Thank you.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT:  Just to remind you that we have

two deputy ministers in the Senate, that is the Deputy Minister of Public Works and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

SENATOR MOHADI:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question

goes to the Deputy Minister of Public Works.  I want to ask about the construction of the houses that were left 4 to 5 years ago in Beitbridge and are now a sorry sight.  What are you doing about them?  I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (SENATOR

GEORGIAS):  Sorry Mr. President, I never heard the question clearly.

SENATOR MOHADI:  The question is - what are you doing

about the houses that were built in Beitbridge and were left half finished and now it is taking about 4 to 5 years to complete them?  Everything is just at a standstill.

SENATOR GEORGIAS:  Like I said, because of scarcity of

resources, we have about 550 projects which are partially finished, maybe this could be one of them.  There is no money and that is the truth.  The Government cannot finance all these projects unless donor funding comes in and puts up money in order to finish some of these projects, otherwise we have a serious problem with finance.  Thank you.

SENATOR DETE:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question is, we have got the main Harare Post Office which is now like a white elephant.  Does the Government have plans about it?

THE ACTING PRESIDENT:  To which ministry are you

directing the question - the Ministry of Public Works?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (SENATOR

GEORGIAS):  I am not so sure about this Post Office that you are talking about hon. senator but I know we have got a few empty buildings which we are finding very difficult to find tenants for them.  Take for instance the Quality International Hotel, we have a problem of finding a suitable tenant because you cannot just go around and pick up any tenant.  Everybody wants to rent the property, but they cannot pay.  They will give you flowery proposals of what they can do, but when it comes to paying rentals they are unable to pay up.  Some of these tenants owe up to $250 000 in rental arrears and we have problems collecting the money from them.  Therefore, I do not know what plans the Government has for the old post office. We may have difficulties in finding tenants for that building.  Thank you Mr. President.

SENATOR HLALO: Thank you Mr. President.  My question is

directed to the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.  We seem to be going towards a very serious drought in the country.  Are there any mitigating measures which the ministry has taken to safeguard the lives of the people who do not have an income to self sustenance?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (SENATOR MUTSVANGWA): Thank you Mr.

President.  I would like to thank Senator Hlalo for asking such a critical question at a critical time.  You are aware that Zimbabwe managed to get about 150 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia, thanks to the Zambian President, Mr. Sata and our President who negotiated the deal.  That maize has already started trickling into the country.  Provinces like Matabeleland North have already started getting the maize.

As the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, we look after the vulnerable, the poor and elderly, those who will not even be able to do

‘food for work.’  I must say that, we will get our allocation from those tonnes which come through the Ministry of Agriculture.  We also work with developmental partners like the World Food Programme (WFP) and they have been going round looking after the poor.  We would love to get more money from Treasury to make sure that we look after the most vulnerable groups.  However, as you are aware, the country is going through financial constraints and the ministry is not able to meet each and every case.  We are doing our best by working together with the Ministry of Agriculture.

SENATOR SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. President.  My question is

directed to the Deputy Minister of Public Works.  A year or so ago, we heard that Quality Hotel was being renovated so that the Members of Parliament would be accommodated.  How far have you gone with the renovations?  Is it going to be ready before we close or during the next Parliament?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (SENATOR

GEORGIAS): As hon. senators may know, Quality International Hotel was designed for rooms meant for a hotel.  In order to accommodate a certain number of Members of Parliament and hon. ministers in that place, we are trying to re-design it.  The rooms take a lot of space and accommodate a very small number of people and that is what we are trying to address.  Once that is done, the hotel will be open to all Members of Parliament and Government officials seeking accommodation in town.  Thank you Mr. President.

SENATOR MAKORE:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question

seeks policy clarification from the Minister of Housing.  I would like to find out the target group for which you are building houses.  Are you building for the Government workers only or for the public?

THE ACTING PRESIDENT: He is the Deputy Minister for Public Works not Housing.  I know he is kind enough to respond.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (SENATOR

GEORGIAS): Thank you Mr. President.  You correctly pointed out; I am not the Minister of Housing.  However, from the grapevine, I believe the Ministry of Local Government has been tasked to build houses for private people and not for Government only.

SENATOR MARAVA: Thank you Mr. President.  My question is

directed to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.  There was debate in this Senate late last year about social benefits for the ageing Zimbabwean population in the form of allowances.  I would like to know whether this programme is now operational.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL

WELFARE (SENATOR MUTSVANGWA): You are aware that the

Older Persons’ Bill went through and we are happy as a ministry that it took this long for Treasury to release some money.  We have received a little bit of money.  There is a board which looks into the individual cases of elderly people that sits and assesses how the money is disbursed.  In the Bill, there are a number of things that should be done with the elderly, how they can be helped, empowered and have dignity brought back to them.  It is almost six months since the Bill has been passed, but what has been restricting the ministry from disbursing money to the elderly was lack of funds from Treasury.  Thank you Mr.

President.

SENATOR MANDABA: Thank you Mr. President.  Mine is a

follow up to Senator Marava’s question.  Our term is coming to an end and by midnight of the 29th June, all of us will not be on a salary.  Most of us here have chronic illnesses and our medical aid cover is also coming to an end.  Are we going to be able to visit hospitals and get free medical treatment as covered by the Older Persons’ Bill?

I have another question for another minister.  When we were in

Sudan, our Ambassador was living like a pauper.  Has anything been done for Ambassadors to regularise their salaries and allowances to make them comfortable in the countries from which they work from?  Thank you Mr. President.

SENATOR MUTSVANGWA: Thank you Mr. President.  Our

Department of Social Services is mandated to provide health assistance to the vulnerable, not just the elderly but orphans, children and so on.  This has been a very difficult time for the country and the ministry in particular.  The Assistance Medical Treatment Order (AMTO) means that when an elderly person or vulnerable person is sick, we write a note advising a hospital to treat the patient free of charge.  We have been calling some hospitals so that they accept those people, but some of the hospitals are beginning to turn them away because we are running in arrears of over $2 million.  We keep on pressurising Treasury to make sure that a certain amount of money is paid towards these hospitals so that we can at least keep our good name there and our clients will get their assistance.  We still have people getting treated, there are hospitals which are still accepting AMTO, the Assistance Medical Treatment Order from the ministry but there are some hospitals which are obviously saying the bill is too high so we are fighting both sides.  We are also talking to the hospitals to accept AMTO and we are also talking to Treasury to make sure something is paid towards these arrears.  Thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (MR.

MAKHULA):  Thank you very much Mr. President for the question pertaining to the need to know the comfort directed to those ambassadors who were in  danger in that country.  I would like to direct the senator to the nature of our ministry.  Our ministry is engaged much in the movement of our President and much linking to countries that are around us.  The man speaking now is very much linked to Ambassadors in the various countries that are standing and representing us in all the countries that have interest in our country.

Right now, I am coming from the British Embassy where I came rushing for this meeting.  Anyway, about the question, allow me to go and consult from my senior and then I will come and answer the question.  That goes on to link with the Minister of Finance.  The last time we had problems outside our country befalling our Ambassadors as Government had no money to even pay those people who are out there.  I wonder if it could get enough money to solve that problem.  We are aware and really it is our interest that our people who are sent out should be comfortable, but then if our Ministry of Finance was here, we would ask if he has any plan to rescue those people outside.  I thank you.

*SENATOR MAKUYANA:  Thank you Mr. President, my

question is directed to the Minister of Labour and Social Services.  We have many companies that are failing to pay their workers; some have gone for so many months without getting their salaries.  Some of the companies, even parastatals, for example the National Railways of Zimbabwe, is failing to pay its workers.  Those workers are family people.  If you go to those companies’ index, you will find that they are making profit but they are not paying their workers.  Is there anything that is taking place in your ministry to solve these problems?  These companies include ZISCO as well and a number of other companies.

Thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (SENATOR MUTSVANGWA):  Thank you Mr.

President. We are aware of companies which are not able to meet their mandate; that is paying employees and even paying those who have retired.  The ministry is inundated by a number of workers and employees.  Every day if you come to our ministry, actually it is a very sad situation. People are being retrenched, and a lot of companies are retrenching.  The reason for retrenching is because the company is not doing well and when the company is not doing well and you are retrenching, there are workers to be paid, it is a serious dilemma.

As a ministry, we have that mandate to make sure that we bring together the employers and the employees, to make sure that at least there is that debate and we sort-of find a balance.

*THE ACTING PRESIDENT: Order, order. The Senator has

asked in our mother language (Shona), if the Minister is able to speak in Shona, we are asking her to use Shona so that the hon. Senator who has asked will fully understand.

*SENATOR MUTSVANGWA:  Thank you Mr. President.  Let

me answer Senator Makuyana for this attaching ministry which is affecting all the people and Government as well, because many companies are retrenching.  Some companies which are not retrenching or closing are struggling to pay their workers. We see it befitting that we continue dialoguing with the companies because some are taking advantage of the fact that as a country we are going through a hard time.

As a ministry, we do not have many resources for our officers to move around companies, engaging and talking to workers’ committees and the leaders so that we really find out what is going on so that we come up with a solution.  Yes it is very painful that we see people who have worked for up to 36 years in one company but when they go home for retirement, they are only given US$1 000, which is a sad story.  We see other people who are being injured during working hours but the company does nothing when they go away, this is very sad.  I want to tell this House that the Ministry of Labour, with the few resources that we have are working very hard.  If you visit our offices in the Ministry of Labour, you will find that we have so many visitors, employees and employers coming together to dialogue.  I thank you.

SENATOR MUMVURI:  My question is directed to the Deputy

Minister of Foreign Affairs.  At the Embassies out in the countries with which we have diplomatic ties, there is staff which is attached to the trade sector.  I just want to know how much trade this staff that is stationed outside generates for our country. Is it worthwhile for them to stay there or maybe is it necessary to withdraw some of them.  I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (MR.

MAKHULA):   Thank you Mr. President, this is a very good question from the hon. senator.  I think this will be best answered by those who handle the policies.  I will invite our secretary, assisted by whoever it is, who is connected with this out there.  Allow me to carry this question and then next time, I will get the answer towards this but then this should be known.  I thank you

*SENATOR MTINGWENDE: Thank you Mr President, my

question is directed to the Minister of Labour and Social Services.  When considering the vulnerable people that she talked about, is anything being done about the mission hospitals so that those who should benefit from your ministry should be assisted since it is not Government, I thank you.

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (SENATOR MUTSVANGWA):  Thank you Mr.

President, I talked about AMTO (Assistance Medical Treatment Order), which is written by the ministry to assist those who need help.  We refer people with written orders to Government hospitals but if there are others who are close to those hospitals, we write them orders so that they can be assisted.  Our main duty is to ensure that all those vulnerable people are assisted.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE SENATE

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS:   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.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE 21ST SESSION OF THE ACP-EU JOINT

PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY

Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Delegation to the 21st Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

Question again proposed:

        THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS:  Mr.

President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 18th June, 2013.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE 22ND SESSION OF THE ACP-EU JOINT

PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY

Third Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Delegation to the 22nd Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

Question again proposed

        THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS:  Mr.

President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 18th June, 2013.

      On the motion of THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC

WORKS, the Senate adjourned at Six Minutes past Three o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 18t, June, 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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