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SENATE HANSARD 15 DECEMBER 2022 VOL 32 NO 7

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 15th December, 2022.

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: We are supposed to be having Question Time but it seems there is not even a single Minister.  I do not know how we can proceed.

MOTION

CONSTRUCTION OF SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE AND RECRUITMENT OF ECD TEACHERS

First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on challenges affecting early child learning.

Question again proposed.

*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President for affording me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion raised by Hon. Sen. Mabika.  She raised very pertinent points on problems faced by early childhood learners (ECDs).  The White government did not want the Black majority to be educated.  They did not want to establish ECD centres in primary schools because of their colonial mindset. 

          We want to thank His Excellency, Dr. Emmerson Mnangagwa, for his vision, where he stated that we are going to have free education as a country.  We really thank him very much because it will enable many people to go to school, especially those who live in rural areas.  Let me say ECDs are very important, if a child graduates from ECD, going to grade one, the teacher will not face problems because they would have been groomed to be in school.  If a child did not attend ECD, some of them will be crying, some will dodge school and some of them will not be participating.  They will be afraid because it will be their first time to meet with many people but the formation of ECDs helps to prepare the children for their education.

          This will help us a lot because His Excellency has got a vision that we want to have free education in the country.  We expect that Government is going to plan this initiative to become a success.  I also think that in this country, we have got many primary schools but some of them do not have ECDs.  The Government should work towards making sure that each and every primary school has ECD, so that all young learners attend the ECD; the preparatory stage.

          If one primary school does not have ECD and the others have, it will affect the children because they will be forced to walk long distances to go to a school which has ECD.  We take pride in what His Excellency said, we are going to have free education in the country.  We also expect that Government in those ECD centres - we know that we come from different family backgrounds.  May Government also consider re-introducing the feeding programmes so that those ECD learners are fed whilst they are at school?  Providing food at school helps them to attend and like school and there would not be segregation among them.

          I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Mabika for raising this pertinent motion.  We love ECDs Madam President because they really help us.  Parents will also see that education is very important.  Thank you Madam President for awarding me this opportunity. 

          *HON. SEN. CHINAKE:  Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion that was raised by Hon. Sen. Mabika.  Indeed Mr. President, we know and we see that ECD is good.  Our children used to go to the fields to play with mud and now we have taken them for ECD.  Some were herding cattle but now we know the good of ECD and we understand their potential from a tender age.  Some can now read from one up to twenty and from Grade One, they will know how to read.

          It is a good thing that we did as Zimbabweans to support ECD.  Madam President, my desire is that this thing that is happening with ECD should continue up to higher grades.  From Grade One to Seven it is only extra lessons.  Most parents who are in towns are paying for extra lessons.  In rural areas, you find that those who cannot afford to pay school fees can also not afford to pay for extra lessons.  I wish that this is not extended to ECD.  Looking at the whole country, corruption level in schools is astounding.  You find teachers dismissing students and those who pay for extra lessons are taught. 

          Madam President, this trend is continuing.  Because of        WhatsApp platforms, you find people having exam papers and nothing is happening.  Those who go to school are not taught because they do not go for extra lessons.  You find students buying exam papers, reading and sharing material.  When they go for exams, the exam would have leaked already.  This is killing the standard of education in Zimbabwe.  Our standards were high the world-over.  Zimbabwe was renowned for good education.  Now the leaking of exams and other things is being published throughout the world and people are receiving that bad image.  Those who are responsible for examinations should be replaced so that new people who have high ethics are employed.  You will find that sometimes there is no solution.  This was happening in a few corners but it is now found in Grade 7, O’ Level, A’ Level and university level.  You will find even people phoning that I want this degree.  Madam President, this is not good for the country.  Our students should go to school and they should learn.  Those who pass should pass and those who fail should fail.  This is what is supposed to happen.  Those who fail can repeat.  Right now, the standard is not good, so my plea is that our exam papers should be guarded jealously so that the standard is not compromised.  Those who do not have money and cannot go for extra lessons cannot buy exam papers.  This is affecting families.  Madam President, thank you for the few words. 

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU:  Thank you Madam President for affording me the opportunity to share a few words regarding the motion that was moved by Hon. Sen. Mabika on ECD.  I remember in the 70s when we went to school, we were told to touch the other ear.  If you could not reach it, then you would be disqualified but if you managed to do that you would go to school.  We thank our Government which allows ECD education and the training of children from an elementary age. 

My plea is that in different areas, children should not walk long distances.  They should travel at least one kilometer considering the satchels that they carry with their lunch boxes.  Considering the distance and weight of the satchels, this might be too big for the child.  This might affect even the back of the child permanently.  This is quite pertinent that ECD should proliferate in different corners of the country.  Those who are qualified to open such schools should do so.  The schools should be capacitated so that young children go to school.

Some do not graduate for ECD because they do not have enough resources.  You will find an ECD child wearing a gown like yours Madam President.  At Grade 7, Form 4 and Form 6 there is no gown but at college or university.  This means that ECD is as important as other levels and this is elementary education.  When they graduate, this boosts their confidence.  ECD education should be brought closer to homes so that young children are protected from sexual abuse.  Some are enticed by lolli--pops and other things and maybe drugged behind bushes whilst they are molested.  This is bad behaviour.  So ECD schools should be brought closer to residential areas.  I thank you Madam President. 

*HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: Thank you Madam President, it has been long since we last saw you.  I hope you have brought some goodies from where you were because we have not seen you in a long time.  I thank you for this motion which was moved by Hon. Sen. Mabika regarding ECD education.  I believe this is the framework that is needed because elementary education is the foundation for all.  When a child goes to ECD, there is a difference with the one who spends most of the time at home.  They are taught different ethics, the difference between good and bad and how they express themselves and this is different from those who are at home.  

At home, they mix with other children in the streets who teach them bad manners but at ECD, they are taught to write their names and do other things.  You will see the difference when they go for Grade 1, those who did not attend ECD struggle to write their names.  This means that going for ECD makes it easier for Grade 1 teachers because they are not starting from basics.  Some parents might think that the teacher is not concentrating on their children; that is not the case because you will find that a child who is disadvantaged from an elementary level might not perform well because it might take them time to catch up.  From ECD, they are trained so that when they go for Grade 1, it will be easier for the teachers to teach them.  I would also like to say that ECD education must be affordable; it must not be beyond the reach of parents because of the exorbitant fees charged.  School fees for ECD education should be affordable because it is difficult to raise money.

I appreciate this motion because it is quite important and this is the foundation which is needed in education just like in marriage or in anything else.  This is an important foundation; we grew up differently.  When we went for Grade 1, we did not know how to write our names. Our teachers pinched our ears, it was allowed that time but now it is not allowed to beat children or pinch children’s ears.  ECD schools must be built so that we have many learning facilities.  

In rural areas, you will find that students walk long distances to school. When they get to school, they will be tired or hungry and sometimes the parents would not have prepared them enough food.  For some who would have prepared their children food, the food sometimes is eaten by other bully children and they will spend the whole day hungry.  Parents must take notice when their children leave home to school, especially ECD children. Sometimes you find that children will be putting on big shoes and this makes it difficult for them to walk.  Sometimes they will be wearing oversized uniforms and one can see that the children are having difficulty in walking to school.  Let us work hard so that our children attend ECD in a conducive environment that is near to their residential area.  It is good for the parents to know that their children are safe at school. If they walk long distances, they will be raped, abused and in rural areas, they can be attacked by animals.  It is quite important that ECD education be capacitated.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHISOROCHENGWE: Thank you Madam President. I do not have much to say but I will contribute a few words that I have. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mabika for moving this motion, which is quite an important motion which teaches people a lot. Looking at the past when we were growing up, for one to go to school, they were supposed to touch their ear using the opposite hand.  Now things are different, they now use date of births, birth certificates for children to qualify to go to school.  There were some children who were short and could not manage to touch their ear with the opposite hand and they had to go to school at an advanced age than their tall counterparts.  I want to thank those who introduced the early childhood learning because it makes it easy for teachers to teach children when they go for Grade 1 because the basic things would have been taught at ECD level. 

My request is that ECD school owners should peg their fees at affordable rates so that every parent can afford to take their children to ECD.  Exorbitant fees prohibit other parents from taking their children to ECD.  The other thing is that elementary education should be free. Some pay US dollars at ECD and they continue to pay in US at primary and secondary education. I want to thank the Government now that education is free for every child, all children will have access to free education. 

The other thing is that Government schools must have ECD classes so that they start from ECD to Grade 1.  Children do not have to change schools, they must do Grade 1 where they did their ECD because this will be like starting in a new environment learning new things all together and it will affect children.  In rural areas, you will find that it is difficult for children to go to ECD because the learning centres are far away from where they live.  The request is that those in the rural areas must be learning at centres that are near their homesteads because these days, there are a lot of rape cases and all sorts of bad things that are happening to children. With these few words, I thank you Hon. President.

*HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: Thank you Madam President for giving me the opportunity to add a few words to this pertinent motion raised by Hon. Sen. Mabika; a lot has been said indeed. When we were growing up, birth certificates were not there, so schools just estimated the ages of children.  You were expected to touch the other ear and if you failed to do that, you stayed at home until you could.  However, this was a good period because people had strong relations; people lived and understood the extended families.  Children were safe because they were considered to be everyone’s child.  Madam President, the unfortunate part is that now even when parents go to work, it is quite tricky to leave children alone at home.  So ECD education comes at an opportune time. However, it should also be accessible to every child but the pricing of fees sometimes is beyond the reach of other parents.  This eliminates children of those parents who do not have the capacity to take their children to school.

Madam President, this is a time of the post land reform where you find resettlement areas where there are no schools. These areas need support and we request that Government should ensure that ECD schools are put in such resettlement areas because some ECD schools are not registered and their curriculum is different from the approved curriculum.  Government should go and visit such places so that they are certain that all ECD schools comply with the 5.1 curriculum.

There should be teachers who are trained to teach children because some of us, if we are asked to go and teach our children, you would find that you cannot teach a four year old child, failing even to apply the method which is needed.  There is need to support special ECD teachers and the schools should be reviewed so that health issues are complied with because if an ECD school is not registered and it does not comply with the prescribed standards, you will find that children are exposed to different diseases.  As a grandmother I know that grandchildren go to school and when they go for ECD, they can come back with illnesses.  If statistics are carried out, you would find that some are taking diseases from ECDs.  There is need for inspection.  The Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and other departments should be involved so that we ensure the safety of our children so that as they go to school, they go to schools which comply.

We attended Sub A and Sub B.  Maybe that was the ECD, I do not know, but at the moment, what children are learning at ECD are things that are complicated which we did not learn when we were growing up.  So it is important that we understand that there are some bad things they take from ECD.  Even for resettled areas, they should be afforded the opportunity to go to school so that when health centres are being set;  I believe when the President was presenting the State of the Nation Address, looking at health, he mentioned that there is a Government programme which is meant to empower different health institutions to make them better so that even in the communities, there are health centres which we know even before independence were responsible for helping people with different health issues.  ECDs should be next to health centres so that we train children at the same time having access to health centres because when there is an emergency, teachers should be empowered to know what to do when children fall ill at ECD schools where there is a clinic or health centre nearby, then it is good for them.

We have heard that there was a polio and measles outbreak.  So you would find that those who are at home at times do not have access to health facilities but those who are at ECD might be found to be at an advantage because we know that most ECD schools take under five year olds.  ECD should be prioritised like any other primary, secondary and university education centres.  Children should be taught even the history of our country from a tender age.  The syllabus or the curriculum which is approved by Government should be applied to ECD so that it opens their minds to enlighten them about the history of Zimbabwe and the future that we envision.

Teachers should be trained and ECD centres should be inspected and the compliance standards in terms of the numbers of children because when there are many children in a small place, this might expose them to different diseases.  So if they know that there are prescribed fees that are allowed by Government, you will find parents paying a lot of money for ECD, more than those that go to university.  Indeed, this is happening.  This is true but you find parents complaining that the pricing of fees is not fair.  You will find some paying as much as US$300, US$500 at ECD.  This is too much.  This is elitist.  This is for those who have money only and those who do not have are disadvantaged.  So we want to appreciate the free education policy which should be extended to ECD because what a child is trained at ECD is very important.  This is a good foundation which would help them as they grow up.

This is quite a pertinent motion which I want to appreciate the Hon. Senator who raised the motion.  ECD should be under Government in terms of regulation.  You will find that someone might see that their house is big and they do not have young children and so they just bring children into their houses and the standards are not good and they are not certified by Government to do that.  With those few words, I want to thank you Madam President for affording me the opportunity to contribute to this pertinent issue which is important to Zimbabwe and which is important to the young pupils who we look forward to be attending ECD.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MABIKA:  Thank you Madam President.  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 20th December, 2022.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I move that Order of the Day, Number 2 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day Number 3 has been disposed of.  I thank you.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE PROTOCOL TO THE CONSTITUTIVE ACT OF THE AFRICAN UNION RELATING TO THE PAN AFRICAN PARLIAMENT

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I move the motion standing in my name that:-

WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any Convention, Treaty or Agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President with one or more foreign States of governments or international organisations shall be subject to approval by Parliament;

WHEREAS the AU Assembly adopted the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan-African Parliament at its Twenty-Third Ordinary Session of the Assembly, held in Malabo Equatorial Guinea on the 27th of June, 2014;

WHEREAS the Republic of Zimbabwe signed the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan-African Parliament on the 21st of March, 2018;

 WHEREAS the Protocol continues in existence, the Pan-African

Parliament as established by the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament and defines the composition, functions, powers and organisation of the Pan-African Parliament;

  WHEREAS the Republic of Zimbabwe is desirous of ratifying the Protocol;

        AND WHEREAS Article 22 of the Protocol provides that the Protocol shall be ratified by member States in accordance with their respective constitutional procedures;

  NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Protocol be and is hereby approved.  I so move Madam President.

HON. SEN. S. MPOFU:  Thank you Madam President.  Even though I support the ratification of the said protocol relating to the Pan African Parliament, I have a question to the Minister. Why does it take long for these protocols to be brought before Parliament for ratification?  I think someone is sleeping on duty because it is an embarrassment to us as a country that we now have an elected President who is from this country yet we have not signed the protocol.  Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira has been elected to be the President of Pan African Parliament but we have not signed the protocol.  That is my question to the Minister, otherwise I am in total support of the ratification.  I thank you. 

*HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: Thank you Madam President for giving me an opportunity to add my voice on the Malabo Protocol.  Indeed, I concur with the last speaker and I want to ask why we were late.  If we were listening when the President spoke during the SONA, he spoke about the legislative agenda, the business we are supposed to conclude including ratification of protocols – I am not saying that it is good but I am saying that there are a lot of issues, there is a lot of business which should be done within the limited time which is left for the life of this Parliament.  I want to thank the Hon. Minister of Justice for bringing this protocol to the House so that we work on it.  This is our responsibility as legislators so that we understand what needs to be ratified and the Bills that need to be enacted.  As legislators, we need to push so that this is expedited. 

The Constitution says that women and men should be at 50:50 be it in Parliament, Cabinet, parastatals, et cetera. The question is; we are in this august House and as Senators, why did we not push for that to be enacted as an Act of Parliament?  We can question Ministers so that these issues are brought to Parliament.

Madam President, let me go back to Malabo… 

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Senator, you had confused the Senate by digressing.

*HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA:  Thank you Madam President.  It is our responsibility and it is up to us, we need to push, that is what I was trying to say.   Madam President, as a novel idea, the Malabo Protocol will take quite sometime. I believe that the Minister should have informed us about the nations which have ratified that protocol.  So, for it to be effective, we need to understand that there are so many countries which have ratified.  Some of the people were looking at how the Malabo Protocol will help Zimbabwe. There are things which were supposed to be fixed before we ratify the protocol and this takes time. Sometimes it is embarrassing that we were saying that we want to campaign for our candidate for PAP then we would be asked whether we had ratified the Malabo Protocol but we had not ratified it.  We wanted our representative to be the President of PAP.  Malabo Protocol is the one which talks about rotation and after looking really at it, now we have the President of PAP being a Zimbabwean.  It is our responsibility together with the President, Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira, to make sure that every nation has ratified including Zimbabwe.   Zimbabwe had to review and go through the protocol so that we understand and after understanding, some things needed to be worked on.  The final position is that the Minister is here with the Malabo Protocol in this House and I believe that we have read it and we need to appreciate that since the PAP presidency is headed by a Zimbabwean and it makes the President of PAP Chief Charumbira to be seen in good light, so let us ratify the protocol.  It is good for the different economic roles, ECOWAS and other initiatives; this will allow us to grow in terms of trade relations and it will unite AU and AU will be recognised as being law abiding.  We have heard that we are now going to ratify the Malabo Protocol. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity. I want to thank the Minister for bringing the Malabo Protocol which needs to be ratified. I want to join the former speakers.  Hon. Minister, we want you to go back and bring the different legislative documents which have not been brought to the House, which need to be ratified.

          Now that you are the new Minister and you are responsible for the Ministry, may you bring them to the House so that we join and become one families with other countries.  I want to support the importance of the Malabo Protocol because as Africa, it takes us back to what was said by the late Kwame Nkrumah who was talking about Africa as one country; one nation.  This is a dream.  We have Pan African Parliament which fulfills Kwame Nkrumah’s dream because during his era, there was no Pan African Union but it is there now.  These are strides that we are taking to unite Africa so that Africa becomes one.

          This is not amazing because America is an amalgamation of different counties; 54 counties which united to make one nation.  Europe is taking the same direction because they want to build one union.  So as Africa, we must not be left behind because in our unity as Africans, there is power that we get that we do not have if we are divided.  This might cascade down to different nations; we are a big country; we are a big continent which is rich.  All the wealth is in Africa.  We are divided by those who have interest in our mineral resources who are greedy for plundering platinum, diamond, land, water and sun so that they use in their continents. 

          As we move in the right direction as Africa, after a few years from now, this is going to end and this would allow us to have one Government and one Parliament.  So, I want to support this protocol so that it is ratified for the benefit of Africa.  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam President.  I want to thank the Hon. Senators for the debate as well as the support to ensure that we ratify the Malabo Protocol.  I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mpofu and indicate that there is no one who was sleeping on duty.  In fact Madam President, when His Excellency took over, he then undertook to ensure that we become part of the global nations. 

          Hon. Senators will recall that we then brought in what we call the International Treaties Bill, which is now an Act to ensure that we have a legal framework on how we ratify and monitor the treaties that we are part to.  When we did that, you also agree that if you go and check the record of the last three or four years, we have ratified several treaties.  We brought in a lot of them, bilateral treaties, some of them that were signed early years of independence; we brought all of them for ratification. 

          I want to also concur with Hon. Sen. Mupfumira that when a treaty is acceded or signed by His Excellency, we then need to ensure that it passes through all our domestic processes of approval. The reason why we do that is, we want to ensure that the best interests of the nation are catered for.  You will realise that some of the treaties, we can even ratify with reservations, to say we agree with everything else but this particular article, we are expressing our reservations so that we are not bound by it. 

          So, these processes are done through the various Cabinet Committees, even the process of bringing it to the Senate or to Parliament, is for Hon. Members to highlight certain issues that they may feel are detrimental to our interests.  Once they are highlighted, it will allow His Excellency when he is sending the Minister of Foreign Affairs to deposit the instrument, to say but we are making reservations on this.  So it is not automatic that once a treaty has been signed, it must be brought and immediately it should be ratified.  There are processes that are done and ultimately leading to Parliament approving.  So, I want to agree.

          If you look at the Article, 34 AU member States have ratified; out of 55.  So we still have some but admittedly Hon. Senators, it was a bit of an embarrassment that we have our own at the helm when we have not ratified the protocol and we felt that let us prioritise it.  Hence we decided to deal with it this side of the year.  I agree with Hon. Sen. Komichi, when he said we must ratify more protocols.  That is our desire but we also want to ensure that they pass all the legal processes that are needed before they are tabled before Parliament.  The desire of His Excellency is, we must abide by all the regulations and the rules that bind us internationally.  He is an advocate of the rule of law, so we are going to do our best to ensure that all the necessary articles, protocols or treaties are ratified now that we have a legal framework also that we have put in place.  Having said that Madam President, I move that this House resolve to approve the Malabo Protocol.  I thank you. 

          Motion put and agreed to.

          On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the Senate adjourned at Twenty-Three Minutes to Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 20th December, 2022.

 

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