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SENATE HANSARD 15 FEBRUARY 2024 VOL 33 NO 27

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 15th February, 2024

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

PRAYERS

(THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. KAMBIZI): Hon. Members, today is Thursday and we have questions without notice.  I have got a list of apologies that I have received and the list is as follows. Hon. Sen. M. Mavhunga, Deputy Minister of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle; Hon. J. Mupamhanga, Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training; Hon. O. C. Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence; Hon. Sen. M. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Hon. J. Mhlanga, Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Hon. F. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; Hon. S. Chikomo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; Hon. K. Kazembe, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. C. Sanyatwe, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. J. Muswere, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services; Hon. O. Marupi, Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services; Hon. T. A. Mavetera, Minister of Information Communication Technology; Hon. Prof. A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and  Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; Hon. E. Moyo, Minister of Energy and Power Development, Hon. V. Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; Hon. D. Marapira, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.

          In the House, I have Hon. B. Rwodzi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality; Gen. Rtd. Brig. Mayihlome, Deputy Minister of Defence. We have only two, a number that is very disappointing but we will have to make forth with the two that we have. I am quite sure some of the Ministers will be coming in as we proceed. We have also been joined by two other Ministers of course, the most familiar one Hon. F. Mhona, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development and the Deputy Minister of Mines; Deputy Minister of War Veterans Affairs, Hon. M. Mavhunga and Mining Development, Hon. Kambamura. So we now have five Ministers in the House and in the meantime, I invite questions directed to the five Ministers that we have in the House right now.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

          HON. SEN. SHIRI: Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Tourism and Hospitality. What is your Ministry doing in promoting accessible and inclusive tourism in Zimbabwe?

          THE MINISTER OF TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY (HON. RWODZI): Thank you Mr. President and thank you very much to Hon. Sen. Shiri for the question that speaks to what the Ministry is doing for the accessibility of tourism facilities to the people living with disabilities. We have a huge understanding that 15% of the world population world-over lives with disabilities. It is an issue that has not been addressed in the Tourism Bill in our country and in the Act as well. We are working on our Bill and repealing some of the law in the Bill and adding more issues that speak to various spectrums of tourism and accessibility of tourism facilities to the people living with disabilities is also inculcated in the new Bill that we are working on.

          As we all understand that there are some complications sometimes within accessing places for the people living with disabilities, hence it has to be enshrined in the law in case something happens. However, in 2022, our Ministry started to make some inroads towards that without the law. I am sure reference could be known about what His Excellency, the President of the country has done to provide the braille facilities as well as the Victoria Falls for the blind. So it is within what we are working on to ensure that within our population in society, those who live with disabilities will be able to access every tourism facility. I thank you.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Minister.  May I inform the House that we have also been joined by other Ministers.  We have Hon. J. Muswere, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services; Hon. Ziyambi, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Hon. Garwe, the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities.  

HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.  Commercial farmers across the country are crying foul over power cuts by the ZESA power utility.  What is the Government doing as a measure to ensure food security as we are heavily affected by the current El Nino which the Meteorological Department is predicting to be 20 – 25 in terms of its escalation? 

We are grateful for the 41% payments on wheat so far. What is Government doing in terms of inflation that is currently affecting our payments and non-payments that still exist with the Grain Marketing Board (GMB)?  What is Government doing in order to assist farmers so that they can also service the loans that they took in the past winter season?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President Sir.  I want to thank the Hon. Sen. Chief for the question. Mr. President, the issue of payment to farmers has been outstanding, admittedly, but the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion has released funds to ensure that all wheat farmers are paid.  As of Friday, the understanding that we got from Treasury was that some funds were released to ensure that farmers are paid.

Government paid farmers the Zim dollar component first so that we cushion the farmers against the inflationary pressures that they may bear on the Zimbabwe dollar component. Treasury is now working on ensuring that all the farmers are paid as soon as possible and they clear their outstanding amount.

Regarding the power shortages, the commitment from ZESA was that farmers were not going to be switched off, but here and there Mr. President, faults happen. The message to farmers is, as soon as you realise that there is a fault, it is prudent to immediately contact the ZESA offices to ensure that they rectify that.  The Hon. Chief is correct, this year’s weather pattern is very bad.  We have the El Nino, Government has ensured that we increase the hectarage that is under irrigation and hence, ARDA was asked to come on board to ensure that they also assist those farmers with irrigation capabilities so that we increase the hectarage and ensure that we have food self-sufficiency.

So, a lot is being done, but here and there, things may not go the way that is planned.  If farmers encounter power outages, report to your nearest ZESA offices and if you do not get any joy, I think the ZESA management are committed to ensure that they handle those queries so that our farmers may continue irrigating and we manage to get the harvest that we are targeting.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA:  My supplementary question on that one Mr. President. What measures is Government going to put in place to alleviate power shortages to farmers so that we can tame the drought?  Would it not be better for them to give loans to farmers to buy diesel powered generators for use when there are power outages?  

*HON. Z. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Mr. President of Senate.  I thank the Hon. Sen. Chief for his suggestion that we give our farmers loans in order to buy generators.  My response Mr. Speaker is that, from the research conducted by our agricultural experts, the profits that the farmers realise are nominal.  If we then allow them to get generators that require a lot of diesel, they will end up not rejoicing at the end of the day when they realise that they no longer have any profits.

Mr. President, what we are doing is quite good.  His Excellency the President is making sure that we are able to come up with power generating plants in a lot of places. He is busy looking for independent power producers so that they can feed their power into the grid. Through the Ministry, we are also busy ensuring that private players and households have solar panels and generate their own power and also feed excess power into the grid.  This will ensure that ZESA also comes up with supply lines to ensure that our farmers have an uninterrupted power supply. When we look at the cost benefit analysis of giving generators to farmers, we realised that the farmers will not benefit anything. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. ZINDI: My supplementary question has to do with power.  I appreciate the response by the Hon. Minister, but in my view, I would want to propose or suggest to him. I wonder what could be his response in terms of having a facility where farmers could have access to importing solar power just like the facility farmers have had before importing agricultural equipment duty-free because buying locally becomes costly.  I am suggesting this with the view that most dairy farmers are losing milk every day.  We have an experience where farmers have continuously, day in and day out, no power at all, which is not sustainable for them.  They are losing milk every day.  That is my appeal, I thank you.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I realise that is a suggestion and I am not too sure whether the Minister has anything to say about that suggestion. 

          HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. President Sir.  It is a suggestion that I am willing to take up and convey to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development as well as the Minister of Energy and Power Development so that the two Ministers can work closely together to ensure that the farmers that belong to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the Minister of Energy and Power Development who is in charge of energy, as well as the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, can coordinate and see if it is feasible to ensure that what she is suggesting can be done.

          HON. SEN. RITTA NDLOVU: Thank you Mr. President.  I am directing my question to the Leader of Government Business. Of late, we have seen evictions of families in various resettlement areas in almost all provinces and no alternative accommodation being offered despite offer letters having been issued.  What is the Government policy on resettlement of families?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President.  I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question which is a very important question.  The Government policy has always been consistent in that we have a resettlement policy where the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development is in charge of that process of ensuring that we have an orderly process of resettling our people.  One of the contentious issues why the liberation struggle was waged was the question of land.  When the Land Reform started, we started it without a formula, but we then came up with a formula for how we want to resettle our people.  We came up with models, A1, and A2 and the Minister is the one tasked with doing that. 

          However, we have noticed that some of our people took it upon themselves to become landlords and they started passing out State land to others in return for some money.  So what the Ministry of Lands is saying is that we want those who benefited from certain pieces of land to enjoy their benefits unhindered.  We do not want a scenario where if an A1 farmer was given 12 hectares, eventually she would end up with a hectare.  The Agrarian process will be thrown asunder. 

          We are going to embark on a process whereby we want to educate our people that if they have not been given the correct legal paper to be on a certain piece of land, you must desist from occupying that land.  However, we have a policy where we want all our people to be resettled, we do not want people to be homeless, but at the same time, we are constrained, we cannot allow people to just mushroom everywhere.  Where we are saying we are food self-sufficient, we will end up unable to feed ourselves.

          So the programme is to ensure that we have orderly settlements.  The programme is to ensure that we deal decisively with land barons. Where there is excess in the manner that the process is being carried out, we have had a conversation with the Police Command.  We have had conversations with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, and the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities and they are on hand to help ensure that the process is done lawfully.  We are going to sit down and come up with a strategy where we will reach out to communities and educate them ensuring that an orderly process is conducted.  Over and above this, the Government is committed and remains very much committed to ensuring that all our people are resettled in an orderly fashion and that no one is left homeless.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MUZODA:  I would like to thank the Hon. Z. Ziyambi for explaining well about the issues of land resettlement.  However, how long does it take for the Government to evict someone who has illegally resettled?

          *HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: The moment we catch you, even after a day, we will throw you away and even after two years we will still evict you.  So whenever you are caught, you will be fired.

          HON. ZVIDZAI: In connection with the same subject, I would like to understand whether the Leader of Government Business is confirming that it is Government policy to push people who have already been victimised by crooks further into the abyss?

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon. President, I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  Mr. President Sir, in fact on the contrary, the exercise is aimed at protecting settlers.  The target is not the individuals that have been abused by land barons, but the target is to ensure that we sniff out the land barons and we deal with them.

          The programme is to ensure that we identify those that are victims, and once we identify the victims, then we should be able to relocate them. The whole idea Mr. President is, we want productivity within our A1 and A2 settlement areas to remain as it was originally planned.  We do not want to degrade it into a semi urban settlement when it is purely agricultural land.  So, the programme is really targeted and getting to the bottom of it. So actually, we are protecting those individuals because at the end of the day, we will find a place to put them because they are victims and it is the duty of Government to ensure that they have shelter and to ensure that we give them a place which they can co-habitat.  I thank you Hon. President.

          HON. SEN. PHUTI: Thank you Hon. President.  my question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Tourism and Hospitality.  Mr. President Sir, what is Government plan on making sure our local citizens are aware of tourist attraction areas in their communities other than on television and radio? The reason is that some of the communities in the rural areas where we have these new tourist attraction areas do not have television and radios.  What incentive does Government offer to our locals to encourage domestic tourism?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY (HON. RWODZI): Thank you Hon. Senator. The Government’s policy on the activities that we have for tourism is, to start with, we have ZTA that is in place and according to our Act, Chapter 14:20, ZTA’s mandate is to promote and market every tourism destination that we have, every tourism facility that we have in the country and every tourism activity that we have in the country.  How it then gets to everybody is the question.  For those who do not have access to televisions or radio and other digital platforms, we are printing information that has to go.  Sometimes it will be good to give it to Members of Parliament to distribute into their constituencies or to give other institutions like local Government, Rural District Councils and also to the City Councils to share and disseminate written information, particularly in our own language which is Shona, Ndebele and Tonga or other languages so that everybody can read, to those who can read. 

          To those who cannot read, we have provincial officers and at the moment, we are talking to the Local Government Minister that we have a workshop that we are planning to have district officers that can go in every corner of the country within the districts to have workshops.  I am sure you have seen us going around with campaigns to awaken everyone in the country in every corner that we are here and what can be found where they stay because on the other side, the communities or the society does not realise that they have tourism destinations in their places. So it is about what they have as a product and where they can go to enjoy themselves within their settings if they cannot drive or if they cannot afford to go outside their places.  So that is going to be accessed through the workshops that we are going to engage with RDCs and City Councils.    

          The other question was on incentives that could be given to domestic tourists if I am not wrong, who will be accessing.   Our take is, Government is the biggest employer of our society. We are having discussions through the banks and the Government that our civil servants must be able to access tourism facilities or activities through accessing loans that they can pay throughout the year at an amount that is affordable by the civil servants.  That is our first port of call before we go to anyone else.

          HON. SEN. GUMPO: Thank you Hon. President, my question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Mr. President of Senate, I would like to thank you for giving me a chance to raise a few questions to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development on the current economic challenges of the tourist town of Kariba.  Hon. Minister Mhona, I would like to congratulate you for launching the Harare/Chirundu Highway which everyone in the Mashonaland West and the whole nation has been looking forward to. We also would like to congratulate the President for keeping his promise to undertake this very important project not only for Zimbabwe, but a project for the region as it stands to benefit all the neighbours to the north by improving accessibility to facilitate in the region. 

          Mr. President, the mantra of nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo.  Mr. President, I am one of those that was present at that inauguration which was quite interesting.  It started in Mapinga and ended in Makuti.  It was unbelievable to witness the amount of equipment, all the different contractors ready to start this massive project.  The work has already started and the contractors seem to be very excited.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order Hon. Senator, with all due respect, I thought you were going to ask a question to the Minister, but it appears as if you are now debating.  May you ask your question to the Minister?

          HON. SEN. GUMPO:  Mr. President, my question is on Kariba which is facing economic challenges that need assistance.  During the Minister’s programme of the highway, the feeder road from Makuti to Kariba would need to be upgraded in order to facilitate the tourist access into Kariba.  The matter of Kariba has not been given enough attention and Kariba needs a lot of assistance from Government.  I thank you.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Unfortunately, I did not get the question.  It appears that question is a particular question talking about Kariba Road which may have been put in writing, however, if the Minister is able to answer that question, I will allow him to answer it.

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  Thank you Mr. President Sir.  Let me thank and commend Hon. Sen. Gumpo.  I was actually enjoying and following.  If I was in your Chair, I was going to give him more minutes because he articulated what the Second Republic is doing exactly and I am grateful for that.

          It is true Mr. President Sir, that it was a problematic road, Chirundu, is also an economic enabler in terms of activities since it connects us with countries.  We are talking of Zambia, DRC, Malawi, and Tanzania.  We are very happy the Hon. Senator has posed a question pertaining to the feeder roads and in particular, the one that is starting from Makuti to Kariba, close to 70km.  I want to also say and appraise the august House that we are also seized with that matter.  As we are going to be rehabilitating the Harare-Chirundu Road, we are also going to be resealing the Makuti-Kariba Road.  So it is also good news to the people of Kariba.

          Not only that Mr. President Sir, we are also going to be rehabilitating Kariba Airport.  To also buttress and support the tourism sector, we are also going to be flying small bodied planes into Kariba Airport and my colleague Minister seated here would also see the increase in number of tourists visiting Kariba.  We want to thank the Second Republic Mr. President Sir, so that we are connected and we are strategically positioned as a country, which is something that we must give glory to the Almighty.  Therefore, we are saying Zimbabwe must be a hub when it comes to the movement of people, whether they are coming for business, social activities or tourists. 

So this is what we are running with as a Ministry and I am happy that the project that the Hon. Senator talked about is also going to support the creation of local employment and people along the trunk road are very excited because they are now having their employment within their communities.  In terms of adding value to the economy, my colleague Minister seated on my left is also excited through the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion.  So this is something that the Hon. Member has raised.  Once again, I want to thank Hon. Sen. Gumpo for that very pertinent question.  Thank you so much.

HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Mines and Mining Development.  Considering the high rate of deaths in the small-scale mining sector, much of the mines collapse with miners trapped under.  What is the Government doing to protect these miners as their mines do not meet the safety requirements in establishing their mines?  What is Government doing to mitigate on the conflicts between those who own PPOs and those given prospecting licences to mine in the same area?  I thank you. 

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (HON. KAMBAMURA):  Thank you Mr. President Sir.  On the first part of the question, the Ministry is going around on safety awareness campaigns to educate our miners on safer mining standards and safer mining methods.  We are also going to be enforcing the provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act and the Mining Safety and Management Regulations so that people adhere to safe standards of mining.  The challenge that we are currently having is on people who are mining on unregistered mining locations.  We had a meeting with law enforcement agents so that we work as a team together with the Minister of Environment, Climate and Wildlife and that we also check on environmental compliance and on compliance to the expectation of the legislation which governs the mines and minerals.  Also, those who will be found on the wrong side of the law, we will not hesitate to put punitive or deterrent fines so that such acts will not continue to be repeated. 

On the issue of PPOs, the Ministry is currently working on clearing all PPO applications.  If ever there are people who have prospectus licences given, they are not allowed to prospect inside a PPO.  A prospecting licence is given to search for minerals in the province in which that prospectus licence is issued, not on Government reserved areas or in PPOs.  I thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI:  My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi.  Section 662 (a) of our Constitution gives people the right to move around freely in Zimbabwe.  Because of the budget that we had last year, the toll gate fees are now expensive.  For one to travel from Plumtree to Harare and back, you now require US$60 for toll gates only if you have a Honda Fit.  In other countries they have toll free roads that one can use if one does not have the money. 

There is only one route from Plumtree to Harare.  Is that not infringing on the rights of the people as is enshrined in section 662 (a) of our Constitution for them to have free movement in the country?  I thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Mr. President Sir.  His question does not pertain to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  The Ministry deals with people’s rights.  The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development is responsible for transport and infrastructural development. Those that are in finance have entered the House and I respectfully ask that he pin-points the relevant Minister to answer the said question so that the responsible Minister can clarify.  I thank you.

HON. ZVIDZAI:  Thank you Mr. President.  I saw as if it is a question that could be answered by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  If the Minister has refused to answer, then I shall not repeat the question.  I thank you.

HON. Z. ZIYAMBI: Let me clarify by saying that I did not refuse to answer the question.  I said all Government Ministers are seized - Hon. Garwe is in the housing sector.  The right to shelter is bestowed in his Ministry.  Free movement of people is seized with the Ministry of Transport.  Ours as the Justice Ministry is to ensure that all the people’s rights are holistically maintained.  That is why I had asked him to pose a question to a specific Minister.  Maybe he wants to find out when the feeder roads are going to be made, or is he complaining about the toll fees?  I did not appreciate what exactly out of the two he was complaining about.  If it was the issue of toll-free roads, he asks Hon. Mhona.  If it is taxation, he would ask the experts who are in that field.  In his absence, I would have answered the question, but in his presence, I would prefer to hear it from the horse’s mouth.  Hence my request is that the two Ministers are best positioned to answer the question, whether it is the road issue or exorbitant taxes.  Thank you.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: He said he wanted you to respond and he was not going to ask anyone else.  As President of Senate, I will proceed.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF NECHOMBO: Thank you very much President of Senate.  My question was directed to the Minster of Health.  In his absence, I will direct it to the Leader of Government Business.  What does our law say in this country on the issue of diverse religions, which religions do not allow children to go to clinics?  Especially this time when we have the outbreak of Cholera.  If a child suffers from Cholera now, there are certain religions that bar children from receiving medical attention from the medical centres.  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President.  I thank Hon. Sen. Chief for his pertinent question on the issue of children whose parents would bar them from seeking medical attention, in violation of the rights of those children.  Our law in this country, from the Constitution, categorically states and safeguards the best interests of the children.  That is our theme.  Whatever is good for the children is what we should do holistically, from the Government to parents and communities.  Our law does not allow parents to decide not to take the child to the hospital because the parent belongs to a certain religion.  The Government says, the parent should take the child to the clinic, but the parent should continue practicing their own religion.  Failure to do so, he is not respecting the rights of the child.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. KATUMBA: Thank you Mr. President of the Senate.  My question is health related and in the absence of the Minister of Health, I will direct it to the Leader of the House.  We have a right to health as enshrined in the Constitution of this country.  What is Government doing or what is the Ministry of Health doing in terms of lack of tools of trade for hospital staff?  Even drugs like pain killers are not available in hospitals.  What is Government going to do to alleviate that problem so that we can enjoy our right to health?  Thank you.

          *THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you President of the Senate.  I thank the Hon. Member for the question that we no longer have any drugs in the hospitals.  This is news to me.  Our Minister of Health recently was celebrating about the vaccines that they had brought into the country that were worth a million of dollars and how people who were suffering from Cholera were being treated, but I am now told that there is nothing in our hospitals. 

          I urge the Hon. Member to put the question in writing relating to a specific medical institution that has a shortage of drugs.  A short while ago, we were seized with the budget and I am certain that a considerable amount was set aside for the Ministry of Health and Child Care.  Also, the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion mentioned on television that we now have cancer machines that are at Mpilo Hospital.  A lot of things are being done, so I may not want to argue with the Hon. Member.  May be there is something that she knows which is different from what we know and see from time to time on our televisions.

          The Minister of Finance said that he had given a substantial amount of money to the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Health confirmed that.  It is Government’s wish to ensure that there be adequate drugs and medical supplies in all the hospitals, but not even a single country the world-over is capable of ensuring that they meet all the expenses as regards drugs and medical equipment supplies.  So the Minister of Finance may not be having adequate funding on a day to day basis to service all the ministries at the same time.  My understanding is that we have drugs and equipment, but it may not be adequate.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA: Thank you Mr. President of the Senate. I thank the Minister for an elaborate response. I have a question as regards the vaccines. What is the Government policy as regards the COVID vaccines that people were given? They are now developing full-blown Aids? In the meantime, you are urging people to be vaccinated against Cholera, may the Minister allay our fears? Thank you.

          *THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you President of the Senate for the Hon. Senator’s question. His question is based on social media? There is no empirical evidence conducted by scientists, not even in a single country the world-over. COVID vaccines which we had in this country accounted among the safest vaccines in the world. There are some people who may react from time to time from such vaccines, but if one was on anti-retroviral medication and the people allege that they are now reacting to COVID, the two drugs are different. One is influenza and the others are anti-retrovirals. The two do not serve the same purpose, unless someone showed him where it is happening in this county. In our country, it is news to us and we are yet to receive a single report on such occurrences. I thank you.

          Questions without notice were interrupted by THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, in terms of Standing Order No. 67.

          HON. ZINDI: Thank you Mr. President. May I propose the extension of Question Time with 30 minutes?

          HON. SEN. R. M. NDLOVU: I second.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I will not extend by 30 minutes. The regulations allow for 15 minutes and so, I will allow 15 minutes.

          HON. ZINDI: Thank you Mr.  President. My question is directed to the Minister of Mines and Mining Development. I am noticing the mushrooming of these cyanidation tanks where gold is processed. This is happening on farms indiscriminately being set up in the farming communities. The conflict now is that the farmers and the miners who are setting up these cyanidation tanks are witnessing deaths of livestock from cyanide. In other words, livestock are dying having drunk water contaminated with cyanide. What exactly is the policy in terms of setting up these cyanidation tanks in the farming community as they are mushrooming? Thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (HON. KAMBAMURA): Thank you Hon. Senator for the question. Government policy is that any processing plant or cyanidation plant should be registered with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. Our inspectorate team needs to go on site before any operations and approve that site. There are provisions which are there with regard to setting up of cyanidation plants which include fencing off the cyanidation plant so that animals will not be exposed to cyanide water and also the damping pattern of the polluted sands.

So if ever there are any areas where people are not following the law, I would like to ask the Hon. Member to bring such names to us so that we can do some investigations and make sure what is supposed to be done is done. Offenders of the law will not be let loose, but the Ministry will put punitive measures on such so that we have proper mining standards being followed. Thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: What is the Government policy with regards people that are drawing underground water? I believe there are some policies of some boreholes that they use. My issue is that in the past, when such a policy was put in place, when the board was set up, people were allowed to just drill for 40 metres, but the amounts remain the same. The drilling rigs can now drill up to 120 metres, but in the villages, they charge us up to 40 metres and from 40 metres, we are charged exorbitant fees. In the past, our water table was very close at 40 metres, but now there is no more water at 40 metres. The surveyor will come and say we can get the water and that one is different from the one who will do the drilling. Our water table should be around 120 metres now. It means that at 40 metres, there is no water. We ask that this policy be changed so that those that come to drill can only drill up to 40 metres and we are charged money. Thereafter, we are unable to pay for the exorbitant fees that are paid per metre. Thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): His question is not very clear. My understanding is that this has to do with contracting someone as a private contractor for borehole drilling services.  The contractor will charge a set fee for the first 40 meters.  The Hon. Sen. Chief’s question has nothing to do with Government policy as this is a contractual agreement between a customer and a borehole drilling contractor. 

The contractor is free to charge the standard fees and per meter until they reach the water table. It is a deal between the contractor and the other party.  Whether or not the customer pays if the contractor manages to reach the water table and secure water, is an agreement between the two.  The Hon. Sen. Chief is aggrieved because the contractors are now charging extra per meter after the initial 40 meters even after failing to reach the water table. 

My opinion is that the question is not very clear.  This is an agreement between the two that if they reach 40 metres before they reach the water table, the contractor wants to charge extra per metre. What I know is, wherever boreholes are drilled, ZINWA also wants a portion because water in terms of the ZINWA Act belongs to the President. I thank you. 

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA:  My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister was a plea for him to assist me on whether there is a board or policy. I am saying this because throughout the whole country, borehole drilling contractors charge for 40 meters.  We are saying this is not feasible in the absence of a board of policy that speaks to that. This has been the norm since time immemorial. I was of the opinion that there would be either a board or policy in place since our water table has changed.

*HON. Z. ZIYAMBI:   Thank you Mr. President.  I understand his question that in the past when they used to drill 40 meters, the assumption was that the water table used to be at 40 meters. The Hon. Sen. Chief is saying the water table is no longer at 40 meters, but now exceeds up to 100 meters.

I will request the relevant Minister to see if something can be done so that the new standard is set at 60 meters.  This is what I understood.  I thank you. 

+HON. SEN. S. MOYO: Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Transport, and Infrastructural Development. When I look at the Beitbridge to Victoria Falls Road, we are all aware that there used to be a contractor working on the road rehabilitation.  We were surprised to note that the contractor is no longer working on the road, what could be the problem? We have also realised that there are so many potholes along the road…

+THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (SEN. A. DUBE):  Order, order, Hon. Sen. Can we have one question please?

+HON. SEN. S. MOYO:   Thank you, I was not through with the first question.  Hon. Minister, do you have time to drive along that road to see how badly potholed the road is?  I thank you. 

+THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, order, I think you should make a written submission since your question is very specific. I do not know, maybe the Hon. Minister would like to respond.

*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  Thank you Mr. President. Thank you, Hon. Sen. Moyo for your question concerning the Beitbridge to Victoria Falls Road. Indeed, there was a contractor there but he has since temporarily stopped work on rehabilitating the road. 

I want to inform the House that the way we rehabilitate our roads is different from other countries because road rehabilitation requires a lot of money.  In other countries, they get their money from different financial institutions at a lower interest rate.  I also want to applaud His Excellency E. D Mnangagwa’s leadership for acknowledging that we cannot wait and cry that we are under sanctions, he gave us a leeway to use One Wallet from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.  Since it is One Wallet where we get money, if you hear about pandemics or outbreaks like Cholera and other issues, this means that all these issues  that need to be addressed urgently, all the money  from Reserve bank of Zimbabwe will now be channeled towards the pandemic or disease,  the country prioritises resources towards those pandemics.

In this year’s budget allocation, we managed to allocate funds for the rehabilitation of different roads. I am glad to inform the House that the Ministry is forging ahead with its work even though our budget allocation is not enough.  I am also glad to inform you Hon. Senator that my Ministry will be in Matebeleland North to see how best we can rehabilitate the road.  We started with the rehabilitation of 20kms before proceeding to the next phase of 40kms. You will also note that we will be rehabilitating the whole road from Beitbridge, Bulawayo, Hwange through to Victoria Falls.

So in response to your question on when rehabilitation is going to be resumed, my response is that we are going to resume work within the next two weeks. All the redundant materials that were lying alongside the roads will be used next year. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. SHIRI:  Thank you Madam President, my supplementary question to Hon. Minister is that, a lot of buses are being procured by Government and individuals, but they are not favourable to people living with disabilities. What is Government policy to ensure that those living with disabilities are able to board these buses? What stage are you at in terms of assisting those living with disabilities with the non-payment of tollgates? Thank you.

*HON. MHONA:  Thank you Hon. President. I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Shiri for raising a pertinent question on the rights of those living with disabilities, especially when it comes to boarding public transport.  Yes, we know that we have a listening President.

We are currently encouraging those who are procuring buses to include buses that are favourable to those living with disabilities. This will enable them to board and sit comfortably on the buses without any difficulties.  Right now, we are working towards making sure that all the buses that are going to be bought in future are favourable to these conditions. In the past, effort was made to facilitate vehicle importation to cater for the disabled. Unfortunately, the facility was being grossly abused as they started buying cars for other people and selling the cars.   We are now going to work towards ensuring that they access roads without paying tollgate fees.  I thank you.

          Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 67

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE

NEW APPOINTMENTS

          THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I wish to announce the following new appointments: -

  • Sen. C. Zvidzai is now the Chief Whip for the Citizens and Coalition for Change (CCC) in the Senate;
  • W. Chikombo and I. Maodzera are Members of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders;
  • S. Ndebele is now the Deputy Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus;
  • C. Chinanzvavana is the Secretary for the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus;
  • Sen. N.G. Gwature is the Organiser for the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus;
  • P. Mutseyami is a Member of the IPU;
  • Hlatshwayo is a Member of the ACP-EU and;
  • M. Chakabuda is a Member of the ASSECA.

MOTION

ROAD SAFETY DURING THE FESTIVE SEASON

          HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: I move the motion standing in my name that this House –

SADDENED by successive road accidents on consecutive days which claimed scores of lives in November 2023 countrywide;

CONCERNED that it has become a norm that each time the festive season approaches horrific road traffic accidents increase leading to loss of lives;

DISMAYED that some of our citizens have become so accustomed to road carnages to the extent that they become insensitive and seem to have lost respect for the deceased as evidenced by photographs of ghastly accident scenes that they post and circulate on social media each time road carnages occur;

DISTURBED that remains of the deceased are at times left uncovered in the open for long periods as if to confirm a lack of sanctity and respect for the dead, a practice which is quite exogenous to our culture;

 NOW, THEREFORE, implores that: -  a) the Zimbabwe Republic Police increase patrols along the country`s highways before and after the festive season in order to curb the high rate of accidents on our roads;

     b) the Police ensure that body bags are timeously availed whenever fatal accidents occur so that dead bodies are not exposed to the public and in particular the children;

       c) the Vehicle Inspectorate Department goes out in full force and impounds all unroadworthy vehicles that ply the country`s roads causing horrific accidents and loss of human lives;

      d) the Civil Protection Unit be always on standby and ready to deal with accidents that may befall travelers during the festive season; and

       e) all drivers should act responsibly and observe the rules of the road to minimise the risks of road carnage during this festive season and at all times.

HON. SEN. PHUTI: I second.

+HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: Before I begin my debate, I want to honour all the families that lost their relatives through accidents that happened in November and these happened one after the other.  On behalf of the people, I would like to ask that we join hands in honouring the families that lost their family members in road accidents.

Madam President, as a country, our police are not fully prepared when we come across accidents, especially during festive seasons.  I realised this when our members of the community were involved in an accident, the police used an open truck to ferry all those who were injured to the hospital, which is degrading.  As a nation I wish we could improve on that and be fully prepared for such events. We should have a department for exam pathology apart from ZRP that looks at issues to do with accidents.  Let us have proper vehicles that will transport the bodies of the deceased; a department that will honour the late and the bodies put in a body bag while they are being ferried to mortuaries. 

My second point is that as a Senate, we should have a re-look at what causes us as a nation to appear as if we do not have any conscience.  People are busy taking pictures and videos when an accident happens and these pictures are circulated on social media platforms.  The families of the deceased might not even be aware that their family member has been involved in an accident.  It is high time Madam President, for us as a nation to re-look at our culture.  Why do we post pictures of the deceased on our social media?  We need to come up with a law that protects the deceased.  We do not need to take pictures of one who is deceased and circulate them on social media. 

          Long back, when one was involved in an accident and the person was deceased, we used to see a policeman coming to inform the family of the incident.  It is scary and disheartening to be informed of the death of your relative through social media.  It is high time we assist each other on how best we can improve on this.  Whilst still on the issue to do with accidents, Mr. President Sir, I realise that after the deceased people who were  involved in different accidents, yes the Government tried to assist, we want to implore the Government for doing such and we want to encourage them that they continue doing the same thing.

          Mr. President Sir, I realise that after the Government had indicated that they will assist on all the financial needs to lay to rest all the deceased, I do not know what is it with us as Africans.  Once the Government says that, different relatives will then come up and it is not clear who is supposed to receive that.  Certain funerals that I attended; family members will then say we are no longer assisting because the State is now taking over.  We need to have a way of informing the members of the public to say if someone is deceased, who exactly is supposed to receive the help that the State will be giving.  With these few words that I have contributed in this Senate, I wish we could debate this and agree on what it is that our law enforcing officers are doing. What is it that they can do to avoid certain challenges that we face?  If we have a way of increasing our policemen and also on transport, they should be out on full force, especially on or during our festive season. They should impound all vehicles that are not roadworthy to avoid such accidents.  Thank you, Madam President.

          +HON. SEN. PHUTI: Thank you for giving me this opportunity Madam President Ma’am.  I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa who has tabled such an important debate concerning the accidents that occur in our roads especially during our festive season.  I lost my family member, my brother during one of the festive seasons through an accident.  We are requesting that the Government have a re-look, especially the road from Beitbridge to Bulawayo, most of our relatives are in South Africa and there are many haulage trucks that use that road.  I will also want to contribute on the way the police conduct themselves, especially when an accident occurs.  One who would have been involved in an accident misses their money or clothes most of the times. If you arrive at the accident scene as one of the relatives, you will not get anything. 

          My question therefore is, where are the police because most of the times when an accident happens, it is the police who arrive first?  It is an indicator that there is a gap that is there when accidents happen, especially the way the police conduct themselves.  Looking at those who are deceased through road accidents, there was an accident involving six school children that happened last year. As a parent, when you lose your child, it is very painful because you will be looking at the future of that child. 

          When you then lose your child through road accidents, Madam President, it is so sad.  I also want to ask the Government to tighten their laws, because most of the accidents that occur are because of human error.  Sometimes it is all about the road signs that are not clear.  We are therefore encouraging the Government to even put systems that are used  in other countries such as South Africa, where they use breathalysers and they can detect the amount of alcohol that one has consumed.  We really need those breathalysers because most of the times, accidents are a result of human error.

          Madam President, when so many people pass on due to road accidents, we want to thank the Government on the assistance that they normally render.  When we lose our relatives, many a times the Government has been assisting. I want to thank the Government for the assistance that they gave to one of the musicians by the name Maellie, he is my biological brother.  I want to thank the Minister of Transport on behalf of Government for rendering services.  I want to ask Government that they should continue doing such a good thing. 

          I also want to ask the Minister of Transport to even put cameras. Of the 22 who were deceased through road accidents, one survivor out of the 22 is my young brother’s wife.  She says she lost about 22 000 and she says the last time she remembers she had money was just before the police came. If there is a way to put cameras, let us have them so that at least we can curb such issues.  We also need to have a way of putting speed limits.  We have lost so many people due to human error such as speeding.  I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa who tabled this motion and this motion is very important. It is so sad when you get to know of your relative who has passed on through social media.

          When you open these social media pages as a mother and realise that it is your child, it is so painful and it is sad Madam President.  We should come up with an Act that restricts people or that is actually a punishment to those who post pictures of the deceased on social media.  Someone can get into a river and when facing certain challenges in crossing, you will find that instead of people assisting them, they are busy taking pictures.  Madam President, I think there is a way of tracing who was the first person to post such pictures and we should really punish such people.

          The Government must come up with ways of working together with the Minister of Finance to find a way of tracing and have someone that can be used as an example.  Why should you take a picture of a deceased person and post on social media? I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa again to say, the debate that you tabled before the Senate is very important. 

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I thank you Hon. Sen. Phuti for your contribution.

          HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: Madam President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. PHUTI: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 5th March, 2024.

MOTION

PROGRAMMES TO CURB DRUG AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE BY YOUTH

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

          Question again proposed.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 20th February, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE DELEGATION TO THE 53RD PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION OF THE SADC-PARLIAMENTARY FORUM

          Third Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Delegation to the 53rd Plenary Assembly of the SADC-Parliamentary Forum.

          Question again proposed.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 20th February, 2024.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

          Question again proposed.

          THE MINISTER OF YOUTH EMPOWERMENT, DEVELOPMENT AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING (HON. MACHAKAIRE):  Thank you very much Madam President.  I would like to thank the Hon. Members of the Senate for their fruitful deliberations on the Presidential Speech.

          Madam President, I followed the debate on motion in reply to the Presidential address and my Ministry’s respond is as follows:

1.1Strengthening of Relevant Institutions

          The Ministry, in order to strengthen its institutions will focus on the following:

    Empowerbank Limited

The bank, in order to fully capitalise its functions requires;

  1. Extension of deadline for the regulatory minimum capital requirements;
  2. Stable currency exchange rates;
  3. Allocation of funding for all youth empowerment projects and youth quota for all national projects such as the agriculture mechanisation tractors under the John Deere and Belarus farm mechanisation programme as part of the capitalisation to strengthen its trading books; and
  4. Balance sheet shield from inflation through allocation of buildings and land by Government as part of capitalisation.

The Microbank will then unlock value by structuring youth projects around immovable property to empower youth in line with its mandate.

              The National Youth Service

  • Re-branding of the National Youth Service;
  • Establishment of a National Youth Service Centre in every province;
  • Establishment of production units at each centre for sustainability of the centre;
  • Enactment of the National Youth Service Bill;
  • Refurbishment and re-tooling of facilities.

          Vocational Training Centres

  1. Establishment of Vocational Training Centres in each district of the country;
  2. Establishment of production hubs at every centre for income generation;
  3. Human capital development;
  4. Curriculum development;
  5. Acquiring modern tools and equipment in VTCs; and
  6. Rehabilitation of existing infrastructure.

         Zimbabwe Youth Council

  1. Reviewing the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act;
  2. Setting up of national, provincial and district youth associations for co-ordination of the youth.

1.2 Sustenance of Vocational Training Centres

          The establishment of Public-Private-Partnerships and Joint Ventures for youth empowerment and full utilisation of allocated farms and lands.  Currently, cooperation is undergoing with Jairos Jiri, Zion Christian Church, Young Africa, CARE Zimbabwe, only to mention a few.  I want to submit Madam President.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 20th February, 2024.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  Madam President, I move that Order of the Day, Number 5 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the day on today’s Order Paper have been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR THE 2023 HARMONISED ELECTIONS

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

  Questions again proposed. 

  HON. SEN. I. ZHOU: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to debate the report which was brought in this House by the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the Harmonised Elections in August, 2023.  First and foremost, I really want to commend ZEC for the good work which they did and for producing a peaceful, credible, free and fair elections.

 I will talk about the special needs of persons with disabilities in particular.  I recognised a lot of preparations that were put in place by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).  Also, to note that in 2022, Parliament of Zimbabwe shortlisted some candidates for appointment to the Commission and I think there were about 15 or so shortlisted candidates. Among the 15 candidates, one person with a disability was also appointed by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.  So, we really want to thank His Excellency, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa for being inclusive in such high-profile appointments by appointing somebody with a disability. - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  That really assisted ZEC in its strategic plan to always remember the participation of persons with disabilities in electoral processes as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, Article 29. 

From that level, I also want to recognise that the preparation for accessibility of polling stations, I am informed that there were over 12 000 polling stations.  I am happy to report that most of those polling stations were through ZEC’s stakeholder network. They were accessible to persons using wheelchairs and those that are visually impaired.  I also want to point out that in the harmonised elections in 2023, those that required assistance, what we call assisted voters, mainly those that are blind like myself, had the opportunity to participate freely by either coming with their own trusted member of society from their own household or making use of the presiding officers, using the elections agents, which was to me very open.  I really want to thank ZEC for opening up those spaces.

I also want to say that on 26th August, 2023, persons with disabilities constituency had their electoral college which went smoothly, which is another way of involving those that are disabled in the electoral processes.  The college was able to elect two Senators, a male and a female.  That is Hon. A. Shiri and myself.  We look forward to your cooperation and cooperation of all the Members of the Senate in championing disability issues.

Let me also say that among the civil servants that were managing the elections as supervisors and presiding officers, there was a great percentage of those that are working in the civil services who have disabilities, including blind people.  In this country, we have so many people who are employed as teachers by Government and all those were also considered to run the elections.  I must also confirm that some of the engagements that we had, I met the EU observer mission who said that they wanted to learn the best practice of Zimbabwe by having two Senators for persons with disabilities, under Section 120 (1) (d).  They said they want to follow up on that. Also, they want to follow up on the accessibility on the polling stations by making sure that the ballot boxes were at a level that even a wheelchair user is able to cast their ballots without the assistance of anybody and making the vote to remain secret. Above all, as I said, I think that ZEC should be commended for giving us free, fair and credible elections.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President for affording me the opportunity to add my voice to this motion that was tabled by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on behalf of ZEC.  The majority of the points were raised yesterday.  Be that as it may, I would like to thank our President, His Excellency, Dr. E.  D. Mnangagwa.  The elections start from campaigns.  The President, throughout his campaign was preaching peace, urging Zimbabweans to carry out the election in a peaceful manner.  He encouraged us that everything ought to be done peacefully.  I would also like to thank the majority of Zimbabweans for heeding the President’s call for peace. After the President had called for peace and people heeded the call, elections were held in peace.  The observer missions gave their reports and endorsed elections as having been conducted in a free and fair atmosphere. 

Madam President, we are lucky to have the Minister of Finance in the House because he is the enabler of all these processes.  ZEC came across a lot of problems, including ballot papers, I do not know if there was a delay in printing them but they did not reach certain stations in time.  This was caused by the economic sanctions that Zimbabwe is under because as a country, we cannot get cheap financing.  The Hon. Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion who is in this House will bear witness to the fact that as Zimbabweans, we will continue fighting hard to ensure that our work is done.  I am happy with your presence Hon. Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion.  Those that have placed our country on economic sanctions do not want the sanctions to be removed because they do not want us to retain our land.  I know that as long as you are occupying that office, you will successfully fund ZEC so that it discharges its mandate.

          All I am saying is supported by the election results. Once the election results were announced, it was clear that everyone was satisfied with the outcome of the results because we know beforehand that if the people are not satisfied with the elections, they will appeal to the courts, but no such a scenario occurred this time around. This bears credence to the fact that our elections were clean and as white as snow. Those are the elements that I would want to add and to place on record as you have given me this opportunity to debate. I thank you.

          +HON. SEN. PHUTHI: Thank you Madam President for the opportunity that you have afforded me to also add my voice to the report that was tabled by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. We saw everything that happened and what was happening will be judged on who you are. Firstly, I will say that when ZEC started registration in Matabeleland, we had challenges that most people did not have national identity cards. When the national identity programme came and all those who had registered their names were not appearing in the voters’ roll, it was one of the major problems.

          They had said that they would have a relook into the problem and correct it, but when they came with the results, the names were not appearing on the voters’ roll especially in Mangwe District. Most of the youths were not able to register and those who had paper national identity cards were asked to change them into plastic. Their plastic identity cards were not dispatched in time and they were not able to vote. We have our relatives whose cars were used by ZEC on contract, but up to now, they have not been paid. This is an indicator that ZEC did not have enough money.

          In rural areas, ballot papers were not delivered in time although in some areas, they were delivered in time. You realise that the rights of the people were violated because they were scared. As I speak, there is one grandmother who asked me to assist her in voting. She said her reasons for preferring to be assisted were that there was someone who told her that if she voted for a certain person, there will be a war.

This was further evidenced by a desk that was set up outside the polling station which had a white table cloth and had a certain political party which I will not name. Some voters were told that there are cameras which record which party you have voted for. I also want to reiterate on the same aspect that the elections were not free and fair. I am saying so because some ballot boxes were printed and delivered on the very day of voting. Closer to the polling stations, there were branded cars parked just outside.

In Mangwe District, you will have those cars with people who were seated inside and they would ask all the voters whom they had voted for. Another thing is that after we had voted, results for councillors and MPs were announced properly, but presidential results were not announced in time. It took so long for them to announce and I do not know whether there is a reason behind it.

ZEC took so long to prepare for harmonised elections that take five years, but you realise that by-elections that were conducted in two weeks and were caused by Tshabangu were done in time. Ballot papers were printed in time, but up to now, if you check on the things that were used for harmonised elections such as cars, they have not been paid. When we compare with the by-elections that were caused by Tshabangu, everything was in order and everything was prepared.

I used to think that ZEC is an independent body, but I am realising that they have a specific party that they support. In 2023, ZEC asked that all political parties were supposed to submit their materials that they were supposed to use for elections. There is one party, CCC that I feel was not treated fairly. We realise that there were certain Members of Parliament who were contesting that were removed in the ballot box. Why would we have lawyers sitting down at 12 midnight working on that? We had cases whereby at 7.00 a.m, certain ballot papers had certain names removed.

I remember Mwonzora withdrew his contestation and ZEC refused and said we have printed the papers and he was not removed from the ballot box. Tshabangu went to ZEC at 12.00 midnight and I do not know whether the ballot box is now controlled by Tshabangu or ZEC…

+THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I think as Hon. Members of the Senate whom we consider to be in the Upper House, let us debate in a way that shows maturity. We do not need to debate with emotions.

 +HON. SEN. PHUTHI: My apologies, I thought by-elections were part of the elections not knowing whether there is another report that will come specifically for the by-elections. Another thing Madam President Ma’am is that yes, everyone is saying elections were free and fair, but according to me, they were not free and fair. In Mabvuku, we lost one of our candidates because of violence. 

          Another thing that I realised Madam President, is that most of the time we hide behind sanctions. Do sanctions force us to go and kill someone?  Do sanctions force us to go and burn down someone’s homestead? Do sanctions force us to scare and intimidate people or we are self-imposing?  With these few words, I thank you.

          HON. SEN. FANUEL:  Good afternoon, Madam President. Thank you, I will speak in Tonga about ZEC.  What ZEC did is a wonderful job by administering elections right round the country, including in my home place in Binga.  I want to congratulate the Chairperson of ZEC for her reappointment of the second term of six years. I also want to thank the President, E. D Mnangagwa who appointed and reappointed the ZEC Chairperson.  I also want to thank the President for considering women to lead hence we should celebrate as women for this appointment.

          Secondly, there is voter education in line with what the President said that there is no place to be left behind, meaning that every person was reached in terms of election information, especially in Binga.  The voter education was done in all wards with the inclusion of all parties.  In Binga, there were two candidates from one party and ZEC considered them all. They also considered the use of indigenous languages during the voter education, enhancing the President’s vision of giving equal opportunities to all indigenous languages in Zimbabwe. We had fliers of voter education which were written in Tonga, enabling everyone to access the information needed from ZEC.  There was also use of radio station like Twasumpuka FM which was used to cascade election information.  No one was left behind.

          The voter registration was led by the Registry Office which had to do more than one exercise to enable citizens to register to vote.  Anyone who was left behind was by his or her choice. This enabled everyone to exercise his or her right to vote. What I want to also speak is a concern that some people just speak from an uninformed point of view.  We are all here in this House as Senators coming from the list of our names that we submitted to ZEC…

Hon. Ndlovu having passed between the Chair and the Member speaking.

          THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order, order, Hon. Sen. Ndlovu, you are not allowed to pass between the Chair and the Hon. Member on the floor.

          HON. SEN. FANUEL:  We went to nomination court through ZEC.  Being here is a right for every Senator hence ZEC should be commended for the good job done. If ZEC was biased, we would have found some of us not in this august House. Thank you.   

          HON. SEN. ZINDI:  Thank you Madam President.  I also rise to add my contribution to the report that was submitted by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on ZEC. However, I am not going to say much because much has already been said by the other Hon. Senators who have contributed before me.  I only have one area that I am going to talk about, which is the delimitation of constituencies – that delimitation affected the wards as well.

My observation is on that delimitation of constituencies or rather, boundaries of constituencies and wards that affected all political parties.  We were all affected by that, but be that as it was, we had a constitutional obligation to ensure that elections were held.  So to go back and revisit the issue to do with constituency boundaries would have taken longer than anticipated and possibly, we would have run out of time to meet our constitutional obligations. So we had to deal with what was available and we did perform through ZEC having drawn the boundaries.

So basically, what I am saying is, we are all not perfect, but we had to make do with what was available. Therefore, the debate that we are undertaking in the House, to me, we are taking it as an evaluation.  The idea of conducting an evaluation is to take corrective measures.  I want to believe that next time around, ZEC will ensure to take corrective measures and not repeat the same mistakes. Therefore, this is my observation in as far as this debate is concerned, to have realised that mistakes are made in whatever we do.  What is important is to take corrective measures. I thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          HON. R. N. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam President for affording me this opportunity to also add my voice to those who have spoken before me on the motion. 

          The motion was presented to this august House by the Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs in the 2023 Harmonised Elections.  Madam President, let me hasten to say that elections in Zimbabwe are guided by the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Electoral Act of Zimbabwe since 1980. 

          Zimbabwe has been conducting peaceful elections guided by our domestic laws and regulations.  The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which was established in terms of Section 238 of the Constitution has the mandate to prepare, conduct and supervise elections.  Further, they have the mandate to register voters, compile voters roll, submit, delimit constituencies and accredit observers among other functions.

          Madam President, firstly, I want to congratulate the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the job well done.  Setting the tone for the 2023 Harmonised Elections, the Commission conducted delimitation constituencies in line with Section 239 (f) of the Constitution.   The delimitation was presented to Parliament and the Parliament recommendations was a transparency cause exercise.

          The aggrieved parties went to court and as a country, we respected the judgment of the court which clearly stated that the Commission conducted the exercise as laid out in Section 161 of our Constitution without favouring any part.   Where there could be some individual observation, it is allowed.

          Madam President, the Commission conducted voter registration years back just after the 2018 Harmonised Elections, and every citizen above the age of 18 was allowed to register to vote as stipulated in Section 673 (a) of the Constitution.  The practice was done fairly and transparently.  I want to further applaud the Commission for establishing the short code which was used by citizens to check their names on the voter’s roll and their polling station on a mobile phone.  Such a transparent effort shows the will and commitment of the Commission to do its process fairly and transparently.

 I would want to condemn the report which indicated that the voter’s roll was inaccessible.  Such a report lacks information on the process which was available to the electorate.  Following the proclamation date by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Commission prepared 23 August elections, voter education was conducted, nomination court as well as accreditation of election observers.  I can attest that ZEC officials reached my province in Matabeleland South sensitising the electorate to the importance of participating in electoral activities.

Various methods were used including toll-free lines which initiatives enhanced the demographic participation of people in decision-making in Zimbabwe which is in line with the NDS 1.  Every political party with interest had to mobilise its voters to go and vote for their parties – that was free to all, no intimidation whatsoever.

Madam President, the conducted nomination courts saw some political parties registering double candidates in Parliament, local authorities, some political parties started blaming the Commission for accepting double candidates at nomination courts.  Honestly speaking, such a blame cannot be put on the Commission in any way as it falls away from the Commission's mandate. 

I want further to applaud the Commission for accrediting as many election observers as possible.  According to the laid regulations, a total of 12 512 observers were accredited, 894 foreigners and 51 foreign journalists.

Madam President, that was a signal that the country remains on the drive to drive democracy and spearhead development to achieve our National Vision of 2030.  It shows that democracy is being practiced in Zimbabwe.  As highlighted on page 45 of the report, the elections took place on the 12 474 polling stations. To note, I want to applaud His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe for extending the voting process in areas that were affected by logistical challenges by 12 hours.  Such a democratic effort cannot be over-recognised.  It shows that democracy is being practiced in Zimbabwe, just like every other democratic country.

I want also to applaud the Commission for creating a conducive and peaceful environment during the election period.  Page 45 of the report indicates that each polling station had a presiding officer and eight polling officers.  All political parties were allowed to have their agents, which is a sign of democracy that Zimbabwe enjoys.

Madam President, allow me to further congratulate the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation for covering all political parties on our national television.  ZBC covered all rallies without being skewed to any party as reported by some political parties who wanted to tarnish the image of the national broadcaster.  Such a fair playground created by the Second Republic is a welcome development and shows commitment to democracy, which is a key pillar of development.

It was disheartening that despite all these efforts to conduct elections in a free, fair, and credible manner, some observer missions chose to close their eyes and report according to their minds.  Particularly, the SADC observer mission reported outside their mandate without respect for Zimbabwe as a sovereign State, without respect of our laws and institutions.  The negative reports attracted the attention of some political parties who blamed the Commission for their loss. Other observer missions, particularly the European Union failed to recognise the level playing ground created by the Commission.  Such ignorance to tarnish the image of our country is regrettable.  Going forward, observer missions should stick to their mandate and avoid interference with the internal affairs of our country.  Zimbabwe is a sovereign State.

          The Commission created a fair playing ground, promoting democracy and transparency in all its process.

          In conclusion, as a citizen and representative of Matabeleland South, I am happy with the way the August 2023 Harmonised Elections were conducted. The Commission did a wonderful job which every Zimbabwean must applaud.  Thank you, Madam President, for the opportunity to add my voice on the report.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTAND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 5th March, 2024.

MOTION

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

          Seventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission for the year 2022.

          Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 5th March, 2024.

          On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE), the Senate adjourned at Five Minutes past Five o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 5th March, 2024.

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