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SENATE HANSARD 16 MARCH 2022 VOL 31 NO 29

          PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 16th March, 2022

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

PRAYERS

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

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE

APPOINTMENT TO THEMATIC COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to inform the Senate that Hon. Sen. Nicholas Nkomo has been appointed to serve in the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security and the Thematic Committee on Human Rights.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE SENATE

          THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MASHONALAND CENTRAL PROVINCE (HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA): Mr. President Sir, I move that Order of the Day No. 1 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

EFFOTS TO CURB CORRUPTION

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

 MINDFUL that Government established the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to deal with challenges of corruption in the country;

          DISBURBED that despite such noble endeavour by Government, incidents of corruption continue to proliferate unabated as if to make a mockery of the measures put in place;

          NOTING with concern that this scourge needs to be tackled and nipped in the bud before it disturbs our everyday lives as it continues to rear its head among our societies;

          CONCERNED that at times even those tasked with the responsibility of preserving our law and order do end up being caught on the wrong side of the law as they fail to wrest the effects of corruption which continues to spread like fire;

          NOW, THEREFORE, this Senate –

  1. Calls upon the Executive to introduce deterrent measures for those engaging in corrupt activities;
  2. Calls upon the Judiciary to fast track all cases of corruption through spread courts that will be established to deal with such nefarious activities.

HON. SEN. CHIEF NGUNGUMBANE:  I second.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank your Mr. President.  Despite the work being done by the Government of Zimbabwe, academics and activists, Anti-Corruption Reformers and development agencies, there are still more questions than answers.  In Zimbabwe anti-corruption strategies have been undertaken as part of broad public sector reform aimed at creating a leaner, more efficient, motivated and productive civil service to facilitate service delivery.  However, the results are not impressive.

Zimbabwe scored 24 points out of 100 and ranked 157 out of 180 countries in Transparency International 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index.  Corruption has risen to high levels in Zimbabwe.  In fact, Zimbabwe is amongst the world’s top 25 most corrupt countries. Zimbabwe over the years has experienced surge in the level of corruption with various reports defining corruption as a cancer eating Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe’s man made tragedy.  The Zimbabwe’s Constitution aspires for equality and corruption makes this aspiration difficult to achieve because it makes the environment unbalanced and it is in favour of those with financial resources. 

Whenever a public office is abused, a public function or objective is set aside and compromised.  The fight against corruption is an effective means of combating poverty in Zimbabwe where corruption is the major obstacle to the social and economic development.  Corruption has a disproportionate effect on the poor and most vulnerable, increasing costs, reducing access to services including health, education and justice.  Corruption in the procurement of drugs and medical equipment drives up costs and can lead to substandard and harmful products.  In a report by Transparency International in 2019, Zimbabwe is losing at least US$1 billion annually to corruption. Corruption has reached levels that make those in public positions fail to take decisions with the interest of society in mind. Poor people and economically strapped businesses have few economic alternatives and serious corruption is the norm.  They are even more vulnerable to exploitation.  Levels of corruption are adding another layer of the cost of doing business in the country which reputes any potential investors.  At the very least, corruption compromises the Government and its parastatals the ability to deliver an array of public services, including health, education, electricity, water and welfare which are all essential for realization of economic, social and cultural rights as enshrined in the Constitution. 

Bureaucratic corruption is tolling high and poses major threats to the success of NDS1 and Vision 2030 and the sustainable development goals which are goal number 1- no poverty, goal number 3 good health and wellbeing, goal number 6 clean water and sanitation and goal 16 peace, justice and strong institutions.

Corruption is increasing poverty by reducing the potential income earnings of the poor.  Alternatively, poverty which is usually indicated by low income, low education and health, vulnerability and powerlessness invites corruption.  Therefore, if the situation remains unchanged and without new methods of dealing with corruption the success of the NDS1 remains in question. It can be noted that greed, poverty, income disparities, inadequate civil servants remuneration, lack of accountability and transparency are major causes of corruption in Zimbabwe.  Low wages in the civil service relative to wages in the private sector are a source of high level corruption.  When civil service pay is too low, civil servants may be obliged to use their positions to collect bribes as a way of making ends meet, particularly when the expected cost of being caught is low.

Lack of professional ethics and deficient laws regulating corruption as a criminal offence and the prosecution and sanctioning of it are also an important cause for the emergence and spread of corruption.  A great influence comes also from the ineffectiveness sanctioning of corruption which only increases the possibility of continuing the corruptive actions of those involved, creating at the same time a strong likelihood that others will join in the corruption due to this insufficient sanctioning.  Corruption jeopardises success of the long term initiative in every area of development.

The slow adoption of technology especially in the public service is also speeding corruption.  Technology cuts the red tape through automation of bureaucratic processes.  Complex procedures which are cumbersome and typically lay the ground for corruption with no opportunities for face to face interactions between citizens and public offices, digital processes substantially may reduce the opportunities for soliciting or accepting bribes.

Mr. President, keeping that in mind, I therefore call the Government to offer supportive civil service conditions, decent working and living conditions for the servants of the public consisting of sufficient job security, opportunities for promotion and fair remuneration or social appreciation; they will have chances of reducing corruption.

The Government through the anti corruption courts must enforce stiffer and higher penalties on corruption as a mechanism of promoting restrain against public officials.  All cases of corruption regardless of form must be treated as high level criminal cases, thus attracting longer and deterrent court sentences.  We need to enforce legislation which provides for witness protection and victims of corruption.  Absence of such legislation hampers prosecution of corruption. 

In most instances, the identity of witnesses is known and eventually they fear to come and testify in court because there is a risk of intimidation, loss of employment and harassment afterwards.

There is need to speed up technology adoption in public service.  This will also be coupled with equipping the civil service personnel with  the skills to use it.  Public officials may also need to undergo training in the dimension of corruption and the negative impact of systemic corruption on the well-being of the public. 

If officers are trained or equipped with knowledge on how corruption can be reduced, public enterprises performance and integrity can be improved.  The public needs to be educated on the advantages of good governance and participate in promoting it.  The public itself bears a large share of responsibility for insisting on honesty and integrity in Government business.  The public needs to learn that they must not pay bribes themselves but must report incidents of corruption to the authorities and to teach their children the right values. 

Mr. President, contrary to sentiments that corruption is inherent in Zimbabwe - the country has not always been corrupt as it is today and there is potential for the country to aspire or even surpass its record low of 43 in 1998.  The country has taken measures to try and curb corruption.  At the centre of Zimbabwe’s anti corruption efforts, is the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission.  The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20), Act of 2013 established ZACC and the National Prosecuting Authority and special anti corruption unit and specialised anti corruption courts as the main institutions mandated to counter corruption in the country. 

These institutions must be used effectively to counter corruption in Zimbabwe which is spreading poverty.  We cannot win the war against poverty without first winning the battle against corruption.  Fighting corruption is not just a moral issue, but it is also an effective means of combating poverty.  I thank you Mr. President.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF NGUNGUMBANE: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to debate this very important motion raised by Hon. Sen. Tongogara.   The issue of corruption is not a new case before this House.  We have received motions about corruption in the past.  We have laws that have been enacted, I do not know since when.  They seem not to be addressing the problem.  So, it means there is a fundamental and structural problem that as this august House, we really need to look into.

          Mr. President, you will agree with me that laws alone cannot end corruption.  If laws could end corruption, then this society could be corrupt less but it illustrates that more needs to be done in curbing this cancer called corruption.  Corruption is not practiced by the poor but it is practiced by the rich, the educated and the clever.  So we need to be vigilant and be cleverer than them in addressing corruption.  Looking at a layman’s definition, corruption is a source of corruption in itself.  It says ‘it is the use of public resources for private gain’.  The question is - what measures have we put as a country to safeguard those resources and if those measures are there, what are we doing to ensure that we safeguard public resources?

          To me this definition is inadequate.  One issue that comes to mind is the issue of conflict of interests.  We remember when we started this session; we were called to declare our assets.  To say I have this much, these are the things that I have but are we extending that to all sectors of Government?  If yes, are we doing it effectively?  I doubt.  Mr. President, institutions that deal with corruption, in my own view, are very weak and compromised.  Why am I saying this?  If you look at the police, as part of the criminal justice system, they are poorly remunerated.  Their tools of trade leave a lot to be desired.  If you go to any police station today, you would find perhaps one vehicle servicing a population of 10 000 to 30 000 people.  In most cases, you would find that the one vehicle is used by the Officer in Charge for his/her personal errands.

          If I look at the National Prosecuting Authority, are we remunerating our prosecutors very well to an extent that they can resist a bribe when it is offered to them?  The answer is no.  Imagine you are a prosecutor, you deal with a high profile case and in the evening, you have to board a kombi to go home.  Obviously you are already exposed and you are vulnerable to corrupt tendencies by those that practice corruption.

          I look at our magistrates, are we remunerating them very well?  The answer is no.  Therefore, I call on players in the criminal justice system regardless of the position that they hold – indeed all civil servants, we are not saying it is only in the criminal justice system where we find corruption but everywhere people should be motivated to come to work and work diligently.

          It also calls that as Parliament, we must ensure that the players in the criminal justice system receive adequate budgets when the Minister of Finance brings in the budget at the end of the year.  There should also be timeous distribution of this budget to the concerned parties.  This will enable institutional empowerment of its bodies, when fully resourced, they are able to carry out their duties independently without fear or favour.

          Mr. President, there is a tendency to glorify corruption. In society you would find that people we take as role models; some of them have acquired that money through unpleasant means.  When our children see these people, they would admire and say I want to start a business.  I want to be rich as so and so.  Little do they know that the person is under investigation or has become a fugitive because of corrupt allegations that they tend to see.

          Let us not only look at the corruption that is practiced under public eye.  Corruption that is allegedly practiced by the police, VID and all other people that are public servants, that in a way does not affect our economy.  Their corruption, yes it affects but it is insignificant.  Thrust should be put on those people who make a killing; a fortune out of corruption.  If you go to South Africa, being a tenderpreneur has become big business.  I have been following the Zondo Commission proceedings and you will find most of these tenderpreneurs are people that get these tenders through unscrupulous ways like bribing.  So, we need to find ways of curtailing that and as I said before, we are dealing with very intelligentophisticated people, who can kill in order to safeguard their practices.

          One thing that comes to mind is our criminal justice system.  I am not a lawyer but I feel the law of criminal evidence should be looked into because we have a poorly remunerated prosecutor, magistrate and police officer having to deal with evidence. Collection of evidence is very key in a corruption case. Once you distort that evidence, you have destroyed the case and that person will go scot free. I feel our officers should measure up to the level of these criminals. We need to review our law of criminal evidence. How do we gather evidence, are we using sophisticated technology, are the police, judiciary, NPA and ZACC moving with technological advancements that are taking place globally? The answer is yes but we are moving at a very slow pace.

          There is this notion which is says in the courts, one is innocent until they are proven guilty. At times because of the bungling in the criminal justice system, we have witnessed people going scot free because the court failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused. Let us not look at establishing a case beyond reasonable doubt. I feel our courts should go a step further in addressing this case. It is also important whether somebody is acquitted of corruption cases but we should look at the ethical considerations. If it is a public servant, they should not go back to work because ethically, he has done something wrong. As a chief, I do not know which comes first, the issue of ethics, morality and the actual crime because we have people who say I am innocent until I am proven guilty but ethically it is well known that this person has done something wrong. Like what Hon. Sen. Tongogara alluded to, there is need to enforce ethical behaviour and considerations both in the public and private sectors.

          Let me conclude by saying we cannot address the issue of corruption in this country if we do not look at where we are coming as a people. Our values of ubuntu, hunhu, humanity – the highest stage of corruption is an indication that our moral fabric has been torn into pieces. People cannot differentiate what is correct and what is not, what is morally wrong and right. To them, as long as I am able to make quick money, show off, drive a fancy vehicle which we idolise so much, but you do not know how that person got that money, my appeal is that let us re-enforce values and principles of ubuntu. ‘I am because you are’ but when you deal with corruption, it becomes a cartel. It is you and the other person and we ignore the interest of society at large. With those few words, I would want to second the motion raised by Hon. Sen. Tongogara.

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

          HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 17th March 2022.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MASHONALAND CENTRAL PROVINCE (HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA): I move that we revert to Order of the Day Number 1 on today’s Oder Paper.

          Motion put and agreed to.

SECOND READING

PENSIONS AND PROVIDENT FUNDS BILL [H. B. 17A, 2019]

          First Order read:  Second Reading:  Pensions and Provident Funds Bill [H. B. 17A, 2019]

          Question again proposed.

          *HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank Hon. Minister for bringing this Bill on pension fund. The Bill on pension funds is welcome to everyone who is about to go on pension and those who are young because pension is about the life of a retired person. When people have grown old, they need security so that they live well because they cannot run around like what they used to do when they were young. These days, people are afraid of going on retirement. Even if you have a good job, you know that going for retirement is a death sentence.

          If you look at the records, many people who are dying are those who would have gone on retirement. This is so because of the paltry pensions that people are getting. Instead of living on them, they are stressed. The monies that they get are used for bus fare. Old men and women are given US$30 and if we look at the cost of living these days,  what does US$30 do? A few weeks ago in the social media, the issue was about teachers getting $58 000 which is a lump sum of money which they get when they retire. Hon. President, you are killing people. Long back you would distinguish pensioners from their lifestyle. In the rural areas, that is where tea was drunk and they were noticeable in the society because it was good. People could survive when they retire but these days it is very difficult.

          This Bill is trying to rectify the challenges that were there in the system, which is a noble thing to give power to the insurance bodies and make sure that corruption is curbed. The challenge that we have is that at the moment, how are pensioners surviving? The challenge that we have is the calculations because when you are being given a pension, you are given peanuts. The challenge that is being faced by pensioners is that the calculations that you are using do not help the pensioners but they benefit the pension houses.

          A person should be happy when they are going for retirement but at the moment the calculations that are being used are not working. If you see a teacher who has worked for 50 years and they are given $58 000 as a package that they should go and retire at home, what can they do? Long back we know that when someone has been given their pension, they can go and develop their homes, buy cars, open shops and live well in the rural areas.

          These days if a teacher retires, he/she cannot even buy groceries for two weeks with the money that they are given. The other thing that pensioners are crying about is that the money that they are given and the money that remains with the Pension Board is too much, which is used for the calculations of the pension. The cost is very high and it is painful. I think that is what the Bill should have covered and everyone would have been happy. You once said that consultations were made but the Bill did not capture the input from the people, their contributions and that is the immediate thing that needs to be done.

          The Bill is not shedding any light on when things will be better because right now the pensioners are not living well and they need help. The cry of the pensioners is that what they submitted was not covered by the Bill. The Minister is focusing on giving powers but you are not focusing on how we should get our money. So, the aim is very good but I think you should look at the pensioners before it is signed. I think we should hold another hearing to find out where the issues are, especially on the calculations. Thank you Hon. President. 

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Mr. President and thank you Hon. Minister. The Minister did well by giving his statement yesterday. Yesterday I debated on the pensions that when you are bringing a law like this to Parliament, the lawyers would say what the mischief we would want to rectify is. I have seen a lot of things that he wants to rectify. He wants to protect corporate governance, issues of transparency and that they should be obeyed which are arbitrated. Such issues on all the pension funds - that corporate governance should be good, I have seen it and there are a lot of them. According to the law, when we get to the Committee Stage when we are doing the actual amendments, I see that the Hon. Minister said we have challenges but you are not really clear about the issues that are affecting people.

          When we come to Committee Stage we will be articulating on that people should invest outside the country, off-shore investments and we can see that. The problem that we have which I think you would add on this Bill is that we work with people. The problems that they have are that people have worked in local authority or NRZ. Now they are in the rural areas and NSSA is a culprit. For them to get their funds, it is not possible. I have a lot of people per year who come to me seeking for advice. I investigate to find out who is the head of the local pension fund. I phone them and they say yes, but we do not have the money. So I want your Bill to address that.

          People have been contributing the whole of their life and they were told that after working they will be given such an amount of money. I remember there was someone who had been promised $28 000. After three or four years now they are sick and they want medical help but they cannot access that money.

          Their school going children are in boarding schools and now do not have money, so the children no longer continue with their education but their money is there at the pension fund, they cannot access it. I was thinking that this law was going to address that. Some are getting to the point of dying without getting their money. I have made a follow-up on some of them; some will get after two months and they will get probably $14 000 and that will be the end.

          I remember another case where the person ended up going to South Africa for medical attention. I thought you were going to address the issue of access to pension by pensioners because they are no longer at work and they have relocated to Murewa or Plumtree but they used to work in Harare. They are asked to come to Harare where they do not have anywhere to stay. So what should be done if someone leaves their employment so that they get help? This Commission of Pensions where does it come in because I have not seen anywhere where it helps people. It has to get money but why does it not help people?  This Commission is living on pensioners’ funds, why does it not help the pensioners? If the law says if someone retires they must be given their pensions and when people retire, they do not get their pension, I think there should be a law which makes sure people are given their pensions.  The money that you are given, let us say after two years, if you are not paid in time, it would have lost value.  They must give timeframes that pension must be paid within three months from the month of retiring.  If they take long to pay, they should factor in the issue of inflation and when they are then given the money, it will still be at the same value.  At the end of the day, the money is being eroded by inflation like the money from NSSA. I heard someone saying that they took long to pay them and when they eventually got paid, the money was equivalent to US$60. 

          The money that people are getting is meaningless and for someone to get their pension fast, you have to engage in people with power or to pay bribe so that you can access your pension quickly.  Why should we not pay people their pensions in time?  The law is not addressing that but it is addressing issues on investment and corporate governance.  No plans have been put in place to look at the plight of pensioners. The companies will have collected monthly contributions in the form of pensions but now they do not want to give pensioners their money, why?  I thank you Mr. President.

          *HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for according me this opportunity to add my voice on this Bill which was brought in by the Minister.  There are some things that he has rectified.  Do pensioners who have migrated to the rural areas still have to look for bus fare to come and access their money in town?  The pension which they receive is not even enough to pay for bus fare back home.  The pensioners are in a sorry state and a Bill like this must address these issues.  When people work, they must know that they will get a reasonable pension but working people do not know their future now.  Do you make a follow up on pensioners to see what is happening when people retire? 

          On Section 6 (v) that is referring to the Commission, I do not know if this Commission does help to make sure that pensioners have their pension and that their rights are being met.  Are there any plans in place to improve the plight of pensioners?   Government must see to it that pensioners get their money in time so the people work and look forward to a retirement package that will help them in their old age.  They cannot struggle to get their pensions; we want this rectified.  They must have money from their pensions to pay for bus fare.

          *HON. SEN. MABIKA: Thank you Mr. President. I would like to know whether in this Bill, there are some issues that can be changed regarding age.  If someone is 40 or below, they are told that they can only get their pensions after 60 years and you are now allowed to take your pension before the age of 60.  Is the Bill addressing the age issue that speaks to that?  At the moment, you are told to wait until you reach retirement age.  During this period, before attaining 60, what would the pensioner be using to survive?  I thank you.

          +HON. SEN. N. KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. President for this opportunity that you have given me.  Growing up here in Zimbabwe looks like a crime.  One works very hard in their youthful days and money will be deducted from their salary, which is money that one is supposed to use once they have retired. In other countries, when one has reached retirement age, the money that he gets is enough for them to pay rent and they make a living from it.  They get most things that those that are working cannot afford but here in Zimbabwe, once one has retired, their retirement is a crime and they are supposed to die just because they have retired.

The lump sum that is given to people that are pensioners is so disappointing and what they get monthly does not even suffice.  Right now, NSSA is giving people something like RTGS 2000 and pensioners are failing to fend for their families on that.  Most of the people that get pensions go to stay in the rural areas and there are no banks in these rural areas.  They are forced to board buses to go to towns to access banks.  They have to borrow money for them to board those buses to maybe Bulawayo and when they get there, they realise that their money is not yet in.  In cases where they get their money, once they get that money, they pay back for the bus fare and the money they are left with is not enough to buy anything for their families.  It is so difficult.  What I am asking  is, may the Government look into this.

One other issue that is troubling me is that NSSA is buying quite a number of properties yet the profit that they get from these properties is not directed to the same pensioners who have contributed to the money they use to buy properties.  The corruption that we are busy debating here is supposed to be directed to the NSSA people because they are stealing from people that do not have any other means of going back to work. 

In our culture we say they are like birds that take other bird’s feathers to build their nests.  Minister, my appeal is  let us craft a law that will protect pensioners.  Yes, I understand you once spoke about offshore investment but is it going to help us because right now these properties that NSSA is buying are failing to help people?  I appeal that let us have a law  in place to protect people and the money that they have been contributing since they were young.  I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Minister, have you managed to capture the issues she raised?

THE DEPUTY MINISISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA):  Partially.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Do you want someone to help you?

HON. CHIDUWA:  I think my team has captured it.

* HON. CHIDUWA:  Mr. President, let me start by responding to questions that were raised by Sen. Komichi who spoke about the importance of pensions.  He also said that pensions were good in the past but now people fear being pensioners because when you become a pensioner, it means your days are reduced here on earth.  In the past, it was really good to be a pensioner. 

This is what we want to fix using this Bill, Hon. Senator, like what was said by Sen. Chief Charumbira that when we amend laws - coming up with new Bills, it is because we are trying to cure these challenges.

You also said that in the first issue, inputs which were raised by people during consultations are not recorded in the Bill. Indeed, I agree with you, but the issue is that we have the pension fund for civil servants.  The Civil Service Pension Fund is not regulated by this Bill, so you will discover some issues which were raised during consultations were not recorded but they were captured in the Civil Service Pension Fund.  So that is where these issues are going to be addressed.

I would also like to respond to the NSSA issue.  NSSA is not covered by IPEC, so such issues relating to NSSA are not covered under this Bill.  This is the response that I can give to the question.  He also raised other issues like pension calculations for instance, that these should be corrected forthwith.  The Bill, when it becomes an Act of Parliament, will have to stand the test of time.  I know we desire to have a response right now but looking into the Bill, there is a section which is titled revaluations of assets and liabilities.  We also spoke about conversion of foreign currency. 

In that particular section, that is where we help each other on how we calculate the money that is apportioned to a pensioner.  We also spoke about actuaries.  For you to be an actuary, it means you need to have some qualifications which are vetted according to your profession.  Actuaries would assist us in that whatever they come up with will be credible.  These assist us in calculating pensions.  So if there is any surplus that we alluded to, that must be included in the Bill.

We also spoke about surplus money which should be declared.  The Bill captures all the issues that were raised.  So we are looking forward to these issues being addressed.  When you look at all the sections they are there, but I want to clarify that NSSA is not regulated by this Bill. 

Let me also move to what was raised by Senator Chief Charumbira that when we amend laws and come up with new Bills is because we are trying to cure these challenges.  Problems that are being addressed by this Bill are that a person can make contributions for the whole life but will not realise all that effort.  We said when we go to depositors, we have the Depositors’ Fund.  For pensions we want to have Pensions Protection Fund.  This will assist even if our economy changes downwards, pensioners will be protected.

 If we follow all that is mentioned in the Pension Protection Fund, they will be protected. You also talked about timely disbursements and loss of value.  Timely disbursements, if our Bill passes, there are issues which will come from regulatory guidelines, which will address all that. There are certain issues which are not coming out of the Act which will be addressed by the regulator in the regulatory guidelines.  Timelines will come out later but every time when we disburse funds, they should consider loss of value. It should not take long when one goes on pension, for one to get his/her pension.

          You also mentioned about problems on calculation of pension, you want it to be rectified right now.  When our Bill becomes an Act, it will stand the test of time.  I know that we want to get the answer as soon as possible.  When we look in this Bill, we have a section which talks of assets and liabilities.  We also talked of conversion of foreign currency, but the details will come out in the regulatory framework. 

On what was raised by Hon. Sen.Tongogara on the issue of pensioners getting their money without trouble, as we speak, Government  has a policy on financial inclusion. This policy states that in line with the policy thrust of Government, which says leaving no one and no place behind - .people from where they are should get financial products.   At banks which belong to Government - POSB, AFC, our policy is that at growth points where people live, these banks should be found.  With our policy on digitalisation, which is one of the pillars of NDS1, we want for there to be 100% coverage in the country on the issue of mobile networks.  Even pensioners can get their money over the phone. POSB on their strategic plan want to increase their banks.  Our banks like POSB will continue going closer to people.

          We have other banks which do mobile banking.  Not all banks are doing that, but it is helping some of our pensioners.

          She talked of Section 65, I agree that there was no protection which is clear except for Service Level Agreements which were there.  So, the Mischief which we want to correct on Section 65 is that there should be a Pensions Protection Fund.  There is an issue raised by Hon. Sen. Mabika that if one reaches 55 years but the law on pension says I will get my pension after 65 years, how will I survive.  We have different types of pension schemes.  Private pension funds, many of them if you reach 55 years you will qualify. If you retire you will get you money.  You will get this in the regulation, not in this Act.  Those in NSSA, it will be a little bit different. 

          Hon. Sen. Khumalo, I am not sure whether I get you.  My team should assist me so that I address the issues that were raised by Hon. Sen. Khumalo. So, this is the response that I am giving to the issues that have been raised. The most important thing is that NSSA is not covered by this Bill but the Deposit Protection Fund should assist our pensioners. I move that the Bill be now read a second time.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Bill read a second time.

          Committee Stage: Thursday, 17th March 2022.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON HIV AND AIDS ON THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS ON HIV AND AIDS SERVICE DELIVERY SYSEM IN ZIMBABWE

          Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions on HIV and AIDS service delivery system.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to support the report that was tabled in this august House by Hon Sen. Kambizi. I would like to thank the Committee on HIV and AIDS in coming up with a very detailed First Report of the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic during lockdown restrictions on HIV and AIDS service delivery system in Zimbabwe.

          It is very important to add a few words in seconding this very important report. It has got everything and I hope the responsible Ministry will take note of the recommendations from the Committee and implement them in order for Government to achieve the UN target of the three-90s.  During the visit to NatPharm, we wanted to understand how the ART roll-out programme was progressing in the country and to understand the supply chain in our health institutions. Of importance was to find out what happens to expired ARVs. As a Committee, we were worried that maybe they end up being sold on the streets. We were informed that they are withdrawn from service following the same supply chain. In other words, for accountability, it follows the reverse procedure until they reach NatPharm. They are then disposed of under very strict conditions and supervised by various departments. They are disposed of through incineration.

          At NatPharm, we were also informed about the procurement and distribution of ARVs. Of concern to the Committee was the delay for ARVs to reach the final end of the distribution supply chain. We were told that sometimes the health institutions delay in submitting their request for restocks and end up being delayed along the supply chain.

          We also had the opportunity to meet with the National Aids Council of Zimbabwe (NAC). NAC came to being through the enactment of the National Aids Council of Zimbabwe Act. The report highlighted in detail the mandate of NAC and the funding through the Aids Levy and the development partners. We heard about the programmes and the activities of NAC.  Of Interest to the Committee were challenges that NAC was facing, access of foreign currency to procure ARVs.  We heard that NAC was priority number one for the RBZ but what they were getting was not enough.

          We were also told that 85% of the HIV funding came from donors. The Committee felt that as a country, we have to prepare ourselves on what will happen when donors pull out in terms of HIV funding. The number of people in formal employment has gone down and this has affected the flow of AIDS levy. The Government has no legal framework to collect tax from those in the informal sector. The programme faced a number of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic that were highlighted in the report. Those who knew their HIV status for the first time were becoming fewer because of the challenges in accessing, testing and counselling services.

As a Committee, we were impressed with the programmes and activities of NAC. A visit to selected health institutions proved that most institutions were experiencing shortages of second line drugs and cotramoxazole which were funded by our Government through the AIDS levy.

Lastly, most issues have been highlighted in the report. As a Committee, we hope our observations and recommendations will be taken care of and implemented. I thank you Mr. President.

          *HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to add my voice on the report which was brought by Hon. Sen. Kambizi, a report from HIV/AIDs Thematic Committee. The pandemic of HIV/AIDS has caused havoc. In the first days, we lost many lives - right now people understand that HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence. Government is trying by all means for people to receive their treatment so that they can live.

          Still on that issue, there is a problem because when we thought that we were moving forward on reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS and people were taking their medication on time, there were hindrances and problems here and there. The COVID-19 pandemic came and it caused a lot of problems to all programmes which were meant to fight HIV/AIDS. COVID-19 caused more problems to the patients who used to go to different health centres to collect medication due to lockdowns which has been mentioned in the report. People were struggling in their homes without food and medication. 

          There were major strides which were done to see how best we can eliminate HIV/AIDS but due to COVID-19, all the progress which had been made became void because many people defaulted because of circumstances beyond their control. There was a time when people were told to go and request for letters from the police officers to be allowed to go to the nearest health facility to access medication. It became a problem because some of the officers were demanding more information, hence there was no confidentiality from the police officers. Many people ended up not going to request for these letters because they did not want to divulge their status and they ended up defaulting on medication.

          I also heard that these ARVs were now scarce because they are not produced here in Zimbabwe. We also have a pharmaceutical company, Varichem which used to produce these medications but due to different reasons, the company is no longer producing. There are a lot of things which have been mentioned in the report that this company must resume the production of this medication.

          I want to thank the Minister of Health and Child Care who managed to visit Varichem Company to see how best they can assist them to resume the production of ARVs. When he visited, what he saw was not pleasing and their plans have not materialised. We are still waiting for the report from the Minister of Health who is the Vice President who went and assessed the situation at Varichem. I want to thank NAC for the job which they are doing on HIV/AIDS. They worked very hard during lockdown by helping those who are living with HIV/AIDS to see how best they can get help. We know there are problems but with the little that they managed to do, we want to thank them for their efforts because they managed to work hard to  see how people can get help and access their drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

          If people work together for people to get help, it will be good. I want to conclude by saying there are recommendations which have been put in the report.  When the Committee went to different areas assessing the situation, those recommendations were raised and will help us a lot if they are accepted and see how best these problems can be solved which people who are living with HIV/AIDS are facing so that their health can be improved.  I thank you.

          +HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you Mr. President for the opportunity provided to support the report that was presented by Hon. Sen. Kambizi on the Thematic Committee on HIV/AIDS. This is the report which looked more into the challenges that were brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown which made work become difficult to those that get HIV treatment. I am grateful for  this report because it is important and I would like to thank this Committee which made it possible to go to these patients who are receiving HIV treatment looking at issues of how they are receiving their ARVs.  During this tour, they indicated that they realised that in 2018 they could not get enough ARVs, way before the COVID-19 lockdowns.  In the report it was indicated that some people got their three months supply and some, areas were not accessible due to lockdown measures.  This Committee also went to NATPHARM to get an understanding of how ARVs are being distributed to these people if ever they are there or they are in short supply. 

However, they indicated that NATPHARM was facing challenges of getting enough resources to get things that they need to get enough ARVs.   This Committee also managed to get an understanding from the Minister on how NAC and NATPHARM are working and they indicated that NAC was talking of 1.4 million people that are living with HIV/AIDS. This Committee also realised that work was going on which was focusing on 90/90 as we move towards to 2030.  NAC also indicated that in 2019 they were closer to reaching their vision of getting everyone knowing their status regarding HIV/AIDS so that everyone who is affected will be able to receive treatment.  They indicated that there are 87.36% of people who are in the 90/90.

I would also like to thank this Committee for the tour that they made to almost all the districts and quite a number of them were covered.  They visited a number of hospitals to figure out what challenges they are facing, where it was indicated that some ARVs had expired and in other hospitals they were in short supply. Some indicated that first line drugs were in short supply as well.  Some other challenges that were encountered were to do with second line drugs like Cotrimoxazole which were in short supply, the drugs were supposed to be bought by our Government through AIDS levy.  It appeared Cotrimoxazole was in short supply.  Hospitals also indicated that corruption was affecting them quite a lot where they were being made to pay monies like US$5 for them to get ARVs.

For their monthly supply they were made to pay US$3, the charges would vary according to the supply that one was supposed to get.  Mr. President, Mpilo Hospital put it on record that they had about 200 patients who had been given expired ARV drugs and the hospital was questioned on whether this was good or not but the hospital indicated that to those that received this medication none of them came back to show side effects.  In other hospitals, they indicated that they never faced such challenges, especially in Matabeleland South Hospital which indicated that they never had expired drugs.  If they get expired drugs there is a policy and a way that they use to get rid of that batch; we realised that in other areas all was well. 

We also realised that in Filabusi in Matebeleland South, there was no hospital because the structure that is there as a hospital is in bad shape, it is not habitable.   If a patient gets to such hospitals they get to suffer more because they are likely to feel lost by being taken to a place that is not good for human habitation.  There was shortage of CD4 count machines.  In one of the hospitals that we visited, there is a shortage of second line drugs for children.  The Ministry should buy ARVs for HIV patients to get help.  Enough funds should be provided because this Ministry is doing a great job for people living with HIV and AIDS.  Mr. President, there should be a way for these drugs to be accessible to all patients because most of these patients, especially those in rural areas, are the ones that are facing more challenges in accessing them.

I would like to thank the Committee for this tour which made us realise that Filabusi in Matabeleland South is just as good as not having a hospital.  The place that they call a hospital is dilapidated and not fit for humans.  Even if you take a patient to such a place, they are not likely to recover because of the state of the hospital. 

In my view, looking at the way Government is trying to upgrade different districts in our country, it is also prudent that an face-lift is given to Filabusi Hospital because everyone who was part of the tour to this hospital is not happy about the state of affairs in this institution.

Mr. President, I would like to thank the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS on the great job they did because the time that they carried out this tour was a difficult time where COVID-19 cases were increasing but they committed themselves to the task.  Therefore, without further ado, I would like to say thank you Mr. President and I would like to thank Senator Kambizi for this great report which is all encompassing.  Thank you Mr. President

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU:  Thank you Mr. President.  I now move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Thursday, 17th March, 2022.

MOTION

SECOND REPORT OF THE THEMATIC ON HIV AND AIDS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ANTIRETROVIRAL THERAPY (ART) ROLL-OUT PROGRAMME

Fourth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the implementation of the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) Roll Out Programme.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU:  I move that the debate do now adjourned.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Thursday, 17th March, 2022.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Thursday, 17th March, 2022.

MOTION

CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF HON. SEN. SIMON KHAYA MOYO

Sixth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the untimely passing on of the late Senator for Matabeleland South, Hon. Sen. Simon Khaya Moyo.

Question again proposed.

+HON. SEN. MKHWEBU:  Thank you President of the Senate for giving me this opportunity to share a few words about the life of our departed Hon. Sen. S. K. Moyo.  Hon. Moyo worked so hard before the country attained independence until independent Zimbabwe.  Therefore, we are grateful for the work that he did for this country.

In 1980, he first worked in Government as a Deputy Minister in Home Affairs.  He displayed so much professionalism in the call of duty.  What we remember him for in this post is spearheading the construction of the R.G. Mugabe Airport which had gone for years without any rehabilitation.  Therefore, we really appreciate this great work.

In 1995 to 1997, he was Bulilima-Mangwe South Member of Parliament, representing the people and he worked for them for quite a number of years.  He was appointed Minister of Mines and Tourism, where he majored in the Ministry of Mines, Tourism and Environment so that these ministries work together because those in mines and environment needed to work together closely.  As a professional person, it was easy for him to carry out all this duties. 

In 2001, he was appointed Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa, Lesotho and Mauritius.  He helped Zimbabweans who would cross to South Africa without proper documentation to get permits.

          Whilst as an Ambassador, he helped in the country’s sovereignty during the land reform programme in Zimbabwe.  In 2013, he was Senator for Mangwe Constituency and in 2017, he was appointed Minister of Information where he displayed excellence in his work in information dissemination.

          Mr. President, Hon Late S.  K. Moyo is remembered again by his book titled ‘Mr. Speaker’, which he wrote.  Many in Zimbabwe will remember him through this book. Those in academia have read and understood it.  Therefore Mr. President, we are indeed thankful for the work done by the late S. K. Moyo.  He was an ever smiling person.  Each time he came into this august House, he would say, Aaa! you are in here heroine and I will say I am in here father.  It will be difficult for me to forget this. . In addition to this, we worked together during the liberation struggle.  I would also like to thank the President of the country who conferred him the hero status which we as the people of Matebeleland are grateful for. He has been laid to rest at the National Shrine. May his soul rest in peace, hero of the heroes.  Thank you. 

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

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 17th March, 2022.

MOTION

PREVALENCE OF DRUG ABUSE BY YOUTHS

          Seventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the

 devastating effects of drugs on youths.

          Question again proposed.   

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

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 17th March, 2022.

MOTION

CURBING GENDER BASED VIOLENCE AMONG COMMUNITIES

Eighth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the increase

 of Gender based violence  during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Question again proposed.

*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Mr. President.  I would

 like to wind up the motion by thanking all Senators who contributed to this motion.  COVID 19 was quite a challenging situation which culminated in a situation of  lockdowns where most people were not able to move around. They spent most of their time at home. Those who were used to visiting friends and going to watch football and other activities like going to work did not do that because of lockdowns as a result of COVID-19. This resulted in high prevalence of domestic violence.

          You know that domestic violence is not a good thing but the fact that domestic violence is still happening in different households, these are issues which are not being spoken about. People keep quiet about such issues because of our culture which does not permit people to go around talking about what is happening behind closed doors. Domestic violence separates families. It destroys marriages. It also results in other people being disabled because of violence.

I would like to appreciate that Government is doing its best through the enactment of laws which intend to stop domestic violence. However, people do not accept such but we need to unite and educate people regarding domestic violence.

          We need peace and we are aware that domestic violence does not bring peace. I now move for the adoption of the motion that;

NOTING with concern that since the outbreak of COVID-19 there has been a sharp increase of gender-based violence (GBV), especially domestic violence in the country;

AWARE that Zimbabwe is a signatory of UN international and regional treaties and protocols against GBV, amongst them CEDAW, SADC Protocol on Gender and Development;

ACKNOWLEDGING the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign) that calls for global actions to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, to end GBV;

Aware that this year’s theme for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2021, is “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”;

RECOGNISING the efforts that the government has been taking to curb the scourge of GBV through policies and activities in provinces and districts;

WORRIED that if urgent measures are not taken to reduce the prevalence of GBV, there is real risk that GBV will be a real pandemic within the COVID-19 crisis;

NOW, THEREFORE, CALLS upon the Executive to do more to curb GBV among communities by, among others, deploying more GBV mobile services in districts and provinces; and building more safe houses put and agreed to.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MATHUTHU, seconded by HON. SEN. TONGOGARA the Senate adjourned at Seventeen Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.

 

 

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