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SENATE HANSARD 16 MAY 2024 VOL 33 NO 48

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 16th May, 2024

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

PRAYERS

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE  

INVITATION TO JOIN THE AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARIANS NETWORK ON DEVELOPMENT EVALUATION

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT:  I have to inform the Senate of the existence of the African Parliamentarians Network on Development Evaluation (APNODE). This is a continental body that has been in existence for 10 years and Zimbabwe has been a member of this network for the past 9 years.  Some of the objectives of APNODE are:

  1. To sensitise, I am sure they mean to educate national Parliaments and Parliamentarians about the importance of evaluation for oversight policy and decision making.
  2. To enhance the capacity of Parliamentarians to demand and utilise evaluation evidence in their Parliamentary duties.
  3. To share experiences across Africa and beyond.

 Hon. Members interested in joining the network should register their names with Mr. C. Ratsakatika in office No. 335.

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT:  I have with me a very long list of Ministers who have tender apologies and it is as follows: Hon. T. Machakaire, Minister of Youth Empowerment and Vocational Training Centres; Hon. E. Jesaya, Deputy Minister of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture; Hon. B. Rwodzi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Hon. O. C. Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence; Hon. Sen. M. Mutsvangwa Minister of Women Affairs, Communities, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Hon. B. Kabikira, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works; Hon. C. Sanyatwe, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. Z. Ziyambi, Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Hon. Mazungunye, Deputy Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Hon. S. Nyoni, Minister of Industry and Commerce; Hon. Modi, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce; Hon. E. Moyo, Minister of Energy and Power Development; Hon. Simbanegavi, Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development; Hon. Z. Soda Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities; Hon. Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; Hon. S. Sibanda, Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.

In the Chamber today we have: Hon. Mavhunga Minister of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle; Hon. Kambamura, Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development; Hon. Dinha, Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Hon. Kwidini, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care.

I think those are the Ministers present in the Chamber. It goes without saying that this is very disappointing. Extremely disappointing and normally we have some Minister who have never set foot here in this Chamber. – [HON. SENATORS. Hear, hear.]- and yet it is the responsibility of every Minister, every Thursday, to come to Senate and attend to the questions raised by Hon. Senators. Yes, it is actually holding Senators in contempt. It is tantamount to holding Senators in contempt. We will raise this issue with the relevant authorities I can assure you. It has gone too far now. – [HON. SENATORS. Hear, hear.]- Let us make do with what we have.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. You were once asked as to what the policy is for one who has worked and has nothing, he or she goes to the hospital and before discharged from the hospital, they request for payment upfront. We learnt that policy was that it is not permissible once one has proved that one is not a man of means, they should not pay anything, but we observed that in our communal lands, it is happening in our hospitals.  What can we do about it? Have there been any changes as regards the poor in terms of being afforded free medication?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DINHA): Thank you Mr. President. This is a pertinent question. I believe at times we meet such circumstances and we hear of such cases where one is not discharged from the hospital because one has failed to pay money.  The policy is that once one has got no money, one should be discharged and will only have to pay as and when one will have raised the money, especially if it is for someone who did not have the money at the time of admission.

 For those that are extremely poor, we have a programme as department of Social Welfare, that ensures that such an individual is treated free of charge.  If they are men of no means, Social Welfare Department will write a letter to that effect and they will be treated, whether it is a hospital or the clinic, wherever they want to seek medical attention, they will be treated for free. 

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:  I have a supplementary question. Thank you Deputy Minister Dinha.  What is painful is that this person can be released so that he or she can pay. When this is a man of no means, he will then receive summons, a letter of demand. You will understand what I am talking about that failure to pay the debt by such and such a date, litigation will take place and the man will not have fully recovered. What should happen in this circumstance?

*HON.  DINHA: Thank you Mr. President. If there are people in that category that they are of no means, they should approach our offices so that we can assist them before they go to seek medical attention. Such a person in that position should have approached the department for the department to issue a letter entitling them for prepayment so that this demand for payment can be avoided.  Furthermore, we encourage that should such cases occur in hospitals, the Ministry or the department should be informed so that we can take the appropriate steps to correct this anomaly with the relevant hospital because the law does not allow such a practice.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. HUNGWE:  I have a supplementary question.  We hear what the Minister said that they could approach us, but Zimbabwe is a big country.  If a person is in the communal home and being of no means, how can they approach their offices?  Why do they not have their own officers in the wards so that when such cases occur, one can even send a child to get the necessary documentation?  Let us be honest with one another.  People are dying out there because of lack of help.  They do not deserve to die, but our Social Welfare Department is not reachable.  It is far away from the people.  The question that has been asked by the Chief is important for everyone, even ourselves in urban centres. It is not possible for us to do what she has suggested. They should come up with better ways to ensure that people remain alive.  Others are losing their lives unnecessarily.

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Sen. Hungwe.  It was not a supplementary question. You may understand it now.  You emphasised on the dire situation prevailing out there.

+HON. SEN. SIBANDA: Hon. Minister, in your presentation, you said that if someone is going to the hospital, he or she is supposed to get a letter from the Social Welfare.  When you get to the Social Welfare, this letter that you are talking about is the AMTO letter.  This AMTO letter is found in hospitals.  For you to get this letter, you have to go to hospital and you cannot just get to the hospital with a card and ask for a letter to go to Social Welfare and to come back to this hospital again.  You have to first of all produce the letter in the hospital so that a doctor or sister in charge can prepare a letter for you to get the AMTO letter from the Social Welfare.  This is what causes people not to go to hospital.  It is hard to get this AMTO letter.  As for me, I have once gone through this process.

HON.  DINHA: Thank you Mr. President.  Your question is that it is even difficult in accessing letters that are written by the Ministry of Social Welfare so that one can go to the hospital for treatment.  I would want to reiterate that it is difficult for them to go to these places.  The position is we have Social Welfare Offices in our districts and a majority of these are within the reach of people.  These are the offices where such letters can be accessed. In Zvimba for instance, there is Murombedzi, a lot of Districts do have such offices. For the department of Social Welfare, we will be expecting people to access the district centres to get these letters for them to be entitled for free payment using the AMTO programme.  I thank you.

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Minister, I would urge you to sit down between yourself and your sister Ministry of Health so that you try and streamline how you can assist people who are sick but cannot afford to pay hospital fees. I would urge you to do that and come back to the House and tell us what you made in terms of arrangements. Otherwise you can see that it is a very serious issue of concern to Hon. Senators.

HON. DINHA: Thank you very much. I will do as you please.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF NGEZI: My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. What measures are you taking to alleviate the effects of drought in communal lands? In addition, what methods are you using to select the beneficiaries that are going to be entitled to assistance because of this drought regardless of one’s status in life?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DINHA): I would like to thank Hon. Senate Chief Ngezi for his question. It is a pertinent one wherein he is seeking to find out what we are doing as regards the issue of drought that we are experiencing and how are the beneficiaries going to be selected.

As you all know, we are in a drought year. In the past months, we were giving out maize handouts. Starting from this week, we have resumed issuing maize until July. For the next three months, we are going to give food handouts to beneficiaries amounting to 7 million. What we are going to do is that each person is going to get 7.5kg of maize per month. At the moment, we are saying since everyone is in a drought period, we are going to give the allocation once for the next three months which means for the three months, each individual is going to access 22.5kgs and this is going to be a once off disbursement.

At the moment, we are busy trying to ensure that the maize has been delivered to GMB where there is no maize. In areas where there is maize, the programme has already started. For those areas where there is no maize, maize is on its way to these GMBs. Once it gets to the communities, we ask the village heads, together with the chiefs and our officers from the Social Welfare Department to oversee the distribution of these maize to the recipients. The councillor will also be working hand-in-glove with these people. The Member of Parliament and Senator will also observe whether this is conducted in a proper manner. In the majority of cases, we rely more on the village heads because they know the people that they live with and those that are vulnerable within their communities and those that require maize assistance. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. ZINDI: Are urbanites going to be considered under this programme of drought relief and who is going to carry out the selection process? Has your Ministry identified the beneficiaries in urban areas and who is responsible for compiling the list and how is it going to be conducted? I thank you.

*HON. DINHA: At the moment, we are busy compiling names of recipients and scrutinising their suitability to this programme. At the moment, we are using the documents that we were using previously. ZIMLAC is working on the figures but in the meantime, we are using our previous documents to distribute until the end of July. The village heads are the ones that are selecting those that are eligible for receiving aid.

People in the communal areas are going to receive maize meal. There are 8 rural based provinces and these will receive maize. We also noticed that per month, 46 000 tonnes are going to be required. For the three months that I have made reference to,  people are going to be given maize once off and we would  require 138 000 tonnes of maize. In the urban centres, they will receive cash payouts.

*HON. SEN. ZINDI: My question was two pronged. Who is going to compile the list of urbanites and when is this going to start because in communal areas, this programme is already in motion?

*HON. DINHA: The exercise has already started in urban centres. There are officers that are responsible for carrying out this exercise in urban centres. Each deserving beneficiary is going to receive US$6.50 which is equivalent to 10kgs per person.

THE HON DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Who is responsible for compiling the names of the people?

*HON DINHA: Officers from our Ministry are responsible for compiling the names of the people and ZIMLAC is also responsible for the assessment to see the number of deserving beneficiaries

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: What is ZIMLAC?

          * HON. DINHA:  Thank you Mr. President, the exercise has long started in urban centers.  There are officers that are responsible for carrying out this exercise in urban centres and are writing the names of deserving candidates who will receive a total of US6.50 which is equivalent to 10kgs per person.

          THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Minister, answer the question, the question is who is going to compile the list? I think this is the question which the Hon. Senator has asked.  If there are officers from your Ministry, say so.  Whatever it is, say so.  

          * HON. DINHA:  Thank you Mr. President, the officers from our Ministry are responsible for compiling the names of our people and ZIMLAC is also responsible for the assessments to see the number of deserving people. 

          THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  What is ZIMLAC? I am asking a genuine question, what is ZIMLAC?

          * HON. DINHA:  ZIMLAC is an organisation that comprises of various groups that move around to see persons that are deserving to be assisted.  There are various groups that move together to do this assessment.   Some people have harvested and others are facing hunger, that is why there is that need for such an exercise.

          +HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: I am really concerned about the issue that if we are in a crisis, there are people who are really vulnerable.  We have not heard you explaining on how children at schools as well as the aged are going to be assisted. How are they to be assisted?

          The Hon. Minister needing some interpretation.

          THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  She said the elderly, I think.  The interpretation equipment is working, but the question is, how are you going to assist children and the elderly?

          * HON. DINHA:  Thank you Mr. President, there is a programme that is feeding children in schools that has since started in some areas and in some it is still starting.  Sometimes school children will come to school hungry and hence, the Government has come up with a programme to feed school children in schools.  We urge that the elderly whenever people’s names are being registered for the distribution of maize, they start first because they are too weak to fend for themselves or to till the land.        We also have programmes where chiefs are given maize so that they can distribute the maize to needy people in their area.          

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Hon. Minister for answering the questions.  You said you will give people maize once in every three months.  That is the best approach, not that we will give every month, we do not have that capacity.  On the food that is supposed to be given to chiefs, we have a document that says chiefs and sabhukus, it does not mention councillors.  As chiefs, we cannot be supervised by councillors, it is not possible, we must do that job, it is our responsibility.

*HON. DINHA:  Thank you Hon. President. I once said that the sabhukus and the chiefs are the leaders on this food aid programme, though we do not deny councillors to just come and witnesses the giving of maize.  The food distribution will be done by Chiefs and sabhukus.  These will be the ones who will be asked to provide a list of needy people.  They are the ones who best know people in that area.  The councillor is there to supervise or to observe only, but are not directly involved in the giving of food aid. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: The issue at hand is very important Hon. Minister. The manner in which you are answering, I believe that you need to come up with a well-researched statement to deal with the first issue.  ZIMVAC is want you wanted to talk about when you were mentioning ZIMLAC, Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment.  It assesses the crop situation, what we planted and what we are expecting to harvest.  We need information in this Senate, you must get assistance in terms of the grain situation that we have.  Does it enable you to feed the rural people that you have mentioned?  Further, we also want to find out the issue of distribution which has always been problematic. What measures have you put in place to ensure that there is smooth distribution of food to the people?

          As I speak, there are a lot of groanings and pleas from the areas where we come from. The lists are being compiled by people from the district administrator.  The people of Kamonde are 100 km away and there are no Social Welfare officers to supervise this.  Please go and sit down and come back with factual information.  We do not need guess work on the issue of the drought relief programme because it is a reality.  Let me also further reiterate the issue raised by Hon. Sen. Zindi in terms of urban areas because His Excellency the President said no one and no place must be left behind, whether in the city or rural areas.  So, please go and get the correct information.

          THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Senator Mupfumira for assisting the Minister.  All the same, we are all faced with this drought.  This drought is actually affecting everybody in this country.  Minister, I think it is a good idea for you to make a comprehensive statement as is being said by Hon. Senators.

          HON. SEN. D. M. NCUBE: My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service.  Since we are dealing with a national disaster, as pronounced by the President, What is the role of the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) in terms of identifying those who are in dire need of assistance food wise because you are also talking about these other groupings like ZIMVAC, which we do not know?  What about the CPU, which actually is mandated to deal with emergencies such as this one?  I thank you.

          HON. DINHA: Thank you Mr. President.  We are all aware that we are operating in an emergence mode after the declaration of the state of disaster by His Excellency Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa.  As a country, we are using the whole of Government approach, that means it is not the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare only that is involved in the distribution of grains and other stuff.  We are working together with the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Transport.  We are having a meeting because we are using trains to transport our grains, so that the administration costs are kept at a minimal.  So, there are several Ministries that are working on this issue.  Thank you.

          THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  There is another Deputy Minister who has joined us.  The Deputy Minister of Youth, Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training, Hon. Mupamhanga.

          +HON. SEN. M. NDLOVU: I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity Hon. President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Mines and Mining Development.  I heard that the war veterans are being given mines.  Were they also given equipment to use in those mines because these war veterans are the liberators of this beautiful country?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (HON. KAMBAMURA): Thank you very much Mr. President.  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  The Ministry Mines and Mining Development gave the war veterans some areas to work on.  These are areas that were reserved specifically for war veterans.  These are areas of high mineral potential.  Currently, there is a facility which was availed by the Ministry, the Mining Industry Loan Fund, which provides for a loan facility which can be given to those who own mining claims.  What they do is they approach our provincial mining offices, specifically the office of the Provincial Mining Director and put an application.  Our officers will go to the ground to assess the mine whether they will be able to pay back that loan.  Fidelity Printers also have a loan facility which they are giving to all miners, not specifically to war veterans or any sector to all miners.  So, I would like to urge the war veterans to approach the Ministry of Mines for the Mining Industry Loan Fund or approach Fidelity Gold Refiners for the loan facility which they avail for small scale mining sector.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. NZINDI: Thank you Mr. President.  Why is it so difficult for the Ministry of Mines to set aside a loan facility specifically for war veterans from all these institutions, the Deputy Minister has highlighted, how they have also set aside claims specifically for war veterans.  If work starts in terms of generating income, then so be it.  Why I am saying so is because for them to individually approach those financial institutions where one can go and apply for a loan, it is 100% those war veterans will not get that loan.  Is it so difficult, I repeat that they set aside whatever loan facility in order to start production and generate funds for war veterans in their late 60s and 70s so that they can enjoy what they fought for other than to do lip service, that we hear every day?

          HON. KAMBAMURA: Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the follow-up question.  The Ministry reserved some areas for war veterans after a special request from their parent Ministry.  So, I would like to urge the Hon. Senator and the organisation again to bring that request through their parent Ministry so that the Ministry will look into it.  Most probably, the Ministry will assign a financial institution to manage that Fund but the request needs to come from their parent Ministry so that it could be done in an organised manner.  Thank you. 

          HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: I just wish to find out from the Minister how effective that programme is? How many War veterans from the statistics do you have from evaluation process, how many war veterans have benefited from this programme that you are talking about?

          HON. KAMBAMURA: I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the good question. What the Ministry did was to respond to the parent Ministry. They approached the Ministry through their company which is called Power Zimbabwe which was to be administered and managed by the Ministry of War Veterans. It was not the mandate of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to allocate specific claims to war veterans, neither was it the mandate of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to check who has been given what and where. Our task was to allocate areas of high mineral potential to the Ministry, then everything was going to be managed by the parent Ministry. That is why I have referred back to the parent Ministry so that they can approach the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.  Maybe in future, we need to form a Committee to manage these assets and try our level best to assist where possible. Thank you.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Mr. President. I do appreciate the explanations by the Deputy Minister of Mines. The whole issue backs the question why our Zimbabwean is ashamed, reluctant to openly provide certain special vehicles opportunities for war veterans. We are all here in this House because of the role they played. No black person sat in a Parliament like this.  The whole world, war veterans are recognised for their role, they are given bigger pensions. If it is in mining, we need to have clear funding, specifically to war veterans like we do for the youths and women.  What we are doing for the war veterans is good, but we must do more.   It is good for this country.  Therefore, when the Minister then says for this fund, I want you to go this side. These funds exist in Ministries and Ministry of Mines itself has some funds for specific funds managed by the Ministry of Mines. With respect to mining, why do we not have a fund within Mines Ministry with respect to mining? Then the Minister of War Veterans can sit on that Committee. Let us not be ashamed that we have given war veterans this open benefit exclusive to them. We need to do more for them. Thank you.

          HON. KAMBAMURA: Thank you Mr. President. Thank you Hon. Senator Chief Charumbira for the supplementary question and advice. I have taken note, I am going to sit down with my Minister and deliberate on the issue. We are also going to engage Hon. Mavhunga, the Minister for War Veterans so that we sit down and come up with something concrete for the War Veterans. Thank you, Mr. President. – [HON. SENATORS. Hear, hear.]-

          HON. SEN. ZINDI: Thank Mr. President. Let me ask the Deputy Minister. Is it so difficult to do a joint venture with those special concessions set aside for war veterans with the Chinese, Belarusians or Russians, the list is non-exhaustive? In terms of what the Government is doing in terms of joint ventures, mining operations with the list of countries I have mentioned earlier on, what is it that makes it so difficult that they cannot also come up with a joint venture of that nature for war veterans and benefit while they are still alive? Thank you.

          HON. KAMBAMURA: Thank you, Mr. President. In my initial response, I have indicated that there was a special vehicle company which was formed by the Ministry of War Veterans, specifically to do mining. They approached the Ministry of Mines and Mine Development to capacitate through issuance of mining assets to that special purpose vehicle which we did. If ever there are any investors who are willing to form some partnerships or joint ventures with the war veterans, they can freely form some joint ventures or partnership with the investor. If they need more assets, they are free to approach the Ministry so that we can assist them. If ever there are any challenges, our offices are also open to attend to those challenges. Thank you, Mr. President.

          +HON. SEN. NYATHI: I thank you Mr. President for the opportunity. My question is directed to the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture. What is the Government’s position on the children who are school leavers and have currently completed their primary and secondary education but are not yet employed?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTRES (HON. MUPAMHANGA):  Thank you Mr. President.  I would also like to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.   There are various strategies that the Ministry is imploring in order to absorb these young people.  Firstly, we have vocational training centres.  We are on a drive to revamp our vocational training centres.  They specifically target school leavers, children who have not made the cut of 5 ‘O’ levels and above, so that we can equip them with skills in order to allow them to enter the job market or also create jobs for themselves. 

Secondly, we have our youth bank, EmpowerBank, which allows young people who have an entrepreneurial spirit.  They conduct training sessions that are targeted for financial inclusion and financial literacy so that they can start their own businesses.  Thirdly, as many Members of this House are aware that His Excellency, the President is due to relaunch the National Youth Service rebranded as the Youth Service in Zimbabwe as an entry route for young people to get orientation and subsequently enter our vocational training centres on voluntary work.  This is done in order for them to be included in the society.  In addition we have youth focal desks in every ministry as mandated by Vision 2030 and NDS1. Every Ministry, Department and Government agencies must find entry points for young people to participate. 

Lastly, we have the Youth Bill, which we have submitted to the Attorney-General’s office.  This will be tabled before Parliament in order to effect the 20% youth quota and ensure that when we produce young people, be it through traditional education or vocational training centres, they are absorbed, not only by the Public Service but the Private Sector as well.  Thank you.

  THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE Allow me to inform the House that we have been joined by Hon. Minister Matuke who happens to be the Leader of Business in the House.

  [Time Limit]

  HON. SEN.  TONGOGARA:  Mr. President Sir, I move for the extension of Questions Without Notice with another 15 minutes.

  HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  I second.

  Motion put and agreed to.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIREYA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.  In the communal areas, we have children that are disabled.  Our schools are situated 5km to 10 km away and we do not have good road infrastructure.  Should you have a disabled child, he/she cannot go to school if someone cannot carry them on their back daily.  Are there any plans that are in place in order to deal with this particular type of challenge?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVCIE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DINHA):  On the issue of disabled children, in the majority of cases, we urge that those that cannot walk on their own to attend schools that are far away should go to centres that cater for children with disabilities such as Jairosi Jiri, so as to lessen the movement because they will live at such institutions.  I know that Government is currently increasing the number of schools so that problem is going to be a thing of the past.  I thank you.

 - [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections] -

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Can we please avoid background interjections when the Minister is responding.  It only shows lack of respect.  Allow the Minister to respond and if you have any supplementary, then you can ask.

*HON. SEN. CHITSAMBA:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Health. What is Government thinking about the cholera epidemic? Looking at the constituency where I come from, the disease is now prevalent in Fombe and people require Government’s assistance.  I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. KWIDINI): Thank you Mr. President.  I thank the poser of the question Hon. Senator Chitsamba.  It is true we have cholera all over but I would want to thank our Government led by His Excellency the President Cde. Mnangagwa.  It is trying as best as it can to reduce the spread of cholera.  Cholera has just hit us unexpectedly hence you find that we may not have sufficient resources to fight this disease.  Government has however developed some drugs and has ensured that they are easily accessible.  Previously, we were conducting vaccination campaigns so that the disease could not spread.  There is also another programme that the Government is spearheading which involves several Government departments including the Ministry of Agriculture.  For such a disease to be contained, there is need for a WASH programme. So, these are the services that the Government is taking to ensure that cholera does not spread. As the Ministry of Health and Child Care, it is our duty to ensure that we have sufficient medication to treat and also prevent the disease.  I thank you Mr. President.

HON. SEN TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity.  My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.     Previously I asked the same question.  At the moment we are aware that we have a drought country-wide but back then, we used to have a programme called Food for Work where able-bodied people would not just receive free handouts.  It is not their fault that they are now receiving handouts but it is because of an El-nino induced drought.  The Minister then said he/she would look into the issue to find out if it is possible for food for work projects to be implemented.  Once food handouts start, the bad roads that we are complaining about can be attended to in each locality so as to improve the level of livelihood. 

          * THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVCIE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DINHA):  Truly, we know that we have a drought and His Excellency the President promised that no one is going to die of hunger. Food for work programmes are going to come. At the moment, what we are doing which is more like food for work are nutrition gardens that are going to come on board. Every village will have a garden which will be led by a village head. The people would grow vegetables and crops and they will consume some of their produce and sell the surplus.

          In certain areas, they are in the process of sinking boreholes and once they are in place, village gardens will be established led by the village heads. This is the modality that we are putting in place to alleviate hunger in this country. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. GWATURE: You have just said that the President said no one will die of hunger and my question is that; has there been an exercise carried out to ensure that everyone who requires food is going to be given food regardless of any other considerations?

          *HON. DINHA: Food is going to be given to everyone. We are not going to look at the background of one’s political affiliation. Everyone who is hungry is entitled to get food. Furthermore, I have said from May until July, for these three months, we are going to be issuing food handouts. This is a phase or stage and after that, we will go to the second three months from August, September and October and it will continue until we get to the rainy season when people have harvested.  It is not just going to be three months period programme, it will be running continuously.

          I was talking of the current position that we are tackling, which is May, June and July where everyone is going to receive the total allocation for the three months. We are not looking at anything else in terms of the criteria for selection and that is why we are using the village heads and the chiefs because they are the leaders of the people that are in these communal lands. I thank you.

+HON. SEN. S. MOYO: My supplementary question is directed to the Deputy Minister. You said everyone is going to be provided with food. For us in the rural areas, we have a problem that we are affected by transport challenges. Most of the people that are affected by hunger are supposed to pay a certain fee for trucks to ferry food to places where they reside. Is it Government policy that the person who is affected by drought is supposed to look for money so that he pays the truck that is supposed to ferry the food to their closest location?

          *HON. DINHA: The people that are in the communal lands should not pay for transportation of their maize. As we speak right now, I said we are starting with allocations this week. We were given money for the transportation of the maize. We also have funds for payment of officers who are responsible for the registration of the people who will be working. We have money for the transportation of maize to all the distribution centres. I thank you.

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

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

UPGRADING OF PROVINCIAL REFERRAL HOSPITALS

AND PROVISION OF MEDICINES

        14. SEN. ZINDI asked the Minister of Health and Child Care to inform the Senate on

the policy with regards to upgrading of provincial referral hospitals, particularly, Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital in Manicaland; and

the measures being put in place to ensure availability of medicines in hospitals.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. KWIDINI):  Thank you for allowing me to respond to the question which was posed by Hon. Senator Zindi. For the specific case of Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital, an allocation of US$2 million then which was equivalent to Z$5 billion not yet converted to ZiG our new currency has been designated for the renovation and upgrading of projects. These funds will be utilised to enhance the infrastructure facilities and medical equipment at the hospital aiming to improve the quality of health care service provided to the community.

 

It is important to note that the Ministry is undertaking these renovations and upgrades gradually considering the availability of resources and the need to prioritise multiple health care facilities across the country. The phased approach ensures that each hospital receives the necessary attention based on its requirements.

The Ministry remains committed to renovations and upgrading of provincial referral hospitals including Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital. These initiatives are aimed at creating conducive environments for health care delivery, improving patient care and enhancing the overall health care systems in Zimbabwe.

CONSTRUCTION OF A CLINIC FOR CHIKANGA AND   HOBHOUSE

  1. HON. SEN. ZINDI asked the Minister of Health and Child Care to inform the Senate whether there are any plans for the construction of a clinic to serve residents of Chikanga and Hobhouse in Mutare.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. KWIDINI):  Chikanga Clinic has been in operation since 1988. This clinic plays a crucial role in providing primary health care services to the residents of Chikanga and the surrounding areas. Additionally, in Chikanga Phase 3, there is St Joseph Mission which serves as a Roman Catholic Hospital and offers comprehensive health care services to the community. Regarding Hobhouse there is a clinic which has been in operation since 2000. This clinic serves the health care needs of the residents in the Hobhouse and nearby areas. It is important to note that Government places great emphasis on ensuring that the available clinics are adequately resourced in terms of medicines and medical supplies. Efforts are made to ensure that these clinics have the necessary resources to provide quality health care service to the community.

While there may not be immediate plans for the construction of additional clinics in these specific areas, the Ministry of Health and Child Care continuously evaluates the health care needs to different communities and strives to allocate resources accordingly. Government remains committed to meeting health care demands of the population and providing accessible and quality health care services across the country. I thank you.

REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PEACE AND

RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

On Question number 16.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. DR. KWIDINI): Thank you Mr. president. I think there is a challenge on that question. Can I give an apology, maybe I can bring the question again next week for proper response?

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Question number 16, Hon. Sen. Zindi is hereby again deferred. The Minister has asked to go and further research on the question and bring the proper response next week.

MOTION

PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT SERVICES FOR TEENAGE

MOTHERS

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  Thank you Mr. President I move the motion standing in my name that this house;

ACKNOWLEDGING that teenage pregnancy mainly affects the girl child and perpetuates cycles of vulnerability and inequality which impact negatively on gender parity in education.

AWARE that the constitution of Zimbabwe and the Education Act [chapter 25;04] provide for equal opportunities in education for all children, regardless of gender and prohibits the exclusion of pupils from school based on their pregnancy status,

CONCERNED that despite existing legal framework, the teenage pregnancies remain the leading cause for girls dropping out of school.

MINDFUL that young mothers face a myriad of challenges which impede on their return to formal education.

NOW THEREFORE, calls upon

  • The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to provide psycho social support services to teenage mothers when they return to school after giving birth.
  • The ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to conduct awareness campaigns to foster a supportive and inclusive environment within schools and communities, ensuring pregnant students are not subjected to discrimination and have access to necessary support services i. e. setting up child protection communities in schools.

          HON. SEN. FANUEL: I second Mr. President.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to table my motion on teenage pregnancies and the right to education. Mr. President, I stand before you today to speak about teenage pregnancy and its impact on the right to education. Millions of children globally, are deprived of their right to education and more than two -thirds of them are pre-dominantly adolescent girls. Without the required education skills and protection, many of these girls who may have dropped out of school due to pregnancy may never be given a second chance or provided with alternative opportunities to complete their education, and this makes them even more vulnerable.

Mr. President, pregnancy among adolescent girls is a significant issue globally and is often considered as a major impediment in the elimination of gender disparities in education and the attainment of every child’s basic human right to education. Despite policies being in place, re-integration of pregnant and married adolescents’ girls into formal education system continues to be low in Sub-Saharan Africa. A factor that must not be discounted is that teenage pregnancies and child marriages continue to manifest as a threat to the sustained engagement of adolescent girls in the formal learning and education of Zimbabwe.  Comparatively, the situation is more pronounced among adolescent girls as education financing and resilience capacities at household level become compromised.

According to the Constitution of Zimbabwe Section 27 (2) states that the State must take measures to ensure that girls are afforded the same opportunities as boys to obtain education at all levels. The NDSI also aims to improve access to quality, equitable and inclusive education. The education -inclusive step taken by amending the Education Act and adding Section 68 (c) which states that no people shall be excluded from school for non-payment of school fees or on the basis of pregnancy is one such legislative measure to provide equal access to education for both boys and girls.

However, even though Zimbabwe has been in possession of the above framework adolescent pregnancy has continued to feature in statistics as one of the leading causes of girls dropping out of school. Such a trend, if left unchecked hampers female empowerment and the sustainable development of the nation.

In 2021, fourteen thousand, six hundred pupils including two hundred and thirty-eighty primary school girls dropped out of school due to pregnancies and a child marriage according to the Primary and Secondary Education statistics report.     

Mr. President, practically young mothers experience a shift in responsibilities from being a school girl to being a parent. Gender and social norms often mean the new young mother bears the full responsibility to provide for their child’s care needs and costs involved. Earning a living to fund the cost of raising a child and a child care needed to enable the mother to return to school and having time to care for the child directly competes with the time and money young mothers need to complete their own education. Hence the most important factor for determining whether a teenage mother would return to school is whether she has family support to support her in child care, in particular her mother to support with child care responsibility or money to pay for the child care giver.

          Similarly, local attitudes about adolescent mothers returning to school are often out of step with national policies.  School leaders and community members may be aware of the policies, but hold beliefs or attitude that girls should be punished or that allowing pregnant girls or young mothers to go to school will somehow encourage more pregnancies in their communities.  Gender and social norms also show up in the blaming and shaming and adolescent mothers often face stigma, discrimination and social isolation. 

          Even where schools may be supportive, pregnant girls and adolescent mothers are often incredibly resilient, yet so much is placed upon them to overcome. Addressing these barriers requires solution that span the practical support needed beyond the education sector alone through the deeper work on harmful social and gender norms. Policies need to go beyond simply ‘allowing’ return to school by addressing the supportive conditions required to enable girls to return to and stay in school. Programmes and education systems may need to provide interim solution to education for young mother, while the longer-term solutions to prevent child pregnancies are being addressed.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should not only go beyond allowing re-entry of teenage mother in school, but also offer support on child-care responsibilities, and /or money to pay for childcare. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to do awareness campaigns to ensure schools and communities create a supportive and inclusive environment for pregnant students. This will ensure that they are not discriminated against and have access to the necessary support services that is setting up child protection committees at schools. Thank you.

          +HON. SEN. NYATHI: Thank you Madam President for the opportunity that you have afforded me to support the motion that was tabled by Hon. Tongogara in regards to impregnated school children. It pains me especially as a parent, it is a difficult task for parents to get money to take their children to school.  We take our children to school under different circumstances. When they are about to finish their education, they are impregnated. As parents, we hope that we could find a way of protecting such children. Some of them drop out of school whilst they are still in form one, two or three. Therefore, we hope that the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare can help these children that after they have given birth to their children, they can be afforded an opportunity to go back to school.

Most of them will still be as young as under 18 years and wishing to pursue their education. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should therefore have awareness campaigns to parents and schools, educating them on how children should take care of themselves. Some of them once they are told that even if you get pregnant, you are still afforded an opportunity to go back to school,  might abuse that chance. However, if such mistakes happen that one gets pregnant whilst at school, one should be afforded that opportunity. We should also establish a committee and we might name it Child Protection, that in the event that a child gets pregnant, when they go back to school, should not be humiliated.

She should have a way of protecting such children and when they fall pregnant, it is not the end of the road for them. We should give them an opportunity to go back to school. I feel whilst we are raising our children, we will assist especially the girl child. When they are going to school, you realise that when they fall pregnant, it becomes a challenge for them. Sometimes they impregnate each other as students. They are lured by the good things that appear good to them from outside. Some children present it as a good way of falling in love and falling pregnant and those who are not well educated might be influenced to do the same. I therefore urge that we should come up with a law or a policy that affords them an opportunity to go back to school.

However, we should come up with a policy that states that once one falls pregnant, the first time, they be afforded an opportunity to go back to school. However, if it is the second pregnancy, we should again find a way of dealing with it so that we do not seem to be promoting pregnancy whilst at school.              

 

          ^HON. SEN. MALULEKE: Thank you Hon. Tongogara for raising this important motion, which touches on the issue of the girl child and the challenges they face.  Many times, the girl child fails to complete her studies due to a number of factors and one of them is being impregnated whilst at school.  I would ask that a committee be set and look into the issue on how they can be assisted and be accepted back to school to finish their studies.  This can help them to get a better job in future.  I am asking that each and every school should have a committee that sits and look into the children who drop out of school so that they can be assisted to go back to school. 

This motion really touches me, especially when I realise that a girl child’s life has been affected by a boy who will later continue with his education while the girl is taking care of the baby.  Some girl children fail to get money to go to school while the brother goes ahead and ends up being impregnated while at home.  Some of them are shy because they do not have enough resources to use or to look presentable at school and drop out of school.  Even the teachers themselves also look down upon those who are not well presentable and they end up dropping out of school.  Parents wish that their child goes to school and have a better life. As mothers, we want our children to go ahead with school because these are tomorrow’s ministers.  This issue only affects the girl child and not the boy child.  May all the children be given opportunity to go to school and the girl child should be protected from such issues?  I thank you for giving me this opportunity to add to my voice to this motion.

HON. SEN. R. M. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam President for allowing me to add my voice to this very important motion. Let me first of all thank Sen. Tongogara for this motion. It is a very painful motion.  At times you know during the colonial era, both the pregnant and the person who impregnates were being fired from school. After independence, we agreed that was a wrong approach by the former colonial rulers. Sometimes our own people - when your child is pregnant after birth, they take the child to the other family; they cannot bring up this young child. It is too expensive, and it becomes a problem. 

The two families became unhappy with each other. I think as human beings or as parents, our children must learn to respect themselves when they are sent to school. They are not there to go and do bad things but they are supposed to go and do the learning. It is unfortunate and it is nature, they cannot avoid that. What is important at the end of the day, the innocent soul that has been born by these young teenagers - they did not apply to be born.  If the fathers and mothers of the teenagers decided to do these bad things, we need to have counselling of the two so that in their lifetime, they will remember that they did a bad thing.  But because of counselling, they now have to respect themselves.

Madam President, many children have left school especially in rural areas where they go long distances. Those who drop out of school will be on the way trying to make love to these young children. If they fall in love and the girls get pregnant, they leave school. Some even do not even go even if their parents want them to go back to school. Some become very shy, others laugh at them for what they have done. I believe we need to have some laws that really makes it difficult. I do not know how best we can do it but I think we can plan and think better so that these children can realise that education is the best way to do before they go to love matters.

Madam President, it is very difficult and painful to find young boys herding cattle especially those boys who are looking for girls.  Those are the boys who impregnant the school girls because they have got the little money that they are paid.  It is unfortunate that human beings do not buttress you know, it is Inkomo nxa ingumnjanja uyayithena.  So. Madam President, it becomes very difficult, very serious, very unfortunate that our young people these days are indulging in sex before the time.  To themselves, they do not see the problem but after committing the crime, it is where they will see how serious it is to have that  Hon. Sen. Tongogara calls upon Government to have lenience which I also support that if the children have done that, they must be counselled and be allowed to go back to school and continue their studies.  I thank you Madam President. 

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

HON. SEN. NYATHI:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 21st May, 2024.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. NCUBE): Madam President, I propose that we stand over Orders of the Day, Numbers 2 to 8, until the rest of the Orders  have been disposed of.  I thank you. 

          Motion put and agreed to. 

MOTION

APPROVAL OF THE LOAN BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE AND THE INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR

AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT (IFAD) FOR HORTICULTURE ENTERPRISES ENHANCEMENT PROJECT

(HEEP)

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. NCUBE): Thank you Madam President.  I stand before this august House to present the proposal for the approval of a loan of US$37.140 000 million from IFAD, the international fund for agricultural development which Zimbabwe Government seeks contractual and this loan will go a long way in supporting the horticulture sector within the agricultural sector.  Madam President, according to Zimbabwe’s Economic Blue Print, the National Development Strategy 1 of 2021 to 2025.  Government prioritises the recovery of the agricultural sector which is a key enabler to the country’s economic growth and development. 

Madam President, what is being proposed today here is what we call the horticulture enterprise enhancement project known as HEEP.  It seeks to increase agriculture production and productivity especially by horticulture farmers which enhances food nutrition security, income and increase opportunities for value addition and the development of agro value chains.  

Madam President, to this end, Government secured US$37.140 000 from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in order to enhance agriculture production and productivity.  The project is being co-financed by the OPEC Fund for international development.  The objective of this project HEEP is to support, increase and sustainable horticulture production and sales by small holder farmers and micro small and medium enterprise engaged in horticulture value chains.

Madam President, the project shall benefit all small holder farmers who will be organising what we call agricultural producer groups in village horticulture gardens and also what we call agricultural producer groups in four Ps that are linked to anchor firms.  Four Ps here we mean public, private and people partnerships.  There are two aspects of support within this loan arrangement.

The project would be located in four provinces, which are Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland for the village horticultural gardens only.  However, for the four Ps aspect the project will be located in well-functioning irrigation schemes throughout the ten provinces of the country.  In particular, in the high potential regions of Mashonaland provinces and Manicaland province. The objective of the project is to realise increased household incomes and improved nutrition through sustainable transformation of the horticulture farming sector.  The revival of the sector is key in boosting the national economy through transforming the small holder sector to participate and enhance horticulture production and productivity, development of local and regional markets, employment creation, expansion of horticulture exports and import substitution as well as poverty reduction.

In 2021, we contracted a previous loan which financed small-holder agricultural projects and this covered five provinces; Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North. These were covered in the first loan which was conducted in 2021.  This loan aimed at increasing household incomes and improving nutrition through a sustainable transformation of the small-holder farming sector.  The project development objective is to increase equitable small-holder participation in market oriented and climate smart value chains.  Whilst this current one that I am presenting today HEEP, is more focused on small-holder farmers who are into horticulture farming and is being implemented in Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland provinces.  So, if you take into account the 2021 loan and then this loan that I am presenting today, the two cover all our provinces and you must think of them as two together because no province has been left behind by…

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  On a point of order Madam President.  I don not think we have a quorum.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I think the quorum is there. 

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  No, we do not have a quorum.  There are 21 Members in here and they are supposed to be 26.

[Bells rung.]

Notice having been taken that there being present fewer than 26 Members, the bells were rung for Seven Minutes and a Quorum still not being present, THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE adjourned the House without question put at Seventeen Minutes to Five O’clock p.m. pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order Number 57.

NOTE: The following members were present when the Senate adjourned: Hon. Sen. Kunaka, T.; Hon. Sen. Manyengavana, M.; Hon. Sen. Kabondo, T.; Hon. Sen. Gotora, C. J.; Hon. Sen. Nyathi, E.; Hon. Sen. Fanuel, R.; Hon. Ndlovu, R. M; Hon. Sen. Ndlovu, M.; Hon. Sen. Chief Gumpo, S. K.; Hon. Sen. Maluleke, O. M.; Hon. Sen. Tongogara, A. K.; Hon. Sen. Zvidzai, S.; Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa, N.; Hon. Sen. Chakabuda, K.; Hon. Sen. Moyo, S.; Hon. Sen. Sibanda, L.; Hon. Sen. Bvumo, T.; Hon. Sen. Mdhuluri, M.; Hon. Sen. Gwature, M. G.; Hon. Sen. Chitsamba, J.;  Hon. Sen. Munemo, S.; Hon. Sen. Ndlovu, C.; Hon. Sen. Chikukwa, L.; Hon. Sen. Hungwe, O.;

 

 

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