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SENATE HANSARD 18 AUGUST 2022 VOL 31 NO 59

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 18th August 2022

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have a list of Hon. Ministers who have sent their apologies. These are:

The Vice President C. D. G. N Chiwenga – Minister of Health and Child Care;

Hon. Prof. Murwira – Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education,

Innovation, Science and Technology Development;

Hon. Machingura – Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development;

Hon. Kambamura - Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development;

Hon. Dr. Ndlovu - Minister of Primary and Secondary Education

Hon. E. Moyo – Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary

Education and

Hon. Marapira – Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.

          Here in the House we have the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. Mhona; the Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development - Hon. J. Mhlanga; Hon. Prof. M. Ncube – Minister of Finance and Economic Development; Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Chiduwa;   Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works – Hon. Chombo has just walked in.  I think we can work with those who are in. 

          Welcome Hon. Ministers. This is why we always complain.  We have quite a long list of apologies as though sending apologies is a requirement.  We need ministers to come here and respect this House.

We also have Hon. Minister Gumbo who has just arrived; he will be responsible for any questions relating to projects.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

          HON. SEN. CHIEF MTSHANE-KHUMALO: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.  I believe that Government has suspended quite a number of projects that it was undertaking in the country and among them is Nkayi-Bulawayo Road.  I wonder what the policy is in order to revive these projects. 

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I think that is a particular project but let us take the advantage of the presence of the Hon. Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development who may be in a position to answer that.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane for asking such an important question which gives me the opportunity to explain to the people of Zimbabwe that it is not like we have suspended projects.  I am sure he has cited Nkayi-Bulawayo Road.  This is one of the projects that stalled.  This question was also raised yesterday in the National Assembly where I explained - I would like to applaud both Houses for also sanctioning the supplementary budget which then gives us impetus as Government to pursue vigorously those projects that were outstanding.  The one that he cited is one of the roads that you will see us back to work on.  The contractor will be moving back on site among other roads; also Bulawayo, Tsholotsho, Gwanda, Mapisa, I am just mentioning a few and to say that we are going full throttle.  You know September is good for us especially in the road works so you will see us accelerating the pace that we are rehabilitating our roads. 

I want to assure the august House that there is nothing that we say we have stopped as Government, we are continuing.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. B. MPOFU:  Thank you Madam President and thank you Hon. Minister for that response.  My supplementary question is that Nkayi to Bulawayo Road that was mentioned…

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, order, please get connected Hon. Mpofu.

HON. SEN. B. MPOFU:  Thank you, am I connected now?

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you, yes.

HON. SEN. B. MPOFU:  Thank you Madam President for allowing me to ask this question, and thank you Hon. Minister for the response to Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane’s question.  My supplementary question is that Nkayi to Bulawayo Road is 151kms and every year, only 20kms is covered.  Now, that would take seven years; if that road has got eight to 10 years maintenance period, it means that by the time they finish after seven years – the parts that were done initially will have to be redone.  So it then becomes a cycle of redoing the same road every year in perpetuity.  Is it not possible for the Ministry to just do that road once and for all?  I thank you.

HON. MHONA:  Thank you Hon. Madam President and let me also thank Hon. Dr. Sen. Bekithemba Mpofu for the very important follow-up question.  Hon. Madam President, let me say that in other jurisdictions, the issues to do with rehabilitation of roads are actually funded through concessional loans. 

However, in this great country, we have taken it upon ourselves to fund the rehabilitation of our roads using the fiscus which in any given circumstance would then impact negatively on the fiscus given that the road infrastructure requires substantial amounts to do the roads.  I am happy that given the circumstances, and also that the country is under sanctions, we are managing as a nation.  I am happy that it might not be at the pace that Hon. Members in this august House would want but I can assure you that if we had started doing this each year for the number of years that we have been in the First Republic, you would realise that we would have completed a number of roads. 

I want to thank the Second Republic, in particular to say the initiative of starting must be commended.  We see that the road that has been cited, we are currently doing 15kms and honestly if we then do another 15kms but that is not the ideal situation Hon. Sen. Mpofu.  The ideal situation would be then to do the entire stretch.  I am also happy to say that we also have such arrangements where we are going into build-operate-transfer arrangements to do entire stretches.  I can cite a good example of Harare-Kanyemba and even Harare-Beitbridge – that is what we are doing so that we cover the entire stretch.

I want to reassure Hon. Members in this House that similarly, we will take that approach to see whether we can partner.  His Excellency the President said that Zimbabwe is open for business.  We can welcome investors to partake in this exercise of rebuilding our roads where we then cover the entire stretch.  So what we are currently doing is to manage the roads whilst we are looking for a bigger picture to do the entire stretch.  I want to assure the Hon. Senator that you cited the issue of maintenance seven to 10 years but I assure you when we reconstruct our roads, we are looking at about 20 years without us going back to that road in terms of major works.  However, we need to continuously maintain our roads.  So this is precisely what we are doing.  I thank you.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  The Minister for Information and Broadcasting Services is now in the House and fortunately, she is the Leader of the House.  So, you can ask questions and she will be able to respond.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU:  Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.  Hon. Minister, what plans do you have regarding the issue of untarred roads, particularly focusing on tourism where you find 200 km stretches of untarred roads?  You will find tourists using such roads and their cars are affected.  This paints a bad picture of our country.

          *THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  Thank you Madam President and thank you Hon. Sen. Chief Chundu for raising such a pertinent question.  Indeed, we work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.  Indeed, the roads that were mentioned are critical, and it is critical that our tourists have good roads.

          Let me talk about the Binga Road which was attended to.  We started the Road Rehabilitation Programme from Karoi to Binga.  This is one of the roads that I mentioned before that we are looking for partners.  As I am speaking, we have a partner who is eager to work with our Ministry. If this succeeds, then you will find that we are going to rehabilitate that road – not in small portions but the whole road.  Indeed, this road is critical and I believe that we are going to work on it.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE:  Thank you Madam President.  I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services who is also the Leader of the House.  I am glad that this august House together with the Lower House passed a law that seeks to cater for the welfare of the War Veterans, the War Veterams Bill which is quite an achievement in Zimbabwe.  So I appreciate that.

          However, my question is that there are some who died before the vetting process, that is before 1995.  They left families behind, and these are people who participated in the liberation struggle but their families are not doing well.  What is Government planning regarding such people?  I thank you.

          *THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):  Thank you Madam President.  I would also like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Makumbe for his pertinent question that pertains to war veterans who passed on before being vetted and how their families can be assisted by the State. 

          I believe this question was asked by Hon. Sen. Chief Makumbe who comes from an area where a lot of families participated in the liberation struggle.  Some of the survivors were chimbwidos and mujibhas, and others were detainees and as a chief of that particular area, I believe that he comes across a lot of challenges.  Government, through the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans, looks at all beneficiaries of war veterans.  It is important to submit letters of the late war veterans, even if they were not vetted but their colleagues who served with them during the war know such people.  If all the paperwork is there, I believe that is why through the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans, the issue is going to be attended to.  We cannot ignore the descendants of our war veterans.  Their children will be sent to school and their families will be supported.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHINAKE:  Thank you Hon. President.  My question is directed to the Leader of the House.  We have been facing power outages for a number of years because of the refurbishment of the Hwange Thermal Power Station.  My question is, is there any headway regarding that issue?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you Madam President.  I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chinake who asked a question which pertains to load shedding.  He also mentioned that he appreciates and sees the work that is being done at Hwange, Kariba and other power stations.

 The Second Republic started a good job of industrializing so that we receive foreign direct investment.  For that to happen, we need to have enough power through the wisdom of President E.D Mnangagwa as the Head of the Second Republic through engagement and re-engaging with companies.

  There are a lot of projects at Hwange Power Station which are being done by private companies, so we appreciate President E.D Mnangagwa’s wisdom.  We have a lot of electricity; we believe that as time goes on we will end up exporting electricity. At the moment, we are importing electricity from Mozambique and South Africa.   His Excellency was also talking to the President of Zambia regarding electricity.  We have a lot of ongoing projects and if we have the time to visit the Hwange Thermal Power Station, even the Kariba Hydro Electric Station; they are working on that project so that all the eight units would start generating electricity.

          What I would want you to know is that at one point Zimbabwe was consuming only 1000 megawatts, but with the growth of industries the building and construction of factories, now we need 1800 megawatts - which means that gap will be found whilst we are working at developing what is there. 

We have never produced the wheat like we have produced this year.  This was only seen in 2004, we do not want to import wheat but this means that the demand for electricity will be high, that is why we are facing challenges. 

          We also have such a challenge through ZESA and ZERA, which is because of distribution challenges.  As a farmer, I know that sometimes it is not because of load shedding but because of vandalism and pilfering of copper cables and other equipment.  So we need to create employment through these projects so that the industries also operate.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. KOMICHI:   I would like to direct my question to the Leader of Government Business.  There is an issue which is really affecting me, the welfare of civil servants particularly teachers who are earning ZWL45 000, which according to the black market rate is around USD45 per month, multiply that by 1,2 which means in a year they earn only USD450.  This means that their livelihoods are in a bad state; this is where they are supposed to pay for their rentals, food, medication, clothing and other things.  This is quite difficult to assume that someone can survive on that.  So my question is - does Government consider looking at the welfare of civil servants, especially the teachers so that they have decent livelihoods?  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Komichi who expressed concern pertaining to the salaries which are inadequate.   It is an issue that the Government is seized with and this is because Government is the people and the people are the Government.

 The Good welfare of our people speaks to Government. That is why you find projects like the Pfumvudza initiative which aims at securing food.  This is also the reason why you find BEAM projects which assist school going children in paying schools fees.

 The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, having noted the difficulties during examination time, decided to extend the period of payment of examination fees - that is quite an issue which is reversal.  It is not limited to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education but it is a result of the volatility of the Zimbabwean currency.  However, I would like to promise this august House that Government is seized with the issue and is doing a lot of things to solve that.

          I am happy that in this august House we have the Minister of Finance and Economic Development because this is the Ministry which is working on stabilising the Zimbabwean currency which is being affected by saboteurs.  The President spoke about different measures that are going to be done so that we stabilise our local currency. 

          There are a lot of programmes and initiatives that the Government is also doing.  Sometimes we do not look at what is happening in our country but we just want to look at the negatives only.  In Harare alone, there is always congestion, whether it is in the morning, afternoon or evening; an environment for the growth of our economy for entrepreneurs to expedite their businesses. 

          Our teachers are very important because we are who we are because of the the teachers’ input.  Everyone has gone through the education system, these are very important people.  When we were growing up in the rural areas, everything that we needed, we went to the teachers who were there for us.  We respect them because they are important to us.

          There are a lot of intervention measures that are being done, so let me say the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education would come to explain what is happening in schools but I believe the Minister of Finance and Economic Development should present a Ministerial Statement regarding different processes that are happening, like the gold coins and other stabilization mechanisms.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. PHUGENI: Thank you Madam President for the opportunity. Thank you Minister. I think I speak for everyone. Minister, something is happening in our country. I am saying this in solidarity with women. The violence we are seeing is unprecedented. My supplementary question is...

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I was confused by what you are saying. I was trying to listen. Can you please come up with the supplementary question?

HON. SEN. PHUGENI: My supplementary question is, the Minister says the wellbeing of our citizens is paramount as far as Government is concerned. She says there is a big concern that our people have food and their basic needs are met but my concern is everything is now priced in USD...

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I think that one is not a supplementary question to the original question which was asked. If you have another question, you can sit down and I will give you a chance to bring your own question, not as supplementary question.

HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Local Government. Madam President, we are fast getting closer to the commencement of the rain season and we are all aware of the dangers that are associated with the rain season. In view of that, may the Hon. Minister honour this august House by explaining the state of Government preparedness to fight the dangers that are associated with the rain season? May the Minister also explain the programmes and strategies that the Government is going to put in place to make sure that it improves disaster risk management as opposed to fire fighting? I thank you Madam President?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity. I would want to thank the Hon. Senator who asked a pertinent question. We know the status of the nation as a result of the global warming or climate change, Zimbabwe has also been a victim of climate change especially through Cyclone Idai in Manicaland. This came whilst we were not prepared. At the moment, Government is constructing a centre at Makombe Building which will be used by the whole SADC region which is responsible for detecting early warning signs regarding climate issues. This will be done by different specialised units which are responsible for looking at what happens in the atmosphere particularly on climate related issues. Structures normally work with traditional leadership. When we were affected by Cyclone Idai, we did not have enough information but now having noted that we have traditional leadership who know what happens on the ground, we decided that they need to be empowered with cellphones and communication tools so that they inform district development coordinators and other Government officials who will be there to intervene as soon as possible. Let me promise this august House that we also work with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education which uses drones and other gadgets. So I would like to inform the House that Government is prepared for disasters. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:  Thank you Madam President. I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Transport. Looking at the development that is taking place, what is Government’s plans regarding refurbishment of long existing airports because this speaks to investment in different businesses?

*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Madam President of Senate. I would like to thank Sen. Chirongoma who raised a pertinent issue. I would like to thank him for appreciating the good work that is being done during the Second Republic. We also thank His Excellency, President E. D. Mnangagwa for the good job that he is doing which is being seen by the public. The question is rich regarding how we can relate with other countries through domestic and international tourism so that domestic tourists can have access to resort areas through the different airports. For instance, the Senator comes from Mashonaland West and we have Kariba Airport which used to be very busy. Let me inform this House that Government is looking at all our airports. There are a lot of visits that are taking place. Those who know the Robert Gabriel International Airport, Government is busy refurbishing these airports so that international airlines would be found coming, even for smaller ports like Kariba, Hwange, Mutare and others. We are working on making sure that those who alight from the bigger international Airports like the Joshua Nqabuko can even travel from such to smaller airports. Thank you for raising such an important issue. When we speak of our airspace and road network, these are important networks and I believe that your question speaks to the development of our nation. This is where we get our wealth and growth of the economy. I believe that this question is important to Government so that we bring development to Zimbabwe. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. There are a lot of road accidents in our roads which lead to road carnage and loss of life for both local people and travellers from outside the country. What plans are there to cleanse these black-spots in terms of traditional rituals?

          *THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): I would like to thank Hon. Senator Tongogara who spoke passionately about the intervention of spiritual mediums. I believe that when we rehabilitate our roads, we come to some point where we honour our traditional and indigenous knowledge systems. At times you construct some infrastructure and you find this not thriving for different reasons. When we identify such places, we sit down with our traditional leadership from that particular area. Some traditional leaders say that before construction of any project start; let us first look into it.

          We believe that we have chiefs in this august House; if they want to do anything so that we develop our nation. I believe that we know of such places and we have noted that year in, year out, you find accidents happening in the same spots. In our culture, we give the opportunity to traditional leadership so that they deal with such spiritual issues. As the Ministry of Transport, we know these places and we work with our traditional leadership so that they guide us. I thank you.

          *THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I believe that they want to say if you have not started working on the cleansing, maybe we will continue to have accidents happening,  what would you do?

          *HON. MHONA: I have colleagues in this august House. I do not know whether this should be directed to the Ministry of Local Government or Home Affairs but our Ministry is responsible for road rehabilitation and road construction but when it speaks to spiritual issues, I believe this should fall under other ministries.

          *THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. KAZEMBE): I believe that I cannot respond to the satisfaction of the House beyond what the Minister of Transport has already said. I believe he addressed the question properly. There are such areas which were mentioned and we go through our local leadership because we value such customs. As people who look after shrines and heritage sites, when we come through challenges, we go through traditional leadership which guides us and we follow behind them. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. PHUGENI: At least the Minister of Finance is here, so accordingly the question goes to him. The Senate has been correctly asking about the runaway inflation and what the Government is doing to cushion our people against it. Madam President of the Senate wrote a letter to the Ministry to come and address the Senate on the matter. The Minister responded by saying he requests an opportunity to address the National Assembly first, thereafter the Minister would come here and address the Senate on the matter. Suffice to say all that has not happened but the runaway inflation continues.

What makes matters worse is that there are now shops that do not take the local currency. If reports are to be believed, they say Government has given a go ahead for school fees to be paid in USD. My question Minister is; where are our people supposed to get the USD to transact with? Seeing that the shops now refuse local currency and only trade in USD and also seeing that school fees have to be paid in USD, where do our people access this USD from?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: (HON. CHIDUWA):  Thank you Madam President, I would also like to thank the Hon. Sen. for asking a pertinent question regarding prices.  I would like to say that for our nation, pricing and inflation are issues which can be controlled if our industry is running and there is production and exporting instead of importing products.  The obtaining situation is that as a nation, the greatest challenge we have is the escalation of prices.  Why are prices rising every day?  The first thing is, because we have a volatile exchange rate.  If we look at the two exchange rates, the official exchange rate which comes from the auction system and the parallel market rate which happens in the black market, the parallel market rate happens when we look at the basic fundamentals being flouted.  If we look at the situation from November to December 2018, as government, we resolved not to borrow from the RBZ.  There was no recourse from the RBZ, which is a situation in the past that was contributing to the escalation of prices.  We know that our nation is under sanctions and we decided to live within our means.  We are running a balanced budget and when you look at our income and expenditure, there is not much difference from 2018.  We have not exceeded 3% deficit but we have a budget deficit of 1.3% in line with the agreed targets.  Looking at what we are getting as foreign currency, we have a current account surplus. These are basic fundamentals which determine the exchange rate but why is the exchange rate rising?  This shows that there is economic speculation which is the major problem because there are people who believe that trading in foreign currency is the business that we should be seized with but as a nation we are supposed to produce goods and services and not parallel market activities.  So, the biggest challenge is the parallel market. 

So what have we done as government to control price escalation?  I did mention that they rise because of imported inflation like what is happening in Russia and Ukraine.  As Government, I am sure you heard a Presidential Policy Statement which says let us look at pricing for those who are developing roads, dams, airports and other projects.  We noted that the challenge that we faced was the forward pricing where people charged an anticipated price surmised on when they would complete their projects factoring in the exchange rate for forward pricing and government has moved to manage money supply growth which is at zero percent.  Currently, people may be saying they do not want the Zim-dollar but everyone is looking for it but it is not readily available because as Treasury and monetary authorities, we went and focused on money creation.  Everyone has the US dollar and wants to convert it to the Zim-dollar which is scarce. The rate on the parallel market has drastically gone down.  Some are using 600 as the exchange rate.  On Tuesday, the auction rate was 550 and on the parallel market it was 600.  There is a small discrepancy between the rates but you find some using extreme rates.  We will continue holding the money supply.  We have created demand for the Zim-dollar, so I do not know where this is coming from that there are some people who are not having access to money.  There are some shops who are not taking the US dollar because of its strength.   It affects the growth of business and we believe that in the medium term we will unite on the stability which is prevailing. 

You also mentioned that school fees should be paid in US dollars only but that is against government policy.  It was pronounced that we are now using both the US dollar and the Zimbabwean dollar.  Where we are charging in US dollars, all parties should allow payment in Zim- dollars using the existing auction rate.  Where people are charging exclusively in US dollars, that becomes a crime which needs civil penalties.  Hon. Senator, this is the current position. 

The other issue which you might have wanted addressed is the stability in the rationalization of invoices which I mentioned.  As government, we are paying all contractors.  We know our contractual obligation and our accounting officers are going to ensure that rationalization is done where invoices were given using forward pricing.  We will continue to honour our obligations and that is the position we have as government.  Thank you Hon. Senator.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  The Hon Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Hon. D Musabayana has joined us.

*HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI:  Hon. Minister, you responded to the question but you did not address the key issue in the question that in some shops you are told that you cannot buy goods if you do not have the US dollar.  The question is; what happens and how are you going to address that because that person is paid in Zim-dollars?  I saw that happening in rural areas and wondered how the elderly are surviving and how they get the US dollars to buy commodities in shops.  How are you going to address that?

THE HON DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I thought the Minister said it is illegal and government can institute civil penalties.

*HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI:  The Minister said that but we want an answer from Government on how they are going to do it because it is happening now.  It is happening in schools and this is a question which was raised and needs to be responded to.

*HON. CHIDUWA: I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mudzuri for the question that there are people being denied commodities because they do not have USD.  I believe this is a problem of coverage and we are not represented in all areas.  The Financial Intelligence Unit under the RBZ works with the law enforcement agents.  We have a Ministry hotline which is published in newspapers where cases similar to this are reported.  When we receive such information or reports, we update our records.  As of now, we have penalised some companies for amounts ranging from US$50 000-60 000.00 – these were charging in USD exclusively.  We are fining perpetrators and it is a matter of time, we are going to allow the hand of the law to stretch far and wide so that we correct this anomaly so that there is market discipline.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI:  I move that the time for questions without notice be extended by 15 minutes. 

HON. SEN. KOMICHI: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI:  On a point of order, may you Hon. President assist us by ensuring that the Minister of Finance comes here to give a statement on gold coins; he did not respond to that question.  We would like to know when he is going to come and tell us about gold coins and the utility stabilisation that it is going to give us.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Let me put things in perspective.  I think we had two consecutive weeks when questions were raised which required the Minister of Finance to respond.  In one of the sessions, Hon. Minister Mutsvangwa did her best but the relevant Minister was not there.  The President of Senate wrote to the Minister of Finance requesting that he comes to address the Senate on the issues raised by the Hon. Senators.  The Minister responded and said that he is just about to make a Mid-Term Fiscal Statement in the National Assembly and he would gladly address the Senate if his Mid-Term Fiscal Statement does not cover the issues which we raised.  I presume the Minister of Finance is coming here next week and he will be able to address the issues that we raised. 

*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE:  My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.  I would like to know whether the Ministry follow up on contractors who are given road construction contracts.  There are some contractors who are not meeting their goal and some have a steady progress.  I will give the example of the Kadoma-Sanyati Road – we call it Jompani.  It has been a number of years and there is no progress.  This road is in a very bad state.

*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  Hon. Sen. Hungwe has raised a very pertinent question on whether we do some monitoring and evaluation.  In our Ministry, we have resident engineers or specialists who are always on site during road maintenance or rehabilitation.  Our Government put in a measure that before the contractor is paid, we need to ascertain whether Government is getting value for our money.  I am happy that today the Minister for Policy Implementation (Hon. Dr. Gumbo) is present in this august House.  He is responsible for monitoring and evaluating on all Government projects where Government has invested.  His Ministry is seized with making follow ups on such projects to ascertain whether contractors are doing what is expected of them.  This means that those who are underperforming and not doing their duties, they pack their bags and go and they are not paid.

This road is called the Golden Valley Sanyati Road and I am aware of it.  We have been through that road and it is indeed a challenge that we have faced and seen.  What His Excellency President E. D. Mnangagwa normally says about development, you will find Hon. President that there are a few people who perform?  Some say that they are able to bring development but you find others failing along the way.  As Zimbabweans, I would like to urge our contractors to work hard.  We do not have to waste each other’s time.  The laws that we enacted in this august House which state that the lowest bidder is given the responsibility, some come Nicodemously charging low prices claiming that they are able to do the job but you find them failing along the way.  So I would like to urge legislators that we need to enact tougher laws that will be prohibitive to people who take advantage of the system.  I am going to take up that task of the Golden Valley-Sanyati Road.  Our team will come to address the situation on that road. I thank you. – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –

HON. SEN. B. MPOFU:  Thank you Mr. President for allowing me to ask this question.  My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  The real estate community in Zimbabwe was happy to find out that Government launched the Real Estate Investment Trust this year which are called REITS and because of that, I think what has been happening is that there has been a lot of interest around REITS.  I want to find out what programme the Ministry has to ensure that there is a good uptake of REITS and that a lot of people get to understand the new asset that has been launched by Government.  I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA):  Thank you so much Mr. President and thank you Hon. Sen. Mpofu for the question.  I think the question is in line with what has been presented already.  The thrust of Government is in ensuring that we develop our country.  I am happy especially with the presentation that was made by His Excellency last week when we were in Victoria Falls, when he stated that the Government constitutes 76% of effective demand that is in the country, meaning to say that in terms of business consumption, 76% is coming from Government.

Then looking at real estate, looking at one of the priority areas in the National Development Strategy 1, which is that on housing and amenities, it is very clear that in terms of the development thrust of the country, we want to develop real estates and specifically looking at what you just said to say, what are we doing to ensure that we promote uptake, interest in real estate?  This is where we are saying, what should we do to ensure that our people are going to participate?  I am saying this in line with what has just been presented by Hon. Minister Mhona to say we want our people to participate but in order for them to be able to participate, they need to be in a position to provide quality service.  So our position is, our people should take advantage of what we are coming up with in the market in terms of policy pronouncements and opportunities.

So in terms of the other strategies that we are going to come up with, this is work in progress and I am hoping that the sector is going to take advantage of the growth that we are seeing as a country.  I submit Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. G. MOYO:  Thank you Mr. President Sir, my question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. When you move around the shops, you will find that there are no prices displayed.  May you explain why there are no price tags on goods that are displayed in shops?

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  The question is on displaying of prices or lack of it.

*THE HON. DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA):  Thank you Mr. President and thank you for the pertinent question Hon. Sen. Moyo.  The question is in line with the Consumer Protection Act and the provisions of Statutory Instrument S.I. 127 that were then incorporated in the Finance Bill where the Government is very clear that we should display prices.  What is critical for all our retailers, wholesalers and all those who are into the provisions of goods and services is Government policy that prices that are being charged should be displayed and any violation to that, there is again civil penalties that are associated with it.  So, we are saying to those who do not display prices, and this is in line with what I said that we have financial intelligence unit teams and other law enforcement agencies who are on the ground, to ascertain the compliance but if you ask a shop owner who tells you that the price of an item is this much in USD and this much in ZWL, you may find an implied rate but in a case when you see that this is beyond the permissible rate, then you need to inform our Ministry and penalise such shops.  This is what we are doing.  What I said is that without displaying price tags then they will be committing an offence.  I thank you.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order Number 67.

          WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

PLANS TO RESUSCITATE DDF TILLAGE UNIT PROGRAMME

  1. HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI asked the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring to give an update on plans that have been put in place by Government to resuscitate the District Development Fund Tillage Unit Programme in the country.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN CHARGE OF IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING (HON. DR. J. GUMBO): Mr. President, I would like to thank Hon. Chimbudzi for asking this important question. Madam President, the DDF plays a critical role in the provision of tillage services to resettled farmers including ploughing, disking, planting and fertilizer spreading.

However, there has been a gradual decrease in the number of tillage tractors and related equipment due to extensive use and the limited maintenance budget.  From a peak of up to 800 tractor units, the number of serviceable units has declined to around 100.  In addition to the rehabilitation of existing equipment, DDF would require the following categories of new equipment in order to meet the tillage requirements countrywide:

  •    100 tractors (90 horse power);
  •    90 ploughs;
  •    90 planters (4 row);
  •    180 Rhome discs (24 discs); and
  •    30 vicon spreaders.

With the current limited fleet, the fund has managed to plough 2 000 hectares throughout the country under the food and security cluster. 

          Mr. President, recapitalization process, the institution will be a beneficiary of tractors and other appropriate implements being sources from Belarus and Brazil.  The DDF has so far benefited 18 tractors and 9 seed drills from Belarus Scheme.

          Mr. President, I am grateful that Hon. Members are sufficiently seized with the plight of DDF in respect of its recapitalization.  I am hopeful that the situation will improve as a result of the positive interventions by Treasury.  I thank you.

SPARE PARTS FOR BOREHOLES IN NEED OF SERVICING

  1. HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI asked the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in Charge of Implementation and Monitoring to inform the House the measures put in place to provide spare parts for boreholes that require servicing.

THE MINISTER FOR STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN CHARGE OF IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING (HON. DR. J. GUMBO): Mr. President, the District Development Fund is also responsible for this provision of primary water services to the disadvantaged rural populace through the following activities:

  •    Drilling, maintenance and rehabilitation of existing water points;
  •    Repair and rehabilitation of existing water points;
  •    Development and rehabilitation of piped water schemes;
  •    Construction and rehabilitation of small earth dams; and
  •    Development and rehabilitation of small scale irrigation schemes.

The Water Division within DDF has been relying on 10 drilling rigs for use countrywide.  At independence, the Water Division had 32 rigs (4 per province) and commanding 50 000 water points.  It is important to note that during this period, the division was getting assistance from international donors.  Currently, the institution relies on 10 drilling rigs only.

It is our vision that each of the eight provinces has at least four drilling rigs in order to meet the demand for boreholes.   In addition, there is also the problem of geo-physical equipment which is used for boreholes siting.  While the idea is to have four of these per province, the unit currently has three units of such equipment donated by UNICEF.  The availability of this equipment will reduce the risks of failed jobs since information about geological formations and hydrogeology probability is provided in advance.

Mr. President, Treasury avails a budget to DDF every year to cater for the repair and rehabilitation of boreholes countrywide.  The budget covers the procurement of tools and spares for borehole repairs.  For the 2022 financial year, Treasury allocated ZWL100 million for the repair and rehabilitation of hand pumps.

Mr. President, the DDF has through public-private partnerships such as the WASH Programme, been involved in spearheading initiatives that empower rural communities to manage their water resources.  As a result, the communities are able to sources spares to repair minor breakdowns, and only alert the DDF for major breakdowns.

Mr. President, development partners have also played an important role to complement Government efforts in providing clean water to communities through the provision of spares and tools for borehole rehabilitation. I am also happy to report that DDF has adopted user friendly water provision technology through scaling up the establishment of solarised piped water schemes.  Such schemes are not only user friendly but serve a higher number of households.  A programme is therefore in progress to replace hand pumps with solar pumping systems.  Madam President, I wish to inform the House that as at May 2022, a total of 120 boreholes have been drilled while 1 480 boreholes have been repaired and 73 having been totally rehabilitated.

PLANS IN PLACE BY COUNCILS TO ENSURE ROAD PAVEMENTS ARE ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

  1. HON. SEN. MANYAU asked the Minister of Local Government and Public Works to explain to the house the plans put in place by councils to ensure that road pavements are accessible to people with disabilities given the current poor road terrain.

  THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Mr. President, I would like to inform this august House that in most councils, current by- laws and policies have provisions that cater for people living with disabilities (such as wheel chair ramps on road intersections). I am pleased to advise that the Ministry, in collaboration with the office of the Attorney-General, is currently in the process of coming up with model by-laws that address emerging and contemporary issues and in order to ensure that the process is all-encompassing, key local authority personnel like Gender Foal persons have been incorporated so that the by –laws have a strong component of gender responsiveness as a cross-cutting issue.

  Further to that, the Ministry, in collaboration with Gender Link, is also coming up with a Gender responsive budgeting template which local authorities should use in their budget process to cater for the needs of the disabled including the issue of accessibility not only to pavements but to buildings as well.  The template has since been piloted to some local authorities and is presently being fine-tuned before rollout to all the 92 local authorities.

  Among other indicators, the budget template seeks to draw out information on all people living with disabilities so that as councils come up with their 2023 estimate of expenditure, they do so with such people in mind.  So, the issues raised by the Hon. Senator are being addressed by the Ministry.

  I also want to urge Hon. Senators and indeed the House that it is the duty of us as civic leaders to continue to engage with our local authorities as we seek to explore ways to ameliorate the welfare of the disadvantaged members of our society.  The solution may not be a one-size fits all; hence the need to continue to engage and share ideas.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I move that Order of the Day, Number 1 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day on today’s Order Paper have been disposed of.

HON. SEN. MPOFU: I second.

Motion put and agreed.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. SEN. MUZENDA: I move that Order of the Day, Number 2 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT ON THE BENCHMARK VISIT TO RWANDA

Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on the benchmarking visit to Rwanda on women participation in leadership, politics, decision-making positions and women empowerment in the socio-economic sector.

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 23rd August, 2022.

MOTION

PROVISION OF FUNDS FOR COMPLETION OF DAM CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the need for Government to provide adequate funds for the completion of dam projects.

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. KHUMALO: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 23rd August 2022.

MOTION

PARENTING AND EMBRACING A RECEPTIVE CULTURE FOR CHILDREN LIVING IN THE STREETS

Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on vulnerable children living in the streets.

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 23rd August 2022.

MOTION

POLICIES THAT ADDRESS AND PLUG LOOPHOLES RELATED TO TAX EVASION

Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on policies that address and plug loopholes on tax evasions, illicit financial flows and corruption.

Question again proposed.

 HON. SEN. CHINAKE: Thank you Mr. President. I need to thank all the senators who debated on this motion. Again, I say this motion was crucial and very important to this country and to this House. Mr. President, most countries are doing very well on their minerals in their countries and supporting their people by these minerals. Why not in this country, where we are suffering but we have got so many minerals which are in Zimbabwe which are being mined and sold in other countries. Mr. President, we cannot let our people suffer while we are having the best minerals in the word. I hope that this House have done their job and debated enough. We are hoping to see a change and getting attention from the Government on this item. I thank you and I move that the motion be adopted.

Motion that:

NOTING that Zimbabwe is endowed with various mineral wealth such as gold, diamond, granite, lithium, which are critical for attainment of an upper middle class economy in line with the 2030 vision;

FURTHER NOTING that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has a target to achieve a US12 billion mining sector by 2023;

CONCERNED that the mining sector is experiencing serious challenges on issues like tax evasion, illicit financial flows and corruption, which are detrimental to economic development:

NOW, THEREFORE, this House calls upon Government to craft policies that address and plug loopholes related to tax evasion, illicit financial flows and corruption in the sector thereby promoting transparency and accountability of revenue generated, put and agreed to.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MUZENDA, seconded by HON. SEN. MATHUTHU, the Senate adjourned at Two Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 23rd August, 2022.

 

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