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SENATE HANSARD 18 MARCH 2021 VOL 30 NO 26
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 18th March, 2021
The Senate met at Half-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE
LOGGING IN ON VIRTUAL PLATFORM
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I wish to remind all Hon. Senators that they are required to log in using their full names for identification purposes or indicate their names on the chat platform. This will assist officers in capturing their names on the attendance registers. Hon. Senators are also reminded to keep their gadgets on mute and only unmute when called upon to speak by the Chair.
May I also remind Hon. Senators to maintain social distance, particularly those on my left. We cannot proceed with business until we organise ourselves – from Hon. Dr. Mavetera, one of you should move to another seat please.
With me here is a list of ministers who are present; Hon. Soda, Minister of Energy and Power Development; Hon. Munzverengwi Minister of State for Provincial Affairs; Hon. Mhona, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development; Hon. Musabayana, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hon. Prof Ncube, Minister of Finance and Economic Development; Hon. Maboyi, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs; Hon. Mutsvangwa, Leader of the House and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Services; Hon. Chombo, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Hon. Machingura, Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. What is Government policy on using cement instead of tar when you are rehabilitating our roads?
*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): The question that has been posed is very pertinent and it is very true that from the past, we were having potholes on our roads which means that probably the materials that we are using might not be suitable but I would like to say that our students from universities are working with the Hon. Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education on how we can use new technology when it comes to the revamping of our roads. It is very true Chief Chundu, that very soon we will be using indigenous materials that we were given by our Lord Jesus Christ so that we use that to revamp our roads. Our students in universities will assist us on how we can revamp our roads.
*HON. SEN. DENGA: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport. People are spending a lot of time in long queues waiting to pay toll fees at tollgates. What is your Ministry doing to curb the long queues that exist at tollgates?
*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Madam President for the question which was posed by Hon. Sen. Denga. It is very true and you have touched on the issue that is at the heart of every Zimbabwean. They are having challenges when they approach tollgates and they are spending a lot of time there. We made our investigations on why people spend so much time in the queues and we discovered that ZINARA was working with people who have tap cards which were not compliant with most banks. So they have now engaged more banks so that people will not spend a lot of time at the tollgates. We have also agreed with ZINARA that by the end of this month queues should be a thing of the past. They did say they are coming up with a coupon system because they were also having challenges with change especially when people paid with forex. I am sure they want to curb corruption. I also want to promise this House that people will not be spending their time in queues but will be quickly served and be on their way. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHISOROCHENGWE: My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government. There was a law that if you are in an urban set up and you want a house you should go on a waiting list. Is it still the case and is it functional?
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for such a pertinent question. The waiting list system is still operational but we realised that people continued to pay subscriptions for being on the waiting list yet when it came to allocating houses they were not given houses. So the challenge was, they were no longer following the waiting list system and corruption was rampant. That is why it looks like the waiting list system is no longer working. Our Ministry is however working hard to check on councils to ensure they are following the waiting list system. Let me promise you that if you go to the local authorities you will see they are now following the waiting list system as dictated by the law. I thank you.
HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: My question is directed to the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation. Considering that sport has become very big business in the whole world, some of the sport persons here who are plying their trade abroad are making a lot of money out of it and some of them become ambassadors of this country. In view of that, what is the Ministry doing to fund our national teams that many-a- times have struggled during their preparations with their welfare and travelling arrangements? A good example is Botswana our neighbour. They have a game with Zimbabwe in two or three weeks time. They have set aside US$585 000 for those games. Does our Government have plans to sponsor our national team? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I want to thank Hon. Sen. Kambizi for his question. Our Government tries very hard to support sports people who are our ambassadors. Obviously those who go out are our ambassadors representing this country very well and Government policy is to support them. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: My question is directed to the Leader of the House, in the absence of the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Is Government aware that there are some headmasters who are demanding last year’s school fees yet children did not go to school last year? Is it legal that parents should pay for last year’s school fees, especially second and third term last year when children did not go to school? There are schools that are doing that.
*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I would like to thank Senator Hungwe for that question pertaining to headmasters who are demanding schools fees from last year whilst children did not go to school. I think that is a specific question and I kindly ask you as leaders in this Hon. House to bring such information to the attention of that Ministry so that they find out exactly what is happening because some schools were conducting e-learning or online learning whilst some schools did not do anything. The policy of Government is fees should be paid according to the services that were provided so I urge you to go to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with the list of the schools that are involved so that they investigate.
*THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I urge Hon. Members to put specific questions in writing so that they may be answered in detail and also benefit all the Hon. Members.
HON. SEN. A. DUBE: My question is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education. Hon. Minister, what has been done by the Government to stabilise university fees. Are the fees that have been introduced justified and sustainable?
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (HON. MACHINGURA): Thank you for the question. Fees are paid so that students learn. The aim of Government is that children should go to school. Every child should be given an opportunity to go to university and it should be affordable. So, when it comes to fees, what we want is for these students to be skilful like what the Minister of Transport was alluding to that we want them to upgrade our roads. Our fees are in two phases. We have what we call tuition fees which are for learning and there are other fees which are called ancillary which are for your upkeep and maintenance of the school. What happens is that if fuel, food and data goes up, all that will lead to the increase of fees and that is the reason why fees go up. We have tried to not have tuition going up but the ancillary goes up and in the end all fees will go up. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI: Looking at the issue of fees, all those who are of my age who went to school before and after independence saw Government helping people with fees because parents could not afford. What is Government policy in helping students, particularly those who have done well so that they continue with their education, because students cannot afford the fees that we are talking about? The fees are in USD but converted to bond so the parents who are civil servants and peasant farmers cannot afford that money. What is the Government position on helping all those students who would have excelled?
*HON. MACHINGURA: Thank you Hon. Member for your question. When I started answering, I said we want all the children to be able to go to school and that is where the issue of affordability comes in. Our Government as of now in trying to help our students, has come out with a plan that a student who enrols at a university and articulates his/her challenges, is given forms to fill in order to have access to a loan, not a grant. They then go to the bank, for example CBZ and are given money. That is the first level.
The second level, in trying to find out how to do it, they looked for microfinance services who give out what is called an EduLoan and these are different from banks, because banks are overloaded as they also give out loans, mortgages and daily banking services but EduLoans are only targeting schools. So, when they go there they are given loans but it is the parents who are given the loans and the student is also tied down. The advantage is that the interest rates are low. The other plan that is there is that of scholarships, which means everything will be catered for under the scholarship. In those universities as well, as you have alluded to Hon. Senator, the skills that they are teaching students should assist them. For example, at University of Zimbabwe, there is a farm that they have, they are expecting a bumper harvest from the maize and they also have onions and chickens. This will lower the funds that the university uses in looking for food for the students. Thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. MOEKETSI: The Hon. Minister has said that the loan will be paid by the parents. The reason why we asked the question is because both rural and urban areas have people who are extremely poor. The reason why people seek that assistance is because they do not have collateral for those loans.
HON. MACHINGURA: At the moment, the truth is for children to be able to receive good education, there are costs that come with that. Indeed we have been trying to figure out how best we can try to solve that problem. When a child comes to school, we try and find out how they can contribute into the development of this country. You referred to the potholes situation, what is causing the tar to be easily destroyed, is it because of the materials which were used or it is because of no research to resolve that. This is what we are talking about in our education policy that we want every child to be able to contribute and we assist them to acquire those skills so that they can contribute to the development of this country. Indeed those from poor families need assistance to be able to go to school. Right now the only solution that we have is of scholarships and loans but if a child is totally poor but intelligent that is the reason why we run to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education to give every child an opportunity to contribute to the development regardless of their financial status. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA: Allow me to direct my question to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. We used to bank money and those banks were rewarding us with interest rates but today are we taking our money to the bank; are we contributing to the development of those banks since banks are no longer giving us those interests. Today you end up owing a bank whilst you will have deposited your money – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you very much Madam President. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Chikwaka for a very important question regarding the mobilisation of the savings. In 2020, I recognised that there was a problem. So I issued a Statutory Instrument which compels banks to pay interest rates. The way we crafted it is that the interest was to be linked to the Treasury Bill Rate. I was quite aware that if I put up this Statutory Instrument without specifying how the interest rates ought to be paid, they were going to give excuses on variation of interest rates and they were going to settle for lower rates and our citizens were going to be cheated. So, I put together a formula that linked the interest rate to the Treasury Bill rate. Subsequently, the banks have not really complied, that is the information I am getting. So I have requested the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to enforce this and make sure that banks comply and start paying interest rates. If they did not do so in 2020, they ought to pay what they owe to depositors.
I have also spoken to the auditing profession to say that as auditors who audit the banks, they ought to enforce as well through the Audit Office. Should they find non-compliance in the accounts that are published, that ought to be reflected so that we are clear. I totally agree with Hon. Sen. Chief Chikwaka on this issue, auditors ought to be paid fair interest rates.
On the other side of the coin, banks are charging high banking fees and that is how they make their money so at the end of the day, let those high fees be counter balanced by decent interest rates to depositors. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President. I am very encouraged that the Minister is aware that banks have failed to comply with the law. My question is, what has the Government done to reign in those banks and what is going to happen to those clients who were not given what was due to them? I think we need a compensation mechanism because if it was a loan from the bank, I would pay regardless of whatever had happened. Thank you Madam President.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam President. Again I thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera for that follow-up question. I have instructed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to investigate this issue and enforce it. They are going through that process at the moment and their job is to enforce it. Those who have not complied would be told to comply because clearly, they owe depositors their interest or what is due to them. That is going to happen and we are going to go through the process. I also met with the accounting profession and we discussed the same issue which is, can we enforce it through the audit process and as you work on these audits for the banks, make sure that they comply? If they are not complying, indicate so. It is an auditable issue. Thank you Madam President.
HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI: Thank you Madam President. Hon. Minister, it is beautiful that you have already administered a Statutory Instrument on the interest to be paid to clients. Have you checked that the banks are even more arrogant in that they do not pay interest and there is no control over interest to those who want to borrow? This means the economy becomes stagnant. How are you managing to supervise the process of borrowing and repayment of loans? This is because I now see that the interest rate is at 40% and elsewhere in the world it is below 10% and on the other side, you said you are not getting anything. Instead, the charges are so high – how are you balancing in terms of helping the common man especially the elderly people in the rural areas? There used to be the Red Door programme and some interest was accrued at Beverly Building Society but nowadays, there are no such programmes which one can make money which can accrue some interest?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam President. I thank Hon. Sen. Mudzuri for that question. It is exactly his observation that prompted me to issue that Statutory Instrument because I noticed that for a start, bank charges were high. We used a moral suasion argument to persuade them to lower bank charges. We were partially successful last year during COVID and they brought down the charges but we know that it is only temporary and it is not something that is permanent. On the other hand, if you are a borrower, the 40% interest rate that he was referring to is what we call the bank rate which is the guiding rate. That is the rate that banks charge when they approach the Reserve Bank for liquidity support. The real lending rate is much higher up to 60/70% depending on the client.
So clearly, if this situation is unbalanced, lending rates are too high and bank charges are too high as well; we needed to counter balance that with decent depositor interest rates and that is what this Statutory Instrument is about. The exercise that the Central Bank is going trough at the moment will reveal a lot. I want us to act on concrete information and overwhelming evidence so that we can enforce this Statutory Instrument. They cannot wriggle out of it. You asked if I was getting interest in my bank account – the answer is no and I think the answer is no for all of us in this House. Thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. SHUMBA: Thank you Madam President. I am glad that I am also here and I am able to ask my question. My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs. Our children are finished because of drugs. People are abusing drugs and are all going to die. We see that some people are being arrested because of mbanje but the police know about people selling drugs yet they do not arrest them. Does the law now allow drug abuse? Our children are dying every time because of drug abuse. Has the law changed so much that drugs can freely be abused because the police see that and they do not arrest anyone? I thank you.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. MAVHUNGA-MABOYI): Thank you Madam President and thank you Hon. Sen. Shumba. The law does not allow people to freely smoke mbanje or abuse drugs freely. It is up to all of us in this House to ensure that if you see and come across that, you need to report that and take action. It is not allowed. If you see such a thing, you should report and when you see the police allowing that and also smoking mbanje, report them as well. I thank you.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: May be the Hon. Member has seen them – do you see them?
*HON. SEN. SHUMBA: All I want to say is if the police see this happening, where do the public go and report such cases? Thank you.
*HON. SEN. MURONZI: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Ziyambi. My question is - if a woman is married and rightfully wedded and the husband dies, is she allowed to get married to someone else while staying at her in-laws place? I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for raising that question. Madam President, according to our inheritance law, if you are married and live at a home the home or house is inherited by the surviving spouse. The rest may be called the deceased’s estate, but since the surviving spouse owns that home or house and they are now free because the other spouse has died, it is up to them now to use that house or home. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. MURONZI: What can be done if such a situation happens at a rural set up and the children of the deceased can no longer visit that house because the mother has moved on? Please clarify to me because as an aunt I am being asked to intervene. I need to know so that we can chase away that person right now.
*HON. ZIYAMBI: I responded with reference to marriage in an urban set up. When it comes to rural areas there are people responsible. The traditional leaders are in charge, so they determine the course. In that case what I referred to cannot apply. I thank you.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: Madam President, are we saying if we have title deeds and we are married in a civil marriage and stay in an urban area where there are no traditional leaders there are councilors and so forth, we throw away our culture that MaNcube is married to Mr. Khupe and Mr. Khupe has left the world and then MaNcube can take another husband and put him there. I just wanted to find out; are we throwing away our culture? Is that the policy of our Government the black Government is taking? Thank you.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam President. There are a lot of things that do not happen in urban areas that happen in communal areas. We do not have chiefs in Harare. The chiefs are in our rural areas and they are the custodians of our customs and traditions. In areas of their jurisdiction they exercise the power that they have been vested with by the President to do. So here it is completely different. You have title to your piece of land. In rural areas you do not have title. The land vests in the President and the custodians of that land are chiefs. So you cannot settle in an area that is the jurisdiction of one chief and practice traditions of another chief from your home area. You follow traditions from Zvimba and not Chihota where you were raised.
So that is the set up that we have. Unfortunately, we have to accept that is what it is. I thank you Madam President.
*THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: So, does it mean that a man can freely marry but when it comes to a woman it is not allowed yet we claim that we have equal rights?
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to pose my question. My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Our roads have been declared a state of national disaster because they are so bad. I would like to find out from the Minister; there were roads that were maintained by the Government, there were roads that were maintained by local authorities and DDF, what is the relationship now because Minister, you gave all those institutions equipment? They are not doing anything although they received that equipment. I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for raising such a pertinent issue in this august House. Indeed, our roads are under specific jurisdictions. If you look at the Constitution and the Roads Act, it stipulates road authorities and that is how it explains DDF, local authorities including rural or urban as well as the Road Department.
So if the Government does not specify through the President that there is a state of disaster, it remains that way but now that the President has proclaimed the state of disaster on roads, it means road administration is now centralized by the Minister of Transport. The Ministry of Transport becomes solely responsible for all roads and it is stipulated in the Roads Act. The Act states that if the Minister realises that roads are not being properly taken care of, he or she can take responsibility of these roads. I would like to applaud the stance taken by the President for proclaiming the state of disaster. It now means that the Government, through the Minister of Transport, is now responsible for the roads. It does not mean that the local authorities should stop whatever work since they got allocations from the Budget. The Government will take responsibility of certain roads and the Ministry will publish the roads that the Government will take. Those feeder roads that central Government will not take over should be maintained by local authorities. We need to put our heads together because this is a disaster for all our roads, so we need to maintain them. I thank you.
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 62.
HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI: I move that time for questions without notice be extended by fifteen minutes since today we have many ministers around.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: I second.
*HON. SEN. M. DUBE: My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. I have heard that if you are in town you can remain with the house. If I remain in the urban area in the House, witnesses are required. Those people who come to witness will say, let us wait for his brother in South Africa. The House will be temporarily in the custody of his brother. I want some clarification because I have a case which is hanging.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I would like to advise the Senate that we have been joined by two more ministers – Minister of Defence and the Minister of Women Affairs. This is the month of March and women ministers are performing – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -
* HON. ZIYAMBI: The issue of inheritance is very difficult because there is a lot of dishonesty that happens. Many widows sign papers which they do not understand. When they try to make a follow up, everything would have been sorted out. Whenever something is happening, you should look for people with legal knowledge to assist you because people are corrupt these days. It will seem that when the names were changed you were in agreement.
HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and in his absence, to the Leader of the House. What is Government policy regarding headmasters who are still holding on to the grade seven results for non payment of school fees?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): This is not a new question. It has been addressed on several occasions that headmasters do not have a contract with learners and should there be any outstanding fees, it is illegal to withhold results. Rather, they must deal with the parent, ensure learners are not prejudiced and they continue with their education.
HON. SEN. MOHADI: My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development. Fuel is being sold in most garages in foreign currency whereas three quarters of our population are earning in RTGs. What is the Government saying about this?
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. SODA): The Government has noted that the fuel on the market is being sold mostly in United States dollars but Government has also put a mechanism to ensure that those that are earning their incomes in local currency are forced to get fuel that is also sold in local currency. There is a facility which is being handled through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe where some oil companies are accessing the foreign currency that is required for them to import fuel in the country, for instance the statistics that we have as a Ministry for last week indicate that the fuel that was availed on the market through the RBZ facility was 49% of the fuel that was available on the market. However, we have since instituted some investigations through the regulator ZERA to ascertain whether the fuel that is being procured using the RBZ facility is not being abused. Indications are that the fuel - from a lot of consumers that we are discussing with, seem to point out that the fuel procured through the RBZ facility, which is supposed to be sold in RTGs is not available. We have since assigned ZERA to look into that matter and very soon we shall be giving a statement as to the findings that ZERA would have obtained. I thank you Hon. President.
HON. SEN. MOHADI: My supplementary question is – I get what the Minister is saying but you find that even those garages which are said to be getting that fuel through the RBZ facility are not selling that fuel in RTGs but selling in foreign currency. I have witnessed it myself, maybe it is because I stay in the semi-urban areas whereby not even one garage is selling fuel in RTGS. So what do we do Hon. Minister?
HON. SODA: Thank you Mr President. Like I said, it was the intention of government to ensure that those that cannot afford to buy their fuel using United States dollars are also afforded the opportunity to buy fuel supported by government through its procurement. However, we do not deny that there could be some unscrupulous oil companies that are accessing the fuel through those facilities but in turn abusing the facilities that have been put in place by government. I indicated that we have taken note of that through the complaints that we are getting from various consumers and as such, we have instituted an investigation. The list is available for those companies getting the money from the RBZ facility. ZERA, which is the regulator, has been assigned to go and do the investigations. Once the investigations are done with, we shall provide the nation with a statement as to the findings and also whether the facility was abused or not. I thank you Hon. President.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Minister, I am sure the House will be eagerly awaiting the statement with detailed findings of that regulatory body because the issue of fuel availability and cost is a topical issue. I thank you.
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 66.
THE HON DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: As for Questions With Notice I notice that the two Ministers involved with questions on the Order Paper are not available. So we move on to the Orders of the day.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 9 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 10 has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
Tenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Question again proposed.
HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: I want to thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to wind up the Presidential Speech which was delivered by His Excellency Cde. E. D. Mnangagwa. He gave a mouthful of good words and people debated strongly. In the Senate we debated thoroughly on this issue and all parties united. Long back, we had opposition which was led by Chamisa of MDC-Alliance. We heard that they were not allowed to debate. MDC-T repented on that and we embraced them with love. They showed that they were happy to be allowed by Senator Mwonzora to debate freely, even thanking our President Cde. E. D Mnangagwa accepting that he is the leader of Government, country and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. All of us debated.
They said we should unite so that our country will go forward as one. Those were very strong words which they said and they ended up by saying even the POLAD we should support because it helps each and everyone to articulate their minds. With these few words, allow me Mr. President to move that the motion on the Presidential Speech be adopted, that a respectful address be presented to the President of Zimbabwe as follows: –
May it please you, your Excellency the President:
We, the Members of Parliament of Zimbabwe desire to express
our loyalty to Zimbabwe and beg leave to offer our respectful thanks for the speech, which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE JOINT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON YOUTH, SPORT, ARTS AND RECREATION AND THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON INDIGENISATION AND EMPOWERMENT ON THE STATE OF VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTRES, THE EMPOWER BANK AND SPORTING FACILITIES
HON. SEN. MBOWA: I move the motion standing in my name
that this House takes note of the Report of the Joint Portfolio
Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and the Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment on the state of Vocational Training Centers, the Empower Bank and Sporting Facilities in Zimbabwe.
HON. SEN. S. MPOFU: I second.
HON. SEN. MBOWA:
Youth participation is a critical political and socio-economic development issue. Section 20 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe exhorts institutions of Government to take reasonable measures, including affirmative action programmes to ensure that youths have access to appropriate education and training and opportunities for employment. In the same vein, the Zimbabwe National Development Strategy 1 (January 2021- December 2025) recognises the youth as “a valuable resource” which should be allowed to build and strengthen own qualities to facilitate growth and flourishment into responsible citizens. The Government has established Vocational Training Centres (VTCS) to provide entrepreneurial skills training in areas such as agriculture, hospitality and tourism, welding, motor mechanics, business studies, carpentry, building studies, clothing technology, cosmetology, and domestic electrical installation. Additionally, the Government established the Empower Bank to provide social and financial solutions to the financially excluded youths who have limited or no access to capital.
Sport is a widely acclaimed development tool and a social connector. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda recognises sport as an enabler of sustainable development. This includes its contribution towards the empowerment of youths and communities, realisation of peace, as well as health and social inclusion targets. The Government of Zimbabwe established sporting facilities around the country in order to nurture young talents into career sportspersons thereby reducing high unemployment levels amongst the youth which is largely attributable to lack of skills.
Pursuant to the oversight role of Parliament, the Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment conducted a joint inquiry into the state of VTCs, sporting facilities and the Empower Bank.
2.0 Objectives of the Inquiry
The key objectives of the inquiry were to:
2.1 assess the state of learning facilities, equipment and accommodation at VTCs;
2.2 familiarise with various programmes and projects being implemented at VTCs to promote youth empowerment;
2.3 assess the state of sporting facilities and level of country`s preparedness to host international matches; and
2.4 assess the level of financial support rendered to young people by the Empower Bank.
The Committees undertook the following activities as part of the inquiry:
3.1 It gathered oral evidence from the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Recreation and Ministry of Local Government and Public Works on the state of VTCs and sporting facilities;
3.2 It also gathered oral evidence from Zimbabwe Football association (ZIFA) on progress made towards the refurbishment and upgrading of stadiums in line with Confederation of African Football (CAF) requirements;
3.3 It received oral evidence from Empower Bank on the nature of financial support rendered to young people;
3.4 analysed written submissions from Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation; and
3.5 conducted field visits to VTCs and sporting facilities from the 6th to 10th of July 2020 as shown on the tables below:
Table 1: VTCs and sports facilities visited by Group 1
|6 July 2020||Masvingo||Mushagashe Training Centre
|7 July 2020||Midlands||Zvishavane Vocational Training Centre
|8 July 2020||Mat South||Pangani Vocational Training Centre
Empower Bank- Bulawayo branch
| 9 July 2020
|Umguza Vocational Training Centre
|10 July 2020||
Kaguvi Training Centre
Table 2: VTCs and Sport facilities visited by Group 2
|6 July 2020||Manicaland||Magamba Vocational Training Centre
|7 July 2020||Mash- East||Rudhaka Stadium
| 8 July 2020
|National Sports Stadium,
MufakoseYouth Interact Centre,
Empower Bank- Head office
|9 July 2020||Mashonaland Central
|Chaminuka Training Centre
Bindura Urban Vocational Training Centre
|10 July 2020
|Mashayamombe Vocational Training Centre
Kadoma Vocational Training Centre
4.0 Committees’ Findings
- Oral Evidence from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation
Dr T. Chitepo, the Secretary for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation informed the Committees that in line with provisions of Section 20 of the Constitution, the Ministry established various youth empowerment programmes and projects across the 10 provinces of the country. These include youth enterprise support and financial inclusion initiatives such as the Empower Bank, VTCs and other service centers aimed at capacitating youths through practical business exposure. In addition, the Ministry created production and incubation hubs specialising in motor mechanics, horticulture, cosmetology, dairy and livestock production.
The Secretary highlighted that the Ministry adopted the VTCs Master Plan in October 2019. She noted that the Master-Plan outlines infrastructural requirements for VCTs and a curriculum review programme in line with modern trends and current developments, amongst other key issues. The curriculum review programme would be conducted with support from the Chinese Government.
The Secretary further informed the Committees that with regards to sporting facilities, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had conducted stadium inspections in November 2019. In its subsequent report, the CAF stipulated areas of improvement which included security turnstile gates, a levelled pitch, sitting bays, doping rooms, press conference room, official dressing room, first aid kits, flood light 1200 lux, commentary position, photographer area, VIP section, as well as ablution facilities. She noted that the Government had already released financial resources amounting to ZWL$37.6 million towards upgrading Barbourfields, Sakubva, Mandava and National Sports stadiums in order to promote sports and tourism in the country.
- Field Visits to VTCs
4.2.1 Enrolment Levels
During the field visits to VTCs, the Committees discovered that the demand for vocational education was overwhelming. This was due to the fact that a majority of students who sit for Ordinary Level Education examinations come out with less than five subjects passes that are a requisite to proceed to Advanced Level of Education.
However, the Committees noted with concern that enrolment levels at VTCs were below institutional capacity due to inadequate learning infrastructure. Mrs N Tembo, the Acting Principal of Zvishavane VTC informed the Committee that the institution had the capacity to enroll up to 700 but currently enrolment is at 450 students only. The same trend was observed at Mashayamombe VTC where the enrolment has been on the decline from 500 to 55 students. Mr B Musatya, the Principal of Mashayamombe VTC in Mashonaland West Province bemoaned that the institution had lost a significant number of female students due to drop-outs. Consequently, female student enrolment had drastically dwindled and in some programmes ceased thereby undermining its relevance in terms of empowering the girl child.
- b) Learning infrastructure
The Committee observed that learning facilities and buildings at most VTCs were in a state of deterioration. This was evident at Mashayamombe VTC where the administration block had no window panes, ant mounds were razing down doors and wood infrastructure as a result of lack of utilisation. Additionally, the Committees were dismayed to note that buildings at Panganai VTC in Insiza District were even collapsing. The deplorable state of the buildings pointed to failure to attract students by Mashayamombe and Panganai VTCs. Furthermore, it indicated the lack of effort by responsible authorities to conduct routine maintenance works which ultimately contributed towards the running down of existing infrastructure at VTCs.
- c) Training equipment
Obsolete equipment was a serious challenge across the VTCs toured by the Committees. It affected training programmes such as agriculture, carpentry, textiles and clothing and automotive trades. The worst affected institutions were Mashayamombe VTC in Mhondoro Mubaira District, Magamba VTC in Mutare, Kadoma VTC in Kadoma, and Bindura Urban VTC in Bindura where obsolete equipment was reported to be generally affecting the learning practice of students and undermined the quality of graduates. Mr A. Musariri, the Principal of Chaminuka VTC informed the Committee that the institution was still utilizing equipment donated by Germany 30 years ago.
The Committees noted that most the of courses offered at VTCs are not technology intensive which discourages prospective students. A case example is Mushagashe VTC in Masvingo which lacked computers, or internet connectivity. However, it was encouraging to learn that Zvishavane VTC had received a donation of 22 desk tops from Boltrec Engineering Private Limited.
- d) Student Accommodation
The acute shortage of accommodation was touted as a serious challenge affecting students enrolled at VTCs. According to information gathered by the Committees at Umguza, Zvishavane, Mutate and Bindura Urban VTC, only 15% of students enrolled at centres could be accommodated on-campus. Further to that, the Committees noted that dormitories at most VTCs were constructed immediately after the attainment of Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. Due to the wear and tear, ablution facilities at Chaminuka VTC in Mashonaland Central Province were an eye-sore, whilst the bedding facilities at Mashayamombe VTC were make-shift old rusty spring beds without any mattresses.
Moreover, the Committees learnt that Bindura VTC had only done two enrolments from 2014 to 2016 and cancelled other enrolments to pave way for construction of trainee`s hostel and renovations to the learning facility. These construction works were funded by the Freda Rebecca Mine and the Bindura Community Share Ownership Trust. However, completion of the construction projects stalled due to withdrawal of support by the two funders after the community had failed to meet the dead line. The Committees was also informed that Zvishavane VTC had partnered with Mimosa Mining Company which fully funded the construction a girls’ hostel at the institution.
- e) Projects
The Committees noted a trend of underfunded projects during the visits to VTCs. Most VTCs had projects which were either semi-finished or stalled due to the inadequacy of financial resources. VTCs such as Bindura, Chaminuka and Mushagashe were struggling to fund their projects. The Committees learnt that Central Government support had a number of bottlenecks ranging from late disbursement of funds to bureaucracy. An illustrative example is Bindura VTC’s pinnacle project which never took off since 2016 due to lack of financial support from the Central Government. Officials at Mushagashe VTC informed the Committee that despite submitting bids to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for the past 5 years no allocations towards the Centre’s projects had been made through the National Budget.
During the field visits, the Committee toured dairy projects at Kaguvi and Umguza VTCs. The Committee was informed that adequate infrastructure for the two dairy projects had been acquired through the support of Dendairy and were potentially profitable business opportunities. However, both Centres were struggling to source cow feeds as local suppliers were charging in foreign currency. In fact, the Committee found out that the Umguza Dairy had 20 heifers, Vet clamp, Spray race, two-point milking machine, four cows abreast milking parlour, a 70 metre borehole, Biosecurity, Feed storage facility, 6 milking cans. Unlike Kaguvi`s dairy project, Umguza dairy had a total daily output of 80 litres of milk which was delivered to Dendairy after every two days.
- f) The fate of students post-graduation
The Committees found out that most graduates from VTCs were experiencing challenges in acquiring start-up kits to pursue business enterprises, hence the skills acquired were not being utilised in local industry and the market. Graduates from the automotive trade and agriculture programmes at Magamba VTC were failing to meaningfully join the mainstream economy owing to lack of adequate business start-up kits. The Committees noted that this state of affairs undermined the essence of the comprehensive youth empowerment architecture model through business development.
- Empower Bank
Mr. S. Mhembere, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Empower Bank informed the Committees that the entity is a registered deposit taking micro-finance institution wholly owned by the Government of Zimbabwe. The Bank provides social and financial solutions to the financially excluded population with greater focus on the youth, particularly focusing on youth-led businesses and agriculture projects, asset finance, guarantees and savings accounts cutting across urban, peri-urban and rural Zimbabwe. Since 2020, the newly-established bank has lent over $9 million, with 1 500 youths benefiting from the loan facility. The interest rate is 5 to 7 percent depending on the nature of business. However, its services were centralised in Harare and Bulawayo only. A proposal was made for the Bank to conduct community reach-out programmes in order to raise awareness to young people in rural areas on its services. The Committees further established that Empower Bank was being run by an Acting Chief Executive Officer for the past five years and that its Board of Directors lacked a substantive Chairperson which affected its efficiency and effectiveness. It was still in a loss position due to start-up costs, payment defaults and constrained business owing to hyperinflation and the Covid 19 pandemic effects. The Committee was informed that US$ 5 million capital injection was required to meet business growth and new minimum capital requirements for the microfinance bank.
- State of Sporting facilities
The Committees were apprised by the Secretary for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation of the minimum Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Confederation of African Football (CAF) requirements expected for a stadium as follows:
- A levelled green pitch clearly marked in white;
- Flood lights 1200 lux covering pitch uniformly;
- Official dressing rooms;
- First aid and medical treatment and stretcher carriers;
- Doping control room;
- Media tribune, press conference room and media facilities;
- Spectator facilities;
- A photographer area and camera positions;
- Signage and bucket seats;
- VIP parking area and;
- One commentary position.
The Committees conducted visits to sporting facilities after being condemned by the CAF for failing to meet the above requirements. The Committees visited Sakubva in Mutatre, Mandava in Zvishavane, Barbourfields in Bulawayo, Mucheke in Masvingo, Rudhaka in Marondera, Ascot in Gweru and National sports stadium in Harare respectively. The Committees establish that, poor sporting facilities had not only made it difficult for the country to host major international competitions, but resulted in loss of revenues that could have been generated from these facilities. The main challenge with sporting facilities is lack of maintenance and that most caretakers who are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance either have little or no expertise in stadium maintenance.
The Committees also established that the current set up of the Sport and Recreation Commission is solely focused on sport development outside facilities. Currently there is no expertise on the ground to look after the turf, for instance. Furthermore, the Stadium Management Board at the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works has completely failed to execute its mandate and is no longer in existence. In the same vein, both the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and local authorities who own stadiums do not have a strategy in place for the country`s stadia. The Committees also noted that devolution funds had not been channeled towards maintenance and upgrading of sporting facilities by local authorities who own them.
A visit by the Committees at Mucheke, Ascot and Mucheke stadiums revealed why these stadiums did not meet 80 percent of the CAF requirements. The pitches were humpy with weeds outgrowing the lawn and lacked markings. The absence of the following critical items compounded the situation; flood lights 1200 lux, official dressing rooms, first aid and medical treatment and stretcher carriers. Furthermore, there were no doping control rooms; media tribune, press conference rooms and the ablution facilities were not safe for use. The B-Arena at Ascot stadium had also been converted into residential stands by the Gweru City Council which demonstrate the local authority’s lack commitment towards sport development.
The Committees’ findings at Mandava, Barbourfields and National stadium also confirmed why these stadiums could not meet the CAF requirements. At the time of the visits, work was underway to replace the turf, separate VIP area with the rest of the ground and refurbishment of the media and doping control rooms. The Committees noted that these three stadiums did not have facilities to cater for people with disabilities, bucket seats and floodlights 1200 lux. It is pertinent to note that the Committee was impressed by the progress made in upgrading and refurbishing the Mandava Stadium through funds from the Mimosa Mining Company. The stadium had met 98% of the CAF requirements, what was still outstanding was the purchase of flood light 1200lux and the total amount required was UDS$ 90 0000.
6.0 Committees’ Observations
The Committees made the following observations:
6.1 The shortage of human resources was a serious challenge which exerted too much pressure on employees as they were being forced to multi-task in order to plug the gaps across all the VCTs visited.
6.2 The equipment and infrastructure in most VTCs was obsolete, an anomaly which affected the learning practice of students, thereby compromising the competency of graduates, particularly in the areas of agriculture, carpentry, textiles and clothing, automotive trades. Additionally, the Committees were disheartened to observe that the existing infrastructure at VTCs was in a state of disrepair which indicated the lack of goodwill to exercise routine maintenance and housekeeping activities by officers.
6.3 Despite the fact that VCTs have the capacity to take for more than 80 percent enrollment of students into tertiary education per annum, most Centres had incomplete or white elephant projects due to lack of financial and other resources or in some cases late disbursement of the same.
6.4 Students at VTCs suffer due to the acute shortage of secure accommodation facilities with conducive and effective studying environments as on-campus facilities could on average cater for 15 percent of the enrolment.
6.5 The lack of access to start-up capital grossly impeded the entrance of graduates into the local industry and mainstream economy thereby undermining the very essence of establishment of VCTs.
6.6 The Empower Bank has operated for more than five years without a substantive Chief Executive Officer which undermines its efficiency and effectiveness.
6.7 Although the Empower Bank aims to provide loan facilities to youths across the country its services are currently accessed in Harare and Bulawayo and not yet decentralised to rural provinces of the country.
6.8 The country lacks a clear stadia management strategy. While the Sport and Recreation Commission is largely focused on sport development and outside facilities, there is currently no expertise to maintain the turf in stadia, for example. The Stadium Management Board which used to be under the administration of the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works was no longer in existence.
6.9 The failure by stadiums to meet FIFA and CAF standards was largely due to poor management of sports facilities and lack of prioritisation by owners. For example, all local authorities had never set aside any amount from devolution funds towards upgrading and refurbishment of sporting facilities.
6.10 All the VTCs and football stadiums have not set up enough facilities to cater for people with disabilities
The Committee made the following recommendations:
7.1 The Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation in collaboration with relevant Government departments, should ensure that all VCTs have substantive Principals by 31st October 2021. Acting Principals must be given first preference subject to merit.
7.2 The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should mobilise adequate financial resources for VTCs and sporting facilities maintenance and development. The Ministry should allocate 80 percent financial resources to VTCs through the National Budget in order to enable these institutions to sustain their operations by 31st December 2021. Additionally, the Ministry must allocate adequate financial resources to the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation to ensure that all sporting infrastructure meet international standards within the same timeline. Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should explore other financial resources mobilisation initiatives such as Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) and tax incentives in order to stimulate investment in VTC facilities and sporting infrastructure by 31st October 2021.
7.3 The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works should ensure that at least 2 percent of the devolution funds is directed towards the development of VTCs by 31st December 2021.
7.4 The Ministry Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation should regulate all VTCs and sporting facilities to ensure that they cater for people with disabilities by 31st July 2021.
7.5 The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should appoint a substantive Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Board of Directors to strengthen operations of the Empower Bank by 31st June 2021.
7.6 The Empower Bank should decentralise its services to district level and conduct awareness campaigns to ensure that all eligible beneficiaries access its services, including youths in rural areas and students in VTCs across the country by 31st December 2021.
7.7 The Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and Ministry of Local Government should appoint a Sports Management Board and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the usage and maintenance of sporting facilities by 31st July 2021.
The strategic importance of VTCs, the Empower Bank and sporting facilities to the socio-economic transformation of Zimbabwe cannot be underestimated. VTCs empower our youth with entrepreneurial skills to venture into the small and medium business sector which currently contributes significantly to the country’s domestic product (GDP). Closely linked to that is the critical financing role of the Empower Bank which provides the much- needed business start-up capital for the youth. Similarly, excellent sporting infrastructure attracts better performance resulting in abundant socio-economic benefits such as employment creation and revenue generation, amongst others. Thus, there is an urgent need for a coordinated approach to the management of sporting facilities in Zimbabwe by the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, and Ministry of Local Government and Public Works. I thank you.
HON. SEN. MBOHWA: I move that the debate do now adjourned.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 23rd March, 2021.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE), the House adjourned at Twenty One Minutes to Five o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 23rd March, 2021.