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SENATE HANSARD 19 February 2015 24-20
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 19th February, 2015
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT in the Chair)
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
*SENATOR MUCHIHWA: Thank you Mr. President. We plead
with you to ensure that ministers come to the Senate to answer questions. On many occasions, we get responses from their deputy ministers and we do not get the full responses that we expect. We are not looking down on the deputy ministers but we feel that they are short changing us. They should come and show their respect for this august
I will direct my question to the Minister of Industry and
Commerce. His Excellency the President, in his opening Speech, stated that industries would be reopened in Bulawayo. Have any industries been opened since this pronouncement? I am asking because the unemployment rate is very high and all the unemployed in the country have become vendors.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND
COMMERCE (MS. MABUWA): Thank you for giving me this
opportunity to respond to the hon. senator. Since she misidentified me as the Minister of Culture, maybe that is why her question is not properly framed. Can I ask her to put her question in writing so that she can get a well crafted response?
*SENATOR MUCHIHWA: Maybe I used the wrong language.
My question is on industries. All I am asking is how far you have gone with the opening of industries and I do not think that needs to be put down in writing. This question is directed to your ministry. I had a different question for the minister of culture.
*MS. MABUWA: Thank you for clarifying your question hon.
senator. This is a very broad question and I am not sure which industries to touch on because there are many programmes that are being undertaken by Government through ZIM ASSET to ensure our industries are operational. As a ministry, we have also put in place a lot of strategies to ensure the reopening of these industries.
SENATOR MARAVA: Thank you Mr. President. I do I agree
with what the minister is saying, but I think she can highlight to the nation which other industries are almost in operation now.
* MS. MABUWA: I will give examples of industries that are performing well. We have the food and beverages industry divided into its four sectors. Some of the sectors are operating at 100% capacity utilisation, especially the beverage industry. There is also the clothing and textile industry, which is already on its way to resuscitation. I might want to cite that David Whitehead, which is currently under judicial management, is already seeing some fruition in the process of resuscitating the industry. The ministry also recently launched the cotton to clothing strategy, which is already being implemented through stakeholder’s participation and support. We received support of roughly 4 billion euros from COMESA, which is currently rolling out that strategy. Those are the few that I can cite for now. Thank you.
*SENATOR CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: May the Minister of
Energy and Power Development let this august Senate know the Government policy regarding the purchase of prepaid electricity. There are very few selling points for prepaid electricity. I have often noticed that during the weekend, we have very long queues at the existing selling points. So, we do not want any family to go without cooking food. In particular, we do not want the chief to go hungry. I am sure his wife should always have electricity to prepare food for him. So I am seized with that matter Mr. President and I am sure access is going to improve. I thank you.
THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I would like to welcome the
Ministers who are here present and so far we have the Deputy Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Hon. Tongofa Mathias; Hon. Chiratidzo Mabuwa, Deputy Minister of Industry and
Commerce; Hon. T. V. Muzenda, Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development; Hon. S. Undenge, Minister of Energy and Power Development; Hon. Z. Ziyambi, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs; Hon. F. Moyo, Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development; Hon. L. Dokora, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and again I say you are welcome.
SENATOR KOMICHI: I would like to start by saying well done to members of the Lower House yesterday for demonstrating against Ministers who were not coming to the House – [AN. HON. SENATOR:
Aah.] – Today the House is full. Thank you very much for that – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – [SENATOR MARAVA: Ko ndochokwadi
ka nhai.] –
The question goes to the Minister for Home Affairs. I would like to know the policy of ZRP towards soldiers who beat MDC activists? I am raising this question because we have one of our youths from Chivi who was beaten to pulp by soldiers and this culture is continuing all over the country. Do you take any action against soldiers or you are afraid of them?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (MR.
ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President and I would like to thank the hon. member for the question. Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) does not look at the colour, gender and age of anyone except if they are minors when they are arresting offenders. So if you have information about somebody who was beaten up, may you kindly tell that person to go and report to the nearest police station. I thank you.
SENATOR MUMVURI: Thank you Mr. President. My question
is directed to the Deputy Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment. I just want to know a clear policy on empowering people through their indigenisation programme. Are there any checks and balances Minister, for those people who benefited in other earlier programmes such as land reform and mining that they are not considered in your indigenisation and empowerment efforts just to ensure that there is no double dipping by the same people? Thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF YOUTH, INDIGENISATION
AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT (MR. TONGOFA): Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to respond to this question raised by the hon. senator. There are various ways through which the indigenisation and economic empowerment is empowering indigenous people. To start with, he mentioned the land reform. Yes it was started way before this Act was enacted but it is an empowerment programme as well.
The policy or the Act itself empowers people through the Community Share Ownership Trusts. Thus empowering the communities which are around areas where natural resources are really exploited by the commercial entities. The communities around that area are empowered through ownership of the equity within that entity and also through other various initiatives which emanate from that Act. Also, the youth benefit through the community ownership trusts as well because they have got a stake when the seed capital comes and a case in point is where we used the shares from Old Mutual to securitise the money which we were giving the youths during the previous period which we have just suspended because of other problems.
Also, the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) through the
Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) fund is supposed to help our people to acquire shares and just because it is not capitalised, that facility is not visible because it is not yet capitalised. It is a facility that that was supposed to help our people to acquire shares through the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and also shares from other entities which will be indigenising. I think in a nutshell, these are the initiatives through which our people can be empowered through the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
The second question on checks and balances, I think the programme is open to everyone. It does not discriminate. It is a programme which is there for the indigenous people of this country and everyone is free to participate in any programme which the Government is rolling out. I thank you.
SENATOR KOMICHI: Deputy Minister, can you confidently
say the Community Share Ownership Trust is a success as a project?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF YOUTH, INDIGENISATION AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT (MR. TONGOFA): Thank
you Mr. President. I will confidently say so because there are a number of success stories behind Community Share Ownership Trusts. I will let the hon. senator know that we have 61 registered Community Share Ownership Trusts, but 15 of them have been capitalised. We had US$38 million availed to those Community Share Ownership Trusts and US$14 million out of that, has been used in various communities. Communities are really benefiting, which really shows the broad based empowerment programme.
Mr. President, there are so many projects, which I cannot highlight at the moment but if you go to the Unki, which is the Shurugwi Community Trust, they have built a number of schools and dams where people are eking a living. Even if you go to Chivi, there are a number of schools which were rehabilitated and boreholes drilled in those areas. If you go to Chegutu, there is the one which was done by ZIMPLATS in Mhondoro-Ngezi. There are so many success stories. I can confidently say this is the best model which can empower our societies. I thank you.
*SENATOR CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: We need to tell the truth
regarding Community Ownership Trusts. You said 15 out of 61, which is about 24% as the success of this scheme. As far as I am concerned, this is a failure. Looking at the feelings of the chiefs, because
Community Share Ownership Trusts, you said it would be bestowed upon the powers of the chiefs. We have noticed that, we are not in the NIEEB Board, that is running these policies. We have been told that we cannot even be ex-officio members of these boards. How can you say they are operating well?
- TONGOFA: Thank you Mr. President. I also want to thank Hon. Senator Chief Charumbira mambo vedu. I want to say it is a process, it is not an event. As a process, we listen to all the stakeholders as we move along. The chiefs are the ones who chair the Community Ownership Share Trusts that is the configuration. Therefore, from our own point of view, the chiefs are the ones who are running the Community Share Ownership Trusts because they are the ones who chair the programmes of the Community Share Ownership Trusts. So they have got a say at what is happening in the Community Share Ownership Trusts.
Of course, I want to say the success of 24% where other companies are not coming on board to provide the seed capital, is an issue which we are working on. It is also an issue which we need to work together as a community to make sure these companies come on board and really provide the seed capital. It is about the seed capital, but these Community Share Ownership Trusts have been established, only that they do not have seed capital. Other companies are coming on board. We have recently talked to Metallon Gold and it has established five because it has five mines in different districts. They are capitalising those Trusts this year. To me, there is progress. Yes, we are not moving with the speed that is expected by everyone but we are making progress.
It is us together as a team who should make it faster. I thank you Mr.
SENATOR HOLLAND: Thank you Mr. President. My question
is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. What is the Ministry’s policy towards bullying? How effective is the policy, where bullying has taken place and what steps are being taken to follow the policy is actually implemented. I say this in light of the young pupil at Waddilove Primary School who is said to have committed suicide after having been bullied and that the parents are having difficulty in getting to understand exactly what happened? This is a very serious matter which we need as nation, to take seriously and address. What steps are taken where bullying has taken place with fatal or even tragic results as the Waddilove case?
THE MINISTER PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): Thank you Mr. President. I thank the
hon. senator for raising the question. The Ministry has a policy on bullying. Statutory Instrument 1/2000 will certainly visit those who fail to enforce the rules that protect pupils within the school premises.
Secondly, you cited a particular instance and deduced that it appears to fit the bill of bullying leading to death. That is a matter that needs investigation. At the moment, we do not have a report on our desk describing or providing the details that led to the demise of the young person. However, every life lost is regrettable. I do not think we can take it at face value and say, it is caused by bullying. Let us wait and obtain the full circumstances of the situation that might have led to that young boy’s loss of life.
*SENATOR CHIEF MUSARURWA: Thank you Mr. President.
My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. We have been told of the framework policy which you intend to introduce that school children will be allowed to take cellphones to school so that they can communicate with parents and guardians in order to catch up with the current trend of technology. My question is, did you consult parents regarding this education? As far as I am concerned, we are destroying our education and in another way also introducing pornography indirectly.
*THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): Thank you Mr. President for giving
me the opportunity to respond to the chief’s question. Let me clear this policy statement. When we talk of a cellphone, we are talking of a gadget which was introduced some few years back for communication. During the old days, we knew the ordinary handset which is stationary and located at a particular place, be it at an institution or somebody’s home. Whenever you wanted its service, you would go to that home or institution to communicate. You could not carry it around but during that period, technocrats were looking for ways and means of improving the technology in communication among people located in different continents as Africa, Europe and Australia to enable them to hold conferences at the same time.
They therefore had to introduce computers and the first computers were introduced in the late 60/70s. These were huge mainframes and because of their size, they had to be located at a particular place and people had to pay it a visit. It was a marvel during those days. One had to make an effort to get in touch with it. As time progressed, our technocrats and scientists have reduced these machines including the computer and the handsets which were stationary and put them in homes.
We now have information, communication and technology. This has led to the unification of ideals by the industrialists and communicators, and they have combined this technology to introduce one machine. This has resulted in the reduction of the size of this machine. I know when computers were introduced, we had these desktop computers. Next in line were the laptops which were portable to carry around but because of the technological improvement, we now have portable handsets which we can carry in our hands or on our persons easily.
A cellphone is a sophisticated technological piece of machine which is able to carry out the business which was done by the huge computer mainframes of the past. You can also google using your cellphone, searching for markets, services and products. You can also locate geographical places. You can also go into the political world using these gadgets and we want our children to catch up with modern technology and advance economically.
This also means that each school should have its policies and regulations on the use of these technological communication gadgets. The laptop which is used by these learners can also be used to communicate as a phone. Therefore, when we are talking of a cellphone, we are not talking only of the handset which we know. We are talking of other attachments to the computer.
Therefore, I plead with the school authorities that they should have some regulations and policies regarding the use of these gadgets. As teachers and lecturers, they should not fight against these gadgets because these are friendly gadgets. We are encouraging the school authorities and parents to allow access to these computers which should be introduced in schools so that we almost have a ratio of one computer to four learners. This should be an accepted average at a school.
We believe that if these gadgets had been introduced with such a ratio, each learner would have had access to a computer for about an hour or so many hours because they are in a school environment; the knowledge so gathered is going to be of some help to these learners when they go for their tertiary education. We want to take these computers to the learners from the ECD level through primary, secondary and tertiary education. We do not want these children to be introduced to computers when they go to tertiary institutions and universities only.
So to answer your question, the use of these communication gadgets will be used according to the regulations, guidance and policies of the schools. We believe the school authorities can also bar access to some of the pornographic material which has been stated by the
SENATOR CHIEF NGUNGUBANE: I would want the Minister
to clarify by saying whether kids are now permitted to bring cellphones to the school or the school will provide the computers that have certain programmes locked to the kid?
- DOKORA: Every school has rules on how the technology
deployed in its institution will be used. Thank you.
*SENATOR. MAVHUNGA: As a follow up to Hon. Senator
Chief Musarurwa’s question, he said, is this not going to lead us to getting poor forms of education in our country and our children will be spoilt because of this new technology.
*DR. DOKORA: Let me give you a tangible example of what I am talking about. When we knock off, we need to go and watch a D6 programme which is used in some Group A schools. On that site which I have mentioned, it has assignments which will have been set up for the learners. The learners receive instructions on what exercises they will have to embark on. They will also be given information on when examinations will be written. They are also given some books which they are supposed to read. We know that some learners may not have access but this programme is exposed to them.
The introduction of an ICT tool does not degrade the kind of education in the country; on the contrary, it improves the school’s education. We have some schools which are already working with these communication gadgets and are creating groups whereby students of a within a particular group can communicate with each other. A teacher or lecturer is also able to communicate with his students through that computer. At home, our children are able to access the computers and therefore, we should not have these negative thoughts about computers.
We have two types of mathematics.
*SENATOR CHIEF MUSARURWA: The Minister may have
misunderstood my question. He is talking about laptops and computers; we support it because it was supported by his Excellency.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Sorry, Mambo is it a point
*SENATOR CHIEF MUSARURWA: Yes, it is. On a point of
Order! My question was misunderstood; we do support the ICT technology on computers which was …
SENATOR W. SIBANDA: On a point of order! I think the hon.
chief must correct what he wants to correct [HON. SENATORS:
Inaudible interjections] - can I have protection, Mr. President.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Order, order!
*SENATOR W. SIBANDA: I wanted to say the hon. chief should
correct the point of order so that we proceed properly.
*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Mambo, just ask the
Minister where he did not understand.
*SENATOR CHIEF MUSARURWA: Minister, my question is
on cellphones in particular. I am talking about these handsets, whether you allow cell phones as cellphones, as computers or laptops. So in the classrooms, computers and laptops are monitored by teachers but cellphones are personal and they will be used on an individual basis. So, I am talking about cellphones.
My second question was whether you consulted with the parents before allowing children to bring cellphones? Thank you.
*DR. DOKORA: Thank you Mr. President. When I am talking about handsets, I explained that these handsets you may call it a cell phone but it is a computer on its own. If I had a chance, I would ask the hon. senators to bring out the handsets which they have and their sizes be will be different. These cellphones can also be used for mathematical calculations. My response was aimed at introducing the whole basic introduction of these machines. The senator on my left supported the idea by supplying these computers and ICT technologies. In our curriculum, we have mathematics and we also have mathematics which is calculator based. As a result, learners are allowed to bring calculators into the examination room and write their exams. This means we are introducing different forms of ICT to assist the learners so that when they are through with education, they will be very highly computer
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Minister, you did not answer
part of the question on consultation of parents. Did you consult the parents?
*DR. DOKORA: Mr. President, I am proud to hear what the hon. chief has said that His Excellency the President of the country, allowed schools to launch the programme on computerization in schools but technology has to advance as it is. Thank you.
+SENATOR A. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. President. My
question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. I would like know, in the past we were governed by the white people and our children moved from grade one to seven, whether they passed or not. Then from grade seven, they would move to form 2 which was ZJC; from there they would proceed to form four and stop. However, at the moment, what does your policy say when it comes to our children because, some are slow learners and others fail. Are you in support of the fact that they just move from grade one to form four and when they fail, proceed to form six and then to University? What does your policy say as the black people who have got freedom and were liberated?
*THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): I thank you Mr. President. I understood some of the things but not all. Let me now give an explanation regarding the question you asked on learning. Regarding basic education, in some countries when you talk of basic education, you will be referring to primary education, but in the Republic of Zimbabwe - because of our visionary leader, basic education means the learner should start from ECD to form four so that every child should have access up to form four and every child should access of the four years of secondary education.
So, let us start from ECD. The leaner should move without any blockages. We now have what is termed infant module which is in grade 2, that is where we lay the foundation for this learner. We also need to examine the strengths and weaknesses up to grade 2; they should have been identified. From grade 3, the pupil will be taken up by other learners where he has to move from 3 to 7. The grade seven education and examinations are aimed at assessing the real profile of this learner and will be able to asses where the strengths and weaknesses fall and then take this learner to secondary education. So, the curriculum will be expanded.
We have been holding consultations on the new curriculum to be put on our education and so we are widening this curriculum scope. What we need is to look for the weaknesses and strengths of this learner and be able to look at the vocational and other skills. In form 4 these same learners write examinations and the learner will have gone through the basic education. After, form 4 the learners will then branch either they go for vocational training or advance to university and other tertiary education. I know that you are talking about before and after education we could have had a misunderstanding, may you were talking of preindependence and post independence period. But, we are now saying we are moving with a new line of thinking which led to a removal of ZJC examinations because the Nziramasanga Enquiry said the ZJC level was a waste of the learner’s time because it was no-longer considered in any training program or in any profession or industry. But, we are saying we are not going to remove the Grade 7 because it helps us in order to assess the needs of the child from primary to secondary.
*SENATOR MLOTSHWA: My question is directed to the
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. The students who fail like slow learners are they allowed to repeat whatever grade that they would have failed?
*DR. DOKORA: When we are talking in terms of education and
identifying a slow leaner, any trained teacher is told about the remedial ways of dealing with slow learners. Because, learners have different ways of accessing and engaging in education. We have some of your colleagues who can confirm this assessment.
We also have a specialised college which trains teachers who have special education for learners with special needs and mostly these are slow learners. At times when we talk of slow learners we are talking of some of the learners who have problems in their faculties or who are challenged intellectually. In the past years these slow learners with low
IQ were segregated and stigimatised, they were taken to their own special classes and learned in seclusion. But, we are now saying this segregation and stigmatization is bad. These learners must be in the same class because they have to access their knowledge the same. Because, in real life the slow learner with low IQ and the highest IQ live in the same world and share similar life experiences, hence they should receive their education in the same place. What we want our teachers to do - they should be trained in multi degraded teaching.
You can have somebody who is in group 4b but they have challenges in their learning. A trained teacher should have many ways of assessing both slow and fast learners. When we get to Grade 7 and we say the children who have a low IQ have not done well. We say in assessing their progress; in life we late matures they may have done badly when they are in primary. When they get to certain stage they are then accommodated in secondary because there are a lot of things which determine the learning process because of the environment in which they live.
We have parents who are saying their children should repeat certain grades but we are asking the parents to be patient with their children because they will be destroying the child in making that learner repeat a certain grade. So, we are saying they should go ahead and learn.
*SENATOR SIANSALI: My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Hon. Minister is it Government policy that all university graduates should go for temporary teaching in case they fail to get a job somewhere, regardless of the fact that they are holders of non teaching degrees even a civil engineer or a mechanic to go and teach a Grade 2 child? Thank you.
*DR. DOKORA: Thank you Mr. President. I talk of the operations of our Ministry. Our wish is we need to have 100% of qualified teachers these should the teachers who will be imparting education to our learners. But, this is an ideal situation and difficult to attain.
Zimbabwe has got 135 000 teachers. Out of these we have about 9
000 or below who are not very well qualified to get whatever it is we want according to ideal situation. These 9 000 are then supported by the fully qualified because there are some who have high qualifications like they might have a masters in physics and chemistry but they do not have the teaching qualifications.
*THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Pedagogy, pedagogy chava
*DR. DOKORA: Thank you for the correction when I talk of pedagogy in education. We are talking of the methods which teachers can apply to different levels of students in order to facilitate a full understating of whatever being taught. In other words it is the way of identifying the learning needs of the learner in such a way that they should be able to divide the imparting of knowledge from what is required per week, month or per year. This is an ideal situation and I have said we have some teachers who were not able to go for training.
We then have the civil service ministry which helps us in sourcing for temporary who should be coming into the system. These are not trained teachers but people who are qualified but lack the necessary teaching qualities. They are taken in as temporary teachers because of the shortage of trained teachers in our schools. We are also hoping that the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education will looking at equipping itself in such a way that it trains adequate teachers in order to have a good pupil to teacher ratio who will have the necessary pedagogy in the imparting of knowledge to the learners.
*SENATOR SIANSALI: Than Mr. President. My question is, is it Government policy but the Minister has not responded to that, when we are talking of these temporary teachers, who have masters and doctorates. Why not employ ‘A’ level and form 4s to teach people in their own language? You may have a Masters or a Doctorate but if you have not been trained as a teacher, you belong in the same grade, therefore there will not be any discrimination.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Order, the time for
questions without notice has expired but I will use Standing Order
Number 23 to extend the time. I will tell you when the time is up. *SENATOR SHIRI: I would like to find out from the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, what Government policy is, regarding training of teachers in Zimbabwe. We have noted that some of the trained teachers in these colleges lack the necessary pedagogy, especially when we focus on learners with disabilities. There are ECD learners who have been ejected from schools because they lack the necessary training.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: In the interest of time, can we have just a quick response.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
(DR. GANDAWA): Thank you hon. President. It is quite sad that we have some learners with disabilities being discriminated against and stigmatised because there are no teachers with the necessary pedagogy to accommodate these children. But in Bulawayo, we have a teachers’ college aimed at equipping teachers with the necessary skills to enable them to accommodate these children. We wish these teachers would be spread to all the schools throughout the country.
*SENATOR MAKORE: Thank you hon. President. I would like to find out from the Minister of Home Affairs what the Government policy is regarding commuter omnibuses that stop wherever they want even in the presence of policemen on patrol.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (MR.
ZIYAMBI): If you see any police officer allowing that to happen, please report to the authorities.
*SENATOR MAKORE: My question has been misunderstood. I am talking about a scenario where these commuter omnibuses load and unload in the middle of the road. They are so used to it that they disregard all the other motorists. What is of concern is that they do it in the presence of some uniformed police officers.
*MR. ZIYAMBI: Thank you for rephrasing this question. My response is still the same. When our police officers are on traffic patrol, they are also to ensure there is peace and order on the roads. So when a policeman observes commuter omnibus breaking all the rules of the road and does nothing about it, they should be reported to their authorities.
*SENATOR CHIEF DANDAWA: I would like to direct my
question to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. We have two districts, Kariba and
Hurungwe, which are inundated with a lot of school leavers. They have no access to teacher training colleges. How can they be assisted to get access to such colleges?
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
(DR. GANDAWA): The Senator is talking about areas where I come from. It is true that this area has no teacher training college. As Government, it is our wish that each province or district should have its own teacher training college. However, may I put it to this Senate that Zimbabwe is one, and wherever students are, they should be able to access training in any province. There is no discrimination on provincial lines. They can apply to any college of their choice. Let us encourage our children to apply to different colleges.
SENATOR CHIEF CHISUNGA: Can the Minister of Home
Affairs apprise this august Senate how the two departments in the
Ministry of Home Affairs, that is the Registrar General’s Office and the Police, account for the retention of the money that they collect?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (MR.
ZIYAMBI): I would like to thank you Mr. President and I would like to thank the hon. senator for the question whereby he wants me to give an account of how the monies are spent, which I believe is not a policy question because when we are spending money, the policy is already there and I request him to put it in writing so that we can give him a detailed account of how the monies are being spent. Notwithstanding that, whatever we use the money for, those records are always tabled before the Parliament for your consideration. I thank you.
SENATOR CHIEF CHISUNGA: Thank you Mr. President. The
question I asked is about how they are accounted for not how the money is used? How the money is used, since I have been in Parliament, this is my 5th year and I have never had an opportunity to read a report from the Auditor General. Thank you.
- ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. President. I am not getting his question. When we collect funds, we send them to Treasury and then Treasury will give us whatever retention they want to give us. So the reports do not come through us but they come through the relevant ministry which is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. So I am not actually getting what exactly he wants us to give an account of. I thank you – [SENATOR CHIEF CHISUNGA: Mapindura
SENATOR MARAVA: Thank you very much Mr. President. My
question is directed to the hon. Minister for Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment. Minister, I think the country would like to know about a lot of youth officers scattered all over the country, especially in rural areas. Can you please enlighten the country about the functions, responsibilities and duties of these youth officers and how they are remunerated? Thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF YOUTH, INDIGENISATION AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT (MR. TONGOFA): Thank
you Mr. President and thank you hon. senator for asking this important question. First of all, I will start from the end of the question. Youth officers are civil servants and that is the answer. They are under the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment and they are recognised by the Civil Service Commission. Their job or task is to help the people; youths and even the old people within the wards to identify economic activities which will empower them and they also help them when they are implementing those projects within the wards. They normally coordinate as well with the officials from Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development in ensuring that communities are implementing projects which will empower them.
Those are the duties of the youth officers. I thank you Mr. President.
SENATOR MABUGU: My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development. Minister, what is the progress regarding rural electrification? If this is still in progress, who should be the beneficiaries of this programme?
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT (DR. UNDENGE): Mr. President, can I assure the
hon. senator that the rural electrification programme is on. As you may be aware, Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is a statutory body created through Parliament and there is a levy for electricity which is 6% levied on all collections on electricity bills. The aim is to ensure that electricity goes to rural areas. Let me inform you that a number of clinics and schools have been electrified through REA. I am not sure about where you come from but throughout the country, such a programme is taking place. I would like to know the area where you come from and maybe if you travel around the country, it is certainly there. Maybe if you have been omitted for a number of years, I will remind REA that there is this neglected place. Thank you Mr. President.
SENATOR NCUBE: Thank you Mr. President. Sir, my question
is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. Minister, how much is supposed to be paid for someone to be enrolled in a college? I thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNNOLOGY
DEVELOPMENT (DR. GANDAWA): Thank you Mr. President. I am
not sure of what in particular that the senator is asking but if it is enrolment fee, it varies from $5 to $30 per college as an enrolment fee.
Thank you Mr. President.
SENATOR NCUBE: I just wanted to explain to the minister because there is a college where somebody got a place and he was told to bring US$400 and that is why I am asking that question.
- GANDAWA: Thank you Mr. President. I think she is now
referring to a particular college so we would prefer if she would put it in writing so that we could be able to answer it adequately.
Oral answers to Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT in terms of Standing Order Number 34.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE
PAYMENT OF TAXES BY CHURCH RUN BUSINESSES
- SENATOR MASHAVAKURE asked the Minister of
Finance and Economic Development whether there is a Government policy which requires a church or religious institution operating a business venture to pay taxes to Government.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND
COMMERCE (MS. MABUWA) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (MR.
CHINAMASA): I would like to thank the hon. senator for asking the question. The current Income Tax Act, Section 14(2)(e) exempts the receipts and accruals of all ecclesiastical, charitable and educational institutions of a public character. The receipts and accruals of ecclesiastical institutions being referred to relate to church activities only which are not of a business nature. By this I mean that only offerings given by congregants during a church service are exempt from taxes.
With regards to business ventures of churches, these are to be accounted for separately. Any business venture for a church should be properly registered as an incorporated company. The Income Tax Act specifically pronounces that any company engaged in a trade which includes any profession, business, activity or calling, occupation or venture in producing income is liable to pay all due income taxes. This also applies to consumption taxes such as Value Added Taxes (VAT), excise and customs duty.
REGISTRATION OF ABANDONED CHILDREN
- SENATOR MLOTSHWA asked the Minister of
Home Affairs to explain why the abandoned children are registered under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1986 No. 11 of 1996 while other children are registered under the Birth and Death Registration Act, Chapter 5:02. Secondly, to state whether this is not in violation of Section 81 of the Constitution on the rights of the children Subsection (a) (b) (c)
(i) (ii) and (d)
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (MR.
ZIYAMBI): The Birth and Deaths Registration Act, (No. 11/86) was repealed and replaced by the Birth and Deaths Registration Act (Chapter 5:02) which came into effect on 20 June, 1986. The Act incorporates some of the provisions of Act No. 11/86 and one of them is Section 15 of the Act (Chapter 5:02) which provides for such registrations including the registration of adopted children, some of whom are generally abandoned children whose birth registration is provided for by Section 70 of the Children’s Act (Chapter 5:06). The said provisions protect the interests of the children.
It is therefore, incorrect that these are provisions of Act No. 11/86 which are still being applied when registering births and deaths as the said Act was repealed.
The second part of the question is sufficiently covered under the first part above. The Registrar General is complying with relevant provisions of the said Act (Chapter 5:02).
PRESS STATEMENT ON SPORT FINES
- SENATOR HLALO asked the Minister of Home Affairs why the Chief Superintendent Nyathi made a press statement of spot fines that contradicted the opinion of a Judicial Official.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (MR.
ZIYAMBI): On 9th February, 2015, Hon. J. Bere delivered a speech on the opening of the High Court in Masvingo. The Judge expressed concerns on the collection and retention of spot fines by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). The Judge went on to state that there is no law which compels a motorist to deposit a fine with the police, if he desires to challenge the alleged offence. He further stated that any attempt by the motorist to refuse is met by threat to have the vehicle impounded by the police. The Judge intimated that retention of fines by the police compromised its professional integrity.
- The legality of ‘spot fines’
- Power of police to accept fines
- Verification of particulars
- Retention of funds
- Section 356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act
- Section 26(2) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act
- Road Traffic Act (Chapter 13:11)
- National Deposit Fine Schedule
- Elliot v Commissioner of Police and another 1977 (1) ZLR
In his speech, the Hon. Judge insinuated that Section 356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act prohibits the collection of spot fines by the Police. The learned Judge clearly misinforms the public because quoted hereunder is the relevant part of Section 356 that deals with police powers to receive or accept fines as follows:
“When any person has been summoned or warned to appear in a magistrate court or has been arrested or has been informed by a peace officer, by written notice referred to in Sub Section (1) of Section 141 or otherwise, that it is intended to institute criminal proceedings against him for any offence, and a prescribed officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the court which will try the said person for such offence will, on convicting such person of such offence, not impose a sentence of imprisonment or fine exceeding level three, such person may sign and deliver to such prescribed officer a document admitting that he is guilty of the said offence and –
- Deposit with such prescribed officer such sum of money as the latter may fix; or
- Furnish to such prescribed officer such security as the latter thinks sufficient for the payment of any fine which the court trying the case in question may lawfully impose therefore; not exceeding level three or the maximum of the fine with which such offence is punishable, whichever is the lesser, and such person shall thereupon not be required to appear in court to answer a charge of having committed the said offence
The import of the above provision is that:
- A person, who has admitted the commission of an offence and is willing to pay the fine, has an option to do so right at the spot or opt for court appearance. The fine is paid to a prescribed officer wherever he is, whether at a police station or at a point of traffic enforcement. Quite clearly, therefore, the above
Section does not prohibit the police from collecting fines from traffic offenders who are willing to pay the fine on the spot.
- The prescribed officer has powers to accept in lieu of appearing in court or payment of a fine.
NATIONAL DEPOSIT SCHEDULE
- The National Deposit Fine Schedule was designed by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and is reviewed by the same Ministry from time to time. It was put in place to enhance the operationalisation of Section 356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
- The payment of fines not exceeding level three (3) is meant for petty offences and not necessarily traffic offences. It is meant to exclude petty offender from cluttering the courts of law. Level three offences also include petty assaults, urinating in public and public drinking. This has greatly reduced the issue of backlogs at the Magistrate’s Courts where the judiciary is battling to clear serious cases.
- Another consideration that led to the acceptance of spot fines is the cost element involved in pursuing fines less than US$20.00. A simple example that comes to mine is that of a driver based in Lupane, who is arrested in Harare and is given time to pay US$5.00 at any police station within seven (7) days. If the driver neglects to pay or fails to pay the fine, the police would be forced to make a follow up of the driver or a warrant of arrest is issued against such a driver. He is arrested in Lupane and brought to Harare to answer the charge of failing to pay US$5-00. Surely, in such a scenario it makes a lot of sense for the driver to pay
the US$5-00 on the spot rather than waste much more to recover such a small figure.
VERIFICATION OF PARTICULARS/POWER TO
DEMAND LICENCES AND DETAIN MOTOR VEHICLES
- It is not mandatory as declared in Elliot v Commissioner of Police and Another 1997 (1) ZLR) 315 (S) for one to move around with one’s identity documents. The motoring public who have no identity particulars on them usually give false particulars to the police. Further, experience has taught the police that the offending driver would not be found anywhere as the names and addresses would all be false and the issue of spot fines became the most convenient way of curbing all these misdeamenours.
- Two provisions have been put in place to assist the police in addressing such problems, that is:-
- In terms of Section 26 (2) (b) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, the police are permitted to keep a person for twelve (12) hours at a police station or police road block site whilst verifying the particulars of the offender or a person reasonably suspected of having committed an offence. In most cases, the motoring public would rather pay the spot fine than to be kept for the 12 hours whilst verifications are being carried out.
- Police are empowered to impound vehicles where a driver fails to produce his driver’s licence for a period of 24 hours. Section 74 (2) of the Road Traffic Act clearly states that:-
“(2) If, upon being required to do so by a police officer or inspecting officer in terms of Subsection (1), a driver, having failed to produce his licence to drive the motor vehicle concerned, failed to produce proof of his identity, the police officer or inspecting officer may detain the motor vehicle for a period not exceeding 24 hours.
From the above exposition of the law, it is very clear that the ZRP is empowered or authorised to accept deposit/spot fines and to impound vehicles where the driver fails to produce proof of his or her identity. What needs to be done is to implement the law as it is and not as it ought to be. This can only be done by our members on the ground if:-
- Proper briefing of members to be deployed should be done before members are sent on traffic enforcement duties.
- Commanders take a keen interest in playing their part in the supervision of subordinates.
- Impromptu visits by officers should be carried out to ensure members are always monitored in the performance of their duties.
- More training and development of members is required to improve their competencies in traffic enforcement.
RETENTION OF FUNDS
- Justice Bere at page 6 if his speech said: “There may be no problems with the police operating as an extension of Treasury but if that is desired, then the legal framework must be put in place to support such kind of a development… I am more concerned that as a nation and in our desperate efforts to give it lieu in the collection and retention of that revenue for its use, we may have severely fractured the execution of its core business.”
- It must be unequivocally stated that the organisation has
Cabinet approval for such retention. The judge’s conduct in commenting negatively about retention smacks of a dishonourable and disrespectful conduct on the authority vested in the Executive and a complete disregard of the doctrine of separation of powers as espoused in the Constitution.
- It is the duty of the Executive to formulate policy and this unwarranted attack on the Executive regarding the nature and choice of its policies constitutes unconstitutional usurpation of functions and undermining of authority vested in the same.
- Retention is not only exclusive to the police as other Government departments enjoy the same privilege.
Retention is justified on the basis that there is very little fiscal support from Treasury due to the harsh economic environment.
- It is common knowledge that retention funds are subject to audit by both internal and external auditors, including Comptroller and Auditor General, whose report is tabled before Parliament.
- The judiciary itself is enjoying some retention, which is being used to pay allowances for judges and other workers under the Judicial Services Commission. For the judge to attack the police for enjoying the same privileges smack hypocrisy and double standards.
ZERO TOLERANCE ON CORRUPTION
- The learned judge at page 7 of his speech said that:… “we talk of the determination for the need to rid this country of corruption. How can we achieve this when we allow our police officers to conduct themselves in such a corrupt manner”.
- At an all stakeholders Judicial colloquium held at the end of 2010 in Victoria Falls, an acknowledgement was made that corruption has permeated all parties involved in the justice delivery system. Police took the opportunity to reinvigorate strategies to fight corruption.
- The ZRP has declared zero tolerance on corruption and has vigorously campaigned against corruption in a number of platforms. The organisation has a reporting structure and follows a clearly laid down procedure in cases of corruption or malpractices committed by members of the organisation.
- The cases of corruption which have been brought to the attention of the organisation have been dealt with in terms
of the law and those found on the wrong side of the law have been dealt with accordingly.
- The organisation has no knowledge of any person who has been forced to pay a spot fine as articulated by the learned judge. The judge has not made an indication either in this regard. In any event, there are several remedies available to an aggrieved party in the event of violation of his rights including the right to contest the matter in a court of law.
- It is unfortunate that the learned judge has clearly relied on unsubstantiated claims based on hearsay in his public comment, something unexpected of a person of his caliber and standing. At page 6 of his speech, Bere J states that:
“Quite often one hears of more illegal collections which are being made by the police. There is talk of well coordinated collections of security fees on our public roads particularly from commuter omnibus drivers which fees are meant to give commuters free and unhindered passage at police road blocks. If it is true, then the department is surely cursed…..”
- Judges are expected to rely on evidence or proof to come up with sound decisions rather than relying on bar talk and unsubstantiated rumours like what the honourable Judge did in this case. The intemperate language used by the judge is without precedent, particularly when he says the police are “cursed”
The learned judge’s comments have been deliberately misconstrued by certain quarters of the society to incite members of the public to turn against the police in the discharge of their duties. The police would like to take this opportunity to warn those who are behind these machinations that the full wrath of the law will soon mercilessly descend on them.
In terms of Section 31 (a)(i) and (iii) of the Criminal (Codification Reform) Chapter 9:07) Act states:
Any person who, whether inside or outside Zimbabwe
(a) Publishes or communicates to any other person a statement which is wholly or materially false with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of:
- Inciting or promoting public disorder or public violence or endangering public safety; or
- Undermining public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the Prison Services or the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe” shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine up to or not exceeding level fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years or both.
It is unethical for the judge to pre-empt a case that may one day be brought before him for adjudication or determination. The spot fines are meant for those who will be admitting to the offence and were designed for the convenience of the motoring public.
In any event, this is only an opinion by the learned judge which is not binding on any one.
DISCRIMINATION OF ABANDONED CHILDREN
- SENATOR MLOTSHWA asked the Minister of
Primary and Secondary Education to state whether there are regulations in schools that allow abandoned children to participate in all school activities without being discriminated against given that they still use abridged birth certificates print.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): As far as the Ministry is
concerned, every child has the right to participate in all school activities as enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution. Our mandate is to create an environment that allows for the full expression of the children’s potential and that is the reason why we have engaged the nation to transform our curriculum.
The Ministry is aware that in some sporting tournaments, rules are put in place in relation to age and weight. There is a requirement of certain documents which may include birth certificates and passports. If there are any legitimate challenges that are encountered, the Ministry is ready to assist and can work together with our ministries to address the challenges.
INDUSTRIAL CAPACITY UTILISATION
- SENATOR W. SIBANDA asked the Minister of Industry and Commerce to state:
- How many companies have been shut down from 1st January, 2013 to 30th June, 2013 and how many workers lost their jobs as a result;
- Industrial capacity utilisation in the following sectors: Mining, food and beverages, clothing and textiles and further state how many jobs have been lost in the same sectors between 1st January, 2013 and 30th June, 2014.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND
COMMERCE (MS. MABUWA): Thank you Mr. President Sir and I
would like to thank the Hon. Senator Sibanda for asking the question on the number of companies that have shut down from 1 January 2013 to 30th June 2014 and how many workers lost their jobs as a result. In response, over 700 companies (both SMEs and large) cumulatively liquidated in 2013 and in the first half of 2014, 118 companies retrenched citing viability and other challenges and of these, only 6 closed shop during the same period.
On the outlook, this scenario of high retrenchments is likely to be reversed as Government has already started introducing a host of measures to revive industry under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIM ASSET). The measures include reviews of duty on both raw materials and finished products, import licencing and provision of affordable funding to industry. In 2013, 165 companies closed and retrenched, thereby directly affecting 2 179 workers. During the first and second quarter of 2014, 1 326 and 760 workers were retrenched respectively.
On the capacity utilisation in mining, food and beverages and clothing and textiles, as you are aware, the food and beverage industry is subdivided into the food process and the beverages sub-sector. The beverages subsector is doing very well and is boasting of 100% capacity utilisation. Two major companies are in play; the Delta Beverages and Schweppes Zimbabwe. These are the main players in the sector.
Capacity utilisation for the food processing subsector averages between 50% across the industry. Capacity utilisation in the clothing and textiles subsector is currently averaging 5%. We expect capacity utilisation in this sector to improve as we start to implement the newly produced Cotton to Clothing Strategy (2014 – 2019) that the Ministry and other stakeholders have developed.
The capacity utilisation in these subsectors has mainly been affected by stiff competition from imports and other internal factors such as inadequate working capital, obsolete machinery and power shortages. The mining sector remains the major growth haven for our economy. In 2013, the mining sector production figure stood at US$2,3 billion up from US$1,9 billion in 2012. This statistic has been supplied by the
Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
On the number of jobs that have been lost in the above sectors between 1 January, 2013 to 30 June, 2014; the food processing subsector recorded a retrenchment figure of 482 from 2013 up to the second quarter of June 2014, while the beverages subsector recorded 14 retrenchments. The clothing and textiles sector had 93 retrenchments in the same period showing stability in the two subsectors. This is as a result of companies downsizing and retrenching permanent staff due to downturn in business, lack of finance, restructuring or viability challenges.
In summary, the table that I am about to present contains verifiable statistics and it shows retrenchment figures (number of job losses for
2013 to June 2014)
|Sub-sector||Retrenchment figure (2013)||Retrenchment Total figure (Jan – June 2014)||Total|
|Clothing and textiles||93||0||93|
Source: Ministry of Labour and Social Services
COMMENCEMEMT OF OPERATIONS BY ESSAR
- SENATOR. W. SIBANDA asked the Deputy Minister
of Industry and Commerce to state:
- when ESSAR will commence operations in view of the fact that it has been three years since the ESSAR project was commissioned by the President;
- the value of the investment and how much has been received by the Government from this deal;
- what has been purchased by ESSAR in terms of iron ore deposits and assets, and if the Minister could furnish the House with the agreement of this deal.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (MS. MABUWA): ESSAR will scale up
operations as soon as the amended agreement is signed. The original Share and Asset Purchase Agreement (SAPA) had Conditions Precedent that required both parties to the agreement to fulfil first before full closure of the Agreement could be released. Fulfilment of those Conditions Precedent took a long time to realise and hence, there was a delay in the closure of the transaction. To date, most Conditions Precedent have been fulfilled by both parties to enable the full closure of the transaction to take place.
The SAPA is currently being cleaned up for final closure by Legal Counsel from both parties to capture the adjusted plans as per the bid document to now encompass the additional costs associated with the time lapse since 2011 when the original agreement was signed. Whilst adjustments to the agreement are taking place, the Government of Zimbabwe and ESSAR agreed to implement immediate interim measures that would inject some funding into New Zim Steel and also offer relief to workers.
On the value of the investment, the value of the total investment by ESSAR in Zimbabwe was originally expected to be US$750 million comprising ESSAR’s clearance of the
SinoSure and KfW debts amounting to US$300 million and the
US$450 million for recapitalisation and the steel plant at Redcliff. This has since risen to over US$1 billion owing to the changes in revival plans and obsolescence of the plant.
The original implementation plan had to be revisited due to changes in circumstances. By way of example, the completion of the ongoing work such as the relining of Blast Furnace No. 4 as well as refurbishment of the rolling mills which was originally put at US$430 million has now been revised to over US$600 million as the new plan now envisages 80% replacement (instead of relining and refurbishment) with totally new equipment.
Similarly, local liabilities initially put at US$70 million at the time of signature have now ballooned to over US$200 million. As a result, scaling up of operations has thus delayed but engineering work has already started.
Mr. President, in terms of how much was received from the transaction, no money has exchanged hands between the two parties as consideration for the Asset Purchase of ZISCO Assets. This is expected to take place after the closure of the transaction.
Regarding what ESSAR has purchased in terms of iron ore deposits and assets, Mr. President, ESSAR did not pay for the iron ore deposits but it received an entitlement to mine the iron ore for feedstock after the initial exploration at Mwanesi. The feedstock is required for the steel plant when it is revived. ESSAR was granted access to the iron ore claims subject to payment of royalties and a claim transfer fee for each claim.
No purchases have taken place, save to say that BIMCO claims deemed minable are transferred pro rata to New Zim Steel. For Mwanesi, only exploration rights have been extended to ESSAR to explore jointly with ZMDC.
The last part requests that there be a presentation of the agreement before the august Senate. Please be advised that the revised and amended copy of the original Share Asset and Purchase Agreement (SAPA) is not yet available. The SAPA is currently being cleaned up for final closure by Legal Counsel from both parties. It is expected that, once the transactions have been closed, I or the Minister will present the agreement before the Senate at the appropriate time. I thank you.
Oral Answers to Questions With Notice were interrupted by
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT in terms of Standing Order
PROVISION OF FUNDING TO THE DISTRESSED AND
MARGINALISED INDUSTRY FUND
SENATOR D.T. KHUMALO: I move the motion
standing in my name that this House:
AWARE that this country is experiencing economic challenges characterised by liquidity constraints; NOTING with concern that the liquidity crisis has resulted in a number of debtors defaulting in their loan repayments to banks and other creditors.
CONCERNED by the level of litigation in the country which has seen many properties being auctioned as evidenced by advertisements in newspapers on a daily basis;
FURTHER concerned that many of the people losing their properties are indigenous entrepreneurs who have been negatively affected by the economic down turn;
AFRAID that should this trend continue, the entrepreneurship spirit in our people will die;
NOW, THEREFORE, resolves that the Executive must:
- i) Come up with policies to save the thousands of debtors whose properties are likely to be auctioned and; ii) Provide funding to the Distressed and Marginalised
SENATOR S. NCUBE: I second.
SENATOR D.T. KHUMALO: My motion is on the need
for Government to come up with strategies to bail out the various banks and lending institutions’ debtors. We all owe banks and financial institution when we borrow money to start businesses and we end up not paying. The financial system in a country is the engine that drives the economy. It is in the financial system that lubricates all the levers of the economy. It is the financial system and its success or failure that drives the country.
When the financial sector sneezes, the whole economy shivers and in Zimbabwe, that is the situation. The various challenges that we are facing have roots from the financial sector. Zimbabwe has adopted a multi-currency regime in our country and the RBZ is no longer in a position to exercise most of its functions and that is compromising its role as the monitory authority in the country. The RBZ does no longer print money as it used to, not that I want it to print but at present it is unable to set the interest rates. The past few years following the demise of our local currency, has seen the use of multi-currency in the country, particularly, the US dollar and the South African rand.
The Reserve Bank, due to its week balance sheet is no longer a banker of last resort and not effectively participating in the inter-bank market and influencing the monetary policies. Our Central bank is now a toothless bulldog and the best it can do is just to look and bark. It is unfortunate that its influence in the financial industry is so very much limited. In view of these facts that we do not print our own currency, doing business in this country has become extremely difficult and a nightmare for business people as we have heard the Minister talking about the closure of businesses.
Zimbabwe is facing liquidity crises of unprecedented proportions. The liquidity challenges have seen many industries in Zimbabwe closing with very few that are still operating at a less than 40% levels.
Zimbabwe, instead of being a producer and a manufacturer as it used to be before, has been reduced to a retailing nation. A walk in the central business district in all our cities and towns bares testimony of this retailing.
The major beneficiaries of the liquidity crisis in the country have been those with access to funds. They lend money and have made real profit business in this country. The people and institutions which lend money are charging high interest rates of above 25% per annum compared to such countries as USA which charges less than 2% of interest. While it is true that the interest rates charged are changing because of the circumstances, but Mr. President, I think the interest rates in Zimbabwe are exorbitant. Mr. President, it is even extortion to charge 10% interest when people are not working, not employed but trying their best to make business for the country.
While it is true that banks and other lending institutions are faced with huge levels of defaulting clients, it is my argument that these institutions are in a much better situation than the people who are asking to be funded. The major victims of the economic down turn and the crippling liquidity crises in this country are the ordinary people, the debtors who owe money to these banks and lending institutions.
Mr. President, I am speaking on behalf of thousands of individuals and companies that owe the banks and other lending institutions money. I am talking of those people and organisations, who borrow money to increase capacity utilization in their industry. I am referring to the farmers who go to the banks to borrow money to increase capacity utilization within their farms. I am asking here, of the small business and that entrepreneur who borrowed money but who has found the business environment too difficult for him to operate. All these debtors and borrowers are victims of the economic meltdown and I can bet you Mr. President, that there are fewer economies in the world that are as difficult as ours at the present moment.
These borrowers and debtors, who in a normal operating environment could be heroes and heroines of the day, today are a laughing stock because they have turned to be beggars. If you open a newspaper today, you will find that there are houses or properties within the households that are being auctioned leaving the said business to be in debt, with their homes getting poorer and poorer because their properties are being sold.
Today, a lot of these debtors are dying silently and thousands are suffering from depression, high blood pressure, ulcers and stress because they cannot raise the money to pay back the banks. The Government cannot watch while properties are being auctioned. It cannot sit and leave all these debtors to lose their properties because it does not want to interfere in commercial transactions. In my view, Government cannot fold its hands and let these entrepreneurs suffer yet it is aware that the operating environment is harsh and it is not the making of these debtors. They were thinking of improving the country and the people of Zimbabwe when they were trying their business. Although they were thinking of improving the country, the people of Zimbabwe and themselves in order to profit, they were going to employ other people to get money as well.
I am not calling for punishment of the banks or creditors but I am calling for the Government to be proactive and come up with strategies to help the situation. Government should help fathers, mothers and the youths, who have been aiming at improving the economy of the country. These new and young entrepreneurs had aimed at growing up and employing other people who could then look after their families and improve the health and nutritional status of their own families through the money they would have earned from these businesses.
What I am calling for Mr. President, is not something new but what but what has been done in many countries and economies. In the recent credit crunch the Global Financial Crises of 2007-8, the US administration under Obama had to actively participate in the economy by bailing out ailing companies and banks and protecting borrowers, the ordinary who would have seen their houses being mortgaged for the payment of their debts.
Similarly we saw this method used by Gordon Brown Government in the United Kingdom, they bailed out their citizens who were to lose their properties to the money lenders. A good thing has to be applauded no matter who has done it let, us appreciate it - let us copy a good thing even if it is done by a person who we do not approve. But, when a thing is good it should be taken as good.
Therefore, I am asking our Government to also think of bailing us out as citizens of Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe when the economy was better the Government came up with various facilities such as Small Business Sector Facility. The Government as recent as last year wrote off debts of households to local authorities primarily because of the liquidity challenges. As at present, Parliament is debating to make a law that will allow the Government to take over the debt of $1.3 billion owed by other members of the public. Why therefore, can it not bail out the ordinary people so that they can also maintain their homes, properties like these who are being bailed out? This Senate therefore, calls upon Government to do everything in its power with a view to save a lot of debtors whose properties are on the verge of being sold. In some cases this resulting in families being impoverished. In coming with this mechanism Government will not help these bank debtors only, but will also help banks in the process and the economy in the longer term. The Government should in a matter of urgency through the RBZ urge the banks and the other creditors to roll over loans and overdrafts until such a time that the loans and overdraft have reached in duplum. The rule that means the interest accrued will be equal to the money borrowed. This process allows creditors time to run around in order look for the money rather than to quickly dispose the properties of their clients. The Government should create a fund with a view to bail out entrepreneurs who are facing liquidation and disposal of their properties. The fund so created will be used in a responsible manner so as to either inject funds into these debtors businesses to enable to re-pay their debts. Or alternatively to allow the banks to arrange new roll over facilities or partner with the business people who are debtors.
There is need for the RBZ to sit down with the bankers association of Zimbabwe and look at individual bad debts books of banks and other lending facilities. The RBZ should in my view advise the Government the level of funds that should be injected using a special vehicle or facilities. There is need for Government to urge the bankers and other creditors to do a debt swap so that the special facility created by the Government can result in banks becoming shareholders in some these ventures which the people are trying to have. There is need for
Government to make it difficult for one to lose his property by creating a mechanism that ensures that there are bold sing posts, steps and processes that have to be taken before banks and other creditors does are ask the courts to dispose of properties of the people. Properties especially land and buildings, these should not things which are just going easily and leaving people without their land or buildings – [HON
SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –
Mr. President, I am away that the Government has challenges of its own but I believe this is one area the Government needs to rise up and be counted. Desperate times as the one we are going through calls for extraordinary interventions by our Government. Mr. President, future generations will applaud us as Government if we assist in this regard.
But should we not, we will be harshly judged as a Government that will have been heartless and killed the spirit of entrepreneurship from the
Zimbabweans who are hard workers.
Zimbabweans are hardworking people let us continue keeping their entrepreneurial spirit high in that regard Mr. President I thank you. –
HON SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –
SENATOR MOHADI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
SENATOR W. SIBANDA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 3rd March, 2015.
On the motion of SENATOR MOHADI seconded by SENATOR
- SIBANDA, the Senate adjourned at Half past Four o’clock p.m.
until Tuesday, 3rd March, 2015.