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SENATE HANSARD 20 MARCH 2024 VOL 33 NO 35

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 20th March, 2024

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

PRAYERS

(THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

  THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE PROVINCE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA):  I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 4 be stood over until all the other Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

  Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PEACE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

  Fifth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission for the year 2023 presented to this House in terms of Sections 253 and 323 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

  Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE PROVINCE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

  Motion put and agreed to.

  Debate to resume:  Thursday, 21st March, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR THE 2023 HARMONISED ELECTIONS.

  Sixth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the 2023 Harmonised Elections.

Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE PROVINCE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

  Motion put and agreed to.

  Debate to resume:  Thursday, 21st March, 2024.

MOTION

ENACTMENT OF A LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE FUNCTIONALITY OF PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: I move the motion standing in my name that this House:

WHEREAS the people of Zimbabwe voted overwhelmingly for the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe, emphatically pronouncing that they want a three-tier governmental structure which has a Central Government, Provincial Government and local authorities;

OBSERVING that the 2023 plebiscite was the third election after the consummation of the people-driven 2013 Constitution yet there is no enabling law for the functionality of the Provincial Government tier of Government;

CONCERNED that the elected Provincial Councils are unable to contribute to the national discourse notwithstanding the cost accompanying their election;

 

 FURTHER CONCERNED that the delay in enacting a devolution law is not in line with the dictates of the Constitution and delays equitable development across our provinces:

  NOW, THEREFORE, implores that—

  • this august House puts pressure on the Executive to expedite the enactment of a legal framework for the functionality of Provincial Governments in line with section 265 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe; and
  • the 100 Provincial Councillors be sworn in, inducted and be enabled to participate in national development as envisaged by the Constitution.

HON. SEN. RITTA NDLOVU:  I second.

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI:  Thank you very much Mr. President for indulging my bit of ignorance with respect to the procedure.  I appreciate.  In 1979-1980 after a gruelling war of liberation, Zimbabweans at Lancaster House agreed on a transitional document which is today known as the Lancaster House Constitution.  This Constitution had its weaknesses and it did not address some of the aspirations of this nation of the people of Zimbabwe and it did not quite get the involvement of the people in its crafting.  Consequently, as we moved, the Lancaster House Constitution then suffered 19 amendments which were attempts to panel-beat it so that it could address the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.  Because of the frustrations related to that failure, the nation began a lot of constitutional activism, the formation of the National Constitutional Assembly, the attempt to craft a constitution at Kariba, the 2000 attempt which did not quite succeed but the desire remained that we should craft a constitution for ourselves through the participation of the broad masses of Zimbabwe.  Mr. President, this led to a tortuous exercise during the Inclusive Government – the formation of COPAC in an attempt to involve the broad masses of this country in deciding the capsule of the values and aspirations of this nation through a drive to craft our own Constitution. 

Indeed, in 2021, we went to a Referendum which overwhelmingly supported the Constitution and it deserved to be supported as it has a reasonable Bill of Rights.  It has got infrastructure to defend democracy, the Chapter 12 Commissions.  So, there was a good reason to celebrate.  Mr. President, 95% of the people of Zimbabwe who bothered to walk to a polling booth voted YES for our Constitution apart from 1980 which was a moment when the totality of Zimbabwe came together to celebrate independence.  The next time that the people of Zimbabwe agreed across the political divide, our isms, our creeds and tribes was when people voted YES for the people’s Constitution in 2013. 

President E.D Mnangagwa, at the formation of the Second Republic, clearly and sonorously stated that ‘when the people have spoken, then God has spoken.  The voice of the people is the voice of God’.  Therein lies the sanctity of a Constitution because the people spoke – God spoke.  This Constitution is inviolable because the people spoke loudly for it.  Within that Constitution, was a very new idea about our geometry, our Government structure. 

The people of Zimbabwe voted for devolution of governmental powers.  The unification of Zimbabweans through a central government, a provincial and metropolitan government and local authorities with clearly defined roles to make sure that Zimbabwe remains firmly a unitary State that addresses issues of specialisation, so that each region can deal with their strengths for the good of our nation.  I must repeat that the 2013 moment must be celebrated.  I know there could be weaknesses here and there in the Constitution for indeed it is impossible to get a perfect Constitution.  But our Constitution that we achieved as a nation deserves to be respected.  It is sacred, it was fought for and the people spoke, hence God spoke about it. 

Mr. President, the 2023 election is the third election since the consummation of the Constitution, since the introduction of Chapter 14, which deals with devolution. You can see palpable resistance and latent resistance to issues of devolution. You wonder why we would go three electoral cycles without obeying the Constitution. In Section 265 (3) the Constitution says, Parliament must provide appropriate mechanisms and procedures to facilitate the coordination of the relationship between the three tiers of Government, hence Central Government, Provincial and Metropolitan, councils and local authorities, but there is no enabling Act. Three cycles down the road, eleven years down the road, that betrays latent resistance to this provision.

Mr. President, I participated in my own way, in the crafting to this Constitution and as we were dealing with it, there were fears which I suspect could be the fears that are informing the latent resistance to enacting laws to enable devolution to work for the people of Zimbabwe. The first fear that we met, which we need to debunk is that Zimbabwe is too small to be devolved, to have a devolved architecture of governance. Examples are a replica all over the world where smaller nations, smaller in terms of population, smaller in terms of economies, and smaller in terms of geographical area are devolved. They are performing very well. The economies are benefiting, the people are united, the citizenry are more responsible because they are dealing at a lower level with issues of self-governance and self-rule.

This is neither here nor there, smaller nations are devolved, they are united, they are working well and they are delivering well to their people. Belgium is a good example which is 30,510 km2, Zimbabwe is 390,757 km2 and Belgium’s population is smaller than population of Zimbabwe, but their economy is working very well. In Belgium, we have got French-speaking and English-speaking people, but that does not divide them because there is room for everything within the paddocks of a devolved nation.

The other fear was that devolution is the first step towards secessionism. This is informed by lack of knowledge about, as immediately you speak about devolution, the other side of the coin is a unitary State. Devolution does not inform processes of secessionism. That is not the truth. Mr. President, the other fear which we met was that it is foreign philosophy, it is a foreign belief and a foreign thing. We need to let the nation know that devolution is traditional and cultural within our context, devolution is biblical and devolution is scientific. The three things. Why cultural – those people who come from big polygamous homes or even non-polygamous families, when your son marries, unonorova hoko kuti wakugara panapa. Yes, guided by the ethos and norms of the family, but with certain levels of autonomy to deal with own issues, when your son marries and you give them a home, they build a nice home in Borrowdale; you do not go there and decide which bedroom you sleep in, they will tell you where to sleep.

Ethos of the family are not discarded and from a traditional cultural view point, devolution sits in that. I said it is also biblical. When the Israelites were crossing from Egypt to the Promised Land, they were led by Moses. Those who want can go and read Exodus Chapter 18. It talks about Moses centralising everything to himself and failing to have time for the family. Jethro, his father in law, said to him Moses, you do not work like this. You must allow others to do smaller things and you do the bigger ones and report to God. This is the birth of division of labour, so people can specialise. I said it is also scientific and economic. Adam Smith in 1776 or 1779 had this theory of specialisation, where in a production system, in a system you intend to specialise so that people can focus on their strengths. You can see devolution meet all that we require, it is cultural, it is not a foreign thing.  It is biblical, we know we are a Christian nation and scientific, no one can reject science.  These fears need to be debunked so that we can move with speed to implement the desires of the people of this country.  They intend to specialise in their strengths.  The country is well-known for its timber, gas energy and minerals and people should be given the opportunity to intensively exploit their strengths for the benefit of the totality of the nation.  This is the idea; Manicaland will specialise in timber, paper making, mining, tourism and the Great Vumba would specialise on that.  Indeed, they would specialise on diamond for the benefit of the nation.  Mashonaland Central has got the advantages of the Great Zambezi escarpment.   It has the capacity to do sugarcane, the temperatures are proper.    

          Mr. President, the purpose of devolution is so that we can specialise.  According to the theory of management, once you specialise, you are getting the best out of your resources.  We need to sit together as Government to make sure that we expeditiously deal with provisions, enact laws that will activate the performance around our special areas.  This is the only way to succeed and unite the people and the only way to make sure that you get the best out of each one of us.  This is the best way to develop responsible citizenry, not blame game because people are dealing with their special areas. 

          Also, one of the key things as well around devolution is to make sure that Government is close to the people, can talk to Government, touch it, they can shout to each other with it, they can meet it every day.  It is there, it is with them, the nearer Government understands the aspirations of the people the better, understands their strengths a lot better.  We are losing opportunities for equitable development for full participation in issues that matter to us. 

          What are the benefits of the devolution Mr. President?  These are full participation, explore the strengths of each one of us to their best and do not leave any resource unattended.  I will give an example of the period of the Inclusive Government; the hype was diamond.  It was diamonds and diamonds and people forgot about iron ore altogether.  We nearly got our big iron ore resources stollen because the focus was on diamond.  Mr. Speaker Sir, Mashonaland East should have focused on iron ore because they have got the biggest iron ore deposit in the world at Manhize, but that was put on the bunk burner because of the excitement around diamond.  Yes, the people of Manicaland should have focused on diamond because it is a resource that they have, which is an important resource for the nation while the people of Mashonaland East would have focused on this huge resource, which is the envy of everybody in the world and yet we forgot about it. 

          In a specialised architecture, nothing loses attention.  This is my submission and my prayer Mr. President, is that the Executive deals with the latent resistant that we seem to see. The Executive must begin to respect the voice of God.   The people spoke, perhaps we can then see devolution being lived, we can probably see Zimbabwe rising even quicker because each one of us is applying themselves to their area of strengths.   I thank you Mr. President – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]-

          HON. SEN. RITTA NDLOVU: Thank you very much Mr. President. I would like to also add a few words on the motion raised by Hon. Sen. Zvidzai.  There is a section in our Constitution in Chapter 14 which provides for a provincial Government and local Government.  We have seen local authorities being sworn in and we have not yet seen the provincial Government being sworn in.  My question is, when will this be done Mr. President?  My own view is that it is very important to have provincial councils in place because they play a very important role in our communities.  Also, it will assist Government in revenue collection. 

          Mr. President, in our communities, these provincial councils will play such roles as promotion of local languages.  In our country, we have quite a number of local languages which are enshrined in our Constitution but it seems like only Ndebele and Shona are the only languages recognised in our country.  I think it is not fair to other local languages which are supposed to be recognised.  Let us take for example Masvingo, we have Shangani, in Matabeleland North we have Tonga, Kalanga and Sotho, in Matabeleland South we have Venda, Sotho and Kalanga.  All these languages seem not to exist yet there are other official indigenous languages in our country. 

          Let me use the example of this august House where we are supposed to get the interpretation of all our indigenous languages, but there was nothing all along except for these few past two days where we saw that other languages being interpreted.  We thank the President of this august House for his intervention to make sure that interpretation of these indigenous languages spoken in this House are interpreted.  Thank you, Mr. President – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – These provincial councils will also assist in bringing Government closer to the communities. With Government being closer to the people or communities, it will then make it easy for communities to get their documentation where they reside. This will improve and balance our gender representation in as far as our legislative agenda is concerned.

          Lastly, in the selection of provincial administrators, we wish to have administrators who will be selected through demonstration of understanding of developmental aspirations and indigenous languages, preferably from each province.

          +HON. SEN. PHUTI: Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Zvidzai for moving this pertinent motion. He said a lot and I want to add to what he spoke about. The issue we are on is the significance of provincial councils and indeed from my own perspective, provincial councils are like the spine. Without the spinal cord, you cannot sit or stand properly. It is a framework and the world over, there is no such beautiful Parliament like this one, but we do not have a backbone. We are weak. In view of that, my request is that this body should have a backbone so that the rest of the body can work properly. Without a backbone, it means that there is no coordination.

          I want to say that a provincial council is good for us, particularly to myself as an individual. I come from Matabeleland South which is lagging behind in development and with such a proper backbone, you are able to stand and work. As Matabeleland South, we are going to benefit from mining because there will be devolution. Everyone will be working to develop his or her own area. With devolution, then we will be able to share our resources equally. Instead of baking my cake and celebrating the birthday in Harare, we can bake our cake in Matabeleland South and consume it there instead of Harare where our children will not benefit much.  The cake should be baked and enjoyed by the people in the different provinces.

          On the same issue regarding minerals, we have mines in Matabeleland South. Where I stay, I do not sleep as I am used to the disturbing sounds of mining equipment. It is sad that when we go to our road – the road which links Plumtree and where I stay, you travel for three hours because we do not have a proper road infrastructure. Our clinics are in a bad state. Some are dilapidated, but it is disheartening that the money which is taken from the provinces coming to Harare is quite exorbitant. So devolution will be good for us. We are facing a drought. We do not have water. We do not have dams. In Mangwe there is one big dam. Devolution and provincial councils are going to monitor whether dams are being put in such areas. You find that sometimes you dig for 100m without reaching the water table.

          In our area, we have irrigation schemes where we try our best. Trek took over the irrigation scheme and our roads are being destroyed. For me to have grain, I have to go to Bulawayo which is roughly 200km only to get maize meal which is planted a few hundred metres from where I stay. My request is that if devolution is operational, then you would find that when Trek harvests his farm produce, it will be consumed locally. Government should put in place an infrastructure which says that if he harvests 100 trucks, then he can leave two for the community so that the community can benefit from the resource. If the devolution programme is implemented, then this will allow even the big maize producers to put milling companies in the area for the benefit of the local people. So what deprives us from what is coming from our communities is lack of devolution.

I want to talk about my constituency in Plumtree. We have three border posts which are Maitengwe, Ramakwebane and Matsi in a 300km2 radius. It is disappointing Madam President, to note that people who are employed in this area, whether they are cleaners of whatever job, you discover that they cannot speak the local language. They cannot speak Ndebele, Kalanga or other languages. On the same issue regarding our borders, it is difficult to travel to Botswana.  Botswana is so near that you can throw a stone across the fence, but it is difficult to go to Botswana because we do not have devolution. It is difficult for me to pick my shoe which will be across the border. I need to go more than 600km to Harare to get a passport. I must travel that long distance of 400km to Gwanda to get a passport, I must travel 230km to Bulawayo to get a passport. What if Government looks at our plight and gives us devolution. I come from a growth point, and we need district which has three borders. 

My question is, why do we not have a Passport Office in that area? I believe that devolution is quite pertinent. What makes me fail to get my shoe from across the border is because passports are out of reach of the majority. It is quite expensive for an old woman to visit her grandson across the border. They might even die without seeing their grandchildren. You find people crossing the border illegally to attend funerals and that funeral might be three km but they have to travel 370 km to get a passport. So, people end up opting for border jumping.

Let me also say that we attained independence in 1980. I was a bit young but I saw people enjoying and we went to a rest camp enjoying game meat. We are very unfortunate because we live the life of the 70s yet we live in the post-independence era. With devolution, I believe that life will be good. We desire to enjoy life just like our neighbouring countries such as Botswana. When I cross to Botswana, I do not see people queuing for water and see women carrying firewood. I have never waited for five minutes to get transport in Botswana, but here you might wait at the bus stop until you go back home without finding proper transport.

With devolution, our lives would improve. It is difficult for those who are in Botswana as some might be earning P300 but can look after their families and drive nice cars with the little salary that they are getting. Every district in Botswana is self-governing. They have piped water and boreholes. My request is that we need piped water and good dams. Most of our dams have been affected by siltation. Some dams are pre-independence dams. Our diaspora relatives do their best but it is quite difficult and a bit expensive to hire an excavator to scoop dams.

I want to implore Government to look at all provinces. Sometimes I wonder why there are swivelling chairs in our offices in the modern era but I believe this is so that you can turnaround using such chairs so that you see all directions instead of watching just one direction. The painful part is that even when your child goes to university from our area, you take your child throughout university education. After graduating you find them selling airtime without jobs.

The other painful thing is that we do not have devolution but it is there in our Constitution and on paper but has not been implemented. We see a lot of accidents happening. We lost 13 people yesterday who were travelling to Eastern C         ape and we also had another nine who perished in the Gwanda accident. They were all coming from across the border, which means that something is not right. So, we need to implement devolution in order to create employment for our children in their local areas so that during weekends, they can fend for their families and parents.

What I have observed as one of the Hon. Members coming from Matebeleland South is that we are at risk because of the state of our roads and the distances. So, I challenge Government that in this august House, there should be devolution also so that every week, we bring reports from the communities to curb road accidents. So, my prayer is that we need to implement what we put in the Constitution regarding devolution because devolution is power.

+HON. SEN. RICHARD NDLOVU:  I want to thank the Hon. Senator who moved the motion on devolution, which is quite a very critical motion that encourages people to debate. I want to say that it has been long since we debated about devolution. It was not in existence but now we find that most clinics and schools that have been built were done using devolution funds. We need to appreciate Government for that. The devolution fund is operational and has built a number of infrastructures. Zimbabwe is a rich country which is being eyed by so many people and that is the reason why we are facing so many challenges.

Someone spoke about Matebeleland North which is a tourist resort area with a lot of wildlife. You find that ivory tusks are not allowed to be exported and as Zimbabwe, we are not allowed to trade in elephant tusks and they are rotting. This is money which can benefit Zimbabwe.  The previous speaker spoke about mines.   Zimbabwe, as a nation, is not allowed to have lines of credit or to borrow money.  There is no country which can operate without lines of credit or importing and exporting.  We do not have operational companies.  After the land reform, most companies relocated to where the investors were coming from.  This is our reality.  Some of our colleagues went to America to beg for sanctions and to stop lines of credit so that Zimbabwe will not be given debts. How can we develop as a nation without lines of credit?

          We need to advocate for the removal of sanctions so that our companies are opened and become viable.  Looking at other countries, their economies are different from Zimbabwe’s economy because Zimbabwe is like a nation which is locked in a box.  We all need more money.  We want provincial councils to be established.  The Constitution allows that, but how are we going to pay these people because everything that we are getting – the backbone which was spoken about by the previous speaker, is not enough to cater for everyone’s needs.  We need to advocate for the removal of sanctions so that as a free nation, we can be able to export. 

There are a lot of issues that we can talk about, but the most important thing is that everything being said is good in a free and independent country.  Indeed, we are independent in name, but we need to be in control of our economy.  My desire is that as the Upper House, we need to stand together and advocate for the removal of sanctions which are burdening the nation.  With these few words, I thank you Madam President.

          HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you Madam President.  I just want to say a few things which I think are going out of hand.  In 2012, I was one of those Members who was in the Committee drafting the Constitution of Zimbabwe. I was in the Select Committee.  Let me say in short that there is the issue of languages which was talked about – it was said that languages were not considered.  We have 16 languages which are in our Constitution today which we can speak freely.  I do not know what you mean when you are talking about languages and the limitations of using languages because at the end of the referendum, the Constitution was written in those 16 languages – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – It is all up to you to take all those languages and use them.  If you are Venda speaking, you can speak Venda from all over the show.  No one will ask what you are talking about. 

          I have heard so many stories being talked about the provincial councils and devolution. The speaker who spoke before me put more words on it.  If we really understand what devolution means, I do not think we can say that there is no devolution in Zimbabwe because if we talk about devolution, it is taking power from the apex and going down to the masses, of which this is happening fully.  We have schools, hospitals and boreholes.  The President just now recommended that there should be more than 30 000 boreholes that should be drilled at grassroot level.  Thank God that we have got a listening President – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. T. ZHOU): Order, someone is debating.  We have to respect each other.

          HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you Hon. President for protecting me. I am talking seriously about the President that we have, Hon. E.D. Mnangagwa.  That is the current President that we have in Zimbabwe, and he listens to each and everyone.  He listens to every problem that is taking place in Zimbabwe. 

          As you have heard that we have harnesses that have been put because of these sanctions. Yes, we have them, but no one has died of hunger.  No one has failed to send a person to school.  We are surviving with the little that we have.  At the moment, if you read newspapers or listen to the radio, our main thrust as Zimbabweans in irrigation is to have more dams because for those who stay in Region 5, especially those in Matabeleland, part of Masvingo and part of Mashonaland East – we are in Region 5 in Matabeleland North, we do not have sufficient rainfall. The thrust that is there now is irrigation schemes.  We have irrigation schemes and dams, but under sanctions, you cannot build each and every dam within a day.  Slowly, we will get to where we want if we are united and working together.  It is not a question of opposing or looking at the wrongs that others do.  We are all Zimbabweans and we have to help each other to develop our country.  We only have one country here, Zimbabwe.  We should put our heads together, move forward and develop our country. 

          We have very big dams.  We have the Zhovhe, Tuli-Manyange, Gwayi-Shangani, Mtshabezi Dams, just to mention a few.  Let us research if ever we want to put motions here or if we want to talk about our beautiful Zimbabwe; see what is there and what is not there.   Some of the things that we are saying are not there, and sometimes are there.  It is unfortunate maybe that some of us have not travelled and seen what is in other places.  No one will ever be sidelined by the President that we have.  It is for you to take or leave.  If ever we know that we are being sidelined, have you ever made any noise anywhere saying that we want this and that?

          Someone talked about passports.  I do not think those passports can be at every village.  I am sorry to say that.  At the moment, we have three centres – Bulawayo, Gwanda and Beitbridge whereby those passports are being taken.  We cannot even say we will travel to Harare which is over 500 km to look for a passport because passports are there at home – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  I do not know, maybe it is the little knowledge that I have – as I have mentioned places that we have; let me say when we come to general hands, those that are working hands on at homes, let me tell you that Harare does not know whether you have people and what kind of people are supposed to be at our places.  Remember, I also come from Matabeleland South…

          +HON. SEN. RITTA NDLOVU:  On a point of order Madam PresidentI think for the Hon. Senator to say that we do not know what we are speaking about – I do not think that is correct because we know what we are talking about. 

          THE TEMPORARAY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you Hon. Sen. Ndlovu.  I heard the Hon. Senator saying that there should be a research but we take note of your point.

+HON. SEN. PHUTI:  On a point of order. My correction is on the point of order made by the Hon. Member.   The Hon. Member is not debating, but she is responding to what other Senators were debating.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  I do not think I am talking about anybody.  I never mentioned anyone’s name.  However, I have the right to debate.  I was still talking about the boreholes and the workers.  I still stand by my word that if those workers are brought from Harare or wherever, why can we not talk as Matabeleland people that these people are not ours and they should pack?  But you should also remember that everyone has a right to work where they want just like everyone has the right to stay where they want as long as it is within Zimbabwe.  I have touched on all the hot issues I wanted to talk about.  It is up to us now that if we want passports, we can take them from anywhere in Zimbabwe.  The places issuing passports are no longer far away from us.  Issuing of passports has been decentralised and brought closer to our homes. 

Finally Madam President, I beg and wish that we work together as Zimbabweans in order to push our country to develop.  It is now up to us to bring any wrong doing to light so that it is rectified and the right things take place.  I thank you Madam President. 

HON. SEN. PHULU:   Thank you Madam President.  The motion before the House is a very important one and it would be remiss to let it pass without having added my voice to the debate.  It has been eleven years if not more since the 2013 Constitution was passed and for eleven years, we have had a Constitutional provision that requires provincial administration, provincial elected officials to be put in place in terms of the Constitution which is the law of our country.  It is the President who has the responsibility of ensuring that the laws of our country are protected.  He is the custodian of the laws of our country.  It is the ultimate responsibility of Government to govern in terms of that Constitution.  I am aware that there has been a number of motions on this issue previously. Certainly, Madam President, as we sit here, Government has itself, acknowledged the importance of this governmental structure. Let alone, the fact that every election term, we hold elections for officials who sit and do nothing. That governmental structure has not been functioning, but Government on its part, speaks through its policies. I can confirm that the NDS1 is one of the major policies of this Government where they want to make this country prosper and go beyond all barriers by the year 2030. One of the critical pillars supporting that policy has been identified as implementing this devolution. There has been acknowledgement by His Excellency, the President himself in the foreword to the NDS1, that the intention of the Government is to implement devolution fully. To its credit, they have detailed how they will do it in NDS1. I would not like to think that the Government is going back on its very important policy which continues to run our economy and our politics today.

Madam President, in following up to its promise in NDS1, the Government authored another policy which is the decentralisation and devolution policy. I think that document has more than 200 pages dedicated to detailing how devolution will be implemented. The Hon. Minister of Finance, in his addresses, always mention the reason why the devolution funds are being spent in the manner that they are, through local authorities. It is not because the Government is going back on its promise and its policies. Rather, the Government is busy still trying to put all the factors and legislation in place to ensure that this devolution is properly implemented.

You will recall Madam President that if you go into the Constitution, Chapter 13, you will see that there is a rider to the full implementation of some of those clauses. For example, there is a requirement that Parliament shall make a law to deal with how the devolution funds are to be administered, and today, there is no such law. This is the explanation that Government has consistently given clearly. Therefore, the question before the House today would be whether there is legislation that is going to come before the House during the 10th Parliament to give effect to the sacrosanct provision of our Constitution to effect devolution, and to ensure that all these election office bearers that we elect are given a job.

Madam President, the decentralisation and devolution policy acknowledges that devolution is one of the ways to build a good economy. It is one of the ways that can ensure the people in Kezi, in Maphisa where one of the Hon. Members indicated that the roads are being damaged by mining trucks, and yet the local community gets nothing. That devolution would ensure that if resources are administered closer to the people and power taken closer to the people, then more revenue would be raised for the nation. Business would be more conscious on the need to invest in local areas. I do accept that we have had the issue of sanctions, however one of the ways to go around those detrimental effects is to ensure that we are more vigorous in how we do business. We ensure that we involve everyone in every province and every district in business, and they can easily access officials who are better able to serve them to ensure they are better business people who can generate revenue for the country.

Taxation Madam President, would improve if local authorities and provincial Governments were given a small window or small parameter in terms of which they could tax for certain things that takes place at a local level. Again, Madam President, which would mean more revenue for everyone. That would mean a better economy. An economy built by everyone and an economy where everyone has their mouth the feeding trough of the nation.

Madam President, I would urge this House, and particularly my Honourable colleagues across the benches not to walk back on devolution, not to walk back on the Constitution which they authored, not to walk back on the words of His Excellency, the President, and not to turn their backs on the words of the Hon. Minister of Finance. They are determined to continue on the course of implementing devolution. They have said they are determined to ensure that devolution would be brought into effect. In fact, the Second Republic’s major promise when it took office, was that in particular, this is one thing that they would ensure would happen with good speed. Madam President, might I remind Members that one of the articles of impeachment against the President of the First Republic was that he did not implement the devolution provisions. I thank you Madam President.

HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: Madam President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. RITTA NDLOVU: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 21st March, 2024.

MOTON

ENACTMENT OF STRINGENT LAWS TO ADDRESS THE PLIGHT OF WIDOWS

Eighth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the plight of Zimbabwean widows who are routinely evicted from their homes by relatives.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. PHULU: Thank you Madam President, I rise today to address the critical issue …

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, Hon. Senator. Next time when you want to debate, you just stand up until I recognise you. Thank you and you can proceed.

HON. SEN. PHULU: Thank you Madam President. I rise today to address the critical issue of enacting stringent laws to protect widows in our country. The plight of widows who are often relegated to poverty after losing their loved ones is a matter that seriously demands our attention and urgent action. The debate on one side has argued that cultural practices by unscrupulous relatives Madam President, deprive widows of their human rights.  It deprives them of their dignity, freedoms - it is a clear violation of basic human rights of the women involved and anyone else involved who is a victim of that kind of abuse.  The motion, at the end of the day, quite rightly identifies an important issue.  Madam President, the motion, in my submission, also argues that enacting stringent laws would provide a better legal protection for widows and prevent them from being victimised in this unjust manner.  While I recognise that whenever there is an area where people keep violating, the natural reflex is to enact more stringent laws all the time, I submit that in this case, I would argue that it is a wrong approach.  I say so because this approach ignores that existing legislation in Zimbabwe has made strides in addressing the deficiencies in estate administration.  We have comprehensive laws that specifically target the protection of widows, the protection of spouses and the protection of anyone who is entitled to benefit from a deceased estate.  The issue of property grabbing has itself been specifically targeted by this legislation.  What we need Madam President, I think there is need for education programmes to make sure that those who find themselves beset by this struggling and suffocating problem know what to do in order to protect themselves. 

          Madam President, I will give an example that in Zimbabwe after 1980, women at one stage were treated as minors and that was in our laws.  People in the women’s organisations, the women themselves, the citizens of the country went into an activist mode to ensure that this was changed.  After a case, which is well known as Magaya versus Magaya, where the Supreme Court had endorsed particularly discriminatory provisions relating to inheritance, this Parliament decided to take a solid step.  Parliament puts in place Amendment No. 17 of the Administration of Estates Act.  That amendment ensured that women who found themselves in this position, particularly where cultural practices tended to discriminate against them in that they could not inherit just as well as their male counterparts were no longer subjected by the law to this terrible position, as we speak, that has been addressed. 

          Madam President, the issue of what they could inherit was also addressed.  Another matter which this motion raises or should raise is that we need better access to legal representation because the majority of the people in this country cannot afford legal representation so that they can take advantage of these very laws that we are talking about.  Perhaps Madam President, one of the measures is that Government puts in place a fund or a way in which widows who are in this situation can find accessible legal representation because that has been a problem.  We know that there are non-governmental organisations which offer these kinds of services but those are two or three.  They would never been enough given the rate of occurrence of some of these issues that are being raised in this motion. 

          Madam President, the Government itself has a department that offers lawyers, the Legal Aid.  That Legal Aid Department should have a specific unit to deal with these inheritance matters because women are suffering on a large scale as a result of failing to access legal representation.  There is need for a well-trained police officer to ensure the full protection of the rights of widows.  We do not need laws that are more stringent than what our laws currently are. We need those laws to be enforced. 

          Madam President, another issue which should be taken into account and where I acknowledge that this motion has solid ground, is the fact that in terms of the current legislation, it sometimes happens that the Master has powers to appoint people other than the spouse or relatives to administer funds.  We have seen a growing case where professional administrators are given estates to administer and the first thing that comes to their mind is to sell assets in order to earn their fees.  I think this is a matter which should be looked at so that more stringent regulations are put in place in terms of what can be sold.  In fact, to give a firmer preference to the spouse or close relatives administering the estate rather than unchecked power given to the Master to appoint anyone else.    We have also seen instances of corruption where I appoint my friends to administer estates so that they make a lot of money and find a flimsy reason to ignore the spouse who then loses power to administer that estate. 

          I would also urge that there is a section that allows that if an estate is small, does not have much in it and the Minister has a power to make a statutory instrument as to the amount, that estate can be wound up summarily very quickly and we submit that, that amount should include the primary resident.  If a widow lives in a house, no matter what the value, we would like to move Government not to consider that House as part of determining the value of a small estate.  Let us say for instance there is a house where they are living, it is the value of the House that will turn it into a big estate.  This will now mean that big people should come and administer a small estate.  But if Government could consider waiving a primary residence from all these hazards including estate duty when the spouse is still alive, these are some of the things that will help to alleviate the plight of women who suffer from these problems.  

Madam President, maybe I should run to conclude and in conclusion, I submit that all the arguments that have been presented are valid arguments.  The motion raises valid arguments.  All I sought to do is to say that while we are having all those arguments, it is imperative to carefully consider that the existing legal framework is adequate.  We must prioritise its implementation and enforcement by addressing the loopholes in the current legislation, enhancing education and access to justice, training law enforcement agencies, we can work towards providing meaningful support to widows in Zimbabwe. I urge my esteemed colleagues to engage in thoughtful deliberations on this matter, and take decisive action to protect the rights and well-being of widows in our country. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: Thank you Madam President for affording me the opportunity to add my voice to the motion regarding the ill treatment of women, particularly widows. Firstly, I want to say that we must urge our children to go to school so that they will be able to be independent and look after themselves. I want to urge our parents to know that at 18, a child is still considered to be a minor. So some are prejudiced because they do not go to school, despite being minors.

          Sometimes in marriage, we relax until one spouse passes on. As women, it is important to have an income generating project so that we will be able to survive even when the spouse dies. You find young children sometimes are being married off because they do not have resources. Some even go to join polygamous marriages while some end up in streets trying to make a living because they will be desperate with children to fend for.  So they end up trying other means, yet we criticise because we have not experienced their situations.

          As women, we are our own enemies. When your husband dies, the aunts from the paternal side are the ones who persecute their sister-in-law. Even some young sisters to the widow will also persecute their sister. As women, we need to learn that what goes around comes around. What you do might affect you in the near future. You find people persecuting a daughter-in-law after losing her husband. As women, we need to work together with men to live in peace and harmony. The issues regarding wills and inheritance are quite problematic. Most African men do not want to write wills because they do not understand the importance of wills. It is important for a husband to write a will so that his wife and children would not have a headache when he passes on. Every progressive man works for the benefit of his family.

          As women, we need to sit down with our husbands because I too fall under the category of widows, but do not know how I can address it. We need to engage our spouses because when there is a will, it becomes easy because the Master of High Court would then execute whatever is registered in the will. Whatever is written in the will is what eventually happens. Sometimes a couple may be living in peace, but when they try to register their will with the Master of the High Court to determine who the executor is, you would find that there are letters of objection from other women who also want to benefit from the estate. Some relatives are in a habit of sabotaging the widow so that she cannot benefit from the estate.

          As an august House, we need to look at the Marriages Act and make sure such issues do not just pass without our scrutiny.  You find that a man might have a number of women and when he dies, all these other women want to benefit too. Where are we as women when such laws are being written? We need to participate in Bills regarding women and children because you would face a lot of challenges when your husband dies. A lot of women end up going through depression because they will be mourning whilst also thinking about their future. I know that most married couples have a challenge in that they do not declare their earnings to each other. If you do not unite as a couple, you will find both your bank accounts being closed when one dies, but when you work together and have joint accounts with everything out clear in the open when one passes on, then you find that the account will not closed. We need to be genuine with each other and teach our children so that they are honest with their spouses where they discuss these issues by working together and not individually.

          Indeed, there is social welfare and assistance like what was said by the previous speaker. There is need for legal aid for widows. It is quite important to have these legal aids so that you know your rights. Let us not wait for legal aid when your husband has passed away. You need to seek legal aid whilst you are both alive. You need to know and understand your rights in terms of inheritance because when you are bereaved, you cannot do anything. Sometimes you find that your house or properties will be taken away. When we buy assets, let us agree to have joint names on our properties because a joint property written Mr. and Mrs. Mlotshwa, when Mr. Mlotshwa passes on, then it is automatic and straightforward.

We need to understand that and in particular, have female lawyers forming associations which empower women with such knowledge because we do not know who will die first, whether the husband or the wife. What matters is that the surviving spouse, either the widow or widower because after working together, the husband might lose his wife and everything is taken away from him. Where does he start from? Let us think holistically talking about widows and widowers because when the husband remains behind with children, you find relatives taking away property and this might result in him suffering. Inheritance laws and the Marriages Act in particular, should be reviewed so that they encompass such issues. I urge young people, particularly those who have not lost their spouses to work on that.

As parliamentarians also, we need to go to our constituencies to teach women particularly the young so that they know what to do when they lose their spouses. Indeed, there is social welfare assistance which benefits everyone. We want that as Hon. Senators to leave laws that will benefit widows and widowers. You find that sometimes there are some girlfriends who end up benefiting. It might be because the husband was cohabitating with a girlfriend for three months and you find such a woman benefitting just because he died in her hands and the official wife is found playing second fiddle. Because he died while staying with a small-house, she ends up taking everything.

As women, we need to stand together and stand for women’s rights. Widows and widowers are the same. Let us help each other and make sure that our children learn because you may find a woman being abused, some saying that I am staying in this marriage because I want to protect my children. We need to be empowered as women because there are a lot of issues which can happen that can benefit the nation.

In West Africa, women are at the forefront of the economy and the economic issues. We need to stand together on issues regarding the law, the economy and inheritance. This might seem like a small issue but when you lose your spouse, you will understand that these are pertinent issues which sometimes are just swept under the carpet. We need to help each other so that we help women and those who are older can go back to school and be empowered. Even when there are farms, they must also benefit. 

I want to thank Hon. Sen. Tsomondo for this critical motion. I am speaking as a widow and I want to benefit like other widows.

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

HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 21st March, 2024.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MOHADI seconded by HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA, the House adjourned at Eighteen Minutes past Four o’clock p.m.

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