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SENATE HANSARD 21 MAY 2020 29 37

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 21st May 2020.

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: Thank you Madam President.

My question is directed to the Leader of Government Business. I would like to know, with the pandemic that has affected the world over, what is Government doing?  My question is in connection with the fact that we see that there is an influx of people in the CBD.  Will this disease not spread at an alarming rate because the lockdown that had been put in place, which has its levels seem to be ignored now?  People are coming into the CBD in their numbers and the challenge is they end up facing transport challenges to ferry them back home.  What is Government’s position concerning the number of people in the CBD?  Secondly, when people want to return home they face transport challenges.

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you

Madam President. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Hungwe for that question, which is very pertinent.  Madam President, when lockdown started, we were on level one, whereby everyone was supposed to stay at home for three weeks.  The reason for this was that if you stay at home for three weeks, that was the incubation period which would help us to know who has been infected and who has not.

Thereafter, the Head of State and Government proposed that we go to level two, whereby other companies were allowed to open and for them to re-open their businesses, there were certain measures that they had to put in place.  Firstly, everyone was supposed to put on a mask.  The second was that of temperature testing so that when people come into the workplaces, their temperature is checked.  Once your temperature is above normal, you will be taken to the health facility to check if you are not infected.  Thirdly, it was that people maintain social distancing of a metre apart and fourthly, we should use sanitisers or wash our hands with soap and water.

When the lockdown measures were relaxed that is when people started coming into town.  If you are to check what is happening, you will find a lot of vehicles queuing at road blocks.  The police are now screening those who are moving into town for other purposes other than going to work. Also it becomes difficult for the police to be checking everyone because others will be walking on foot.  If they find anyone who does not have business in town, they will be arrested – the point is; if you do not have any business in town, you are supposed to be at home.  You can come into town without any business but you can actually be infected during that time yet you were protected whilst at home.

People are still a challenge and they still need awareness.  I urge those who are responsible for information; raising awareness on COVID-19, should gear up so that people understand the safety of staying at home so that as a nation we can curb the spread of this disease.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. CHIEF NTABENI: Thank you Madam President.

My supplementary question is that I come from the rural areas; I am a chief.  The situation in rural areas is disheartening.  If a person comes from the urban centres to the rural areas, there are no such conditions.  I am a chief and I need to have meetings with the people and we are told that we will be receiving masks but nothing materialises.  Does this disease only affect those in the urban centres and not affect those in rural areas because once it affects those in the rural areas, it will become chaotic. 

*HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam President.  What is

important is that without a mask people should maintain social distancing because if you happen to cough, the health experts say that it does not go beyond one metre.  We also raise awareness on washing of hands as frequently as possible.  Yes, you may not have the masks but the awareness that is being given is that – yesterday on the news, we witnessed the First Lady teaching people what to do.  We are actually saying, given any material you can actually make your own mask but the Department of Information and the health sector are raising awareness so that we are protected.  I thank you.

*THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Even the leaders

should also raise awareness in communities where they are coming from.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE:  Thank you Madam

President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.  In the rural areas where we come from, schools are closed as a result of COVID- 19 but here in urban centres children are engaging in e-lessons, so children in the rural areas are disadvantaged but social media indicates that there are schools that are opened and so on.  We would want the Minister to enlighten us on the disadvantages that are faced by the rural school children and when this will be addressed in line with what is happening with COVID- 19?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY

EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): I thank the Senator for asking the

question.  Yes, we are aware that facilities on e-learning/online learning are not available to all schools and children because of the state of development that the country is in especially to children in rural areas.  As a Ministry, we are working with the Higher Learning Foundation for e-learning purposes but as the Hon. Senator is saying, some children are not able to access that.  We are on that platform where over two million children access it.

We are saying we are preparing that every child and as the Constitution and the laws of Zimbabwe actually say no, child must be left out.  Every child must have access to education and under the circumstances, we are doing the best we can as a Ministry and

Government to make sure that every child accesses education especially under the circumstances of today where we have COVID- 19.  We are using online platforms now but as the Hon. Senator is correctly saying, not all children are accessing that.  As a Ministry we are already working with ZBC, ABC and other organisations to have not only just elearning but also, we are reviving our on radio and TV studios at the

Curriculum Development Unit near the University of Zimbabwe.  We are reviving those studios but because of financial constraints, the studios have not been operating for some time.

We are also reviving the studios in Bulawayo so that children also use radio and TV and not only just children, but the parents and the guardians as well.  We are also in the middle of working as a Ministry in such a way that if online or e-learning is also accessed using the WhatsApp system that everybody has at home, it also means that we need a paradigm shift totally, not just Ministry officials, not just the heads but all of us and even the parents.  The Ministry is designing methods where parents and guardians should also be able to guide children at home because COVID- 19, nobody knows when it is going to end and even if it ends, the issue of using e-learning and online Madam president, is now amongst us and there is nothing we can do about it.

I as the Minister responsible for primary and secondary education, I am also responsible for non-formal education.  In other words, parents who want to go to school, it is my responsibility therefore to make sure that as much as possible, both radio and TV and online are accessible to every child and everybody who wants to go to school.  Thank you Madam President.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE:  Thank you Madam

President.  I need him to clarify to us when schools will be reopened?

HON. MATHEMA: Madam President, we were all listening to

His Excellency the President last week when he said schools and institutions of higher learning will start operating in a staggered way.  There is no specific date and I know Madam President that there has been on social media – somebody has given a date which we have not given.  We are going to stagger the opening of schools and within the next few weeks, I will make the announcement as to when exactly we are going to start operation.  We will start with examinations and for June examinations, we will start with those children who will write their examinations and we will end with the ECD because these are little babies who cannot be controlled like those who are older than them.

Yes, I will be making a statement and we will start with those going for examinations and those children whose parents or guardians could not afford to pay the fees, Madam President, I am saying no child will fail to write their examinations in Zimbabwe.  It is now going to be incumbent upon me as the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to make sure that the child goes to sit for their examinations and I as a Minister, I will design methods through which the parents or guardians will be able to pay what they are supposed to pay even if it is in a staggered manner.  Thank you Madam President.

*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President.  I

want to find out from the Minister relating to all the children who are engaged in e-learning, what are the fee structures and what are the proposed plans?  Are the e-learning fees going to be paid per school or nationally?

HON. MATHEMA: Thank you Madam President.  The e-learning

facility that we have as a Ministry, no parent is expected to pay any fees at all.  I am talking about public schools because on the other hand, we also have private schools and that is a different matter altogether but in all public schools, every child who uses the Ruzivo platforms are not expected to pay anything.  Thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU:  Thank you Madam President.

My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and in his absence if he is not here, I cannot quite see because of the masks; the Leader of the House can assist.  The cotton growers would want to know when the cotton producer price would be announced and how much it will be and furthermore, why is there a delay in the announcement of the cotton price because many people produced good cotton and they are just being given $1 000 once they take their cotton to the ginnery?

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you

Madam President.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for his question which seeks to find out what is happening to cotton farmers.  His question is very specific, so I would urge the Hon. Member to put his question in writing so that the Minister can give a written response which is well researched.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:  Thank you Madam

President. My question is directed to the Minister of Home Affairs.  We appreciate we are all working hard towards the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is the issue of letters required by the police to enable one to pass through roadblocks.  What are your sentiments towards the rural folk coming from a place where there is no police camp and before getting to the place where they can get a letter, they are asked to produce a letter.  Where they are going is where they can get the letter but they are told to return home.  The Chief writes letters confirming the birth of his people so they can get either a birth certificate or death certificate.  Why can you not allow the chiefs to also write letters confirming why the person is travelling?  I thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I want to thank

the Hon Sen. Chief for his question.  The pronouncement made by the President moved the lockdown from Stage One where a letter was a prerequisite because everything was closed.  It was only a few people in essential services that were allowed to travel then.  Now we are in Stage Two of the lockdown and all formal companies were allowed to open up.  So, the requirement of a letter is no longer as strict as it was before.

That is my response Madam President.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:  Madam President what

the Minister has said is what was announced by the President, but what is on the ground is something different.  There are more than a million interpretations.  People are just being asked to produce letters.  So, Hon.

Minister, can you please sort out that issue for the citizens.  I thank you.

      HON. SEN. MWONZORA:  My question in the absence of the

Minister of Home Affairs will be directed to the leader of Government. Over the past few days, the nation woke up to the abduction and torture of three or even more girls, including an Hon. Member of Parliament,

Hon. Joana Mamombe.  We heard stories of torture at the hands of State

Agents.  What has Government, if anything done about it and what is Government doing to make sure that this does not happen again to our people?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I want to thank

the Hon. Member for the question.  I want to preface my response by saying indeed he acknowledged that an allegation, which means it is something that has not been substantiated.  What is known is that the said individuals-against the lockdown rules, decided to undertake a demonstration in Warren Park with the potential of endangering a lot of people.  What we know is they allegedly parked their vehicles somewhere outside a police station and purported to have parked them inside a police station.  The picture clearly shows that the vehicles were parked but what has not been ascertained is whether they were indeed tortured or not because they then appeared at a private institution.  What we know is that the police still want to interrogate them for violating the lockdown rules.  If they have a complaint and indeed they can lodge a complaint of whatever they allege was done to them.  Then Government is prepared to look into that.

I also want to say Government has no business in abducting people.  Government protects its citizens.  We have noticed of late that some people have started looking for relevance where it is not.  The whole Government was busy trying to work towards averting the covid19 pandemic and some people became very irrelevant and they started creating these stories which have not been substantiated.  We did not have any reason whatsoever to abduct anyone.  If anyone did that, indeed it was outside the policy of Government whose policy is to ensure that all its citizens, regardless of political affiliation are safe and can do their day to day activities without any hindrances.

HON. SEN. MWONZORA:  From the Hon. Minister’s answer –

and I want him to correct me – it appears that Government is investigating the demonstration and not the abduction and torture.  Is that the state of affairs that Government is investigating the demonstration and ignoring the torture and the abduction?

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Madam President, it is a fact that the said individuals broke the law in that we have lockdown regulations that prohibit demonstrations and gatherings.  So these individuals are wanted by the police so that they can be interrogated as to why they undertook that action against the law. The said individuals have not been cooperating with the police in so far as their allegation of torture is concerned.  So I am not sure - they are very happy to be in hospital and the police are waiting for them to present themselves for interrogation on why they decided to be lawless citizens, more-so one of them being a law maker.  In my response I said if they have anything that they want to state to the police regarding the alleged torture, they can then do that and the police are very much free to look into it, investigate and bring the culprits to book. I thank you.

HON. SEN. A. DUBE: I am supposed to direct my question to the

Minister of Home Affairs but since he is not present, I will direct it to the Leader of the House. Hon. Minister, what measures are in place to curb border jumpers who avoid going through legal immigration routes during this lockdown?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam

President, we have border patrols that are done but what we have noticed with our people is they always try to run away from our law enforcers and they cross into neighbouring countries and vice versa but we have our border patrol teams that always ensure that our borders are controlled each and every time and this has been happening for years. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. KHUPE: My question, is when is the money that was promised to persons with disabilities who were disrupted from their daily activities which was for their daily upkeep that was promised by the Government through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare going to come? Secondly, what about those in areas where there is no network?  How do they access that money from the

Government?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): Madam President, the

first question is about the delay in payment of vulnerable people. In this case, we have disabled people who are supposed to receive their promised money. The Ministry is busy coming up with a database. In fact, the problem is most of the people registered and some of those who registered were not disabled people so the verification exercise took a bit of time. I hope in the next few days, we should be able to witness a lot of payments. We have actually paid about $200 000 to date and I believe some of the members must have received that payment. If you know of any who have not received, maybe you can bring it to the attention of the Ministry so that we can try and speed up that exercise.

Your second question is about those areas where there is no network that we can handle through our social welfare offices at district level. What we simply need to establish is to know where those people live so that we will be able to connect them with our Ministry. As a representative, I am sure if there are complaints of that nature, the Ministry will be very much prepared to assist but payment is an ongoing exercise. I thank you.

HON. SEN. S. MPOFU: I will direct my question to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. My question is on the distribution of sanitary wear. What is Government policy on the distribution of the sanitary wear which is supposed to be distributed to children as from Grade 4? What is the policy on the traceable distribution of sanitary wear to pupils in primary schools? What is there in place to show accountability in the distribution of the said sanitary wear?

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Yes, we have a policy indeed

that directs us to provide sanitary wear. It is done through the Provincial Education Directors and we expert therefore, the whole system to be transparent. Where that transparency does not exist, the Ministry is ready to receive any complaints and indeed, I will take it upon myself to go to the office and find out how far we have gone with the distribution of sanitary wear all over the country but we do not allow illegality.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I think it is up to the leadership and also Members of Parliament to go and check whether it is being done properly.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERE: Thank you Madam President. My

question in the absence of the Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care probably should be answered by the Leader of the House but I must say that I am saddened because we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think that the Hon. President in his wisdom appointed the Hon. Minister and his deputy and we should at least have one of them here to respond to some pertinent questions that may probably be unique to their Ministry.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE

(HON. DR. MANGWIRO):  I am here.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERE:  Thank you. So my question is

directed to the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care.  We had not heard that the Hon. Minister was here, so I am glad that the Hon. Deputy

Minister is in the House.

My question, Madam President, is the Ministry aware of what is currently happening in our health institutions, both private and public?  As we go to the hospitals now, we have experienced so many deaths as a result of non- COVID-19 illness because probably the policies in the hospital are that you cannot be admitted when you do not have Covid test results.  You get a patient who goes to hospital in the middle of the night and they are asked to have a Covid result and that is an emergency.

I can even enumerate deaths that have occurred as a result of that.

The second bit pertains to pediatric patients, that is children who are admitted with their mothers.  They will first request the test result for the patient who is the child, after that they request the test result for the mother – those are double costs.  We have had patients who require acute care but they spend days before they access assistance.

In conclusion Madam President, if the Hon. Minister could just pass through some of the private hospitals and see the manner in which patients are handled.  There will be a security guard, when you arrive by ambulance then you are locked outside whilst they go and look for a healthcare worker who will then start asking you questions.  In most cases, the patients are sent away.  I think that inasmuch as we are afraid of this pandemic, we are actually having a silent death of our citizens and I hope that the Hon. Minister will address and make a public policy on that.  I thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE

(HON. DR. MANGWIRO): Thank you Madam President.  Hon.

Senator, in response to your question, it is a national policy that patients with diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart failure and asthma should continue to get their treatment wherever they are.  If they are in the rural areas and they cannot move or have difficulties, there are arrangements that local authorities there should give them medication or they should go to their clinics or relevant hospitals to collect their medications.

When it comes to town in private and Government hospitals, we are aware that COVID is quite frightening to the citizens, doctors and nurses.  So when a person comes to hospital, as a policy, Government insists that people must be handled with care, compassion, empathy and must be served as quickly as possible.

When it comes to the testing, that is where the difficulty is.  We have these rapid test kits that may not be very specific – they may be positive or negative.  Unfortunately, the PCR which is very specific takes a bit of hours because we had few testing kits and centers but we are improving on the figures.  What normally happens in most of the hospitals is that when they take the swabs from the nose or throat – they were not being bunched properly but we have encouraged that the bunching and sampling be done systematically so that we shorten the time that a person waits for the results.

We are saying that if a patient has got diabetes and turns out to be COVID-19 positive, we know they are in danger because they have a poor immunity already.  So we need to make sure that those who have hypertension, diabetes or any other chronic morbidities should be screened for COVID because we definitely need to treat and manage them differently from if it is diabetes alone because if they have got Covid then really they have a weaker immunity and are in more danger than anyone else who is not diabetic.

So it is Government policy that patients must be served as quickly as possible because the PCR is a definitive treatment and whilst patients are waiting, we do not say that they do not get treatment.  Nurses and doctors should attend to them, treat what is ailing them and then make a decision on whether they will be admitted in an ordinary ward or COVID ward after the results.  We do not stop treating people before we  because we cannot say that a patient has shortness of breath or is severely dehydrated and will not be managed until the Covid results are out because most patients in most of our stations and hospitals –

Government or private, nurses know how to approach a COVID patient.

So most people are treated as COVID until proven negative but we do not encourage or say as policy that patients cannot be managed until they get results.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERE:  My supplementary question

Madam President is that I think at this stage, we do not need to be told about policies but want to be informed on what is going to happen.  What I am saying, Madam President is happening and as a matter of urgency, I would expect probably for it to be disseminated to all the health fraternities since health delivery is under our Ministry.

The Hon. Minister has outlined Government policy but we cannot talk about policies if we cannot implement them.  What is Government doing to those institutions?  In fact, I cannot point which one because it is universal that is why I had to ask the question. Had it been unique, I was going to go for a specific question but this is actually like the system.  People are dying Hon. Madam President.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you but we are

supposed to ask policy questions but because of the seriousness of the pandemic, I allow you to ask the Hon. Minister what you want to understand about what is happening out there.

HON. DR. MANGWIRO:  Thank you Madam President.  Yes, I

thought you suggested that we go on the ground, see for ourselves and make sure that we disseminate the same information to everyone.  If there are specific places – one or two that you have, you can forward the names and we will definitely take action and go there.  If you have noticed, we go around the country, trying to encourage people to do the right things.

So, that will be done.  We will definitely send word from district, province up to central hospital levels and private hospitals – action will be taken.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. SHUMBA:  Thank you Madam President, please forgive me for removing my mask.  My question is directed to the

Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.  Hon. Minister, there is a lot of hunger in the rural areas.  We want to know what measures the Hon. Minister has in place and what measures Government has in place because Government is on record as having said that no one will die of hunger.

When you go to some Grain Marketing Boards (GMBs) in rural areas, you will find that there is no maize at all.  So when the maize is delivered, people are told that they cannot buy maize because they are not under the social welfare scheme list. On the issue of mealie-meal, there was the introduction of cheap mealie-meal costing $70 but in the rural areas we get this mealie-meal once a month and at one shop.  The social distancing concept is not adhered to because people crowd for the mealie-meal.  What measures does the Government have in place to ensure that the GMB silos always have maize?  People come asking for food from us as legislators because they are hungry but we also do not have much.  I thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER,

CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. RTD. AIR

CHIEF MARSHALL SHIRI):  Madam President, I thank the Hon.

Member for that question.  I hope that all Hon. Members are privy to the fact that we did not receive adequate rainfall last year.  We now have a challenge concerning climate change, which means that sometimes we get early rainfall and it is not much.  Sometimes we get a lot of rainfall and once it goes, you do not get it again.  Sometimes it comes late towards the end of the season and rains for a short time. That is what has affected our yields as a country in the past year if not the past two years.  We have not been receiving normal rainfall.  For that reason, the Government subsidises whatever we will have managed to harvest by buying from other nations.  Some of the grain is taken to the rural areas and some to different towns.  There are some vulnerable communities that are assisted by the department of Social Services.  In rural areas, they are given maize but for those who are able to buy, they can get mealie-meal when it is available.  When the maize is delivered we try to distribute it to all GMB depots in the country to ensure that it is accessible to the people in the community.

In some cases, you will realise that it is not necessary to take the maize to GMB and we just take it to the district where it is wanted than take it to the provincial GMBs.  That is why sometimes it appears as if our depots do not have anything because we will be trying to limit the distance for people to access maize from GMB.  It is costly in the sense that you will have to pay for transport to GMB then from GMB as well as the loaders.  We know sometimes this can be delayed but we are tying our level best to ensure that people get maize on time.  The Government policy is that no one should die of hunger and we are happy that has not yet happened.  We have local leadership in communities from the village heads, councillors and the chiefs, the legislators, development coordinators and Ministers of State.  Where there is a challenge that food is depleting, they always call us and we rush to ensure that we avail the maize.

In terms of access to cheap maize meal, the challenge that we have is that people know that sometimes the delivery of mealie-meal take some time and people end up hording the mealie-meal buying may be 10 by 10kgs mealie-meal instead of just getting 20kgs.  They end up selling the horded mealie-meal at a higher price to people who do not have.  So as people, we are responsible for some of the challenges.  If all of us could follow the rules and measures put in place and the instructions, we would not be having many challenges.  Even though I have said that, this is not to silence you in areas where probably food is nearly depleted.

Please, notify us and we will expedite the process of getting you food.  I thank you Madam President.

*HON. SEN. SHUMBA:   Thank you Madam President.  My supplementary question is - why has the Government not put in place measures that when maize comes into the country, it is transported by heavy trucks that have to go to Harare first?  Why can they not allocate the maize in the areas that they pass through on their way to Harare?  Why does it have to come to Harare?   People are hungry as I speak.  I thank you.

  • RTD. AIR CHIEF MARSHALL SHIRI: Thank you

Madam President for the question.  The reason why maize cannot be delivered through railways is that it is normally not packed in sacks? So there are very few places where the rail transport can deliver the maize like to Bulawayo, Chegutu, Lion’s Den and Harare.  In other areas, they cannot offload the maize if it is not packed in sacks.  For that which is packed in sacks, we do not take it to the GMBs so that we cut down on the distances and cost of getting the maize to the community.  I thank you Madam President.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:  Thank you Madam

President.  Minister of Agriculture, I stood up to make noise that hunger is a reality.  The World Food Programme (WFP) has stopped giving food to people.  My request is that you engage the chiefs and we deliberate on the issue because we are in trouble with our communities that are suffering from hunger.  I thank you.

  • RTD. AIR CHIEF MARSHALL SHIRI: Thank you

Madam President.  I thank the Hon. Chief for his question.  The issue is that we have just commenced our harvesting season, so the gaps that have been left by those that have been giving out food will soon be covered because we expect a higher yield.  In the past few weeks, farmers delivered about 100 thousand tonnes and this is the commencement of the harvesting season.  It is because the maize is not yet dry. We have few driers but once it has dried, I am sure we will have more maize coming through.  We are also encouraging farmers that all those who have maize that is ready to be delivered to GMB, they should deliver the maize as soon as possible so that the Minister of Finance does not continue to import maize since we now have food in the nation.

For us to meet the chiefs to talk about the issue of hunger is not a challenge but the Minister responsible for that is the Minister of Public Service and Social Services.  We will advise him to meet with the traditional leaders because it is their responsibility.  I thank you Madam President.

  HON. SEN. CHIEF MATUPULA: There has been talk by the

same Ministry of their plans to decentralise and setting up silo shops in every district so that people can access all that is being offered. What are the plans for the setting up of those silo shops if there is a timeframe because in my district Tsholotsho and other districts they have not been set up? Thank you.

* HON. RTD. AIR CHIEF MARSHAL P. SHIRI: Thank you

Madam President. I want to thank the Hon. Member for that question.

Silo food industry is a company that sells food and basic commodities.

Our aim is that it should be decentralised to all areas in order to stabilise prices to do away with the middleman who wants to raise prices so people can go to those silo shops. The company has just started operating and it has not yet decentralised to all different areas in the country. It is still growing. It has been able to get some money and with that money we hope that they will be able to open more silo shops in different areas and communities and serve a number of people. Most importantly, is that we encourage our businesses to stop profiteering and sell goods at a reasonable price so that there will be no need to have silo industries. The reason why we have set up silo industries is because of the profiteering that is happening with businesses. People are profiteering and thinking of their pockets and no longer has value for the people. People are no longer patriotic and no longer pay to god but they see money as their God. That is what is causing such challenges. I thank you Madam President.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON.

PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 62.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

  HON. SEN. S. MPOFU: On a point of order Madam President. I

see that on today’s Order Paper, there are six questions which are said to be under my name. I did not submit any questions on today’s Order Paper. Thank you.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Our Clerk is going to

check from the office but maybe it was a mistake. Is there no other Mpofu who asked any question? Let us proceed while the Clerk is checking from the Office.

To the Leader of the House, can you help us as to what is happening – why are the Ministers not present to answer the questions?

*THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER,

CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. RTD. AIR

CHIEF MARSHAL SHIRI): Thank you Madam President. You may

realise that I also came in late. There was a very critical or crucial matter which was being discussed in Cabinet, especially in view of the current scourge of Coronavirus or COVID-19, hence most of the Ministers are still in Cabinet but they should be joining us anytime soon. Thank you.

PROGRESS ON REHABILITATING OLD FARMING

EQUIPMENT

  1. 11. HON. SEN. TONGOGARA asked the Minister of Lands,

Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement to inform the House on the progress made to rehabilitate old farming equipment that is lying idle in various farms throughout the country.

THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, WATER,

CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. RTD. AIR

CHIEF MARSHAL SHIRI): Hon. Sen., refurbishment for farm equipment, including tractors was being done under the Command Agriculture initiative.  With the current changes in the structure of financing where farmers have to go through banks for their inputs, it is hoped that the same will apply to this component. Thank you Mr.

President.

POLICY REGARDING PROVISION OF TUITION FEE

SUBSIDIES TO HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS IN RURAL AREAS

  1. HON. SEN. TONGOGARA asked the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to explain Government policy regarding provision of tuition fee subsidies in view of high dropouts in rural areas.

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY

EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you Mr. President and I

want to thank the Hon. Senator for asking the question.  Currently the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education subsidises examination fees for children in public schools and not tuition fees.  However, the

Ministry is assisting vulnerable children through programmes such as BEAM.  The BEAM programme is paying school and examination fees annually for more than 40 000 learners countrywide.  The Ministry is also working with partners who are assisting learners in poor communities with school fees.  It is the Ministry policy guided by the Education Act that no child shall be turned away for nonpayment of school fees.  Schools must uphold the children’s fundamental right to education which is enshrined in the Constitution of the country.  I thank you Mr. President.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF LANDS,

AGRICULTURE, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL

RESETTLEMENT (HON. RTD. AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SHIRI),

the Senate adjourned at Thirteen Minutes to Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 9th June, 2020.  

 

 

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