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SENATE HANSARD 21 MAY 2024 VOL 33 NO 50

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 21st May, 2024

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Senators, you are reminded to put your phones on silent or better still switch them off so that we do not disrupt the Business of the House.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE (HON. H. MOYO):  I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 6 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day on today’s Order Paper have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN. PHULU:  Mr. President, at the end of the last session that we had on Friday, Orders of the Day 1 to 6 were stood over to the end of the session but at the end of the session, we did not go back to them in order to postpone them to today.  So technically speaking, there are no Orders of the Day 1 to 6 on the Order Paper and they will have to be revived in terms of Standing Order 76.  So, I move on a point of order that those motions do not exist.  They should not be on the Order Paper unless there is a motion to revive them.

Mr. President, you can have reference to the Hansard in order to see that this is what transpired.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I am told that on Friday there was only one item which was due for debate and that was the motion which was brought by the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion and the Business of the Day was then concluded.  So, what you are saying technically, you are correct but practically, it is not correct.

HON. SEN. PHULU:  As you please Mr. President.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Yes, I had gone through the procedure and we had been advised by the Minister to stand over 1 to 6 until all the other Orders have been disposed of.  So, we will do to Order Number 7.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PEACE AND

RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

Seventh Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission for the year 2023.

Question again proposed.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE (HON. H. MOYO):  Thank you Mr. President. I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE (HON. H. MOYO): Mr. President, l move that Order of the Day, Number 8 be stood over until all the other Orders of the Day on today’s Order Paper have been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Next time tell him to tell us that he is not coming so that we can stand it over.

MOTION

FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO ZUPCO AND PRIVATE TRANSPORT OPERATORS

 

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

DISMAYED by the inadequacy public transport in the country; CONCERNED with ever-increasing numbers of unregistered

transport operators who illegally provide their services in the public transportation sector;

ALARMED by criminal activities perpetrated to innocent commuters by some of these unregistered operators;

ACKNOWLEDGING the role played by transportation in the development of the nation under harsh economic conditions;

NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon;-

  1. a) Government to provide financial assistance to both the State-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) and to private transport operators so that they acquire more vehicles for public transport.
  2. b) Law enforcement agencies to intensify efforts to identify and apprehend unregistered transport operators who conduct their businesses outside the purview of regulatory oversight.
  3. c) Law enforcement agents to impose stiffer penalties than ever on individuals found flouting the laws of the country with impunity thereby endangering the lives of the public when conducting their day to day activities.
  4. d) The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe to conduct comprehensive awareness campaigns to both operators and commuters on their rights and responsibilities when using public transportation as a way of promoting compliance and accountability.
  5. e) Government to increase financial support to the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) so as to resuscitate its operations, thereby providing safer as well as reliable alternative transport to meet public demand.

          HON. SEN. E. NYATHI:  I second.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to present my motion on transportation system.

          Mr. President, esteemed Members of the Senate, I am deeply honoured to stand before you today to address a matter of urgent concern that touches the lives of every Zimbabwean, the lamentable state of our transportation system.

          From the bustling streets of our cities to the remote corners of our rural communities, our public transport system is behest by a myriad challenges that undermine its effectiveness and reliability.

          With profound concern, I draw the attention of this esteemed House to the chronic inadequacies and unreliability pervasive within our transportation networks. It is disheartening to note that despite the emphasis placed by the National Transport Policy on integrated and sustainable transport systems, road safety and public transport accessibility, our transportation systems continue to falter. Regrettably, these deficiencies disproportionately affect marginalised and vulnerable population, exacerbating issues of social inequality and exclusivity, particularly among the elderly and individuals living with disabilities.

          Vehicles tasked to ferry our citizens from one destination to another are plagued by overcrowding while mechanic failures are regrettably common.  Furthermore, commuters endure long waits, irregular schedules and uncomfortable journeys.  The situation is graver in rural areas where limited transport infrastructure and space service coverage render many communities isolated and underserviced.  Moreover, these inadequacies and unreliability of our system result in our systems encountering considerable difficulty in accessing essential services such as healthcare, education and employment opportunities.  Consequently, socio-economic development is hindered, inequalities persist and productivity and quality of life are undermined.  Mr. President, amid growing concerns, it is imperative to highlight the proliferation of unregistered informal public transport operators commonly known as mushikashika.  The phenomenon exacerbated by the country’s inadequate and unreliable public transportation system consequently endanger commuters.

          The vehicle registration and Licence Act [Chapter 13:14] serves as the primary legislation governing vehicle registration.  It mandates that every vehicle intended for use on any road be registered in accordance with the Act’s provisions.  In 2023, an estimated 500 000 unregistered vehicles were reported. This a glaring indication that adherence to the laws and regulations governing the nation’s transportation industry remains a pressing concern.  While these operators may be addressing these gaps in terms of service provision in underserved areas, their unregulated status raises substantial concerns regarding safety, accountability and equitable competition. 

          It is imperative to underscore the prevalent issue of unregistered operators frequently conducting operations without proper licencing, insurance, or safety inspections, thereby subjecting passengers to various risks, including accidents.  Zimbabwe is reported to suffer an estimated loss of approximately 406 Million USD annually due to accidents, reflecting the grave consequences of inadequate regulation of oversight.  Shockingly, Zimbabwe is also recognised as a country with the second highest number of accidents, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive regulatory measures to safeguard public safety and well-being.

Furthermore, the proliferation of unregistered operators poses a significant challenge to the viability of formal transport businesses that diligently adhere to regulatory requirements.  In October of last year, an operation aimed at apprehending and impounding unregistered vehicles resulted in the arrest of 68 020 individuals, as reported by ZRP statistics.  Among these figures, 21 453 arrests were related to pirate taxi owners.

          Effectively, addressing the presence of such unregistered operators is imperative to uphold the safety and integrity of public transport sector, while concurrently fostering an environment of fair and transparent competition.  Registered transport operators who diligently comply with regulatory obligations, may find themselves confronted with unfair competition from unregistered vehicles that operate without bearing the same overhead costs and regulatory burdens.  Consequently, the disparity can lead to market distortions, compromised service quality, and a diminished level of consumer trust in the formal transport sector.  Urgent measures must be undertaken to rectify this situation and ensure a level playing field for transport operators.

          Unregistered vehicles have contributed to the proliferation of criminal activities, resulting in innocent commuters falling victims to robberies, assaults and harassment perpetrated by certain unregistered operators.  These criminal acts pose a severe threat to the safety, security and overall well-being of citizens across Zimbabwe, evoking alarm and distress among the populace.

          In the month of March, a robbery incident occurred at Tsapato Farm, where six armed suspects loaded the loot of 36 goats and 11 sheep into an unregistered white Mitsubishi motor vehicle before driving off. 

Such criminal occurrences not only traumatise the victims but also instil fear and anxiety among the general public, subsequently eroding trust in the transport system and discouraging individuals from utilising public transport services.

Furthermore, the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of these crimes undermines the rule of law and perpetuates a culture of lawlessness within the transport sector.  It is unequivocally our duty to safeguard citizens from such insidious activities and uphold the principles of safety, security and justice within our transportation systems.

Madam President, notwithstanding the formidable challenges confronting the transport sector, it is imperative to underscore its indispensable role in sustaining livelihoods and fostering national development particularly amidst prevailing harsh economic conditions. Acknowledging the significance of the transport sector is pivotal in comprehending the profound impact on the socioeconomic landscape of Zimbabwe. 

          The transport sector assumes a multi-faced role in advancing sustainable development goals as it serves as a catalyst for economic growth, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and resilience.  Indeed, the transport sector in Zimbabwe stands as a corner stone of economic advancement, employment generation and enhanced connectivity.

          It serves as a linchpin for various industries facilitating trade, tourism and access to vital services essential for social well-being.  Furthermore, investments in transport infrastructure contribute to regional integration and bolster disaster response capabilities.  Thus, the recognition of the transport sector’s pivotal importance necessitates sustained support and investment to foster sustainable development and prosperity across Zimbabwe.

          Unfortunately, the Constitution lacks explicit provisions for addressing transport services, policies and acts concerning transport are not directly incorporated into its framework.   Nonetheless, it is imperative that the Constitution encompasses transport service issues to ensure alignment with legislative and regulatory frameworks as it serves as the supreme law guiding all governmental actions.

          Madam President, as representatives of the people, it is our duty to acknowledge the significant challenges confronting our nation’s transportation infrastructure, services and safety.  Thus, urgent action is warranted to address these criminal activities, enhance security measures and safeguard the well-being of all commuters.

          I implore this distinguished House to deliberate and enact the following proposals aiming to address critical challenges and capitalise on opportunities within the transport sector.  Through such actions, we can foster the development of transportation system that prioritise safety, efficiency, accessibility and sustainability thereby contributing significantly to Zimbabwe’s socio-economic advancement and well-being of its citizens.

          Now, therefore, I call upon the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion to provide financial assistance to both state owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) and to the public transport operators so that they acquire for more vehicles for public transport.

          To increase financial support to the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) so as to resuscitate its operations thereby providing safer as well as reliable alternative transport to meet public demand.

          Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage - law enforcement agencies to intensify efforts to identify and apprehend unregistered transport operators who conduct their business outside the purview of regulatory oversight.

          Law enforcement agents to impose stiffer penalties than ever on individuals found flouting – [AN HON. SENATOR: Inaudible interjection.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Senator, is there anything wrong? Hon. Senator, I am talking to you. – [AN HON. SENATOR: I am sorry.] - Do not do so and disrupt the order of the Senate. Hon. Tongogara, you may proceed.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Hon. President. I was saying law enforcement agency to impose stiffer penalties than ever on individuals found flouting the laws of the country with impunity thereby endangering the lives of the public when conducting their day to day activities.

          The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe to conduct comprehensive awareness campaigns to both operators and commuters on their rights and responsibilities when using public transport as a way of promoting compliance and accountability.

          The Ministry to thoroughly investigate the licencing procedures for drivers’ licences particularly focusing on alleged corruption within the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID), as well as examining all stages of the process from application to issuance of driver’s licence to identify potential loopholes or irregularities.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: Thank you very much Senate President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion presented by Hon. Senator Tongogara, which pertains to transportation of people on our roads with respective transport.  Indeed, I am worried by public transportation which is not adequate to cater for passengers, especially after work or when they go to work in the morning. 

We note that in urban centres, this is quite prevalent because there are fewer public vehicles and this affects people who end up travelling late, even women are at risk of being abused because of travelling late.  This might culminate into domestic violence.  There are some places that are not safe and because of light from buses, they are at risk of being robbed of their possessions.  So, this concerns me also, especially the issue that was raised by Sen. Tongogara.

In Harare, you would notice that in the evening, some people go home around 2200 hours.  You find people looking for transport around that time and there will not be any registered buses or kombis which are officially registered with Government.  So, they end up hitch-hiking,  looking for private cars and unregistered transportation resulting in rank marshals or touts yelling for passengers and sometimes harassing women and other passengers. This results in people losing their possessions.  They are robbed by these touts. 

Public transportation is important and Government should intervene. Firstly, Government has a responsibility of providing transport for people.  There is need for ZUPCO buses to be provided for different routes, especially in urban areas so that those who want to go to work in the morning or back  after work should get transport.  You find that some people who use pirate taxis are dubious people who rob passengers of their possessions.  So, if it is a ZUPCO bus, then most of the time it is safe and there is no risk of people getting robbed because this will be public transport for many people. 

So, Mr. President Sir, I want to urge Government and the Minister of Finance together with the Minister of Transport, to really look into this issue so that people get safe public transportation services.

Furthermore, there are some private players who might have access to funds or capital, they should be empowered by Government to procure buses and should be capacitated, whether through loans and other facilities, so that they buy buses and kombis which will be inspected by respective authorities like CMED and VID. In doing so, they will be looking at the roadworthiness of the cars, whether the cars are fit to carry the public to avoid accidents.

Such transport players need Government support so that they augment the number of buses that are used to ferry the public. Furthermore, Mr. President, I have noted that in other countries, there are train buses. We also want that in Zimbabwe because they carry more people. So, the request then is that Government should intervene and provide train buses because we want our people to have access to public transportation so that they get to work and back home on time after work.

We also note that there are many accidents which happen because some cars are not roadworthy. They are not supposed to carry people. You even find open trucks carrying people. Sometimes people get affected by pneumonia and other diseases because they will be exposed to the cold and this causes accidents. We urge our police and the VID to do their job of inspecting unroadworthy cars since it is clear, probably that they do not have the right documents to carry people until they are fully registered and comply with requirements of public transportation.

In addition, some drivers who drive public vehicles do not have drivers’ licences and some might have obtained drivers’ licences in ways which are not legitimate. So, they drive without experience. Our police should work hard so that they stop those who drive without the required documentation in order to lessen the number of accidents on our roads.

I also want to say that ferrying people should be done in a way where the Traffic Safety Council, police and other responsible authorities carry out awareness campaigns, educating people about the risk of using cars which are not registered and have a number of risks. They must be aware of the risks that they are vulnerable of using such transportation. So, the police, together with TSC, should enlighten people on which cars to use and which not to use.  People must also be able to make decisions regarding the cars that they cannot use and the cars that they can board.  You find that the touts which you find along the roads pose a threat to passengers.   They can steal from them.  We would like to implore the Traffic Safety Council and the police to protect the people and educate them so that they do not lose their possessions. 

Public transporters should also be educated on how to treat their passengers.  Sometimes passengers will be tired coming from work and different places, but some transporters do not recognise whether it is a mother with a small child, an elderly man or woman, they just treat them roughly.  Some people are injured and some are taken advantage of by pick pockets who steal from the elderly and the vulnerable. 

          I want to appreciate the good work that is being done by our Government.  The second Republic is fixing and rehabilitating our roads, particularly those that are in the urban areas.  In Harare, we have a lot of roads that are under rehabilitation - even the road to this Parliament.  I also want to request that Government and the responsible Ministry of Finance to fund the Ministry of Transport so that they fix more roads.  This is going to preserve the cars that use these roads and they will keep on carrying people.  Our councils must not wait for Government, but it is their responsibility to fix and rehabilitate the roads that are found in their respective urban areas.  Councils should also partake in the responsibility of rehabilitating roads so that the state of our roads will be maintained. 

I also want to emphasise that the motion that was moved by Hon. Sen. Tongogara is quite important.  It is painful for our people, those who travel using public transportation because it is not everyone who drives, but many people rely on public transportation.  Everything that was said by Hon. Senator. Tongogara is quite pertinent and I support that.  We implore Government to do that so that our people will be able to travel safely going to whatever destinations they want, whether to the rural areas or wherever.  I thank you Mr. President Sir.

          +HON. SEN. NYATHI: I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Tongogara for moving such a pertinent and important motion.  People survive on travelling and we see that people come to work in the morning.  The population of human beings versus the number of vehicles is not balanced.  The number of people is more than the number of vehicles.  That causes problems in getting to work in the morning.  There is another problem again in the rural areas.  In some rural areas, there is only one bus which services that place.  That would be a problem to the people as the bus will always be overloaded such that some people even travel whilst on top of the bus.

I thank the President for the ZUPCOs because they are servicing the rural areas. However, there is need to increase the buses.  When it is in late, you end up boarding unreliable transport.  We also have our police officers who should also be advised.  Accidents are serious on the roads. Some vehicles are passing through the roadblocks.  Therefore, I do support this motion. 

          We should have trains running like we had in the past.  If we have enough resources, we should resuscitate the railways.  It is another way where we can solve problems in the transportation system.  In Harare, we see people around 10 p.m. still waiting for transport.  If a mother or a father comes home at 10 p.m., that raises problems.  Buses or commuter omnibuses should be public transport registered vehicles with a proper timetable.  I second this motion in that manner Mr. President.  I thank you.

          ^^HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this motion.  Mr. President, when we talk of transport issues, we are talking of issues that are concerning everyone.  Let me focus on people who are staying in urban areas who need to go to work using public transport.  They have very little time in their homes because they get up early in the morning for work at around 5.00 a.m. or 6.00 a.m. and most of the times, transport will not be available around that time. After work most of them get to their homes around 10.00 p.m.  Therefore, they no longer have enough time with their families.

          Still on this transport challenge issue in urban areas, with special focus on these illegal transport operators who are using mushikashika, most of them operate without licences.  Their cars get overloaded and some of the people end up getting into the car boot.   

          HON. SEN. TSHABANGU: This is not going to benefit some of us and we are not going to understand anything from her presentation.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  You have no interpretation equipment?

          HON. SEN. TSHABANGU:  Yes, we do not have the gadgets.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Sergeant-at-Arms, what is happening?  You can take your seat.  Let us see what they can do for us.

          Hon. Senators were handed headphones by Sergeant-at-Arms.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Only those who need them please.  Please make sure that you return those headphones once the Senate adjourns.  I am advised that quite a few have been disappearing, that is what I have been told.  So, let us make sure that we are responsible and we return them.

          ᶺᶺHON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank Hon. Senator Tshabangu for raising an important issue regarding the need for people to understand my debate because in most cases I always debate alone but today quite a number will hear what I will be saying.

          What I would like to say is thank you so much Hon. Senator Tongogara for raising this important motion regarding the transport issue.  Transport is indeed a challenge, especially in urban areas and also the transport that is used in rural areas is not roadworthy.  Mainly in urban areas, we are faced with a challenge of illegal transporters who are using small cars that are called mushikashika.  In most cases these cars are overloaded yet they are small.  They always carry people regardless of the fact that they will be overloaded already.  People end up sitting on top of each other for them to get home early.

          Still in urban areas, most of the urban dwellers no longer have enough time to spend with their families because they are up early in the morning at around 5.00 a.m. for work and once they are done, they get to their homes around 10.00 p.m. and they no longer have enough time to spend with their families.

          Some of the cars that ferry people are not roadworthy and most of them do not have enough seats but because they need to move from one point to the next, they end up using these kind of cars that are not road worthy.  Police officers need to do their job properly and ensure that the officers responsible for traffic operations see to it that the vehicles used to transport people are road worthy so that people can be ferried without any problems.  The challenge we are facing with traffic officers is that most of them are now corrupt. They no longer do their duty accordingly because we are only looking at their operations for us to be moving from one place to the next without any challenges.

          Mr. President, if we were to get enough finances, we need to ensure that trains that used to ferry people some years ago from different locations to work places are brought back. This will help, especially those people that will be going to work on time and back home on time. We also need to see to it that goods trains are also back so as to assist in reducing the number of road traffic carnage that happens in our roads. Most trucks that end up doing this task of ferrying goods; we have to reduce them once these goods trains are back because we realise that most road traffic accidents are caused by these trucks that are mainly travelling during the night.

          If it was possible, we should make sure that these trucks that ferry goods travel during the day and not during the night. They need to have a specific timetable because buses that ferry people, especially those that are going across the borders are speeding. I do not know if ever these drivers end up forgetting that they are ferrying people because some of them are travelling at speeds of 250 kilometers yet our highways are full of animals like donkeys and cattle. These are a challenges, especially looking at the issues of road traffic accidents.

          So, we need to enforce laws that will make drivers stick to speed limits. In other instances, drivers that drive these public transport buses do not have licences. Therefore, my plea is that we need to ensure that there are huge fines that are put in place for those that will be found speeding and going against the road traffic laws just the same way as those that are found involved in cattle theft. 

Going forward, there is an issue regarding the state of our roads. This includes highways and roads that lead us to the rural areas.  These roads really need refurbishment, especially those going to the rural areas because they are extremely bad.  Therefore, thus operators both Government and private end up shunning these rural routes because of the bad state of the roads.  I will give an example of roads that I know.  For example, those that are going to Shashe in Beitbridge, most buses are now shunning these routes because of the bad state of the roads, all these are challenges.  Another issue that I would like to see Government focusing on if funds permit, is that ZUPCO buses need to go back to certain routes that have been shunned by other operators.  This is because if we are talking of these illegal operators who are using mushikashika and kombis, they are charging higher fees that are not affordable, especially to those people in the rural areas. 

Therefore, this is a great motion Mr. President and if possible, these discussions that are coming out of this august House need to be listened to and be acted upon.  Before we close this motion, it is prudent that the Minister responsible for transport responds to the debate issued here because we cannot continue to debate and fail to have a response coming from the Minister of Transport.  So, a follow-up is critical Mr. President, especially from the Minister of Transport so that there is a way forward regarding issues coming out of this motion.  With these few words, I thank you. 

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

HON. SEN. TSOMONDO:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): Thank you Mr. President. I move that this House reverts to Orders of the Day, Numbers 3 to 5 in that order.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL SERVICES COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): Mr. President, I rise to present the report of Judicial Service Commission for the year 2023 presented to this House of Parliament in terms of Section 232 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. I move for the adjournment of the debate.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

           THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): I rise once again to present a report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the year 2023 presented to this august House in terms of Section 323 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

          Mr. President, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is an election management body established in terms of 328 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and its main function is to prepare, conduct and supervise elections and referendums in Zimbabwe.  The year under review saw the successful conduct of the harmonised elections, by-elections and the conclusion of the delimitation exercise in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

          In addition, all vacant representation in the National Assembly and local authorities were filled in terms of the law.  The commission was allocated ZWL 896 billion to support the electoral processes of which ZWL 664 billion that is 74% was accessed. 

          With a full complement of Commissioners, 2023 saw the Commission meeting six times in line with the provision of the law and in addition, the Commission recruited 66 new employees with 40% being females and 60% being males .

          Mr. President Sir, whilst maximising on 14 languages out of 16 which are enshrined in the Constitution, the Commission made use of various methods and media platforms to provide electoral related information to the masses.  Voter registration played a pivotal role in as far as inclusion is concerned with electoral process.  With regard to voter registration, 2023 saw a total number of 705 243 voters being registered and of which 330 979 were males and 374 264 were females.

          Mr. President, the Commission conducted an annual stock take in terms of the Public Finance Management Act Chapter [22:23] and in accordance with Section 92 (2) of Public Procurement and Disposal Assets Act Chapter [22:23], the Commission also disposed obsolete assets and equipment which included vehicles and furniture among other things and realised a total amount of USD168 000. The Commission also conducted renovations at its head office, provincial district offices as well as warehouses.

          Finally, during the year under review, the Commission participated at various international events.  These events are important for knowledge sharing and benchmarking of electoral standards.   I so submit.

          *HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion brought in by The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

          I was glad when the Hon. Minister was presenting the Report of the Electoral Commission because the Commission did very well in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which is the supreme law of the land.

          Therefore, I have just stood up to support the Report of the Electoral Commission and also that the House have been enlightened on what transpires during an election.  I thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): I move for the adjournment of the debate.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): I rise to present the report of the Human Rights Commission for the Year 2023 presented to this House of Parliament in terms of Section 323 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Mr. President, the 14th Annual Report for the Human Rights Commission provides an overview of the activities of the Commission in 2023, which were carried out in line with its constitutional mandate and functions as provided for in section 243 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. 

In line with the focus of decentralisation, offices were opened in Mashonaland West and Matebeleland North.  The Commission also had the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission staff regulations referred to as Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (Conditions of Service) Regulations, 2023 (Statutory Instrument 241 of 2023), promulgated during the period under review.

In 2023, being an election year, the ZHRC conducted election monitoring activities such as pre-election visits, election days monitoring and post-election visits.  The ZHRC Election Report has been adopted and publicised.  In addition, monitoring visits were made to prisons, children’s homes and a high-level inquiry was made on the human rights situation of persons affected by underground and surface coal seam fires in Hwange.

The Commission received a total of eight hundred and fifteen (815) human rights violations complaints from January, 2023 to December, 2023. Of the eight hundred and fifteen (815) cases received, four hundred and forty (440) cases were received and actioned by the Northern Region office, one hundred and fifty-seven (157) cases were received and actioned by the Southern Region office, sixty-one cases were received and actioned by the Eastern Region office and one hundred and fifty-seven (157) cases were received and actioned by Masvingo office. The Commission under the Administrative Justice Unit received a total of four hundred and ninety-six (496) cases during the period from January to December, 2023.

In fulfillment of the Commission’s constitutional mandate to promote awareness and respect for human rights in accordance with Section 243 (1) (a) of the Constitution, the Education, Promotion, Research and Advocacy (EPRA) Department conducted human rights awareness activities using a variety of multi-media approaches during the year under review. The department conducted a total of 121 outreaches throughout the under review. These included ward-based community outreaches in Insiza and Beitbridge districts, in Matebeleland South Province as well as Nkayi and Bubi districts which is in Matebeleland North Province.

Unstable pricing mechanisms and exchange rate volatilities continue to affect the achievement of key deliverables and targeted performance levels in the face of inflation. This remains the main reason for non-achievement of planned activities as the budget would have been drastically eroded.

I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

 THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): I move that we revert to Order of the Day Number 10 on today’s Order Paper.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT SERVICES FOR TEENAGE

MOTHERS

Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the effects of teenage pregnancies.

Question again proposed:

+HON. SEN. S. MOYO: Thank you for giving me this opportunity and I want to thank Hon. Sen. Tongogara for moving this motion which affects girl-children who are failing to complete their education due to teenage pregnancies. This is a very important motion which shows that the girl-child should be taken care of.

I also want to debate on this motion because I noticed that where I come from Matebeleland South, there are a lot of children who are failing to complete their education because they are being impregnated. I then realised that the parents who are the ones taking care of the children and who are supposed to enforce rules unto the children are not implementing these rules properly. We knew long back that it takes sometime for a girl-child to be pregnant reaching up to the age of 25 years, not because of going to school but because of the way the child will have been nurtured, taking into cognisant where I come from that a girl would not become pregnant even if they are staying in rural areas.

This motion that has been moved that the girl-child is failing to complete education, we should take note as Senators, where this is coming from and why the girl-child is failing to complete school. I then thought and I have seven issues; the first one is about the rules that the child will have been guided unto when staying with the child. When the child is impregnated, there are some other rules that the parents bow to due to poverty. If the child has to go to school, the child may fail to get sufficient funds for school. The child will not have freedom, and the other colleagues or students learning with him or her will mock and insult because of lack of school fees.  This situation will end up with the child not knowing what to do and will suffer because the parent would not have sufficient funds to pay fees for their children. This will result in the children being impregnated at an early age. 

Some of the girls do not have uniforms.  Grade 7 up to Form 4, the parents may even fail to get some money to buy uniforms and the child will be easily lured with anything by the boy-child.  The boy coerces the girl to indulge in sex, hence the girl becomes pregnant.  I sometimes urge parents who have girl children to counsel them accordingly and take care of them so that they are not impregnated at an early age. 

The other cause of these early pregnancies is poverty. Where I come from in Bulilimamangwe, the girl child can walk for seven to ten kilometres to school.  She passes through unsafe places and she is prone to rape cases and pregnancy.  Some girls may hide the pregnancy to their parents not knowing the end result.  This distance to school makes the girl child uninterested in going to school.  The girl child should be protected from being impregnated or getting into early marriages.  Parents should take note of what their children are doing on a daily basis but in most cases, they stay in the diaspora, for example South Africa and would have been there for a long time. 

In some cases, the children stay on their own and their ages may range from 12-14 years.  They would not have any one taking care of them; that is the other root cause of the girl child being impregnated and failing to complete their education.

My other request is that during elections time, it is said that there will be free education, there is no such thing.  The Government should take note of that. If the children are not getting money to pay fees, they will end up not being interested in going to school and they end up as drop-outs.    We request the Ministry of Education that there be programmes or  campaigns for the parents and the girl child on bringing awareness to the girl child not to get pregnant at an early age.  We urge the Government to look into that because we will face difficult times in the future. 

The other end result is that some of the children do not have birth certificates and they do not know where their parents are. When these girl children get pregnant, they would not know who is responsible since they would have slept with more than two boys.  This is so painful when we look at these girls and the clothes they will be wearing because those who impregnate them end up running away.  That is why this motion was raised.

There should be awareness campaigns, especially in rural areas and marginalised areas.  Government should also fund children for them to go to school.  Government should build more schools.  We take note that those girl children who are impregnated stay very far away from schools.  There are very few children who come from rich families that are impregnated at an early age, they have the capacity to attend universities.  There are some children who are in universities and end up dropping out without completing their education.  You find that so many elite people who have luxurious vehicles go to universities to coerce some young girls.  This will make the children fail to complete their education.  They impregnate those children and tell them not to say anything. Some of them are administrators in Government.  They promise employment to these young girls that they will be secretaries and promise them different kinds of jobs.  They will be campaigning saying that they will work in their offices but before they complete school, the child will be pregnant.  We want security for those girls, especially those that are in marginalised areas. 

On this motion that has been raised by Hon. Senator Tongogara, Madam President,  I wanted to add these few words and I request this Government to assist us on the girl child who is suffering because this is causing the girl child to drop out of school.  May we take this motion as a very important motion?  We should not expose these young girls.

          +HON. SEN. KABONDO:  Thank you Madam President.  I would like to thank Sen. Tongogara for moving this motion.  I was listening to some of my fellow Hon. Senators debating this motion.  I was looking at this motion that girls are getting pregnant at an early age when they are still in school and I want to look at the root cause of this.  One of the reasons being that we are losing our culture because as we were growing up, there were some aunties who were teaching the girls how to take care of themselves, their self-esteem.  Nowadays we do not have those aunties. 

Women should be taught to take care of their children.  Everything that the girl child faces at an early age, the mother should know and should teach them the rules at an early age.  The other root cause for the girl child to get pregnant at an early age is that they are failing to emancipate themselves.  It is because they are failing to go to school and they are doing bad things.  We want the Government to empower the girl child like through holding workshops.  The uncles should also teach the girl child at an early age.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Thank you Madam President for the recognition. I rise to speak on the motion moved by Hon. Sen. Tongogara, seconded by Hon. Sen. Nyathi urging the Government to take concrete action to address the issue of teenage pregnancy and its impact on girls’ education.

As a representative of Matabeleland South, I can attest to this issue.  It is not just statistics, but a reality that is dire and acute.  In our region, we are already economically marginalised and lag behind in many ways including schools and roads.  Rural children in our region often have to walk many kilometers to school, braving the harsh weather conditions and the lack of infrastructure.  This makes it even more challenging for girls to access education as they are often expected to take on household chores and care for their siblings. It is not just physical challenges that our girls face; it is societal and cultural norms that perpetuate discrimination and marginalisation.

In Matabeleland South, we have a long history of Gender-Based Violence, child marriages and forced early pregnancies.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order Senator.  Hon. Kabondo, can you please switch off your microphone?

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Thank you Madam President.  As I was saying, it is not just physical challenges that our girls face.  It is societal and cultural norms that perpetuate discrimination and marginalisation.  In Matabeleland South, we have a long history of Gender-Based Violence, child pregnancies and forced early marriages.  These practices are not only morally irreprehensible, but they also perpetuate poverty and inequality.

According to the World Bank, in 2020, 45% of girls in Zimbabwe were married before the age of 18.  This means that thousands of girls were forced to drop out of school and are subjected to physical and emotional abuse.  This is not only a violation of human rights, but also perpetuates poverty and inequality.  These statistics are stuck.

In 2020, 21% of girls in Zimbabwe were pregnant or were already mothers before the age of 18.  This means that thousands of girls are forced to drop out of school and are denied an opportunity to complete their education, but what is even more alarming is that these statistics are not just a reflection of the past, they are a predictor of the future.

According to the United Nations, Sustainable Development Goal Number 4 aims to ensure all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary education by 2030, but if we continue to ignore the issue of teenage pregnancy and its impact on the girl’s education, we will not meet this goal.  In Matabeleland South, we are already falling behind in many ways.  Our schools are under resourced, our roads are poor, our infrastructure is crumbling, but if we do not take concrete action to address the issue of teenage pregnancy and its impact on girls’ education, we will be condemning an entire generation of girls to a life of poverty and marginalisation.

I implore the Government to take immediate action to address this issue.  We need comprehensive support services for teenage mothers including access to health care, counselling and financial services. We need schools that have the necessary resources and infrastructure to support pregnant students.  We need nationwide awareness campaigns to educate communities about the importance of girls’ education and the negative consequences of early pregnancies. 

There is no future without a girl child and particularly, there is no future without mothers.  Mothers are the backbone of our society.  They are the ones that hold the family together, but I want to take a step further and say there is no future without education.  Education is the key to unlocking human potential and it is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.  So I urge the Government to take concrete action to address this issue of teenage pregnancy and the impact in the girls’ education. 

We cannot afford to wait any longer.  Let us work together to create a society that values education as a fundamental human right.  Let us work together to ensure that every girl in Zimbabwe has access to quality education, free from discrimination and violence.  We owe it to ourselves, our children and to our future generations, Madam President, to take action on this issue.  Let us rise and demand better for our girls.  I thank you.  

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  Hon. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. TSOMONDO: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE DELEGATION TO THE 80TH SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND THE 45TH CONFERENCE OF APU HELD IN COTE D’IVOIRE

Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Delegation to the 80th Session of the Executive Committee and 45th Conference of the African Parliamentary Union (APU).

Question again proposed.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE (HON. SEN. H. MOYO): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE DELEGATION ON THE ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION TO RUSSIA

Twelfth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Delegation on the Election Observation Mission to Russia on Russian Presidential Elections.

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. TSOMONDO: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

MOBILE BIRTH REGISTRATION EXERCISE

Thirteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the challenges faced by the people living in the border areas on the issuance of birth certificates.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. R. M. NDHLOVU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

REHABILITATION OF CENTRES FOR CHILDLREN LIVING IN THE STREETS

         Fourteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the plight of children on the streets.

        Question again proposed.

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

        HON. SEN. RUNGANI: I second.

   Motion put and agreed to.

   Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

MOTION

ENACTMENT OF SRINGENT LAWS TO ADDRESS THE PLIGHT OF WIDOWS

        Fifteenth 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. TSOMONDO: Madam President, I rise to wind up the debate. In doing so, I would like to thank Hon. Members who debated on this motion. This goes to show that the motion is indeed of serious concern to us here in the Senate and the public at large. I now therefore move that the motion be adopted.

          Motion that this House –

        CONCERNED with the plight of Zimbabwean widows who are routinely evicted from their homes by relatives whenever their husbands die;

        APPALLED by cultural practices by some unscrupulous relatives who deprive widows of their human rights, dignity and freedom after the loss of their spouses and in some cases even going to the extent of blaming them for their deaths;

         FURTHER DISTURBED that the loss of their husbands is accompanied by the wanton grabbing of their properties such as land, cars, among others under the guise of inheritance;

         NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon Government to enact stringent laws to address the plight of widows and thus protect them from being relegated to poverty after they lose their loved ones, put and agreed to.

MOTION

PROGRAMME ON CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE

          Sixteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the effects of Climate Change.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity.  Madam President, before I wind up my motion, I just want to emphasise that we have got an elephant in the room.  The elephant that is in the room is climate change and it is real.

          Madam President, you will notice that the rivers in the country have no water, they are running dry and also the dams that we rely on do not have sufficient water.  Madam President, we have been hit hard by El Nino whereby hunger is looming now and we do not know how we are going to get to the end of the year as all the crops withered due to dryness.

          Madam President, our livestock are at risk, there is no cattle feed in the country and taking into consideration all these issues, we are left with no more words to say.  I thought maybe the Minister would come in and give a response to this important motion on climate change.

I would also like to thank all those who had the chance of debating on this motion, I thank you.  With these few words, I move for the adoption of the motion.

          Motion that this House –

AWARE that Zimbabwe is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement that commits to mitigating challenges of climate change;

WORRIED that climate change continues to be a global concern with detrimental effects on human, health, food and environmental security as well as economic development;

FURTHER WORRIED that there are poor social protection measures for victims of climate disasters such as drought, cyclones, floods and global warming;

CONCERNED that the country lacks effective climate change adaptation strategies;

NOW, THEREFORE, resolves that the motion be adopted, put and agreed to.

MOTION

STRATEGIES TO MOBILISE RESOURCES FOR THE

      NATIONAL CLEAN-UP CAMPAIGN

Seventeenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the National Clean-Up Campaign.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: I move for the adoption of the report.  Before I do that, I would want to thank you Madam President for allowing this motion on the Clean-up Campaign to achieve a clean country in line with Vision 2030 to be debated in this House.

          Madam President, I would want to thank all Hon. Senators who debated on this issue and all noted that it is good for the citizens to clean their environment and attract investments in the country.  Our Government also needs to make sure funding is availed for all Clean-up activities.          I now therefore move for the adoption of the motion.

Motion that –

WHEREAS on 5 December 2018, His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, declared every first Friday of each month as a National Clean-Up Day;

APPALLED by individuals and organisations who fail to partake in the campaign as declared by His Excellency the President;

GRAVELY CONCERNED that local authorities are negating the National Clean-Up Day Campaign by not doing justice in cleaning the cities resulting in rampant littering;

NOTING that funding and resource mobilisation for cleaning our country is inadequate;

NOW, THEREFORE, this House calls upon for adoption of the motion, put and agreed to.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS   

Eighteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

        Question again proposed.

        *HON. SEN. HUNGWE: I would like to thank the people of Zimbabwe who are focused, and chose a very good leader who is leading them in a very good way.  People of Zimbabwe chose or elected a President, Dr. E.D Mnangagwa.  They elected a leader who has a vision.

        If you look at all the construction that is taking place right now, you will see that His Excellency, Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa has a pursuit for development in his mind.  He has a vision.  Today, I passed through State House and if you see the construction that is going on there, you will realise that those who are going to succeed him will stay in a beautiful house.

  A lot has already been said, but I am more concerned by children who are taking drugs.  Yesterday, I was watching television; Oscar Pambuka was on television and he had destroyed himself because of drugs. He was really grateful. He was saying his incarceration had assisted him to come back to his senses, meaning that Zimbabwe has a leader. I do not know what we can do to these children.

I heard Oscar saying you can stay for three weeks without taking any food. What type of a nation then will we be having with our young children in the next 20 years or so? We were thinking that those will be our future leaders, but how can a leader go for three weeks or even more without taking any food or just walking around without sleeping.  We have heard a lot of women coming to complain that their children are taking their utensils; their plates because they want to buy drugs.

          What I would like to say is that we must fight this pandemic. We must end it.  I am hearing people saying that, a pandemic and I am saying, yes, it is a pandemic.  I did not err, that is proper English.  We are lucky in this House that we have our God and our leaders and those that we are leading and those in our political parties, let us go and sit down and find a solution to end this issue of our children taking drugs. 

I am about to conclude because a lot has already been said on drugs. I am going to talk about our own currency the ZiG which you can buy a lot of things with. Things that I used to buy for US$25, I bought a lot of things using the ZiG. Let us go and support our currency. There are others who are misleading, even Headmasters are telling them not to accept ZiGs, but we are saying all the Headmasters that are refusing to collect ZiGs should be arrested because this is good currency and we are using it to buy goods. If we support this currency as leaders, this will be good for everyone. I said I was not going to say a lot but as a Political Commissar, I ended up saying too much.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024.

  On the motion of THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE), the Senate adjourned at a Quarter to Five o’clock. p.m.

 

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