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SENATE HANSARD 22 APRIL 2021 VOL 30 NO 35
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 22nd April, 2021
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: We are supposed to do Questions Without Notice but I can see that we only have four Ministers, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Hon. Mathema, the Hon. Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. Madiro, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Hon. Maboyi, the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Hon. Machingura. Thank you, you are welcome.
We welcome the Leader of the House, we thought you are coming with the other Ministers. So, since you are the Leader of the House, you are going to answer the questions.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Madam President. I will direct my question to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. It is now public knowledge that some rural schools and also a few schools in towns, teachers are not going to work due to what they are calling incapacitation. Is this not true Hon. Minister? If it is, what is the Government doing to ameliorate the challenges that teachers are meeting? Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. SEN. MATHEMA): Thank you Madam President. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Komichi for the questions. Yes I have heard that there are some schools where teachers are not going to work. What we are saying is that no work, no pay to those teachers who are not at work. We are working with school heads to have registers so that I pass on that information to the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. We cannot have a situation where teachers just decide not to go to work. As the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, I have not received any representation from any of the teachers unions in the country. So, no work, no pay Madam President. Thank you.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to remind Hon. Senators to always observe social distancing because of COVID.
HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to ask my question. I will direct my question to the Leader of the House. What is the Government doing to ensure and enforce cyber security and also punish those abusing the internet?
THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Dube for that very important question. We know the havoc which is caused by fake news on social media among families, communities and countries. The Government of Zimbabwe, through its Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services has come up with a Cyber Bill which is actually going through Parliament now and we think it will soon be enacted. This is to deal with those people so that anybody who gets on social media should be accountable and can be followed for what they would have written on social media and be dealt with if it is causing havoc and disharmony among our people. Thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU: My question is directed to the Minster of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement since he is not around I will direct it to the leader of the House. As a Ministry you gave a deadline of 15 February to all under utilised farms. Now we are in April, the wheat season, what measures are you going to take on all those who have not submitted the reasons why they are failing to utilise the land and for how long are you going to stretch your deadline which was not reached by those who are not in all the four categories of not using the farms.
THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Chundu for that question. I think Government is much seized with the matter. The policy is to make sure that those who have been allocated farms are utilizing them. This is why the Government has come up with an audit commission who are going around all the districts and provinces in the country to make sure that those who have been allocated farms are using them.
The second republic is talking about production. We want to make sure that those who have been allocated with land are producing for the good of the country. So the question which he is asking is very specific as to which ones have been found under-utilised and those statistics the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement will be very happy to give him if he puts his question in writing because he wants to know exactly, but the policies, those farms which are being under utilised they will look at the reasons why they are not being utilised and Government will move because we know that there are many other people out there who are also on the waiting list to get land from Government.
HON. SEN. CHIEF NDLOVU: Thank you Madam President my question is directed to the Hon. Leader of the House. I understand some of our roads are in a state of disaster or rather let me say they have been declared to be in a state of disaster and this was exacerbated by the heavy rains we received last year. There is a stretch of road from Bulawayo to Nkayi. That road has been in a state of disaster for the last 30 years and after the heavy rains received last year, the road is a death trap.
I am aware of the construction that has been taking place on that road and it has covered approximately 60km from Bulawayo in the last 30 years. I would like to know if this road is part of the roads that have been identified and prioritised as those that are in a state of disaster and if indeed it has been identified as one of the roads I would like to know when construction is going to start on the road. I thank you Madam President.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: You have got a particular road Hon. Senator.
HON. SEN. CHIEF NDLOVU: Sorry Madam President.
THE HON. PRISIDENT OF SENATE: You have got a particular road you are talking about?
HON. SEN. CHIEF NDLOVU: I was talking about the state of our State roads, all of them and there is a particular road that I have identified and mentioned to say over and above the roads that have been identified from the last season, this one has been in a state of disaster for the last 30 years.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Usually when you have a particular road you are talking about we have got to put it in written form so that the Ministry concerned is going to look and find out about the facts concerning that road.
HON. SEN. CHIEF NDLOVU: Thank you Madam President, I will do so.
*HON. SEN. G. MOYO: Thank you for affording me this opportunity. I want to ask the question to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Do we now have the funding that we were told would be made available for road reconstruction?
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: The question is with regards to the roads that are going to be reconstructed on the issue of a learners licence. Is that so?
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MADIRO): Thank you Hon. President of Senate. I thank the Hon. Member for her question, a pertinent question that affects all the people of Zimbabwe because of the state of the roads. I believe this question also concerns various representatives that are represented in this august House. It is common cause that we had a lot of rains and they were good on one side. God has answered our prayers in terms of food security but on the other hand it was detrimental. It damaged our road infrastructure. The entire road infrastructure in rural areas and in urban centres roads was destroyed.
Let me say, Madam President, we are grateful our President, His Excellency President Mnangagwa with his vision and his understanding that once we are faced with a problem as a country people should quickly attended to. His Government has found it fit to declare the state of roads as a national disaster including the place where the Hon. Sen. comes from. As regards the funding towards the redressing of these roads it is on all the media, print media and television that the Government has budgeted $33 billion ZWD for the purpose of road reconstruction and this is for a three year period. It has been given in phases from the first phase to the second phase. The first phase is to patch the potholes that were caused by these incessant rains, the second phase was the resealing of the edges of the roads.
For these ones they are also going to rehabilitate the sharp edges of the roads in selected areas where roads were damaged in terms of resealing. Also it is inclusive of the grass and the trees that quickly grow so that they are hindering the sight of drivers and they are now causing accidents. Phase one is to make sure that all such grass has been cut so that people can have good visibility. In the second phase, roads are going to be rehabilitated so that they become more user friendly and that they have a longer life. The last phase would be Phase 4 which is now the third phase, the reconstruction of bridges that were damaged by the rains. The money for the first phase which is patching of patch holes and resealing was given to provinces. Our engineers in each province are already on the ground and others are still at tendering stage so that companies that are doing this work can be engaged. A lot of provinces have already started this work.
Some roads in Mutare and Bindura have been resealed. Last week I was in Kezi and Matopo and the resealing project has been carried out in earnest.
HON. SEN. S. MPOFU: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs. Has the Ministry resumed issuing of birth certificates to children born during the COVID-19 lockdown from 2020 up to now?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS ANDCULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. MABOYI): Yes, we have started but there is a very huge backlog.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: One can have their motor vehicle exempted and can keep the vehicle for 10 or more years at home. When the vehicle is now running, you are then asked to pay covering the exemption period that covers the 10 years.
*THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: May you please go straight to the question.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: That is where I am going to. How is it that the outstanding amount is equivalent to the value of the motor vehicle?
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MADIRO): There are a lot of people who do not know how it is in terms of penalties that will then exceed the value of the motor vehicle. It is just an issue of knowing what is required when a vehicle has broken down and you have stayed a lot of time before the vehicle is fixed and is back on the road. You need to approach our Licensing Department so that you are given an exemption certificate that a vehicle is a non runner. A document which shows that your motor vehicle is a non runner is also issued. Once it is back on the road, you go back and inform them and you will not be punished because the motor vehicle was not on the road.
If you drive a motor vehicle which is exempted, you will be arrested by the police. You cannot use the exemption certificate to use your motor vehicle on the road. As people’s representatives, it is important that we educate our constituents that they should be given a certificate that the motor vehicle is a non runner. Once it is now on the road, you also tell them that it is back on the road.
*HON. SEN. MOEKETSI: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education. What is Government’s policy as regards school children who are going to schools and test positive to COVID-19? What measures have you put in place to ensure that parents are not going to get pupils from schools back home? I thank you.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. MACHINGURA): Thank you Madam President. Thank you Hon. Senator for your pertinent question. Let me start by giving a background. COVID-19 has become problematic and has caused a lot of pain in people’s lives and it has also disturbed our economy. We thank God that in discussing, we have lost lives but in comparison to other countries, they have lost a lot of lives. It is our first intention that all the school children should remain alive. That is the Ministry’s intention. When we had shut down as a Ministry, we also had to observe national shutdown and our pupils were no longer in school. So, the parents and all stakeholders started complaining that schools needed to be reopened so that children could go to school. Others also complained that in terms of their performance, they would have to write examinations, they were being left behind in their curriculum. So our Ministry came up with a position paper to write that each institution should follow certain guidelines so that there would be a containment of COVID-19 so that it does not spread to other pupils who are at school. In our first attempt we did not succeed. We had two institutions that had reports of COVID cases. When we reopened the second time, at the moment we are grateful that it would appear we are on top of the situation. We are managing very well at all material times and we are observing the COVID regulations even in classrooms. I thank you Madam President.
+HON. SEN. KHUMALO: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development. Is he aware that our roads are like death traps especially with haulage trucks that tail each other closely so much that if you try to overtake, you cannot even do so because traffic piles up and it becomes difficult to overtake. What is your Ministry doing about it? It is so scary and our roads are a nightmare to travel on.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT (HON. MADIRO): Thank you Hon. President. We have now managed to construct the Beitbridge-Harare Road and so far we have made 165kms from resources mobilised locally. Our road network in this county is more than 85000kms but if you see the resources that are supposed to be shared they are very limited. So, I promised the Hon. Senator that the Government and the resilient Zimbabweans will continue prioritising our road infrastructure and we will get to a point where our roads will be the best in this region. But I do agree that our roads are not exactly to the standards that we really expect but it is because of the limited resources that we have. I thank you Madam President.
+HON. KHUMALO: On a point of Order Madam President. The Minister responded to what I did not ask. I talked about haulage trucks following each other closely such that we fail to overtake when driving small vehicles. We spend a lot of time following those haulage trucks because we are afraid of overtaking them in order to avoid a head on collision but I thank him for explaining what I had not asked. Can I ask him to respond to my question?
*HON. SEN. MADIRO: Thank you Hon. President, when I started, I had sort refuge from you and I am glad that you agreed. I thank the Hon. Senator for the question. Indeed looking at haulage trucks as they drive through our roads in their current state, we realise that there is a lot of risk because of the state of our roads as haulage trucks and smaller vehicles try to navigate. So Government has plans to improve our roads as I alluded to earlier on, we have since expanded the Beitbridge road. We want to extend this to other roads so that haulage trucks and smaller vehicles may navigate properly. I thank you.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Members, I think we now have the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland Central and the Minister of Justice, Legal and parliamentary Affairs in case you need to ask them questions.
HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Leader of Business in the House. Zimabbwe is an agricultural country and as such, the country is getting into winter wheat season. This crop requires constant or uninterrupted irrigation thereby calling for the availability of ZESA energy. May I know from the Minister what plans or preparations have been made to ensure sufficient supply or availability of ZESA energy to allow uninterrupted irrigation of the crop, thereby guaranteering a high yield? I thank you Madam President.
THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank the Hon. Senator for that very important question. This is the concern which all our farmers have and a concern which Government is seized with. There have been a lot of preparations to make sure that we also increase our yields of winter wheat. We have successfully done very well for our maize crop. We are expecting very high yields, that will certainly save the country the foreign currency which we need for other things which we do not produce because we have been finding ourselves as a country using foreign currency to import maize which we can produce. Through the Pfumvudza, we have had so much good rains and thanks to the Lord up there, and our yields expected are very high.
The Government through the astute leadership of His Excellency, President Mnangagwa has come up with another Pfumvudza for the wheat production and that is going to allow a lot of our small farmers who at least have got water to be able to plant wheat. This is being done, working together the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Energy to make sure that there will be sufficient electricity to pump water so that our wheat is irrigated well. I want to assure the Hon. Senator that there is a lot of work which is being done through the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Energy together. We are happy because we had a lot of rains and we are getting quite a substantial amount of electricity from the Kariba that is being saved to make sure that all our farmers will have sufficient electricity to irrigate their wheat. I thank you.
(v)HON. SEN. CHISOROCHENGWE: What is Government policy on the tobacco farmers who are cutting down trees to cure their tobacco?
THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you very much Mr. President. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chisorochengwe for that very important question. Her concern which is a concern of Government to make sure that we cannot continuously cut our trees. We will be damaging the environment and we will not leave any legacy for the future generations. Government, through EMA, makes it a point that those who are cutting trees are criminalised and that practice should stop. There is enough coal in the country to make sure that the tobacco farmers can access that to cure their tobacco crop. So the issue of cutting trees is a bad practice for our country. We need to make sure that we save our nature and let us all try not to cut trees. We implore all tobacco farmers to make sure that they do not cut trees unless you grow your own trees at your farm which you will cut to make sure you cure your tobacco crop. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Water, Climate and Fisheries. In his absence, may I direct it to the Leader of the House? Zimbabwe is well known for good civil engineering standards but here I heard the Deputy Minister applauding the construction of Masvingo Roads by local engineers. What is Government policy towards construction of dams by Zimbabweans in this country?
*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATIONPUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Makumbe who asked about the success story in the construction of our roads using our local engineers. What can stop us from doing that when it comes to the construction of dams?
Government policy is that we should do all we can as much as possible as a country or locally. You saw when the President officially opened the Management Training Bureau in Msasa where there was showcasing of local students. That means we should make use of them as much as possible. Currently, the 5.0 curriculum that was launched by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development is also a sign that indeed our local talent must be promoted because every time we import engineers, we are exporting jobs and also losing foreign currency. So as much as possible, we should be making use of local experts and only import when necessary. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. What is Government saying right now in terms of negotiations with teachers because school children are now learning only two days in a week, meaning we now have two categories because there are some schools that are paying incentives and their students are taught full time. Government should ensure that there is no segregation.
What is Government’s plan to ensure that school children do not attend school for two days only but should attend school regularly like we used to know? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Mr. President for the wonderful question that was posed by Hon. Sen. Chief Nhema. The question is wonderful in that it gives us an opportunity to clarify the situation.
There are two issues and the first is to do with teachers’ salaries that are leading to teachers not reporting for duty or resorting to attending work for two days per week. On the issue Hon. President, we have negotiated between Government representatives and teachers’ representatives; the APEX Council. So the discussions were twofold. The first step of negotiations resolved that civil servants would be awarded 25% salary increment effective April, 2021. The civil servants rejected the offer by Government saying they want more.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development then explained that there had been a misunderstanding because they had offered 70% which will be disbursed in two batches. The first payment is to be received this April of 25% then another 45% to be disbursed in June making it 70% in total. So the Government team went back to meet with the representatives so that they negotiate. The civil servants rejected the offer of 70% and said that they were incapacitated and cannot report for duty. They opted to report for duty only two days per week which they claim is equivalent to their current salaries. So some teachers are doing that.
I know that there is a problem that some teachers report for duty but do not teach and children are being denied the education they deserve. The Government team went back to the negotiating table so that our offer may be reconsidered, hence Treasury and Public Service Commission technical people are meeting to see how they can increase the offer to the civil servants. We are saying that since Government has opened the negotiation forum, may civil servants especially teachers go back to work whilst negotiations go on.
The other point is; if we look at what has been happening since last year to date, Government has awarded its workers a lot of reviews, that is, February, June and July last year there was an increment and in October last year. These reviews were being made in big percentages of 140%; 150% and 140% towards the end of the year. This year due to limited revenue, we started off with 25% in April and in June; if we get better revenue we scale it up to 45%. This means that during the first half of this year, it will be 70% but civil servants are rejecting this offer. So Government ended up saying, the 25% that was offered in April and has been effected as we speak, since we made all these reviews to date – we should now enforce that those who do not report for duty should not be paid. This can be effected in most Government sectors and management, directors and permanent secretaries can ensure that this is enforced. We are saying that this should be enforced in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education so that those teachers who do not report for duty are not paid. Headmasters should ensure that teachers do not just go to work and sit but should also actually teach. So, that is the issue with regards to payments.
The other thing is schools have established that system because of COVID-19. It is now a requirement that they go to school in phases in order to stick to COVID-19 guidelines. So, they are encouraged to attend virtual online lessons when they are not at school physically in order to ensure that students do not gather unnecessarily at one time. We also realised that in some places, it is not possible for that learners to attend virtual lessons because they do not have the required resources. The other thing is, we have few teachers so they may not be able to effect that. So, we are saying that is also a problem that may be there but we are saying schools should come up with solutions in order to ensure that learners do not lose out in terms of learning.
With regard to salaries, Government is working out to ensure that workers are motivated properly but the workers should also appreciate efforts that are being made by Government. According to our revenue at the moment, it is not possible for us to go beyond what we have already offered. We may actually adjust or increase but not with a big percentage because we stand guided by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I think I will allow the supplementary question because the subject matter under discussion is of national significance.
*HON. SEN. DENGA: Those in boarding schools are learning every day. Are those learners who are only attending school for two days per week going to be at the same level with those at boarding schools?
*HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Let me thank the Hon. Senator for the good question. It is Government’s wish to ensure that all learners get equal learning opportunity regardless of whether they are day scholers or boarders. Some learners go to school physically in phases whilst when they are not at school physically, they are supposed to be on line. Where learners only go to school two days per week, schools are supposed to come up with ways to ensure that the learners catch up with others. That is a responsibility given to the Headmaster as well as District Inspectors to ensure that all the students who may have attended school in fewer days should be able to catch up with those who are attending school regularly. That is the responsibility that has been tasked upon the structure of the Ministry of Education to ensure that all learners catch up or get equitable learning opportunity and time.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Sen. Mabika be brief so that we close Questions Without Notice time.
*HON. SEN. MABIKA: Thank you Mr. President, my question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. There is a scheme which started recently and it is a pilot project of 57 dollars per pupil from Grade Zero to Grade Two. My question is, can this grant be increased especially looking at the value of money so that it makes meaning to schools because some schools charge RTGs1 000 whilst Government is only paying 57 dollars.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. SEN. MATHEMA): Yes, indeed, we are doing everything we can to make sure that basic education eventually becomes free in this country, particularly in public schools. So, we do everything to combine and discuss even with Hon. Members and parents so that we come to an understanding because education needs all of us to be involved. That is what the State can afford and what parents can afford. Thank you.
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 66.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE
PROTECTION OF TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN RURAL AREAS IN LIGHT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC
- HON. SEN. TONGOGARA asked the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to inform the House measures being put in place to protect teachers and students in rural areas in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MATHEMA): Thank you Mr. President and I thank Hon. Sen. Tongogara for the question. In 2020 the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, working in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the National Task Force on covid-19, came up with standard operating procedures in schools. The procedures are meant to protect both the learners and the teachers from COVID-19 as they emphasise on COVID-19 preventative measures such as social distancing, wearing of masks and sanitising.
The Ministry, through Treasury, has also procured some covid-19 abatement equipment. The majority of the beneficiary schools are the disadvantaged rural schools. We have also encouraged our schools with capacity to prepare their own masks. Some of the rural schools have been forthcoming in this regard. I thank you Mr. President.
ENACTMENT OF THE NATIONAL DISABILITY POLICY
- 2. HON. SEN. TONGOGARA asked the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to inform the House when the National Disability Policy to alleviate the plight of people living with disability will be enacted into law.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. PROF. MAVHIMA): Mr. President Sir, I beg your indulgence to have the questions referring to my Ministry to be deferred until next week because I did not receive this week’s prepared statements.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA): It is agreed.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MADIRO): Thank you Hon. President. With your indulgence, Hon. President, on 25th March the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development was asked by Hon. Sen. Mpofu and the Minister promised to give further explanation. I would ask your indulgence Hon. President to allow me to present that response.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Minister was it an oral question or a written question?
HON. MADIRO: It was an oral question and the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development promised to bring a written response to it.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Then the approach should be you come with a Ministerial Statement on the matter so it cannot be part of the question time. Now you want to prepare a Ministerial Statement and you can then deliver that statement at the appropriate time. Thank you.
Questions with Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA) in terms of Standing Order No. 62
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that Order of the Day, Number 1 on today’s Order Paper, be stood over until the rest of the Orders have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE 2021 VIRTUAL HEARINGS AT THE UNITED NATIONS ON FIGHTING CORRUPTION TO RESTORE TRUST IN GOVERNMENT AND IMPROVE DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS
Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the 2011 Virtual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations under the theme, ‘Fighting Corruption to Restore Trust in Government and Improve Development Prospects’, held on 17th and 18th February 2021.
Question again proposed.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: I would like to thank Senator Muzenda for raising this important motion on corruption. It is true that corruption destroys people. One or two people may be involved in this corruption but the effect to the whole country is that it is very destructive especially in Government. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development disburses funds for example to roads then that money does not get there but is squandered by two or three people. If we look at the state of the roads right now, it is killing the citizenry.
Corruption goes all the way. We hear right now in some country the President fired his Minister because he squandered covid funds. What it means is some citizens died because the money that was supposed to be used to save them did not get there. So corruption is very bad. It should be reined in through strong legislation. There should be very strong laws. Yes indeed, in this country right now, we see there is an Anti Corruption Commission. Those institutions must be empowered to ensure that they are effective but a Government can only be measured on how strong it is in fighting corruption through the strength of its institutions such as Anti-Corruption Commission, the police force, the courts and the judiciary. They must be empowered with undiluted powers because if they do not get enough power, they may be threatened by other officials like Hon. Komichi. If my relative engages in corruption, I call the police and my relative is released. We should be cautious as a people that institutions must be strengthened. If they are strengthened, we will discover that they will work effectively in reducing corruption.
The statistics that we hear where money is embezzled through corruption amounts to millions of dollars. According to some who have researched, they say even sanctions have not destroyed the economy or consumed a lot of money more than what has been lost through corruption. We should all unite to fight corruption as Zimbabweans. We may fail to get investors because of corruption.
In this country, there are some areas where investors ended up not coming because they were asked to pay 10% of a figure even up to the tune of $100 000 000.00. The business person then wonders; if he has to pay 10% before starting work, where can he get the money to invest? This happens in Zimbabwe. There are a lot of projects that did not take off because of corruption. The scourge of corruption should be looked into seriously. We should never defend ourselves when it comes to corruption. Even in indexes, we realise that people squander Government money as if they are eating aphrodisiacs. We encourage Government to work strongly to stop corruption and it should never be selective according to denomination, whether it is Zion or Roman Catholic.
Government should be transparent and fight corruption head on and take corruption as an enemy. If this issue is handled properly, this country can succeed. That is why we realise that a country may have been number five but now number one. It may be number 80 but now number 20 because there will be programmes and institutions that are put in place to fight corruption to reduce the index. Since this issue has been talked about, indeed the whole world is mourning about corruption. The efforts to stop corruption must come through strong legislations.
In conclusion, the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission should be empowered enough to do its job. The Zimbabwe Republic Police should be empowered to do its job. As civil servants, we must stop corruption and work honestly. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: I would like to reiterate a few words on this motion that was brought up by Hon. Sen. Muzenda. I am pained very much by corruption. In my view, we may not be able to end corruption. Why do I say so? We see corruption happening everyday but our problem is; if I am to report that I saw Senator Muzenda being involved in corruption, I become the bad person. Be it from legislation, instead of ensuring that those people are charged, they end up being released as well. I end up choosing to ignore because there is nothing I can do. If I see corruption happening in Zaka, then I am summoned in Harare to testify at my expense, I end up giving up or in the end; I may also engage in corruption in order to get what I desire. We should rectify that.
There is an issue that pains me right now. There is corruption at the Passport Office but if you want to get a passport, you pay a bribe in front of the police. When that person is trapped and arrested, you are asked to testify but in that instance, I am exposed to a lot of risk and some people end up blaming you. The person that you may have reported may also mourn about you causing their loss of jobs. I think the legislation should be tight enough. If I report corruption, why should I then be looked for? The police should do their job. It becomes a problem when you are a whistle blower because you face a mammoth task of trying to testify. That is the reason why corruption is not ending. The justice delivery system should ensure that it works properly. I thank you.
+HON. SEN. NDLOVU: Thank you Mr President Sir, for giving me this opportunity to talk about corruption. As the Chief said, it is very difficult for corruption to end because the only thing left in Zimbabwe is that every citizen will corrupt him/herself. This issue of corruption is never ending because when you want to take the issue of corruption to higher offices, you realise that is where it is starting from. What the Chief said is all true. Sometimes when travelling and you get to a roadblock the police officer will not know the person driving the vehicle but they will demand to check the vehicle, that is licences and the registration book and they will want to check the tyres as well, yet the vehicle will be roadworthy. They then request for a bribe citing that they are starving. Why would a person pay something if the vehicle has all the proper documentation? The person driving the vehicle will not want to spend a lot of time by the roadblock. The other thing is when you get to the tollgate, it takes you an hour to pass through and it is not because of the long queues but because you will be pleading with the officials manning the tollgate to pass through. If you do not pay anything, you will wait for a very long time.
I came across a matter which I want to talk about. We were given vehicles by Government but then you hear people from the car companies saying if you rush ZIMRA, you will not get anything so you just have to wait. I, however, decided to confront the ZIMRA officials on whether we had to plead with them to do their jobs which they applied for. After that, I realised that there were some changes in the way they conducted their business. I will keep referring to what was said by the Hon. Sen. Chief.
You see a person doing something wrong and try to reprimand that person but that person will say even if you go and report me anywhere, nothing will come out because a relative of mine is a minister. With that, corruption will never end in Zimbabwe. Yesterday the chiefs stood up firmly together and that was good. If we continue standing up together as one, we will go far as a country. In the past we knew that the chiefs stood for the truth. You would not bribe the chiefs and they will sit in traditional court trials and the outcome would be very good. A beast will be slaughtered for the chiefs to eat after a wonderful job done. Today my request to the chiefs is that they should stand firm as they did in the past. That is all I ask Mr. President. I thank you Sen. Muzenda for raising this motion on corruption. I would have loved the motion to be debated the whole year.
Even here at Parliament, you may want to go and collect your coupons but you will be told the coupons are not there but in a few seconds, you will see another Hon. Member counting his/her coupons. Then you ask how come they have their coupons and you are told because I had to give a coupon to someone. My request goes back to the chiefs because we respect and trust you to fix this issue of corruption. Is it because you are Chief Charumbira and they respect you but what about me? My request is that we should follow the queue so that I get what everyone is being given. The chiefs are respected, so continue standing up together for the truth. With these few words, I want to thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF. MAKUMBE: Thank you Hon. President of the Senate for affording me this opportunity to also add my voice to this motion on corruption. Corruption destroys opportunities. Most of us are what we are because of opportunities but if there is corruption opportunities are taken away especially from the marginalised. They remain down trodden because of that. I would like to say corruption starts with us leaders because we just look at what is happening without taking action. A fish starts rotting from the head; so let us lead by example be it a Chief or Member of Parliament or if in any leadership post, let us show good leadership qualities.
We may spend time debating but there is need for will power for anyone to condemn corruption. If we start engaging in corruption, quality is taken away in the construction of anything. We see how bad our roads are, those are some examples of corruption. If I am paid to turn a blind eye, I just ignore. Corruption divides people and its country. The corrupt will live happily; just like the song we used to sing as children. ‘Those who are down will be attacked by millipedes whilst we can be eaten by white birds’. We should know that as a country, some of the laws that we pass also abet corruption.
Recently there was an outcry while looking for form one places. People are asked to look for form one places online but a child in Charumbira village does not have gadgets to go online. That opportunity is taken away by someone in Rujeko instead of that person getting a place at Gokomere. We are told that because of COVID-19, we are reducing the number of learners being admitted in schools but when the child gets a place in school, we realise that they are squashed and even social distancing is no longer there. In this august House, I like women because they debate everyday on progressive things, but because of corruption, we fail to get to 50% in terms of representation because of corruption –and because of corruption men buy their way. So dealing with corruption should start from the top so that the people following us will also learn from our good example.
This is our country and we will live in it until we die. We will leave it to the next generation. As a human being, make a resolution that you will not be involved in corruption and you will not oppress anyone. We make rulings as chiefs – some approach chiefs that they are prepared to pay them using a beast or a cow but that is corruption. As legislators, let us make strong laws so that corruption may not survive in our society. We should have checks and balances in place. If there is a law, there should be a system for monitoring and evaluation.
So, because of COVID we said learners should go to school in smaller numbers, but do we ensure that is what is happening? No, that is corruption. During the land allocation, there was an area reserved for grazing but as we go on, we realised that there were homesteads and that is corruption. As leaders, let us rectify that. Corruption can destroy this country. We may do whatever we try to do but corruption must be stopped. As individuals, let us say no to corruption and that will also help us in our society. Let us not oppress people. Where we come from in the rural areas, people are suffering. Some people in the rural areas may spend the whole year without even drinking tea. The day they get a sip, their lips are burnt because they do not know the difference between tea and soft drinks. Let us give everyone the opportunity and God will bless us. Let us all stop corruption. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA: Thank you Hon. President for giving me this opportunity to debate on corruption. Corruption is a disease, a cancer or a pandemic that has spread the world over. Zimbabwe is also included. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Muzenda for bringing up such a very good motion. I also like to appreciate the contributions that have come up. Corruption indeed starts from an individual, be it at your household level, it may spread to the local community and to national level. The problem why we are not properly handling corruption is that you hear the issue of catch and release. You hear that people have been arrested because of corruption, but later you hear that they are released.
It is very important to have people who are really trained and well educated on how corruption issues are handled with evidence being brought up, not because sometimes because of politics. Sometimes as women, we may be oppressed because of poverty, but on the issue that we are debating, people must be well trained. Sometimes there are elections that are going on, sometimes people are chosen through corrupt ways and sometimes people may generate a story on social media that alleges corruption.
For example, upon Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira but what I am saying is as legislators, we must have an oversight. Let us not allow people to be tarnished their images through social media whereby any allegation is taken and considered as real without proper consideration or investigation. The law says you are innocent until proven guilty. If you are arrested and if there is a real issue not when someone just comes up with an issue – that you are arrested without evidence or investigation and then it becomes as if it is catch and release. Yet, it will only be out of suspicion. We must be seen to be serious and the President must be respected for that.
The problem is that there are a lot of false allegations that are going on. So, no one will take us seriously and we will score lowly when it comes to the index. Human dignity should be considered when there are arrests or allegations. When there is an investigation, there should be a good investigation. Law enforcement agents should be well trained to separate rumours and reasonable allegations. Let us not act upon rumours because by the time we get to the courts, it will become just mere allegations that will not stand and it becomes a ‘catch and release’. Otherwise we end up losing credibility because of that and it is as if this ‘catch and release’ was just meant for propaganda. Let us ensure that we investigate properly so that Government does not face litigations or being sued. Investigators should work on fact and not hearsay or rumours.
I thank you Hon. President for giving me this opportunity. Human Rights and people’s rights must be considered in investigations. People must be arrested only when there are reasonable grounds and not when there are rumours because it becomes a ‘catch and release’ and sometimes you destroy people’s lives because of basing on rumours that are posted on social media. I thank you.
HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Mr. President Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: I second.
Motion and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 27th April, 2021.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MASHONALAND CENTRAL PROVINCE, the Senate adjourned at Twenty Three Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 27th April, 2021.