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SENATE HANSARD 22 MAY 2024 VOL 33 NO 51

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 22nd May, 2024

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

PRAYERS

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE

INVITATION TO JOIN THE AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARIANS NETWORK ON DEVELOPMENT EVALUATION (APNODE)

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I wish to remind Hon. Senators who are interested in joining the African Parliamentarians Network on Development Evaluation (APNODE) to register their names with Mr. C. Ratsakatika, the Principal Committee Clerk in Office Number 335.  The Network is a continental parliamentary body that has been in existence for 10 years and Zimbabwe has been a member for the past nine years.

          Some of the objectives of APNODE are as follows;

  • To educate national Parliaments and Parliamentarians about the importance of evaluation for oversight, policy and decision making.
  • To enhance the capacity of Parliamentarians to demand and utilise evaluation evidence in their parliamentary duties.
  • To share experiences across Africa and beyond.

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Senators are reminded to put your phones and gadgets on silent or better still switch them off.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. SEN. MUZENDA:  Mr. President Sir, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 and 2 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day on today’s Order Paper have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN. GOTORA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to. 

           

MOTION

REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

Third Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Judicial Service Commission for the year 2023.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. PHULU:  Mr. President, I stand up today to appreciate the report tabled before the House highlighting the importance of transparency and accountability in our governance systems.  The introduction of the annual report by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is a critical aspect of this process and I comment the JSC for complying with the constitutional requirement that it submits a report before this Parliament.

Our Constitution requires that the JSC submits an annual report to Parliament, which is a crucial mechanism for ensuring transparency and accountability.  This report provides valuable insights, Mr. President, into the activities and challenges faced by the judiciary essential for lawmakers to have access to this information.  The report highlights several areas, Mr. President, where the JSC has made progress including appointments and establishment of new courts.  However, it also highlights some challenges it is facing, including fundraising constraints and inadequate infrastructure.

I would like to emphasise, Mr. President, that these reports are critical for ensuring transparency and accountability.  They provide a window into our institution’s activities and help us to hold them accountable for their actions and demonstrate institutional independence, which is crucial for upholding the rule of law.

In my analysis, Mr. President, I would like to highlight some potential areas of improvement.  The report could have provided more detailed information on budgetary allocations and expenditure to allow us to understand resource utilisation better. Additionally, providing more information on challenges faced by the JSC in terms of infrastructure and staffing would help us better understand its situation and provide the necessary support.

The report notes several challenges faced by the JSC in terms of funding and infrastructure. Nonetheless, I would like to sensitise this House about some of these challenges and urge the Government to provide adequate funding and support for our judiciary’s success.  I underline here that it is important to provide support for the judiciary as it forms part of the three arms of the Government.

          Certainly, all arms of the Government and Members of this House would understand the need for funding.  Parliament needs support and funding, the Judiciary also needs support and funding.  If we were to break down, the other two arms of state would find themselves unable to operate.  I commend the JSC’s efforts in building and renovating a significant number of courts under challenging conditions.  Indeed, if you go into all the towns around Zimbabwe, in the old days, we used to have some decrepit courts or courts located in very old buildings, some which were not suitable for an institution that dispenses justice.

          If you go around now, you go to Tsholotsho, Esigodini, everywhere, there is progress in the judiciary since the JSC has become a stand-alone institution.  They have made massive progress in putting up suitable buildings.  There is more that needs to be done.  According to the report, 53% of the courts have been renovated and 17% have been built from scratch. 

This is a remarkable achievement considering the funding constraints and the infrastructure challenges that are highlighted throughout the report.  There is concern about the extremely high rates of resignations, these stand at 69%.  Improving working conditions, remuneration, and career development opportunities is crucial in order to address this worrying trend.  I urge the JSC to improve morale and working conditions among judges and court staff despite these financial constraints.

          I commend the JSC for establishing the integrated case management systems ICMS, improving case tracking, reducing delays and enhancing communication before the courts.  I think the JSC and indeed Judiciary, learnt from COVID and now we are able to communicate from wherever we are. I would like to commend them and hope that they continue to improve this system so that it has less and less glitches and allow the Judiciary to work simplest and justice to be dispersed without delay.  The ICMS has been implemented in 15 courts.  Plans are underway to further the roll out of this system.

          Furthermore, I suggest exploring ways to improve the Government’s capacity of training and professional development opportunities.  I commend the JSC efforts in building courts, but also again would like to underline the issue about the resignations.  Mr. President, I fully support the motion that this House takes note of the Report of the Judicial Services Commission for the year 2023 presented to this House in terms of Section 323 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. I thank you.

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

          HON. SEN. MAKAMBA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd May, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

 

 

          Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on the Report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the year 2023.

          Question again proposed.

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

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd May, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

          Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Human Rights Commission for the year 2023.

          Question again proposed.

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

          HON. SEN. MAKAMBA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd May, 2024

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. SEN. GOTORA: Thank you Mr. President. I move that Order of the Day, Number 6 be stood over until all other Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN. MAKAMBA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PEACE AND

RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR 2023

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

Question proposed.

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

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd May, 2024.

MOTION

ESTABLISHMENT OF PUBLIC HEMODIALYSIS FACILITIES IN DISTRICTS

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

          COGNISANT that Zimbabwe is prone to chronic kidney disease with a prevalence of 34 people per every one million Zimbabweans;

LAMENTING that only 16 health facilities are available throughout the country to provide hemodialysis services;

CONCERNED that the costs of hemodialysis are extremely high for the ordinary citizens;

NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care to:

(a) Establish one public hemodialysis facility in each district.

(b) Ensure that all public hemodialysis facilities provide free services inclusive of ancillaries such as blood sample testing and transfusion.

(c) Subsidise fees that are charged at private facilities that offer hemodialysis services.

(d) Conduct public awareness campaigns on the effects of hypertension and diabetes among other chronic diseases on healthy kidneys.

          HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: I second.

          HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: I thank you for this opportunity to present this motion on the critical issue of chronic kidney disease (CKD).  Mr. President, in bringing forth this motion, I have a personal story about kidney health in this country among our greater population and the population in Southern Africa.

          Mr. President, in 2009, I was inflicted by kidney disease which required me to get into the hospital and I was in hospital for more than four months.   As I suffered, my eight-year-old daughter could not bear the suffering that I was enduring and walked me to our car so that I could be driven to St. Annes Hospital to get help.

 There is always a silver lining to a dark cloud Mr. President. As she took me to the car, she said dad, I want to be a doctor so that in future, I can treat you.  Right now, she is 22 years old and pursuing her studies in the health sector, specifically wanting to pursue studies of kidneys which is called Nephrology. 

          On my side too, I got so interested in the issue of kidneys to the extent of being able to claim that I could be an expert in understanding the issue of kidney health and how important it is for people to look after their kidneys because it is a very important organ of our body.  If you allow your kidney to fall sick, your quality of life will suffer badly and your contribution to the economic dynamics of the country will diminish to a very bad extent. 

So, that is my personal story which motivates me every day to think seriously about kidney health and to seek to advise others who have not yet met this difficulty that they should look after this very important organ of the body very well.

          Mr. President, in our country, some statistics around the kidney statistics: kidney disease prevalence is about 12% - that is 12% of every one of us here.  If you count 100 people, there is a likelihood of 12 people having a problem with their kidneys, which is a very big number. 

          However, if you look at the kidney dialysis prevalence, that means the number of people who can get help is 34 in a million. This means that we do not have sufficient facilities to deal with the problem of kidney disease in this country.

          Let me talk about statistics.  According to the Journal of Nephrology, the Egyptian Journal of Nephrology and Kidney Transfer, up to 2 214 Zimbabwean people die of kidney disease every year and this compares very closely to one of the worst diseases or viruses, HIV which  kills about 18 000 people, road traffic accidents kills about 6 000 people per annum and kidney disease kills 2 214 people every year and these are the recorded statistics.  I am very sure that many more die there quietly in the villages because of this disease without any recordings.

Mr. President, this statistic leads to 36 deaths for every 1000 people and ranks us on the international scale at number 34.  This is very serious compared to Zambia. The death rate arising from CKD in this country, as I have said, is 2 214, which is 2% of all deaths.  In Zambia, CKD kills about 1%, so Zambia is very much better than us and a lot of other countries do a lot better than us.  In fact, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, we are sitting in a very bad position compared to the number of people who die of kidney disease.  They say in Africa, we are the worst. I think it calls upon us to be very serious about it.

Mr. President, from there, I would like to look at the kidney dialysis map of a country, and the number of facilities that we have in the country that can take care of people who suffer from kidney disease. We have 16 facilities in this country, which look after people who may be afflicted by kidney diseases out of so many people per year who need help.  Describing pictorially, the dialysis prevalence of 34 out of a million is a very measly number and this statistic is quite startling.

Mr. President, the national kidney dialysis map looks like this; we have province, number of facilities, public or private.  Harare has two public facilities that can deal with kidney diseases, one is Parirenyatwa and the other I think is paGomo.  We have five privately operated facilities.  In the Midlands, we have one public dialysis facility and two private ones the whole province.  In Bulawayo, the whole province has one public unit, one public hospital that provides home dialysis facilities and two private ones.  In Masvingo, we have zero public facilities and one private.  In Manicaland, we have one public facility, we do not have any private there.  Mashonaland West has one in Chinhoyi which is private. 

So, of the sixteen facilities that are available, five are public facilities and the balance are privately operated facilities.  There is some importance in these statistics which I will get into.  Going further, it means the whole of Matebeleland North has no facility for kidney dialysis.  Matebeleland South has none.  Mashonaland Central has none. Mashonaland East has none. 

So, in these provinces, should people require, of which they do, they will have to travel either to Harare or Mutare.  The picture is very sad Mr. President.  This is how I would conclude it that the picture is so sad.  The accessibility of these facilities for the people who need them is extremely poor. So, what does that mean?  I join with the other side of accessibility, which is affordability.  If you look at the facilities, the public facilities charge $80.00 for a person to be dialysed, that is the clean bill that you have to pay but together with that, you need blood transfusion, you also need blood sample testing. You need a few salts in the process. 

At the end of the day, going into a public facility to be dialysed requires something like $150.00 and you need that a minimum of twice a week.   So, a person with CKD will have to part with $300.00 every week, multiply that by four for a four-week month, that makes it $1 200.00 needed, should you be afflicted by CKD.  I am not talking about transport, because the accessibility is poor. So, if you look at the transport and accommodation, waiting in the queues, the basic summary is that it is very unfavourable. So, if you get CKD, you know that you are being sentenced to death.

The situation is even worse with private facilities because the majority of the facilities we have are privately owned and one cycle needs $220. Again, you need a minimum of two cycles per week and some people actually need three. If you need three, it means you need $660 to be dialysed. If you need two that is $440, but if you add the ancillaries like testing and blood transfusion, the blood is very expensive as well and you end up needing a lot more to be dialysed for just one week.

I would invite Members to casually, one day, visit a dialysis centre and see a patient who has failed to be dialysed. You swell, very sadly and the eyes disappear and your stomach and all that, it is a very sad story. I would like to implore Members to just familiarise themselves with this challenge so that you are debating from a point of personal experience. People die very painfully out of lack of accessibility and affordability of these services.

It is indeed very sad if you look at what one requires to set up the facility. I think it ranges between $10 000 to $20 000 to set a facility for the people. To avoid people having to travel very long distances, this is why we pray that Government should make an effort to make sure that at the barest minimum, that we have at least one public dialysis facility per district. We have sixty-three districts and we are just asking for sixty-three dialysis centres in this country so that Tsholotsho, Uzumba, Buhera districts have a minimum of one facility each but ideally, we need more so that people get dialysis facilities within walking distance for us to reduce this huge number of people who die out of CKD per year; 2 214 graves is not a small number.

We also pray Mr. President, that should this accessibility be improved and even at this stage, that these five public institutions at least provide these services for free, including the ancillary facilities like blood transfusion, testing and even transport. In the past, it was possible to give travellers a warrant so that a person can travel free of charge from point A to B to get help. It is a strong suggestion that I put through and I think it should not be difficult for Government to be able to do that and to go even further to make sure that even the private facilities either be subsidised or be expanded somehow so that there is even more competition which could lead to reduction in service costs.  If you look at the statistics, you will see that the biggest problem leading to kidney disease is high blood pressure (BP).  If you do not manage your high blood pressure properly, which many people are unable to do, people are unaware that they have this silent killer day in, day out until it becomes a stroke. 

          High blood pressure is the key reason for kidney failure and chronic diseases.  The proposal that I put forward through this motion is that we increase public awareness on blood pressure. In fact, 70% of people that eventually get CKD is a result of high blood pressure.  Our village health workers should make sure that there is a lot of checking of the people and anybody found with BP, perhaps early interventions are set in so that people do not advance to CKD which is very expensive.  I also did a comparison of the cost of getting dialysis and kidney transfer and it looks like it is much cheaper to do issues of kidney transplant.  Kidney transplant is generally more effective than to continuously go for dialysis.  In this country, we do not have kidney transplant facilities, but it is like 30% of the cost of going for dialysis and it is a route, obviously, that needs exploring because it is cheaper for the nation.  It also delivers a better life for the people.  This is the map of CKD and I hope that colleagues here will join me in supporting this motion as we move forward and interacting with the Executive so that these suggestions could see the light of day.  I thank you Mr. President.

          HON. SEN. MANYENGAVANA: I am seconding the motion raised by Hon. Senator Zvidzai.  It is a very good motion that needs support from all of us here.  I was listening to him when he was putting across the points on CKD.  It was a well-researched motion.  Thank you Hon. Senator Zvidzai for the research.  The chronic disease - the CKD is a gradual loss of kidney functions overtime.  There are some factors that cause the loss of kidney function.  These are, when someone is diabetic, he/she is at risk of having a kidney failure.  If someone has a problem of BP, it is also a cause of kidney failure.  Use of strong drugs contributes and affects the functions of kidneys.  The other factor is, if you have got a big body, you are also likely to have a problem of kidney failure.  These are the factors – it is not by choice for anybody, but it just happens.  I want this House to take this seriously when they are debating.  This has nothing to do with politics, but it is an issue of life and death. 

          What are the symptoms of kidney failure?  You find that a patient’s body swells.  They have fatigue and sometimes they will vomit.  So it is not an easy thing.  When you go to the toilet sometimes you pass out blood and when you are urinating, sometimes it is so painful.  It is not something that you find easy to survive with.  When I was doing my research, you find that this kidney works like a filter in our body.  It cleans foreign substances in our body.  It also controls the urine and water in our body.  If our filter is not functioning well, we have this problem of kidney failure.  The kidney regulates the amount of fluid in our body and adjusts the urine, like I said earlier on.  The other function of a kidney is that it also controls the blood pressure in our body.   One finds that if one’s kidney is not working well, one has a problem with blood pressure, so these two go hand in hand. 

          Kidneys help in the production of red blood cells in the body.  You need a kidney to survive.  If it is not functioning well, it becomes uneasy for you to survive.  It works as Vitamin D activator.  All of us need Vitamin D.  According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, approximately 1000 people are affected by kidneys every year.  You can see the number is quite huge.  One thousand of our members have got this problem. So this House should also look into that.

Kidney failure is treated by dialysis like the previous Hon. Senator said. Yes, I heard him.  He was talking about the fact that you go two times a week but when I was doing my research; it was said three times a week.  Mr. President, three times a week going for treatment and the treatment is not easy.  It is so painful.  When you look back, Mr. President, in the late 90’s and early 2000s, we would receive patients from SADC countries coming to Zimbabwe for dialysis.  People were coming from Zambia and Malawi but things have changed.  We are now going to Zambia and South Africa for treatment, but it was different in the past.

Then there is the best which was the kidney transplant.  The first successful kidney transplant took place in 1954.  It was done by Dr. Josh from twin brothers.  It was very successful.  When going for kidney transplants, they need to check a lot of things, but that is the best to solve the problem of chronic kidney disease (CKD).  Unfortunately in Zimbabwe, we do not have.  Even in the first world countries, it is actually hard. In America, per year, they get about 63 000 members affected by kidney failure, CKD, but according to the statistics, they are only managing about 37 000 transplants.  You can see, yes it is the best, but it is not even in the first world.  Those countries are not able to cover it 100%. 

For Zimbabwe, I think let us focus on dialysis for now, but the problem is the cost that comes with it.  Like I said earlier on, it is three times a week.  You need to travel from your district to the unit for your session.  There are costs for the patient if the patient is not feeling well.  Obviously when you have got a kidney problem you cannot go for hard labour.  You have to go for light duties.  Sometimes you have lost your employment, so then it means Government has to come in to save its people so they will be able to survive.

          Mr. President, people are coming from as far as Masvingo for dialysis to Harare, but when they come to Parirenyatwa, sometimes the dialysis unit is not working because their dialysis units are very few.  As a result of distance, Mr. President, after a session, that same person has to board a bus to Masvingo.  So the Government needs to look into this.

          We have got a kidney commemoration day which is done the second Thursday of March.  Here it was done on 14th and the theme was, ‘Aims to raise awareness of the inequalities of kidney disease treatment and encourage collaborative efforts to improve access to appropriate treatment for everyone affected by the disease’.  You can see Mr. President, the Ministry is aware that this disease is not an easy disease.  It needs us as legislators to ease their job.

          Mr. President, private hospitals are charging too much.  They are charging about US$205 a session like the one I checked.  If they are going for four sessions, it means US$1 000.  Three sessions mean US$750 per week by 4.3 a month.  It is a lot of money.  It is not affordable.  So my prayer, Mr. President, is Government should make sure all our districts have a facility for dialysis to ease the cost to the patient.  We need to save lives as Government.  We need more awareness programmes as a country to prevent kidney failure. We need to look at the affordability of the sessions and on private sector, I do not know how we can do it, but my proposal is that the Government should subsidise for patients with kidney failure. Thank you, Mr. President.

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

          HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd May, 2023.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

         THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. President, I move that we revert to Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 and 2 on the Order Paper.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

APPROVAL FOR ACCESSION OF THE AGREEMENT ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE RISK CAPACITY (ARC) AGENCY

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. President Sir, this motion pertains to the ratification and I request the ratification from this House for the Africa Risk Capacity Agency in ratifying the membership of Zimbabwe to this Africa Risk Capacity Agency (ARC). The Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment promotion signed a Treaty Agreement to become a member of the Africa Risk Capacity Agency on the 23rd of November, 2012. ARC as this Africa Risk Capacity loan is often called is a specialised agency of the African Union established to help countries and member States to improve their capacities to better plan, prepare and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters, most notably drought.

          The provisional application of the treaty applied to 35 African Union Member States who signed the treaty to take advantage of the benefits available to the parties of the treaty, including participation in the ARC Limited Insurance Pool and Capacity Building Programmes, among others. The treaty has gone through the required process, that is a Joint Journals Office, Public Agreement Advisory Committee and Cabinet. Zimbabwe started participating in the ARC Drought Insurance Pool in 2019/2020 agricultural season. The pay-out then amounted to USD1.4 million which was made to the Government whilst the World Food Programme, which is a partner institution in this regard received USD290 000 and the two were used for supporting over 180 000 households in the highly vulnerable districts in 2020.

          The USD1.4 million supported 77 767 mostly vulnerable households in four districts, namely Mbire, Mudzi, Mutare and Zaka. The Government purchased several drought insurance policies worth USD3 million for the 2023/2024 agricultural season. The combined pay-out of USD32 million for the Government and replica partners such as Start Network and World Food Programme is anticipated for the 2023/2024 agricultural season. The pay-out amount for the Government is envisaged to support 349 170 vulnerable households in 18 districts that have been mostly impacted by the El Nino induced drought. These include Binga, Chimanimani, Kariba, Mudzi, Umguza, Tsholotsho, Mbire, Nkayi, Bulilima, Umzingwane, Hwange, Lupane, Zvishavane, Gokwe North, Mt. Darwin, Rushinga, Chiredzi and Mutare.

Whilst the treaty was signed in 2012, ratification of the same is still outstanding. Ten countries including Chad, Cote d’ Voire, Gambia, Guinea, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Togo, have today ratified their ARC treaties. The ratification of the treaty shall signal the Government’s commitment towards ARC membership and ensure prompt availability of financial resources in the aftermath of disasters such as drought and famine.

          Furthermore, countries that have ratified are allowed to take out insurance from ARC limited by paying a premium, which will not be a financial obligation under the treaty. I therefore request consideration of ratification for Zimbabwe’s membership towards ARC Agency. I thank you.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

APPROVAL FOR RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT FOR THE STABLISHMENT OF THE AFRICA FINANCE CORPORATION

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  Mr. President, this notice of motion pertains to the ratification to the Africa Finance Cooperation (AFC).   The agreement of the establishment for the Africa Finance Corporation was established in 2007 and amended in 2012.

          Zimbabwe became a member of the African Finance Cooperation on the 9th of May 2018.  However, formal acceptance of the invitational loan does not bind Zimbabwe but requires approval by Parliament in line with Section 327 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

          Furthermore, Article 19 (3) of the agreement for the establishment of the agreement of African Finance Corporation provides for the ratification procedures by the member States of the charter.  The agreement for the establishment of the Africa Finance Corporation as in accordance with its article three, defines a member State as any African State that signs the agreement or executes an instrument of accession or ratification in respect thereof.  The overall objection to the cooperation is to foster economic growth and industrial development in African countries collectively and individually.  More specifically to; (a) support and promote infrastructure development in Africa through the provision of investment funds; (b) to facilitate African trade generally and export-oriented trade by African countries ( c) to contribute to the development of energy and extractive industries in Africa (d) to provide on lending and re-finance facilities to the African financial institution and; ( e) generally to engage in any kind of banking and financial business extended to provided investments in Africa.

          It is therefore desirable for the Parliament of Zimbabwe to ratify the aforesaid agreement.  I submit.

          HON. SEN. PHULU: Mr. President, I rise to support the motion that this House resolves that the agreement for the establishment of the African Finance Corporation be and is hereby approved for ratification.

          This motion is not just about approving a treaty, it is about unlocking the vast potential of the African Continent and it is about creating a brighter future for our children and securing a better tomorrow for our nation. 

          The AFC is a unique institution that has been designated to address critical infrastructural needs in Africa.  By joining the AFC, Zimbabwe will have access to a pool of resources that can be leveraged to finance infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, energy generation, and all the things that we debate about time-in and time-out in this House.

          The benefits of ratifying this agreement are numerous and far-reaching. Firstly, it will provide Zimbabwe with access to new resources of funding that can be used to finance critical infrastructural projects and show seriousness.  It perhaps underlines the NDS 1 and its cries for better infrastructure.  It speaks to the policies of the opposition, which in the past everyone hammered on infrastructural development in a very big way.  This will help to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and improve the overall standard of living for our people.

          Secondly, the AFC has a strong track record of delivering these critical projects that are critical to the development of not only our country, but Africa as a whole.  By joining AFC, we will be able to tap into its expertise and knowledge as well and leverage it to deliver projects that will benefit our people.

          Thirdly, Mr. President, the AFC has a strong commitment to promoting economic development and reducing poverty in Africa.  We will become part of a larger effort to promote economic development and reduce poverty in Africa.  I have scanned about 18 countries in Africa including Zimbabwe, which are member States of AFC.  These countries have joined the AFC as a way to access the corporation’s financing and expertise to promote economic growth and reduce poverty.

          It is worth noting that this is a Pan-African institution as well and it is open to membership to all countries across countries recognised by the African Union.  The membership is diverse and includes both oil-producing and non-oil-producing countries as well as varying levels of economic development. 

          The AFC agreement aligns with the policies I have already said, of both the Government and the opposition.  So, there is a unison in our aspirations in that regard. 

          In conclusion, I would like to urge this House to approve this motion, to ratify this agreement for the joining of AFC.  It is a critical step towards unlocking our vast potential and securing a better future for all of us.  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank Hon. Senator Phulu for his supportive contribution to this debate.  He has highlighted what the mandate of this Pan-African institution is, which is to invest in infrastructure, economic development, energy and industrialisation of our continent.  He has highlighted this as being critical and therefore, we should ratify this treaty.  It is a Pan-African institution, but a unique one as he has mentioned with a wide membership, it is not just countries that are members.  Also, you have pension funds and private banks so it is to sort of seek resources and membership from across the board but within Africa, and therefore it is an institution that will be very proud members of, if we ratify.

          Hon. Senator Phulu has highlighted its delivery track record that we will benefit from and will largely promote economic development, which is what we are about as a country. Looking right across the political divide, there is the same message about focusing on economic development and this institution is supportive of that objective and I agree with him and thank him for the support.

Motion put and agreed to.

TABLING OF REPORTS

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. NCUBE): Mr. President Sir, in last week’s debate on the IFAD Loan which I am pleased this House was able to approve; thank you for being available on Friday morning to approve that loan.  There was a very clear request that I should also table an annual report pertaining to an earlier programme that was put in place or funded in 2021.  I am very happy to table the annual report for the IFAD funded programme known as the Small Holder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) covering the period January to December 2023. 

This programme was split into two.  This is only the first half.  The second half pertains to the sub-programme named the Smallholder Agricultural Cluster Project.  Again, this is the 2023 annual report which I tabled. Mr. President, within that request, there was also need perhaps to refresh Parliament on our usual Public Debt Reports that we submitted.  I am very happy, just in case the records are missing, to table the Public Debt Report dated November, 2023, the Public Debt Report dated 2022 and the Annual Public Debt Bulletin covering the financial year 2022, for the record.

Reports were duly laid on the Table.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  There you are and I hope you read these reports so that you update yourselves as to our current debt obligations as a country. It is very important for you as legislators to keep up to speed with such important issues and developments.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

 THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION (HON. PROF. MTHULI): I move that we revert to Order of the Day Number 9 on today’s Order Paper.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO ZUPCO AND PRIVATE TRANSPORT OPERATORS

Ninth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on inadequacy of public transport in the country.

Question again proposed. 

HON. SEN. M. NCUBE: I would like to add a few words on this important motion which was raised by Hon. Sen. Tongogara. Our public transportation system, once a lifeline for countless commuters, has now become hazardous and unpredictable. It has literally become a jungle claiming lives at will. This cannot be allowed to continue. Everyday commuters entrust their lives to haphazardly driven minibuses which are ably complemented by the reckless and lawlessness mushikashikas all trying to assert their dominance on our roads, with brazen disregard for traffic rules and passenger safety.

Commuters deserve more than a peddler’s journey to their destination. They deserve a reliable and efficient public transportation system that reflects the aspiration of the Second Republic as articulated in the NDS 1. It is time that the Central Government and local authorities take bold steps towards creating robust transportation system where danger on the roads is replaced by order and safety and a sense of civic pride, particularly for metropolitan cities of Harare and Bulawayo. 

Madam President, while I unreservedly recognise the sterling work being done by the Second Republic in reconstructing and rehabilitating many roads in our major cities using ZINARA funding, this may not be enough until we introduce meticulous and well thought-out transport planning systems. While it is a good idea to capacitate ZUPCO, we have to be mindful of the following; in 2020, Government banned private bus and commuter omnibus operators from providing public transport and made ZUPCO the only public transport provider. Instead of capitalising on this monopoly situation to improve and operate efficiently, ZUPCO failed and the public transport situation, particularly in urban areas deteriorated into a crisis. It is not possible, in my humble view, to show up ZUPCO without properly thinking holistically about the public transport system in Zimbabwe.

The 2024 budget has actually made provisions to adequately acquire more buses but I still feel this must be held in abeyance until a credible and acceptable public transport strategy has been crafted and accepted by all stakeholders. What is of paramount importance to me is to introduce a bus rabbit transit network popularly called the BRT, particularly for big metropolitan cities or local authorities. The BRT offers several advantages for urban transportation. It is actually premised on dedicated bus lanes, not throwing in more buses in a congested traffic system. It offers a number of advantages; cost effective systems because BRT systems are generally less expensive to implement compared to light rails or subways.

BRTs also lead to reduced traffic congestion by providing dedicated bus lanes. BRT systems can by-pass traffic congestion leading to more reliable and fast transit times. It also contributes to environmental benefits as it can contribute to reduced emissions and pollution by promoting public transport over private car use. BRT systems can improve access to transportation by residents in under-served areas because of the ability to quickly mend and modify routes. It has features such as dedicated lanes, priority signaling and modern comfortable buses can enhance passenger experience. 

The safety issues also enhance because dedicated lanes and clear infrastructure reduce the risk of accidents compared to mixed traffic bus operators. Only yesterday, there was a commuter omnibus which was involved in a head-on collision with a haulage truck in Mabvuku on Donnington Road. This calls out for a rethink in terms of the public transport planning within major cities. That is why I am advocating very strongly for new strategies in addressing the chaos in the transportation system which our commuters are experiencing on a daily basis. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. KATUMBA: I would like to add my voice to this pertinent motion on the issue of transport.  This issue is very problematic, especially to those who go to work.  You get to work after waiting for a long time looking for affordable transport.  When you get to work, you are accused of getting to work late.  If it is possible, may the Government, through the Minister of Transport, address this issue quickly.  There are a few buses that are plying the roads and are affordable.  You are told that it is an open-air church that cannot be filled as they pack you in the bus like sardines where you are pressed body to body on the bus.  For us women, it is so disturbing.  If you fail to board an affordable bus, you have to board a lorry.  If you are a woman, sometimes you have to be lifted up by a man who is not even related to you.  You are pulled or pushed up on your legs.  So, I appeal that this transport issue be resolved as a matter of urgency. 

For example, when I was coming from church, I boarded a commuter omnibus that had six passengers. I thought they were passengers.  After travelling a short distance, I was asked to pay for the commuter omnibus.  When I then searched my pockets for the money, I did not know that they were actually trying to locate where my handbag was.  After that, they said that they were no longer going to my destination.  As I was disembarking from the commuter omnibus, I looked back and saw my handbag stuck under the back of the passenger who was next to me.  I am talking about this issue just to emphasise that it is not safe to travel in some of these private vehicles.  I am appealing for decent and affordable transport that will serve us. 

My appeal to the Government and the Minister is to address this issue so that the commuting public will travel safely. When you go to town, you may pay a dollar but going back home, you are forced to pay more, two or three dollars. When it rains, you can actually pay US$ only.  My appeal is, may we get decent transport.  I thank you.

+HON. SEN. PHUTHI:   Thank you for affording me the opportunity to debate on this motion.  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator who moved this motion.  It is difficult out there, especially for us who travel long distances or maybe because we travel a lot.  In the rural areas, if you miss the one o’clock bus, then it means you will have transport problems.  If you board a commuter omnibus, it can leave at around four o’clock p.m.  People from the rural areas will be carrying a lot of luggage including goats and chickens.  The commuter crew will say the commuter omnibus will never get full and you will wonder who the driver is.  You end up seeing the driver when he gets on the steering wheel.  The driver will be sitting facing the other way as if he is about to go out.  Most of the commuter omnibuses are automatic – the gears are changed by the one sitting beside.  We really ask the Government to assist us and the powers that be must state times when buses should their routes.  Where I come from – Makorokoro bus arrives there at half past eight, leaves at ten o’clock p.m. in Bulawayo and arrives in my area at twelve midnight.  If you miss it, you have missed your transport.  When these buses travel in the rural areas, there are workers.  It means that if someone steals from you at around 8 p.m. and the bus arrives at 7 p.m.,  then it means it is a disadvantage for you because the bus leaves and you will be arriving there at night.  If the bus leaves at 6 p.m., it was going to be better.  You would manage to go after the thief to the bus stop but now, you cannot.  When you get to the thief, he would have disposed whatever has been stolen from you.

The commuter omnibus here are hardly full.  You can only tell that the bus was full after accidents happen.  If you ask the people, they will say it was overloaded.  Do we need to be educated or is it our culture that we do not realise that the bus is already full?  Maybe the problem is that you know that if you miss that particular bus, then you will have transport problems or is it because we do not follow the laws or we do not want to miss transport?

You will find that after an accident, a 78-seater bus would have been carrying more than 129 people. There is a problem these days.  I do not know whether it is a problem only in Mangwe where I come from. From Mangwe to Bulawayo, there is no roadblock but at times from Bulawayo to Plumtree, you find maybe one roadblock. At times, you will find that there are only three policemen and there is just a small roadblock. What type of road blocks are these?  Some of them are very dubious roadblocks. They are selective when they stop these vehicles.  If it is a vehicle with good lights, they will not stop it but if your lights are not that good, they will stop you.  These road blocks are usually placed at curves. At one time, I asked one of the drivers to stop so that he had to stop at the roadblock and he said he could not stop there.  I asked him why and he said that he had realised the owner of the commuter omnibus was there.

          What I know is that most of these commuter omnibuses belong to these police officers.  When I saw this same driver the next day, I asked him again.  I asked him why he was not stopping and he then told me that there was a certain lady, and he was referring to me.  He said he would show me pictures of this lady.  If you are carrying that lady, you should not pay any bribe.  So I asked him why he thought it was me and he told me that they were actually told that they should not pay any bribe if I was in their vehicles.

          So we ask the Government to investigate this because people are being forced to pay where they are not supposed to pay.  Also something I have noticed about these Honda Fit vehicles, many times if you board a Honda Fit, you do not reach your destination or it is either if you manage to get to your destination, your things would have been stolen or you would have been dead.  In 2019 or so in the rural areas, we had buses.  There were 140 or 160 buses, what happened to those buses?  To tell you the truth, I come via Bulawayo, I have never seen any ZUPCO bus.  What happened to the ZUPCO buses?  Those buses that travel to the rural areas at night are not meant to travel on dust roads.  If you board such a bus, you will reach your destination after three days because the bus will obviously break down and the mechanic will only come after three days.  If the sump hits the ground, then you will spend three days there waiting for the mechanic to come because all the oil would have spilt.  That is why people end up getting onto these mushikashika vehicles.

          These are very dangerous vehicles.  I noticed that there was a lady who was hit by this vehicle.  They go out of the road and run over people.  These police officers also know that people are tired of paying these bribes, so they wait and you can imagine how many vehicles pass by the road and with everyone paying US$5 to and from.  They end up paying about US$50 per day.  Now that is why they end up running away from those roadblocks.  If you notice most of these accidents, it is a war between the commuter omnibus drivers and the police.

          If a police officer notices that someone is overloaded, the vehicles have number plates.  Why do they not use that information to trace who would have committed an offence?  At times they look at tyres and some of those tyres will be having big bulges.  Most of these accidents happen after the robot, but why are the police not bothered?  They do not care about whether the tyres are showing canvas or whether they have bulges.  Madam President, may the police stop doing what they are doing. 

I live near Botswana.  Botswana is about 40km from where I live.  If I get into a commuter omnibus, someone will be seated and the passenger will be seated a distance away.  The passengers tell the driver that the kombi is full and advocate for departure. Here in Zimbabwe, we cannot tell the driver to go because the commuter omnibus is now full.  That is why they get involved in accidents.

In Botswana, the total capacity is 13 but if they carry 15, the bus will not move, but here we just get onto these overloaded vehicles.  When your family bids you farewell to say go well, at times they will be saying go and die peacefully, but in Botswana, I do not get too close to the next passenger.  You can actually put your luggage there.  The Government should give us powers to say that if a vehicle is full, we should go out.  The Government should help us on that.

There is also a saying that we politicians also do that.  If we are holding rallies, people get onto the buses, even onto the roofs of the buses and we will be putting people’s lives in danger.  I think Government should construct more railway lines, we need trains because there are no accident involving trains.  We will need more trains like what used to happen.  There were no transport problems and people did not die. 

People are dying on our roads.  So we leave it now to the Government to listen to us because at times when we talk, maybe they think we will be under the influence of drugs or what but if you come to Plumtree, you will see that Plumtree operates like another country, a desert or something.  Come to Plumtree and see how the police are behaving.  You will find them here and there doing what is not right.  Madam President I thank you.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  Thank you Madam President.  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. NCUBE: I second.

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.

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

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd 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. MAVENYENGWA:  Thank you Madam President of the Senate for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on this motion.  I would want to first thank the Hon. Sen. Tongogara who brought this motion on the delegation on the election observation mission to the Russian Presidential elections which were between the 13th and the 20th of March 2024 and the election was on the 15th to the 17th of March 2024.

I was part of the delegation which was led by Hon. Shamu and it also included the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Justice Priscilla Chigumba and her team. I want to highlight that the observation team travelled safely and were well received in the Russian Republic. The team arrived two days before election day. The elections were being held by the Central Election Commission of Russia which is the same as ZEC here in Zimbabwe. The Presidential Election acquitted four candidates, one Alexander Davankov of New People’s Party, Vladimir Putin who stood as an independent, Leonid Slutsky, Liberal Democratic Party and Nikolai Kharitonov who represented the Communist Party.

Madam President, I want to applaud the people of the Russian Republic for holding very peaceful and fair elections. During our stay, we did not witness any incident and the atmosphere seemed as if there was no election at all. People were doing their business freely and no one was interfering with anyone and their campaigns were done on social media platforms because technology is advanced in the Russian Federation there. The Government used schools, churches and theatres as polling stations, among other institutions. The situation was not tense, which means they were saving on tent hiring and were only using buildings.

In our country Zimbabwe, we normally use hired tents to pitch them as polling stations. Most of the election officers were volunteers who were working for their country for free, including the language translators who were attached to us. The people who conducted these elections were doing it without expecting any payment but doing it for their country. Most of the voters, especially the youth voted electronically from their homes and work places. A sizeable number visited polling stations where they voted both electronically and physically using ballots.

Voters are also registered at one polling station and if one visits a wrong polling station or was far away, his/her vote would be transferred to his/her polling station. That means no voter was to be turned away because wherever you go, you can vote and after voting, your vote is posted to your polling station. Once one has voted, the name is cancelled in the Voters Roll, in the electronic device that one cannot vote anywhere else. Therefore, one would not vote twice.

The elderly, the sick and the disabled who were unable to travel to polling stations would apply for the election officers to visit and assist them to vote. They applied so that the polling officers can come to the hospitals if they are bed-ridden or are at their homes. If they are not able to travel to the polling station, they will be given a chance to vote from their places. No ink was used as once one has voted, the name is electronically cancelled. For example, here we use ink so that we detect if one is trying to vote for the second time, but with them, since their technology is advanced, once you vote even if you go to any polling station, you find your name already cancelled indicating that you have already voted.  The Russians are now more advanced.

 The election took three days and as a team, we visited seven polling stations where voters were freely exercising their rights by voting for the President of their choice.   They had 113 000 111 059 registered voters during the election period.  About 77, 49% cast their votes with independent candidate Vladimir Putin polling 76 277 708 votes representing 88, 48%, which is a resounding victory with the remainder of 11, 52% going to the other three minor candidates.  The three losing candidates congratulated the winning presidential candidate Vladimir Putin and were even present during his acceptance speech.  We witnessed this Madam President.

          The atmosphere and conduct of the competing presidential candidates and their parties in the Russian Presidential Elections showed maturity and political tolerance, which is not the norm in some of the losing candidates, especially in SADC countries like Zimbabwe. If one loses an election, they feel they have rigged, but what we saw in Russia is that those candidates are mature.  They understood that it was an election and in an election, there is always going to be a winner and a loser.  Surely, I want to commend the candidates who competed in this election.

          Madam President, I have a few takeaways from this election observation which I noted, something which I feel if we can also do it here, I think we will improve on our election exercises.   Russia’s election campaigns were so peaceful and people could do their business freely without any fear or hindrances.

 The Russians used their infrastructure rather than hiring tents which would have consumed a lot of money from the fiscus. This is highly commendable in terms of the economic growth and development of a country.

          No ink was used for voters as one’s name is canceled in the computers as soon as they have voted.  This means we also need to advance and computerise all our systems so that whenever we get to any polling station, we will find your name, hence there will be no need for you to have that ink after you have exercised your right to vote.

          People voted electronically and could do this at home, workplace, or at any polling station, which means if I am here and it is a polling day, I can vote from my workplace because there is an application which you use from the election Commission.

          The elderly, the sick and the disabled who had difficulties accessing the polling stations applied to the electoral board for assistance in voting.  This means everyone had a chance to vote.  Once one is not feeling well, it will be difficult for them to go to a polling station and that person will be deprived of his or her right to vote for the person of his or her choice.

          Volunteers conducted the elections without payment, which means these people are so patriotic.  They did this for free so that they could save their resources and channel those funds to other developmental programmes.

          Cameras were placed in polling stations everywhere to monitor the process so that anyone who felt or thought that he had been rigged, could revisit these cameras and see what was happening at almost every polling station.

          Candidates were also displayed on entry to the polling stations.  You would see the four candidates being posted on the walls and as one enters the polling station, one would take time to look at the candidate and their parties before getting into the polling station to vote.

          The maturity displayed by the losing candidates when they accepted defeat and congratulated the winning candidate, I think is something that we have to learn as a country so that once one has won an election, we need to congratulate that candidate and give them a chance to develop the nation rather than wasting time going to the courts or the streets demonstrating.  It is good to copy from the Russian Federation the way they conduct their elections.

          Madam President, with these few remarks, I want to inform this House that the election that was done in Russia is something that we need to copy and adopt as a country.  I thank you.

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

          HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd May, 2024.

MOTION

MOBILE BIRTH REGISTRATION EXERCISE

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

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. R. N. NDLOVU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd May, 2024.

MOTION

REHABILITATION OF CENTRES FOR CHILDREN 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. MAVENYENGWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Thursday, 23rd May, 2024.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

 

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

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Thursday, 23rd May, 2024.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MUZENDA, seconded by HON. SEN. TONGOGARA, the Senate adjourned at quarter to Five o’clock p.m.

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