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SENATE HANSARD 23 JULY 2019 28-59

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 23rd July, 2019

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

MOTION

ESTABLISHMENT OF AN EMPOWERED ENTITY TO ADDRESS

CHALLENGES AFFECTING PENSIONERS AND POLICY

HOLDERS

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  I move the motion standing in my name

that this House:

CONCERNED with the glaring gap in the regulatory framework on matters to deal with administration and compensation of policy holders and pensioners whenever a plethora of irregularities arise, a situation that has resulted in pensioners and policy holders being prejudiced of their benefits.

FURTHER CONCERNED that some administrators of pensions

and insurance services have taken advantage of the economic challenges to cause further prejudice by coming up with inaccurate benefit calculations, engaging in governance malpractices within pension schemes and insurance policies, poor accounting and record keeping and manipulating regulations and legislation to their benefit;

DISTURBED by the complete disregard of the welfare of pensioners by the concerned authorities;

NOW, THEREFORE, resolve that-

  1. The Executive establishes an adequately empowered entity to address challenges affecting pensioners and policy holders with a view to comprehensively compensate all those who have been prejudiced;
  2. Pension and insurance legislation be urgently reviewed in order to eliminate loopholes that have been exploited to prejudice policy holders and pensioners;
  3. New regulatory approaches be introduced in order to cater for the interests of all stakeholders, pensioners and policy holders before the end of this year; and
  4. The Executive urgently implements recommendations of the Justice Smith Commission of Enquiry on Pensions and Insurance Benefits.

HON. SEN. SHOKO:  I second.

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  I wish to raise the plight of pensioners and insurance policy holders before this august House and point out the following:

  1. The pensioners have for a long time faced problems in securing their rightful pensions benefits as a consequence of the following:
  2. Wrong benefit calculations.
  3. Disregard of pensioner concerns at all authoritative levels of pension and insurance service provisions despite that pensioners and active members are the real owners of pension funds.
  4. There are irregularities in pension and insurance service provision in the following areas:
  5. Investment management. ii. Solvency management. iii. Accounting. iv. Record keeping.
  6. Governance malpractices of pension and insurance funds. vi. Permissive legislation and regulations.
  7. Undue long delays in delivery of court judgments on pensioner appeals to the courts and therefore deferring precedence in such cases.
  8. The Commission of Inquiry was set up under Justice Smith and it confirms these pensioner problems, though the recommendations by the Commission were disputed by pensioners as the main stakeholders, but despite its shortcomings it confirms the prejudice suffered by pensioners.
  9. The disputes centred on the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations, particularly the recommendation that the Insurance and Pension Commission (IPEC), in its current constitution, form and structure implement a compensation programme when IPEC was responsible for prejudicing pensioners in the first place over many years. Its interests are wholly misaligned to those of pensioners and therefore conflicted.
  10. IPEC is therefore not fit and proper in accordance with good governance principles and practices. The Commission’s recommendations create a situation akin to that where pensions have to go to someone who has already wronged them for quite some time.  The pensioners cannot expect someone who has wronged them for a long time to correct the wrongs of the past.  Despite the pensioners disputing the recommendations, the Finance and Economic Development Ministry should never have railroaded the contested recommendations, past pensioners and past Parliamentary procedures of ratifying such Commission reports, into the Transitional Stabilisation Programme and later in the 2019

National Budget.

  1. A pensioner group (Zimbabwe Pensions and Insurance Rights

Trust (ZimPirt) alerted the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development about this suppression of pensioners leading to re-engagement and Parliamentary due processes including a hearing by the Portfolio Committee in which

ZimPirt and IPEC made submissions.

  1. During these hearings, the same problems as above were highlighted and solutions were proposed as follows:
    1. Set up an independent, adequately empowered body to finalise inquiry work started by the Justice Smith Commission of

Inquiry, to carry out the following;

  1. Compensate pensioners, policy holders, pension and insurance funds.
  2. Urgently review pension and insurance legislation comprehensively to eliminate loopholes permitting the pensioner problems.
  3. Reorganise regulatory frameworks in line with revised legislation, in particular to align regulatory interests to the interests of owners of pension and insurance funds.
  4. Introduce new regulatory approaches in line with revised legislation and revised regulatory frameworks.
  1. The recommended implementation strategies were as follows:
    1. Involvement of all key stakeholders, the pensioners in particular, in a transparent public consultation.
    2. Integration of pension service provision on the one hand and insurance service provision on the other, thereby reducing regulatory authorities, regulatory approaches, reducing inefficiency and Government expenditure in this regard to a minimum.
    3. Entrenchment of achievable statutory objectives for both pension and insurance service provision that ensure that financial markets are honest, transparent, fair and effective so that consumers consisting of pensioners get a fair deal.
    4. Some of the board members which the Minister appointed are compromised. Can the Minister institute an investigation into their conduct because pensioners have accused some of them of being biased and prejudicing them of their savings for a very long time.

Madam President, can this House originate and institute an appropriate legislation to ensure compensation and ease pensioners’ problems as recommended by the pensioners themselves? It turns out that the wrong US$ pension payments now translated to RTGs pension payments are still being calculated from the same actuarial valuations.  The Commission established that these are unreliable, inconsistent and generally uninformative in decision making.  So, it is very unfortunate because even the pension increases that the Minister mentioned here last week will not help much.  We are all going to be pensioners one day.  Let us make laws that protect the elderly in our society so that they can live better lives.  It is not good to see headlines all the time that read;

Pensioners surviving on hand-outs; Zimbabwe pensioners struggling for survival; Senior citizens suffering in Zimbabwe; Old people face monotony and uncertain future; Zimbabwe fails its citizens; Plight of elderly people worsens; Old peoples’ home gets $700 in 15 years, a

curse to be old in Zimbabwe.

The images of our old people suffering lives leave a lot to be desired back in our constituencies.  Let us put on our thinking caps and save our senior citizens.  I thank you Madam President.

HON. SEN. SHOKO:  Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this very important motion. I would like also to thank Hon. Sen. Timveos and Hon. Sen. Mavetera, the mover and the seconder.

Madam President, this issue that we are talking about of pensions and insurance, is an old issue that was investigated when the former President was there, Cde Robert Mugabe in 2008.  Madam President, when we took our insurance and pensions and we had that hyper inflation, where we understood that it reached about 1000% inflation, our insurance and pensions were completely eroded.  So a committee was set up which was led by Justice Smith and that committee came up with recommendations.  The recommendations were that the pension houses and insurance houses that had given us that little money should see to it that they compensate us.

Madam President, I always talk about the insurance policy that I had taken with one company which was worth ZW$2.5 million by then.  When I went there to now go and be given my final earnings because it had reached its period, the manager congratulated me and he said you are the only one who has got quite a big amount.  Madam President, the amount was US$18.  When the insurance was ZW$2.5 million he congratulated me for getting US$18 and I said, how can you congratulate me for getting US$18 when my insurance policy was worth ZW$2.5 million. Certainly, it had earned some interest.  He said that is what you have got.

Many pensioners went on pension at that particular time.  Madam President, what happened is that when we changed from the bearer cheques in 2009 - I still remember we moved to the United States dollar on 2nd January, 2009.  Pensioners that had got their pensions were earning zero.  It was 0.001, which means they were even earning less than a cent.  Organisations had to do financial engineering for them to earn $10 or $5.

Madam President, when that report which was done by Justice Smith came out, it was very clear that these companies need to compensate us, but up to day we have not been compensated.  In the report, it was also recommended to say a committee must be set up to now deal with the compensation.  Up to today Madam President, no committee has been set up and again, we are going back to that same scenario where at first we were using United States dollars and we were then told by the Finance Ministry to say they are 1:1, if you can remember that.  It meant that a person who was getting US$100 would get 100 RTGs.  What then has happened is because of the intermarket exchange rate - that person who is getting $100 is mostly getting US$10.

So we are back to the old scenario.

Madam President, we urge this House to lobby the Ministry of

Finance and Economic Development to set up that committee which Justice Smith talked about so that they relook at the insurance and the pensions that we lost.  I certainly believe that most of the people that are here are about 40 years and 50 years and I believe they lost some money in that scam that I am talking about, the 2008/2009 scenario and presently that issue is still going on.

Madam President, this House must look into this issue.  Madam President, this House must ask the Executive to relook this aspect.  They must ask the Executive to go back to the Justice Smith recommendations to look at the issue of insurance and pensions that we lost.  We are still losing pensions.  What do I mean we are still losing pensions?  The people that were better off when they took their pensions in 2007 and lost them in 2009. You then find to say their standards of living went down and they are still suffering because of the losses that they suffered in 2008 and 2009 and more people are getting poorer because of the new situation that we have just entered into.  Madam President, we need to

do something.  We are the people that are supposed to look at the people that are outside there.  We were brought here by those people to look at their lives and welfare.

Madam President, I do not think the Government will be able to look after all these people that have lost their pensions.  It was better if we had these pensions going on because then the Government would look at the other people that are not on pension.  Madam President, this is an issue that is of national interest.  We need to debate this issue and certainly discuss with the Ministry of Finance and Economic

Development.  Letting go like that will affect not only us, it will affect everyone who has had an insurance, who has had a pension and it would be very difficult to get safety nets to look after those people because where you have people losing their pensions, presently some getting RTGs$20 and with the prices that are there, they can only buy 5kg mealie meal or 10kg mealie meal.  It means therefore, if they are living in town they cannot pay for ZESA, municipality rates and cannot even pay for their own medical bills, which means that the Government now needs to move these people into social welfare.

Madam President, this is a very important issue, an issue that affects our society as it stands.  We therefore need to move quickly and adopt the recommendations that the mover of the motion has put forward so that we can have a situation where these things are dealt with quickly.

I remember us talking about this issue in the Eighth Parliament and presently, no commission has been set so that it looks at these things that we are talking about.  You see a problem solved makes the people that are outside there happy and to recognise the role of Government.  Madam President, it is very important that we put our heads together, look at this aspect, lobby the Ministry of Finance and Economic to then deal with this aspect so that we can move forward.  Madam President, with those few words, let me thank you for allowing me to speak on this important issue.  I thank you.

+HON. SEN. P. NDHLOVU:  Thank you very much Madam

President.  I would like to thank the mover of the motion and two senators who seconded the motion, Hon. Shoko and Hon. Sen. Mavetera.  We should first define the term pension.  Pension is money that you get after working up to your old age.  It is a sign of gratitude from the Government when you have worked and are now old.    As I was walking about one day, I passed through banks and realised that most of the old people slept by the Post Office queuing for their pension.  I inquired from them and they told me they had come to collect their money which is about $30.  They had left their homes a day before to collect this small amount and if they fail to collect the money, they would go back.  I asked them what they thought about this issue.  They pleaded with me to put their plea to Parliament.  My question is, what can one buy with this little amount of money?  As the previous speaker has spoken, you cannot even buy a 2kg of sugar with $30.  Therefore, Madam President of the Senate, I plead with you and this hon. senate that we try and look into this issue for the sake of our constituents so that they are able to have a living after the retire.  It is not good to wait in long queues only to collect $30.  The Minister of Finance should look into this very pertinent issue as our parents also worked for this country.

With those few words, I thank you Madam President of the Senate.

*HON. SEN. CHINAKE:  Thank you Madam President for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution on the motion.  We realise that when people are employed, pension contribution is compulsory.  You will realise that in the past, people were contributing in US dollars at that time but now pensioners are being given pension in Zimbabwean dollars.  When we move around town, there are shopping malls.  There are shopping malls that belong to various pension and insurance companies, yet the owners of the money are suffering.  We plead with the Minister of finance to do an inquiry into this issue and deal with the perpetrators.  The insurance companies are still benefiting from the money.  People borrow monies to come and collect the pension which is little money as compared to what they worked for.  We need to fight for our people.  A real commission should be set up to inquire into this issue because most people will die and the insurance companies  will remain spending their money.

*HON. SEN. MURONZI:  I would like to make my contribution to this motion raised by Hon. Sen. Timveos, seconded by Hon. Sen.

Mavetera and Hon. Sen. Shoko.  My husband used to be a bus driver.  He used to contribute to NSSA.  He was hurt about the money he received and he became ill to an extent that he had to visit prophets.  Pension money was for one to use after retirement. My next door neighbour is a war veteran.  He was involved in an accident and at times he travels to come and get his pension and he finds there is nothing in the account.  We need to look into this issue seriously.

HON. SEN. MAKONE:  Thank you Madam President for your

instance – [Laughter.] – I thought it will be not fair…

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Why I am insisting, I

thought it is an important motion which can touch nearly everyone but I can see some people just looking down.

HON. SEN. MAKONE:  Absolutely.  Thank you very much Madam President.  I think this is a very important subject that we are discussing today.  Surely, when we leave school or at whatever age we start working and the employer starts deducting contributions – in fact we are told by most employers that they will either match what they deduct from you or they will double what they deduct from you.  For you, it is banking for the future for when you are unable to work.  This was done in very good faith by most of us who started work in the mid 70s, thinking that by the 2000s, when we are in our 60s – because at that time we were told that no one could be a civil servant after the age of 60, therefore I would be still on a salary not too dissimilar from what I would be receiving at that time. It was all done nicely. I think there is once very big pension house in Southern Africa which is also quoted on the London Stock Exchange which was actually one of the most active pension houses in taking money from workers. When the economy collapsed, no one had the decency to explain to us how much money we had accumulated at that time and what calculations had been done in order to compensate us. To this day, we wrote the money off ourselves.

This is because by that time, we were in quadrillions of dollars, which money was really not meaningful to anybody because in those days, we were receiving something like $200.00 for a university graduate and that was supposed to be a hell lot of money. But still, they had invested and they were still investing. The properties that they invested in were not caught up in this. They are there, were there and are still there. These properties were bought with our monies and it can be established building by building, not only in Zimbabwe but even the whole of Southern Africa where the money came from.

Surely, the people that were contributing at that time should be beneficiaries of any incomes that are accruing from those buildings, but here we are with nothing. We are just old pensioners struggling to sell vegetables in Domboshava and with no hope of ever getting anything again. I think this is really not fair. The same actuaries that they use for calculating pensions are the same people who can be engaged to work out what we are owed because all we need to say is where we worked from which year to what year and they have all those records. They do not lose them but they still have them.

They can work out what they owe us and let us have a descent old age. Our children will never be able to live the life that we lived. They will never be able to buy houses and properties like we did. So, we cannot even be looked after by our children because our children actually look up to us and it is not working at all. I do not think that there is any justice and fairness. It would really be a travesty if Government did not step in to make sure that something was done about

this.

So Madam President in conclusion, I would say that from our point of view, we just want to know what happens to the decisions that we make in this House. Are we debating for the sake of debating and showing to each other our prowess in ability to debate or there is an outcome that is supposed to happen when we have finished debating. This is one of those subjects that cannot possibly be just shelved. We need a conclusion and satisfactory conclusion. Thank you Madam President.

     HON. SEN. MAVERERA: Thank you Madam President for

giving me this opportunity to contribute to this very important topic. I would also want to take the same opportunity to thank Hon. Sen. Timveos of raising such a very pertinent issue affecting the entire community or the entire nation. The first thing which we have to take into account, I think Zimbabwe has been very unfortunate because of our economic terms. I remember when I started working I was one of the people and I do not know whether there is any person who took pension policies like myself. I had almost 20 policies and by that time probably when I was going to get to 40 years, I was actually going to be a billionaire if those pensions were something to go by.

There came the disaster in 2008 and we do not need to explain because everyone knows about it. When Old Mutual called me to collect whatever they had computed, I did not go because I was so disappointed because it was very insulting, inhuman and very sensitive. Of course, things went by and we got into the US$ era and we thought probably we could recoup and plan for the last few years of our lives. We had these pensions again in US$. I was contributing US$600 for my pensions until the change of money. Just last week one person from Old Mutual phoned me and said Doctor, we want to review your pensions.

In fact, he phoned about a week ago and I was ignoring him.  I then called him to my office. He started talking the same story saying whatever you contributed is nothing and so, we want to look at your age and see if you can contribute something. I said can you do the computation and tell me how much I am supposed to contribute. He said for you now to be able to enjoy whatever you might want, you need to be paying about $3 000.00. I said young man, you are not the one but you are criminals. I do not want to see you.

I actually said I would rather buy a bicycle and when I die, my children will inherit a bicycle than what you are doing. This actually describes the situation we are in as a nation. My biggest question is and I think the other Hon. Sen. raised it. I think we need to know our role. Who gives companies the licence to practice? I think that is a very important question. Where do they derive that licence from? It is actually the Government and who is the Government? It is actually us and we are saying these pension houses are legal entities but we are actually seated here in this august house with all the trust bestowed on us by the populace to create syndicates who are robbing the nation and try to legalise an illegality.

There is no way, whatever you say you can describe what we have experienced as a people as legal. It is morally wrong and when you are in business, you have to be ethical and morally correct. Are these pension houses ethical and morally correct? I do not think that is there. So, it is very sad that the impression that we try to portray from outside is to portray this august House as a talk show because I heard from my fellow Senators who were in the 8th Parliament that this issue was debated, but here were are still today debating and nothing of whatever was contributed was implemented. So, are we also as a Government short changing the people?

Unfortunately, I will say yes we are. We have actually let the people down. What I am saying is that instead of us – because you know the tragedy with our country is when we now go to talk about the issues of pensions, you actually go and consult those criminals to give you advice. What advice do you get? You do not get anything and now those criminals are so sophisticated that even statutory bodies which we create as a Government are infiltrated with those criminals and they are employed.

I think Hon. Sen. Timveos has actually highlighted the defects in the structures of these pension houses and also as well as the institutions which we have created as Government.  When someone has worked 20 years in the pension field, he is a shareholder.  How do we as a Government, allow that person to be the chairperson of that important – they will sit down, you will regard them as experts, they will give you information and they will continue to sit when our people are suffering.  I think our Constitution recognises the importance of the role played by our elders.  Pensions are not given to youngsters but to elders, why? Because they have made us where we are today and it is because of our forefathers.

As such, I think our Constitution says the State has a duty to make sure that it looks after the elderly and there are certain rights which are actually prescribed by our Constitution which the elderly should enjoy.  As we are sitting here, our primary duty is to uphold and defend the Constitution as well as to see that it is implemented correctly.  Is that happening?  So, what are we doing Hon. Senators?  I think we really need to be very serious.  We formulate laws, so let us create a law which is conducive and will benefit our population.  I would definitely say we may debate this issue now and again but with the current legislative framework which governs these institutions we are not going to go anywhere.  What we need is an overhaul or a revolution to change these laws.  We do not need to refer to a defective law, otherwise we would remain colonised while the whites would still be ruling because there were laws which barred us from going to war.  This is exactly what we are following because we do not learn.  Let us not look at the current legislative framework which is there to govern pensioners because it was crafted by people with an ulterior motive.

I do not want to dwell or go deeper into what other members have contributed in terms of what assets are.  If you move around Harare, 90% is Old Mutual.  They can even afford to be listed on the

Johannesburg and London Stock Exchange.  Where is that capital coming from?  Do you think it is coming from England?  No, it is coming from us ladies and gentlemen yet we are sitting here and probably some of us given free fibbies.  What I am saying is that these structures or pension houses are legalised criminal syndicates and we are complicit in allowing them to continue the way they are.  When they come to you and you take a pension scheme, it has got objectives.  They actually sit down with you and calculate the kind of life you are living and say when you retire you should be able to live the same type of life.  They calculate it based on the poverty datum line.

I would propose that the legal framework which we need to initiate should be looking at what we expect our pensioner to enjoy when they get to their pensionable years rather than these figures.  We can even go on to speculate and say probably these pension houses are also architects of economic sabotage and show that when they have accumulated a lot, they create inflation so as to get everything then start again.  This is exactly what is happening and it is very sad when as Government, we call for a round table discussion on the economy or the state of the economy.  If you observe, those are the people who will be sitting at the high table and being referred to as captains of industry.  However, I will call them captains of robbery.

This is an emotional issue Mr. President which we need to treat with the urgency and importance it deserves.  We can no longer allow our people to be exploited.  All the funny and fancy buildings, shopping malls in the country are owned by pension houses but you tell me a pensioner who contributed that is now getting $10 which is not enough even for bus fare.  Is that morally correct and can we sit here as a Government saying we are looking and exercising the mandate which was bestowed upon us by the people?  I do not agree Mr. President Sir.

I think with all due respect, what we need is not an amendment but we need to revolutionalise the way our pension schemes are operated within this country because it is now a trend and not an accident.  As such, you will never get people contributing and that puts a burden to look at people who should be able to look after themselves because they contributed something.  Now, they are at the mercy of these people and the State has an obligation to look after all those people.  We can do it much better by enacting enabling laws that are people friendly rather than what we are experiencing at the moment.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI:  On a point of order Hon. President.  This topic is really touching on the nerves of the nation. We hardly see the Ministers responsible coming to listen when we are debating these motions.  I think it is important that Ministers who are responsible for certain institutions, especially when a motion comes they avail themselves when we debate so that they will be able to take notes.  It will be difficult for them to follow the Hansard and be able follow all these brilliant arguments.  So my point of order is - what can we do to ensure that Ministers who end up bringing the correct legislation and also the corrections as debated here should be in Parliament when we are debating?

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you

Hon. Sen. Mudzuri. I share the same sentiments with you and we will make efforts to bring that to the attention of the Executive.

*HON. SEN. MOEKETSI:  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to debate on this motion.  I want to thank Hon. Sen. Senator Timveos and her seconder Hon. Sen. Shoko.  I almost developed cold feet on this motion because I was ashamed to talk about it. I fought with my husband after he went to collect his pension from POSB.  He came back with a bottle of cooking oil, a cabbage and 2kg salt because I had given him a grocery list.  This pension issue is a shame and it is painful. My grandfather managed to build his house using money he got as pension.  He worked as a mere garden boy but managed to build his house, buy cattle and till the land using his pension.  Where did our original Zimbabwean dollar go to?  Maybe it is the cause of all this suffering.  Where did the gold that was used in making this money go?

Did the white people go with it or someone has it?

Mr. President, this issue is a very serious matter, more-so for people in the rural areas.  There is a certain man from Chegutu who is on pension.  He has no cattle but planned to buy some when he received his pension.  His younger brother who has always stayed in the rural areas has cattle but is refusing to lend them to him for tilling the land because he says you were employed and you told me that you were going to buy cattle using money from your pension, as a result he has to book cattle from others.  It is unfortunate that he can only buy 2 litres cooking oil, cabbage and 2kgs of salt yet he worked for a certain company for 30 years.

As we are debating here in this House, I can see that only one side of the House is agreeing with what I am saying and is sympathising with pensioners.  It maybe that some of us are getting pension because they are just quiet and seem not to be pained by the present situation.

*THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order

Hon. Sen. Moeketsi.  Just debate on the issue and not how other Senators are reacting to the debate.

*HON. SEN. MOEKETSI:  It pains me because this issue affects not only me but all of us.  I have observed that some Senators do not seem as affected as some of us.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Order,

order.  Let us get things right.  We do not have to debate this motion today all of us.  We can still debate, I do not know how many more weeks.  So like I said, leave that issue of who is talking, who is not.  Just debate the motion.  It is a very important motion and I have given you the floor.

*HON. SEN. MOEKETSI:  Thank you Mr. President.  The issue of pension is very painful.  As a House, we should look into the issue of those pensioners who are suffering out there in the rural areas.  Those pensioners in the rural areas are not the only ones that are suffering; we also have some Senators who are also receiving a paltry $35 or $30.

This House should look into this issue.

There are some people who were looking after those pensioners in the rural areas who were looking forward to receiving groceries when the pensioners go and withdraw their pensions, resulting in them not being well looked after.  This issue should be dealt with the urgency it deserves.  It should be addressed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  Long back pensions used to sustain the elderly pensioners but looking at today’s situation, that money cannot buy anything because most basic commodities are beyond the reach of many.  The money is so little that it is no longer enough even for transport money to and from the bank when they go to collect their pensions.  With those few words, I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Mr. President for

giving me the opportunity to contribute to this important motion by Hon. Sen. Timveos seconded by Hon. Sen. Shoko.  This is indeed a very painful issue on pension.  Pension is very important because for our fathers and ourselves who worked for many years there was pension.  As the Parliament of Zimbabwe, we are an arm of Government and therefore we should act on this issue.

We attained independence after seeing that we were an oppressed people and we looked forward to a better life as independent people.

There is a saying that goes – ‘we live in a world of changes’.  During the

Constitution making process, we worked in unity with different political parties; that is the ruling party ZANU-F, the MDC and other lesser parties. We worked together and came out with our Constitution.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Sen.

Chirongoma, do not refer to them in that derogatory language.  They are Hon. Members also.

*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:  We sat together as Hon. Members and came out with our Constitution.  This issue on pensions affects all of us and we are here together as Senators of Parliament of Zimbabwe.  We were all affected by the hyper inflation in 2008.  During the Government of National Unity when we had a Minister from another political party heading the Ministry of Finance and Economic

Development, our pensions were still eroded by inflation.  So, we should look into this issue.

We heard the Minister of Finance and Economic Development speaking on how sanctions had negatively affected our country.  We used to have financial institutions that would come and lend us money to help lift our economy in times of need such as these, but they no longer do that because we are under sanctions.  As a result, we are suffering through our pensions, minimum payouts.  Let us work out new ideas -we have experts amongst us, even our offspring who are well vested in financial language.  I know we may debate until the cows come home, but let us look for a way whereby the Minister comes to this debate, we will tell him what we want and make our contributions so that we solve the problem of pensions.  When we put our words together, we are definitely going to progress.  Hon. Sen. Mavetera, in his contribution he said these pensions and insurance houses which were collecting the money have many properties, including shopping malls and we are saying that now they have all these buildings which they built collecting money from us, why do we not craft a law that will enable us to take over those properties and buildings and sell them.  When we sell them, we can payout the pensioners who are suffering.  We need to address these problems together – [Laughter.] –

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I really think we need

to grow up. Order! Take your seat.  I need to explain something.  Hon.

Senators, I think our Constitution is also very clear that for anybody to be eligible to be a senator, you must be 40 years and above.  I think that was done for a purpose.  You need matured people to sit in the Upper

House so that you can sit back and have a rational approach to issues.

Our Constitution is very clear.  It has one of the most comprehensive Bill of Rights – freedom of expression and people have entitlement to their own views.  You might have very strong views about sanctions, you might think they were caused by a, b, c, d and he might have his own strong views about sanctions.  Listen to what somebody is saying politely and maturely.  There is no need to laugh, heckle and behave as if whoever is speaking is an idiot.  This House is made up of Hon. Senators.  Hon. Chirongoma, you may proceed.

*HON. CHIRONGOMA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I am begging Hon. Senators that we put our heads together and find a solution to this problem regarding insurances and pensions.  I am sure if we do that we will be able to come out with a solution.  This country and this

Senate have capable Ministers who can solve our problems.  We talked about issuance of licences to pension houses and insurance houses and we are saying, let us not stop issuing these licences but we should control them.  It is painful for a worker to work until they can work no more because they reached pensionable age and at the end, they are not given out a descent payout for their pension.  I am calling for the togetherness and oneness of the Senate so that we can adopt progressive ideas for the benefit of the nation.

*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution to the motion moved by Hon. Sen. Timveos, seconded by Hon. Sen. Shoko.  At times, we may trivialise this motion but it is very important because it is talking about our livelihood and our lifestyle when we talk about insurance companies and pension houses.  If we look around all the buildings, especially these sky scrapers they were constructed by insurance companies and they own these buildings.  They constructed these buildings using contributions from workers.

Hon. Sen. Timveos has brought up a very important motion.  Let me quote her, she said, let us review the terms and conditions on the operations for these pensions and insurances.  I know as Zimbabweans at times you believe in that there is no hurry in Africa, we take our own time and approach issues lackadaisically when we look at issues in the country.  There are all people who are working and those on pension who cannot get their money.  We cannot get our money and the unfortunate situation is that the moneychangers in the streets have more money.

At times, you get the feeling that these insurance and pension companies are fuelling the black market in the streets.  As

Zimbabweans, I believe we have some problems with us because we see some people who will be carrying heavy loads of money and I am suspecting that they are paid by the insurance or pension companies.

Thank you Hon. Sen. Timveos.

You talked about a commission of inquiry which was led by

Justice Smith and we need to look at the findings of that commission and study that document so that we look at their findings.  As Senate, we then look at the recommendations by this Commission.  I am sure this could be the starting point.  I also thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera who has said we are the Government and we are the lawmakers.  One of our duties besides lawmaking process is the oversight.  I had a brother who was employed at the Causeway Post Office but has since retired.  He is asthmatic and now a pensioner. The unfortunate situation is that he is not able to purchase the inhaler to control the asthma attacks yet he has been working since year 1980.

Are we content when all the money we contributed goes to waste and cannot benefit from it.   I worked for a long time in the Ministry of Local Government and one of my responsibilities was paying out pensions.  Some of the pensioners would tell you, I had to travel on foot to come and collect my pension because I thought that if I borrowed money for transport to collect this amount, I may not be able to repay that credit.  We know that it is in the statutes of the country which state that a worker should be given their pension and you start wondering why a pensioner should be suffering at the end of their working life.  Pensioners are now living like convicts paying for what they have worked for.  A pensioner when they die should be given a descent burial because they have worked in the past and they are now benefiting. However, when we are burying them, we give them a pauper burial. We are contented that this person has been given a decent burial when in actual fact it is a pauper’s burial because they did not get the benefit that they were supposed to be getting from these organisations.

We are saying as Zimbabweans, let us craft a law which is aimed at protecting these pensioners. An Hon. Member contributed in this debate saying there was a pensioner, her grandfather who was able to collect his pension and construct a nice home in the rural areas, buy cattle and all what is needed in draft power. Therefore, I am saying as Members of this august House let us work hard and get a way of solving this problem because what you should know is that it is today’s pensioners who are suffering, but tomorrow we are also growing old and we will be pensioned off and we will not be able to live off our pension.

I am saying as the representatives of the people, we need to craft laws which are aimed at protecting the rights of the people of Zimbabwe. As Hon. Members of this august House, on our oversight role, we need to ask ourselves as to who are these people who own these insurances and pension houses? Do we know them because from our debates they are invisible?

Therefore, what we need is to get enough information so that when we are talking about the problem faced by pensioners and insurances, we will know who we are directing our facts to and hence, we need to make thorough investigations, research and at times there is need for us to invite these people to come to our Committees so that we hear whatever it is that we are saying so that when we debate and when we make these reports, we are making them from a well calculated point of view.

An Hon. Sen. also made a contribution and said somebody can be a board member for 40 years in some of those organisations. When somebody stays for such a long time such as 40 years in one place, on one job that is where corruption develops. Therefore, we are saying

when we are working we should benefit because pensions and insurances are a form of gratitude for what one will have worked for and you will be showing off what you did with the pay outs on your insurances.  It is quite painful when one retires and they do not get anything. We need to revise our insurances and pensions so that we can determine our future. Thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: Thank you Mr. President for giving

me this opportunity to convey my few words to say if all the words that are being spoken in this House can be heard and taken further so that action can be taken. What is so painful right now is that pension is supposed to cater for a person who has retired but that is no longer the case. It is now spending whilst you are standing up. Someone fell ill recently because they received $28. They failed to access that $28 because it was saying the money was insufficient. That money could not even buy tablets for that person who was suffering from high blood pressure.

People ended up contributing to assist that person which is so painful because you were hoping that your money will take care of all your needs after you retire but that will not be the case. If you see queues or people waiting for money to access their pensions and they fail to access that money, they travel from rural areas and they cannot even go back. If only they could be given specific dates to go and access their money so that they specifically on those days because there are no Post Offices in the rural areas. When they go to town, they realise that that money is not there and they end up sleeping on the floor outside the banks on queues.

There are some people who have ailments that are aggravated by the cold weather. The money that they will be looking for will not be even enough for them to access medication. All of us as we sit here, we are taking care of our parents who are pensioners. If they get $28, that money is not even enough to cater for their needs. I am grateful for all those parents who have many children and are taken care of by them.

There are some parents who have so many children but they are not taken care of by those children.

Even us children we are supposed to take care of our parents from those pensions but we fail to do that. So, if only money from pensions especially NSSA can be reviewed so that they are sufficient to cater for people’s needs. I remember some years ago where there was a lot of news and talk about NSSA acquiring so many assets but we did not hear about what happened later about that report. That issue was never taken further. That issue must be revived and those issues must be looked into. Some of the monies are remaining behind and sometimes you hear information that money is transferred into wrong accounts and when the reviews are made, they do not bear any fruit.

Those monies should be scrutinised thoroughly so that we know how that money is being spent. Sometimes we hear that someone took a loan from pensioners’ money but we do not hear them returning that money. They get that money and invest successfully whilst the pensioners remain suffering. Let us stop harassing pensioners. We are also going to be pensioners and that is what is going to happen to us also. All the pension organisations must all be scrutinised.

Those people who are running pension organisations must be thoroughly scrutinised because some of those organisations are just coming up in order to make money. Some of the people might be coming from pensioners and so, they must be thoroughly scrutinised because they are only after money spinning. They must be scrutinised to check if they are relaying that money to the pensioners, the intended beneficiaries. If they get that money, they do not return it to the intended beneficiaries. Thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: Thank you very much Mr.

President for affording me the opportunity to also contribute to this motion raised by Hon. Sen. Timveos, seconded by Hon. Sen. Mavetera.  I would like to say just three words on this issue of pensions.  As I speak on my own behalf, I do not understand what pension is, where it is made, by who, of what benefit to the country and for what results or contribution.  In the past, if you went to the Post Offices you would see very long queues from here to Chitungwiza and if you asked them they would tell you that they were waiting for pensions.  But is this pension money that you are supposed to be given by Government because if it is the money that you contributed and was deducted from your earnings it means at 60 you are supposed to earn that money.  That person who is over 60 years waits for money for a long time but do not even get it.  I really do not understand when Government is there.

Recently, what I do not understand is that if it is law that is made by both Houses, I have not heard about those laws and how they are made concerning pensions.  They come and say if you employ someone who works for 2 weeks they tell you that the person is supposed to earn a pension.  But we used to hear that if you employ someone over a long period of time those are the persons who are supposed to stay at that company and earn pension and long term benefits.  Now we hear that if has changed.

So, if it is a policy or law that has been made, why do we not also hear Parliamentarians debating that if someone is employed even on temporary basis they are supposed to be given pensions?  We are supposed to know where that is debated.  If you hear that someone is supposed to earn a hundred dollars they refuse, they do the calculations for you and they tell you that we are calculating on $200, $300 or $500 and they tell you that your employee is supposed to earn so much and also tell you that you give that person so much.  Then they give that person little money that is not worth buying anything.  Where does the rest of the money go to?  That is what we would like to find out.  If our parents who earn these pensions are supposed to earn that money to take care of them later, that should happen.  If it is not working then let us change the laws because it does not help.  Since a long time ago we used to hear that people will be earning certain amounts of money but those monies are now worthless.

I recently heard the Minister saying that the pensions are supposed to be reviewed to $200 but when it comes to the actual paying out they get far much less money.  Why do we not make sure that the person who earned that money work out on their own how much they are supposed

to be given so that they work out the correct value of the amount they are supposed to earn.

Another thing that I would like to contribute on this motion – because I also realised that I am now about to be a pensioner.  What troubles me is that in the previous Parliament, this issue was debated and in this Parliament again we are debating the same issue.  So, why do we debate the issue if whatever we debate is not effected?  That is the reason why some of the time you see us not participating in motions and debates because we do not see the results.  There are Ministers and all other Government officials who are supposed to take care of these issues.  We have realised that this thing is not working.  These pension houses have big assets yet the intended beneficiaries are not getting anything.  So I think it is also wise that they stop deducting those pensions.  Thank you very much Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE: Thank you Mr. President.  The challenge of pension is a challenge to everyone.  As we were growing up, we used to hear Paul Mukondo saying “itayi cent cent vakomana inini ndachona” because there was a plan that when we retire we would have something to fall on from what we would have saved.  It was apparent that we could not keep money on our own till retirement, so we had some people who chipped in so that they could give us on retirement.  However, what we see now - for example in 1987, I was contributing $40 a month in anticipation of getting $1 million in 2000.  When demutualisation came into effect people started losing their properties to those who were clever and we only got $14k.  That is how we lost our money.  Many people in this house went to school using insurance monies.  Those insurance companies employ a lot of people but because it has lost its meaning no one is able to sell an insurance policy.  This is two pronged as I see it.  From the law side, it is not straight.  If there are programmes dealing with inflationary issues they are not looking at what the beneficiaries will get.  If we are working on a one on one parity rate and then the rate moves up to 1:10, it should follow suit.  That is where our problem is.  So people were contributing a lot of money thinking of the future benefits but they would get diminished returns, useless money.  Now, no one is banking money.  As Parliament, we should come up with laws which give confidence to our citizens so that whatever they put in they should reap accordingly.  If I am no longer getting the money that I contributed as pension you have destroyed me because it is my human right.  I invested for my future life by contributing today.  I should get my meaningful returns.

There are a lot of buildings here in town and the companies that own them are in the balance sheets and we are shown the accounts.  Members of the respective companies know what the balance sheet looks like but it is like that because of my contribution from the $2 that I earn.  So as law makers, what are we doing to strike a balance between the one who contributed who is the owner of the building and those who are squandering the money?

Some three years back, there were a lot of reported cases of corruption.  In some instances, there was amalgamation of these insurance companies.  This was caused by a lot of funds which were collected as subscriptions by pensioners but these insurance executives viewed these funds as personal property and hence abused them.

When we are talking of corruption and underhand dealings in this country we will find that the main perpetrators and culprits are these insurance companies.  They have no respect for contributions made by members, instead they personalise these funds for their own corrupt use.  Parliament should take measures to hold these organisations to account so that they give a detailed account of how they would use members subscriptions and contributions. They should show Parliament their balance sheets and banking details on these subscriptions.  These companies should also give details of benefits accrued by the pensioners.

We have heard of cases where some of these insurance and pensioner executives award themselves hefty packages to enable them to construct mansions in low density areas such as Umwinsidale and yet pensioners are suffering in acute poverty despite their contributions in the rural areas where most of the pensioners retire to.

Some of these pensioners are village heads who get a pay-out of $25 per month which is not enough to care for his daily needs.  In some instances, these village heads end up selling State land to sustain their living.  They can even sell grazing pastures, wetlands and any other piece of land set aside for special purposes.  Every human being works for a better future and a better life.  When the opposite happens, people turn to other devious means for survival such as corruption.

When a worker is contributing towards insurance and pension the aim is to live a happy life on retirement.  This calls for the need of proper legislation aimed at protecting the targeted benefits by the worker on retirement.  If we do not do that, people will turn to the stated devious and corrupt means of earning a living.

If these insurance and pension companies follow proper marketing and administration strategies they will attract more investors which means more money.  The current situation is that there are very few people who will like to invest in insurance policies or take up pensions because there is no return on investment.

We have seen some NSSA official who mobilise farm workers so that they can be registered with them.  When we ask about the benefits there is no proper explanation.  We need to craft a law which will set out clear ground rules on the handling of public funds.  At the moment, there is a mismatch of what should be happening legally and what is actually happening on the ground.

I have a cousin of mine of the Gumbo totem who was a prison officer in the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service who was pensioned off.  I advised him to buy property in Glen Norah in Harare but as a true African man he wanted to show his wife who was in the rural areas his benefits.  When he returned from home, the financial benefit had been eroded by inflation.  He could not even afford to buy a wheelbarrow.  If we craft proper legislation future generations will be grateful for what we would have done for them regarding pensions.

In the rural areas, we have noticed that some of these people who are pensioners die within three months of their relocation.  This is caused by the change in lifestyles from the time they were working to the time of pension.  There is a very big difference.  Some of them end up falling victims to chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, stress and diabetes.  According to our culture, when a husband dies immediately after retirement the blame is placed squarely on the wife.  I will repeat that we need to legislate for posterity.  I am glad that at one time the Government advised financial institutions to repay investors in the finances they had invested such as the United States dollar.

Dynamics starts with the people.  Let us legislate for the people.

Good legislation will lead to honest workers.  At the moment, honest workers are mocked at by their fellow workers who tell them that at the end of their working life they will not benefit anything because of the galloping inflation, corruption and insurance systems.  They advise them to make hay while the sun shines, steal from the company, embezzle funds, and indulge in corruption to compensate for their loss in future.  They are told that honesty does not pay.

*HON. SEN. GUMPO:  I was a businessman, managing director, whose empire stretched from Karoi to Kariba and had about 300 workers under me. All these workers including me contributed their pensions through NSSA.  As I stand here, I am a pensioner who is collecting $60 per month.  If I am getting such pittance, what more of my former workers!

I was impressed by the report on the Budget and Finance Thematic Committee which I feel we should emulate and pass resolutions for the benefit of pensioners.  I have noticed that most of the motions raised, 70% to 90% of them are not debated to conclusion but they are left suspended.  That is why I have said this is an important motion, let us see it through. I am suggesting that one of those Committees such as

Budget and Finance should move a motion which delegates one of our Thematic Committees to look at this matter of pensions so that this motion will be debated fully.  We have realised that 70 to 90% of the motions are not debated to conclusion in this Senate.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. NEMBIRE:  Thank you Mr. President.  I will add my voice onto the motion raised by Hon. Sen. Timveos on pensions and insurances.  We live with about 75% of pensioners in the rural areas, they are part of us and are living in poverty.  Some of them are dying before they can access their pension or insurances.  Some of them have not been given information on how they can access the pension or insurances.  I am calling for the construction of a database on the pensioners and their whereabouts because as chiefs, we have problems.  We have these people in rural areas and I am saying if you want to make a successful business venture, please create an insurance company and you will get money from those people.  We have the boards running these organisations, I only hope that some of the people in these boards are pensioners because they live it and they feel it.  We also need the chiefs to be part of that boards because as I stated, 75% of those people are in rural areas.  Most of these people are dying in poverty because they cannot access their insurance and pension.  Some of the documents are written in small print and the financial legal jargon used is too detailed for a pensioner to understand what they are supposed to say.  That is why we are saying, let us encourage these pensioners and insurances to craft documents that are easy to understand so that the pensioner when making an undertaking, will know that the beneficiaries when he passes on are immediate members of the family.

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

HON. SEN. SHOKO:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 24th July, 2019.

 

MOTION

CULTURAL VALUES ON ENDING CHILD MARRIAGES

Second Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the need of the enforcement of the law on child marriages.

Question again proposed.

*HON. SEN. WUNGANAYI:   Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution regarding the motion raised by Hon. Sen. Tongogara.  I am very grateful for bringing in such a constructive and progressive motion.  Mr. President, we have this adage which encourages us to look after our children because when we grow old, they will also look after us.  When they were debating this issue, they were looking at themselves because they were born by their parents who have since passed on.  I am saying it is essential that we look after our offspring so that when we grow old, they will take care of

We have had cruel situation whereby a child is raped by somebody elderly, in most cases, somebody who has some wealth and you will notice that the family of the raped girl is not able to seek litigation for that rape case because the person is rich.  At times, you will notice that they will be subordinates to the rapist; as a result, they cannot go and report them.  We have also noticed that when that rapist has committed that heinous crime, they then offer to marry that little girl as young as 13 years of age.  This is disturbing future lives of young girls who would be responsible to look after us when we grow old.  We know some of these things happen because of poverty in the country.

Hon. Sen. Tongogara said, there is a difference in our lifestyles from the past and present.  In the past, we had young girls who were married off because they wanted to benefit from such a marriage.  If you have made the mistake of marrying a young girl, nobody will take care of you these days.  Therefore, let us create a law which is aimed at correcting these anomalies and protecting young girls from early marriages.  Whosoever is responsible for that should be guilty of an

offence....

Cell phone rings.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I do not

know whether I should say this wearing a mask or what.  Hon. Senators are reminded that when you come into this House, put your phones on silent or switch them off.  They are a destruction.  You may proceed.

*HON. SEN. WUNGANAYI:   Thank you Mr. President.  I was saying we need to create a law which is aimed at parents who marry off underage girls.  When a 13 year old is married off, that is to their disadvantage because in most cases that child will be divorced by that man who would have envied here.  I am glad I have some of the

Members of Parliament calling for the presence of Ministers to come when we are debating these issues because they will benefit from what we will have gathered from the constituencies where we come from.  When they will have heard that, they will support these laws and protect the people of Zimbabwe.  There is no diabolic crime as disturbing the life of a young child.  We should know that we are not the first generation nor are the last.  We are giving each other terms of living on this earth.  As Senators, let us put our heads together and craft laws aimed at protecting the young girls.  We have noted that some of these girls go to school.  When the father has no money to pay for school fees, the only way to move out of their problem is to marry off the young girls.  They are not creative to look for ways of funding fees for their girls.  I remember the idea of marrying off little girls used to happen in some certain religious denominations but as of now, they have since followed Government encouragement that they cease this custom of marrying off underage girls.

I know in some areas in this country that still have a culture of marrying off young girls as young as 13 to 15 years.  This is against the Constitution of the country.  I am calling upon parliamentary

Committees to move into those areas and pass on the knowledge to these people so that our children will have a future.

We have had some young girls dropping out of school, especially primary and they get married for two or three years and there is a divorce because this is a young and immature mind. When they are divorced, they come back to their parents and they become a burden to their parents and we are saying we need to change this education. Hon. Sen. Tongogara, I am very grateful for the motion which you introduced in this august House because it is talking about our culture. I want to repeat that we are not the first and last generation, but we have had people before us and we have people who will be coming after us. We are not going to have any progress if we do not correct this problem now for the benefit of the future.

Once again, Hon. Sen. Tongogara, thank you for this motion and thank you Hon. Members who supported your motion. I am saying if we can follow this motion and implement it, Zimbabwe will have a bright future. We talk about even the animals, in their animal kingdom, they also have rules and regulations. We notice that they also have a culture which says the youngsters should be protected and the elders protect the youngsters with their lives. So why should animals be better thinkers than us human beings who were created in the God-like image? Therefore, I am saying let us learn from these creatures such as this because we know that animals are very jealous and protective of their young ones, what more of human beings. I thank you.

         HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: Thank you Mr. President. First of all I would like to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Sen. Tongogara on child marriages. The Hon. Sen. showed her concern as a mother, especially looking at the fate of the girl child. Mr. President, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to second and debate this very important motion. Most girls who are married as children are more likely to experience domestic violence and have a lower status in the society because too often child brides are denied their rights to pursue their education, employment or even entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Marriage Amendment Bill hopefully, would consolidate marriage laws and above all criminalise child marriages and this would be the first step by Government to end these unions. Furthermore, they will be need to look broader and also address the route cause with the law in place. Government and other players like the very important institutions of our traditional leaders, church leaders and other stake holders including us Senators in this august House should join hands in addressing the specific drivers of child marriages in the country.

In other countries, child marriages are attributed to poverty, gender discrimination and lack of education. In our country, the belief that a girl child is somehow inferior to the boy child is also a contributing factor. We can have the laws but the culture can continue and in many cases go unreported at the expense of the girl child. In many rural communities where child marriages are rife, girls are not given the same value as boys and they are widely perceived as a burden to their families.

This has led to marrying off young girls below the age of 18 as a cushion of economic hardships and as a way of transferring the burden to the husband’s family. Mr. President, vigorous education across the board that all children are equal regardless of sex need to be undertaken in those communities with the help of our traditional leaders who are respected in their communities, if families start valuing their children as

equals, they would not marry off young girls. 

         Parents should also be educated that it is their duty to support the girl child as they would do for the boy child and see them both finish school and become empowered individuals who can make bold

decisions in their lives.

Mr. President, educational levels among adolescent girls from

Zimbabwe’s poorest households are more likely to marry before the age of 18 unlike girls who live in the richest households.  This should be corrected through Government intervention.  Education should be affordable and preference should also be given to girls so that they can continue with their studies even if their parents cannot afford.

Religious sects should receive massive education to end these child marriages as many desperate Zimbabweans always give in to the command of the man of cloth without questioning the logic of the issue at hand.  There are members of certain churches who are said to be encouraging girls as young as 10 to marry old men for spiritual guidance.  Mr. President, on the other hand, men in other churches are said to be entitled to marry girls to shield them from premarital sex; they should be furnished with the new marriage laws and the consequences they should expect if they do not abide by the law.  Child marriage is a global evil with recorded socio-economic and health disenfranchisement of its victims.  The facts of child marriages are therefore dire and if the problem is not addressed, it causes a serious direct threat to the country’s efforts towards attainment of sustainable development goals.

Child marriages often results in children being alienated from the school system and in the process shattering them away from capacity realisation and development or even empowerment opportunities that could lift them and their society out of poverty.  It also results in rampant violation of human rights and social exclusion as brides are exposed to inequality, domestic violence, and lack of choice about their sexual reproductive and developmental rights.  With every child bride, the country loses a future teacher, doctor, scientist or even a political leader Mr. President.

In conclusion Mr. President, statistics show that we have more women than men.  However, why are men the perpetrators?  Instead of going for extra women, they go for the girl child.  How would you feel when your own girl child is the victim and you are the father?  Mr. President, as Senate, I think we have a mammoth task of coming up with legislation that will deal once and for all with perpetrators of this child marriage.  Lastly, I would like to thank again Hon. Sen. Tongogara for bringing to this august House this very important motion.  I thank you.

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

adjourn.

HON. CHIRONGOMA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24th July, 2019.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA), the Senate

adjourned at Twenty One Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.

 

 

 

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