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SENATE HANSARD 24 SEPTEMBER 2013 VOL. 23 NO. 03

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 24th September, 2013

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

PRAYERS

(MADAM PRESIDENT in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY MADAM PRESIDENT

PHOTOGRAPHS FOR SENATORS

         MADAM PRESIDENT: I have to inform the Senate that all hon. senators who have not had their photographs taken are kindly requested to do so up to 16:30 p.m. today. This will take place in the Member’s dining hall today. The photos are required for uploading on the website and development of Members of Parliament charts.

E-MAIL

Hon. senators are also advised to submit their e-mail addresses and other contact details to the Public Relations Department, in order to facilitate proper logistical arrangements on various Parliamentary programmes.

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

MADAM PRESIDENT: Finally may I remind hon. senators to

please switch off your cellphones before the commencement of business. 

MOTION

PRESIDNTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

SENATOR MUTSVANGWA: I move that a respectful address

be presented to the President of Zimbabwe as follows:

May it please you, your Excellency the President;

We, the Members of Parliament of Zimbabwe, desire to express our loyalty to Zimbabwe and beg leave to offer our respectful thanks for the speech, which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

SENATOR MUMVURI: I second.

SENATOR MUTSVANGWA Madame President, on the 17th of

September 2013, His Excellency, President R.G. Mugabe of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was pleased to open the Eighth

Parliament. His address was to usher in the legislative work of the Eighth Parliament. I want to hail the President for laying out a clear and precise work programme which we will strive to fulfill as legislators so that all the three arms of Government, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary can deliver the often delayed prosperity which our people rightly expect in this well endowed African land that is full of hope.

The President succinctly, but with significant purpose, made reference to issues relevant to the revival of key sectors of our economy, that is, agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing leading to reviving the following  14 Bills to be presented for debate during this session. That is Land Commission Bill, Bank Act Amendment Bill, The Consumer Protection Bill, Zimbabwe Quality Standards Regulatory

Authority Bill, Public Private Partnership Bill, Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill, The Border Post Authority Bill, Toll Fees from ZIMRA to

ZINARA, Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill, Harmonisation of Labour

Laws Bill, Bill for establishment of the Gwanda State University,

Marondera Agricultural Science and Technology, Constituency Development Fund Bill,  A Savings and Cooperatives Societies Bill and a Bill to domesticate trafficking in persons especially women and children.

I am sure that my colleagues will dwell on these when they present their responses. The address of the President is a point of departure in the long march of our Zimbabwe as it seeks to reassert itself on the global stage, after years of foreign rule and subsequent persecution by those who still hanker for post colonial control. The Lancaster House Armistice of 1979 marked the resurgence of Zimbabwe as an independent state with a people who had, through blood and iron painfully founded their own army for self protection. Independence Day on April 18th, 1980 opened the road for political consolidation of that identity. The bold land reform program re-established the communion of the people and their main economic means of livelihood.

Madam President,  hon. senators, now that the elections have come and gone we look forward to meaningful and effective collaboration from all Zimbabweans so that a new can-do spirit reminiscent of the euphoric 1980 is once again fluttering over the land. It is important that our work in this august House meets the rekindled expectations. We dare not disappoint them at all.

The President, is right that the starting point is to translate our recently passed home grown Constitution to practical reality. I was covice chair of the COPAC Committee of Parliament that spearheaded the writing of it. The people endorsed it in a referendum. Now we must make it work so that it can stand the test of time by delivering on aspects that are dear to the day to day life of our people. This is an important assignment that requires time, effort and diligence even as we deliver on other areas of the people’s electoral dreams.

Madam President, the majority of our people still live off the land with their life centered on farming. They are happy that they now have their land back. Their fervent hope is for it to deliver more rewarding means of existence that launches them on a road to prosperity, away from hunger and other deprivations. Funding is the key. We need to empower our farmers through provision of inputs support and marketing incentives.

Madam President and hon. senators, the rapid recovery of the tobacco sector attests to the fact that; given the inputs, our people can do it. This year alone, tobacco leaf producers pocketed $600 million, indeed a princely sum that is transforming our people’s livelihood forever. They have become part of the global cash economy as their blend leaf tobacco is much sought after in all corners of the cigarette smoking world. We need to repeat this success with other cash crops as well as animal husbandry. It is our job as representatives of the people to study all issues pertinent to farming and come up with requisite laws that will help sustain the momentum of production for the farming community.

We must exorcise the ghost that Africa depends on the charity of other global food producers when its savannas can produce so much food.  The harnessing of water, the use of water saving techniques through increasingly accessible and free solar energy is a game changing opportunity for the betterment of rural lives.  We must employ solar pumps so that water is available for all year farming leading to several crops across seasons.

An engagement with various technology partners especially China is so central to this agenda.  Members of the House will be pleased to know that I am already employing this leading energy technology at my farm and have been overseeing its commercial deployment in various regions and districts.

Madam President and hon. senators, no investor will risk money in a country plagued by power cuts and consequent recourse to diesel generators.  I am heartened by the fact that several power tenders have been awarded for thermal and hydro power electricity projects.  We must also actively pursue installation of mini-hydro power stations in the mountainous Eastern Highlands.

Coal bed methane must be added to the energy mix to take advantage of Lupane gas fields.  After all, it is faster and cheaper to set up a gas plant, and its accompanying by-product is a strong chemical industry that will also supply much needed fertilizers and sulphuric acid for industry use.

The biggest single obstacle to foreign direct investment is the absence of sufficient reliable power.  Major platinum producers in this country are even using this excuse to procrastinate on setting up a national platinum refinery so that Zimbabwe does not export value to other countries.

Brazil has shown the way in bio fuels, they are our technology partners in Chisumbanje.  We must now aim for optimal use of this source of liquid fuel while taking full advantage of other chemical derivatives needed by industry.  Clearly the long ignored energy sector now cries for sustained attention.  Our work is clearly cut out on this one.

Madam President and hon. senators, now that we are in various political agendas that sought to restore ill gotten colonial property rights for a defeated racial minority have been shunted aside by our clever electorate; we can proceed on a Land Commission that addresses aspects that have a bearing on optimal land use.  This is a domestic issue of our own interest for present and future generations.

The indigenisation policy has enabled us to reclaim our mineral rights away from rapacious foreign owned entities.  Our diamond, gold, platinum, chrome, iron ore, coal and coal bed methane gas are all world- class resources.  It was an affront that they engender prosperity for far away foreigners while we the owners wallowed in poverty at home.  Foreign companies prepared elaborate prospectuses that enabled them to raise billions of dollars of capital on the London Minerals Stock Exchange.  So they can dig and cart away our minerals while our national coffers remain empty.

We are groaning under the weight of an intolerable debt burden.  On the other hand, the balance sheets of these foreign entities that hoard our mineral rights are busy enticing banks, investors and fund managers from global capital market centres in far away London, New York, Frankfurt, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Riyadh.  It is absolutely vital we pass legislation that promotes the trade of our minerals on a national stock exchange even as it may allow secondary listing in other global stock markets.

This matter will be addressed in tandem with the creation of a Sovereign Wealth Fund.  With such a treasure trouve of much coveted high value mineral assets, we can quickly turn Harare into a bustling financial centre that chases away our perennial liquidity blues.  In the process, we also create wealth and work opportunities for our energetic and well educated young people.  Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia have demonstrated that this can be done.

The setting of a Sovereign Wealth Fund will help raise much needed capital for our infrastructure needs that has seen much neglect.

We cannot be efficient and competitive as a nation unless our roads, rail and air network connections are up to scratch.  We also must invest in a world class telecommunications network so that information is as available as breathing air to our populace.  Our urban centres must have water and sanitation facilities that rival or outshine other world cities.  That way we will have a health work force that can churn our world class products and deliver comparative services, making Zimbabwe a foreign direct investment destination of choice.

All these aspirations are possible if the country is enjoying total peace and stability.  I salute the patriotism and professionalism of our defence and security establishment whose tenets are people centered courtesy of their National Liberation War crucible.  They were at the forefront of resisting regime change and remained unquestionably resolute even as they were starved of the means to discharge their national duty by a hostile Minister of Finance in the last Government of National Unity.  It is incumbent that we move rapidly to address all aspects of their conditions of service while furnishing them with up to date equipment and other needs.

Similarly, we must do all to maintain a competent civil service that is well rewarded so that it can help deliver the care and welfare our people expect and the service our business community anticipate.  In similar vein, foreign policy serves to bring prosperity to the nation.  We must adequately fund our foreign missions so that they can deliver good service in the globalised village.

Madam President and hon. senators, the new African narrative is one our hope as the continent becomes the new frontier of global growth.  The 21st century promises to be an African epoch.  It is now

Africa’s time. In a short 33 years, Zimbabwe has done so much to lay a foundation to lay a foundation that will be a bedrock for sustained economic growth.  All elements are in place to engender a homegrown Africa middle class that can put continental development back on track after years of slavery, colonial subjugation, post colonial distraction and confusion. That is the importance of the agenda spelt out by His Excellency.  We will not disappoint our people; neither will we let down our African brothers and sisters as we assume our rightful role in human progress.

Madam President and hon. senators, may the Almighty Lord bless this august Senate and guide each one of us to debate this motion with dignity, wisdom and most of all, stand united as Zimbabweans.   I thank you.

SENATOR MUMVURI:  Thank you Madam President for giving

me this opportunity to debate on the Presidential Speech.  Let me start by congratulating you for being elected to the post of President of this august Senate, I say congratulations.  I want to wish you and your Deputy President good health, wisdom and guidance as both of you will lead us during the deliberations for the next five years of this Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe.  Secondly, Madam President, I want to thank the mover of the motion, Senator Mutsvangwa, for leading debate on the Presidential address.  I hope this will form a foundation for all of us to give our maiden speeches since there are many new faces in this Senate.

Let me now turn to the Presidential Speech.  In his address, His Excellency the President set the tone for business which is going to dominate deliberations of this First Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe.  He touched on a wide range of issues but I will debate on a few of them only.  Let me start by looking at agriculture.  On agriculture, the President cited the sector as the mainstay of our economy, and indeed I agree. Apart from the other sectors like mining, manufacturing, tourism etc, agriculture is one of the key drivers to full economic recovery which we all aspire to achieve.

This is only possible, Madam President, if Government institutes policies which promote that sector.  Government should ensure timely distribution of adequate inputs, access to affordable finances and viable producer prices, not only for major crops like maize and wheat, but also for small grains such as sorghum, millet and groundnuts, which are grown in dry areas of region 4 and 5, the area I come from.  In order to avoid food shortages, Government should seriously think of giving special marketing incentives to those farmers who grow food crops especially maize and wheat as, opposed to those who grow cash crops like cotton and tobacco.

Irrigation development was specifically mentioned by the

President in this speech.  Irrigation development has to be given priority on almost all resettled farms in order to use the available land productively throughout the year instead of relying on summer cropping only.   His Excellency, the State President, also spoke about the Land

Bill, which will be introduced during the current Session of this Eighth Parliament.  This is a welcome development in my view which actually was long overdue.  The Bill, if enacted into a law, will hopefully address the questions of multiple farm owners, absentee landlords or owners and unproductive owners on pieces of agricultural land.  Some of these resettled farmers fail to appreciate that they were empowered by the new dispensation, by Government and they also fail to take farming as a business.

Madam President, I also want to urge Government to take decisive measures on idle and uncooperative former farm workers and squatters who still stay illegally on the settled farms.  The activities of these people; most of them are hampering the smooth operations on these farms through activities such as land degradation when they cut trees indiscriminately for firewood and otherwise.  They start veldt fires in pursuit of hunting with unvaccinated dogs; they also embark on stream bank cultivation and illegal mining on and around the farms with impunity.  In order to survive, they steal some of the agricultural crops on the farms and this defeats the purpose of producing for the nation by the well intended farmers.

On that note, I want to appeal to all stakeholders such as the

Zimbabwe Republic Police, EMA and the parent Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement to come up with a viable solution, to correct this situation.  I would propose personally the bringing back of the

Trespasses Act on farms to address this challenge.  Madam President, on the energy sector, the President noted with pleasure, the significant and improved supply of power due to continuous rehabilitation efforts which are being carried out at the nation’s major power producing stations.

This is encouraging indeed and this development must be sustained.

The President noted that this had been achieved through the assistance of friendly countries like China.  Such efforts are highly commendable.  The nation, especially the ordinary citizens, have to some extent, benefited through the reduction of electricity bills which they owe to the ZESA utility.  Madam President, I want to appeal to us the consumers to be also responsible and do our obligation by settling our bills timeously so that the entity can keep on generating more power for the nation.

I appeal to every senator here; let us all educate our electorates that services from any utility are not free.  We all have to pay for those services.  The best the Government can do is to subsidise the cost of production so that the charges become affordable at the end.  For example, if a bag of fertiliser costs $40 and the Government subsidises the producer and we buy it at less than $20, that is a welcome development.  That is what we must do.

Madam President, this calls for responsible and economic use of our national resources.  We are all urged to work very hard for the growth of this economy, which no doubt, exhibits great potential in every sector.

Madam President, allow me to refer to my notes which are jumbled now.  His Excellency the President, on several occasions, has reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to improving the remuneration of our civil service.  One way of doing that is by instituting reforms in the civil service and this is outlined in the new Constitution which we are using.  For example, the harmonisation and review of labour laws should be expedited in accordance with the new constitutional provisions.  I want to strongly believe, like most of you would do, that a small well remunerated civil service or labour force should be able to give the nation the quality service which we deserve.  In turn, the civil servants themselves should exhibit transparency, accountability and zero tolerance to corruption during the exercise of their duties.

Madam President, besides these few areas which are discussed above, it is my hope that this 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe will step up efforts as Team Zimbabwe to attend to issues such as health, access to water and sanitation, access to education and job creation to mention but a few of the issues which were raised in the Presidential address.

Madam President, before I sit down, I want to appeal to all of us gathered in this august Senate to take the President’s speech as a challenge for all of us legislators to deliver on the promises which we made to the people during the election time.  By the end of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe, we should be able to enact those laws which are beneficial to the majority of our people.  Madam President, on that note, I wish to thank you for your kind attention.  Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE:  I move that the debate do now

adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 25th September, 2013.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE, the Senate

adjourned at Eight Minutes past Three o’clock p.m.    

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