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SENATE HANSARD 26 AUGUST 2021 VOL 30 NO 60

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 26th August, 2021

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE

BILL RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to inform the Senate that I have received the Pensions and Providence Funds Bill [H. B. 17A, 2019] from the National Assembly.

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: With me, I have a list

of apologies received from Ministers who are not going to be able to attend because of some other commitments;

The Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Hon.

General (Rtd).  Dr. C. G. D. N. Chiwenga; the Minister of Foreign

Affairs and International Trade, Hon. Amb. Dr. F. M. Shava; the

Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Hon. C. N. G. Mathema; the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. M. N. Ndlovu; the Minister of Mines and Mining

Development, Hon. Chitando; the Minister of Industry and Commerce,

Hon. Dr. Kanhutu-Nzenza; the Minister of Local Government and

Public Works, Hon. J. G. Moyo; the Deputy Minister of Mines and

Mining Development, Hon. P. Kambamura; the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities, Hon. D. Garwe; the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Hon. M. Chombo.

If I may welcome the Ministers who are in the House.  We have the Leader of the House, Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa, the Minister of

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services; Hon. K. Kazembe, the

Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. Murwira, the

Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and

Technology Development; Hon. Mhona, the Minister of Transport and

Infrastructural Development; Hon. Musabayana, Deputy Minister of

Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Hon. M. Mudyiwa, the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development.  Those are the

Ministers we have.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: My question is very simple Madam President.  Every Thursday, we raise our complaint over the attendance of ministers, that they are not taking this business seriously.   They are not taking it as one of the duties that they should discharge to the people of Zimbabwe.  On Tuesday, there is a Cabinet meeting, do we get such excuses?  I think the answer is a very simple no because they plan that they will all attend and they are 90% present.

All these ministers have their own Deputy Ministers but there are a few Deputy Ministers here.  Does it mean that on Thursday, when we have such an important occasion in the country, all the ministers will be busy?  Specifically, the Minister of Health and Child Care, we can say that the Vice President would be busy, it is understandable but the Deputy Minister can come.  The country is under the COVID-19 pandemic; the people of Zimbabwe want to know where we stand so that we help each other on the way forward.  The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, it is a big issue when it comes to our finances – we heard that we were given USD1 billion and the citizens want to know what is going to happen but the Minister and his deputy are not here.  I think we are not being serious with the people of Zimbabwe and we are not withholding the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  We are belittling the President of Zimbabwe.  Madam President, if this is child play, we should go back home and if it is a serious matter, ministers should not treat us in such a way. We are disappointed and it shows that the commitment of ministers to the citizens of Zimbabwe is not good.  They are not concerned about the development of the nation and this is unacceptable and below standard.  For those who have come, we should thank them – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, Hear.] –

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: If I may support what

Hon. Sen. Komichi said, that it is not only the Cabinet but the National

Assembly, Ministers make sure they do attend.  That one I have noticed.  Also, it is no use to have someone to send an apology every Thursday yet he has never attended Senate.

If I may ask the Hon. Minister and Leader of the House, would you please make sure that His Excellency the President knows about this and he gives us an answer?  We send you because you represent us in

Cabinet.  I thank you.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President.

My question, because the Minister of Health is not in the House, is directed to the Leader of Government Business.  Madam President, there is positive progress on how we are managing COVID as a nation.  Right now, there was an announcement that schools are going to open.  We have also welcomed the policy directive that our immunisation is going to be downscaled starting from 14 years, which implies it is going to cover much of our school going children.  My question is - what is the Government policy vis-a-vis ensuring that all children who are going to school are vaccinated before schools opening?  Is it not proper for them to be vaccinated before opening but we are now only a week towards opening, which means they would not be able to receive the full vaccination?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):

Thank you Madam President.  I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera for that very important question.  First of all, I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the good compliments for the work the Government of Zimbabwe did to make sure that we contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has been a very difficult balance to make between serving people’s lives and also serving economic activities of the country.  This is worldwide; it is a problem which is affecting all countries, not only

Zimbabwe.

He is particularly concerned about ensuring that all school children from the age of 14 – we announced as Cabinet yesterday that there is now going to be a consideration in making sure that children will be vaccinated from the age of 14 going upwards.  There has been a study going on and now it has actually approved to be effective because also children are being infected by COVID–19.

The Government has done everything possible.  There is an accelerating procurement of vaccination in the country.  I am sure you have noticed that we are almost receiving 2.5 million every week; sometimes one million. We are actually looking at achieving the 20 million herd immunity which we require by end of the year.  We have also ramped up vaccination and one of the decisions which have been taken is to make sure that health workers’ welfare is looked into so that they work hard to make sure that they vaccinate.  Our people also are clamouring for vaccination, which was not the case before when we started.  So, we are really doing everything possible to make that we vaccinate all those from that age.  At this point, it is still from 18 years upwards.  The 14 years has just been included and the Ministry of Health and Child Care is now looking at how they can be included in the group of those who are being vaccinated.

We have also announced the reopening of schools and we appreciate the fact that children have not been going to school since June.  I think the experts, the decisions which are taken are not just taken by one person but there is a group of people who are experts, who will look into the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.  They did a lot of work together with all stakeholders to make sure that we prepare our schools, to make sure they are safe and we will be able to look after our children and contain the disease.  So, the decision which was taken has been done after very tireless considerations.  A lot of work has been done; a lot of research has been done and a lot of money has been invested to make sure that as our children go back to school they will be going into safe schools, where we will be able to contain the spread of COVID-19.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President.

My supplementary question is; in view of this, what is the Government policy on confusing directives where different institutions say students should come vaccinated?  Some say if you are not vaccinated you are not going to attend lessons.  What is the Government position on such directives?  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: Thank you Madam President.  I

would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera for that supplementary question.  I think I was about to talk on policy of fake news. Definitely as

Government and as Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, our job is to make sure that we put a good narrative.  We know that with the advent of social media, there is a lot of fake news, so our job is to make sure that we continuously put the right narrative.  The fact that we came up with the Post-Cabinet Briefing which is given timely, the same day we had Cabinet, is to make sure that our people get

timeous information which they can validate basing on what they read from social media.  So, there is no Government policy which says students should be vaccinated for them to go back to school.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Before we proceed, I

think we have been joined by the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Hon. Zhemu Soda and the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.

HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Thank you Madam President.  I wanted

to direct my question to the Minister or Deputy Ministers of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement.  So, I would redirect my question to the Leader of Government in the House but before that, I want to acknowledge the Leader of Government Business in the House.  She has always been in this House.  She has never been absent. I just want to applaud that and acknowledge her.

Now Madam President, I realise that the 2021/2022 farming season is fast approaching, regardless of the fact that the farming season for

2020/2021 the country did quite well, I want to know from the relevant

Ministry how prepared are they in terms of the following: (a) all inputs for all schemes (b) tractors for tillage taking into consideration that in some provinces draught power was completely wiped out.  For example, Mashonaland Central in Mount Darwin, cattle were wiped out by diseases; Muzarabani and part of Mazowe-Chiweshe.  So how prepared is the Ministry with tractors for tillage? (c ) How prepared are they or how far have they gone to coordinate with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development on the provision of fuel?  Madam President, I am asking these questions because the last season, farmers ended up receiving compound D and herbicides as late as March, which is a very bad way of doing business.  I thank you. 

C                        st250300                             26/08/2021

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND

BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): 

Thank you Madam President.  Firstly, I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Kambizi for the compliments.  I want to say this is a very important question which concerns food security in our country, which brings in stability.  We need stability for this country’s economy to do well.  I think this is what the Government is seized with to make sure that we do have food security.

As he rightly said, last season we did extremely well.  We thank the Lord for the good rains but moreso for the strategic plans which were put in place by the Second Republic.  The Pfumvudza /Intwasa was a big success.  We are looking at harvesting in terms of all grains, 3.8 million tonnes.  As I speak right now, we have maize delivered at our GMB depots to the tune of 750 000 metric tonnes.  At the end of the delivery season, we are looking at having 1.7 million tonnes of maize.  What this means is we do have enough to feed our people, at the same time, we also have excess but that does not take us back.  What we want to do is to make sure that we continue producing more because Zimbabwe can actually be the bread basket for the region.  We can export or even turn the carbohydrates into proteins; that is making use of livestock production, piggery and chickens so that we can at least continuously make the farmers produce more.

Every Tuesday in Cabinet, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Hon. Dr. Masuka gives a report on the preparations which the Ministry is doing in terms of the farming season.  Yesterday in Cabinet, the Minister gave a comprehensive report of what the Ministry is doing in terms of preparations for the 2021/2022 season.  There is the Pfumvudza programme, the Command Agriculture and also the private sector involvement.  This is what the Ministry of Agriculture is seized with at this point.  They are very much concerned about making sure that the inputs are availed to the farmer in time.  Rightly the Hon. Senator said there are cases in the last season where farmers got fertilizers a little late.  This is where they have learnt a lesson.  That is what they are trying to rectify to make sure that this season we can even double what we produced in the last season.  I thank you Madam President.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Thank you Madam President.  My

question is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education,

Innovation, Science and Technology Development.  We are thankful for the lifting of lockdown from Level 4 to Level 2.  We are thankful for the opening of schools because our children were now rusty.  My question is: the term is starting on Monday, ends at the end of October and after one week they open and the term ends in December.  Does this mean this is term two and the one commencing in November will be third term?  There are schools that are charging $55 000, what it means is that we are going to pay $55 000 for this term, then another $55 000 to cater for three weeks  the third term.  That came out on social media and we need clarity on this issue.  Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY

EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA):  Thank you Madam

President.  I think this question should be directed to the Leader of the House.  Thank you.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Thank you Madam President.  Schools are being opened on Monday and we are thankful because our children had been affected by not going to school.  My question is, is this the second term, from 30th August to end of October?  From the communication that is there, schools are going to be closed end of October for one week, we open and we close end of December. Are we going to pay fees twice or we are going to pay once?  If we are paying twice, it will be very difficult because there is a school which is demanding $55 000.  Also, the time that we were given to prepare for the opening of schools is only four days.  Is it possible that children will go to school with enough fees?

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND

BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): 

Thank you very much Madam President.  I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Komichi for the question.  However, it is not a policy question. I think all parents were looking forward for their children to go back to school.  The COVID-19 pandemic is a virus which did not give a chance for people to plan.  When the third wave came, it killed a lot of people.  As people of Zimbabwe, we should know that no one wants people to suffer, not to engage in their businesses and to travel but it is all about life.  We want to uphold the sanctity of life.

Parents knew that children would go back to school in June but it was not possible because of the third wave.  On the issue of fees, I think the case is between them and the schools so that they can come up with plans on how fees will be paid.  I will take it up to the Ministry so that the Minister can come up with a statement so that as we are representing the people, we go back to them with a statement.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  The Minister has left out one thing.  Are these going to be two terms?  Are we going to pay fees for this term and also for the other term?

  *THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I think that is what the

Minister said, that she is taking it up to the Minister who is responsible so that he can give a Press Statement. I think she has written down that question so that when he is giving the Press Statement, he will answer all the questions.

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President. I want

to direct my question to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to appraise this House whether our education system is still ranked No. 2 in Africa even in the aftermath of COVID-19? If the answer is yes, what is the Ministry doing to fix this standard?

         THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):

Thank you Madam President and I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi for that very important question. Yes, Zimbabwe is very well known for our literacy rate which is very impressive and this is a study which was done by UNESCO. We are very proud to be holding that position. Certainly, our education system has been affected heavily by COVID-19. I would like to say at this point, nobody can say whether we have moved down or up because another study or research has not yet been done. As a country, we know that a lot of our children have not been able to go to school during this COVID-19. Very few schools have not been able to continue with learning, mostly children in the rural areas.

It has hit us hard as Government, that a lot of our children in the rural areas have not been able to do on line lessons. Nevertheless, a lot of work has been done by Government to make sure that there are radio lessons which are done so those who are in the rural areas can also access. As Government, we have come up with a deliberate policy to make sure that there are three things which are required for our schools in the rural areas to be able to carry out e-learning. We need electricity and we know that not all our schools are on the grid. Government has accelerated investment in the solar energy which is a renewable energy which will at least allow that all schools can have electricity.          It is also important for those schools to have gadgets whether it is smart phones, laptops, computers and we have seen our President launching a local production company, ZIDCO in MSASA which is now producing computers, smart phones and laptops so that at least our schools can have those gadgets. The Ministry of ICT has also been given money in this budget to make sure that we have more base stations because for a school to carry out e-learning, they need connectivity, gadgets and they also need electricity. Those three things are very important and the Government is working hard to make sure that we do not drag behind in terms of education. I thank you.

    *HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Thank you Madam President. My

other question has been taken by Hon. Sen. Komichi. The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education is not in, so I will direct my question to the Leader of Government Business. I want to know Government policy when it comes to the change of school terms. Are the examination dates going to change? For the lost days, are there any plans to compensate those days? Before I sit down, we have noticed that in the last days, some schools registered 0% in their public examinations – was there anything that took place in those schools to rectify that?

  *THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND

BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):

Thank you Madam President and I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Muzenda for her pertinent question because the education of children is very important. I have said that it is very difficult to balance things in this COVID pandemic. For schools to open, there are a lot of things that happen. Stakeholders are involved, parents, teachers and the Ministry was visiting all those places so that they come up with a position because it is not a thing for one person only. There were a lot of consultations that take place. I think the question is the same as the one which has been asked. So, I have seen that we want the Minister to give a statement in this House on how he is going to go about it because this is troubling us as parents.

   *HON. SEN. FEMAI: Thank you Madam President. I want to

direct my question to the Leader of the House. We all know that the policy of the new dispensation is not limited to giving hero status to the liberation war heroes only but also to the entertainers. For example, Oliver Mtukudzi was declared a hero. My question is, what about George Shaya because all these entertainers used to go and watch soccer when George Shaya playing.  Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL

HERITAGE (HON. KAZEMBE): Thank you Madam President.  I

would like to sincerely thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  I do agree with the Hon. Senator that George Shaya did a very critical role, he is indeed a legend in any language- [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – Anyone who knows soccer cannot talk about soccer without talking about George Shaya.  He was a soccer star for five years, which is something that nobody else has done but him.  So I agree, I had a conversation yesterday with the Minister of Sports and she told me that ZIFA had applied and an application was made.  Madam President, I would like to believe that the papers are in the process but I am not in a position to say what will happen.  As Ministry, we are not responsible for the conferment but I do agree and subscribe to the fact that George

Shaya was and is a legend, even in his death.  I thank you [HON.

SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –

*HON. SEN. DENGA: My question is directed to the Minister of

Transport and Infrastructural Development.  I want to thank the Government for declaring all the roads as a national disaster.  My question is, in the new farms we have seen that the farmers are ploughing near the roads because they have ploughed close to the roads.  What is your Ministry saying where people have closed the contours which help water out of the roads?

*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND

INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  Thank

you Madam President, I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Denga for posing a question about our roads which are a danger zone.  The President has taken it upon himself that after the heavy rains, we should come together and mend our roads and that is what is happening right now.  What the Hon. Sen. Denga wants to know is that we did not adopt all the roads but we looked at the traffic of the roads, whether they lead to hospitals, schools or not. So these are the roads which we treat as emergency.  We did not adopt only in the urban areas but also in the rural areas. What we are looking at when constructing these roads is, when the road passes through a farm, we make sure that when we have finished we leave the farm in the condition that we found it.

As we are going about, I think you should let us know what we should do on those roads.  I am happy that we come from the same area and it is important that after this, you should come and see me so that I will go and access the roads.

*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: Thank you Madam Speaker.

My question is directed to the Leader of the House.  We are proud of her because she is here all the time.  My first question is on education; we have this pandemic and many of our relatives have died. Are all the teachers vaccinated?   Some of our relatives died after children had attended school and we found that this virus was brought about by the children.  We have quite a number of people who got sick.  Are all the teachers vaccinated against this virus because they are going to be in contact with children, both at boarding schools or day scholars?            Secondly, we are preparing for census and mostly teachers are the ones who go about counting people.  We are appealing that when they come, they should show us that they have been vaccinated because they will come and spread the virus to us in the rural areas.

*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): 

Thank you Madam President, I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Hungwe for the two questions.  On the first one, we are really blessed because our

President was the first one to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Besides washing of hands, sanitising, masking up or taking temperatures, the most primary thing is to get vaccinated.  If you have been fully vaccinated, it will help you to boost your immune system.  You can have the disease but it will be lowered, you will not be hospitalised.

Madam President, when it comes to teachers, because of their importance in this country, they were the first ones to get vaccinated.  The vaccination is for free and it is still voluntary.  That is why we publicise the information so that people go and get vaccinated.  So you see how important the vaccination is.  Those who were not interested before are now showing interest because if you want to go to church you have to be fully vaccinated.  Yesterday you heard us opening restaurants for sit-in customers but you cannot get in without proof of being fully vaccinated.

What I am saying is that teachers were the first ones to be vaccinated and we have been preaching on how important it is to be vaccinated. If there are any who are not vaccinated they will be given a chance but that will not stop schools from opening.

On the personnel who are going to be carrying out population census, if it is the people’s concern that they should be vaccinated, I will relay the message to the Ministry of Finance and Economic

Development.

*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE:I have a supplementary

question Hon. President of the Senate.  I did not say that schools should not reopen.  They should reopen.  There are some people who do not want to be vaccinated and these include teachers.  What is Government policy with regards to those teachers who are not yet vaccinated to ensure that they are vaccinated?  Is there not a way to ensure that teachers are vaccinated since it is now mandatory to produce a vaccination card at church and restaurants?

  *HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA:There is no policy yet but the

Ministry of Health and Child Care are ensuring that COVID-19 guidelines are followed.  The Government has set aside funds for the provision of sanitizers, fumigation, temperature machines and masks. I will convey your concern to the Minister of Primary and Secondary

Education so that he looks into it.

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU:My question is directed to the Leader

of the House, although it was supposed to go to the Minister of Health and Child Care.  What is the Government doing in terms of capacitating our District hospitals with ambulances or vehicles to transport vaccines to various health centres in various constituencies?  As I speak Madam President, most of the Hon. Members use their personal issue vehicles to transport vaccines from point A to B.

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):I

would like to thank the Hon. Sen. for asking a very important question on the issue of capacitating the Ministry of Health and Child Careto make sure that they have vehicles which can go all the way to theDistrict level. The importance of making sure that vaccines are closer to the people cannot be overemphasised.  The work which has been done in terms of response to this pandemic, refurbishing our district and provincial hospitals shows the importance which the Government puts in making sure that everyone can access vaccines when they need them.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has been resourced to a certain extent but that does not mean they will have everything that they need.  I would like to thank Hon. Members of Parliament who are assisting with their vehicles in their constituencies.I think this is an issue that the Minister and Government are seized with to make sure that vaccines are transmitted using the Ministry’s transport.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:My question is directed to the

Minister of Women’s Affairs but in her absence, I will direct it to the Leader of the House.  

I would like to know whether our women are accessing funds from the Women’s Bank without any conditions.

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):We

are happy as a Government that we do have a Women’s Bank which is there to make sure that it helps in empowering our women, especially in the rural areas.  The good thing about the Second Republic is for the first time,  the Women’s Bank has been capacitated to make sure it carries out the mandate of empowering women.

There have been teething problems but we still encourage a lot of women to register for those loans because that bank was put there to make sure that women are empowered.  They have been helping some women here and there but accessing money in a bank or any place is not an easy process.  Women are being encouraged to form consortiums so that they can present proposals which can go through very fast and also in terms of paying back.

I must say that the Women’s Bank is very ready to work with the women from the experience that I have.  It is just that the money is not enough to give the women who may need.  We will implore Government to continue putting in more money because we all know that when mothers are empowered, families are also empowered.  When families are empowered, communities are also empowered.  When communities are empowered, the country is empowered.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:  Thank you Mr.

President.  I want to thank the Minister for the response.  Minister, to what extent have you put in measures to ensure that those women who are outside urban environment, meaning rural women, can access the money?

HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA:  Thank you very much Mr.

President.  I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for the supplementary question.  We thank him for being a traditional leader who is supportive of women and the need for women especially in the rural areas to be empowered.  I want to say we are all leaders in this august House and it is our job also as leaders, to make sure that we encourage those women and we show them the way so that they can access the forms for registration with the Women’s Bank.  I have seen the chief executive of the Women’s Bank going around the provinces and they have provincial officers of the Women’s Bank in all provinces.  It is a question of making sure that as leaders we help, encourage and instil confidence in those women in our rural areas to access the loans so that they get empowered.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you Mr. President.  First and foremost, can you allow me to ask two questions to two different

Ministers?

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  No, one

question at a time.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  My question goes to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.  We have a road at the border post which links Zimbabwe with South Africa.  The road is about 5km to where Harare and Bulawayo roads meet.  People have been working there for more than 15 years. What plans do they have or when can they complete that road?

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Your

question is not on policy.  It is about a particular road.  I do not know whether the Minister is aware of that particular road and can answer that particular question.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND

INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank

you Mr. President.  I thank Hon. Sen. Mohadi for the question.  Like what you have rightly said Mr. President, it is a particular road but I would gladly assist the Hon. Member that, I will task my Provincial

Roads Engineer to specifically look into that road.  With your indulgence, if she can give me the exact road, I will take it upon myself and revert to the particular road that has been mentioned by the Hon.

Member.  Thank you Mr. President.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No.

66

HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Mr. President, I move that time for

Questions Without Notice be extended by 10 minutes.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development.  We have been struggling to access fuel.  We all know that not all the service stations are supposed to sell fuel in US dollar.  Also, all the service stations that are getting US dollars from the RBZ auction system are selling their fuel in US dollars instead of RTGS.  This has been going on for a long time.  Have you arrested any of the perpetrators?  If so, are they going to refund all people they have been stealing from?  *THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER

DEVELOPMENT (HON. SODA):  Thank you Mr. President.  I want

to thank the Hon. Member for the pertinent question.  It is true that for a long time, people had questions concerning fuel that is acquired by service stations that would have benefited from the RBZ auction system.  As a Ministry, we have tasked ZERA to monitor the delivery of the fuel from NOIC to services stations where they are being sold.  ZERA would be monitoring the quantities delivered, for example if it is a delivery of 10 thousand litres from NOIC to an identified service station, it should not be diverted.  The monitoring is ongoing because there was the understanding that fuel was not being delivered where it was supposed to but was diverted to other garages where they will be sold in US dollars.

Currently, from the investigations that have been made, it shows that there are some service stations that were receiving fuel from NOIC and it was sold to commercial customers. We already have particular garages that are selling fuel in local currency.  It depends on whether they have been availed the opportunity to get foreign currency.  If they did not get foreign currency, they are allowed to do so. There is a scheme which is facilitated by the Reserve Bank which allows them to sell in local currency.  Another scheme is that someone looks for their own money and they are allowed to then sell in foreign currency to enable them to acquire fuel without the assistance of the Reserve Bank.

There are circumstances involved and different situations.  I am sure you all heard the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa saying that they were able to monitor how fuel was being transferred.  This was in reference to those who were involved in the unlawful movement of fuel – the issue is referred back to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe because they are the ones who oversee this process.  They have the right and authority to deal with these unlawful acts.

*HON. SEN. DENGA: Thank you Hon. President.  I want you to assist us.  If you remember very well Hon. President, since we started this Parliament Session, this question always comes up.  Does it mean that we now have three years without an answer because we want

Zimbabweans to understand and know the truth?  We want clarity on that particular issue for the nation to say when we apprehend people involved in these unlawful acts, they are sent to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.  Why are we sending people to the RBZ if it is a criminal offence?  We now have passed three years and fuel is being brought into the country but Zimbabwean citizens are suffering.  Can the Minister clarify on this particular issue? May he specify when we can get a conclusive and substantive report on that particular issue?

HON. SODA: Thank you very much Hon. President.  We work as the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.  We work together with the Ministry of Finance and we work with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.  Fuel is received and monitored by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.  However, we are saying the money that is being used to acquire this fuel, where did it come from? It came from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, where the law that governs and monitors as well as regulate emanate.  They are the ones who regulate on which currency the fuel will be sold.  That is the reason why we send it back to the RBZ to say this is what we observed in our investigations.  They also make their own investigations and come up with a conclusive agreement between the Ministry and the RBZ.  That is where we come up with a resolution to say, if it means we need to withdraw the licence because of the unlawful acts, it is done.

I think from what we heard from the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, explaining to us the Cabinet Report, people were supposed to be satisfied and acknowledge that we have done something in that regard.  I cannot give an exact date on when this will be concluded but I can promise that we now have a certain stage that we have reached.  Fuel was being abused but I am sure we have made significant progress in putting a stop to that unlawful act.

We understand that we have people who were now pocketing that foreign currency in their own pockets.  Thank you very much Hon.

President.

HON. SEN. CHIEF NDLOVU: Thank you Mr. President.  I think the questions are going to keep on coming back for as long as there is no clarity in terms of the approach.  I may have missed something that the Minister was explaining in Shona but I am at a stage where I am trying to understand whether there are clear checks and balances from the Ministry of Energy and Power Development in terms of returns.  Are they in a position to say, we received X amount of fuel and the Reserve Bank paid us X amount and Z was paid to this garage and these are the returns and that these are the garages which we think should have been selling fuel in local currency?  Certainly, we think that this is the information that should be readily available. My question is, is there such information that is readily available other than the elaborate investigations that are being referred to?

I remember the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development was here and she also indicated that she did not have sufficient information. She had to go back to the RBZ to verify these things.  I am saying, if there is this back and forth between institutions of Government, that should be speaking to each other, then we get worried as to whether there are clear checks and balances that are available to make sure that there are proper checks to virement.  I thank you.

         THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER

DEVELOPMENT (HON. SODA): Thank you Madam President.

What is happening at the moment is, we have instituted some investigations. In the past, we used to depend on information that was coming from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).  May be just to confirm the excuse which was given by the Deputy Minister, but we then said within ourselves let us get the information from the source, where the fuel would have been received when it is coming from outside the country, which is NOIC. We are in control of NOIC.  Inasmuch as we needed some information, which we could not get immediately from RBZ, we then said we can equally get that information from NOIC.       What we are doing then is, for every dispatch of fuel that is made from NOIC, ZERA is assigning some officials to track the fuel to the point at which the fuel will be sold.  This is how we have managed to identify that there has been some abuse of that fuel.  Some garages that were tracked were found to be selling the fuel in United States Dollars, instead of the currency that was intended to benefit the public, which is the local currency.  So this is the system that we have put in place.  So far we have done our investigations but for the fact that the Statutory Instrument which I have already spoken about, which is SI 127:21 is administered by the RBZ - it is the instrument which will determine whether an offence has been committed or not.

What we have done is to report to the RBZ because we are

not a monetary institution or Ministry all that is handled by either the Ministry of Finance or RBZ.  We have referred that to them and at an appropriate time, they will advise us as to how they will proceed with the information that we would have supplied to them.  I cannot speak on their behalf.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Hon. President.  My question

is directed to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.  We are aware that the Government has been putting a lot of effort to re-engage with the Western World.  My question is how far has the programme gone?  Are we having any hope that within a short time to come, we can have reengagement completed?  Thank you.

  THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND

INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. MUSABAYANA):  Thank you

Mr. President.  I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Komichi for asking a very important question.  Indeed, President E. D. Mnangagwa has been known for this famous philosophy of engagement and re-engagement.  It also entails bridging or rebuilding broken bridges between Zimbabwe and some member States, particularly the Western World, the USA, UK and some of the European countries.  From the time we started, the relationship was bad but we have seen tremendous milestones.        Just to show that the relationship is improving and re-engagement is bearing fruits, we look at the results.  We look at the signs of the time.  Just this week, we heard the news that for the first time, Zimbabwe has received an SDR from the IMF.  That has never happened over a long period of time –[HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –   We have seen the United States of America coming with investments into the Batoka Gauge hydro-electric investment.  We have also seen the Americans coming in with investments on the John Deere facility.  Over and above that, we have known the American Ambassador as being hostile and discouraging investment in Zimbabwe but of late, the outgoing ambassador Brian Nichols has indeed agreed or affirmed that Zimbabwe has made tremendous milestone in the reform agenda and has pledged to encourage and lure American investors to come and invest in Zimbabwe.

We have seen the British and European Union reducing the level of sanctions that have been imposed on Zimbabwe over the years.  We have seen a lot of engagement in terms of bi-laterals in terms of capacity building funds or donor funds.  We have also seen how the international world responded to Cyclone Idai.  A lot of countries participated or assisted our nation in a manner that we never anticipated or ever thought we could be assisted to such levels.  That just goes to affirm, to underpin the fact that His Excellency President, E.D. Mnangagwa’s Vision of engagement and re-engagement is indeed bearing fruits.  Of course, there were people within the country who have been thinking that we were wasting time or the President was wasting time.  As the Chief Diplomat, he saw it fit to pursue that important goal and we can go on and on with the investment that is coming into the country but I think for now, the writing is on the wall that the re-engagement is bearing fruits and it is about time we celebrate.  Of course, it is a continuous process.

It is a moving target.  I so submit Hon. Chair.

(v)*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU: Thank you Mr. President Sir.

My question was supposed to be directed to the Minister of Agriculture, but in his absence, I will direct it to the Leader of Business in the House.  There is a disease which is killing cattle in my area.  They start having swollen legs and within a few days they die.  I do not know whether it is January disease or not.  Is the Ministry aware of such an outbreak, which can wipe out our cattle?  If so, what is the Ministry doing to curb spread of that disease to other provinces?  I thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): 

Thank you Hon. President of Senate.  I would want to thank Hon. Sen.

Chief Chundu for his question concerning livestock.  The department of Agritex in the Second Republic, the first thing they looked into is to say our national herd was depreciating because of January disease.  Those in the rural areas no longer have any cattle.  This is not good news for our farmers because cattle are used for many purposes.  The Government came up with a programme called the Presidential Tick Programme which gives our farmers dipping chemicals and tick grease to make sure that our livestock is protected from tick borne diseases.

The Government is also repairing dip tanks so that farmers are able to dip their animals regularly.  We understand that our wealth is in our domestic animals such as cattle.  I would want to encourage Hon. Senators that if there is a disease outbreak, they should get in touch with the Veterinary Services or Agritex officials in their respective areas so that it comes to their attention.  It is important for the nation to know that we do have Veterinary offices in our districts and we should seek their urgent attention.  Thank you.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION,

PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN.

MUTSVANGWA), the Senate adjourned at Five Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 14th September, 2021.   

 

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