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SENATE HANSARD 27 JUNE 2024 VOL 33 NO 61

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 27th June, 2024

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

PRAYERS

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

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE

NON-ADVERSE REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

               THE. HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I would like to inform the Senate that I have received Non-Adverse Reports from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the following Statutory Instruments: 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75 published in the Gazette during the month of  April, 2024 and Statutory Instruments Nos 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 81A, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100 and 101 published in the Gazette during the month of May, 2024.

APPOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM HON. MINISTERS

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have, as is always the case, a list of Ministers who have tendered apologies and are as follows: Hon. M. Ncube, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion; Hon. Coventry, Minister of Sports, Recreation Arts and Culture; Hon. M. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Hon. Ziyambi, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Hon. Mavetera, Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services; Hon. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; Hon. E. Moyo, Minister of Energy and Power Development; Hon. Mombeshora,  Minister of Health and Child Care; Hon. M. Ndlovu, Minister of Industry and Commerce; Hon. N. Nyoni, Minister of Environment, Climate and Wildlife; Hon. Kazembe, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. Sanyatwe, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; Hon. Chitando, Minister of Mines and Mining Development; Hon. Kambamura, Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development; Hon. Kabikira, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works; Hon. Marapira, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development and Hon. T. Mnangagwa, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

I have a fairly good list of Members present in the Chamber today. Well done Hon. Ministers. We have Hon. Matuke, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and also the Leader of Government Business in the Senate; Hon. Mhona, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development; Hon. Chikomo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hon. Munzverengwi, Minister of State in Mashonaland East; Hon. Soda, Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities; Hon. Mayihlome, Deputy Minister of Defence; Hon. T. Moyo, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; Hon. Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement; Hon. Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement; Hon. H. Moyo, Minister of War Veterans Affairs; Hon. Mupamhanga, Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment and Vocational Training; Hon. Rwodzi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality; Hon. S. Sibanda; Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education; Hon. D. Phuti, Deputy Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services; Hon. Mazungunye, Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Marupi, Deputy Minister of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services and Hon. Gata, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

HON. CHITSAMBA: Thank you Mr. President Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. What is the Ministry doing to stop the surge in road carnage as this has become a weekly occurrence whereby hundreds of people continue to perish on Zimbabwe roads, especially those using public transport? There is too much recklessness by drivers of public transport. Thank you Mr. President.

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. President Sir.  Let me also thank Hon. Senator Chitsamba for that very important and emotional question.  It is quite saddening that for the past three weeks, we lost – when I am referring to public service vehicles, over 26 precious lives beginning June.  We cannot continue on that trajectory as a country.  Over 56 people were injured.  If we were to factor in private motor vehicles, the number could be more.

          Today, after this session, I was also mandated by the National Assembly to table a Ministerial Statement pertaining to the carnage that we are witnessing which I will also gladly address this august House on that particular matter, which is quite topical.   We are taking very serious measures in terms of mitigatory measures as a Ministry but this calls for a holistic approach.  Where we have witnessed recklessness; where we did not preserve the sanctity of life on our roads, where others are driving under the influence of alcohol and through the enforcement agents, we have said if a vehicle passes through a manned check-point and it is involved in an accident, the officials are accountable.  Not only that, even the operators of those buses, so we are not only charging the drivers.  We have witnessed that of all the accidents that I have reported, they did not have certificates of fitness, meaning that the vehicles were not supposed to be plying our roads.  So we cannot continue watching.  We cannot continue allowing that anarchy and lawlessness on our roads.  We are tabling a very deterrent Statutory Instrument (SI) to cater for such malpractices.  I want to thank the Hon. Senator for raising that very important question, which is worrying the nation.  We are witnessing 2 000 lives per annum being lost in this small country, Zimbabwe.  We cannot continue having such an alarming number.  I want to assure the august House that we will not rest on our laurels as a Ministry, but will continue even appealing to this august House for deterrent measures.  I thank you.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Before we go to the next Senator, I want to correct, Hon. Mupamhanga is the Deputy Minister for Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training.

          HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement.  It is relating to issues of the importance of soya beans in this country to support the beef industry, the milk industry, fisheries, et cetera.  At the moment, the country produces only 70 000 tonnes of soya beans as opposed to a demand of 240 000 tonnes.  What is the Ministry doing to close that gap and to help the affordability of milk, meat and fish?

          THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA) Mr. President Sir, I thank Hon. Senator Zvidzai for the question which is relevant in the context of the El Nino induced drought and the need to produce seed for our livestock.  Let us step back and look at the policy pronouncements by Government.  Soya bean before 2020 was regarded as an oil seed crop and secondarily as a feed crop, which meant that we required 240 000 metric tonnes (mt) of soya bean and more than 200 000 hectares to be grown every summer. 

Soya bean competes with maize for prime soils in summer and competes with maize for irrigation.  We felt that from a policy perspective, soya bean gives us about 16/18 percent oil content.  We needed to look at other crops; we then examined cotton and sunflower.  Sunflower can give you 25/30 percent crude oil content.  We de-classified soya bean to become a feed crop.  That policy shift alone reduced the demand for soya bean from 640 000mt annually to the 240 000mt because now it becomes a feed crop not an oil seed crop.  Then we promote sunflower and cotton as oil crops.  The demand competing for land in summer is reducing, which then increases our food security as we focus on maize. 

          Following that, Government stopped the direct support for financing soya bean because we felt that the feed side was the responsibility of the private sector to support production.  Government would continue to support production of soya bean through the creation of an enabling policy and regulatory environment to under gird the gross that we were looking at.  We have an S.I. on oil seeds that promotes contracting for oil seeds and store them, then it was an oil seed but also we have feed crops in which we have said a minimum package ought to be given to farmers for a contractor to then purchase.  Then Government, through what used to be called Command Agriculture, which is now the National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme, enabled Government guaranteed financial support for farmers through CBZ Agro-yield; through AFC, now through NMB, is able to support farmers to produce soya beans.

          We also then engaged the private sector under the umbrella of the Food Crop Contractors Association, about eight or so large contractors including those that supply the likes of National Foods to be able to access resources through AFC, CBZ or any other.  That is the facilitation that we have done as Government to encourage the production of soya bean as a feed crop for livestock.  We also then removed soya bean from the Presidential Input Scheme and we said Government will no longer support the production by communal and A1 farmers.  Therefore, the focus of Government for that sector is food security.  Soya bean is the first crop that has now been weaned from direct Government support, where we are now just providing a conducive policy and regulatory environment to ensure that there is rapid growth barring the drought that we had.  Last season 2022/23, we actually had increased soya bean to over a 100 000 mt and we said in 2026, we should be able to close that demand gap.  I am very optimistic that with the prediction of La Nina in the 2024/2025 season and the summer plant that we are concluding now, we are actually budgeting for self sufficiency in soya bean production.  I thank you.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: We also have in the Chamber, Hon. Jesaya, the Deputy Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture.

          HON. SEN. TSHABANGU: Hon. President, with your indulgence as usual, kindly allow me to pose two questions that are very critical. Mr. President, this is where I am coming from, I am the Leader of Opposition, at the same time I am a Senator of this House.  So I am wearing two jackets.

           THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Tshabangu, you address the Chair, ignore anybody else who is making noise, I will deal with them.  Address the Chair!

          HON. SEN. TSHABANGU:  Thank you Mr. President, this is what we usually do in the Committee.  My question is directed to the Minister of Finance.  In his absence, I will direct it to the Leader of the House, sihlalehlale sikhumbuzane ngomgwaqo we Nkayi and Victoria Falls. There is an allegation that ZEC, which is a product of Chapter 12 of our Constitution, engaged a South African company to deliver materials for the elections.  The company did not deliver the materials to date.  The invoice that amounts to US$9 million was authorised by the Ministry of Finance after the elections .  My question is, why did the Ministry of Finance settle the full invoice amounting to over US$9 million which went through their Banker CBZ on the 7th September, 2023 for the procurement of portable toilets for V11 forms and translucent light boxes that were never delivered? 

          THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE):  Thank you Mr. President and I want to thank the Hon. Senator for a very important question. The allegations are not substantial.  We cannot deal with information which is not substantiated.  What the Hon. Senator is saying has no proof.  I thought we could research more on that because there is nothing like that which happened.  It never came in the public domain, those are simply allegations. 

          HON. SEN. TSHABANGU:  Thank you Mr. President, we build cases on allegations.  The nature of criminal code is that you build a case from an allegation.  This is on the public domain and we are a Senate, we are talking about Chapter 12 of the Constitution.  If it is an allegation, it is an allegation, they should come in this House and respond to these allegations that we pose to them because  they are there in the public domain.  We are talking about taxpayers money which is about US$9 million.  If it is an allegation, ZEC has to respond.  The Ministry of Finance has to respond beyond any reasonable doubt that this is an allegation because it is there in the public domain. 

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Senator, you have a choice of two things, you can wait for the Minister of Finance to come into the Chamber since he is the substantive Minister or you can put your question in writing.  If you put it in writing, he will answer it or you can wait for the Minister.  Alternativly, the Deputy Minister of Justice is here, Hon. Minister, do you want to answer that question?   

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE):  Thank you Mr. President.  As far as I am concerned, I feel that question is a specific question which might require time to go back and research more on it and may be if we do our findings, then we can properly respond to that matter.  At the moment, there are still allegations which are not substantiated as has been said already but we may need to go and verify again. I submit.

          HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA:  Thank you Mr. President of Senate.  My question is directed to the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry.  It is on the SADC Summit which we are going to hold in August whereby our President Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa is going to take over as the Chairperman of SADC.  As Government, I want to know your preparations. What have you done to market our tourist attraction sites so that the country will benefit from this Summit?  Do we have enough accommodation for visitors, at the same time accommodating our locals without any disturbances?  Thank you Mr. President.

          THE MINISTER OF TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY (HON. RWODZI): Thank you Mr. President and I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  To start with, we are very grateful as a nation, as people as well as a tourist destination that we are taking a turn to host SADC Summit this year in August, as our President is becoming the Chairperson  of SADC this year.  Let me say we have more than enough accommodation for the delegates for the Summit.  We have enough accommodation for the Heads of State, we have enough accommodation for senior official members and general delegates that will be staying in the country.  Most of them will be staying at our own hotel, the RainbowTourism Group, and 11 Presidents will be there.  Some will be staying at Meikles Hotel and other delegates will be in both the RTG and Meikles Hotel.  We also have four other hotels to accommodate delegates. 

On top of this, through the leadership of our President, we have great investors who are doing a great job.  Mr. President, right now as we speak, we have villas that are under construction, that are being constructed targeting to accommodate Heads of State and we are sure by now that they will be finished.  So, some of the Heads of State will be staying there.  Our Ministry of Local Government is also refurbishing some of the accommodation for other Heads of State that we already have and have always been in place. 

Mr. President, accommodation is guaranteed.  On the marketing side, this is a great opportunity to market our destination, Zimbabwe.  With number one, MICE business during the SADC Summit, starting with the Industrialisation Summit whereby a lot of people will be meeting and right now as we speak, the HICC Conference is being refurbished in preparation of this MICE business.  MICE tourism is growing big as you have seen with other countries like South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya.  It has grown big and we are to market our HICC  

as it is one of the conference centres bigger than a lot in SADC Summit.  After its refurbishment, it could be number two in the SADC region to be hosting MICE business.  It is our time to market that.  We have a number of activities that will be done even by Heads of State and senior officials during this SADC.  We have an opportunity to host dinners, to host evening events, lunches at our places of attraction in the country and some of it is in the museum - the Africa Museum that has been honoured to be given to Zimbabwe.  It is our time to show Africa that we are responsible for the museum for all Africans, African heroes and we will be showcasing that and to say we have our very great National Heroes Acre in Harare.  We also have Lion and Cheetah Park close by.  We have activities that we are lining up for delegates to be choosing in their free time to be visiting but above everything, we will be showcasing in all these events and giving people different information about where they can visit.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF NGEZI: My question is directed to the Leader of Government Business.  What is Government policy on Police Assistant Commissioner Ranks who accompany criminals who sell charcoal that comes from burning trees?  Is it legal for the Assistant Commissioners to escort trucks of criminals who will be going to burn trees and making charcoal to sell? 

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE):  Thank you Senator Chief for that important question.  Firstly, it is not legal for such a thing to be happening in our society.  Secondly, I would like to ask the Chief to put his question in writing as it looks like a specific question, so that we can investigate the case to enable us to come up with a written response.  If that is happening, it is not legal.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. KATUMBA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Education.  I am aware that there are teachers who were trained like any other teachers working in Government schools, but because our schools are few and vacancies are limited, what is Government policy on private schools that underpay these trained teachers?  They are getting way below the minimum wage and as far as I know, no-one is supposed to earn a salary below the minimum wage. What are you doing to ensure that the teachers are paid the stipulated salaries in accordance with their qualifications?  I thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. T. MOYO):  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for that question.  Salaries or wages are dealt with by the Public Service Commission.  As the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, we encourage all the teachers in the independent and public sector to get salaries that are better or salaries that match Government standards. 

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Can I ask the Hon. Senator to put the question in writing so that the responsible authority can take up the issue?

HON. SEN. CHAKABUDA: My question is directed to the Leader of Government Business.  What is the Ministry of Home Affairs doing to tighten security at the entry points so as to stop the illegal trafficking of dangerous drugs?  It is known that most of the dangerous drugs being used by young people are being imported from neighbouring countries.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE):  Let me start by thanking the Hon. Senator for a very important question which relates to drug abuse due to smuggling of drugs through ports of entry.  Government is doing everything to stop the importation of illegal drugs.  Currently, more security has been deployed to the border posts and there has been an introduction of sophisticated equipment such as drones which Government is now deploying to all border posts in the country.  Recently, even yesterday, I think you heard that the President was at an event which he launched to ensure that the country gives priority to anti-drug use in the country.  In the same document, they will also have more staff deployed, specialised to look into the issues to do with drug abuse.  It means Government will also try to find out the source of drugs including the manufacturers and suppliers.  So, it is now a Government policy to ensure that we put more attention on drug abuse.  If we do not do that, we could end up with a nation of drunkards.  So, Government is prioritising deploying more people to reduce or cut off the supply side and make sure that no production of drugs will be done in the country.  I thank you. 

          +HON. SEN. L SIBANDA: My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. We are looking at the decrease in the number of health personnel, particularly community health workers. In view of the many problems in the community especially when it comes to outreach programmes where people have to go out and attend to children, community health workers are now responsible as they move around checking on defaulters. They also follow up on those who are sick at home. How can this class of health workers be helped because they have been given a huge responsibility which was not there before? These workers are not getting any payment because they are regarded as volunteers. How can they be helped?  I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE): The question was not very clear from the side of the person who was trying to interpret. It was not very clear but I will make an attempt to address the question. The first issue which was raised is about community health workers who work without any remuneration. The question is trying to suggest whether the Ministry can make sure that those people are paid so that they do their job without any complaints. In the same question, it was said they volunteer to work.

          If somebody volunteers to work, they may do it without any payment but previously I am sure the Ministry of Health was paying something to our community workers. The issue is something which we can also try to find out from the Ministry of Health and not the Ministry of Public Service because these people volunteer to provide a service - whether they are paid or not is something which we can look into. Volunteers normally just offer their services without any payment. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. RICHARD NDLOVU: My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works. Zimbabwe attained Independence in 1980 and today it is 44 years after Independence. We had the commercial farming areas where the chiefs were deposed because the whites did not want them in those areas. After independence, there was an attempt to resuscitate the chieftainship of Chief Makwachu in the Figtree area in Bulilima District. The Provincial Chiefs’ Council came to investigate and met the families but up to now, no appointment has been made. I want to find out what is the reason of not appointing a chief in that area. There is no control and people do as they please because there is no chief.

          THE HON. DEPUTY OF PRESIDENT OF SENATE: That is a very specific question which obviously requires some research for the Minister to answer. I would suggest that you put it in writing so that the relevant Minister can attend to it.

          +HON. SEN. NDEBELE: My question is directed to the Minister of Lands and Agriculture. Firstly, I would like to commend him for his programme which is being offered to vulnerable people. This time last year, we did not get enough rains. It is not everyone who managed to access the inputs that were offered by Government.  It is only a few who managed to access these. The districts were requested to phone so that they could be helped. My question is: with this drought, when are these inputs going to be distributed so that they can be used at the beginning of the rain season? Is everyone going to be given or not? What is the position on that? Is Government going to maintain the status quo as last year? Are people going to pay or not?

          THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA): I thank the Senator for a very important question relating to Government support for food security. We call it social productive investment because it is no longer a subsidy. The Government policy is that it will promote production and productivity at household level to ensure household food security is maintained. There are 1.8 million rural households and three million beneficiaries in those households. In some households there will be the father, mother and perhaps the son is married. We count them separately.

          We budget to give three million beneficiaries across the eight rural provinces, 1. 8 million households as per ZIMSTAT census support to enable them to produce enough to feed themselves and also to generate a surplus to deliver to the GMB. In this manner, they become not just mere economic spectators but economic participants for the President’s Vision 2030.

          We give all rural households, irrespective of status because this is a Vision 2030 enabler. The distribution committee at ward level comprises the councillor as the chair, the DEO as the chief and the vice chair, Agritex as the secretary, headmaster of the nearest school as the vice secretary, women’s representative of Women’s Affairs as a member, representative of the Ministry of Youth as a member, the security operators and the GMB manager, who is now the supply chain manager, ensures that based on the list generated by the village heads who are also part of this committee in the ward, they supply enough inputs and send to that ward.

The beneficiaries do not pay and are not suppose to pay for any transport, for transport has already been paid from the manufacturer of the fertilizer, the seed supplier, chemical supplier to the GMB depots and from the GMB depots to the wards.  There have been cases of unscrupulous councillors and others that have requested that villagers and households to contribute some money. We have discouraged those. We were put in special WhatsApp groups to say, where such cases occur, we must be notified, so we can send Government transport and GMB transport to be able to move.

If there are specific cases where this assistance in terms of fertilizers, seed, chemicals has not reached a particular ward or village, please I would appreciate getting additional information so that we can address this. In terms of the timing of the distribution of these inputs, we always endevour to distribute the inputs ahead of a season but Government with reduced resources and competing national needs may have reduced resources when we want to distribute and consequently, we might delay in certain areas.

Going forward, we would want to be able to build on the successes of pfumvudza/intwasa across the country to ensure that the six thousand extension workers that we have across the country, each one now has a motorbike and each one now has a satellite enabled laptop. We want them as they go to the households to enroll – we now have developed a special electronic form where the household completes a form that they have gone through the training for pfumvudza/intwasa  which are the prerequisite to receive the inputs, that you have rolled out the three plots, that you have done mulch of one plot and that you are ready to receive, you are going through the training for enhancing production and productivity.

Then we ask now that two adult members at a household submit their phone numbers. That is then included in that electronic form. Once the Agritex officer presses that button, the form goes direct to our head office and is put in that database which would enable us to do a tracking, not just to eliminate theft of inputs, but also to ensure that the household indeed has received the inputs. If there are any issues that arise in future, please we would appreciate getting to know these in the season for us to intervene immediately so that these household are not prejudiced. This support, because vulnerability is beginning to creep into urban areas, if you look at the Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment reports, starting from 2022-2023 season, we now give support to urban households and the initial budget was for 500 thousand urban households where we look at the open spaces in urban areas. These open spaces are not meant for agriculture. The pipes development will come there in the future. So, we call it transient urban cultivation rather than urban agriculture. Agriculture takes place on agricultural land. This is cultivation, transient before some structure or some other land use comes in. We give one plot worth of support to urban households and our budget is 500 thousand.

We are just finalising Mr. President Sir, the 2024 – 2025 summer plan and tomorrow, it is going to the working party of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition so that by the 15th July, we have an agreed summer plan as a nation. Our expectation is that we will be able to support every rural household with three plots each of grain and seed crop. We hope that they will be able to generate sufficient to feed themselves for 365 days and also to generate sufficient grain from that plot to be able to sell and get some income for Vision 2030. Thank you Mr. President.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order Number 67.

HON. SEN. ZINDI: Thank you Mr. President. Can I propose extension of the time for Oral Answers to Question Without Notice.

HON. SEN. NGWENA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Time for Questions Without Notice is extended for another twenty minutes – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection.] – Who said 30 minutes? Your wish is granted, 30 minutes.

HON. SEN. NGWENA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. What measures have been put in place to ensure that food sought by Government is accessed by all Zimbabweans, regardless of political affiliations as has been the norm in the past?

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you for making a direct and specific question Hon. Senator Ngwena.  

          THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE): Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for a very important question.  It is Government policy to make sure that it feeds the nation.  Everybody has the right to have access to food which we are distributing as a Ministry, regardless of political affiliation, religion or gender.  If there is any case which may come up in the distribution process, you can bring that to the attention of the Ministry.  It is not Government policy to deny somebody access to food, when he or she is registered with our Ministry to make sure that he or she deserves to get a pack of the food aid.

          For your information, maybe just to recap on the amount of food which is distributed to our beneficiaries, it is about 7.5kgs per person per month.  This food is distributed in advance.  So, one would be receiving about 7.5kgs times three months.  It is assumed that a reasonable family will feed on 7.5 kg per month and it is now Government policy to make sure that everybody gets food in advance. Nobody should be denied food, everybody should receive food.

          HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI: Thank you Mr. President.  Is it possible for the Minister to give us some tollfree or hot lines and publicise them widely so that should cases arise, where people are denied food on account of certain ‘isms’, we can reach out to those numbers and people can get relief expeditiously?

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you. It is a suggestion which I am sure the Minister will take on board. 

          HON. SEN. MATUKE: I think it is a good suggestion, I will take it on board, but we have got some social welfare officers in all the districts. The first port of call is to inform them and also one could even inform the police officers to try and handle those issues.  However, we are taking what you have suggested on board.  I think it is a good contribution to try and improve the system.

          Electricity having switched off.

          HON. SEN. ZINDI: Should I proceed?

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  No, you have to wait.

          Electricity having returned.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: You can proceed.

          HON. SEN. ZINDI: My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development. What is happening to the goats’ programme that was announced that there is going to be distribution of goats to people in rural areas?  Focusing on the empowerment of the rural folk, how far had it gone since its announcement?  From 2021 or 2022, how many goats have been distributed to people in the rural areas?  How many provinces benefited from this programme?

          THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA): Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank Hon. Senator Zindi for her question.  I thought her question was going to be what is Government policy? However, she has asked even more.  Unfortunately, I do not have that information, but I will try to give what I have.  Firstly, on development of farming and on the issue of the President’s Goat Scheme, especially in the remote areas, there should be development of farming; development of Pfumvudza and the rearing of animals.  Also looking at the climate change in Zimbabwe and other countries, we are looking forward that in 2050, there will be less water but animal husbandry will survive.

          When this development was agreed on, it was said that the chiefs will benefit first cascading downwards.  In the community, each of them will be given female goat.  We have 35 000 villages in Zimbabwe.  Local Government indicated that we have 293 chiefs.  We have 138 000 households.  As of now, we have distributed slightly over 6 000 goats because there were challenges that we faced.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. ZINDI:  Thank you Mr. President. There are people who are supposed to buy the goats but it is not working as it is supposed to.   They have stopped because there are other plans.  What is happening, because the money had already been paid but the goats are not there?  People are already looking forward to receiving the goats.  What must be going on? 

          THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA):  This issue is in the courts, it is sub judice, we will talk about that after it has been concluded. 

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Ndebele, do you still want to pursue your supplementary in light of the response which the Minister has given stating that the issue is before the courts, therefore it is sub judice to comment on it? 

          HON. SEN. NDEBELE: Thank you President of Senate.  I had something to ask in connection with the goats.  Thank you very much Hon. Minister for the programme of goats which is going on in the rural areas.  My question is according to - I know the plans are already there, they are doing the job, farmers are prepared for the goats.  Now, those who are on the ground from the Ministry of Agriculture are demanding US$50 joining fee, for the farmers who want to join the project.  Is that instruction coming from your office or what?

          HON. DR. MASUKA:  Mr. President Sir, I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  This is the first time I am hearing about it so I will be most grateful to get additional details. Certainly, it is not the policy of Government to ask anyone to pay joining fee. This is free, so I would appreciate receiving additional information so that the culprit can be dealt with in terms of the law. 

          HON. SEN. MOHADI:  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture.  Mr. President we understand that there was an agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa for taking water from the Zhovhe River by the South Africans.  I do not know whether this is true or not but if it is so, taking into consideration that we are facing a serious drought, shall we have enough water for the communities as well as their livestock?    

          THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA):  Mr. President Sir, I thank Hon. Senator Mohadi for the question, it is relevant especially in the context of climate change and also the just ended devastating El Nino, the worst El Nino season in 43 years that Zimbabwe has experienced.  Zimbabwe has always supplied water for the past 15 years or so to South Africa but the notification that I gave today, I indicated that we signed in Musina on the 4th April, a water supplier agreement and that on the 4th July I will be available for debate to discuss that more extensively.  However, ahead of that debate, I want to indicate that the original supplier agreement that has been superseded by this agreement was more rigid.  It compels Zimbabwe to supply a certain quantity.  There is already a pipeline across the Limpopo to supply water, it is nothing new.  What we are putting in now is to build in this flexibility to take into account climate change so that Zimbabwe may only supply what it can supply so that the concerns of Hon. Senator Mohadi are actually taken on board.  This move is more progressive than the original agreement that was in place.  Thank you, Mr. President.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA:  Thank you Mr. President, my question is directed to the Minister of Transport.  Mr. President, there is anarchy on our roads, especially in the urban areas being caused by kombis, they are using on-coming lanes.  What is Government policy so that our drivers would move freely on the roads?  We want to thank the Minister for a job well done, when it comes to revamping our roads.  We want to find out when he is coming to do the same on the rural roads? 

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  I want to thank Hon. Senator Chief Chikwaka for the question which is very pertinent.  He asked two questions the first one is in line with the accidents that we are facing in our roads.  People no longer value life but we work together as all Government organs.  We are going to work with Home Affairs, we got into an agreement which was tabled before the Cabinet with a company from United Emirates so that we install cameras to see those who are not using the roads properly.  Those will be erected in all the streets.  We are not only ending there but we also work with Local Government, they are in charge of urban transportation.  Together, we will sit with that Committee so that we bring sanity on our roads.  It is very true you will very soon find policemen prosecuting people together with the Department of VID but at the moment those are the plans.

Hon. President, he also mentioned rural roads, we are not only focusing on urban roads, on Monday we are going to open Mhandamabwe-Shurugwi Road.  We are not only ending there, on looking at urban areas only but we are going to work with Rural District Councils, we are going to work with Rider as well so that we also concentrate on the rural roads as well. The only challenge is that we only have one Fund so we cannot do all the roads at the same time.      

*HON. SEN.  MALULEKE:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  What is the international foreign trade rules when people are coming to do business here? 

        *THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. CHIKOMO):  I want to start by thanking the Hon. Senator for that pertinent question concerning our foreign policy in Zimbabwe.  As you know, we are moving on with the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”, which means our aim is to be in good books with other countries through inviting investors to come and invest in Zimbabwe.  We have to be transparent and also uplift our trade with other countries.  Our exports and imports should uplift our economy so that we are on the right trajectory.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

PAYMENT OF ARREARS TO ZIMBABWEAN DIPLOMATS ABROAD

  1. HON. SEN. MAVENYENGWA asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on the progress made regarding the payment of arrears to Zimbabwean diplomats abroad as well as the provision of tools such as motor vehicles, office furniture and other services.

       THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (HON. CHIKOMO):  Thank you Mr. President.  I am going to give an update on the status of Zimbabwe’s Diplomatic Missions regarding salaries for mission staff, contributions and subscriptions to international organisations, state of renovation of State residences and chanceries, among other finance and administrative issues of the Ministry.

General Funding of Salaries and Operations

        The Ministry has been paying salaries and operations to missions on a monthly basis since January 2021 to date.  However, the operational budget has not been adequate due to the general shortage of foreign currency in the country.

     The operational budget was also affected by the opening of five  (5) new missions in (Belarus, Pakistan, Malabo, Dubai and Riyadh) while the budget remained the same.  To that end, there are arrears in terms of monthly rentals and other utilities and salaries.  It is important to highlight that from 1st April 2024, a new salary structure and conditions of service was introduced.  We welcome the new conditions of service.  There are improvements in some areas.  There are however challenges with regards to salaries.

Payment of Legacy Salary Arrears

Since the advent of the Second Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade owed salaries to Foreign Service staff amounting to about US$48.5 million by December 2020.

      The Ministry managed to pay off this debt by December 2022, and only US$6.8 million remained outstanding through a deliberate programme by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion.  This debt is still outstanding.

Acquisitions of Vehicles for use at Missions

       The Ministry started an ambitious vehicle replacement programme in 2021.  To date, the Ministry has managed to replace all representational vehicles and purchased new operational vehicles for the 52 missions.  This is inclusive of the recently established missions.  The Ministry is now buying additional utility vehicles for missions in line with the new Republic directive of a one mission concept.

Real Estate

        His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa directed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade look into the real estate of the Diplomatic Missions.  The Ministry then started renovations, purchasing and construction of diplomatic properties across the world.  The Government of Zimbabwe has 65 properties across the world.

       In summary, the Ministry, through the Real Estate Programme, has managed to improve the image of Zimbabwe abroad with modern infrastructure that has left our peers envious.  The completion of the Pretoria residence, acquisition of the Johannesburg chancery and Gaborone residence are the major highlights.  Hon. Minister, Dr. Shava has been preaching the culture of maintenance on all the diplomatic missions across the world.  To that end, our missions are now maintaining a key budget issue to do small repairs and maintenance works at their properties.  I thank you.

INTERVENTIONS TO BOOST POULTRY, PORK AND BEEF INDUSTRIES

  1. HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI asked the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development to explain to the Senate what interventions are being put in place to boost the poultry, pork and beef industries so that these products are affordable to the people of Zimbabwe.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER AND RURAL DEVELOPEMNET (HON. HARITATOS): The House will note that beef producer prices in US dollars in 2024 showed considerable variability and there was a significant difference between prices in January 2023 and January 2024. All beef meat grades showed a significant decrease in prices except the super meat grade which remained unchanged at US$4.50 per kg.

The producer price of super, economy and manufacturing meat declined by 8%, 23% and 31% respectively. The prices of both choice and commercial meat declined by the biggest percentage which was 35%. The decrease in beef meat grades can be attributed to increase in slaughters and a reduction in demand on the market. The VAT policy on live animal sales has resulted in an increase in toll manufacturing and informal market trading. Broiler meat production was adversely affected by VAT on meat and day old chicks which caused depressed demand from formal supermarkets. The cost of production of broiler has also increased by at least 15% whilst the price of selling has declined from US$5-6 to US$4.5-5.

There has also been an increase in sales at the informal markets for dressed birds. For pork, the prices might be affected by the increase in feed costs caused by the El Nino induced drought. Consultations are underway with Stock Feed Manufacturers Association through LMAC to see how best the prices of feed can be kept low.

It is also worth noting that my Ministry has developed Drought Mitigation Strategies which are targeting all livestock so that we avoid mortalities, keep the livestock reasonably priced and avoid the panic selling of livestock.

Some of those mitigation strategies include:

  1. Drilling of boreholes and rehabilitation of existing boreholes to improve labour availability.
  2. To improve food and fodder availability through hay bailing, survival rations and mineral supplements to high risk areas on farm food formulation and trainings, urea treatment and veld management.
  3. Dipping pest control and vaccination of animals to control posts, soil-borne diseases, internal and external parasite control.

ESTABLISHMENT OF A PAROLE BOARD

  1. HON. SEN. PHULU asked the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to inform the Senate the measures that the Ministry has put in place for establishment of the Parole Board as provided in terms of Section 137 of the Prisons and Correctional Services Act.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MAZUNGUNYE): I wish to thank the Hon. Member for asking this pertinent question. The State Parole Board is established in terms of Section 137 of the Prisons and Correctional Service Act, 9 of 2023 which state as follows.

  1. There is hereby established a release board to be known as the State Parole Board to perform the powers, duties and functions conferred or imposed upon such board by or under this Act.
  2. The State Parole Board shall consist of the Chairperson and Vice Chairpersons. Such number of members, not more than five persons, who may include persons who are not officers of the Service, as the Minister after consultation with the Commissioner General may appoint.
  3. The State Parole Board shall consist of citizens chosen for their varied background, orientation, experiences in health, legal, education, social services, corrections, rehabilitation issues and any such background as the Minister may determine.

The parole provisions that are broadly provided for in the Prisons and Correctional Service Act are thus pending operationalisation by enacting the parole regulations to provide more detailed guidance on the appointment of the Parole Board and implementation of the parole system.

In this regard, the Ministry through the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service is engaged in stakeholder consultations to come up with draft regulations that would be forwarded to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for approval and further transmission to the Attorney General and thereafter, the board will be set up. I thank you.

HON. SEN. PHULU: Why has it taken so long to begin these procedures because we have prisoners who remain incarcerated for long periods of time and they do have a right which is created by the Act to be considered? In the meantime, what measures have been put in place to ensure that these rights do not continue to be breached?

HON. MAZUNGUNYE: Thank you Mr. President and I would want to thank Hon. Phulu for the supplementary question. Indeed, there has been a delay in that regard. The challenge that we are facing as the Ministry, as I have alluded to in my response, that the regulations are to be formulated and then forwarded to the Attorney-General. The AG was overwhelmed in respect of the Bills which are supposed to be forwarded to Parliament. That has caused the delay in the setting up of regulations in that regard.

However, efforts have been done by the Ministry to engage certain individuals to also support the Attorney-General in drafting Bills and also forwarding all those issues which may be required for us to process the regulations and the Acts or Bills which are to be forwarded to Parliament. In that regard, that is the reason which is affecting the Ministry at the moment, but efforts are being done to ensure that Bills are expedited to the Parliament and all those regulations which I have mentioned will be set up after all has been said and done. I thank you.

  On the motion of THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET (HON. SEN. MATUKE) the Senate adjourned at Eighteen Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 9th July, 2024.

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