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SENATE HANSARD 30 AUGUST 2022 VOL 31 NO 63

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 30th August, 2022

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

VISITORS IN THE PRESIDENT OF SENATE’S GALLERY

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to acknowledge the presence of members of staff from the Parliament of Zambia in the President of the Senate’s Gallery – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear].

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE SENATE

HON. SEN. MUZENDA: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 3 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 4 has been disposed of.

HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT ON THE INQUIRY INTO THE STATUS AND WELFARE OF CHILDREN ACCOMPANYING INCARCERATED MOTHERS AND ACCESS TO ANTE-NATAL CARE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN IN PRISONS

          Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on the inquiry into the status and welfare of children accompanying incarcerated mothers and access to ante-natal care for pregnant women in prisons.

          *HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Thank you Madam President for giving me the opportunity to deliberate on the report that was presented to this august House especially the issue of women who are incarcerated in jails who give birth in jail and some who take their minor children with them to jail. Such children are equally incarcerated despite that they are innocent. This is quite a critical issue regarding women who commit crimes and the prevalence of women who commit crimes is now high. So we need to look at the welfare of their children and those who are born in prisons. It seems as if they are also incarcerated. What crime did they commit?

          Madam President, when our jails were constructed, they were designed for men. They were not designed with women and particularly, mothers in mind but they were designed for men only. There is no provision to accommodate mothers and their children. The accommodation is not palatable and the onus is upon the Government to make sure that jails are not meant to punish but to accommodate prisoners. When prisoners are in jail, they must be rehabilitated. For children who go to jail with their parents, it seems as if they are also serving jail terms.

          Government should allocate funds, proper housing and teachers so that children get proper education in jails. They also have hygiene and good health care in the prisons. The different needs of women are not met in jails. You find that some people commit crimes not deliberately but it happens but they are suffering instead of being rehabilitated. When women are in jails, they must have their toiletries like soap, petroleum jelly and other reproductive health needs. Government should therefore allocate enough funds to the welfare of women in jails.

          Finally, Madam President, what I believe is that even for young children who are 2 – 4 years, they should be moved, for example to ECD schools where teachers who are trained would empower them with elementary education. It is important that such children are given elemental education whilst being given access to their mothers. This allows children to grow knowing that they have parents. To be alienated from their parents affects them a lot and this causes a lot of problems. For instance, a small child would know that being in jail is for those who commit crimes.

          Secondly, most schools which are found in prisons are not of good standards, so it is important that children grow up with their peers because they learn from other children through primary socialisation.  You find some even taking up some behaviours and customs which sometimes affect their mental state.  You find some not developing properly because of being incarcerated.  So, Government through this august House, should ensure that female prisoners have their welfare issues sorted out.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:  I stood up to say most of the Hon. Senators in this august House deliberated on this issue at length.  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          *HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 31st August, 2022.

 

 

MOTION

PROVISION OF FUNDS FOR COMPLETION OF DAM CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the need for Government to provide adequate funds for the completion of dam projects.

Question again proposed.

*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE:  Thank you Madam President for giving me the opportunity to add a few words on the motion which was moved by Hon. Sen. Mabika.  This motion is very important because of the seasonal variations due to global warming.  In the past, we knew that rains would come in a specific month and we would prepare for our farming season.  In that regard, we appreciate what Government is doing in constructing dams so that we ensure food security in Zimbabwe.  However, these dams are not enough and through this august House, I would like to implore Government to support the construction of more dams before the rain season comes.  This will ensure that we do not lose water by letting it flow to the Zambezi River then into the oceans.  The dams will act as reservoirs and enable people to participate in income generating irrigation projects.  This will ensure food security.

 Zimbabwe is blessed because we have different seasons, both winter and summer, which means we can cultivate throughout the year if we have water to irrigate our crops.  So, I would like to say that Government should continue with the water and sanitation project.  We appreciate the President’s initiative of construction of dams.  We have seen His Excellency moving around the country, officially launching these dams and handing them over to communities. 

Zimbabwe is not a desperate nation where there is lack of food but we have access to agriculture.  Right now we have a winter crop which is under the winter crop production.  This means that this year we are bound to have a bounty harvest of wheat through the dams which are irrigating that crop.  Some farmers are busy with the winter crop right now and some are even partaking in the growing of groundnuts and others are even sowing maize to be sold as green mealies.  We know a lot of farmers are doing that through irrigation projects linked to our dams.  So as we work on our annual budget, I would like to urge Hon. Senators to support the funding of construction of dams.  I thank you. 

*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Madam President.  I would like to applaud the Second Republic led by His Excellency, President Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa for constructing dams throughout the country, hence the increase in the number of dams in the country.  More irrigation schemes are also now present around the dams.  In other areas there were dams; for instance in Mashonaland West, we had Mbire and Mazvikadei Dams. These dams have a lot of water but there were no irrigation programmes. I am not ashamed to say that farmers are even competing in producing wheat.  I believe that Mashonaland West is doing well in terms of irrigation projects through the different dams that have been constructed. 

We have some areas which are under A1 programmes and you find that there are irrigation programmes that are running.  Some of these projects are up and running.  This means that the addition of wheat, mealies and other garden projects are continually increasing because of access to water. Water and agriculture go hand in glove.  If rains do not fall, farmers now have an option of using tap water or reservoirs.  We appreciate these efforts of building more dams around the country.  Even in Matabeleland Region, there are places where water is harvested so that it is channelled to the City of Bulawayo; even Morton Jaffray waterworks in Harare has added to the volume of water which is being channelled to Harare; even water which is being drawn from Chivero should come to Harare to augment the water reserves.  The pumps and other machinery should be serviced and maintained so that people have access to water.  At the same time, irrigation programme should continuously multiply.

Dams to together with the Pfumvudza initiative through Government efforts, this was taken to the people and some are already busy farming.  Some are targeting to start harvesting by Christmas. This is quite pleasing because of water that is coming from dams.  When there is enough water, agricultural produce will grow and projects will flourish.  Government benefits from agriculture instead of importing grain from outside the country. 

Zimbabwe does not think about importing grain but I am happy that our grain silos are full because of the different projects and programmes that are running in the country through the Second Republic which should continue working in such projects like the water and sanitation project which has seen the sinking of boreholes around the country.  I want to applaud the commitment of our farmers in Zimbabwe and their hard work.  I thank you Mr. President.

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

HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st August, 2022.

MOTION

 

PARENTING AND EMBRACING A RECEPTIVE CULTURE FOR CHILDREN LIVING IN THE STREETS

Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on vulnerable children living in the streets.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: I would like to add my contribution to this motion although it was extensively debated by fellow Hon. Members but I feel I have one or two issues to talk about.

Firstly, street kids are the poor homeless children under the age of eighteen who live on the streets of towns, cities and villages.  These children make a living out of the streets.  Some of them are street living, street working or street families but their problems are the same.  They have an uncertain supply of food.  They miss out on education and medical treatment. They are at high risk of abuse and illness.

Most importantly, I would like to look at the causes – why these children end up on the streets.  Number one is domestic violence.  Normally, if there is domestic violence in a family, the children are not at peace and they end up running away from the family.  They find it better to be on the street where they enjoy relative peace.  Domestic violence is the physical aggression between the parents and physical punishment to the children.  All these end up sending the children into the streets.

The second reason why children end up on the streets is unemployment of the parents.  Normally if there is unemployment, the effects of unemployment are quite mental.  There is lack of food, clothing and children end up dropping out of school.  There is a high likelihood of divorce between the parents and when parents divorce, the children end up living on the streets.

Poverty is the chief cause of why we end up having many street kids on the streets.  By poverty, we are merely saying that there is inferior or insufficient supply of food.  When there is insufficient food in the family or home children end up moving into the streets in search of food.  They end up stealing or begging from the tourists and this is a shameful thing for our country. 

The other reason why children end up in the streets is family disintegration.  The moment divorce happens, the father and mother take different directions and the children end up with no one to take care of them.  Due to the hardships faced by Zimbabweans, in particular in this country, although street kids are everywhere.  I will give a particular example of our country.  There are a lot of hardships.  Gone are the days when relatives used to take care of relatives’ children; they leave them to go astray, and where do they go?   They find sanctuary in the streets where they rely on begging, stealing, and even working.  They end up doing menial jobs like picking up litter in front of shops, cleaning shoes and vehicle windscreens in exchange of a Dollar or ZWL10.00.

          Mr. President, neglect is one of the most serious causes of why children end up in the streets.  Parents simply neglect their children.  Like I said earlier, some are street working and street living, there are also street families.  The parents will be sitting somewhere on the corner of the streets while the children are begging and selling a few pieces of items to eke a living.

          Mr. President, for us to come up with solutions, we need to seriously interrogate these reasons.  The other one is abuse.  Some parents have a tendency to abuse their children.  It results in increased fear by the children, feeling guilty of their deeds, that is why they end up running away from home, distrust and they end up asking, is this father or mother?  How come I am being treated in this manner?  It is better I run away and stay in the streets.  The streets are where the children seek peace, and because of peer pressure as well, it becomes interesting to live in the streets.  They sleep without blankets but at least it is enjoyable.  They enjoy relative peace.

          Mr. President, there are quite a number of things that I feel we need to do as a country or as Government.  I know previously and I would like to commend the Government.  At one time, some of these street kids were taken to certain farms where they had a good living but because they were used to street life where they earned a few individual dollars; they ran away from the farm because they had to work on the farm and just feed.  So, nine out of ten chances are that they run away, and this has been tried before.  There are quite a number of things that I will go through that I feel can be done.

          Number one, we need to improve the livehoods of our people.  The moment the lives of our people improve and there is food on the table, chances are that children will not run away into the streets because they have enough food, clothing, they go to school and have medication.  Number two, we need to strengthen bonds that are shared by our families.  Nowadays we have my proper family, meaning my wife and children.  A couple of years ago, we used to say mwana wababamunini mwana wangu, even mwana wepa next door mwana wangu but it is no longer happening these days.  This is why a lot of children are found roaming on the streets.  We need to strengthen rules and maybe come up with very stiff sentences to those who abandon children.  Some of the children Mr. President that you see in the streets were just abandoned by the mother and she flew to South Africa.  She goes to Gokwe or Bulawayo.  If those people are found and are apprehended, I think stiff sentences must be given to them so that we do not have such type of children in the streets.

          Mr. President, it is also important that we come up with programmes to cater for these children.  Normally, if they are grouped into smaller groups, enrolled in a proper school, some of them can even adapt to that and leave what they used to enjoy in the streets.  You know, the Government is struggling but probably if they come up with just a small budget, and start small, we cannot group them all in a single day because they are countrywide.  We start small because as they get to the age of 18 years old, they are now street fathers but still they have nothing to do; they cannot work and still want to steal.  So if some of them are enrolled in colleges where they do courses that are hands-on, I think that would lessen the issue of streetism.   I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:  Thank you Mr. President Sir, for affording me the opportunity to add my voice to the debate.  I would also like to appreciate the Hon. Senator who tabled the debate.

          Mr.  President, there are a lot of embarrassing things that are being done by our children.  You will find   some children begging at street intersections, and other corners in towns and this is demeaning. There are different mechanisms for addressing that.  His Excellency the President tasked different Government departments’ responsibilities towards the welfare of such children.  There are departments that are expected to stand and produce results; which means that in the National Assembly, there are a number of constituencies that are responsible for resolving different challenges.  After deliberations are made in the Lower House, you find different views being brought to this House.

          Mr. President, Harare constituency and other rural constituencies where there are councils that are expected to take their responsibilities seriously.  As I am speaking, His Excellency President E. D. Mnangagwa started a very noble initiative that he introduced to Zimbabwe which is the ‘Clean-up campaign’ in different provinces.  We need to work hard so that we tidy our provinces.  I would like to explain the issue that I was talking about regarding these children.  Every constituency that has such children, we need a constituency that will look after these children, and every constituency should review their operations so that our children are looked after, and their welfare is addressed.  I know that when this fails, then councils should go to the Executive so that the Executive addresses these challenges.

          Mr. President and fellow Hon. Senators, you will find our children, young girls falling pregnant, and some dumping their children in toilets, some in towns, some in bushes. We call nurses who take such children and they are brought up by the Social Welfare Department. There is need for laws which speak to the fact that pregnant girls should be monitored. The law should monitor what happens to pregnancies especially in communities. Women are fountains of information. They share information, particularly cases of baby dumping and should be addressed. Mr. President, there should be punitive laws.

Let me also talk about mothers. These are our specialists. Everyone is brought up by a mother. Sometimes you find mothers assisting the young to give birth because they have maternal instinct. Some express concern because they do not get to have children. Those who want to look after children sometimes are found taking care of children who are dumped by their mothers. Government has also a responsibility towards looking after children. Taking mothers to jail is not a crime but there should be clinics, crèches, nurseries and schools for the young children. There are a lot of women’s organisations which assist women.  For instance, there is a women’s bank which is a culmination to deliberations that were made through the need for looking after their families and children. I usually urge women to look after children who live on the streets. At one time, there were laws that allowed children at 16 years to give consent but the law says a girl can get married at 18 years. In the streets, you find girls falling pregnant at 12 years and giving birth. No one cares about that and no one looks after the street children who give birth at that tender age. These are things that need to be looked into. Laws need to apply even to such children. The law says that a girl can be married at 18 years only.

Mr. President, you will find 10-year and 12-year olds falling pregnant and giving birth but no one makes follow up on how they live and what happens to them. The law should apply. You will find some, due to desperation, dumping their children because they are also equally children and cannot look after other children. There is need to search for records in clinics of where these children are. Even our sons who impregnate girls and dump them, some change their locations and others relocate from one farm to another. The law should be applied to them.

We also have modern technology where we look at DNA. Investigations into rural areas sometimes can reveal what might be happening. For instance, if a girl was pregnant and the community does not know where the child is, there is need to ascertain where the child is. Even when parents are asked, they have such information. Some children do not have parents but have a history of where they come from. Mr. President, such issues need to be looked into so that the children’s welfare is considered. In towns or even in rural areas, there is need for creating shelters to accommodate such children, whether through pooling of resources by business people or other departments. It is important that these children are looked after as they grow up. This can contribute to the human capital of the nation.

In the farms, we find some desperate children and as fathers, it is important that we look after our children. Some would be drug abusers, some smoking and others abusing different substances. We need to manage their lives. As mothers, you find our children being loafers, sitting on roads, some impregnating young girls and others are cohabiting. Such children can be rehabilitated. Mr. President, we heard that some of our relatives who live in other countries, for instance in Rwanda, there is clean up campaign which is not limited to few people but it is an event which every citizen of Rwanda participates in. Different constituencies should work hard and it is important that everyone plays a part in the national clean-up campaign. Even those who live in rural areas need management. They do not refuse but we need to clean. Our children should also partake in such national initiatives. It is important that we identify a farm where our street children can be brought up.

In our political party, we educate young children so that they understand the different ideologies which might assist them as they grow up. I explained that children who grow up in jails sometimes are seen playing and participating in different activities but the important thing Mr. President is that they need to have good companions. Without good companionship you find some leading one another astray.

This is a critical subject which we need to address as a nation. Even those who are in constituencies should be assisted. As Hon. Members, we need to deliberate on these issues and request for a certain percentage which should be allocated to the rehabilitation of such children in our constituencies. Our business people, women, banks and other departments should pull resources towards that challenge. Mr. President, I thank you for giving me this opportunity.

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

HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st August, 2022.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MUZENDA, seconded by HON. SEN. KAMBIZI, the Senate adjourned at Twenty-Four Minutes past Three O’clock p.m.

 

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