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SENATE HANSARD 30 MAY 2023 VOL 32 NO 31

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 30th May, 2023

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

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

  THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Senators are reminded to put their phones on silent or better still, switch them off.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

  HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Mr. President, I move that Orders of the Day Numbers 1 to 7 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 8 has been disposed of.

  HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR THE 7TH MAY 2022 BY-ELECTION

          Eighth Order Read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the 7th May, 2022 By-Election.

  Question again proposed.

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

  HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I second.

  Motion put and agreed to.

  Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

  HON. SEN. MUZENDA:  Mr. President, I move that Order of the Day Number 9 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 10 has been disposed of.

  HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.

  Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

CONDITIONS OF SERVICE FOR DOCTORS AND NURSES

HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU:  Mr. President, I move the motion standing in my name that Government urgently improves the Conditions of Service for doctors and nurses.

  HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:  I second.

  HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU:  Doctors and nurses play a pivotal role in the health system and in our lives.  I can describe their selfless sacrifice as they are next to God.  In the Bible, when God created Adam as the first human on earth, God formed Eve after he operated on Adam by taking Adam’s rib and gave life to Eve.  The same applies to our doctors and nurses.

  I also acknowledge with appreciation, the selfless sacrifice by our doctors and nurses at a time when the COVID-19 scourge wreaked havoc.  COVID-19 brought the darkest times in the health sector and to our communities in such a manner that we thought rapture had come to our motherland Zimbabwe.  We were impressed by the wholeheartedness of such men and women despite poor conditions of service in their operational environment as evinced by uncompetitive remuneration, inadequate medical supplies and equipment, shortage of accommodation and transport among other challenges.

  Mr. President, we lost lives in Zimbabwe due to COVID-19 and applaud the noble initiatives by our Government in expeditiously introducing tangible measures that mitigated and addressed COVID-19; and also strengthened the healthcare system at a time when the outbreak ravaged most countries in the world.   

  Now therefore, I call upon our Government to: -

 (a) Urgently improve doctors and nurses Conditions of Service through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare;

(b) Government to bring in resources and latest equipment to use in times of these communicable diseases like COVID-19 would be of great advantage to us;

(c) Provide decent accommodation for doctors and nurses as a reward and appreciation for their sterling effort in combating COVID-19 at the expense of their lives;

(d)  Ensure that adequate funds are mobilised and availed to enable the Ministry of Health and Child Care to fulfil its obligation on health service delivery without any hinderances, especially in times of communicable disease like COVID-19.

There is need for sending cadres out there to specialise and come back to work and teach in our major hospitals as it is done in Tanzania.  Tanzania has a very good way of how the Government has embarked on sending their people to specialize and they come back into the country and they are well paid, hence they stay in public and private sectors in their country.

Remunerate medical practitioners with competitive salaries as a way of addressing challenges associated with brain and skills flight in our health sector.  With these few words, I thank you Mr. President.

HON. SEN. CHIEF NGUNGUMBANE: I rise to second this very important motion.  Doctors and nurses like all other employees in Government play a very critical role in the upliftment of people in this country.  Nurses and doctors are one of those foot soldiers that volunteered to work for the nation – that is more of national service than dedication that is required of them when they take their oath to serve as medical officers.  When the whole world came to a stand-still and COVID-19 was ravaging the whole world, doctors and nurses sacrificed their lives.  We know of doctors who lost their lives in their line of service.  I would want to take this opportunity to thank them for a job well done although we know we have seen the best of COVID but it is better to be late than never. 

Zimbabwe like all African countries has become a hunting ground for the developed or first world countries.  If we look at our skilled personnel, they are moving to look for greener pastures.  If we look at our engineers, technicians, nurses and doctors are no exception.  What is painful is that a medical doctor is trained for seven years.  The resources that would have been invested during the course of seven years and then somebody who has not invested any resources comes and offers better remuneration.  Doctors like any other person will be tempted because they have to provide bread on their tables.

The issue of remuneration is a very topical one. If we look at the harsh economic environment that is prevailing, Africa suffers from serious problems of skills flight and if we were to address that problem, one of the ways was that we should improve conditions of service for all civil servants, doctors and nurses included.  Doctors and nurses like all other skilled professionals are leaving this country for greener pastures because our Government has not offered conditions that are better off than those that are being offered in other countries.  We seriously need to address the issue of brain drain. 

As I have said, we have to address the issue of remuneration.  Secondly, we implore the Ministry of Finance and the parent Ministry to offer other incentives that would entice doctors that are already in the profession to remain in the profession.  Those that intend joining the profession are motivated to join that profession because nowadays there is very little motivation for one to train as a doctor or other skilled jobs because after that, you are not guaranteed that you can get a pay.  If you get a pay, there is no guarantee that you will get a decent salary.  At the same time, we implore the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Government at large, to adhere to the Abuja Declaration that at least 15% of the National Budget should be directed at the Ministry of Health and Child Care. This will, in a very long way, go to addressing the health challenges that we face.

A visit to our hospitals and Government run clinics presents a very dire situation where people are failing to access basic medical services mainly because there is a shortage of doctors. Doctors have gone to neighbouring countries or oversees to seek employment.  If they are there, the tools of trade are not available.  We have come across cancer patients that have failed to have chemotherapy because the machines are broken down.  This has forced them to go to the private sector.  The services at the private sector are quite expensive and this has made it very difficult for this country to provide basic health services to its citizens as provided for in the Constitution.

In conclusion, we implore Government to improve the conditions of service, to address the shortages of medical supplies and equipment and indeed, the issue of accommodation.  We have seen positive developments that the Government has done.  A visit to Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, doctors’ quarters have been constructed.  These are not enough on their own.  Doctors are forced to seek accommodation elsewhere where they are forced to pay rent.  With these few words, I would want to second this motion.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion which pertains to health care in Zimbabwe.  On the Order Paper, Mr. President, there is a motion which speaks to what could be done for health care workers in our hospitals to have access to basic tools of trade, which motivates health care workers because they will know that they have everything they need – the tools of trade. If that does not happen, then it means that people will just go to work for the sake of working because it is painful that they have the expertise, they have been trained and know what should be done when attending to patients, but if they do not have the basic tools of trade, it is really a challenge to their psychological endeavours.

Mr. President, some of the things that I wanted to talk about have been mentioned. I want to appreciate our Government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care for the good work they did during the COVID-19 pandemic. All Zimbabwe’s enemies were anticipating that people were going to die in Zimbabwe, but Government intervened in such a way that Zimbabwe was counted as one of the best countries in terms of attending to COVID-19 and mitigating the effects of the pandemic. Mr. President, there are a lot of things that are being done by Government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure that health care workers have accommodation, transport and other facilities but they are not enough.

You will find that the efforts are being made but for everything to go well, you will find that there are some challenges. You find nurses in white uniforms at bus stops whilst there is shortage of transport. They leave their places in good appearance but by the time they arrive at their workplaces, they will not be as smart as they were when they left their homes.  Patients that are attended to by nurses and doctors who are clean quickly heal, these are the things that should be fixed.

Mr. President, I want to say that if possible, as a nation, we are a very rich nation with minerals such as gold, diamonds, platinum, lithium and other many more minerals and these belong to us Zimbabweans. If we just expect Government to provide everything when there is no budget for that, then this is a challenge. That is why you see that during the annual budget, even the Abuja Declaration which states that 15% of the National Budget should be allocated to the Ministry of Health is not met because sometimes we do not have such a budget. However, with the minerals that we have as Zimbabwe, there should be a way of harnessing the minerals in such a way that they are exploited and sold in  a manner and the proceeds are channeled to the fiscus and some of them cascade down to hospitals so that the health care workers get adequate salaries.

If that is done Mr. President, what was mentioned about the brain drain would be reduced or totally eradicated because every employee would be motivated. They would budget for their families. The other thing that could help us Mr. President is that our health care workers should be given adequate remuneration. This could be done through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development by controlling the exchange rate. The rate is spiraling out of control and the little money that people get is eroded. Mr. President, this should be addressed. If this is addressed, it would be well with us as a nation. 

It is painful to train doctors for seven years or so and then experience the brain drain.  If this issue is addressed, we might retain the expertise and the qualified staff. This will assist Government. The private stakeholders should also be engaged to assist because Government cannot do everything on its own, it needs partners. If that happens, the brain drain problem in the health sector is reduced or totally eradicated if proceeds from our minerals are used properly. I thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity.

HON. SEN. MBOHWA: Thank you Mr. President of the Senate. I want to take this opportunity to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Chundu for bringing this motion to this august House regarding our nurses and doctors. Indeed, when we look at the challenges that we face in our country, we have quite a big problem. This is not just a challenge particularly to the health sector, but it is a big challenge which is being experienced by all Zimbabwe workers. We want to look at it this way that looking at the expertise, the skilled people who are trained in different colleges in Zimbabwe is of high quality.

          I was talking to my friend who is in the U.K. saying that Zimbabwean nurses and doctors are highly regarded there more than nurses who are trained in the U.K, which means that Zimbabwean healthcare experts are trained better than others. The challenge then is that after training our human capital, we fail to empower them with renumeration and incentives which encourage them in the workplace which pushes them to seek greener pastures.

          Before saying much Mr. President, I want to thank Government leadership. I sometimes imagine having my own company and with a budget. When budgeting for that company, for me to retain expertise, I would need to forecast or come up with projections of the monies that I expect to raise for capital injection and different experts who would contribute to the success of the company. I cannot separate that from the nation looking at the budget of our nation. We look at the allocation of resources during budgeting. We need to look at what is raised from taxes, exports and sales, and monies that can be taken as loans from banks, then we come up with a comprehensive budget but I want to say why I appreciate the good job that is being done by the Government.

          The Government is trying its best because they are working on a cash budget which is raised within Zimbabwe. There is no alternative source to raise revenue for the Government. There is no nation which can survive without credit lines or support from other countries. Zimbabwe is isolated because it is under sanctions. So, I am proffering a solution that for workers to be motivated, Zimbabwe should be removed from sanctions. Zimbabwe should be allowed to apply for credit lines from other countries then it can retain expertise ranging from the healthcare sectors, teachers and other experts.

Indeed, it is painful Mr. President. It is like a water drum. For you to fetch water from a water drum is quite a challenge. The situation in Zimbabwe is quite difficult because it might be quite a big issue trying to chronicle the activities and history. So, this has allowed me to contribute to the debate saying that those who are sanctioning Zimbabwe are not just targeting individuals but the whole of Zimbabwe. You find that children of civil servants are not going to school. Some are not performing well because they do not have school fees and some workers are not performing well because they have not paid school fees. So, I would like to say that sanctions should be removed for the sake of the growth of Zimbabwe.

For a nurse and doctor to go to work and be able to perform, they are  products of teachers and teachers are produced by parents who work in industries and mines where they look for money. It is quite a challenge because the money is not available, which means that the whole chain is compromised and compromises even the healthcare and education sector. So, my point is that we are really saddened and it is our plea that nurses should have proper accommodation and be given descent salaries which are adequate for their sustenance.

As Senators, yes, we are debating but we need to identify the challenge. As Senators, let us urge one another in Parliament and different forums that workers should not suffer. When nurses are not happy and doctors do not have proper salaries, then this affects the whole country. Even when children get ill, it is difficult for them because nurses are facing challenges. So, you would find that sometimes they do not give quality service because they are also stressed and this affects even the health of different individuals, and the mortality rate in rural and urban areas. They should be given accommodation and enough remuneration so that nurses can discharge their duties with fortitude. You will discover that all the people who are affected by brain drain go because these are qualified people and experts in their field.

Mr. President, I support what has been raised by Senator Chief Chundu in his motion which was seconded by different speakers in this House but the challenge is that if I do not say all the things, then I would not have done the duty which is expected of me. Let us engage different parliamentarians the world over so that this issue of sanctions is addressed because when sanctions are removed, then the credit lines would be open and Zimbabwean workers will get what they deserve.

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

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE 52ND PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION OF THE SADC PARLIAMENTARY FORUM HELD IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion to the 52nd Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF held in DRC.

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

          HON. SEN. GIJIMA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE 52ND PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION OF THE SADC PARLIAMENTARY FORUM HELD IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Delegation to the 52nd Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.

          Question again proposed.

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

          HON. SEN. GIJIMA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

MOTION

SUSTAINABLE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

          Twelfth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on Sustainable Healthcare System.

          Question again proposed.

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

          HON. SEN. CHINAKE: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

MOTION

PROMOTION OF DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRAMMES FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT

Thirteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Sustainable Management of Waste.

Question again proposed.

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

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

MOTION

PROTECTION OF VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING

Fourteenth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on Measures to Combat Human Trafficking.

Question again proposed.

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

          HON. SEN. GIJIMA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE 145TH ASSEMBLY OF THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION AND RELATED MEETINGS

Fifteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the 145TH Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and related meetings held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Question again proposed.

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

          HON. SEN. GIJIMA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to. 

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MUZENDA seconded by HON. SEN. GIJIMA, the Senate adjourned at Seventeen Minutes past Three o’clock p.m.

 

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