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SENATE HANSARD 5 MARCH 2024 VOL 33 NO 28

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 5th March, 2024

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE

SWEARING IN OF NEW MEMBERS

         I have to inform the Senate that on Tuesday 4th  March, 2024, Parliament was notified by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in Terms of Section 39 (7) (a) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13],  that with effect from 1st March, 2024, the following Members were duly appointed as Members of the Senate for the specified constituencies. 

          The Members have been appointed to fill in the vacancies in the Senate that occurred following the recall of the incumbent Members of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Party and these are:   Hon. Sen. Mlilo Lilian for Bulawayo Province; Hon. Sen. Phulu Kucaca Ivumile for Bulawayo Province; Hon. Sen. Sibanda Linda for Bulawayo Province; Hon. Sen. Ndhlovu Collet for Bulawayo Province; Hon. Sen. Mdhluri Maxwell for Manicaland Province; Hon. Sen. Chapfudza Sam for Masvingo Province; Hon. Sen. Kabondo Teresa for Matabeleland North Province; Hon. Sen. Tshabangu Sengezo for Matabeleland North Province and Hon. Sen. Mumpande Grace for Matabeleland North Province.

Section 128 (1) of the Constitution provides that, before a Member of Parliament takes his or her seat in Parliament, the Member must take the oath of a Member of Parliament as set out in the Third Schedule of the Constitution.

Section 128 (2) states that the oath must be taken before the Clerk of Parliament.  I, therefore, call upon the Clerk of Parliament to administer the Oath of a Member of Parliament.

NEW MEMBERS SWORN

     HON. SEN. MLILO LILIAN; HON. SEN. PHULU KUCACA; HON. SEN. SIBANDA LINDA; HON. SEN. NDHLOVU COLLET; HON. SEN. MDHLURI MAXWELL; HON. SEN. CHAPFUDZA SAM; HON. SEN. KABONDO TERESA; HON. SEN. TSHABANGU SENGEZO and MUMPANDE GRACE subscribed to the Oath of Loyalty as required by the law and took their seats.

            THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Members, we congratulate and baptise you.

ESTABLISHMENT OF PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDSHIP ASSOCIATIONS

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I also wish to inform the Senate that following the establishment of Parliamentary Friendship Associations with sister Parliaments in Turkey, Russia, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, India and Egypt, the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade is calling for Members who wish to join the associations.  The associations will be named as Zim-Turkey, Zim-Russia, et cetera. Membership is open to all Members of Parliament and is on a first come first served basis. Each association has a maximum of fifteen Members. For registration, send a message to Mr. A. Mapetere on 0713 313 170 indicating the name of the association.

TRAINING ON DIGITAL LITERACY

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I wish to remind Hon. Senators that the digital literacy training commenced today, 5th March 2024. The training is being conducted from 0900 hours to 1300 hours. Hon. Senators who have not registered for the training are requested to do so in Office No. 126, First Floor. Kindly note that the training will be conducted during sitting days only in groups of 40 participants per day.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA): I move that Order of the Day, Number1 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION ON THE 2023 HARMONISED ELECTIONS

  Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the 2023 harmonised elections.

  Question again proposed.

  HON. SEN. M. NCUBE: Madam President, I am pleased to add my voice to the report presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is a creature of the Constitution. All of us here are a product of the ZEC, every one of us, including those we saw today.

Empowered by the Constitution to prepare and conduct elections strictly in terms of Section 234 to 241 and Section 241 is the one which actually necessitated the tabling of the report in Parliament. Fulfilling all the obligations in terms of the elections, right from the Presidential all the way down to councillors. I think they did a fantastic job – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – As a product of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, we cannot then stand up here in Parliament and denigrate the institution which ensured us to be here in all fairness, which made sure that our electoral process was not only credible but transparent in every way – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear].

The ZEC is supposed to ensure that it has the confidence of the citizens of this country because they are mandated to conduct the electoral process. There are certain areas which I think we can interrogate as Members of Parliament. Voter registration for example, Madam President, I think there are areas which need to be strengthened in terms of voter registration because when you analyse the voters’ roll, you will see that in some places, there is a small house which has got over 100 people registered as sitting tenants for that house, which is not possible. It is not the fault of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission but we can sit down and see how we can actually assist so that those people who are breaking the law can be brought to book.

When we have got Zimbabweans, let us say the opposition in some cases which has got to be given instructions by various authorities like non-governmental organisations and some governments outside the country, it brings confusion to the whole electoral process because you cannot stand as a candidate and then you want to declare yourself as a winner. It is not possible. Only ZEC can actually declare a certain individual as the presidential winner. A certain individual as a winner in the parliamentary seat but you want to usurp those powers yourself so that you declare yourself as a winner outside the constitutional mandate of ZEC. It means you want to bring confusion to the country. There should be very strong regulations and together we can actually come up with those to ensure that those individuals who want to bring anarchy into the country or operate outside the Constitution or law are brought to book.

I recall even in 2018, some individuals standing up and saying if I am not the winner, it means there has been some rigging. I once lost an election in 2008 in the parliamentary elections to the opposition, fair and square. This is what happens and then you sit down and strategise how to win next time. In 2013, I won; I beat the other person. Our institutions are supposed to have our support. I get worried when someone denigrates our own institutions.  We will be giving the wrong impression to people outside.  In this case, the report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in terms of who won the Presidential, Parliamentary or Provincial councils is there for everybody to see.  It is not a secret.  That is why this is published so that you see whether you won or lost.  In cases where we differ, let us differ constructively. 

For Voter Education to be effective, there is need for traditional leaders to be involved.  ZEC should also try and see how they, the traditional leaders in terms of their structures can also be brought in so that everybody who is eligible to register to vote is captured.  There are also cases where the ZEC has got challenges in terms of accessing remote areas, particularly in rural areas.  We have got to make sure that as Government, particularly during the rainy season, that the roads are trafficable and passable so that they can do their work properly.  They can move the ballot boxes and ballot papers so that they are availed on time in terms of the designated date for the electoral process.  We remember last time there were some areas which actually accessed voter material late.  It was fundamentally because of the disputes which were in the courts.

The Commission was ready to print the ballot papers or the right materials, but because the court processes took time, they just did not have enough time to actually print those ballot papers. Now we stand up and shout and say they were trying to rig, it is not the case. 

May I conclude by welcoming those who were sworn in today Madam President?  They are also a product of ZEC.  It does not matter which route they came through.  If we want to strengthen and make sure that the recall process is properly streamlined – that is another debate for another day, but once the process is in place, it is supposed to be concluded and the conclusion is what we saw happening today.  I thank you Madam President.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 6th March, 2024

MOTION

ROAD SAFETY DURING THE FESTIVE SEASON

Third Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the successive road accidents on consecutive days which claimed scores of lives in the month of November 2023 countrywide.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. S. MOYO:  Thank you very much Madam President.  I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa who brought this motion for debate.

I would like to take the House back to the fatal killing of 22 fellow brothers and sisters at Esigodini on the 14th of November 2023, at the 27-kilometre peg along Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road.  Death has no friends and this could happen to any of us.  However, I want us to ask difficult and fundamental questions.  Yes, statements were made, but everyone knows that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.  To what extent were the state assisted funerals carried out?

Allow me to put context to the matter – why you wonder – let me begin.  The accident occurred between a truck going to Bulawayo and a quantum termed “Omalayitsha’ en route to South Africa.  There were 22 victims – 22 victims, 15 men, 7 women and two children.  The adults were aged between 31 and 48, with the youngest being only two years old.

To this House, I pose this question – how would you have felt if these were your relatives?  My heart grieves not only because we lost breadwinners from Matabeleland South who were just trying to make ends meet, but as Zimbabwe as a whole.

The issue I would like to bring to your attention is the state of the roads and the health sector.  To these respective Ministers, I ask why the deceased did not receive proper services. To the Minister of Health, you failed us the people of Matabeleland South.  After the accident occurred, there was no ambulance services, let alone any road accident services to carry the victims differently from the immoral way the bodies were transported.  In an inhumane and insensitive way, the bodies were just thrown into an open lorry with no regard or respect for the dead.  Where is your sense of Ubuntu/Hunhu?

The Government continues to fail us.  Where are the Budget allocations?  What is the money being used for?  Where are the monies going, to the extent that the Matabeleland Provincial operations and relevant bodies did not even have body bags and necessary tools? They still do not have.  What happened to, “I am because you are – therefore we are”, the spirit of Ubuntu.  Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. To the Minister of Transport, you failed us.  Even the blind know that the roads are bad but you do nothing to fix them.  The Beitbridge –Gwanda-Esigodini or Victoria Falls - Nkayi Roads are bad.  Potholes are the order of the day and bad roads continue to be the leading cause of many road accidents.  Where were the arms of whoever has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the roads?

          Corruption is the order of the day.  Where was the ZRP Esigodini traffic control?  What is the use of roadblocks?  Firstly, the driver of the truck was under the influence of alcohol.  How and why was he allowed to continue driving?  Is it because ukhiphe imali yedrink?  For your own information, empty bottles of alcohol and some bottles with left over contents were found in his truck.  The Government continues to fail us.  Due to the continued corruption, it is safe to say we are disappointed because they are not using the means and power available to them to reduce and put an end to this carnage.

Secondly, the Quantum is certified to carry 25 passengers, but in this case, it had an overload of seven passengers.  In total, the Quantum was carrying 32 passengers instead of 25.  Why was the Quantum allowed to continue its journey despite the overload?  The road culture continues to be bad because of bad governance and people not being held accountable.  Officials are full of corruption and mismanage funds allocated, which end up affecting service delivery.  This results in little to no responsibility and safety measures where overloading bribes are paid and we end up with no law-abiding drivers.

          To the House, inasmuch as this accident occurred, our major concern as the people of Matabelelamd South is that no national disaster status was declared.  To make matters worse, it leaves the people asking difficult questions like; why is it that if this accident had occurred in Mashonaland, it would have been declared a national disaster but in Matabeleland, it is just an accident?  The overloaded Quantum is a clear indicator that the economy is bad.  The people in Zimbabwe are suffering and there are no jobs.  These 20 bread winners were flocking to the diaspora to find better opportunities to enable them to support their families.  Did anyone of you ask yourself what happened to the families they left behind?  If the Government continues to fail us, it does not come as a shock to me anymore.  How can we trust that the assisted national burial was carried out and not just announced on social media?  Who can answer?  Can you?  What about you?  Who can answer the people of Matabeleland South and Zimbabwe?  What about the victims’ families?  What else was done?  Was the emergency fund used to assist these generations of families affected?

          Now, if the Government fails to fix the roads and fails to instil discipline for road safety and relevant bodies involved fail to use funds properly so we have adequate ambulances and health services, fail to improve the economy and create jobs so we do not have 22 people flocking to the diaspora, how can we trust that practical considerations were made and have been made by this Government from the emergency fund for those victims who were financially and practically dependent on the persons that died? What compensations, not just financial but cultural were made to meet the financial burden of losses and expenses.  What was done culturally to apologise for the inhumane and insensitive way their bodies were disrespected.

          I repeat my question; how would you have felt if it were your relative; your mother, father, brother, sister or daughter?  The Minister of Technology and Media failed the people of Matabeleland South.  The Ministry did nothing at all to have the pictures removed on social media.  Did you ever ask yourself how the families still feel or felt seeing their loved ones disrespected and all over social media for the world to see?  Where was the National Complaints Desk and relevant ministries when complaints were being made?  I leave you with these questions.  All the people of Zimbabwe want our freedom, be it mental, physical, emotional or financial freedom for their children to have better opportunities than they did; for women and men to provide for their families within the comfort of their country and for mothers to love and a nation to grow.  You cannot kill the will of the people.  The blood of the dead and our tears as the people of Zimbabwe will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom.  We serve the people for the people.  Tell my people that I love them.  We will continue to fight for the people of Zimbabwe.  Amandla ngawethu; Aluta continua.

          HON. SEN. ZVIDZAI:  I want to start by thanking you Hon. President of the Senate for affording me the opportunity to contribute to this very important motion that was brought to the House by the esteemed Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa.  I wish to contribute to this debate by first looking at the accident picture in the country.  The prevalence of accidents, the economic impact, the socio-economic impact of the same and hazards; to make a few suggestions as to how we can develop national policy to reduce the prevalence of accidents on our roads.  Statistically Mr. President Sir, this country faces up to 50000 accidents every year and out of that, fatalities range between three and 6000 people that die out of those accidents.  When I look at the general cost and I am talking about the economic cost, these accidents cost up to about $460 million to the fiscus and the nation.  I am sure that if we could find a way to put together effective policy to reduce the prevalence of accidents and save this money, it would go a long way in funding social service delivery infrastructure, etcetera.  But what are the causes of these accidents.  The key thing we must look at is our road infrastructure Mr. President. Whether we improve it every time to fit the volume of traffic that ply the roads or the size of vehicles that ply our roads. That is very important. Most times when you travel on the Bulawayo-Harare Road, you see these huge, extra-large vehicles with mining equipment going up north and you can generally see that our roads are not fit for that sort of width of these huge vehicles. Perhaps, this is the time now for Government to begin to widen the roads so that the current exigencies are taken care of by the sort of road infrastructure that we then have.

Also, you will find that our economy is basically dependent on the road. You will get a lot of magonyeti, these heavy trucks on the roads. It will be important for the Ministry of Transport, Government and for the nation to begin to shift the wheels of the economy from the roads to railway lines so that the roads can be safer. The Ministry of Transport has to make sure that they put in a lot of effort so that more and more heavy loads are transported through rail, thus freeing our roads to the smaller vehicles. That certainly will ensure that the roads are a bit safer. My colleague has just spoken about corruption as well. We have got the vehicle inspectorate department; we have got roadblocks and we have got the police on the roads to make sure that there is compliance and to make sure that vehicles that are plying the roads are in a good state. However, you wonder when you see some clearly unroadworthy vehicles plying the roads, clearly overloaded vehicles on the roads and yet just a few kilometers down the road, there would be a vehicle inspectorate department there.

What is informing is that clearly, people are turning a blind eye in exchange for a few dirty coins at the expense of the nation and at the expense of lives. I think these institutions should begin to understand those bits of oversights that they do are costing lives and costing the nation a lot of money. They need to make sure that they do their jobs properly. Mr. President, the Zimbabwe statistical offices, the ZimStat know from their analysis and from the statistics which they collect annually, that there are what tend to be called black spots. This refers to the frequency of accidents happening in certain places and at certain times of the year. This information should be used to help with disaster risk mitigation budgeting so that if it is about infrastructure, then budgets are crafted to make sure that our roads are dealt with to make sure that the railways are functional again. We need to make sure that we push for disaster risk budgeting informed by the statistics that we get from the appropriate statistical offices.

Mr. President, I would also like to talk about one very special asset that we have as a nation that could mitigate the incidences of accidents, and this is the intangible heritage called ubuntu. It is costless and it is something that we have inherited from our past which can be used to make sure that we reduce accidents on the road. People with ubuntu will clearly not sacrifice lives for a few dollars. This is where our traditional and cultural knowledge systems can work to make sure that we influence the behaviour of communities, the forthrightness that is required so that we can make our roads safe again.

Mr. President, it is very sad and I think this motion has to be taken very seriously so that institutions that are relevant to reduction of these accidents do understand that reduction of accidents releases resources to more meaningful use. With this contribution Mr. President, I wish to again express my gratitude to Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa for cleverly crafting a motion that looks right across our social and economic fabric. I am confident that, should these contributions be taken on board, we will have a happier nation and have more resources released for more meaningful contributions. I thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to contribute towards the motion raised by Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa which is quite important and critical for the benefit of every Zimbabwean as parents and citizens of the country. This issue emanated from the point that, as we speak, when people die, they are not honoured in the way that was done when we were growing up. In the past, children were not allowed to attend funerals. It was only for adults and we did not understand why and how this was done, but as we can see, what is happening presently, Mr. President Sir, you find young people attending funerals. Some of these young people do not understand what a funeral is.

We also notice many reasons why people do not honour the dead, there are many taboos taking place. People are abusing drugs and even when there are accidents, some are rushing to accident scenes whilst they are intoxicated. Some take videos and pictures for social media. You find people circulating graphic videos of dead people and you wonder whether the person that took such videos is sane or not. This shows high disregard for the dead. Mr. President, I want us to look at the prevalence of accidents in our roads and the causes of such accidents. You find people going on with their daily business even when people are dead. What causes most accidents in the country comparing to the past is that where people acquire their drivers’ licences, they just take their drivers’ licences corruptly using money.  When you go without money, you will not get the licence but with money, you can get it, whether you deserve it or not.  There is need for investigations to determine why young people are driving public cars. They do not know the rules of the road because they acquire their licences for they have money. 

Let me start by investigating what is happening at the VID Mr. President Sir.  I believe in the past when the New Dispensation came, a lot of officers were transferred and the rot was contained at that particular moment.  I believe that there is need for looking at what is happening at the VID, which is the responsible authority which gives people drivers’ licences so that drivers who deserve to be on the road should be on the road instead of those who acquire licences through corruption. 

Mr. President, I also want to say that our police officers who are supposed to assist us by monitoring and investigating what transpired and what led to a particular accident to happen - we do not want to criticise police but what is needed is that those who are responsible for the law should be empowered with training instead of just physical training and someone graduates as a police officer.  That person should be empowered with what is expected of them as police officers.  We need to help each other.  We need to work together Mr. President.  Instead of criticising our police officers, let us train them, let us educate them and show them what is expected, and what they should do as police officers.  This will enable them to be empowered with knowledge because how we think is what determines our behaviour.

Mr. President Sir, as I am speaking, there are a lot of cars in our country.  There are illegal cars which are pirating without a clear route and without clear strategies on how they should operate.  You would find that when there is an operation, such illegal pirate taxis disappear for a while but you would find that those who are responsible for removing such pirate taxis are the owners of those pirate taxis.  It is important to assist each other so that these things are corrected and that we eradicate the accidents which are prevalent in our country.  Government is trying its best so that our roads are rehabilitated to allow the free movement of our cars.  Indeed, roads are being fixed but because Government empowered our civil servants and allowed civil servants to buy cars without duty - but the roads are not big enough to contain all the cars.  Those who have cars are many but the roads cannot accommodate all the cars.  There is need for us to make sure that there is public transportation, buses which are adequate to cater for all the routes. 

Mr. President, there is need for specific routes and specific times for public buses.  You would find that with the volume of traffic which is being operated by illegal drivers, some who do not have valid drivers’ licences, it is going to be reduced and this is going to eventually reduce road accidents.  I want to end by thanking you for giving me the opportunity and I thank Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa for moving such a good motion.  I want to congratulate the Senators who were sworn in today.  I thank you. 

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I want to thank the Hon. Senator who moved this motion.  I want to add a few words to this motion regarding road accidents especially the festive season and other public holidays.  We are trying to determine the causes of these accidents.  There are quite a number of causes and this is going to help us to find solutions.  I want to say that things which are difficult to determine their source are quite pertinent.  Firstly, let me say that we have a Ministry which is responsible for transportation and the Ministry has a responsible and able Minister, Hon. Mhona.  Today is Tuesday, and I know that the Hon. Minister is attending Cabinet.  Mr. President, I would like to suggest that after debating like this, the motion should not just lapse because of the number of days it has been debated.   The rules of Parliament say that the responsible Minister should come to the august House and respond to the debate concerning the motion, after reading through the debates but the responsible Minister will be having officials from the Ministry in this august House.  The Hansard also has the records. The Minister would then respond to what was raised during the debate. We want motions which are results oriented and I want to debate on issues which after they are debated, there should be implementation of recommendations. Before this motion lapses, I propose that the Hon. Minister should bring a Ministerial Statement to address the debate.

          I agree, indeed with those who said that drivers are the major causes of accidents. During holidays, you find that the owner of the vehicle would set targets that if you raise such an amount, I will give you a bonus. You find that drivers will be under pressure to meet the set targets so that they get bonuses. This is because they are trying to chase profits as transport operators. As Parliament, we need to engage transport operators regarding this issue. We have Portfolio and Thematic Committees, let us task such Committees to engage transport operators.

          The second point pertains to unroadworthy cars like those with poor brakes or unserviced cars. The roadworthiness of cars is quite important. We have VID officers along the main roads, but for us to be satisfied that they are doing their duties, there is need for them to continue manning our main roads so that they test the fitness of vehicles. If the cars are not road worthy, then they cannot continue plying our routes. There is another point which was raised by another Senator that there are unlicenced drivers and those who acquire their drivers’ licences using unorthodox means because they have money. There are some who even acquire drivers’ licences before driving – after paying then they undertake the required lessons. This is the corruption which we are talking about which is prevalent and needs to be addressed.

          At one point I wanted to get a drivers’ licence for my nephew and I told my nephew to do the required 30 lessons. After completion of the lessons, I was told that the instructors wanted an additional US$100 and I asked why, he then said you have to give them US$100, and I said but you did 30 lessons. I refused and I said I am not going to bribe the officials until you pass. If you fail then you rewrite. Later on, he acquired his driver’s license without corrupt means. There is need for Government to intervene and correct that situation where you find people acquiring licences even when they do not deserve. At one point in Masvingo at Morgenster College, a Toyota Noah had an accident and the driver did not have a licence. He was plying the Morgenster-Masvingo route and people discovered that he did not have a licence, but was driving every day. Why was he not being arrested? These are serious issues which need to be looked into.

          There are some accidents which happen at night. You find cars without rear or front lights and you wonder why this is happening. It is important that there should be ways of stopping such cars without lights from plying our routes. There are some haulage trucks which break down along highways without any reflectors. When the vehicle has broken down, it should be removed off the road. We need to empower the police and other relevant authorities so that they can tow vehicles which break down along highways and other major roads so that they do not become a hazard to other drivers.

          I also want to say that people nowadays do not respect the dead. There are some people who are in a habit of ransacking bags and vehicles of those who have had accidents. Imagine people searching the dead. No matter how broke you are, I do not think you sleep peacefully after searching a dead body or an injured person at an accident. In the past, our traditional leaders used to urge people to respect our ethos as Africans. These days you find young children aged 14 years taking pictures and videos of dead people lying in coffins. In the past, people were not allowed to do body viewing, but now you find young people doing body viewing of their relatives. When these young children grow up, they will not respect the dead because they will be used to body viewing. These are cultural issues that we need to talk about. The way we mourn the dead these days results in young people failing to respect the dead. With these few words I thank you.

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

HON. SEN. GWATURE: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 6th March, 2024.

MOTION

PROGRAMMES TO CURB DRUG AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE BY THE YOUTHS

Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on drug and substance abuse by the youths.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. MOHADI: Mr. President, thank you for giving me the opportunity to debate on the motion by Hon. Sen. A. Dube. Today, I stand before you not just to add my voice, but to amplify the cries of our suffering youth and families impacted by the rising tide of drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe. This issue casts a long shadow over our nation, threatening the well-being of our future generations and shattering the fabric of our communities.

The Youth Advocates Zimbabwe in their 2023 Study Report revealed disturbing patterns directly attributable to drug and substance abuse within the 15 – 22 age cohort: 70% of gang violence is among school children; 15% of intimate partner violence (IPV) and gender based violence (GBV) cases involve adolescents and young people; 40% of suicide attempts are linked to drug and substance abuse; and an increase in school drop-outs with 60% having dropped out of school after being expelled for drug and substance abuse.

We must acknowledge the harsh reality: drug and substance abuse are not isolated incidents, but a complex epidemic interwoven with the very threads of our society. Its roots lie not only in broken homes and domestic violence, but also in poverty, unemployment and the despair they breed. Young people, disillusioned and lacking opportunity, turn to substances as a misguided escape, a numb relief from their harsh realities.

Globalisation has brought a double-edged sword for our country. While opening doors to knowledge and innovation, it has also introduced foreign influences, some harmful. Exposure to certain Western cultures through media has normalised substance use, particularly amongst our youth. We must navigate this influence with a discerning eye, protecting our cultural values while critically evaluating external trends.

One of the primary reasons why substance and drug abuse require attention in Zimbabwe is its profound impact on public health. Substance abuse contributes to a range of health problems, including addiction, mental health disorders, and physical ailments overwhelming our health systems. In Zimbabwe, the misuse of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs has been linked to an increase in chronic diseases, mental health conditions, and infectious illnesses and most of these are very expensive to cure.

The Government’s efforts, with initiatives like the National DRUG Master Plan 2020 – 2025, Prevention and Control of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act (Chapter 15:04) as well as the proposed Drug Elimination Agency, are commendable. Increased law enforcement, border control, and public awareness campaigns are positive steps. Yet, the challenge demands more.

Rehabilitation facilities remain limited, with Sally Mugabe Central and Parirenyatwa hospitals struggling to serve a vast population and these drug rehabilitation centres are full, and unable to cope with rising demand to accommodate new patients. The centres are estimated to be holding or treating about 5 000 people at any time, with tens of thousands others either not coming forward for, or getting any assistance. Therefore, we need accessible rehabilitation centres in every district, equipped with trained professionals and offering affordable treatment. Public-private partnerships and NGO collaborations can accelerate funding of the construction of these institutions.

Rehabilitation alone is not enough. We must combat the stigma surrounding addiction, which silences suffering individuals and prevents them from seeking help. Let us remember that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. We need compassionate communities, open conversations and counselling programmes readily available to guide individuals towards recovery.

          This fight requires a collective effort.  Parents must strengthen family bonds, teachers must offer guidance and support, community leaders must foster positive environments, religious institutions must provide spiritual solace and Parliamentarians like us must advocate for policies that address the root causes and offer sustainable solutions.

          Empowering our youth is critical. Investment in agricultural initiatives, innovation hubs and apprenticeship programmes can unlock economic opportunities for the youth to discourage them from being idle.

          Furthermore, providing Government subsidies and microfinance loans and promoting entrepreneurship can equip them with the tools to build brighter futures.  Let us divert them from the dangerous path of substance abuse towards the fulfilling pursuit of their dreams.

          This is not just a fight against drugs and substances, but a fight for the very soul of our nation.  Let us unite, bridge the divides and work tirelessly to create a brighter future for our youth, free from the clutches of addiction.  Let us build a Zimbabwe where hope flourishes and opportunities about and communities stand united in support and compassionate with the President Mnangagwa’s mantra of leaving no one and no place behind.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. KADUNGURE: Thank you Mr. President.  I rise to support the motion on drug and substance abuse.

There is a global rise in drug and substance abuse that is 26% amongst the 15 to 64 age group according to United Nations office on Drugs and Crime 2022 and Zimbabwe is not an exception.  A review of statistics from the year 2023 revealed that 60 % of psychiatric admissions were due to drug and substance abuse and of those admissions, over 80% were in the 16 to 40-year age group.  A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on mental health among young people in the African region notes that Zimbabwe has the highest number of 15 to 19-year olds who engage in heavy episodic drinking.  The problem has gone beyond imported drugs.  Reports indicate some young people take local concoctions, others even dip diapers and bleach products in boiling water and then inhale the vapours as intoxicants.

Left untreated, drug abuse triggers substantial costs to society, mainly in terms of lost productivity, increased health care expenditures, crimes and deaths.  According to WHO data published in 2020, drug use deaths in Zimbabwe reached 0.20% of total death.  The age adjusted death rate is 2.31 per 100 000 of population ranking number 38 in the world.  More so, illicit drug use among adolescents is also associated with violence and unsafe sexual behaviour as well as increased risks of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS which according to UN AIDS 2019 – almost 12% of the population is HIV positive.  According to a research by the National AIDS Council and ZLDN2022, drug use is also linked to sex work and (other forms of) transactional sex, unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners.  Drug abuse leads to anti-retroviral therapy as well as inability to maintain relations, work, studies and quality of life.  Consequently, the effort to eradicate HIV and AIDS by 2050 will be derailed if substance abuse persists.

There is need to have more rehabilitation centres as the country is already grappling with the number of drug addicts in need of rehabilitation.  Rehabilitation centres for drug addicts are quite a few in our country and the private sector can also play a significant role in establishing such centres.  It is difficult for an addict to suddenly stop drug abuse; hence the need for rehabilitation at secluded places.

Parliament should also consider prioritising the review and strengthening of the Dangerous Drugs Act (Chapter 15:02) and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) in line with international standards.  This should include more recent drugs such as methamptomine (guka/mutoriro or dombo).  The ambiguity arising from schedule II of the Dangerous Drug Act with regards to the scientific debate on what constitutes methamphetamine and methylenedioxyphenol (MDCA) and the interpretation that the former is not a listed dangerous drug as it is distinct from the latter, should be addressed to expressly include crystal meth (mutoriro) and remove the undesired technical leeway that offenders take advantage of to be freed during apprehension and prosecution conducted by officers of the law.  According to Accountability Lab, drug peddlers are released on minor technicalities because existing laws do not name new types of drugs on the market.

As I conclude, allow me to mention that the alarming substance and drug abuse statistics in Zimbabwe highlights the urgent need for collective efforts to address this growing issue. Combining efforts of society, Government, civil society organisations and individuals is vital for curbing this crisis.  By raising awareness, increasing access to treatment and updating our legislation, we will tackle this multifaceted problem, ensuring a healthier, more productive and progressive nation for its citizens. I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 6th March, 2024.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE DELEGATION TO THE 53RD

PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION OF THE SADC-PARLIAMENTARY FORUM HELD IN MAURITIUS

Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on Report of the Delegation to the 53rd Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.

  Question again proposed.

  THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HARARE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

  Motion put and agreed to.

  Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 6th March, 2024.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

Question again proposed.

  HON. SEN. MOHADI: Mr. President of the Senate, allow me to start by congratulating the President of Zimbabwe, His Excellency, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa for the sterling State of the Nation Address which had invaluable insights, motivation and a lot of ambitions as we began the 10th Parliament journey on the 3rd October 2023.  Reflecting on the address, I was firmly convinced that Zimbabwe is on its path to achieve Vision 2030 of an Upper Middle-Income Economy.

 In his State of the Nation Address, the President mentioned milestones that have been achieved towards food self-sufficiency.  Food Security and Nutrition is one of the key pillars of National Development Strategy 1, with a broad goal to retain the country’s regional bread-basket status.  Initially, the country had a vision of increasing food self sufficiency from 45% in 2020 to 100% by 2025.  A welcome development was noted in 2023 when the country recorded wheat self-sufficiency.  The goal now is to reach maize self-sufficiency, which is the staple food of Zimbabwe. As you are aware, natural farming regions 4 and 5 in Zimbabwe are too dry for successful crop production without irrigation and this covers above 50% of Zimbabwe.  Most Zimbabwean farmers in these regions still rely on rain-fed agriculture.  It is sad because most farmers cannot afford to employ specialised farming approaches such as greenhouse farming, vertical farming and the like.  Thus, as mentioned by the President, irrigation development becomes key to counter climate change effects to realise national food security. 

Zimbabwe is blessed with vast amounts of water bodies and potential places where dams can be constructed.  Large dams in region 5 such as Tokwe-Mkorsi remain underutilised in terms of supporting agriculture.  Areas including southern parts of Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Matibi and Ngundu must turn into green belts through irrigation.  Droughts in these areas should be a thing of the past.  This does not apply to Tokwe-Mukorsi only but to all dams, particularly in Region 4 and 5, which include Lake Mutirikwi, Bangala, Bindangome, Mpophoma, Tuli-Manyange, Palawan and Zhovhe Dams among others, that should benefit local communities through irrigation activities for food security.  Improving agriculture and enhancing productivity through small holder irrigation is one of the key strategies for alleviating poverty and improving the livelihoods of rural communities.  The Second Republic is committed to ensuring food security in Zimbabwe.  As for December 2023, Masvingo Province had completed six against 12 small dams whilst Matabeleland had completed their targeted four small dams for community gardens and horticulture.

The Pfumvudza programme introduced by the Second Republic has played a critical role in facilitating food security in Zimbabwe. The mandatory allocation of sorghum and millet in farming regions four and five is a positive development to counter climate change. The programme must not be a one size fits all and must carefully look at the type of soils and ecological region. However, for rural development, there is need for vertical linkages with private sector given a chance to partner Government effort in such areas. Companies in brewing must also complement Government efforts by supporting such farmers who in turn support them with inputs for brewing particularly, maheu and traditional beers. The NDS1 targeted strengthening the use of Public-Private Partnerships as well as reviewing the contract farming and agricultural marketing frameworks which will go a long way in boosting incomes of farmers in these regions as we target an upper middle-income society by 2030.

Mr. President, smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe generally engage in subsistence mixed farming with livestock farming having high chances of success in semi-arid regions of Zimbabwe. Livestock provides animal draught for tillage, transport, manure, milk, meat, some cash income and a stock of wealth. It is sad to note that many cattle herds perished due to theileriosis disease, also known as January disease. First, I would want to commend Government efforts for intensifying the dipping programme blitz and tick-grease application to prevent and control entry and outbreaks of the disease.

As we know, the NDS1 prioritised animal health and production through strengthening farmer knowledge, skills in livestock production and health so as to enhance productivity. This implies that the Government is walking the talk and on the right track in achieving set goals in NDS1. Going further, Government must support farmers with trained livestock extension officers.

Mr. President, the importance of access to water in countering poverty inline with Sustainable Development Goal 1 (SDG1) of zero hunger cannot be overemphasised. Boreholes play a critical role in supplying clean water to rural population and is a key indicator of rural development. To be specific, areas in parts of Mwenezi South as well as Beitbridge West travel long distance to access water, which is above the ZINWA standardised 5 000 metres distance from a water point. Resettlement areas are the mostly affected particularly schools and health facilities.

The NDS1 targeted drilling of 35 thousand boreholes for rural community water supply as part of strategies for rural economy activation. As part of the initiatives, 80 rigs were purchased to facilitate the drilling of boreholes in each village. Areas such as Chivi North and Beitbridge West have already received the footprint of the borehole drilling blitz. Such efforts must reach every village to show the commitment of the Second Republic for rural development.

Mr. President, fish farming is an innovative and economic strategy for promoting food security and dietary diversities among vulnerable households in drought risk areas of Zimbabwe. In Beitbridge, Government has supplied farmers with more than 300 thousand fingerlings in the Zhowe Dam as seed for farmers who want to do fish farming. The declining climate conditions and lack of economic opportunities in Mwenezi district of Zimbabwe attracted the attention of some Non-Governmental Organisations who are implementing fish farming as an innovative mechanism to stimulate food security and generate employment in the district. This is evident that fish farming was well embraced by local communities and has led to improvements in food security and household income. The NDS1 targeted 20 thousand tonnes of farmed fish by 2025, which requires Government efforts to achieve the target. Our country is blessed with resources and we can do all forms of farming and achieve food security without limitations.

In conclusion Mr. President, access to quality nutritious food is fundamental to human existence and necessary for human happiness. We are a blessed country with vast amount of resources which we only need to harness in order to achieve food security and eliminate all forms of hunger. We have land, we have water bodies and we have human capital. What can stop us from achieving food security? Definitely, nothing. To the people of Zimbabwe, we need to complement Government efforts in eliminating all forms of poverty, let us utilise our land, let us use our minds and work hard for the development of our country. Together good security is possible. I thank you Mr. President.

HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Mr. President Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. GOTORA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 6th March, 2024.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MUZENDA, seconded by HON. SEN. GOTORA the House adjourned at Half past Four o’clock p.m.

 

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